The AT&Tea Party: We’re in the Business of Silencing People & Net Neutrality

These are indeed strange times we live in where even when we’re repeatedly told we should not be surprised as to what goes down, especially in the world of politics-goes down. It was surprising to learn that AT&T is one of the biggest backers of the Tea Party and together they are working overtime to try to get rid of the Democratizing concept that has made the Internet so powerful called ‘Net Neutrality‘.

I guess one shouldn’t be shocked at the hypocrisy of the Tea Party which claims it takes issue with big corporation but then generously supports their agenda. I’m more upset with Apple which uses AT&T and upset that my hard-earned money which pays for this Iphone is going to uplift a political party that many of feel are racist and in opposition to many of our concerns.

As for Net Neutrality, for those who don’t know about this concept, it essentially says all data is to be treated equal. This means the little blog in the middle of Iowa can be accessed just as easily as the NY Times in NY. All websites are essentially one click away metaphorically speaking.

What telecoms have been doing to the tune of over 100 million dollars in lobbying money in 2009 alone with AT&T leading the way is try to change the basic structure of the internet and re-create the very conditions that drove us away from traditional media to the internet in the first place.  Instead of everyone being ‘one click away’ they want to create a tiered system where websites and companies who pay top dollars are one click away while everyone else could be 2, 3, 4 or not even on the system at all.

This means if I am living in Oakland, California and wish to present additional information to the rest of the country about some important event like the tragic Oscar Grant shooting from 2009 I would no longer be on par with the mainstream outlets.  My information could be slowed down or even blocked.

Hence, someone in NY might click on the Oakland Tribune site and get the information immediately, but it might take a couple of hours or maybe even a day or two to be visible to on my website DaveyD.com or the websites Indy media SF, ColorlinesYouth Radio or the SF Bayview. The sad part is that person in NY might not even know this additional information had been slowed down or suspended by AT&T, Comcast or some other ISP that may have a political agenda that they want to carry out that is in stark contrast with your content.

The person on the receiving end of the information will do as they’ve always done since the internet been around and click on a link expecting to move seamlessly from one site to the next. When one site is slowed down or not accessible they move onto another. So again what AT&T wants to do is make sure the NY Times loads up quickly while the small blogger comes up slowly.

When one considers how so many people have been able to come up, challenge traditional media with other facts and various narratives to a story, net neutrality has leveled the playing field.  Unfortunately the big telecoms do not want this..and apprently neither do the Tea Party and several prominent gatekeeping civil rights orgs and politicians they have spent money on.

AT&T sponsored National Urban League Centennial Celebration. Was that part of their strategy to reach out to Civil Right orgs and get them to echo GOP talking points on Net Neutrality?

Initially the Net Neutrality debate was partisan with mostly conservative folks against it. AT&T decided that one of their strategies would be to use their money and influence to get key civil rights leaders to come on board. This may have included generous sponsorships they’ve given folks over the years with everyone from Jesse Jackson of Rainbow Push to Marc Morial of the National Urban League whose centennial celebration they recently sponsored.  Their defection and non-commital responses to supporting net neutrality was even welcomed and celebrated by top conservative bloggers like Andrew Breibart the man behind the Shirley Sherrod controversy .

Jackson has noted both in his statement to the FCC and publicly that he and Rainbow Push give ‘voice to the voiceless’. How does one have a voice without Net Neutrality protections?

Even more troubling is seeing members of the Congressional Black Caucus standing alongside the AT&T/Tea Party. How does this happen in 2010 where CBC members were just a couple of months ago complaining about racism where they were called ‘Nigger’ and being spat upon by the Tea Party members, are walking now hand in hand? Oh yeah that happens when big time lobbying money enters the picture. I guess folks can afford  to buy a clean handkerchiefs to wipe away the spit and ‘let bygones be bygones’ as far as the racial insults are concerned as they all stand under the money tree-lined umbrella of AT&T. Peep this article called ‘Hey, Capitol Hill: Who’s Your Daddy ? AT&T‘ to get a better understanding the pervasiveness of this telecom giant.

NAACP head Ben Jealous

AT&T and the telecoms even got Ben Jealous and the NAACP which relied heavily on the freedoms of the internet to launch a campaign to try to save Troy Davis from being executed to take a ‘neutral position on Net Neutrality. Remind me to let Ben know they spelled the word ‘endorse’ wrong in their clarification statement.

In recent days an online petition was put together by Color of Change pushing CBC members to step up and get on the right side of this issue. That would be away from the position of the huge telecoms.

