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most of his ilk (rightwing, conservative) don't.

George F. Will: Civil-rights panel a fossil
George F. Will

In contemporary American politics, as in earlier forms of vaudeville, it helps to have had an easy act to follow. Gerald Reynolds certainly did.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' new chairman follows Mary Frances Berry, whose seedy career - 24 years on the commission, 11 of them as chairwoman - mixed tawdry peculation and absurd rhetoric.

Because Reynolds represents such a bracing change, it is tempting just to enjoy the new 6-2 conservative ascendancy on the commission and forgo asking a pertinent question: Why not retire the commission?

One reason to do so is that someday Democrats will again control the executive branch and may again stock the panel with extremists - Berry made unsubstantiated charges of vast "disenfranchisement" of Florida voters in 2000 - from the wilder shores of racial politics. Another is that civil-rights rhetoric has become a crashing bore and, worse, a cause of confusion: Almost everything designated a "civil rights" problem isn't.

The commission has no enforcement powers, only the power to be, Reynolds says, a "bully pulpit." And if someone must be preaching from it, by all means let it be Reynolds.

Born in the South Bronx, the son of a New York City policeman, Reynolds, 41, is no stranger to the moral muggings routinely administered to black conservatives.

But he says, "If you think I'm conservative, you should come with me to a black barbershop. I'm usually the most liberal person there," where cultural conservatism - on crime, welfare, abortion, schools - flourishes.

But about this commission as bully pulpit: Does anyone really think America suffers from an insufficiency of talk about race? What is in scarce supply is talk about the meaning of the phrase "civil rights." Not every need is a right, and not every right is a civil right - one central to participation in civic life.

Reynolds says the core function of civil-rights laws is to prevent discrimination, meaning "the distribution of benefits and burdens on the basis of race." He rightly says the core function of the civil-rights laws, which required "a lot of heavy lifting by the federal government," was to dismantle a caste system maintained by law. But that has been accomplished.

It is, as Reynolds says, scandalous that so few black 17-year-old males read at grade level; that so many black teenagers are not mentored to think about college as a possibility; that many young blacks are enveloped in the culture that appalls Bill Cosby, a culture that disparages academic seriousness as "acting white" and celebrates destructive behaviors. Reynolds is right that much of this can be traced far back to discriminatory events or contexts.

But this is a problem of class, one that is both cause and effect of a cultural crisis. It is rooted in needs, such as functional families and good schools, that are not rights in the sense of enforceable claims.

Civil-rights laws and enforcement agencies are barely relevant. Proper pulpits - perhaps including barbershops - are relevant. Government pulpits are not.

● George F. Will is a columnist for The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071; e-mail: georgewill@washpost.com.
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Okay, let me see ... Activists (e.g., Berry) on an commission that by definition is an activist commission are extremists; but conservatives on an activist commission, on the stated mission of reigning in the Commission represents a bracing change?

Would some please suggest to Will that his bias, like his slip, is showing.

Will asserts that Berry made unsubstantiated charges of vast "disenfranchisement" of Florida voters in 2000. First, it is the job of the Chair of the Commission on Civil Right to raise such issues. It is then the job of congress (via the Justice Dept.) to investigate the claims. The charges raised by Berry were unsubstantiated only because congress refused to investigate.

Reynolds says the core function of civil-rights laws is to prevent discrimination, meaning "the distribution of benefits and burdens on the basis of race." He rightly says the core function of the civil-rights laws, which required "a lot of heavy lifting by the federal government," was to dismantle a caste system maintained by law. But that has been accomplished.

No it hasn't. We, i.e., Black People, still face systemic racial discrimination in employment, housing, insurance, educational funding, etc. He must not be reading the Commission's own reports, that cite to a lessening, but not dismantling of these impediments.

It is, as Reynolds says, scandalous that so few black 17-year-old males read at grade level; that so many black teenagers are not mentored to think about college as a possibility; that many young blacks are enveloped in the culture that appalls Bill Cosby, a culture that disparages academic seriousness as "acting white" and celebrates destructive behaviors. Reynolds is right that much of this can be traced far back to discriminatory events or contexts.

What does this have to do with the whether or not we should retire the Commission? While the Commission might report on the abysmal reading levels of inner-city youth of color, it does so in the context of remedying the disparate funding levels.

Civil-rights laws and enforcement agencies are barely relevant. Proper pulpits - perhaps including barbershops - are relevant. Government pulpits are not

I'll agree here, Civil Rights laws and enforcement agencies are barely relevant ... if you are a white man. That is until, you lose your job at the age of 50, because "Well, sure you met your numbers last quarter; but face it, you just can't keep up with these young guns." Or, until you need the protections offered through the ADA.

Did I mention, in the real world, approximate 70% of all EEOC claims are filed by white folk; but 60% of the findings of discrimination are issued in favor of Black claimants?
Another is that civil-rights rhetoric has become a crashing bore and, worse, a cause of confusion: Almost everything designated a "civil rights" problem isn't.---George Will

This guy is a tricky dude. Listen.

He rightly says the core function of the civil-rights laws, which required "a lot of heavy lifting by the federal government," was to dismantle a caste system maintained by law. But that has been accomplished.---Reynolds via Will

Listen.

Civil-rights laws and enforcement agencies are barely relevant. Proper pulpits - perhaps including barbershops - are relevant. Government pulpits are not---George Will

George Will goes to an African American barbershop???

For what// Camaraderie???

More likely fuel for this syndicated column.

Maybe that should be admired. I don't find it admirable.

George Will doesn't get it.

What is more of a shame, is that we STILL think we are without the authority to 'fix it'.

