- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2001

NEW ORLEANS Julian Bond pilloried the Bush administration in a speech last night to the NAACP's annual convention, saying that November's overwhelming black support for Al Gore for president was a case of "self-interest."
"If we take a quick look at the Bush administration's first few months, that ought to convince anyone that black people voted in their self-interest," the chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People told the crowd of more than 2,000.
President Bush garnered just 7 percent of the black vote in last year's election. Mr. Bush was invited to speak at this week's 92nd annual convention of the NAACP but could not appear because of a scheduling conflict.
Mr. Bond attacked the new administration on several issues including the nomination of John Ashcroft as attorney general and what he called the "enormous, foolish" tax cut.
Mr. Bond assured conventioneers that the tax cut "didn't just pander to the privileged; it placed future funding for important programs in a lockbox, raiding the treasury for a decade, closing the door on government aid for children, for schools, for the poor."
"This is a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich," Mr. Bond said. "The new administration wants to downsize government. What they really need to do is to downsize their extreme agenda and stop governing as if they won a mandate. They didn't even win a majority."
The 500,000-member civil rights group has been criticized for what conservatives see as left-leaning partisanship. The NAACP's tax-exempt status is supposed to preclude all partisan politicking.
Both Mr. Bond, a Georgia legislator from 1965 to 1987, and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, a Maryland congressman from 1987 to 1996, are Democrats.
Mr. Bond's 50-minute address last night was a broad sweep of denigration of the Bush administration, which the NAACP leader compared to the radical Islamic regime in Afghanistan.
The Republican president "has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing, and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection," Mr. Bond said.
He criticized the civil rights records of Mr. Ashcroft and Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, a former Colorado attorney general.
"The president who promised to unite, not divide us, chose as a secretary of the Interior a woman who opposed racially equitable scholarships. … She refused to defend her state's support of a business fairness program," he said.
The November election "confirmed our deep national divisions," Mr. Bond said.
"The only unified demographic groups that cast unified votes were blacks, Latino, Jews, union members, residents of large cities all of whom voted 60 percent or more for Al Gore and white men, who voted 60 percent or more for George Bush."
While black voters are perceived by some as "mindless black sheep led down a one-party path," Mr. Bond said, "You never hear that argument made about the 60 percent of white males nationwide, the 70 percent of Southern white males, who voted as a racial bloc for Bush. And the leaders and groups they listen to are not presumed to have a vested interest in promoting white male supremacy."
The 61-year-old activist recited a litany of racial ills that remain "the central fact of life for every nonwhite American," he said.
"Even as the nation becomes more racially, more ethnically diverse than at any time in our history, white Americans still choose to lead largely segregated lives," Mr. Bond said. "The 2000 Census shows that the average white city- or suburb-dweller lives in a neighborhood that is 80 percent white and only 7 percent black. … Most white Americans have little contact with racial minorities."
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Bond told of his response when he learned of Mr. Ashcroft's confirmation, which had been strongly opposed by the NAACP.
"I was in the Grand Canyon … and it could have collapsed and closed when I heard that, it was that disturbing," Mr. Bond said.
For the second day in a row, Mr. Bond emphasized that the NAACP was not a partisan organization. "People always want to say we're over here," Mr. Bond said, gesturing to his left. "But sometimes we're here" he gestured to the center "and sometimes we're over here," he concluded, gesturing to the right.
"But we're always on the side of right," he said.

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