Rep. Gus Savage rally during early 1990’s talking about the influence of the Jewish lobby on Congress.
Thu, 29 Mar 1990 03:57 CST
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Savage] is recognized for 60 minutes.Mr. SAVAGE. Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to deal with the problem that occurred in my recent primary election, the one in which–let me just say that I was successful, despite this problem. However, I want to bring it to the attention of our Nation tonight. For while I mention it in reference to my own experience in the recent primary election, I am convinced that it constitutes a danger for all America and threatens to rip the fabric of our democracy.I represent the Second Congressional District in Illinois. It is not an inner-city district. It consists mainly of bungalows, semi-professional, and blue collar workers, second and third generation families there. It is approximately 30 percent suburban, approximately 30 percent nonblack. It is an industrial district that has housed most of the heavy industry in Illinois–automobile assembly plants, stamping plants, three steel mills, at one time, four.
In this campaign a strange thing occurred. A column was written by a columnist in the Sun-Times, the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, by the name of Vernon Jarrett, that raised questions about who really was my opponent, because of what appeared to be a strange tilt in the sources of his campaign funding.
I want to share some facts with Members here this evening, that perhaps could be shared by some others who have been targeted, apparently as I was in this primary, and unfortunately, they lost their reelection bid.
After seeing this column, I began to check the records in the Federal Election Commission report of my opponent for this year, which was available only for January and February, of course, and began to check the identities of those who had contributed to his campaign. I want to let Members know what I found.
It relates to an organization called the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee. So before I begin to give numbers, amounts, let me first familiarize Members with the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee, because it is not well-know beyond Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and your elected representatives. It is indeed a rather shadowy operation, and I want to not just try to describe the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee, better known as AIPAC, and I will refer to it from the initials, A-I-P-A-C, AIPAC. This is not to be confused, incidentially, with the term ‘PAC’–referring to political action committees, as Members know, are those organizations under the Federal Election Commission that organize to contribute money to campaigns for Federal candidates and others. However, AIPAC means the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee, not a PAC–has no right to contribute money to candidates, therefore, but rather than to try to describe it myself, I want to just read excerpts to Members from newspapers reports that I discovered when I began to pursue this matter. In the process, I began to realize that I had been targeted for defeat by AIPAC.
First, The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 1987, an article by John J. Failka, and reads just in part, refers to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, as ‘one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying organizations.’ He points out in the article that ‘According to a computer-aided analysis of 1986 Federal Election Reports, despite AIPAC’s claims of noninvolvement in political spending, no fewer than 51 pro-Israel PAC’s, most of which draw money from Jewish donors’–I am reading a quote from The Wall Street Journal–‘Jewish donors and operate under obscure-sounding names are operated by AIPAC officials, or people who hold seats on AIPAC’s two major policymaking bodies’. Continuing this article, ‘The analysis shows that three of seven regional chairpersons at AIPAC direct PACs’–meaning political action committees, those who can legally contribute money and do–‘three of seven regional chairpersons of AIPAC direct PAC’s, political action committee, and 26 more political action chairmen or treasurers sit on AIPAC’s 131-member executive committee which meets four times a year and set overall lobbying strategy.
‘Twenty-two more political action committee leaders hold seats on the second advisory body or AIPAC, a 200-member national council.’
And it concludes: ‘While the pro-Israel PACs’–that is political action committees, not AIPAC–‘represent diverse and supposedly bipartisan Jewish committees in almost every major city and region in the country, their spending patterns are remarkably similar.’
I ask you to bear with me as I read from three or four clippings briefly to lay the ground work to understand this obscure operation, because however obscure and disguised, if you will bear with me you will learn what should be of great concern to us all. Here is the next clipping–and I am going to relate these down the line–is from the Washington Times newspaper, January 13, 1989.
It says in part: ‘A group of prominent Americans concerned about Washington’s diplomatic tilt toward Israel filed a complaint yesterday with the Federal Elections Commission charging in a 100-page complaint that AIPAC has worked so closely’–I am just reading–‘with legally established PAC’s to target political candidates on the basis of their positions toward Israel, that the PAC’s’–political action committees–‘are in effect affiliates of the lobby group.’