It’s our hope that all of us stop and take a long hard look at what’s going on with Net Neutrality and not allow this important issue to get away from us the way it did when it came to media consolidation.  If you recall, back in the days leading up to that landmark telecommunications bill of ’96 we heard similar arguments from the big media corps on how giving them all this power would be a good thing for consumers. We also saw there were handfuls of Black and Brown folks who tried to jump in bed with the Clear Channels of the world. They were told they would have better opportunities. Have things gotten better since  the Consolidation? Turn on your local radio station and the answer is more than obvious-’Hell Naw’.

The ‘Clear Channeling of media has been horrific. Again, its the main reason so many of us fled to the Internet. We wanted something better. We wanted our individual voices to be heard.  If we allow the telecoms to gut Net Neutrality with the help of the Tea Party and a handful of civil rights leaders leading the charge we will be talking about what a big mistake this was 15 years from now. Don’t let history repeat itself.

written by Davey D

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Why Do We Let Fox & Other Right Wing Outlets Snooker us? Everybody Owes Shirley Sherrod an Apology?

Shirley Sherrod

Below is the NAACP’s original Statement Regarding Shirley Sherrod head of the Department of Agriculture’s rural development office in Georgia, after being ‘snookered’ into thinking she was a racist based upon a video shown by Fox and other right-wing outlets..Proceeding it is the full video of Ms Sherrod’s remarks.. Her speech was about reconciliation and overcoming racial hatred.. Whats even sadder is up til now President Obama is sticking to their guns..All parties involved need to do right by Ms Sherrod starting with some major apologies.

Next everyone involved need to take firm steps to stop validating bloggers Conservative attack dog Andrew Breitbart, Fox News and other outlets who say they are news, but are really invested in spreading propaganda and finding ways to take down or aggressively support those who are out to take down their political enemies. In the case of Breibert, that was his full intention, to embarrass and discredit the NAACP-Mission Accomplished. Up til today the story was the NAACP smashes of the Tea Party and their racism  and how the oldest Civil Rights organization was making moves to become more relevant in the lives of today’s generation. All that was gone in an instant with this ‘snookering’ that took place. There are lots of lessons to be learned here.

First, we have got to stop depending upon media outlets that don’t have our best interest at heart to fully deliver our message. This is especially true of places like Fox News. There have been too many good people who have had their reputations soiled because of Fox and their unrelenting attacks. It ranges from Ludacris to Reverend Jeremiah Wright to Van Jones and Yoshi Sergent to Acorn to now Shirley Sherrod. All the while this is happening, Negro after Negro goes onto one of these shows to do verbal battle with hosts who’ve set things up so you will never ever get the last word.

Second we have got to stop letting them dictate what we will and won’t talk about. This is not limited to Fox.. The other day I saw NAACP head Ben Jealous on TV disavowing the New Black Panther Party.. Why? Whatever they said or done could’ve been disavowed on your own terms years ago. Instead they become a hot button campaign for right wing zealots and suddenly the NAACP and every other Black pundit is on TV  apologozing, distancing themselves and acting like they need to be ashamed.  Not a good look. It reminds me of the old Farrakhan litmus test, where every Black person on TV had to state he did not like the Minister in order to appear creditable.

Shame on us for validating them with our presence. Shame on us for using them as the basis to go after someone who had not only the best of intentions but was setting a good example for all of us to follow. Sherrod’s speech was about reconciliation.

The NAACP would do good by investing time and energy into establishing a series of well heeled local media outlets that speak unapologetically to our issues and forget having to explain and apologizee on outlets that little or no interest in giving us equal footing.

-Davey D-

*** Important Update July 21 2010** According to CNN the Agriculture department is now ‘Considering’ Sherrod’s resignation.. Here’s what they said…

(CNN) — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday that he will review the case of a former Agriculture Department official who resigned after a video clip surfaced of her discussing a white farmer.

“I am, of course, willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner,” Vilsack said in a statement.

Shirley Sherrod — an African-American — resigned Monday under pressure after the video clip first appeared on a conservative website and later on Fox News. In the video, she seemed to tell an audience she did not do her utmost to help a white farmer avoid foreclosure. However, Sherrod later said the clip only shows part of her comments, and that she tells the story of her experience — from nearly a quarter century ago when she was not a federal employee — to illustrate the importance of moving beyond race. continue reading here http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/07/21/agriculture.employee.usda/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9NcCa_KjXk&feature=player_embedded

NAACP’s Original Statement Condemning Sherrod

According to NAACP head Ben Jealous, he has since called, spoken with and apologized to Sherrod for the remarks below….

NAACP Head Ben Jealous credit: Jeffrey Macmill

NAACP Head Ben Jealous credit: Jeffrey Macmill

We concur with US Agriculture Secretary Vilsack in accepting the resignation of Shirley Sherrod for her remarks at a local NAACP Freedom Fund banquet.

Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race.

We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.

Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man.

The reaction from many in the audience is disturbing. We will be looking into the behavior of NAACP representatives at this local event and take any appropriate action.

We thank those who brought this to our national office’s attention, as there are hundreds of local fundraising dinners each year.

Sherrod’s behavior is even more intolerable in light of the US Department of Agriculture’s well documented history of denying opportunities to African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American farmers, as well as female farmers of all races. Currently, justice for many of these farmers is being held up by Congress. We would hope all who share our outrage at Sherrod’s statements would join us in pushing for these cases to be remedied.

The NAACP will continue to advance the ideals of America and fight for freedom, justice and fairness for all Americans.

N.A.A.C.P. Retracts Bias Accusation

By SARAH WHEATON

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/us/21sherrod.html

The president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People apologized Tuesday to a black civil servant whose ouster the civil rights organization had originally cheered.

Last week, the N.A.A.C.P. garnered headlines when it accused parts of the Tea Party movement of being racist. Then, over the weekend, a video emerged of Shirley Sherrod, the head of the Department of Agriculture’s rural development office in Georgia, speaking at an N.A.A.C.P. event in Douglas, Ga., in March. In a two-and-a-half-minute clip, Ms. Sherrod seemed to explain that she discriminated against a white farmer 24 years ago.

Ms. Sherrod said she was pressed to resign after the video whipped around the Web. But she said the clip was misleading. According to Ms. Sherrod and people who have seen the full video, she went on to say in her speech that she had learned from working with the farmer that all people must overcome their prejudices.

After seeing the full video, the N.A.A.C.P. said Tuesday that it had been “snookered” into believing Ms. Sherrod had acted with bias.

“We are in a moment where there is heightened sensitivity and concern, including within the N.A.A.C.P., about discrimination against white people,” said Benjamin T. Jealous, the group’s president. He said the N.A.A.C.P. wanted “to be clear that there’s a single yardstick by which civil rights are judged.”

In the video, which received much airtime on the Fox News Channel on Monday, Ms. Sherrod recalled working for a nonprofit organization in Georgia.

“I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land,” Ms. Sherrod said in the video. “So I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough.”

The video was spotlighted by Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger known for promoting videos that emerged last year and ultimately brought down Acorn, the community organizing group. By Monday evening, Ms. Sherrod was out of her job. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack cited the agency’s “zero-tolerance” policy on discrimination in explaining her ouster.

Ms. Sherrod took to the airwaves, especially those of CNN, on Tuesday. She told the network that the N.A.A.C.P. was “the reason why this happened.”

“They got into a fight with the Tea Party, and all of this came out as a result of that,” she said.

Mr. Breitbart reached a similar conclusion, though from a different perspective. “They’re trying to make this about me and Shirley Sherrod. This is about the N.A.A.C.P.,” he said by phone. He said that the civil rights group had “spent an inordinate amount of airtime trying to brand the Tea Party as racist” while tolerating racism itself.

Harry Reid, Michael Steele, Negro Dialect & Political Grandstanding on the Backs of Blacks

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Harry Reid, Michael Steele, Negro Dialect & Political Grandstanding

by Davey D

By now everyone has heard about the racial firestorm that has brewed because of some remarks attributed to Senate majority leader Harry Reid in a new book called Game Change. They were made in a private conversation during the 2008 campaign where Reid noted that then Senator Obama might be successful because he was light-skin and didn’t speak with a ‘Negro Dialect’. Obama in typical fashion avoided the mess that can come when discussing race by quickly accepting Reid’s apology, downplaying the remarks and announcing ‘the book is closed’ on the subject.

Of course Obama’s Republican counterparts seeing that Reid is in a tight re-election race have been trying their best to blow this issue up. The party of Ronald Reagan who supported South African Apartheid, the party of John McCain who said ‘No to a Martin Luther King holiday are suddenly getting all Jesse Jackson-like and riding hard for all those who have been on the receiving end of racial insults and oppression.. Thank you Republican Party-I guess…Not! LOL

Reid’s remarks have been the lead story on every news channel with news directors feverishly pouring through their rolodexes, seeking to get a Black pundit, seemingly any Black pundit to come to a studio where they would normally never see the light of day except during Black history month. Here they’re asked to wax poetic about Reid’s remarks. Some of these outlets have gone so far as to have two or three Black folks on at the same time thus violating the unwritten ‘one-Black-on-set-at-a-time’ rule.

