Guest Editorial: Philadelphia NAACP makes the right decision

Leaders of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP have voted to turn over full control of the organization to the national office following a controversy over local chapter President Rodney Muhammad posting an anti-Semitic meme to social media in July.

While some questioned the NAACP’s national office for taking too long to take action, in the end, the civil rights group made the right decision.

The executive committee of the Philadelphia NAACP branch voted Aug. 20 to effectively dissolve itself and yield full control to the national office, which will appoint an administrator by early September and oversee a transition to new leadership.

NAACP National President Derrick Johnson said in an Aug. 21 letter released last week that all aspects of the local branch including finances, policies, fundraising and membership will run through the national office and the appointed administrator.

The decision all but ends the tenure of Muhammad as president of the local branch, which he has led since 2014.
Jewish leaders, joined by Pennsylvania’s governor and attorney general and several African-American city leaders, had called for his resignation.

The image posted to Facebook July 23 included photos of Ice Cube, DeSean Jackson and Nick Cannon, all of whom have been criticized recently for posting or making anti-Semitic comments.

Below their photos is an image of a yarmulke-wearing man, using his hand to crush a group of people. It’s accompanied by a quote wrongly attributed to philosopher Francois Voltaire but actually circulated by white supremacists.

Muhammad said in a statement that he welcomed the decision to have the national office “help us transition to new leadership and seek to make our relationship with faith communities across Philadelphia stronger than ever.”

He apologized for the post and what he called “the insult, pain and offense it brought to all, especially those of the Jewish community.”

Muhammad earlier said he was unaware that the meme was anti-Semitic and removed the post when he learned that it “bared significant offense to the Jewish community.”

A November election is slated for local NAACP offices, but it’s unclear whether the national office will appoint new leaders or allow candidates to run in the election.

The national office made the right decision for its local chapter. The nation’s oldest civil rights organization cannot be associated with perpetuating stereotypes pushed by white supremacists who hate Jewish people and African Americans.

Both African Americans and Jewish Americans have endured a history of stereotyping and scapegoating that has led to violence against both groups, especially during turbulent times such as now, when national tension is rising from an economic downturn and great societal change.

Leaders in the African-American and Jewish communities and others can find common ground fighting against bigotry and hate and fighting for equality and justice.

 

Rodney Muhammad speaks to a rally outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia.— AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek, File

 

 

Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune

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