Chicago (CNSNews.com) - California Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) says the Bush administration is pursuing "white supremacist" policies in America.
"This administration and allies in Congress are rolling back advances in racial equality, economic opportunity and gender equity," Lee said in a speech at the Rainbow/PUSH organization's 32nd annual convention on Monday.
In her keynote address to a women's luncheon, Lee noted that even though the Bush administration distanced itself from Trent Lott's controversial remarks last year (Lott lamented Sen. Strom Thurmond's failed 1948 presidential campaign), the administration has essentially adopted the same racially segregationist platform that Thurmond advanced in 1948.
"Believe me, its policies are taking us back to those days nonetheless," Lee said.
Lee praised the Supreme Court's split ruling on affirmative action, which was handed down on Monday. The Supreme Court said that colleges and universities may consider an applicant's race, but the justices also restricted the extent to which race-based factors can influence the selection of students.
Lee said she attended oral arguments at the Supreme Court when the University of Michigan's attorneys argued their case. She said she was particularly offended by the comments of the Bush administration's Solicitor General Ted Olson and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
"Sitting there, I thought, 'How sad,' and I felt how horrible it is to witness our own government arguing against the interests of so many of its people," Lee said.
Lee called Justice Scalia "sinister" for his comments during the court case.
"[Scalia] said that [the University of Michigan] could either be an elite, first-rate school or it could lower its standards and pursue racial diversity -- that is what he said," Lee noted.
"How sinister. How wrong can he get -- Justice Scalia?" she asked.
"Justice Scalia was in fact offering a false dichotomy. In realty, you cannot be a top-flight university without diversity," she added.
When Lee referred to "a black man -- Ward Connerly" (a California anti-affirmative action activist), the room filled with boos.
California voters supported the anti-affirmative action Proposition 209 in 1996, only because "misinformation and prejudice helped carry the day at the polls," according to Lee.
"Shame on California, that is all I can say, shame on California," she added.
But the crowd erupted in cheers when Lee said the Supreme Court "rejected the Bush administration's efforts to reject affirmative action as we know it. It rejected it!"
'Enormous climate of fear'
Actor/activist Danny Glover also appeared at the luncheon, and he gave the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision his qualified support.
"It's a very temporary victory. There is still a lot of work to do. If we are ever going to create the kind of world, the kind of America that [the Founders] envisioned, then we are going to have to have affirmative action in the full sense of the word," Glover told reporters. Glover is best known for his starring role in the "Lethal Weapon" series of films with Mel Gibson.
Asked by CNSNews.com how the GOP became so dominant at the national political level, Glover responded that "less than 50 percent of the people vote, that is one reason that you got that."
Glover also said the progressive movement has been crippled by its fear of the GOP.
"We have all lived in this enormous climate of fear over the last three-and-a-half years, in which it has certainly left us all kind of stagnant and very uncreative in what we can do," Glover explained.
"We have to be imaginative in our leadership, we have to be imaginative in bringing young people to the polls, imaginative in bringing people who have fallen away," he added.
Jesse Jackson echoed Glover's description of the GOP as a frightening force in politics, telling CNSNews.com that "people are driven by fear."
According to Jackson, the Bush administration does not deserve to be in power.
"They lost election in 2000, and in a combination of maneuvers, they were given the White House even though they had the fewest number of votes, which is undemocratic by definition," he said.
Bush's governing philosophy is "cut taxes, cut jobs, cut public education, cut social services, cut environmental protection, cut teacher pay and leave no rich person behind," Jackson said.
Jackson called the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision a "clear victory, and he criticized the Bush administration for opposing affirmative action.
"It is unconscionable that the Bush administration would have moved to re-segregate the nation against its will," Jackson stated.
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