Former Secretary Of State Colin Powell sat down for an exclusive interview with Bill O’Reilly yesterday and expressed his opinion on the plight of the poor in America. Powell told his host that Obama’s economic policies were working and that African-American and Latino poor would begin to recover when they receive education for the jobs that are in demand.
The conversation between the two became a bit heated, when General Powell asked O’Reilly “”Why do you only see me as an African American, Bill? That troubles me. I’m an American.” O’Reilly responded by reminding him that Powell was the one who had accused the Republicans of racism and spoke about the lack of Republican support for policies to help African Americans.
O’Reilly: “So you basically said to yourself I’m still going to support the guy even though his economic policies haven’t worked for African Americans and pretty much anyone else.”
Powell: “I’m not speaking as an African American. […] But we have seen a doubling of the stock market, the financial system has stabilized, the economy is starting to improve.”
Critics of Secretary Powell were quick to point out that African Americans, Latinos, and all poor Americans, have suffered under Obama. A recent Census Bureau report found that 46.2 million Americans (one in every six) are currently living in poverty. While the stock market may be growing, the banks bailed out by Obama may be flush with cash, and the large corporations receive major tax breaks and rake in the profits, the poor do not invest in the stock market or receive dividends on their investments in General Electric.
General Powell, who still claims to be a Republican, openly endorsed Obama for President in 2008 and 2012. Recently he gave a series of interviews in which he slammed the Republican Party for their conservative policies and accused them of supporting birthers, fanatics and racists.
“Republicans have to stop buying into things that demonize the president. I mean, why aren’t Republican leaders shouting out about all this birther nonsense and all these other things? They should speak out. This is the kind of intolerance that I’ve been talking about where these idiot presentations continue to be made and you don’t see the senior leadership of the party say, ‘No, that’s wrong.’ In fact, sometimes by not speaking out, they’re encouraging it. And the base keeps buying the stuff.”
Secretary Powell is entitled to his opinions, but many prominent Conservatives were happy to disagree with him. Republican leaders were quick to point out that it was the Republican Party that pushed the 1964 Civil Rights Act through the Congress, while the Democrats voted against it and led a 57-day filibuster against the Bill in the Senate.
The General commented recently that he supported Obama due to the “dark vein of intolerance” running through the Republican Party and their support for policies that victimize minorities. Much has been written about the fact that John McCain was the most liberal minded Republican Candidate for President in the modern era and Conservatives dispute Powell’s claim that he was pushed to support Obama in 2008 due to the right wing extremism of his party.
In the world full of political double speak and evasive answers to softball questions, it is likely the American public will never know the truth about General Powell’s stunning attack on his own party. However, we do know that when Powell was the Secretary of State he supported the policies of Bush and Cheney. The reward for his loyalty, and decades of dedicated service to his nation, was to be called an “Uncle Tom” by Liberals and Democrats.
The General certainly stirred up a hornets nest with his recent comments. No matter which party you support, there is one thing we can all agree on. It is high time we stop dividing Americans by race, religion or national origin. Instead we should remember the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, written a few weeks before his death in 1919:
“We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin.”
“But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”