RACISM is still a rampant evil in the United States, wrote Bob Herbert in the New York Times (NYT) on Monday (December 26). He called the American Society unfair. The problem is deepening and not diminishing. Herbert, a regular columnist for the NYT, strongly feels that nothing short of a new movement -- comparable in scope and dedication to that of the civil rights era -- is required to reverse the trend. He has backed his fears with a catalogue of problems facing the Black Americans. Nearly a third of black men in their 20's have criminal records and eight percent of all black men ages of 25 and 29 are behinds bars. HIV and AIDS are known as black plague. Black constitutes only 13 per cent of US population but the black women account for 72 per cent of all fresh cases among women. Two-thirds of black children are born out of wedlock. Half of all black children are school dropouts, struggle economically and become victims of violence and crimes and are inflicted with a variety of serious health problems.
The columnist feels that the problems should urgently be grappled and suggests that malaises such as crime and violence, out of wedlock births, drug and alcohol abuse, irresponsible sexual behaviour should be given priority. Self destruction that is consuming so many black lives needs to be halted, Herbert said. He, however, asks the moot question whether such leadership exists to mount such an effort.
There are millions of black people who are out in the cold, caught in the cycle of poverty, ignorance, illness and violence that is taking a horrendous toll, the NYT columnist wrote.
Meanwhile, Colin Powell, the first black American to get such crucial assignments as the Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, said the administration should have handled the sensitive question of National Security Agency intercepting communications by Americans under order from the President without obtaining prior consent of the court in a different manner.
Powell said he was never told about evesdropping when he was the secretary of state. He said there was nothing wrong about the US President authorising evesdropping without obtaining prior permission from the court but was quick to add that " obtaining court permission would not have been that hard for the president". Powell never saw eye to eye with Vice-President Dick Cheney or defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he was in office. President Bush always sided with Cheney and Rumsfeld. Powell said he would not have endorsed the decision to go to war with Iraq, if he had known that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction -- the primary American cause for invading Iraq.
Colin Powell threw his weight behind John McCain, the Republican Senator from Arizona who moved a bill in the Congress banning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees under US custody. Dick Cheney wanted to exempt the CIA officials. The White House was with Dick Cheney but subsequently relented due to growing public outcry both in US and abroad and wetted the McCain proposal.