Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Destruction Of A Dream

photo1red325 As someone who works in civil rights, I know I could be one of maybe two people in the room who give a shit, given the Bush Golden Age of equal opportunity and now that discrimination has been eliminated and everyone is holding hands and singing "Kumbayah" and all--but I find this sad story to be just typical of the anti-civil rights atmosphere in the White House:
"Citing mounting debt and projected budget shortfalls, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission announced Friday it will close two of its six regional offices, lay off four staff members and request free rent on its office space for one month.
The office also will offer early retirement packages and require remaining staff to take short furloughs, said Kenneth L. Marcus, the commission's staff director.
"It's an extraordinarily difficult process," Marcus said. "We will continue providing civil rights services without pause.""
Rather hard to do that when you're bleeding staff and resources, isn't it, Kenneth? But being hamstrung and undermined is not new to these folks:
"The 48-year-old commission is charged with making recommendations to the government on issues concerning equal opportunity for racial and ethnic communities, people with disabilities and other minority groups. Once called the "conscience of the nation," it laid the groundwork for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But the commission's $9 million budget has not changed in 10 years, and it expects to face a $265,000 budget deficit this fiscal year. There are currently 64 staff members, down from 93 in 1996...
With long-term underfunding and inadequate staffing, the problems were inevitable, said Ronald Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland who tracks civil rights issues.
"We've got some very serious issues on the table with respect to diversity including affirmative action in higher education and voting rights activities," Walters said. "They need all the resources they can get to enter vigorously into those debates. By cutting back, it's going to cripple their ability to do that.""
Which is exactly the plan. Bushco has no love for the mission of an agency that stands in total opposition for just about everything he has done since stealing office. The sooner it's planted in the ground, the better.

And to that very end, he has been replacing old civil rights fighters with shiny new Clarence Thomases. Not too many people noticed or commented when Bush appointed Gerald Reynolds head of the Commission last year, but that move put a suitably docile Negro into the office who could look good while being counted on to go along with the pecked-to-death-by-ducks destruction of the agency, replacing Mary Francis Berry, who had been far too activist for this administration's tastes. Berry and vice chairman Cruz Reynoso were responsible for sending a letter to Bush last year asking him to read the Commission's bombshell report: “Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004.” They were fired just days later and Reynolds was in. (The report was removed from the government website, and can now only be linked in cahed form, thanks to some intrepid folks at Pitt's law school.)

Bush hoists his Condi Rices and Colin Powells into highly visible positions, trumpeting his "diverse" appointments and garnering kudos for them, while supporting codified destruction of civil rights for whole swaths of people and starving the very mechanisms that were put into place to eradicate injustices for them. His hypocrisies are not new, but they do grow in magnitude over time, along with his perverse sense of entitlement and pride. What a Christian!

(Cross-posted at corrente.)

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