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Congressman J.C. Watts Responds To The NAACP's Remarks About President Bush

The controversy over the NAACP’s convention and President Bush took an interesting turn yesterday when Rep. J.C. Watts, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, wrote a letter to NAACP Chairman Julian Bond in reference to Mr. Bond’s recent address to the convention. Rep. Watts took issue with several of Mr. Bond’s comments and challenged the chairman on several points, especially President Bush’s faith-based initiative.

Here is the letter, provided to by Rep. Watts’ office, unedited:

Chairman Julian Bond
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore, MD 21215

Dear Julian:

In your recent address to the 92nd annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in New Orleans, you said of President George W. Bush: "We intend to applaud him when he is right and to take him to task when he is wrong." By any objectionable
standard, your comments fell far short of that goal. In fact, I found them misleading, disappointing and far below the standards befitting an institution as storied and influential as the NAACP.

For starters, President Bush's administration is among the most diverse in recent history. He has appointed outstanding African Americans and Hispanics to the highest positions of power in our nation. Further, George W. Bush was the first Republican in years to address the NAACP convention, just last year in Baltimore. How quickly some forget. Sadly, far from your pledge to "applaud him when he is right" you have sought to distort the Bush Administration's record and further divide this nation.

In addition, your claim that President Bush's faith-based initiative "threatens to erase sixty years of civil rights protections" is absolutely without any basis in fact. The truth is the bipartisan Community Solutions Act (H.R. 7) ends years of discrimination by the federal government against faith-based organizations. With regard to hiring practices, H.R. 7 simply extends the protections that houses of worship and other religious institutions have enjoyed since the inception of the Civil Rights Act of

Further, the faith-based initiative has the support of groups fighting in the trenches every day to help the poor and needy. From the U.S. Catholic Conference and Salvation Army, to Habitat for Humanity, these people understand this initiative is about rallying the people in the trenches every day to help the disadvantaged in a way government alone simply cannot. As for the naysayers, I think Philadelphia Mayor John Street put it best when he said, "The worriers do not have responsibility for doing
things." I urge you to learn a little more about this initiative and talk to some of those African Americans working every day to make a difference in African American communities, like T.D. Jakes in Dallas or Bishop Harold Ray
in Florida, or Carlton Pearson in my home state of Oklahoma. They can explain the importance of the faith-based initiative in a way that you must not be hearing.

The NAACP already has a memorable past and its future can be just as bright if its leadership can reach out to make a real difference in the lives of African Americans - and not just score political points. For years, countless NAACP officers and members, including members of my family, worked in that fashion to help bring the NAACP where it is today. Our cause is greater than partisan politics. I invite you to meet with me to discuss the magnificent opportunities that lie before us to work in a bipartisan way
to improve education and health care, strengthen Social Security and extend a helping hand to the least fortunate in our society. The legacy of the NAACP deserves no less. My office will contact your office to make the arrangements.


J.C. Watts, Jr.
Chairman, House Republican Conference

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

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