Did Anyone Say `Family Values'?

By Barras, Jonetta Rose | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 2, 1998 | Go to article overview

Did Anyone Say `Family Values'?


Barras, Jonetta Rose, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


We were on the Derek McGinty Show on WAMU-FM ostensibly to engage in perennial hand-wringing about race. Julian Bond, now NAACP president, was then a professor at American University. Alvin Thornton taught political science at `opinion was that racial discrimination fueled all problems in black communities. The minority view, which I represented, was that our lowering of standards and expectations stood at the core of our deteriorating neighborhoods, families, and communities. Mr. Bond sarcastically asked, what black leader doesn't endorse family values? Then, why aren't any of them speaking specifically about these issues, I challenged.

That exchange, two years ago, comes to mind as I watch black secular and spiritual leaders serve as human shields for the sinful President Bill Clinton.Their potent support baffles. At this phase in the soap opera, few should doubt that Mr. Clinton lied and is guilty of many of the other charges presented in the report of the Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. But Congressional Black Caucus Chairman, Maxine Waters the galloping gadfly and wannabe poet the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and other Clinton supporters would like to frame the discussion about whether the president should be impeached within the context of one man's "private," adulterous life.

Who should be surprised? These are the same people who consistently shout conspiracy. They embrace, celebrate, or refuse to admonish the behavior of Michael Tyson, O.J. Simpson, Mel Reynolds, Khalid Muhammad, and Vernon Jordan; like Mr. Clinton, these high-profile African Americans have lost their way.

Viewed through a wider lens, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal is about much more than sex. It serves as microcosm of the decay that has set in in American society. It exposes the undue influence of money in America, and more specifically on our political system, even on daily decisions, however small. It demonstrates the incredible low stoop we have achieved in our attempts to rise and stay at the top, desecrating long held values. And, it captures the predictable yield from the 30-year battle between men and women, the unhealthy influence of feminists, and the decline of American families.

These are not casual issues, easily dismissed with stonewalling, spinning, or characterizations of a "right-wing conspiracy."

Like Messrs. Bond and Thornton, many African-Americans in this sordid Clinton affair see race; they place themselves as proxy victims, remembering their own segregated, persecuted histories as they observe the move by others to exact some punishment on the president for his unpresidential, absolutely scummy behavior. They cite his policies as reason for their support, but cannot point to any specific legislation created exclusively for their constituents. Where is the national urban policy?

They salute his appointments of African Americans to high-level positions, forgetting Lani Guinier, Henry Foster, and Dr. Joycelyn Elders. They don't even recognize his recent snub of Mr. Jackson, who had touted himself as presidential spiritual adviser only to have Mr. Clinton officially name others as his redemption cheerleaders.

Not unlike Mr. Jordan, employment agent for the president's girlfriend, black supporters are concerned about access: Will they be invited to high teas, state dinners, and backroom strategy sessions on how to resurrect the president?

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Did Anyone Say `Family Values'?
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