For Release: January 10, 2001
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or Project21@nationalcenter.org
Members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 condemn the campaign being waged by leftist groups to smear former senator John Ashcroft, President-elect George W. Bush's selection for Attorney General, as a racist. In particular, Project 21 members are concerned about the actions and comments of the leaders of civil rights groups that put the continued viability and credibility of those groups at risk.
"America's civil rights establishment cries wolf more loudly than the boy in the fairy tale," said Scripps-Howard columnist and Project 21 advisory board member Deroy Murdock. "By promiscuously painting any ideological opponent as 'racist,' these groups and individuals devalue the importance of that term and diminish the likelihood that they will be taken seriously when people sincerely deserve to be accused of racism. John Ashcroft is no bigot, and the civil rights crowd owes him a heartfelt apology for suggesting he is one."
Ashcroft has a distinguished record of public service, including previously serving as state attorney general and governor of Missouri and as a U.S. senator. As governor, he signed into law the Missouri observance of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday as well as state honors for musician Scott Joplin and educator George Washington Carver. He also helped to save the historically black Lincoln University and made precedent-setting appointments of black candidates to judicial posts.
Critics of Ashcroft have seized on his opposition to black judicial nominee Ronnie White in 1999 as an indicator that he may harbor racist tendencies. Ashcroft, however, said he opposed White's nomination because White would "push the law in a pro-criminal direction, rather than defer to the legislative will of the people and interpret the law as written." Apart from White, Ashcroft's rate of confirmation of black judicial nominees during the Clinton Administration was 26 of 28 (with one nominee withdrawn by Clinton) - a confirmation rate of over 96%.
In one particular criticism of Ashcroft, the NAACP gave Ashcroft an "F" on their legislative scorecard, inferring that Ashcroft's Senate record was anti-civil rights. Votes selected by the NAACP, however, included the Clinton impeachment, gun control legislation, expansion of the federal government's role in education and raising the minimum wage - none of which are civil rights issues.
"Liberals tell the press they want to work with conservatives and want a healing process, but liberal politicians like Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle are employing NOW, Big Labor and so-called civil rights groups - as well as the Congressional Black Caucus - to do their political bidding and cut Ashcroft off at the knees with outright lies and heresay," said Project 21 advisory board member Kevin Martin.
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American
community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi
at (202) 507-6398 x106 or Project21@nationalcenter.org,
or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.