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Double standards in Black and white

Published Mar 10, 2010 6:06 PM

Crookedness in U.S. ruling-class politics is the rule, not the exception. To win the game, politicians often have to play by the same rule book as their peers — a book that’s filled with corrupt tricks. So why is it that some politicians get singled out for exposure, if they’re all playing the game?

In the past couple of weeks, two Black New York politicians, Gov. David Paterson and Rep. Charles Rangel, have been the target of highly publicized ethics investigations. Rangel has been forced to step down from his position as chairperson of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which is charged with writing tax legislation and bills affecting Social Security, Medicare and other social service programs. Paterson has said he will not seek re-election, while many are clamoring for his resignation.

There’s another rule in the U.S. politics rule book: the double standard. It’s pretty safe to say that most ruling-class politicians accept bribes, cheat on their spouses and commit all sorts of crimes that they’re never charged for and never see the light of day. And that doesn’t even mention the open crimes that aren’t labeled as such, like sending troops to kill and be killed around the world, or ensuring poverty and starvation by denying the right to food, education, housing and/or health care.

But when things get tense — say, during the height of a devastating economic crisis — and the powers-that-be need a fall guy or become concerned about a politician’s allegiances, they’ll dig up as much dirt as possible and put it on display for the public to condemn.

Both Paterson and Rangel have contradictory records when it comes to support for working people. They may or may not have committed the ethics violations.

The double standard is especially used when it comes to Black politicians. The racist U.S. ruling class through the years has attacked Black politicians, from Harlem Congressperson Adam Clayton Powell Jr. to Massachusetts Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, former Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee Jr. and Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner. The goal is to remind those Black politicians still in office that they’d better not get out of line, either. A more insidious goal is to socially disenfranchise the communities of color that these politicians represent.