That would be illegal. That would be in violation of the Federal election laws. It would be in violation of what AIPAC contends are the limits of its own activities. And I continue from the same clipping: ‘AIPAC’s formidable ability to monopolize congressional support is based not upon an appeal to American nation interests’–now, get this–‘but upon threats by a special interests that has resorted to conspiracy and conclusion.’ That is a quote.That is Richard Curtis, formerly the Chief Inspector of the U.S. Information Agency and one of the plantiffs in this case.’The complaint supported by more than two dozen exhibits’–this is not longer the quote; this is in the newspaper clipping or the report–‘demands that the FEC force AIPAC to register as a political action committee and disclose its activities. Such a ruling would hamper the effectiveness of the lobby which operates behind the scenes to recruit support for Israel, the largest recipient of United Sstates aid, with $3 billion annually, and to oppose weapons sales to Arab foes of the Jewish state.’
Now, that is from the Washington Times, by Isaiah Poole.
I have just a couple more, because I will bet that most of you are not familiar with AIPAC nor any of this that I am reading. This is from the Washington Post, November 14, 1989, an aritcle by Charles R. Babcock. It says:
Internal AIPAC documents made available to the Washington Post, however, show that the group’s top political operative was actively involved with pro-Israel political action committees–PACS–trying to help raise money for several condidates in the 1986 Senate races.
A memo from Elizabeth A. Schrayer, then AIPAC’s deputy political director, five weeks before that election urged an assistant to call several pro-Israel PACs and ‘try’ to get $500 to $1,000 donations for five specific Senate candidates.
In the Sept. 30, 1986, memo, Schrayer listed nine pro-Israel PACs and noted that some had not contributed to certain candidates.
Four other documents are 1985 letters from Schrayer to individuals in Massachusetts, California and Hawaii. In them, she offers to provide fund-raising ideas and arrange speakers for a new pro-Israel PAC, sends a sample solicitation letter and list of pro-Israel PACs to a fund-raiser for Evans, and volunteers to answer questions about starting a PAC.
AIPAC’s major goal is maintaining the level of foreign aid to Israel, now $3 billion a year, and defecting arms sales to Arab countries.
Now, what this is beginning to show you is that the interest or the purpose of AIPAC is to promote a foreign nation, not in America’s interest, an organization operating within America composed of Americans, in the interest of a foreign nation interfering in the internal affairs and the elections of this Nation.
Let me go a little further now. Here, this is again from the Washington Post, dated October 7, 1988. Let us see what kind of interference this is. For what purpose, and who do they attack? Let us watch this. This article is written by the same Charles Babcock. It says this: Now listen closely.
The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the nation’s chief pro-Israel lobby, has become a subject of attention twice in the past week because of reports of partisan involvement or personal attacks in the 1988 political campaign.
One case centers on a year-old internal AIPAC staff memo urging that Jewish reporters raise questions about Jesse L. Jackson’s sex life and finances.
That is AIPAC pursuing the interests of a foreign government, beginning to try to develop surreptitious means of hurting and damaging a Presidential candidate in this Nation. This gets closer and closer, as you would notice, to something un-American.
Now, here in a special report of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs of July 1989, it points out–and I am reading again–’70 active pro-Israel political action committees’–now, those are PAC’s that give money to influence the outcome of elections–‘spent $3,870,052 in direct contributions in the 1988 elections.’
I am skipping over and just reading excerpts.
‘There are several factors that make pro-Israel PAC’s unique. The first is their names.’
Now, you might ask, what is in a name? Why try to name something in a way as to not reveal its purpose and its function?
It continues in this article: ‘Edward Roeder, whose Sunshine News Service publishes PAC’s Americana–that is a book–‘to draw this admission from Robert Golder, president of Delaware Valley PAC.’
That is Robert Golder, president of the Delaware Valley PAC. That is an innocent sounding name, Delaware Valley PAC. That could be about nature. It could be about streams or whatever else might attract people to the small State of Delaware. It could be about the headquarters, about the many corporations that are located there.
But what does Golder, the president of the Delaware Valley PAC say? This is from the article: ‘This PAC is a group of American Jewish people working for a strong American position on Israel I don’t know that it’s necessary for outsiders to know who we are – it’s a small group of Jewish fundraisers raising money from mostly Jewish contributors, and we can explain who we are to them.’