It was good to Black scholars like Marc Lamont Hill weighin in on Harry Reid's remarks, but it would be good to see him and others weighin in on Sunday morning talk shows

To me I was more offended seeing a Professor Tricia Rose, Professor Marc Lamont Hill, BET’s Jeff Johnson and the dozen of other Black faces invited to discuss an old white man using the word ‘Negro’ versus seeing them invited on a regular basis to discuss a variety of other topics that have arguably more impact. I would’ve like to have seen some of those Black voices on the Sunday morning talk shows earlier this year dragging Harry Reid’s ass through the coals around the Healthcare debate when single payer and later public option got snatched off the table. To me the insult was seeing Black intelligence limited to just this topic whereas I might see a dimwit like Ann Coulter invited to weigh in on everything from the War in Afghanistan to what Chris Brown did to Rihanna.

I suppose I shouldn’t blame Harry Reid for that lack of Black visibility on these news outlets, but I will. As the Senate majority leader, I want him pushing for legislation that de-consolidates media and makes it more accessible to the wide array of voices and perspectives in the community. I want him to be leading the charge to undue the damage he helped create when he voted Yes for the infamous 1996 Telecommunications Bill.

Reframe the Debate and Hold Reid Accountable

In any case, while this Harry Reid saga runs its course, I think its important that folks push the envelop a bit and reframe the debate away from the narratives seemingly designed to fit the agendas of media outlets, disingenuous politicians or media darlings trying to blow up their names. I wish people who went on these shows were more aggressive in dismissing the Harry Reid vs Trent Lott angle which has resulted in wasteful discussions about who was more offensive and whether or not double standards are at play. That discussion is a trap.

Comparing Harry Reid to Trent Lott is a trap. It only serves the purpose of media outlets looking for conflict and GOP folks trying to stay in the news cycle

The thing we needed to be focused on was the rationale behind Harry Reid‘s remarks and his political relationship to an African-American community that votes to the tune of 96% for the Democrat political party that he leads in the Senate. Our discussion needed to be centered on us evaluating whether or not one of the most powerful lawmakers in the country was setting policy that met the needs and wants of our community.

What caught most people’s attention about Reid’s remarks was him using the phrase Negro Dialect.  It was used in a private conversation and it raised eyebrows because as far as most of us know Senator Reid has never publicly called Obama a ‘Negro’ Senator or President. We haven’t heard him call his African American colleagues in Congress, Negroes.. So where did this phrase ‘Negro dialect’ come from? Why did he use such an out of date word? Was his use of the word just a bad habit or was it reflective of old-time thinking filled with whatever baggage and stereotypes that many whites had stuck in their heads back in the 50s and 60s when the use of that word was pervasive?

Sadly too many pundits were falling over themselves making ding dong excuses for Reid. Some were saying he’s elderly and thats how old folks talk. Others were jumping through hoops talking how we have the United Negro College Fund, the NAACP-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and how the word is used in the 2010 Census therefore it was ok for Reid to go there.

All thats fine and dandy, but last I checked Senator Reid is not a historic 66 year old or 100 year Civil Rights old institution. Last time I interviewed NCAAP head Julian Bond, he didn’t call me Negro and neither had Ben Jealous. I’ve hosted events sponsored by UNCF and no one walked up to me and handed me a script that would would’ve had me addressing our people as ‘Negro’. If these folks stay up to date so can Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

When I first heard of Reid’s remarks the first thing that came to mind was ‘How often does he interact with Black folks on the Capitol Hill’? Cause I’m sure by now someone would’ve checked him. He would’ve had to run into a Maxine Waters, Keith Ellison or someone else who was outspoken who would’ve said; ‘Look Senator, I know your 71 years old, but its 2010 and if my 90 year grandmother from the backwoods of Mississsippi ain’t using the word ‘Negro’ therefore you too Senator Reid can stop using it ‘.

Now unless someone is covering for him, we haven’t heard that such conversation took place. Hence that makes me think, that Senator Reid knows all about speaking multiple dialects? I guess during the day when he’s in in the Senate chambers, he has a distinguished ‘US Senator-dialect’ by night when he’s kicking it in private he loosens up a bit and becomes more Archie Bunkerish with his language?

So again, just to make sure…since Senator Reid used Archie Bunker type language then our primary concern should be examining his voting record to make sure the Senator’s not pushing Archie Bunker type policies. His slip up gave us an extra excuse to hold him politically accountable.

We need to see if Harry Reid's outdated words are reflected in outdated policies

For example, earlier this year Senator Reid voted to prohibit funding for ACORN, an organization that played a key role in helping get President Obama elected. Was Reid’s vote a calculated political decision or did he come across one too many folks from that organization who he felt spoke with a ‘Negro dialect’ thus getting him to draw some far gone  conclusions that ‘Negroes can’t be trusted to do things right’ so hence no funding?

