Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

The Loretta Lynch Saga: The True Meaning & Dog Whistles

Apr 20, 2015

For over 160 days now, the confirmation vote for Loretta Lynch as the next Attorney General has been in limbo in a despicable game of politics. It is my understanding, if I am to go by one Republican Senator, that Lynch may finally receive a confirmation vote sometime this week. But the fact that this highly accomplished Black woman had to wait for this vote twice as long as her seven predecessors combined is insulting and inexcusable. It should be interpreted and understood for what it really says to the majority of Americans: not only are some Republicans arrogantly playing politics with the President, but they chose a woman and an African American to make their point. This behavior clearly represents what many in the civil rights community have been saying all along -- the GOP plays to its base. Lynch's confirmation delay is nothing more than bells, whistles and red meat for the right-wing. It's yet another message that Blacks, women and quote "others" are expendable, and the least priority at best; they are in fact targeted by this crowd.

In the time that the U.S. Senate held Lynch hostage, they have confirmed several judges and even a new Secretary of Defense. Not only is Lynch supremely qualified (one need only look at her stellar track record), but as the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, she has already been confirmed by the Senate twice. This makes it all the more poignant that some on the right want us to know that an over-qualified woman and "uppity Blacks" will be put in their place. Even in 2015, someone like Lynch can be used as a rallying cry for the base of a Party that will have to come to terms with the changing demographics of this nation.

The poisonous and ugly spirit by some, but clearly not all Republicans, is what we see also in the fight for voting rights in places like Texas and in the fight against police brutality in North Charleston to Staten Island where we become the target for merely standing up for equal treatment and equal opportunity. Whether it's the push for pay equity, police reform across the board, reinstating all protections of the Voting Rights Act, gender equality, fair housing, jobs, education and much more, those working for what is right are often castigated by the right-wing in an attempt to preserve the status quo. That is precisely what we are seeing here again in this ridiculous delay to confirm Lynch.

Last week, my organization, National Action Network (NAN), announced an initiative to conduct a hunger strike until there is a vote to confirm Lynch. The "Confirm Loretta Lynch Fast" campaign involves female leaders and members from both within NAN, as well as activists from other civil rights organizations. Participants have been alternating days abstaining from food in order to bring awareness to this outrageous delay and the continued efforts by some on the right to humiliate and dismiss qualified candidates in an attempt to rile up their base. To highlight an injustice, often times, personal sacrifices are made so that others can truly see what we must do so that our country can continue moving forward. These brave leaders and members are foregoing their own nutrition and daily bread so that other women and African Americans won't face the same discrimination, and so that other women and African Americans won't be used as a pawn in a dirty game of politics, and so that those on the wrong side of this issue will know that we see their deceit and we will not stand for it.

As the 2016 Presidential campaign gets underway, candidates are declaring their intent to run and fundraising wherever and however they can. In the Republican field, we already see numerous contenders who are all vying for the vote of the American people. With continually changing demographics, they are often discussing ways to expand their Party and be more inclusive. Maybe it's time they realize that using Blacks and women as some sort of a dog whistle for the base of their Party is clearly not the way. They need to know that they cannot have it both ways; castigating us and our issues will not win us over.

The growth of our nation is undermined by all those who would rather spend time targeting advocates of justice instead of focusing on the challenges at hand. In lieu of discussing this disgraceful confirmation delay, or stalled legislation (that includes a woman's right to choose), some would rather focus on rhetoric. Perhaps they should spend time on some of the mundane reasons the right-wing hates America.

The truth of the matter is, we civil rights leaders, advocates and progressives love America for all the reasons the right hates to admit. And we would like to see the first Black female Attorney General nominee take her rightful position as the top law enforcement official in the country.