Marta Mossburg: Who knew Seinfeld's George Costanza was NAACP's model?

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Marta Mossburg

Remember the "The Fire" episode from Seinfeld? George Costanza shoves a senior citizen and children out of his way while fleeing a small kitchen fire at the apartment of his girlfriend.

He justifies his behavior by claiming he was trying to lead the way. He explained that pushing others was necessary "Because, because as the leader, if I die, then all hope is lost."

The show was funny. The fact that Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the Baltimore Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and leaders of the state organization abide by George's morally bankrupt worldview is not.

Cheatham introduced last weekend a resolution at a state meeting of the group founded as a civil rights organization to strip the Maryland governor of power to appoint a Baltimore City mayor. He and other NAACP leaders, who passed the resolution, feared the governor could appoint a white person or a Republican as mayor in the majority black city should the current holder of that position, Democrat Sheila Dixon be convicted of stealing gift cards. He told the Baltimore Sun he was worried -- no joke -- an Irish person could get the job.

Earlier in the week, he told Investigative Voice, which broke the story, that "in a majority African-American town, the governor could technically appoint a white mayor. ... Or in a traditionally Democratic city a Republican governor could appoint a Republican mayor."

Forget that Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, does not have the power to appoint a new Baltimore City mayor. The city's charter states that the city council president will become mayor in case the post becomes vacant. And put aside the blatant racial preference for a black person in the resolution.

That aspect of it is about as newsworthy and meaningful as Jesse Jackson Sr.'s labeling someone or some corporation racist. It also belies Cheatham's public statements on a white person's ability to represent blacks.

He told WBAL recently that "There is no one in the House or Senate that has done more for human rights, civil rights ... than Ted Kennedy," the recently passed Democratic senator from Massachusetts of Irish descent.

What's most important about the resolution is that it clearly shows the only people Cheatham and state leaders of the NAACP care about are themselves.

They did not want someone outside of their power circle to have a chance to run for mayor, regardless of his or her qualifications. If they cared about "democracy" as Cheatham stated in an open letter attempting to clarify his remarks, they would want the best candidate to win and would not fear poll results.

Additional evidence of Cheatham and other state NAACP leaders' power grab is that they can't say why a black candidate with the group's liberal social and economic views is the best person to revive the city. It is no coincidence that Baltimore's population has been decimated and that businesses have fled under administrations sharing the group's redistributionist policies.

Last, if Cheatham and other NAACP leaders cared about the city, they would have focused on different issues at their conference last weekend. Where was the resolution demanding a clean government in Baltimore City? Does the organization really want its supporters and everyone else to believe a corrupt black mayor is better than a clean white mayor? Does the group hold, as does the Congressional Black Caucus that supports tax cheat Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., - one set of ethical standards for blacks and another for whites?

Where was the resolution demanding that every black child receive a quality education? And where is their moral outrage at parents who let their children fail in school, become teenage parents and perpetuate the poverty once ascribed to federal law and discrimination?

Cheatham did not return phone calls requesting comment. But he has made it abundantly clear that the state's NAACP still clings to the view of blacks solely as victims with it as their fearless leader.

That narrative resonated at the NAACP's founding because it was true. But if Cheatham and the state NAACP want to be relevant now, they must help those striving to succeed instead of martyring themselves for a false cause.

Examiner Columnist Marta Mossburg is a senior fellow with the Maryland Public Policy Institute and lives in Baltimore.

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