Jewish World Review April 16, 2002 / 5 Iyar, 5762
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) called for an investigation into whether President Bush and his administration had advance knowledge of the attacks of September 11th and strongly implied that they did nothing to stop the tragedy because they stood to gain financially from the death and destruction.
McKinney spread her unique brand of absurdities during an interview with KPFA, a Berkeley, Ca. (surprise!) public radio station, telling them, "What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered? What do they have to hide?"
While McKinney graciously admitted that she was not aware of any actual evidence that anyone in the administration personally profited from the attacks, she did quickly add, "A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case."
Reports of McKinney's appalling charges have been either buried by the news media or dismissed as the irrelevant ramblings of a congresswoman that everyone knows is not quite right. But to diminish the significance of this sorry episode is to deny some dark realities about our country that it clearly reveals.
First of all, does anyone seriously believe that if a white conservative congressman (say McKinney's fellow Georgian Bob Barr) had made remotely similar comments about something this serious during a Democratic administration that it would have been almost completely ignored by the mainstream media? Would there not be continuous outcries for their immediate resignation or even removal from office? The question is clearly rhetorical.
The next lesson this incident shows is the amazing amounts of hypocrisy in which certain public figures are allowed to indulge without repercussion. Cynthia McKinney is the same congresswoman that you have probably seen desperately trying to kiss President Bush before and after his congressional addresses, and who just over two months ago gladly attended a Bush visit to Atlanta. Perhaps she wasn't really trying to bask in the President's popularity, but rather just gathering information for her investigation.
But the real warning signals here come in the realm of race. The great irony of McKinney's delusions is that one of the immediate legacies of September 11th was how, at least temporarily, the lines of color virtually dissolved in the days after America's greatest challenge. Now, McKinney's exploitation of that horrible event has exposed the elimination of the racial divide as nothing but a long forgotten mirage.
What does this have to do with race, you ask? Plenty.
McKinney is black and represents a competitive district that is sharply segregated. The listener supported radio station on which she spewed her insanity also happens to cater to a largely black audience. One of the dirty little secrets of modern American life is that blacks and whites often view the same events very differently (see O.J. Simpson verdict) and that this phenomenon is at least partially attributable to the fact that blacks and whites get their information from very different sources.
It is no coincidence that black "leaders" like McKinney rudely and offensively walked out on the Electoral College vote when their constituents have been constantly told (with nary a fact to back them up) that the 2000 election was "stolen." While Paul Begala and James Carville refuse to stop lying about that in the "mainstream media," those bogus claims are even more pronounced on "black outlets."
Similarly, with tales of September 11th conspiracies being woven on black talk radio, websites and in urban newspapers, how could a black congresswoman looking to stir passions in her supporters possibly resist scrapping the bottom of the verbal barrel (especially when it seems many blacks have recently forgotten why they are supposed to hate President Bush)? In fact, a fellow member of the Black Caucus even offered a tepid defense of McKinney's wacky theory. "I've heard a number of people say it," said Melvin Watt (D-N.C.).
Heck, it often seems that public figures speaking on "black media" forget that they are not actually on a separate planet and that what they say can in fact be recorded and heard elsewhere (remember Bill Clinton on Tom Joyner's radio show calling Al Gore "the next best thing" to him?).
In the weeks following September 11th, it appeared that the vast majority of our citizens truly
acted like "Americans" instead of as a member of some hyphenated sub group. For the first
time in my life most of us were on the same page and acted like we were playing for the same
team. The irresponsible and reprehensible comments of congresswoman McKinney should serve as a
stark reminder of just how far we have yet to go before ever achieving that goal for more than
just a unique moment in
04/02/02: Calling All White Males