The article, and I am no longer quoting Golder, but the article by Richard Curtis, continues that, ‘If 70 pro-Israel PAC’s active in 1988 coordinated their giving,’ and to do that through AIPAC would be illegal, ‘coordinated their giving, internal AIPAC documents instructing employees to contact named PACs and tell them to give designated amounts to named candidates which have fallen in the hands of both the Washington Post and the TV show, Sixty Minutes.’
Mr. Speaker, you may recall the show when Mike Wallace exposed AIPAC. They indicated that coordination involving at least 20 of the major pro-Israel PAC’s took place in 1988 and that such coordination makes AIPAC and those PAC’s into a single PAC, circumventing the law that limits donations to a single candidate.
Now let us, after I got through that, described a PAC to you and make you a bit more familiar with AIPAC; so now let me go back to where we started and relate it to my recent primary.
Here is a letter dated February 28, 1990, from a Robert H. Asher, 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL. Now I am going to tell you, and I will identify for you, this Robert H. Asher later. Let me first read this letter that was mailed by Robert H. Asher.
Let me just tell you right now so I do not hold you in suspense. Robert H. Asher was the president of AIPAC. But let us read.
‘Gus Savage has one of the worst attendance records in Congress.’
Well, now of course that is untrue. The records of how often one votes in Congress is a matter of public records in print, and though many of you may know that in newspapers and television for the past 8, 9 years, whenever–many times when they just mentioned my name they say, ‘Gus Savage who has such a poor attendance record,’ and, if I say that is in print, then they can find out just what that record is, and they would discover that record was not poor except for the few months of bereavement when in 1981, I lost my wife of 34 years to a very excruciating ailment, that except for that, nowhere near poor. But yet he says this, and, as I said, I will explain later why it might be interesting to note that the press has been saying this for the past 8 or 9 years knowing that it was not true and knowing that you would have, perhaps, no interest enough to check to find out whether it was true or not and just accepted it.
And he says that, ‘Since he is consistently anti-Israel,’ Gus Savage, ‘anti-Semitic, pro-PRO, pro-Farrakhan, his lack of attendance is probably a good thing.’
That is a bit scandalous, but let us see what his purpose of disseminating such falsehoods is.
‘If Savage is not defeated this time, he’ll be in Congress as long as he wants.’
Well, I hope he was correct in that regard at least.
Then he concludes, ‘Please send your check payable to the Committee to Elect Mel Reynolds in the enclosed envelope. The primary is less than a month away. Sincerely, Robert H. Asher.’
I wonder why he is so interested in AIPAC in influencing the outcome of a primary election in the Second District of Chicago? The main issue in the Second District in Chicago is not Israel. It is about jobs. These are unemployed steelworkers, unemployed automobile workers. Jobs. Working conditions. Wage rates. Federal assistance to avoid mortgage foreclosures as a consequence of unemployment resulting from the structural economic changes in our country. Not Israel. Why then would he be so concerned about the outcome of that election? Let us see just how concerned he actually is.
Now what I am going to do is where I really feel the point I wanted to reach that makes this all relevant. I have here a list of the executive board of AIPAC, an executive board of AIPAC and its national council and officers. That is how I know who Robert H. Asher is. What I intend to do here now is to take the Federal Election Commission report filed by my then opponent, Mel Reynolds, filed here, his signature, for January and February of this year, the only one, the latest one that is available.
Now I am making this statement because I want my colleagues to conclude or agree with me that we need to strengthen the Federal election laws. We need to enforce that which now exists against AIPAC, and we need to be concerned about an agency whose main concern is the interest of a foreign government, taking advantage of the rights and privileges of American citizenship to influence your Congress.
Now, Reynolds had to file this, as all candidates do, and, incidentally, let me say that when I go to point out to you how much money he raised, you will find during that period, though they say incumbency is protected by our capacity to raise so much money; in that period I only raised $15,000, but Reynolds raised $51,000, more than three times as much.
Never held office before in his life. Did not live in the district until a couple of years ago.
What about all of this money? Well, I can tell you something about money. I was, during our break in January, taking a little time off. I play golf; at least I claim I do. Some of those who play with me deny that. But at least I try, and I enjoy it, find it relaxing.
