New Visions Commentary
The National Leadership Network of Conservative African-Americans
Note to Congresswoman McKinney: Silence is Golden
by Michael King
Georgia residents have an embarrassment on their hands. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has planted her foot so deep in her throat it may take surgery to remove it. So much so that her constituents ought to remove her from office.
When Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal visited Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center remains, he offered New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani a $10 million check to help with relief efforts. Along with the check came a letter condemning terrorism and offering condolences to the people of New York City. Attached to the letter was a press release from the prince pointing out that the disaster and associated problems were directly related to American middle east policy in general and the Israel-Palestine face-off in particular.1
"Rudy the Rock," to the collective cheers of most of the country, turned down the prince's money.2 The next day, Prince Alwaleed called into CNBC to salvage his reputation. He told the network, "The crime that took place in New York will have no justification whatsoever," but added that there are those in the Arab world who believe the United States is siding with the Israelis over the Palestinians.3
Then Congresswoman McKinney jumped into the fray. The same day the prince called CNBC, she sent him a letter apologizing for Giuliani's rebuke. She suggested the prince instead donate the money to "the poor" and "people of color" in the United States who "could use the $10 million." McKinney essentially agreed with Prince Alwaleed's political machinations, writing that reports of "excessive, and often indiscriminate, use of force by Israeli security forces... breeds a hotbed of anger and despair that destabilizes peace in the Middle East and elsewhere."4
McKinney further suggested accepting the money was a free speech issue. "Whether [Giuliani] agreed with you or not," she wrote, "I think he should have recognized your right to speak and make observations about a part of the world which you know so well."5 Unfortunately for her, her views and those of Prince Alwaleed run counter to that of the heart and soul of America.
Zell Miller, one of Georgia's U.S. senators and a fellow Democrat, called McKinney's letter "disgraceful." Many of her 4th District constituents are also upset with her, including many of her black constituents. Surprisingly, and shocking to me, many people in the poorer sections of DeKalb County - which comprises her core constituency - reportedly support her actions.6
Congresswoman McKinney issued a written statement defending her stance and the letter, saying: "My point was simply that the $10 million donation should have been accepted whether or not we, as Americans, agree with every position taken by the prince."7 But, wait, it gets better. In the midst of all of this, it's been revealed that she was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a function hosted by the Council for American-Islamic Relations, a group which allegedly has ties to terrorist organizations.8
By the way, this isn't the first time McKinney has been an embarrassment. She whined loudly when her oddly-shaped congressional district was redrawn from a shape that facilitated the election of a black candidate to one that more correctly reflected the geographic area. After initially making a racial issue out of it, she stopped yelling when she won reelection.
In Congress, McKinney is known for camping out on the House floor for five to six hours to get a choice seat when the President speaks. This ensures that this "aisle bird" will be seen on national television.9 Her colleagues reportedly call her "the cutest Communist in Congress" for some of her policy stands.10 Her advocacy for African leaders who've wooed her have some critics charging she does more for people in Africa than she for her Georgia district.
But, with her letter to Prince Alwaleed, Congresswoman McKinney has outdone herself. She has tried to equate the number of black prisoners in jail in America with the problems facing Israel and Palestine. In her letter, she essentially said, "Prince, you're right. We Americans are so insensitive and stupid that we deserved to have four planes hijacked and used like missiles, killing more than 5,000 people. Oh, by the way, can I have that check for $10 million now?"
All Americans should be insulted by Cynthia McKinney's behavior.
Many Georgians, myself included, are insulted. Her actions indicate
she does not have the comportment to represent the interests of
American citizens. Let's hope that her constituents are insulted
enough to trundle her out of office in the next election.
1 "Saudi Prince Donates $10 million to
NY, But Giuliani Sends Check Back to Him: Prince Alwaleed Criticizes
U.S. Stand on Palestinians", New York Times article reprinted
by Atlanta Journal-Consitution, available at http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/terrorism/homefront/1012donation.html.
2 Melanie Eversley, "McKinney Apologizes to Saudi for Snub in NY," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 14, 2001.
3 Allison Romano, "CNBC Gets Royal Phone Call," Broadcasting and Cable, October 12, 2001.
4 Letter from Congresswoman Cytnhia McKinney to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, available at http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/news/1014mckinneyletter.html.
6 Melanie Eversley, "Letter to Saudi Prince: McKinney Isn't Sorry for Comments on Israel," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 17, 2001.
8 Alexander Bolton, "Rep. McKinney to Headline Muslim Fundraiser," The Hill, October 3, 2001.
9 Neil Boortz, "This Time Cynthia's Not Just Pathetic... She's Disgusting," available at http://www.boortz.com/oct15-01.htm.
(Michael King is a member of the African-American leadership
network Project 21 and an Internet and radio broadcaster in Atlanta,
Georgia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
A downloadable photo of Michael King is available at http://www.nationalcenter.org/StaffP21MHKingHead.jpg.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.