Opportunism & Deception
One example of what critics call the political opportunism of the
Newmanites and the New Alliance Party is their continuing effort to imply
a connection with Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition. For instance
the Newmanites have established in Washington, D.C. the "Rainbow
Lobby" billed as "The Lobbying Office of the Rainbow Alliance." The
Rainbow Lobby has offices at 236 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., and lists
Nancy Ross as Executive Director and Tamara Weinstein as Assistant Director.
The Rainbow Lobby office has been frequently mistaken for the Washington
office of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, a mistake that in the past,
NAP leadership seems to have gone out of its way not to clarify. Newspaper
articles have appeared about NAP's Rainbow Lobby in which throughout,
the reporter assumes the Rainbow Lobby represents Jackson and the Rainbow
Coalition--a circumstance NAP leadership could have easily avoided by
explaining upfront that the two groups are unrelated.
Jackson has had to publicly distance himself and the Rainbow Coalition
from NAP and its Rainbow Alliance and Rainbow Lobby on several occasions.
Most recently Jackson told <Chicago Sun-Times> reporter Basil Talbot
that "we have no relationship at all."
In the June 21, 1985 issue of the <National Alliance>, an article
on the Rainbow Alliance shows how artfully the question of a relationship
has been dodged in the past: "Hostile critics and curious allies
are forever saying to Nancy Ross, `Does Jesse Jackson support what you're
"Ross, who heads the Washington office of the Rainbow Alliance
Confederation's lobbying arm, has learned how to respond to such inquiries." "`The
point is not whether Jesse Jackson supports me, but whether I support
Jesse Jackson,' says Ross, a founder of the sixyear-old independent New
Alliance Party, and candidate for Jackson delegate in Harlem in 1984.
`And I support Jesse completely because of the social vision he has articulated
on behalf of the Rainbow movement. Yes, I have real differences with
Jesse--he thinks independent politics is "prophetic" whereas
I believe its time has come right now--but I won't allow anyone to sever
the historic ties between Jesse and myself, because I am committed to
see that his vision of a just society be brought about today.'"
While admittedly clever, the above explanation is essentially a dishonest
misrepresentation of the facts, designed to confuse the issue and suggest
a connection where none exists. The confusion over support from Jesse
Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition is exacerbated by how the New Alliance
Party describes itself. The February 13, 1987 edition of the <National
Alliance> newspaper contained a centerfold spread with the multi-color
slogan "The Real Rainbow" spanning the two pages. A letter
on New Alliance Party stationery to gay activists on the west coast had
the slogan "The Party of the Rainbow." A petition calling for
an independent Black Presidential campaign was titled "An Open Letter
To Reverend Jesse Jackson."
Ironically, in a 1983 issue of the Newmanite theoretical journal <Practice>,
Newman attacked Jesse Jackson and Jackson's progressive supporters in
"The U.S. ultra-Left has traditionally suffered very badly from
a mental disorder perhaps best identified as premature vanguardulation.
There has, over the past few years, been a positive attempt by some to
rectify this problem (called by some friendly left critics `wrecktification')
which, however, has dealt mainly with the symptoms of the disease by
essentially helping the `client' to feel more comfortable masturbating.
Hence, some of the rectified ultra-left--for example supporters of `Jesse
Jackson, Democrat'--are smilingly convincing themselves these days that
it is alright to unite with Jackson's `progressive aspects'. Many have
raised questions as to which part of Jackson's political anatomy embodies
his `progressive aspects.' "
At the end of 1987 the <National Alliance> newspaper column by
Rainbow Lobby Executive Director Nancy Ross began to include a disclaimer
"The Rainbow Lobby is an independent citizens' lobby based in
Washington, D.C. which supports important legislation that affects civil,
human, voting and democratic rights at home and abroad. For more information
on the Lobby, please contact Nancy Ross at 236 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.,
Suite 409, Washington, D.C. 20002 (202) 543-8324."
"The Rainbow Lobby, Inc. is an independent lobby, not affiliated
with the Rainbow Coalition, Inc."
The disclaimer began appearing during the same time period that NAP
launched the campaign of Lenora Fulani for President. During 1987 the
NAP began to publicly attack the Rainbow Coalition and in the <National
Alliance> Lenora Fulani was quoted as saying "With all due respect
to Brother Jesse Jackson, almost everyone knows he hasn't built a real
Rainbow. He might have incorporated something called the National Rainbow
Coalition, Inc., but he hasn't built a Rainbow. <We've built a real
Despite the criticisms and disclaimers, there is still much public
confusion concerning the relationship of NAP to the Rainbow Coalition,
and Jackson's Presidential candidacy. This confusion is not alleviated
by NAP public statements. For instance in the November 20, 1987 issue
of the <National Alliance>, William Pleasant attacks the Rainbow
Coalition as "the Democratic Party's <phony> left wing",
but then writes that "Fulani, under her `Two Roads Are Better Than
One' plan, backs Reverend Jesse Jackson in the Democratic Party primaries.
