Tue, 5 May 2009
The 12-year Black attorney general of the State of Georgia has defended Black voter suppression laws, co-sponsored two-strikes mandatory life imprisonment, and loves the death penalty. Thurbert Baker is counting on the Black vote, which makes up half the Democratic electorate in the state, to give him a leg up in the gubernatorial primary. "Does it serve Black people's interests, or the cause of justice, for African Americans to take leadership roles in government oppression of Black people?"
Redneck-Like Black Man Wants to be Georgia Governor
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“Thurbert Baker is most proud of passing Georgia’s two-strikes mandatory life imprisonment bill.”
The quality of Black candidates for high office seems to decrease even as the frequency of such candidacies increases.
Thurbert Baker, the Black Democratic attorney general of Georgia, wants to be governor. He was first appointed to the position in 1997 by Zell Miller, the Democratic governor who became a U.S. senator and then supported George Bush in 2004. Zell Miller’s stable of favored Blacks also includes Denise Majette, the former Black Republican lawyer who ran as a Democrat to oust Cynthia McKinney from her suburban Atlanta congressional seat in 2002.
Attorney General Baker was elected on his own in 1998, and has fit in just fine under Democratic and Republican governors. He’s a man for all seasons – which is a kind way of saying he goes wherever the wind blows.
Thurbert Baker has a convenient excuse for his role in defending racist state laws and actions: the job made him do it. When a judge ordered Black teenager Genarlow Wilson released after he was sentenced to ten years for having consensual sex with a 15-year old white girl, Attorney General Baker filed an appeal to keep Wilson in prison. When the Republican state legislature passed a voter ID bill to suppress the Black vote, Thurbert Baker defended the legislation. Baker says his job requires him to defend the laws of the State of Georgia, whether he likes those laws or not. Which isn’t even a good reason to feel sorry for him, much less vote for him.
“The only people who are served by having Black front men for racist policies, are the racists.”
In fact, Thurbert Baker’s excuse for defending bad law and racist state actions – that it’s his job – opens up a larger question: what is the impact on Black interests when Black politicians give legitimacy to racist policies by their active presence and collaboration in carrying out those policies? Does it serve Black people’s interests, or the cause of justice, for African Americans to take leadership roles in government oppression of Black people?
It’s a rhetorical question; we know the answer. The only people who are served by having Black front men for racist policies, are the racists, who can thereby claim that their project is multiracial in nature. For 12 years, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker was available to endorse whatever anti-Black law or project was handed to him by the state administration or the legislature. Now he wants Black folks to reward him.
Blacks make up about 50 percent of the Democratic electorate in Georgia. Baker is counting on that huge bloc as his base in the primary election – even though Black Georgians were never able to count on him. Baker says his first priority is crime – not jobs, not education – and he is most proud of his work as a legislator in passing Georgia’s two-strikes (not three-strikes, but two strikes) mandatory life imprisonment bill. He loves the death penalty. And that’s the last thing Black Georgia needs: a Black man who thinks and governs like a redneck.
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.