- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2001

To hear some folks squawk, the Bush administration is a junkyard dog. At its recent convention in New Orleans, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond accused the president of trying to "erase 60 years of civil rights protections" and appointing Cabinet members from the "Taliban wing of American," likening them to the Islamic extremists who repress women and covet terrorists. To be sure, though, the National Urban League, which is holding its annual conference a few blocks from the White House, disagrees with certain Bush policies as well, but without being, well, downright nasty.
Indeed, the league opposes public funding for vouchers, but understands why many black parents have washed their hands of public schools and are seeking alternatives. And its leaders have serious concerns about President Bush's faith-based initiative, but don't reject the idea out of hand. And, when it comes to such issues as reparations for slavery misdeeds, well, League President Hugh Price and Maudine Cooper, president of the Greater Washington Urban League, couldn't have been more in sync with much of black America when they said reparations really and truly aren't on mainstream America's radar screen right about now especially when education reform is a higher priority. "We ought to have zero tolerance for schools that don't work," Mr. Price said on the eve of the convention opening, adding that "I don't know what kind of discussion will have in the broader society" and conceding "broader society will have to write the check."
Indeed, the bedrock mission of the National Urban League jobs, housing and economic unwariness have rarely led to the confrontational style and litigious agitations of the latter-day NAACP. As a matter of fact, the 90-year-old organization has served black and corporate America best when it strikes a conciliatory tone. This week should see more of the same. After all, joblessness is at an all-time low, housing opportunities are at an all-time high and educators are accepting the fact that the military, high-tech trades and the hospitality industry are rewarding career options for high-school grads.
All the more reasons why it is a good thing Mr. Bush is scheduled to address conventioneers on Wednesday, "Civil Rights Day." The same day, as scheduling would have it, Democratic Party wizardress Donna Brazile is pegged to answer the plenary question: is the black vote up for grabs. But before she and the Dems have their gabfest, the president gets to offer the National Urban League absent the boos and snipers that would have met him at the NAACP's convention had he shown up a common ground, particularly his philosophy that strong families, good schools and vibrant communities are this nation's backbones.

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