Monsanto, Karl Rove, Roy Innis - rotten to the CORE (17/1/2005)

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is using two events today as part of their Dr Martin Luther King celebrations. One of these is a "UN World Conference" promoting GM, which CORE has organised.

The other is CORE's reception at the New York Hilton Hotel where they will be honouring Green Revolution scientist Norman Borlaug and neo-conservative, Karl Rove. The Chairman for that event will be Hugh Grant, Chairman and CEO of Monsanto - the company at the centre of the Indonesian bribes scandal. Karl Rove is, of course, Bush's election strategist and the man who oversaw black voter disenfranchisment in Florida and Ohio.

CORE's Chairman, Roy Innis, who will be the opening speaker at the "UN World Conference" and the "host" of the event at the Hilton, is no stranger to controversy. Past CORE invitees to their King Day celebrations have included Austrian politician and Nazi-sympathizer Jorg Haider, and right-wing radio host Bob Grant, who once called Dr. King a "scumbag".

Innis himself is a curious champion of racial equality. He once called the struggle against Apartheid "a vicarious, romantic adventure" with "no honest base," and when asked in 1973 why his organization supported Idi Amin despite the Ugandan president's hatred of Jewish people and praise of Hitler, he said, "we have no records to prove if Hitler was a friend or an enemy of black people." Amin's decision to expel 50,000 Asians from Uganda was hailed by Innis as "a bold step".

Innis took over CORE after it nearly collapsed, and he then moved the civil rights organisation to the Republican right. James Farmer, the renowned civil rights leader who originally led CORE, was so incensed about what Innis was doing that he lent his name to a lawsuit that attempted to unseat Innis. Farmer also confronted Innis on a TV programme, accusing him of turning CORE into a "shakedown" gang.

Dr. Herschelle S. Challenor, Professor at Clark Atlanta University, in an address on Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, given at the United States Embassy in Kinshasa in January 2000, drew a sharp contrast between the character of Farmer and that of Innis: "James Farmer, the leader of CORE during the highpoint of the civil rights movement, was a bright, dedicated activist of unimpeachable integrity. His immediate successor, Roy Innis was seen as a chameleon prepared to change his political ideology as necessary. There were rumors that he worked in later years as an FBI informant."

Just why Norman Borlaug and a host of other GM supporters, let alone the UN, should want to associate themselves with Roy Innis and CORE is an interesting question. CORE and Innis are widely regarded as an insult to the memory of Dr King and the cause for which he died.

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