Radio Host's Attacks on Condoleezza Rice Draw Fire - "Is you their black-haired answer-mammy who be smart?"

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Friday, November 08, 2002

NEW YORK A talk radio host has joined the attack on the leading African-American figures in the Bush administration, and drawn fire himself from critics who see his comments as racist.

Just weeks after singer Harry Belafonte slammed Secretary of State Colin Powell, likening the fellow Jamaican-American to a "house slave," Florida's Neil Rogers jumped on the bandwagon with comments about National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

"Is you their black-haired answer-mammy who be smart?" a song parody broadcast on Rogers' show says. "Does they like how you shine their shoes, Condoleezza? Or the way you wash and park the whitey's cars?"

The song is supposed to be funny, but many say the popular talk-show host has stepped over the line.

Rogers refused to do a regular interview, so Fox News Channel called into his show, which broadcasts on WQAM in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Ft. Myers, Fla.

"She's the house Negro," he said. "It's a fact, it's my opinion. Am I entitled to my opinion?" Rogers, speaking to a reporter calling from New York, added that he doesn't have to answer to out-of-towners.

"Why do I have to -- in Miami, Fla. -- answer to some [expletive] in New York on Fox News how I do my show? What is it your business?"

But Rogers is no small-time talk-show host. Talkers magazine, the industry's leading trade publication, ranked him No. 15 on their list of greatest radio hosts of all time. Yet the magazine's editor and publisher had a problem with Rogers' comments, saying there's a fine line between satire and racism.

"He could be doing well making contributions to society on an artistic, satirical and social level without resorting to that type of tactic," Michael Harrison said. "I'm all for the First Amendment and artistic expression, but it doesn't do our industry any good if people abuse that and engage in racism. There's never really an excuse for racism, for hate. At what price ratings? At what price controversy?"

Niger Innis, spokesperson the Congress on Racial Equality, said he sees a double standard at play.

"If Rogers, instead of being a white liberal, were a white conservative like Rush Limbaugh using the type of language that Rogers was using, he'd be kicked off the air," Innis said.

It's a controversy that's been brewing on radio for a while now.

In October, calypso crooner Belafonte, speaking on San Diego, Calif., radio station KFMB, made less-than-flattering remarks about Powell and possibly Rice.

"Colin Powell is permitted to come into the house of the master, as long as he will serve the master according to the master's plans," Belafonte said, referring to President George W. Bush as "the master." "And when Colin Powell dares suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture. And you don't hear much from those who live in the pasture."

Other African-Americans came to Powell's defense. Outgoing Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers, a Republican, said Belafonte's sentiments aren't shared by most black Americans.

"Colin Powell is revered for the most part as the best of African-American achievements," Rogers told Foxnews.com. "He is among the most admired, if not the most admired African-American in the United States."

And Powell responded to the crooner's comments as well. "If Harry had wanted to attack my politics, that was fine. If he wanted to attack a particular position I hold, that was fine," Powell said the next day. "But to use a slave reference, I think, is unfortunate and is a throwback to another time and another place that I wish Harry had thought twice about using."

Innis blasted both Belafonte and Rogers, the Florida radio host.

"Guys like Rogers and Belafonte are intellectually bankrupt," he said. "They have no ideas, or their ideas are outdated, they're archaic. And on the battlefield of ideas, they will lose. So the only thing they can do is throw stones and rhetorical, racist rhetoric."

-- Anonymous, November 08, 2002


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