So, there is a great golf course down in the Bahamas called Paradise Island. So, I went to Nassau to play golf. And, after you finish a round of golf, you go back to the hotel resort, as some of you have done, I hope, and you go outside because it is such a wonderful climate there, and there is an outside bar; a refreshment stand may be a better way of putting it. You go out, and you refresh yourself, and they have entertainment outdoors there by the bar, and in this instance there is calypso singing which is very common in this part of the world, and a fellow was singing a song, a calypso song. I had not heard it before, but I do remember the lyrics because it was so interesting, and they are applicable here.
As my colleagues know, calypso is like the blues to African Americans. It is their complaining about personal problems, and in this song that is what he was complaining about. According to the lyric of this song, this man was complaining about his woman, not uncharacteristic of calypso songs, nor of the blues. Apparently she had come home very late one night. In fact, she stayed out all night long, and, as they say, the sunshine had caught up with her. The song indicates that she came in, fell asleep, and the man was so concerned and distraught, a very poverty-stricken family, and he started checking to see was she all right. And he noticed her purse, which was usually bare, was just chock full of something, just bulging, a bulging purse, and he opened the purse, and money just fell out. All kinds of money, and that is what the song says, all kinds of money from all kinds of places.
Well, of course in a resort like Nassau people come from all over the world, and, as the song goes, he tried to awake her to ask her, ‘Where did you get all of this money?’ That is the title of the song. And it goes, ”Where did you get’–I cannot sing, unfortunately. Some people say I do not speak too well either, but let me just talk it.
It says, ‘Where did you get this money, American money, German money, Japanese money, Jewish money, where did you get all of this money?’ That was the question I asked myself when I saw that my opponent had raised so much more money than did I. Where did he get it, all of that money?
Well, fortunately, the FEC report requires that anyone who gives you $200 or more, any individual, must be listed by name and address and any PAC, that is a political action committee that gives you money, must also be listed by name and address and the name of its treasurer shown.
All right. Now, I was a journalist before I was ever elected to office for some 20 years, an award-winning journalist, learned a lot about how to do research and, of course, it was not hard to research this, so I took this list. I looked at his individual contributors, and let me give you these figures. Just bear with me, if you please.
Now, of that amount that he had raised, $8,250 of it was itemized as individual contributors, meaning people who gave him $200 or more. Of that $8,250 let us see how much came from where. To do that I refer back to this list from AIPAC, now blown up, so you can see listed under executive committee and national council and officers. I wanted to see how many people who contributed this money, the large sums, also are on the executive committee of the national council or as an officer of AIPAC. It is called cross-checking, you know.
Let us just go down and see. First of all, the contributor is that same Robert Asher. Now, the most an individual can give to a candidate is $1,000. The most that a PAC can give to a candidate, however, is $5,000. Private corporations cannot give money. Unions cannot give money out of a union fund.
Now, let us just check it. Robert Asher, as I told you, is the President of AIPAC. His address is 5100 Oakmont Road, Highland Park, IL. That is not in the second district, not even in Chicago, but he is interested in the second district to the tune of $1,000.
Let me just read this list.
Mary Jane Asher, $1,000, Highland Park, IL.
Daniel Asher, $1,000, Highland Park, IL.
Howard David Sterling, Beverly Hills, CA, $250.
Louis A. Morgan, $500, Highland Park, IL.
Susan Asher, $1,000, Highland Park, IL, and on and on. I will not read it all to you; but I took these names, the Ashers, Robert Adler, $500.
Irvin Wein, $500.
I took all those names and found that they were all on the Executive Committee of AIPAC, not living in Chicago, let alone in the Second Congressional District, but board members of AIPAC who were not supposed to try to finance campaigns, not legally. They do not have the legal authority.
When I added it all up, as you can, if you would like to check this, because everything I have mentioned is relative to you. AIPAC is listed in the FEC report of my opponent. All this is available to you.
Add it up. It shows the sum of $8,250 from individual contributors, itemized contributors, $6,750 was from these.
In other words, 82 percent. I am not saying that he got a few contributors who like AIPAC or love Israel to give him some money, nothing unusual at all about that, but not 82 percent of all of those contributions for people affiliated with AIPAC, one organization, not in the Second District, the primary purpose concerned about the interest of a foreign nation.
Now, from PAC’s, political action committees, people organized to give money to campaigns, he received from those $20,500. So I wanted to check to see what PAC’s. Well, you have again, all of this is easy if you know your research, and I hope you are following me so you can practice some of this yourself. It is surprising what you learn sometimes, just in a little time.