But she has done everything possible to ensure that the progressive Rainbow
agenda will be carried through to the general election in November...."
Among the most persistent critics of the New Alliance Party are freelance
writer Dennis King of New York, the author of this study, Chip Berlet
(and other members of the Public Eye Network), and two researchers who
often work closely together, Ken Lawrence of Mississippi and Dan Stern
of Illinois. In 1985 Ken Lawrence and Dan Stern provided information
on NAP to Charles Tisdale, publisher of the <Jackson Advocate> newspaper
in Mississippi. Tisdale ran a series of articles critical of Newman and
NAP in the <Advocate>, which for many years has served as a voice
for Black residents in the area.
In response to the <Advocate> articles, NAP embarked on a smear
campaign against its critics--a tactic it frequently employs. An article
by William Pleasant in NAP's <National Alliance> newspaper attacked
Tisdale, Lawrence, Stern and Berlet. A photograph of Tisdale (who is
Black) is accompanied by a bold headline which reads: "Jackson Advocate
publisher Charles Tisdale: The Advocate has come to play the role of
a Black front for a national network that is a nesting place for agents."
The same article claims that Dennis King and Chip Berlet have shown "a
willingness to relent on their earlier false and sectarian charges of
LaRouche affiliation or cultism." (In fact, both Berlet and King
still stand by their earlier charges.) Ken Lawrence and Dan Stern are
described as "absorbed in another agenda, beyond sectarianism, bordering
on straight out provocateurism." NAP organizers also began circulating
charges that Ken Lawrence was a government agent.
When Tisdale refused to back down from his criticisms of NAP, and continued
to detail the charges of other NAP critics, NAP chairwoman Emily Carter
responded by filing a defamation lawsuit against Tisdale, the <Jackson
Advocate> and Ken Lawrence. (A judge subsequently ordered Lawrence
dropped from the lawsuit). After the lawsuit was filed, when well-known
organizer Flo Kennedy accepted an invitation to speak at a banquet sponsored
by the <Jackson Advocate>, a self-described NAP member disrupted
a press conference with her by shouting "You're a very stupid woman." Other
critics of NAP are frequently ridiculed or attacked in an unprincipled
Penetration and Disruption of Rival Groups
Critics of the Newmanites claim one of the tactics used by the group
is to penetrate a progressive organization and seek to take it over or
recruit away its membership. One of the themes in the <Jackson Advocate> series
on NAP was the frequency with which NAP engaged in what critics considered
disruptive tactics. Lily Mae Irwin, a well-known welfare rights activist
told the <Advocate> how, in 1985, NAP tried to merge with the group
she was leading, the Mississippi Welfare Rights Organization. After she
refused the merger idea, she soon discovered NAP was scheduling their
meetings with her key organizers opposite the regular monthly Welfare
Rights Organization meetings. "Yes Siree," said Irwin, "they
were trying to hold meetings at the same time we were; they were trying
to mess us up."
Eddie Sandifer, a well-known Mississippi Gay rights activist, told
the <Advocate> he resented the claim by NAP that it is the party
of gays, lesbians, Blacks and dispossessed people in general. In particular,
Sandifer was angry that NAP contacted several members of the Mississippi
Gay Alliance and invited them to NAP meetings, but did not contact him,
the group's leader." I think their purpose is to divide and conquer," said
Sandifer." I'm very suspicious of them....I'm worried about what
they are doing in Mississippi."
A long-time gay activist in California voiced similar concerns to the
author after NAP sponsored a gay rights conference in that state. He
feared the NAP wanted to duplicate the work of existing gay organizations
as a way to build credibility and recruit new members for the NAP.
A woman activist in New York told the author of a call she received
from a friend in England complaining of disruptive activities by a NAP
organizer who attended functions of a women's peace group. Disruption
has been a hallmark of NAP organizing for years, and reports of this
nature have been consistently surfaced over the years from a wide variety
One early example of a Newmanite attempt to penetrate and manipulate
a progressive organization involved the now-defunct People's Party, a
multi-racial progressive electoral party which once ran Dr. Benjamin
Spock for President. In early 1978, according to a former People's Party
organizer, the People's Party "expelled the Newmanites when it was
uncovered that they were operating within the party as a secret faction
with an undisclosed agenda as to their intentions and plans."
The Newmanites had told members of the People's Party that Newman's
International Workers Party had been disbanded, but the People's Party
stumbled across a secret Newmanite newsletter marked "confidential
internal bulletin" and bearing the name <Party Building>.
According to <Party Building>, the Newmanites were recruiting inside
the People's Party and other progressive groups to build a secret "pre-party
formation." The confidential Newmanite newsletter explained it was
being published to function as intelligence and communications networks,
reporting on the social movement of various strata in particular areas.
