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Confirmation of B. Todd Jones as ATF Head Presents Rare Opportunity for Powerful Black Men

With Senate confirmation yesterday of Minnesota attorney B. Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, it means that three of the most powerful positions in government are held by black men—the president, attorney general and head of the ATF.

Writer Frank Hagler  of believes this presents a rare opportunity to “get control of the message that fuels white middle-class scorn of the black community.”

“It is the only time in the history of America that black men have been in charge of the federal government and law enforcement apparatus and in a position to stop the cycle of resentment and scorn that is represented by the rhetoric of the right,” Hagler writes. “Now is the time to get control of the message that fuels white middle-class scorn of the black community. Now is the time to work on increasing the contact points between that demographic and the black community. Now is the time to get control of the negative images that are the staples of nightly news coverage but are disproportionately higher when it comes to the black community. Now is not the time to allow the right to exacerbate white middle-class scorn against the black community.”

Hagler says that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder created a bond with every other black man that has encountered similar discrimination when they talked about their experiences being racially profiled.

“If two of the most powerful men in the world could relate to the experience of the average black urban youth, surely the rest of America could as well,” Hagler writes. “Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Rather than creating universal empathy, Holder and Obama’s candid talk with the nation set off a wave of divisiveness led by conservatives who can only see black America through the lens of distress, distrust, and fear. The conservative movement has decided that this is their opportunity to have their ‘Willie Horton moment,’ and is looking to amplify white middle-class scorn of America’s black youth.”

Hagler cited the recent statements by commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity that place the blame for black problems on the disintegration of the black family and something O’Reilly calls “gangsta culture.”

“What conservatives are doing is feigning empathy while they project scorn,” Hagler writes, in a devastating analysis. “What motivation would anyone have to help with a systemic problem that is related to draconian drug laws and a racially biased criminal justice system when you can hang all the problems on a bunch of kids that were too irresponsible to stay in school and use birth control?

“Why look into the lack of extracurricular after-school programs which would keep young hands and minds from being idle on the streets when you can blame it all on some rap video? Why look into the lack of vocational education and training opportunities, such as plumbing, electrical lighting and fixtures, TV repair, auto mechanics, carpentry, general contracting, HVAC, PC repair, network administration, and gardening that could be put into immediate use to support neighborhood beautification projects as well as translated into immediate job and small business opportunities, when you can promote that it is all because of hyper-misogynistic rap lyrics?”

“Why look into the need to support more than the high-stakes testing in our education system when you can say that you just need to pull your panties up?” Hagler continues. “Why look into the benefit of supplemental school programs designed to focus on social and life-management skills like conflict resolution, cultural awareness, and tolerance when you can just say, aren’t condoms free?

“And why address disparities in drug enforcement and the glut of illegal guns when slogans like ‘Just Say No’ are so much easier to swallow?”

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