People like George F. Will will quietly, and suavely talk you into your grave.

PEACE

Jim Chester
Well, Will was saying that Reynolds said, If you think I'm conservative, you should come with me to a black barbershop. I'm usually the most liberal person there," where cultural conservatism - on crime, welfare, abortion, schools - flourishes.

Besides the fact that that is total B.S., Will is coopting Reynolds words to lend legitimacy. Everyone knows that when a Black person talks about crime, welfare, and schools, we may say "Black folk", but mean "some folk that are Black". But when white people (and Black conservatives) say "Black folk", they mean ALL Black folk.
Thanks for the correction.

Reynolds and Wills and The Republican Party are starting off the 21st Century directly in tume with the gutting of the Voting Rights Act.

I know I sound this alarm all the time, but it seems if I don't no one else will.

Reynolds and Will and The Republican Party laugh as they finish digging our societal and political grave.

For shame on Reynolds.

PEACE

Jim Chester
To me it's a toss up of who the bigger idiot is here ... Will or Reynolds. There's definitately more than enough ignorance to go around there.

However, the only thing in this piece that I can agree on is that the Commission does need to be retired. They always were and always will be ineffective ... with no legal bite to stand behind its bark.

What is has done, however, as a byproduct of its existance is inform. Berry and her group were able to tell you where the problems were, but not do anything about them.

With this current crew, all that can possibly come out is stupidity ... because that's all that's in it. The way I see it, the plug is already as good as pulled. Roll Eyes
With this current crew, all that can possibly come out is stupidity ... because that's all that's in it. The way I see it, the plug is already as good as pulled.---EbonyRose

I wish that were true. The article by Will is the indicator of things to come.

The Commission, its chairman, and each conservative member will now become 'The Source' for vindication of every claim that there is 'No racism,' No discrimination,' 'No need for either law or regulation', a dysfunctional African American Family,' and on and on.

They may even disband the Department of Justice's staff for civil rights and race issues.

They can then repeal the Voting Rights Act itself. After all with there being no problem why keep such archaic baggage in our legal system.

And...When is the last time you saw a 'White Only' sign.

Clearly, there is no further need for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Far fetched?


PEACE

Jim Chester
...And Wills and Reynolds say that discrimination is a thing of the past ...

giveup
Meredith fires exec over racist remarks
'We've got to quit hiring all these black people,'O'Brien allegedly said according to lawsuit

The Associated Press
Updated: 12:19 a.m. ET March 12, 2005


DES MOINES, Iowa - Meredith Corp. fired the head of its broadcast group last fall after documenting his repeated comments criticizing blacks, including: "We've got to quit hiring all these black people," according a company memo filed in a lawsuit against the executive.

The Des Moines-based media company, which publishes specialty books and magazines including Ladies' Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens, fired Kevin O'Brien in October, citing violations of its equal opportunity policies.

According to a company memo uncovered in a search of court documents this week, an internal investigation found that O'Brien "made statements, often in the context of speaking about a minority employee, that employ racial and ethnic stereotypes and denigrate women."

The investigators found that, among other things, O'Brien had urged colleagues not to hire black people and complained that an Atlanta TV station was "too black."

O'Brien's attorney, David Casselman, of Tarzana, Calif., said the company's disclosure was meant to embarrass his client.

He did not dispute the allegations, but insisted his client is not a racist.

O'Brien, 62, had been at Meredith for three years, overseeing 13 television stations and half of Meredith's 2,600 employees. He was credited with turning around the broadcast group, which reaches 10 percent of TV households in the country, and earned almost $2 million last year. The group includes KPHO in Phoenix, WFSB in Hartford and KPDX and KPTV in Portland, Ore.

The Nov. 8 memo from the company's lawyer to O'Brien is one of few documents that was not sealed in a lawsuit filed by Meredith against the former executive. The company's claims and what it was seeking were in the sealed documents. O'Brien has filed documents seeking to unseal the case and is expected to file a countersuit alleging wrongful termination.

"There was far more going on here than what they have voluntarily disclosed, and they hope to keep the truth a secret," Casselman said.

According to the memo, Meredith hired two labor lawyers to investigate complaints from the general manager of WGCL-TV in Atlanta. She was fired days later.

Meredith's top lawyer wrote in the memo to O'Brien that the investigation had confirmed that he made the following statements:

"We can't right all the wrongs of the Civil War; we've got to quit hiring all these black people."
"You shouldn't hire old black guys. These guys don't listen, they have attitudes, and you can't control them."
O'Brien came to Meredith after 15 years as an executive with Cox Television Independent Group and had headed the California Broadcasters Association and the Association of Local Television Stations.

While at Meredith, he shook up management at several local stations and oversaw the acquisition of others. Analysts credited him with boosting profit.

According to the memo, O'Brien also:

complained that the Atlanta station hired too many black reporters and anchors;
said that a black weather forecaster, who was eight months pregnant at the time, should be fired because she was too fat;
declined a business deal with a minority-owned station, writing in an e-mail: "I've never seen a minority broadcast enterprise work in my entire life, especially if they have control!" and
told a black waiter at a company outing: "You probably don't like the same fruit as me. You look like a watermelon kind of guy."
The investigation also found that O'Brien solicited gifts from business partners, gave special attention to certain female employees and helped his daughter get an on-air job at a company station.

O'Brien, who has homes in San Francisco and Las Vegas, did not return an e-mail message seeking comment. He remains unemployed and has complained in court documents that Meredith's allegations have ruined his reputation.

Meredith "took swift, decisive and appropriate action" against O'Brien, spokesman Art Slusark said. He said Meredith does not tolerate discrimination.

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