Even though the IWP was supposed to have dissolved, plans were sketched
out in <Party Building> for its "Fourth Party Plenary" held
in Gary, Indiana in early 1977. The meeting brought together representatives
from various Newmanite front groups organized under the public banner
of the "Council of Independent Organizers."
Depth of Black Leadership
The New Alliance Party does engage in activities which support Black
candidates, as the following excerpt from a letter by NAP supporters
"In 1984, after campaigning for Reverend Jesse Jackson and witnessing
his public rejection at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco,
NAP moved ahead with its independent Presidential campaign for the Afro-American
candidate Dennis L. Serrette in a record-breaking 33 states where the
party had managed to secure access to the ballot."
What the letter fails to mention is that Serrette left the New Alliance
Party after unsuccessfully struggling for a meaningful leadership role
for Black NAP officials who he felt had organizational titles but no
real influence or control. At first, Serrette, as a point of personal
and political principle, refused to openly criticize NAP, but when it
became obvious NAP leaders were characterizing his reasons for leaving
as primarily personal, and implying that Serrette continued to support
NAP, Serrette went public with his charges in Mississippi's <Jackson
"I left the party because it continued to claim it was Black-led--I
knew better," Serrette is quoted as saying in the <Jackson Advocate>." I
mean no harm to these powerful Black women, Emily Carter, Lenora Fulani
and Barbara Taylor, when I say that....I knew from being there that they
were not leading Fred Newman--he was leading them--that's why I left....I
don't feel they can use `Black-led' continuously without falling on their
faces-falsehoods just won't hold up under close scrutiny."
According to Serrette, NAP had no real commitment to Black-led independent
politics." I had to think about my reputation then--of people who
continue to believe in me." After raising his criticisms internally,
Serrette said he was cut off from the flow of information within the
party." It got so I didn't know when they were holding meetings
or anything," said Serrette.
In the course of the lawsuit by Emily Carter against the <Jackson
Advocate>, Dennis Serrette was called by Carter's attorney to answer
questions in a deposition. Serrette thoroughly denounced Newman and his
followers as running a racist, sexist "therapy cult" that put
people of color in public leadership positions merely as window dressing.
Regarding the New Alliance Party, Serrette said:
"...I don't believe that it's organic...in terms of it being a
working-class movement...Black, white and Latino. I think it's an elitist
organization. It certainly serves the purposes of its leader....it was
a lie, it was clearly a tactical ...a racist scheme of using Black and
Latino and Asian people to do the bidding of one man, namely Fred Newman,
that's my opinion, and to use other whites as well, you know through
the therapy practices."
"No one challenges Fred Newman. I have seen people maybe raise
a few polite questions in...planning sessions...but Fred Newman's word
is the word. There is no such thing as opposition within that organization,
or principled opposition, that in my opinion could demonstrate a different
will or challenge to power, a different political position of a major
order, unless he agreed with it in some way."
Serrette said he came to believe the promise that the organization
would eventually be turned over to Black people was a lie, and he challenged
Newman on the point:
"And I stated to him, "turned over" means, you know,
resources, it means making policy, it means running personnel...that's
Black control to me. I don't understand it as just having a Black face
in a high place. That's nothing more than racism and nothing more than
"It's no different from the system we seem to fight in this case.
So I raised those questions to Fred and we had ... a very heated meeting.
It was a meeting in which many of the Black leadership was there."
"It was very intense. We had Lenora [Fulani] making criticisms...Emily
[Carter] making criticisms, there was a lot of folks making criticisms
of some of the racism that they heretofore hadn't mentioned to Fred,
but had told me and told other Blacks in a whisper type kind of way,
the times that we were together...and they came forward."
Shortly after that meeting, according to Serrette, his stature and
treatment by other NAP leaders changed dramatically. Serrette said he
was not opposed to therapy on principle since he believed many people
are helped by other forms of therapy. But therapy played a different
role inside NAP according to Serrette:
"...therapy was a way of getting people to not only operate in
an organizational way, but also a way of controlling every aspect of
their lives...you certainly couldn't straighten anybody out. But it was
certainly effective in terms of controlling a lot of people to do the
kinds of things that were asked of them...they would do anything, just
about, that he would ask them to do."
"I wouldn't even be surprised if they'd turn from a so-called
left organization to a rightwing organization with a blink of an eye.
I think that the ideological question that is supposedly the thrust of
who they call themselves, International Workers' Party, there's nothing
more than a front itself."
"I certainly believe that [of] the New Alliance Party, and when
I say "front," I just mean it's the cover to cover, possibly
the ego of Fred Newman and the control of so many individuals in terms
Serrette also said the therapy was not voluntary and that one Newman
associate made this clear:
"She said that it was an order that if you wanted to be part of
this organization, you will have to take therapy because it is the backbone
of our tendency...she says that comes as an order...from the governing