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Ben Jealous, the world will remember that you put petty partisan politics above the life of Troy Davis.

IW:  I tried to reply to an email from NAACP President/CEO Ben Jealous titled, “The World Will Remember Troy Davis.” Unsurprisingly, the email it was sent from does not allow for replies.  Below is what I wanted to tell Mr. Jealous:

The world will remember that you, Ben Jealous, put petty partisan politics above the life of Troy Davis. The Obama administration did nothing, and you stood there and made apologies for them while be interviewed live on Democracy Now! last night.  I wish there were  archived video or a transcript available of your comments stating that Obama has no power to intercede and that his Justice Department has tried to determine any way they could intercede.  It’s not that hard for Obama or his Justice Department to figure out.   In a case where 7 or 9 witnesses have recanted their testimony, the Obama Justice  Department should have initiated an affirmative investigation into the corruption surrounding this case.  And you, Mr. Jealous, should have called them out for not doing it.

Similarly, you refused to call out President Obama for personally supporting the death penalty in the video of the section of your interview that is available on Democracy Now!  Instead you tried to link Obama with Illinois abolition of the death penalty in his home state.  Here is my transcript of your conversation that followed with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!: 

AMY GOODMAN: Yet he [Obama] supports the death penalty

BEN JEALOUS: I hope that he is questioning it tonight.  I hope that he — in this moment — as a Constitutional Law Professor looking at the limits of the U.S. Constitution. . . .

And then you completely changed the subject to talking about the Constitution.

The NAACP seems to be getting its talking points directly from the Obama White House.  According to  Reuters, the White House Press secretary “Jay Carney issued a statement saying that although Obama ‘has worked to ensure accuracy and fairness in the criminal justice system’ it was not appropriate for him ‘to weigh in on specific cases like this one, which is a state prosecution.’

Accurate and fair?  Not appropriate?  How can Obama consider the cruel and unusual punishment of the death penalty to be accurate and fair?   How is cruel and unusual punishment labelled as not appropriate for the President to weigh in on?  How is a wrongful conviction  labelled as accurate and fair?  How is a wrongful conviction  labelled as not appropriate for the President to weigh in on?

I resigned from the NAACP when a lifetime achievement award was given to Condoleezza Rice.  Your excuses last night reinforced that decision.

If you want to see a more appropriate, but still too indirect, answer  to the question about Obama’s sins of omission you can look to Amnesty International USA Executive Director Larry Cox who was standing right next to you last night.  Here is Democracy Now’s transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: Can President Obama weigh in here?

LARRY COX: Well, of course he could weigh in. I don’t think he can, himself, you know, stop the execution. This is now up to the courts. But he could certainly weigh in. I think President Obama’s position on the death penalty is not an abolitionist position, but as you pointed out, there many people who support the death penalty, like Bob Barr, who have said, even if you support the death penalty, this cannot be the kind of case that the death penalty should be used for. So, President Obama could say that. He certainly has spoken out on other issues. And we wish he would. [empahsis added]

Mr Jealous, you invoked the name of Dr. Martin Luther King while speaking about the Troy Davis execution.  If you had accepted my email reply, you would have seen a quote from Dr. King’s 1967 speech entitled “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam” in the signature.  Dr. King was castigated by all the corporate media for making the speech because they considered him only a voice for civil rights, and they thought it was not appropriate for him to weigh in on matters of foreign policy.  Sound familiar?  In the speech, Dr.  King admitted that previously he agreed with the corporate media’s point of view.  His mind was changed by urban youth who questioned how he could ask them to renounce violence as a means for change when he did not denounce the US government’s violence as a means for change abroad.  Keep in mind that Dr. King did not soften his words because this was a war started by one Democratic President and continued by another.  Dr.  King was not blinded by partisan politics when seeking justice.  Next time you are asked about Obama’s silence in the face of violence, I hope you look to Dr. King’s words:

Now, I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.

One Response

  1. Great read. Your astuteness on this matter is epic. Thx.

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