Members of the Project 21 black leadership group have come out swinging against New York Times columnist Paul Krugman for "scurrilously pinning racist motives on critics of President Obama's health care proposals."
(Earlier today, Clay Waters covered Krugman's column for NewsBusters here.)
The group (full disclosure: I work for the National Center for Public Policy Research, which sponsors Project 21) has also called on President Obama to condemn "this effort to stifle debate with race-baiting tactics" as well as "all efforts to derail legitimate public debate."
Krugman's column drew the following specific comments from Project 21 members:
Mychal Massie (Pennsylvania):
"Paul Krugman is the one with race on the brain. Specifically, he is using race in the lowest and most repulsive declinations. He is using it because every other argument to stem the growing tide of condemnation for the proposed health care reform bill has failed. Ergo, when all else fails, parade out the race card and attempt to incite blacks into becoming the useful idiots.
"Opposition to the proposed health care bill isn't based on race. It is based on a people who are tired of Congress and the President spitting in their faces. It is the collective resolve of a people who are tired of being tread upon. One would think a Nobel prize-winner such as Krugman could figure that out."
Mychal Massie is chairman of Project 21.
Joe Hicks (Los Angeles, California):
"I must have somehow missed the articles from Krugman and other liberal and leftist members of the mainstream media that were critical of the activities of ACORN - the radical, leftist group Barack Obama once represented. Somehow, their heavy-handed activities - that many argue bent the boundaries of legality - were just considered to be the organized expression of disadvantaged communities.
"Now the same shameless, clueless writers are trying to convince us that those Americans who rightfully feel threatened by government-run health care and confront Obama's noxious scheme at public forums are somehow the acts of a 'mob.' Krugman reveals his bias by admitting that people are genuinely angry without bringing himself to understand exactly why they are mad. Smearing the rightful anger and concern of everyday Americans as collections of angry, old white folks - or part of the 'birthers' movement - shows the elitist disdain that liberal journalists such as Krugman have for democracy in action."
Joe Hicks is a Pajamas Television commentator and vice president of Community Advocates, Inc. of Los Angeles. He is a former executive director of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission and former executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Deneen Borelli (East Chester, New York):
"Krugman's commentary shows he is as out of touch as many of our elected officials are with real Americans. What's happening at town hall meetings has nothing to do with race and everything to do with concern over the rapid expansion of government.
"Americans are frustrated that letters, phone calls and e-mails to their elected representatives have had no impact on significant pieces of legislation such as cap-and-trade and stimulus spending. Americans are taking the next logical step by directly voicing their opinions to their representatives at town hall meetings."
Deneen Borelli is a full-time fellow with Project 21. She serves on the board of trustees of The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York and previously served as Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
Bishop Council Nedd II (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania):
"I have nothing to do with the 'birther' issue, but I do have concerns about health care. So do the people in my parishes and in the local diner where I eat every day. Living in central Pennsylvania, these truly are the people portrayed in the Norman Rockwell painting about freedom of speech that Krugman reference in his column. To imply these people are now racists is racist in itself.
"Approximately half of the U.S. population didn't vote for Obama in the first place. Why is Krugman shocked that there is opposition to the Obama health care plan, and that people dare to voice their concern at public meetings? The Obama plan inserts government officials into end-of-life decisions for seniors and those among us with the least. That is not a race issue, that is a privacy issue. The Obama plan has given a whole new meaning to the idea of government for the people. This health plan is a bitter pill shoved down people's throat against their will."
Council Nedd is an Anglican bishop, serving the Diocese of the Chesapeake.
Bob Parks (Athol, Massachusetts):
"Why is it when liberals want to make their points, their knee-jerk reaction is to go racial? Paul Krugman is supposedly a journalist. Before throwing out the race card while speculating, he should give us some attributed quotes. Minus that, what he thinks is irrelevant."
Bob Parks is a Project 21 member and media commentator, and operator of the Black and Right web site.
Jimmie Hollis (Millville, New Jersey):
"I knew the moment Obama became a presidential candidate that anyone disagreeing with him would be called a racist, and that any opposition to his political views would be seen as racism. The left has always played the race card because it works.
"But I am nonetheless happy to see that people on the right and many in the middle are now beginning to speaking out firmly and with passion against policies they oppose. President Obama should speak out and condemn Paul Krugman racial commentary."
Jimmie L. Hollis is a Project 21 member and is retired from the U.S. Air Force, in which he served from 1962-1987.
Geoffrey Moore (Chicago, Illinois):
"This is not about race. It is about government control. The system is not perfect, but there is no need to have the government take over control of the entire health care system. The government has not demonstrated the ability to efficiently control costs and provide good service.
"Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who are not up in arms about their insurance. There are people who are somewhat pleased with the coverage they have. The government getting involved will create enormous expense and waste, while creating more problems than they intend to solve."
Geoffrey Moore is a Project 21 member and a marketing analyst in Chicago.
Project 21's entire statement can be read here.