AP Distorts Andrew Young’s Statements on Obama

The Associated Press published a story about Civil Rights veteran and Atlanta former Mayor Andrew Young going on an Atlanta show saying that he thought Barack should run for president in 2016, because he is too young to run for president and that he thought, essentially, the Clintons were as black as Barack. Here’s what they quoted from the Young interview:

“I want Barack Obama to be president,” Young said, pausing for effect, “in 2016.”

“It’s not a matter of being inexperienced. It’s a matter of being young,” Young said. “There’s a certain level of maturity … you’ve got to learn to take a certain amount of (expletive).”

Young went on to say that Obama needs a protective network that he currently lacks — a quality that could hurt him if he were to be elected. He said Hillary Clinton already has that kind of network, including her husband to back her up.

“There are more black people that Bill and Hillary lean on,” Young said. “You cannot be president alone. … To put a brother in there by himself is to set him up for crucifixion. His time will come and the world will be ready for a visionary leadership.”

I watched the interview on NewsMakers Live. Young did say those things. A lot of the issues I have with Young’s interview was the sexism in which he couched his views–“Clinton has probably gone with more black women than Barack.” Why does ‘how many black women you fuck’ make you implicitly a black man? That’s disgusting about what it says about black manhood and black womanhood both. Ugh. By this logic, Black women’s bodies are the only relevant as avenues for defining masculinity. That’s offensive as hell! And I am over that “Clintons are black” bullshit. Can we just really have a moratorium on that nonsense? I don’t care if they can huck-a-buck or Soul Train-line with the best of them–they’re not Black and there are countless ways the Clinton Administration sold black people down the river to save his own political career–Welfare reform act, Rwanda, massive prison expansion– hello! Lets not get political amnesia.

But what is perhaps most useful about Young’s comments, the AP report chooses barely to report. Young goes on for most of the interview to talk about how he’s worried about Obama’s (and his family’s) safety–even going so far as to say he wants Obama’s daughters to be older to deal with the way people are going to attack them.

After living through the Civil Rights Movement and what happened to King, Young is saying Barack has yet to develop the kind of insular network of folks to really protect him from the worst of what is sure to come. Essentially, he’s actually saying white racism is so fierce that Obama needs to develop more of aggressive tactics to be able to go after the forces that are most likely to undo him were he to win the presidency. And Young is drawing on the Civil Rights Movement and MLK’s experiences with violence and surveillance as the prime example.  I question Young’s assertion that King sacrificed the most personally–what about Fannie Lou Hamer or Angela Davis, or a host of others who history has forgotten who lost life and limb fighting for freedom? That’s a hard thing to quantify, even if he knew King personally. He also has a silly analysis of why Barack would be great at foreign policy–because, as Young asserts, his experience with “the Chinese” and with “Islam” via his sister and childhood upbringing, will make him adept at dealing with China and the Middle East.

OK. That’s a stretch.

That aside, it’s a wonder how the AP reporter got away with filing this half-assed story that takes the most sensational things that Young said, and doesn’t comprehensively report Young’s concern and critique–which is really about Obama’s readiness to deal with the racist/violent backlash. The reporter only gets to at the end of the story when it is actually, in my book, THE story.

And journalists wonder why the public has lost trust in them.

4 thoughts on “AP Distorts Andrew Young’s Statements on Obama

  1. Nice post. I’ve been thinking about this too, and really wierded out and interested by the media coverage on this. For one thing, the comments were made in September, and are just hitting the proverbial fan now. NPR covered it today, and their guests from Ebony and the Detroit Free Press framed it as a generational issue, with the old civil rights guard protecting their turf from the young bucks, which I find a little absurd.

    Anyway, thanks for putting this much more sensible critique of Young’s comments into the world.

  2. Thanks Kat.That’s why I need MY own radio show! LOL. That’ll solve the problem.

    I do think there is something happening with the old civil rights generation feeling threatened by Obama, and the likes of his generation (Sharpe James/Cory Booker in Newark was also a similar battle). But I don’t think that is entirely what Young was trying to say about Obama when you listened to the whole clip.


  3. I suppose my concern is that instead of being direct with Barack he chooses to speak publicly, while at the same time being paranoid about the backlash which he is only vaguely referencing by discussing events 40 years ago..

    If he is to be believed as the wise mentor whom Barak should counsel for advice about the nature of his political apparatus then why is he “clowning” in front of a microphone and saying Bill is “Blacker” than Barak? This story was the top headline on FOX news.

    He contributes ammunition to those that already want Barak to fail and are looking for a reason to decide that he is “unqualified” (when in reality they simply don’t want to vote for him) when he says that he should win in 2016 instead of now.

    In general, there is a rising tendency for many black folk to be much more on point criticizing the behavior of other black folk rather than dealing with such issues behind closed doors, providing helpful advice and focusing on dealing with the modern manifestations of white racism….as opposed to referencing the past…and touching our noses

    But most, it seems from my vantage point anyway, are more comfortable criticizing their own community than they are risking ostracization by challenging the modern manifestations of racism.

    The number of critiques of black politicians by black activists and intellectuals dwarfs the number of criticisms of the political apparatus they are forced to depend on, which cripples their restructuring programs because the structure is totally dependant on white power and funding.

    The number of criticizisms of young black “hip hoppers” far exceeds the number of criticisms of the nature of the corporate commodification of blackness and the white youth that now represent the majority of the market.

    Overall there seems to be rising trend toward “policing our own” while at the same time fleeing from the consequences of criticizing directly those who pull the strings of the puppets.

    I can’t see how Andrew Youngs statements helped Barack. In fact, he seemed to be manipulating black folk into voting for Hilary while justifying the tacit endorsement of her campaign by claiming that it’s because of white supremacy that Barack is in danger.

    I’m reading between the lines but I don’t think that it’s a stretch to say that if he doesn’t want Barack to win in this election OR THE NEXT ONE…while he is praising Hilary participating in a Soul Train line. In spite of his seemingly neutral stance what he wants is two terms of Hilary Clinton first.

    Elect a white person because…white people are too racist? Huh?!

    …..and his saying that the Chinese and Islam are the biggest problems this nation will have to face simply plays into the propaganda which is being used to further the global economic goals of the super rich…he should know better than to believe that..let alone say it.

    Overall the AP may have been lax but Andrew Young did far more damage, not simply because he wants Hilary to win, which is his prerogative, but because he catered to fears of racism, the Chinese and Islam in the process.

    Even as he pays a compliment to Barack and his future ability to deal with said “problems.”

    If he would focus his concision and artful language on describing the nature of the current threat and deflect some of the potential heat from Barack and blunt the backlash it would have been more helpful to his campaign… which he calls visionary…and black folk in general.

    But of course the real issue is that he wishes Hilary to win. I just wish he would have said so rather than hiding his affinity for her behind protecting Barack from racism.

    I don’t have an opinion on the election itself as I’m not sure it really matters…but I find the tactics distatasteful.

    Overall, I wonder if Barack should hand him a copy of MLKs, Why we Cant Wait when Andrew Young discusses how “young” Barack is and how he needs to learn to “take a certain amount of shit”..

    If they had done that ther wouldnt have been a CRM. Or at least the part they participated in.

  4. I want to say that I believe that whitness is a state of mind.

    BUT…this conversation about whi is blacker or whiter isnt rooted in consciousness.

    Andrew Young talks about a Soul Train line and who is having sex with who. Which is about the most simplistc determinate of race or conciousness I have ever seen.

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