- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2011


Labor Day, like most man-made holidays, means different things to different people, and today leads to more of the same.

This time around, though, it’s clouded with racial overtones that should make us - the employed and the unemployed - feel a bit uneasy.

The American worker has been singing the blues for months on end, leaving many of us scrambling to make ends meet and finding little reason to celebrate what traditionally is considered the end of summer and beginning of autumn.

There simply aren’t as many nuts to gather.

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis cited congressional “gridlock” as the culprit and said it’s time to don steel-toed brogans and kick “partisan finger-pointing to the curb.”

It’s naive to think hard-core Democrats and shortsighted Republicans are going to reach across the aisle and play nice when partisan finger-pointing is their favorite pastime - regardless of race.

The recent tit-for-tat trading among high-profile black leaders in both camps offers considerable insight into why we Americans must deal ourselves a new hand.

During the August recess, Rep. Andre Carson, whip of the Congressional Black Caucus, said members of Congress affiliated with the tea party would like to see blacks “hanging on a tree.”

That wasn’t the first time Mr. Carson, Indiana Democrat, plucked strange fruit from the incitement tree. In 2010, he claimed tea party protesters gathered outside the Capitol had hurled racial slurs at fellow caucus member John Lewis of Georgia. Video evidence exposes the truth.

Now the partisan saber rattling cuts the racial cloth anew with Rep. Allen B. West tweeting that Mr. Carson’s rhetoric about strange fruit has left him questioning his own caucus membership.

In a letter to caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Mr. West urged him to condemn “hate-filled comments” made by Mr. Carson and other caucus members.

“Otherwise, I will have to seriously reconsider my membership within the organization,” the Florida Republican wrote.

Betwixt those comments came ones made by none other than BET founder Bob Johnson, who while certainly wealthy isn’t exactly the E.F. Hutton of black America, but he is peering into a crystal ball clouded by high unemployment numbers.

“No one is using the bully pulpit to urge corporations to create diversity of opportunity in this economy,” Mr. Johnson told Politico. “We can’t exist in two societies, wherein one population is able to be successful and the other one is unsuccessful - that’s the prescription for social unrest.”

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