NAN, NAACP & Other Hypocritical "Civil Rights" Organizations Assert "Constitutional Right" To Conceal Their Corporate Funding Before the FCC

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

When NAN, the Urban League, LULAC, Rainbow PUSH & the NAACP claim a "constitutional right" to hide the extent of their dependence on broadcaster & telecom funding, whose rights are they protecting?  Those of wealthy corporate donors or those of their supposed constituents?  

NAN, NAACP & Other Hypocritical "Civil Rights" Organizations Assert "Constitutional Right" To Conceal Their Corporate Funding Before the FCC

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

“Leading Civil Rights Organizations,” the headline on a Politics365.com story said, “Challenge FCC Rule Limiting Constitutional Freedoms.”

“45 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, all the mainline national civil rights organizations depend heavily upon donations from broadcasters and telecommunications corporations...”

Good thing, you might think, our traditional civil rights bodies are on the lookout for threats to our constitutional freedoms. At least till you actually read the story. When you do, it turns out that  the NAACP, National Action Network, the National Urban League, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, League of United Latin American Citizens, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and Rainbow PUSH all object to a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule that would force them, whenever they weigh in on matters before the FCC, disclose who they're getting money from.

45 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, all the mainline national civil rights organizations depend heavily upon donations from broadcasters and telecommunications corporations from Comcast-NBC, AT&T, and Verizon, to Time-Warner, ABC-Disney, Sprint, T-Mobile. Some of their own top executives in recent years have come from these monopoly industries as well, and the deep pockets of broadcasters and telecoms have sponsored their own shadow organizations of minority entrepreneurs and spokespeople.

All of them, from the NAACP and Rainbow-PUSH to LULAC and the Minority Media & Telecommunications Partnership have in recent years backed state and federal legislation that keeps cities and towns from regulating cable networks or laying their own cable. They've all endorsed laws that bar cities and towns from spinning up their own broadband services which might compete with those of their donors or provide services to poor communities, to schools, libraries and small businesses in their communities that their donors do not. Every one of them opposes network neutrality and backs the digital redlining of black, brown and poor communities. Every one of these so-called civil rights organizations in recent years has backed the privatization or outright giveaway to their wealthy donors vast amounts of the electromagnetic spectrum which could and should have been set aside for community broadcasters and the public good. And of course, these corrupt “civil rights organizations” have unreservedly backed each and every proposed broadcaster and telecom merger, from AT&T's failed attempt to buy T-Mobile to the Comcast-NBC deal and they're lining up right now to back Comcast's current attempt to buy Time Warner cable as well.

Whenever the interests of monopoly broadcasters and telecoms clash with the interests of poor black and brown people, these corrupt “civil rights organizations” always side with their funders, never with their people. Disclosing their financial ties to telecoms and broadcasters in the very same forums where they shill for their donors will make their pretense to represent the poor and oppressed even more ludicrous.

Sixty years ago, during the struggle against Jim Crow segregation southern state governments tried to force the NAACP to hand over membership and other lists. Back then, being on such a list could mean losing one's job, one's home or business or one's life. A federal court ruled the NAACP didn't have to hand over their list. This, today's hypocritical “civil rights” organizations claim, as if the nameless and numberless families whose breadwinners lost their jobs, or who were firebombed out of their homes or evicted from plantations like Fannie Lou Hamer are somehow equivalent to what might happen to Verizon and ABC-Disney – is why they should be allowed to hide their donors. This is the “constitutional freedom” the black and brown misleaders of our civil rights organizations have mobilized to protect. It doesn't pass a smell test, it doesn't pass a laugh test, it doesn't pass a hypocrisy test.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and is a state committee member of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.