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McKinney’s Defeat

The Baltimore Sun (08/25/02) called the defeat of Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney (D-GA) just “another sign of the new political style.” It claimed the courageous congresswoman, who had dared to oppose the interest of the powerful Israeli lobby and to stand up for human rights for the Palestinian people, belonged to the “far extremes of American politics.”

Nothing could be further from the truth . McKinney’s laudable opinions on the Palestinian question are consistent with the revolutionary values and principles of the Republic that was created by our Founding Fathers over 226 years ago. It’s the Sun’s editorialist views, not McKinney’s, which are beyond the pale of our traditions.

It needs no citation of authority that the Palestinian people have a right to full freedom. This Natural Law right existed prior to any written constitution and is incidental to their sovereignty. McKinney’s championing of such a nobel proposition is as American as apple pie. On the other hand, Israel’s denial of it, like the evil of colonialism itself, is a crime against humanity that cries to heaven for relief.

The Israeli lobby’s interference in a local congressional election is the real “sign of the new political style” and that spells trouble for participatory democracy. It was also a gross insult to the proud African-American community. Before the election, McKinney’s father, Rep. Billy McKinney, insisted that his daughter had been targeted for defeat by the Israeli lobby. In fact, he was very explicit that there was a “plot.” Mr. McKinney, a seasoned political veteran, is a highly-respected member of Georgia state’s House of Representatives. He feared her political enemies would “buy everybody” to bring his daughter down. McKinney’s winning opponent outraised her by an unprecedented $500,000 in the primary challenge. The Washington Times, (08/22/02), unlike the Sun’s editorial, admitted that “Jewish money both national and local flowed into the campaign” to McKinney’s opponent.

McKinney’s compassionate attitude towards the Palestinians is a continuation of the teachings of one of her heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King. It is simply unthinkable that King, if he were alive today, would remain mute in the face of Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians, which has included: the use of death squads; torture of detainees; home demolitions; forced deportations; the siege of Jenin, Ramallah, and Bethlehem, the holiest site in Christendom; and the ongoing collective punishment of the innocent.

The Sun further smeared McKinney as a “loose cannon” and “flamethrower” with a “sharp tongue” for suggesting President George Bush (a/k/a “little Bush”) may have ignored warnings about September 11 and benefitted financially from the war on terrorism. A sensational new book by William Gertz, supports part of McKinney’s charges against the White House, however. Entitled, “Breakdown: How America’s Intelligence Failure Led to September 11,” it details pervasive intelligence problems, some under Bush’s presidency, that allowed the U.S. to be blindsided by terrorists.

McKinney, a true daughter of the South, regularly spoke her conscience on many controversial issues for the last 10 years. She declined to be pushed around. She always said what she meant and in bold terms, too. Her strong voice will be dearly missed in the halls of congress, an institution not known for its gutsy mavericks. The insidious way she was defeated will be remembered and undoubtedly bring repercussions.

Even in her concession speech, McKinney was inspiring. She said, inter alia: “And somewhere tonight, men in powerful positions are taking the first steps toward sending our country into war. Somewhere tonight, powerful interests are working to silence those that are a threat to their power. Every day in Congress I kept those images in mind. Images of real people with real problems. And real abuses of real power. Today, even in defeat, I have been lifted. Lifted upon the shoulders of the people of Georgia…”

Finally, one of McKinney’s key supporters is Joshua Ruebner, executive director of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel. As a result of the campaign, he gave this warning: “This is a dangerous dynamic. Jews are the ones who started picking off African American politicians because of their views on the Middle East, and that was undue meddling. It is doing irreparable harm to relations with African-Americans” (Washington Times, 08/22/02).

William Hughes is the author of Baltimore Iconoclast. He can be reached at liamhughes@mindspring.com.

William Hughes 2002

 

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