2 or 3 years ago Reid voted to make English the official language for the country. What was going on in his head? Was there no room for Negro dialects? Did he want people to speak only ‘good ole American English’ thus inspiring to cast a vote to make sure?

Just like his political enemies we need to be looking at his voting record and making sure his private conversations of insensitive language was used is not matched by his votes and the agenda he sets for the Senate. You can peep his voting record here: http://www.votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=53320&category=13

Dealing with Republican Hypocrisy

Moving beyond Reid, one needs to look closely at the how the Republicans are handling this. I found it funny to see RNC chair Michael Steele express his supposed outrage for Reid’s remarks when he himself was chin checked by disgruntled members of his own party who felt like he was tarnishing the Republican brand by going on televison talk shows trying to be hip by using Hip Hop jargon which isn’t too far removed from what some might call Negro/Black dialect.

RNC Chair Michael Steele is gonna have a Jesse Jackson moment, he needs to tell Rush Limbaugh to stop playing the Barack the Magic Negro song

Steele said he was trying to make the party more attractive and more Hip Hop like. That whole thing got shut down with the quickness. If you recall, Steele got a verbal ass whupping from radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh who was annoyed and later outraged by Steele’s behavior. It all reached a boiling point when Steele went on the now defunct DL Hugley show which aired on CNN. Sitting between Hughley and Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, Steele got jammed up about why he would hang with a political party that had leaders like Rush Limbaugh who at the time was underfire for saying he ‘wanted President Obama to fail’. Those remarks were coming at the heels of Limbaugh enraging African Americans by repeatdly playing a song during Obama’s campaign called Barack the Magic Negro.

Steele tried to laugh it off, talk a little hip hop slang and assure critics that Limbaugh was ‘just an entertainer’. When Limbaugh heard Steele tried to play him, he went off and smashed on Steele in the tirade of tirades. Limbaugh took to the airwaves and publicly reminded Steele he had 20-30 million listeners and that if he doesn’t start showing some loyalty to the party  he might discover that conservative will not wanna talk to him when he came calling. Limbaugh told Steele that he needed to stop going on TV and start raising money for the RNC. It was a brutal tongue lashing, that resulted in Steele apologizing to Limbaugh and being a lap dog ever since..

We won’t even mention that Steele didn’t have the guts to tell Rush to retire when he was playing the Barack the Magic Negro song. He didn’t even tell him to stop. In fact not too many of the outspoken GOP members stepped up and expressed outrage for racial insensitivity expressed by someone who claimed to be advocating for them.

Just to show you how meeley mouth Steele and his people are let’s see the lack of reaction in April 2009, one month after he got the verbal beatdown by Rush Limbaugh. In the great state of Texas, during a televised session on voter protection fellow GOP party member state rep Betty Brown said Asian-Americans need to come up with more accessible names.

She said;“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”

Brown went further when she told Chinese-American community organizer Ramey Ko, “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Here’s the video of that incident…

Perhaps Senator John Coryn should clean up his own backyard and ask Texas State Rep Betty Brown to resign before stepping to Harry Reid

Like I said Steele was nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t on TV calling for Brown’s retirement. And not to make this a partisan issue but facts are facts, the Democrats in the Texas House asked only for an apology. They did not ask for her to resign. To this day you don’t hear too many Republicans talk about this infamous incident. They try to downplay it. But I guess we’ll have to bring this up now that Texas  senator John Cornyn went and opened his big mouth by demanding that Harry Reid resign.

This is the same Senator Coryn who resides in a state that is 30% Latino voted ‘No’ to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Sonia Satamayor. Coryn was all up in arms, being pompous and showing outrage at remarks Justice Sonia Satamayor made that he considered racially insensitive. I guess I can understand that if he was consistent. He said ‘No’ to Sotomayor,  but not once did he ask representaive Betty Brown to step down… Coryn has no creditibility thus nothing more needs to be said. I guess Steele, Coryn and that whole cabal are only willing to do the Jesse Jackson thing to a point.

On a somewhat lighter note one has to wonder if Senator Reid expressed concern about the use of ‘Negro Dialect’ when Senator Hillary Clinton broke it out  during her campaign. In the same vein did Michael Steele, Senator Coryn or any of their ilk ask Hillary to step down and resign for her ‘Negro speaking moments’? This of course raises the question to which the answer should be more than obvious, ‘Is what we seen expressed over this past week, righteous indignation, a genuine response to racial insensitivity or political opportunity’? As they say in the hood It’s all politics-It’s all politricks.

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