Tuesday, April 04, 2006

House member plays race card when caught ignoring the rules.

It couldn't last for long. What are the odds that I would praise politicians two days in a row? Not very high I fear. And the object of my displeasure today is Rep. Cynthia McKinney who represents sections of Atlanta, Georgia. The U.S. Capitol Police are seeking an arrest warrant against McKinney. She is playing the race card in a disgusting way over an incident at the Capitol.

McKinney walked into an area reserved for representatives and their staff. But she did not wear the badge that is required for access. A police officer asked her to stop so he could verify her identity. She refused and ignored the request. It is alleged that the officer asked her three times to stop and identify herself and that she refused each time. She kept going and the officer caught up with her and "placed a hand on her". From the sounds of it he probably touched her shoulder or back. But it is unclear from reports. But considering she was walking away from him he either would have done that or took her elbow to stop her.

McKinney has launched into a tirade accussing the police of racism and she responded by calling a rally of black churches to come together to attack the Capitol police. Her claim is that the police officer didn't recognize her because he's a racist. She ignores that fact that there are 465 congressional members and each has there own staff. A police officer would have to memorize the faces of a few thousand people without even worrying about turnover. That such a task is unreasonable is part of the reason that ID is issued.

Also reports say that McKinney had just rather dramatically changed her look (see the photos above). They say she had just recently changed her "trademark" cornrow hair style which would probably make it even more difficult to recognise her without her ID on. When the police officer stopped her she turned on him and slapped him. Instead of admitting wrong on her part she says he is clearly a racist and bigot. He stopped her, she is a woman and black, therefore he is a sexist and racist. She said: "This whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black congresswoman." Presumeably she expects police to recognise automatically any one face out of thousands he must deal with on any normal day. Second, she assumes the requirement to wear ID to avoid such problems does not apply to her because she is a woman and black. (As we shall shortly see she seems to think that about other rules as well.) And thirdly she can't see that she was the one in error who ought to apologise and is instead trying to stir up trouble with accusations that so far, at least, seem to have no merit.

That she is black and a woman does not mean she can ignore the rules about ID requirements. Nor does it mean that when a police officer askes her for ID that he is guilty of some heinous act of racism. And other than making unsubstantiated accusations she is refusing to tell the press what precisely happened.

Meanwhile there was another incident where a rule was broken by McKinney. She took money from a fund for members of Congress. The fund is for them to buy office supplies. Instead McKinney used $1000 to fly singer Isaac Hayes to appear for her at an office opening she had in Atlanta. She also used some of the funds to pay for his hotel expenses. This is in clear violation of rules regarding the use of taxpayer funds and McKinney was caught red handed. McKinney will be allowed to pay the $1000 back and the matter will be ignored. This seems to be a policy that encourages officials to take money for inappropriate uses. If they get caught nothing happens and they merely pay back the funds. If they don't get caught they get to use money for other political purposes.

The black community, instead of rallying to McKinney's side, ought to condemn this sort of behaviour. One law for all doesn't mean that one can ignore sensible rules merely because of membership in some specific group. I do not believe that McKinney was singled out due to either her sex or race but due to the simply fact that she wanted to enter the Capitol building's secure area without any ID. Shame on her for blowing this out of proportion and shame on Atlanta for supporting her.