Friday, November 04, 2005

Kayne West was wrong! Bush cares for black use for photo ops!

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush got in the way of Soul Food Thursday on the campus of Howard University last week, causing further resentment of the Commander in Chief among students at the Washington HBCU.

The Bushes were there to attend a summit on at-risk youth at the school’s Blackburn Center, and as such, Secret Service put the whole school on lockdown. Classes and tests were canceled and many buildings, including the dining hall in the Blackburn Center hosting Soul Food Thursday, were closed. This meant no fried chicken, no macaroni and cheese, no collard greens and no cornbread.

Many students began to protest the denied access to parts of their own university. They locked arms around a flagpole in the Quadrangle and refused to be moved, despite threats from the Secret Service that snipers were at the ready on rooftops.

Adding insult to injury, students also said university police interfered with a television news crew trying to interview students and shoot video of the student protests. The crew was reportedly asked to leave campus.

(via WaPo, How Bush Visit Became the Siege Of Howard U.)
You'd have thought Howard had taken a page right out of the Bush administration playbook on quashing First Amendment freedoms. In a letter posted the day before on a university Web site, President H. Patrick Swygert wrote that, having notified the campus via e-mail in July, he was sending a reminder of the Bush visit. But students complained that they hadn't seen either message and criticized school officials and the Bush administration for poor planning.
The Republican Party is trying hard to win over black voters before the midterm elections, and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele needs the support of black Democrats in his bid to become the first black Republican in the U.S. Senate since Howard alumnus Edward Brooke of Massachusetts (1967-1979). So one thing Bush didn't want was a ruckus during a visit to Howard.

All he had to do was drop in on Soul Food Thursday, be seen sharing a wing and some collard greens with students -- and score one for the GOP.

But the visit went from bad to worse. On a day when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution paying tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who died last week, campus security guards were telling students that if they wanted to eat they'd have to come back when the president and first lady were gone, then go to a service door at the rear of the dining hall and ask for a chicken plate to go. Never mind that a student meal plan at Howard can cost as much as $2,500 a semester.

Howard is not some hotbed of political activism. The biggest event of the year is homecoming, which features two fashion shows, a step show and lots of hip-hop celebrities.
To set off a student protest at this school, you'd have to be politically tone-deaf in the extreme, out of touch and flying blind. And yet, Bush did it.

God help us in Iraq.


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