Yesterday many of us saw how long time Congressman Charles Rangel and former chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee stand on the floor of Congress and get censured. This came on the heels of him recently being found in violation of 11 house ethic rules in a 9-1 vote by the House ethics committee members. Being censured was the strongest punishment aside from expulsion that could be applied a man who served Harlem for over 40 years.
In recent years especially after President Obama got elected many have seen, felt and experienced the effects of what is often described as a highly racially charged climate. Hence to see a Black man who was arguably one of the most powerful men in the country and definitely congress be reduced in such a public way was more than bothersome. Adding to Rangel’s censuring is the fact that 8 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus including long time congresswoman Maxine Waters are being investigated or also facing a hearings on ethic violations. One can’t help but think that Black elected officials are being targeted and hence the wagons must be circled.
Many of us including myself immediately thought of elected officials who have done far worse and haven’t gotten as much as a slap on the wrist. The violations range from Congressman Joe Wilson shouting at the president during the state of the union to former vice president Dick Cheney shooting his friend Harry Whittington in the face and then being accused of trying to cover things up. Years later we come to find out that Cheney didn’t even apologize. We think about those elected officials who were negligence behind the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe or those who deliberately misled us into to war and one can only ask why aren’t the people behind those transgressions being censured?
I’ll be the first to say a guy like Rangel has been no angel and his tenure as Congressman has drawn mixed response.One thing that can’t be denied is the fact that his 40 years of services means enough people from what was known as the Black Mecca liked him enough to keep sending him back.
However longtime Harlem residents like rapper Immortal Technique have publicly stated that one should not feel bad for Rangel and the punishment he’ll be getting because he sold Harlem out a long time ago. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this critique from residents who feel like as Harlem has been massively gentrified with lots of poor folks having been literally kicked out withRangel leading the charge.
Just as word came down that there would be no leniency as requested shown for Congressman Rangel. I posed the question on my twitter feed and Face book Page as to how Harlem residents felt? Did they think it was unfair Congressman Rangel was being censured?
I made the comparison between his ethic violations and the transgressions of others.. Very few came to his aid on my often overtly opinionated timeline which includes many people from my former uptown stomping grounds of Harlem.
Long time activist, journalist and former Green Party Vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente weighed in and gave us all serious food for thought …It was in response to this statement I made..
Dick Cheney can shoot a man in the face and not apologize and he’s good but Charles Rangel misuses some stationary-gets censored
Well Charles Rengal did not just do that..the man has three rent stabilized apartments in Harlem, where half the population is poverty poor. You can’t use Dick Cheney as an excuse. Rengal deserves to be censured, as most of those cats do.. The problem is particularly black men in politics think they can act like white men.. History shows that never works, but being from NYC him and 90% of all Black and Brown politicians need to go. They are rich ass millionaires pimping our communities….You do not get a pass cause your Black. How many brothers right now living in Rangel’s district are being stopped, frisked and arrested for a nickel bag or for other petty crime. I bet they wish all they were getting was a tongue lashing
Rosa’s sentiments resonated with a lot of folks who feel that far too many officials are disconnected from the communities they serve and that when they get into office they start catering to big money interests and not the people who voted them in.. After 40 years did Rengal lose his way? Should he have been extra careful in such a hostile climate or was he unfairly being made an example? The fact that all he is getting is censured versus jail time is something we might also keep in mind, but does that reflect badly on Harlem or us as Black folks?
Here’s what Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee who heads up the Congressional Black Caucus had to say on the matter.She issued a statement that read as follows..
“Today’s vote by the House of Representatives to censure Congressman Rangel was an overly harsh sanction, especially considering that after a 2-year investigation the Committee found no evidence of corruption or personal financial gain. Under House precedents, a reprimand would have been a fairer sanction for the lapses that he has long since admitted and corrected.
“The censure sanction is a departure from the customary sanctions in other cases that have been adjudicated over the years. According to the Committee’s counsel, Congressman Rangel’s misconduct resulted from overzealousness and sloppiness, not corruption.
“Today’s action in no way diminishes Congressman Rangel’s distinguished 50-year history of service to his country and constituents who again overwhelmingly returned him to office in November. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are proud to call Congressman Rangel our colleague and friend.”
Something to Ponder