Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama is showing his own core conservative politics with his choice of Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court. A New York Times investigation shows “Kagan as a devotee of so-called 'race-neutral' social policies that avoid solutions that directly target racial disparities.” This is not an example of Obama “reaching out” to the Right, but of promoting a lawyer whose views “appear to be identical” to his own. His choice ensures many decades of bad news for Black people.


Kagan and Obama: Two “Race-Neutral” Peas in a Pod

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Kagan was part of the right wing of Bill Clinton’s center-right White House.”

It is a measure of their timidity and lack principles that the civil rights establishment did not protest President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court. It is also, I believe, a great irony of history that the first Black president and his first white Supreme Court nominee share an ideology on race that is effectively hostile to Black people. They are two race-neutral peas in a pod.

The New York Times did its due diligence and searched through nearly 5,000 pages of documents to reveal that Kagan was part of the right wing of Bill Clinton’s center-right White House.

Between 1997 and 1999, Kagan was deputy to Bruce Reed, a White House domestic policy aide and operative of the Democratic Leadership Council, the outfit that funnels corporate money to favored Democratic politicians. Bill Clinton was one of the founders of the DLC, in the Eighties, as a means for white leaders in the South to hold on to power in the Democratic Party even as whites kept deserting to the Republicans. It was Reed who coined the phrase, “End welfare as we know it.” Elena Kagan and Bruce Reed teamed up to resist whatever Black progressive influences remained in the Clinton White House. In Clinton’s second term, their nemesis was Christopher Edley, Jr., a Black law professor who founded The Civil Rights Project at Harvard. Edley was brought into the White House as a consultant to help shape the president’s racial policies. Edley wrote that he feared “this could well be the administration that presides over the substantial dismantling of opportunity in selective higher education.” It is clear that two of the people he feared were eager to take the wrecking ball to affirmative action were Elena Kagan and her boss and political buddy, Bruce Reed.

Reed and Kagan resisted the very idea of forming a White House commission on race.”

Christopher Edley had good reason to worry. Reed and Kagan wanted to keep the decibels on race as low as possible, and the two resisted the very idea of forming a White House commission on race. These two right-wing Democrats disparaged social safety net programs as vectors of dependency; they spoke of civil rights issues as things of the past, with Ms. Kagan writing that the White House “focus should be on the future, not Kerner – meaning the 1968 Kerner Commission Report that warned of two separate nations, “one white, one black.” In a sense, Elena Kagan and Bruce Reed personified the white corporate backlash against Black and labor influence in the Democratic Party.

The New York Times' investigation shows Kagan as a devotee of so-called “race-neutral” social policies that avoid solutions that directly target racial disparities. She will not be a friend of Black people in her next, lifetime job. But she is precisely the kind of Justice that Barack Obama could be expected to favor, since their racial views appear to be identical. Like Kagan, Obama assumes a position of race-neutrality, that in practice refuses to redress past or current racial inequalities. Barack Obama's gift to Blacks is to put another racist on the Supreme Court.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100623_gf_KaganReed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:17am EDT