This is the almanac of Federal tax, published right here in Washington. This is a reference book. It lists all the PAC’s and their officers; but more than that, it groups them by purpose. If you have a good labor record, such as I do, you would want naturally to solicit funds from the labor unions, so they list all the labor unions and you can go solicit your money.
It also groups them by whether they are pro-Israel or not in this almanac of Federal PAC’s, 1990.
Let us see. It says, ‘The emergence of a network of pro-Israel PAC’s as an important source of campaign funds for Federal candidates has become an issue of intense controversy even among American Jews who want to promote Israel’s security, but don’t want to be perceived as being driven by a single issue.’
I did not say that. That is what the book says.
It goes on, ‘There is little doubt that contribution decisions are centralized either through a formal or informal arrangement,’ and then it proceeds to list these pro-Israel PAC’s.
It says, ‘It is well-documented that many of the pro-Israel PAC’s were created with AIPAC’s encouragement.’
AIPAC, despite its name, is not a PAC, but a lobbying organization. Under Federal election law, PAC’s are deemed to be affiliated if they are established, directed, or controlled by a common organization or if they have the same officers, vendors, or contributors. Then it lists these pro-Israel PAC’s affiliated with AIPAC.
So I took this list, you see, and compared it to his list of PAC contributors. The total he received was $20,500. Let us see how much of that $20,500 came from these pro-Israel PAC’s affiliated with AIPAC, AIPAC of which most of you have never heard, but which influences who represents you in this august body.
Now, let us go and take a look.
PAC’s, $5,000 to candidate for Congress from the Joint Action Committee PAC. The Joint Action Committee PAC, listed right here. Let me get the list here. Listed right here. Joint Action Committee PAC, Highland Park, IL, affiliated with AIPAC, a pro-Israel PAC, according to this almanac, this reference work, rather, that I did not write.
Washington PAC, $1,000 to Reynolds for Congress, Morris Amitay, treasurer, Washington, DC, in this list.
Multi-issue PAC, $1,000 Highland Park, IL, in this list.
Citizens Organization PAC, $5,000, Los Angeles, CA, in this list, I haven’t got to the Second District yet, you notice.
Look at these names. Nothing says anything about pro-Israel in these names, obscure names. Why?
Citizens Organization PAC, Los Angeles, CA, $5,000.
Hudson Valley PAC, Spring Valley, NY, not in the Second District of Illinois, Spring Valley, NY, no steelmills up there, $1,500 Reynolds for Congress.
Americans for Good Government, $1,000, Jasper, AL, in this list.
East Midwood PAC, $250; Garden State PAC, Union, NJ, $1,000, in this list; Desert Caucus PAC, Tucson, AZ, $1,500, in this list; Heartland PAC, Cleveland, OH, $2,500, in this list.
[Continued from this page]
Now, let me say something about my position regarding Israel that may explain the concern, but certainly does not justify a body with no legal right to do so whose primary concern is a foreign nation rather than the interests of America, trying to determine the outcome of an American election for Congress. That, my friends, Mr. and Mrs. America, is dangerous, indeed.
Israel receives almost one-third of all the United States’ foreign assistance, $3 billion in the foreign assistance bill, and usually $400 million or $500 million more tacked on here and there, roughly $3.5 billion a year. That is not the Government’s money. That is your money, your tax dollars.
We do not have enough money to maintain full funding for student grants and student loans for those in need to attend the colleges of their choice, for which they are qualified, not enough money to create jobs programs for those pockets of poverty in our Nation, not enough funds for long-term Medicare for our senior citizens in need, but $3 1/2 billion of your tax dollars to one little nation, Israel, a nation with only about 3 1/2 million citizens. That means then that you are giving $1,000 a year to every man, woman, and child citizen of Israel. Think about that.
Since I am particularly concerned about the welfare of the third world, since it is the poorest part of our Earth, one on which we are dependent and benefit greatly, this Nation; we benefit greatly from the natural resources of the 45 sub-Saharan African nations. Now, while Israel only has 3 1/2 million citizens roughly, there are some 350 million citizens in the 45 sub-Saharan African nations.
