Saturday, July 18, 2009

Harry Alford Encounter With Barbara Boxer

Although we disagree with Harry Alford on the climate change legislation pending in Congress right now, we understand his fury towards Barbara Boxer. Alford, left, is president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) and Boxer, right, is chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The two had a dust up at a hearing before Boxer's committee on Thursday that had FOX News and Rush Limbaugh salivating.

Yet let's examine the important issues beneath the conflict. Harry Alford is our friend. But we agree with Barbara Boxer on approving a climate bill this year, even if it is the Waxman/Markey House passed (219-212) bill. Alford went ballistic when Boxer tried to use the NAACP climate resolution and 100 Black Men of Atlanta endorsement of climate legislation against the NBCC chair's position. Alford complained that it was being 'racial' and 'God awful.' Boxer disagreed and said this is how its done in general all the time. Now the left, particularly environmentalist allies are attacking Alford and NBCC. Their main weapon is that NBCC accepts ExxonMobil money and that is why they oppose the current climate bill. Yet anybody who knows Harry and the NBCC would know such a notiion is ridiculous. Moreover, there is nothing wrong with NBCC accepting ExxonMobil money--the environmental movement sure isn't going to contribute any of its $6 billion annual budget to NBCC. They also aren't going to hire and retain Black people.

Although the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) via former board chair Jerome Ringo and current black outreach coodinator Marc Littlejohn helped get the resolution passed at the NAACP annual meeting in New York, the NAACP will not join with environmentalists and their attack allies in a campaign to undermine the NBCC. Hell the NAACP and NBCC are mostly on the same page on energy and environmental issues. The NAACP also does not believe that ExxonMobil is an evil entity and glady accepts their money just like NBCC. John Grant, CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta and current NWF board member also helped with passage of the resolution. He is not going to try to destroy the NBCC on behalf of NWF and the environmental movement over the climate bill disagreement. So if environmental activists intend to start a war with NBCC, they had bettter stop and think twice. Because environment groups do not have black professional staff (or one), so they do not have the experience or standing to fight this fight.

EP&W Chairwomen Boxer should have a hearing on this issue to clear the air. Surely she did not like internet headlines proclaiming her racist in her dealing with Alford. Yet was she not aware of the sensitivity of trying to use one black group against another black group? Was she not aware of Harry Alford and his frustrations with environmentalists and energy issues when it comes to Black entrepreneurship? Doesn't Boxer know that Blacks do not own any of the energy infrastructure in America? Doesn't she know that this makes Alford apoplectic? See Harry is too smart in this area. Harry knows the deal and knows where all the bodies are buried. Does it make him cynical? Yes. Does it make him angry? Yes. And Boxer walked right into Alford's minefield.

We know these issues and histories very well. For instance, the NAACP has a well established energy committee that is decades old. That committee, historically, has been made up of members from the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) , which is mostly energy industry heavy. So there is a dime's worth of difference between the NBCC and the NAACP on most of the energy and environmental issues. Conversely, although the Congressiaonal Black Caucus (CBC) embraces American industry, they also traditionally are the highest voting caucus in Congress on environmental issues [according to the League of Conservation Voters tracking]. The CBC supported Waxman/Markey. So although there is disagreement at different black-led organizations about the Waxman/Markey legislation, there is no disagreement that Blacks are locked out of energy infrastructure ownership and excluded from professional position employment at environmental groups.

Again, Chairwoman Boxer would do well to hold a hearing to delve into these issues in order to educate the Congress. She might also get to know more of the players and history in this largely ignored sector. She would be well served to educate herself on these sensitivities and might avoid future Alford-type eruptions when confronting Blacks on issues with whom she disagrees [see also Condoleezza Rice].

Alford Radio Interview

O'Reilly Interview With Alford

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