A Congressman of the People: Parren J. Mitchell (RIP)

“When a man has learnt to yield to his essential being, he has overcome…fear of the world.”

— Karlfried Graf Von Durckheim

Baltimore, MD – The Lord called him home on May 28, 2007, the same day ten more U.S. troops had died in the Neocon-inspired Iraqi War. [1] His name was Parren J. Mitchell. He died at the age of 85, and was widely revered as a genuine servant of the people–not only in his own African-American community–but by a wider community as well. For eight terms, (1971-87), he was a splendid Congressman from Maryland’s 7th district, which embraced most of his home turf in West Baltimore. Rep. Mitchell started the “Black Congressional Caucus” in the House of Representatives. He was first, a man of the U.S. Constitution. He believed, unlike U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), that the Congress should be a check and a balance on the power of the Executive Branch of government–not a rubber stamp. Rep. Mitchell was a leader, too. He was a sharp critic of the Vietnam War and a fierce opponent of the chicanery of President Richard M. Nixon. He didn’t hesitate, in 1970s, to demand Nixon’s impeachment for breaching the public trust in the Watergate-related scandal.

And, if Rep. Mitchell is looking down today from that great Congressional Forum in the skies, he is no doubt appalled by the mostly disgusting conduct of many of the politicos, who now represent us. For example, the Congress passed, on May 24, 2007, a Supplemental Emergency Spending Bill for Iraq. It granted the Bush-Cheney Gang, over $100 billion more to waste in Iraq, without any benchmarks or timelines whatsoever. Sen. Mikulski voted for it, just like she has voted for every other war spending bill, since this illegal and unjust conflict started on March 20, 2003.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) said, at a press conference on May 24, 2007, at the Cannon Office building, that the Iraqi War will now go on “forever.” He also underscored how this law will permit the “privatization of the oil” putting in the hands of the Anglo-American Oil Cartel most of the oil that rightfully belongs to the Iraqi people. He called the vote on the bill: “A moment of truth for the Democratic Party.” Rep. Kucinich denounced the legislative scheme as out and out “theft,” and not worthy of the “high ideals” of our Republic. [2] Ms. Antonia Juhasz of Oil Change International [2-A] and Ms. Denice Lombard (2-B) of the U.S. Labor Against the War, also spoke out strongly against the law, which easily failed the smell test.

Getting back to Rep. Mitchell. He didn’t have a phony bone in his body. He was a life long fighter for Civil Rights. He couldn’t be intimidated and the Wire Pullers failed to manipulate him. Rep. Mitchell’s first duty was to the U.S. Constitution. He took his responsibility to the people, under the law, very seriously. The idea that a gofer for a powerful Special Interest, like AIPAC, Big Oil and/or the Military-Industrial Complex, would tell him what to do on any issue was simply unthinkable. Rep. Mitchell would have been embarrassed to hear Sen. Mikulski confess to the fact that pushy lobbyists from AIPAC regularly call her congressional office. On March 16, 2007, Gregory Levey, writing for Salon.com, revealed how the Maryland Senator, at an AIPAC national convention, held in Washington, DC, had publicly admitted how she “often spoke” to Howard Kohr, the Executive Director of that organization. Sen. Mikulski blurted out: “THEY’RE LIKE DAILY PHONE CALLS!” [3]

I’m convinced too, that if Rep. Mitchell were in the Congress today, unlike the mousey Mikulski, he would be seeking the impeachment for “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” of both Bush and his Vice President in wrongdoing–Dick Cheney. [4] There is no way he would be standing on the sideline, acting like a spectator. This, sadly, is the posture that Sen. Mikulski takes, while 3,471 U.S. troops have died in Iraq, and thousands more have been seriously wounded in a war based on serial lies and deception. To date, the bloody conflict has also cost the taxpayers over $430.5 billion and counting. Another evil is the totally demented “Surge” scheme of the reckless Bush-Cheney Gang. It puts an additional 22,000 to 35,000 U.S. troops in harm’s way in Iraq, despite the explicit warning of Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, USA, Retired, that this war is the “greatest strategic mistake in American history.” Sen. Mikulski has given the crazy “Surge” scheme her mindless approval, too, and I will soon tell you the true reasons why she has done so.

We also now know, thanks to the first-rate study co-authored by Dr. Gilbert Burnham of the Johns Hopkins U. School of Public Health, and his team of respected professionals, that as of July, 2006, an estimated 654,965 Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. These are Iraqis who are dead, but wouldn’t be dead, but for the unprovoked and pre-emptive U.S. attack of March 20, 2003. [5] Sen. Mikulski doesn’t even bother to cite the Iraqi dead when she offers up her bogus reasons for going along with the war, war-spending and the sinister killing agenda of the Bush-Cheney Gang in Iraq. No wonder local Peace advocates, like Maria Allwine and Maryland State Delegate, Jill P. Carter, have described Sen. Mikulski’s position as “politically schizophrenic.” Allwine added: “There is no way you can protect the troops [like Sen. Mikulski is urging] by funding their deaths and woundings.”

The Baltimore Sun rightly labeled Rep. Mitchell a “crusader for justice,” in a very accurate front page obit on him, dated, May 29, 2007. I remember interviewing the Congressman, in his Capitol Hill office, in the Rayburn Building, back in 1985. He then told me: “I am, was, and always will be a liberal. When all else fails, I believe it is the duty of government to do things for people: housing, health, education and jobs…It is because we have a capitalistic system, that we need government to play those roles.” [6] Rep. Mitchell was also an advocate of both Palestinian and Irish Freedom.

What a striking contrast! Rep. Mitchell, with an unconquerable soul, was a gutsy liberal Congressman, who the people of his district could always count on to fight in their corner. Whereas, Sen. Mikulski is a fake liberal, who has long forgotten the principles that she once professed. A promoter of the draconian Patriot Act, she now aids and abets the taking of the oil away from the beleaguered peoples of Iraq and giving it to the grasping multi-national corporations to exploit, while using our brave troops, in the “Surge” scheme, to guard and defend that resource. She does all of this while these same predators from Big Oil are raking in, on average, $3.21 a gallon for gas at the pump, and reporting windfall profits of $72 billion in 2006. Shame on Sen. Mikulski! Let Big Oil hire its own guards! Rep. Mitchell, on the other hand, was a Congressman of the People. His significant contributions to the community, as a champion of Civil and Human Rights, Economic Justice and Humanity, will long be deeply appreciated and fondly remembered.

Finally, to the Spirit of the Hon. Parren J. Mitchell, (1922-2007)–a great son of Baltimore–I say–Rest in Peace!


[1]. http://batr.net/neoconwatch/ and

[2]. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26Lr17usifg
2-A. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
O2HCR616ETI and
2-B. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyJ9BsjyOUw

[3]. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/03/16/aipac/index_np.html

[4]. http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/

[5]. http://baltimore.indymedia.org/newswire/display/15007/index.php

[6]. “Maryland LIfe” magazine, Dec.-Jan. issue, 1985.