How much do we give them out of our foreign aid? A $550 million only, which comes to, compared to the $1,000 per Israeli, $1.57. Our resources are there, but our money goes to Israel. It seems to me we should drop some of the pollen where we get the honey. Even bees know that.
My position is that that is upside down. We should give the larger amount to the larger group of people who are in greater need and from whom we benefit the most materially in Africa, give the $3.5 billion to Africa, and let the $550 million go to Israel, but more than that, $1.8 billion of that $3.5 billion is for war, military aid. Well, my God, Military aid? To Israel? A nation that holds in prison presently some 9,000 Palestinians unfairly, unjustly, many without charges? Military aid to a nation that in the past 3 years has killed unarmed, defenseless 650 men, women, and children of Palestine?
Why not better take that military aid and take it over to Zambia in Africa, give it to the African National Congress so they can be sufficiently armed to chase off the face of the Earth the last remaining vestige of fascism, the apartheid regime of South Africa? That is my position.
Someone said, ‘Well, Gus, you receive money from PAC’s, almost always labor PAC’s, but PAC’s, organized labor unions. The checks often come out of Washington, DC. That is not the Second District. Why is that not the same?’
It is not the same because American trade unions do not represent the interests of a foreign power. They represent the interests of American workers. That is an American interest. Some 40,000 citizens of the Second District of Illinois are members of trade unions, because I said that that is an industrial district, and PAC contributions, while maybe from Washington, come on the recommendation and request of their local affiliate, the United Automobile Workers. The United Automobile Workers give you a contribution from here, but it is because of the recommendation from its region 4 back in my district. So it has a right to be involved, and its interests are not un-American. It is not putting the interests of another nation above its own. No comparison, indeed.
If I may, before concluding, point out this connection between this interest, this insidious interest, and the mass media in this country. You may think you know something about mass media, because you are exposed to it so in television, but really it is, in many ways, as obscure and mysterious as AIPAS.
Ask yourself who owns CBS. Who is the president of ABC? Who are the board members of NBC? Where does Tom Brokaw live?
You know where I live. You know what is my salary. You know my marital stautus. You know where I went to school. You know my views. You know my children’s names.
You know Tom Brokaw far better than you know Gus Savage, or you think you do. Is he married? What is his salary? What are his views? For all you know, he may be one of those running around with a hood burning crosses, because you do not know. Powerful man. Controls your airwaves, determines whether Gus Savage can go on the air or not, determines what is said about Gus Savage, good or bad, right or wrong, true or false, unaccountable to you.
You cannot fire him, you cannot unelect him. You did not pick him.
I want to say something about the campaign coverage, because it was rather strange. It may not be correlated by AIPAC, but the apparent influence of a network of reporters across this country and the major daily newspapers and the television stations operating in the same way, telling the same lies simultaneously, makes one wonder.
My campaign, the Chicago Tribune, that is the major daily newspaper, largest circulation in Chicago, has a Pulitzer Prize columnist named Mike Royko, who wrote a column during this campaign strongly condemning me, and falsely so.
He said in the column that I had phoned him and told him that what appears to be my concerns are really false. I am not really concerned about civil rights, racism, and so forth in America. I just use that to help stir people up.
He said when I told him that on the phone that he felt this, and then he told me what he said to me and what I said back and what he said, and so on. But the problem is, I never talked to Mike Royko in my life, by phone or otherwise. In other words, he made up the column.
When I protested to the editor of the Chicago Tribune and said, ‘Look, I never talked to this guy in my life. How could he write this falsehood? Would you ask him to retract it or explain it or prove it?’
Never, never, never a reply. Unaccountable.
The political editor of the Chicago Sun Times, same thing. Steve Neal. Same thing. Called me all kinds of names. I have never met him, never talked with him.
When you have, and I do not want to say that the people who may be part of such a network would be these columnists. Generally the white press would have at least one apparent African-American columnist to jump on an African-American too in case the African-American hollers too loud and says, ‘well, these columnists jumping on me are white.’ So you have got a page in the Chicago Tribune, a raspberry in the Washington Post, and all, and that is typical. It is the same kind of columns.
I was on ‘Cross Fire’ on CNN. Some of you may have seen it. And you saw what a time Robert Novak gave me. I am sure if you saw it you could see it was not fair. How much does he earn? Where is he married? Does he not attend church? Has he ever been a member of the Ku Klux Klan? I am not saying that he is. I am not saying that he is married. What are his sexual preferences? I know none of that.
