In this March 3, 2015, file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, listen. Relations between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans have hit a new low. There has been little direct communication between Obama and the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill since Republicans took full control of Congress in January. Obama has threatened to veto more than a dozen Republican-backed bills. And Boehner infuriated the White House by inviting Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the administration first. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Those of you who will not stand with our first African American president only need to read the letter below and realize that criticizing and opposing him is a mistake. On the night of his election in 2008, several Republican Senators met in a restaurant in Washington DC and plotted to ensure that he would serve one term in office. After the second election, they vowed not to cooperate with anything he proposes. “If he’s for it, we’re against it.” The public be damned!
Before we explore why you should cease to criticize and oppose, let’s look at some of the events that led up to his winning the presidency.
Let’s start with Freedom’s Journal, the first Black newspaper printed in the United States. That newspaper was founded to negate the negative characterization of African Americans by certain bigoted media in New York City.
Black folk have endured much in their efforts to gain social, economic and political equality in America, witnessed by the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama in March of 1965. John Lewis, born in Alabama, at the age of 25 was beaten within an inch of his life on that day as he led the march across that bridge, but he didn’t give up, and in 1987 became the US representative from Georgia.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Jimmy Lee Jackson, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, along with many others, sacrificed their lives in their quest for human rights opposed by bigots and brutal police. However Dr. King had a dream. He didn’t mention it in his famous speech, but I’m sure he was dreaming of seeing a Black man in the White House.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, revered by some, hated by others, has been a devoted civil rights advocate for Black people most of his life, beginning in 1963 when Bishop Fredrick Douglass Washington ordained him a licensed minister. Sharpton was 9 years old at the time. However he had been preaching and touring with Mahalia Jackson since the age of 4.
Sharpton is praised for "his ability and willingness to defy the power structure, and as one who is willing to face the enemy without reservation or fear.” Mentored by some of New York’s prominent ministers, Bishop F D Washington and Dr. William A Jones, Al Sharpton continues to be an advocate for voting rights. Dr. Jones’ motto was "We have our finger on all the Black churches in this country. Just imagine 12,000 Black churches saying, 'Go out and vote.' We could change the nation and change the world." Al Sharpton has followed the mandates given him by Bishop Washington and Rev. Jones, “Be an advocate for your people.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, another target of Black criticism, has a peppered past in his growth from a boy in Greenville, SC, to his run for president of the United States in 1984 and 1988. Rev. Jackson set the standard for Black candidates running for national office. His contribution to the growth of African Americans in the political and social arena is immeasurable.
During the civil rights struggles in the second half of the 19th century, brave U. S. citizens both Black and White joined hands to face vicious dogs, racist citizens and police, fire bombs and gunfire to gain recognition of the rights of African American citizens.
These men and these struggles, these brave citizens, continued their quest for our civil rights right up to the day they were privileged to vote for Barack Obama for president of the United States. These are just a few of the brave warriors who have put themselves in harm’s way while shaping the road to the Obama presidency.
President Barack Obama has many distractions and opposition from the Republican Party--Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump and Fox News talk show hosts. He has been demonized, criticized, disrespected, ignored and undermined. Barack Obama holds the distinction of being the most disrespected president in the history of the country. Rep. Joe Wilson shouts, "You lie!" after President Obama denies the health plan would cover illegal immigrants. Donald Trump questions his citizenship, Rudy Giuliani says he is not one of us. John Boehner invites Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress to criticize our president’s negotiations with Iran on nuclear weapons. The president was not consulted about the invitation. This was a political move orchestrated by Boehner and Netanyahu to create animosity against Barack Obama with the Jewish community in the US and to promote Netanyahu’s political career in Israel. There is no precedent for the disrespect that has been shown to the country’s first Black president.
When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, the world rejoiced. Foreigners danced in the streets. Tears filled the eyes of those warriors who had endured the batons of brutal police, the dogs, fire hoses, the jails, the “white only” restaurants and the evils of the KKK and Jim Crow.
If you have been a vocal critic of our president, please reconsider. He is the first, and may be the last in our lifetime. He is the end product of our struggles over the past 400 years for racial justice and equality. The Republican Party is committed to oppose his efforts and to distort his image and accomplishments. Fortunately, our president is a shrewd politician who possesses a high degree of intelligence and can hold his own against the bigots he encounters in the halls of Congress. We have the responsibility to hold him up and to support his efforts.
Tom Cotton, the freshman senator from Arkansas, ran for the senate on the following mantra:
“Tom Cotton is the conservative leader we need in the U.S. Senate to help us take back America.”
Take back America from whom? The Congress of the United States is composed of 535 members--43 are Black. There are no Black governors. He obviously objects to having a Black Commander in Chief. In his view there are 43 too many Blacks in Congress and one too many Black presidents.
Tom Cotton is the author of the following letter:
An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution — the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices — which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.
First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.
Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics.
For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then — perhaps decades.
What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.
We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress.
Senator Tom Cotton, R-AR (and 46 Republican co-signers)
Of course it is obvious none of the Republican signers did any homework on this letter, because it is flawed, and, in my opinion, violates the Logan Act of 1799. The agreement now being negotiated with Iran does not need ratification by the U.S. Senate to become law. They don’t seem to be able to distinguish between an Agreement and a Treaty.
Congressional-executive agreements are made by the President and Congress. A majority of both houses makes it binding much like regular legislation after it is signed by the President. The constitution does not expressly state that these agreements are allowed, and some constitutional scholars think they are unconstitutional. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld their validity.
Sole executive agreements are made by the president alone.
Treaties are formal written agreements specified by the Treaty Clause of the Constitution. The President makes a treaty with foreign powers, but then the proposed treaty must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
These 47 Republicans are blinded with racism and political ambition and are giving no thought to the damage that can occur as a result of their actions. They are focusing on making Obama fail instead of acting in the best interest of national security. The Department of Justice should take a look at this activity as well as Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to see if the Logan Act was violated.
The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 30 January 1799, currently codified at 18 U.S.C. § 953) is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.
The Act was intended to prohibit unauthorized United States citizens from interfering in relations between the United States and foreign governments.
Let’s stand with our president and support him throughout his last years in office.