Civil Rights Hero John Lewis Calls 4 Urban Marshall Plan
by Paul Rosenberg, Sun Sep 04, 2005 at 10:50:53 PM EDT
It's very painful for me to watch and read about what is happening. I have a sense of righteous indignation. I think all Americans should rise up and speak out. It's not like 9/11 that just happened. We saw this in the making....
It's so strange that when we have something like this happening, the president gets two ex-presidents--his father and Bill Clinton--to raise money. What they propose to do is good.... But when we get ready to go to war, we don't go around soliciting resources with a bucket or an offering plate. We have the courage to come before Congress and debate the issue, authorize money. That's what we need to do here. By next year we'll have spent $400 billion to $500 billion in Afghanistan and Iraq. That money could be used to help rebuild the lives of people. If we fail to act as a nation, I don't think history will be kind to us.
We've got to do more than the $10 billion that Congress appropriated. We need a massive Marshall-type plan to rebuild New Orleans. But in rebuilding we should see this as an opportunity to rebuild urban America. New Orleans could be a model. There must be a commitment of billions and billions of dollars--maybe $50 billion to $100 billion. I think even in other urban centers, there are people who are just barely existing.... I've cried a lot of tears the past few days as I watched television--to see somebody lying dead outside the convention center. I went to Somalia in 1992 and I saw little babies dying before my eyes. This reminded me of Somalia. But this is America. We're not a Third World country. This is an embarrassment. It's a shame. It's a national disgrace.
Any Democrat who's not willing to talk like this--and then turn that talk into action, should just do the decent thing, and resign.
I wrote a diary last year, before Kerry picked his VP, arguing that he should John Lewis as his running mate. This is just a taste of why. He is an authentic American hero--one of a handful of the foremost leaders of the Civil Rights Movement--and he's still at it, toiling away with only a shadow of the recognition and respect he deserves.
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