Who did Rangel Piss off?

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But for race, someone of Charlie Rangel‘s stature, very likely would have been a presidential contender by now.

“That’s quite plausible”, states distinguished scholar, David Levering Lewis, who wrote the groundbreaking history, When Harlem Was in Vogue.

Nevertheless, there's a considerable amount of crap being printed these days. Does anyone know the deal? Just who the hell has it in for Congressman Rangel?

Considering some of what I’ve written before, one could erroneously reach the conclusion that it might be I who‘s been orchestrating the Harlem legend’s high-profile denunciation. But quite apart from lacking such power, I also lack any appetite to see anyone who’s served so long and for much of his tenure, so well, so ill treated.

That's what prompted the following letter.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.
Chairman, The New York Times Company
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, 10018

Dear Mr. Sulzberger,

I'm Michael Henry Adams, an historian who lives in Harlem and a columnist for the Black Star News.

There are numerous issues of public policy, where Congressman Charles B. Rangel and I bitterly disagree. But, as the New York Times’ editorial page demands that Harlem’s representative for three decades step down from chairing the House’s Ways and Means Committee, during a self-initiated ethics investigation, one faces an enormous irony. How would this benefit New York?

Consistently a progressive Democrat, always anxious to cooperatively help facilitate projects that were supposed to foster jobs and economic development, hasn’t Charlie Rangel always, loyally, been the Time’s man?

Definitely, all the things he’s promoted, that I and many of his other constituents who worry about the poor, most object to, are undertakings first endorsed by the paper of record; from the West Side stadium, to Columbia University's expansion in Manhattan Ville, to rezoning 125th Street.

Beyond these and similar miss-steps however, Congressman Rangel has a commendable record.

Moreover, one's convinced, that adding up to a relatively modest amount, over 30 years that the transgressions the Times finds so objectionable, reflect at worst, carelessness on Rangel's part.

So, what motivates your harsh, unusually disproportionate response? By such logic, oughtn't Senator McCain, of the Keating 5, to have been censured, rather than endorsed?


To jog your memory, the Keating 5 were five United States Senators accused of corruption and  obstructing a federal investigation into the Savings and Loans crisis of the early 90’s.

You’re right; I forgot entirely to mention Rangel’s disappointing support of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton over Barack Obama. Yet and still, all his unsatisfactory actions taken into account, I’m with Carolyn Cassidy Kent, who chairs the Landmarks Committee of Community Board 9. When evaluating the attack by big media Ms. Kent insists, “It‘s preposterous!”

“In light of his estimable service, it‘s difficult to see such abuse of Congressman Rangel, as other than racially focused.”, continued Kent, who is White.


Are we back at race, again? Does nothing else matter?

Contrasted with White men, much like women, African Americans were once reliably morally superior. This hard to contest fact had less to do with innate purity or goodness, than the lack of opportunity afforded to the oppressed. Indeed, much of such past goodness was in large part, a measure of our inequality.

Conversely, ever increasingly, parity has come to be viewed as the ability to behave badly. Trespassing, where necessary, by all and any means, against those who might trespass against us, is regarded by some as the surest way of empowering heretofore subservient Black folks.

Don’t get me wrong; to be Black in America is still fraught with unfair challenges. Only through the difficult business of living, only gradually, have I learned to love being me and hence to embrace being Black.

But, no more than excuse or ignore my own occasional bad behavior, am I reflexively willing to overlook the wrongdoing of others, just because they too are African American.

Therefore, for me, Clarence Thomas was never anymore worthy of sitting on the Supreme Court than Sarah Palin is of being Vice-President. Certainly he was not qualified to replace Thurgood Marshall. No one, of any color, ought to have been taken in by Thomas’ expedient lament, once his suitability was challenged, loudly claiming that he, of all people, was “the victim of a high-tech lynching”.

As for Ms. Rice and Colin Powell, either of whom might easily to have prevented the needless War in Iraq, history will condemn their failure to act courageously and so do I.

This is all to say that, though very much aware, of how  Congressman Rangel’s improprieties attest to an unfortunate insensitivity to appearance, they have hardly reach a critical threshold. Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton, W. Bush and many, many others, have each done, far, far worse. Breaking the law, subverting our Constitution, these White leaders, for good or bad, all remained in office.

“The Times has written more about Rangel‘s minor carelessness,” stresses veteran journalist, Peter Hellman, “than they did about the Pentagon Papers! For goodness sake, who there decided to go after Rangel and why?”

“I heard it was the Republicans!” said a Brooklyn gadfly, obviously oblivious to Judith Miller’s disgrace.

“They were originally after David Patterson. They thought that he was an easy and unvetted target. Discovering how he and Rangel lived in the same complex, that their rent was regulated, and that Rangel had four apartments, they changed course.” another source, requesting anonymity, said with an air of authority.

“It was Obama. He doesn‘t want to be weighed down by Rangel’s power when he‘s elected.” This hapless informant, was an Uptown Community Board District Manager, who had previously, vigorously campaigned for Senator Clinton.

Quick to acknowledge the manifold accomplishments of Rangel’s long and illustrious career, State Senator Bill Perkins, widely seen as the representative’s most likely successor, dismissed most rumors. Otherwise though, he was more than usually cautious, suggesting, “Why don‘t you make the Times accountable and simply ask them what‘s motivated their actions?”

To date, there’s been no reply to my inquiry of the New York Times’ Chairman. When or if there is, you’ll be the first to know.

As for Charlie Rangel‘s, recently appearing out of touch, by favoring high priced condos over the affordable, Federally subsidized Harlem housing he helped to build back in the day, be of good cheer. The harmful trickle down, luxury foremost polices of his friend Michael Bloomberg, have finally flown home to roost!

Rejecting light manufacturing jobs advocated by Community Boards Uptown, putting all the city s eggs, in Wall Street’s basket, Bloomberg’s helped to create a catastrophe. Come what may, it will be quite a while before Columbia can ever raise $7-billion.

Hey, be pragmatic. After years of constant hard work Congressman Rangel is one of the most powerful people on the planet. We in Harlem are obligated to channel that might. It will require nothing less to rebuild our community, its housing and schools, for us! He’s gotten money for affordable apartments before. With a sympathetic government, Rangel can do it again, as no freshman representative could.

The catch is, Obama has to be elected first. If he fails, according to a highly placed source, Charlie Rangel promises to say goodbye to Washington.

Understandably, after such a long run, there’s a lot that he’ll miss out of office. But you can bet it won’t be the embattled partisan struggling and mudslinging of recent years. It makes trying to accomplish anything not just unpleasant but all but impossible.


To best help Charlie Rangel and America, you can join Dale Dobson and others, for what promises to be a magical evening. Overlooking the Hudson, from one of Harlem’s most historic and beautiful apartments, sipping wine, eating delectable, down-home, Creole-style hors d oeuvre, listening to live jazz, talking all about our political future and raising money to help make Senator Barack Obama President, you too, can help to improve the world!


For more information, please call: 212-763-4850, or email vcunningham@barackobama.com  Space is limited, make contact now!


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