All I am saying is we do not know anything about these powerful bosses or spokesmen or talking heads on television and columnist in the most powerful newspaper of our land. And democracy depends upon a free an fair press.
I held a hearing to try to save the Economic Development Administration that the President has asked to be eliminated. I held a hearing in Pennsylvania, the coal mining area, where because anthracite coal has such high sulfur content people have unemployment, are suffering unemployment in double digits. I held it in Chicago, because there the African-American community suffers unemployment in double digits and have not enjoyed the prosperity that other parts of the country has, that the country in general has enjoyed in the past 8 or 9 years. We need economic development projects in such areas.
I went into Chicago to hold one such hearing, trying to stir up interest in saving EDA, and the press would not even cover it. Not in Chicago.
I will tell you, I have been treated better by the press in Johannesburg, South Africa, than in Chicago, IL.
I sponsored the biggest set-aside in the history of this country, an amendment to the 1986 Defense Authorization Act, that could mean some $8 billion a year to disadvantaged minority-owned businesses. I am very proud of that. It is the largest set-aside of all the others combined.
During this campaign channel 2 in Chicago, the CBS affiliate, a reporter named Mike Flannery insisted right there on television that Gus Savage did not sponsor that legislation.
I said, ‘Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute. I will give you a Congressional Record. I will get it to you tomorrow. If you are wrong, would you go on your news show tomorrow and admit that you are wrong? And, of course, if I am wrong, go on there and point that out too.’
I sent him the Congressional Record showing, of course, that he was wrong. He never used it. Never another word. Unaccountable. Nothing I can do.
I am the sponsor of legislation for a third Federal building in Chicago, a project costing $153 million and employing some 50,000 people in the construction trades and the spinoff jobs that will result from that–$45 million of that amount in subcontract to small disadvantaged businesses.
On that same television interview show he insisted that I did not do that either. It is easy to ascertain whether I did or not. You have got a Congressional Record. Reporters are certainly familiar with it. Admit that that was a deliberate deceit.
Well, that kind of effort to disinform the electorate is also a danger to our democracy, and to the extent that it relates to activities such as the ones I have described from AIPAC, it makes you wonder are these connected up? In which case the danger would be enhanced.
Look at the strange attacks across this land on African-American leaders. You say, ‘Oh, well, that one was found guilty, and that one was found guilty.’
I do not mean whether they were guilty or innocent, but the intensity and the frequency with which they are pursued.
Finally, let me say that I hope I have given you enough information already to cause you some concern. We operate in an atmosphere today that is not favorable to civil rights and racial equality. You might call it high-technology racism, the kind of racism that would cause a movie like ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ to be named the best movie of the year. ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’ Because maybe there are those in America who would like to turn back race relations to the old days where blacks did do the driving and Miss Daisy rode in the back.
But those days, my friends, are gone forever. Some of us may have to drive Miss Daisy, but we do not love it. And it does not make a very good movie, for it is insulting to too large a segment of the American population at a time of high-technology racism–‘Driving Miss Daisy.’
I wonder how my American Jewish friends would feel if there was a movie about during the Holocaust where some Jewish man who was compelled because of imprisonment or whatever the reasons under the Holocaust to be a chamber maid for some Nazi general, and the movie was about how much he enjoyed that, which of course would not have been true, any more than ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ how much he enjoyed that, and that movie received an Academy Award. I wonder how they would feel.
That is just how African-Americans in the main also feel. We are losing an understanding of each other, when we need to understand each other more than ever. Because America is losing its competitiveness in world trade. It has become a debtor rather than a creditor nation. And part of the reason is worsening race relations, where the number of male blacks in college is falling down. The number in prison is going up. Unemployment has remained at double digits for the past 10 years. More than 50 percent of black children live in single parent families. The black family is being destroyed to the disadvantage not just of blacks, but of all America.
When we have a nation that operates in such a way as this high-technology racism that when a black becomes Miss America that the first thing that black feels it is necessary to say is that, ‘Being black is the least that I am;’ if you were Irish, Swedish, Jewish and you happened to win Miss America, how would you feel if the Irish victor got up and said the least thing I am is Irish or Jewish, or the victor said the least thing I am is Swedish? Why does she feel such compulsion? It is because she is trying to survive in this high-technology racist society.
