Saturday, August 19, 2006

NYT: Remarks get Andy Young in trouble

Different Focus in Atlanta on Young’s Remark - New York Times: "Andrew Young built his fame as the first lieutenant of the civil rights movement, working closely with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and becoming the first black congressman from Georgia since Reconstruction.

A street here is named after him, as is a school of public policy. And there are plans to erect a statue in his honor. So vast is his reservoir of good will, apparently, that even a racially inflammatory comment he made this week seemed unlikely to draw it down.

Instead, people who have known Mr. Young for decades seem rather satisfied that his comment that Jewish, Arab and Korean store owners had “ripped off” black neighborhoods, “selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables” had severed his link with his most high-profile client, Wal-Mart Stores, in whose defense he made the remark.

Referring to the remarks as being singled out from a long interview, Mr. Young said Friday in a telephone interview, “I thought this was kind of below the belt.”

“Now I don’t blame anybody,” he said, a day after apologizing for his remarks and resigning from the Wal-Mart payroll. “It was stupid of me to say in that context. No, it wasn’t stupid of me. I said it in the appropriate context. But I didn’t think about how it would read.”

His remarks drew ire from Jewish groups and advocates of diversity, dismay from Wal-Mart executives and a slap from the Rev. Al Sharpton.

But in Atlanta, the comments became an occasion to debate the focus of the civil rights movement and the fidelity of Mr. Young, now 74, to its ideals."


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