So they create an image of me, a myth, that is no more accurate, no more real than Heathcliff Huxtable.
In the South I understand after World War II–and I will tell you this little bit and I will be through–in the South after World War II they said that a black veteran, and back then in the South often lynch mobs would come after blacks, you see, and a lynch mob came after this black veteran. He still has his M-1, and he was a sharpshooter, shot down 17 of the mob before they got him. And guess what? You would think they would have taken him out and lynched him twice, but no they did not, they did not even arrest him. They did not even put him in jail. Instead they put him in the insane asylum because they wanted it to appear that he was crazy. And that is what they tried to do to many outspoken blacks who said what I have said today, they say he is just crazy, in order to keep you away from him, and try to smear you, but I tell you to check the facts and you will agree with me.
I hope the following column by Vernon Jarrett, from the Chicago Sun-Times, and a letter to the editor, of the Chicago Tribune, will help you understand my renomination in the recent, controversial primary election:
From the Chicago Sun-Times, Mar. 29, 1990
What makes a man like Gus Savage keep running . . . and winning?
‘Why would you [black] people want to keep a troublemaker like Gus in office, when you can elect a highly educated young man, a healer like Mel Reynolds?’
‘How can you [meaning this columnist] tolerate that man’s ranting and raving about racism when there are more moderate voices in your community?’
The above represents a summary of the questions from whites directed to me ever since Rep. Gus Savage was elected to Congress from the 2nd Congressional District.
Savage keeps winning because he has two ingredients that many black voters miss in most of Chicago’s ‘moderate’ black leaders.
I speak from the experience of having participated in two campaigns to unseat Savage, who is in his fifth term.
Here’s what I’ve learned from direct contact with black voters:
Savage’s orations don’t turn on that many people. They’re with him because he ‘always has had the guts to speak out,’ to express our outrage against common injustices–while moderate blacks, as defined by whites, remain silent.
Gus may be strident, but he’s not for sale. Even though black ‘moderates’ also win elections, their silence and cooperation with known enemies of black political empowerment has been sickening.
Example: In 1955, when a Mississippi mob lynched a teenage Chicagoan named Emmet Till, blacks throughout the nation demanded federal action. Yet Chicago’s lone black congressman, William L. ‘The Man’ Dawson, refused to utter one strong word of protest. Dawson, a ‘moderate,’ was the late Mayor Richard J. Daley’s black lieutenant.
It was a little band of standup crusaders, including Gus Savage and the late union leader Willoughby Abner of the NAACP, who picketed Dawson, the Congress and the White House and later met with Vice President Richard Nixon.
Dawson and Daley attempted to maintain silence by ordering hundreds of black precinct captains to take membership in the NAACP and control future NAACP elections. For years, all prospective candidates for the presidency of the local NAACP had to vow not to criticize the Machine.
Years later, the Chicago Defender could describe black members of the City Council as ‘the Silent Six.’ And shortly before the election of Mayor Harold Washington, it was not uncommon to see black aldermen not only remain silent, but also vote against black interests. On Nov. 30, 1980, it was pathetic watching nine blacks vote for a racist ward map concocted by Mayor Jane Byrne and Ald. Edward Vrdolyak (10th). The actual motion to accept that map was made by a ‘moderate’ black alderman and committeeman named Wilson Frost (34th), who was a Machine sponsor of Mel Reynolds.
At the same time, blacks are continuously presented Democratic Party slates of candidates who are out to curtail black political empowerment.
‘If we are asked to ignore all the faults of our enemies and phony friends, why can’t we do the same for an old friend that we know we can trust?’ a Savage supporter asked me.
More at Stake
There was much more at stake in this election than a simple race between Gus Savage and Mel Reynolds. The central question was one of self-determination of the mostly black voters in the district and whether they were going to be allowed to choose their own representation or return to the era of plantation politics.
As for your newspaper finding Mel Reynolds so attractive because he was a Rhodes scholar, note that Gus Savage attended law school.
Savage has fought racism all his life. He earned his way into Congress. His opponent has never been active in the black community or held any office. I had never heard of him until he ran for Congress two years ago.
The black community didn’t start racial politics, and it is not up to the black community to end racial politics.
– Kevin Kitchen