by Max Brantley
Some of Ford's remarks from coverage by The City Wire in Fort Smith:
Ford compared the “We are the 99%” Occupy protest slogan to the turmoil that existed surrounding Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. There, he pointed out, was where 90% of the poorest looked upon the 10%, “who were wealthy enough to own cows,” and said “that we the 90% being the bravest people we know are so poor, and the 10% are so rich, they must be cheating. How can they be making more money than us? They’re less than us,” Ford said.
Ford continued: “And from there it went to ‘you (the 10%) are subhuman.’ Then, the political leadership and the wife of the (Rwandan) President embraced it. They gathered their children together and held seminars for how to use a machete. From that point, it went from, ‘you are subhuman’ to ‘you are cockroaches and need to be killed.’”
Balloon Juice comments:
This comparison is outright absurd. The sloganeering leading up to and during the genocide in Rwanda ultimately was about ethnic cleansing. Occupy Wall Street is about income inequality. The two have absolutely nothing to do with one another. This sort of rhetoric is desperate and irresponsible.
A local reader who sent the Balloon Juice link comments further and more sharply:
All I can say is Wow!
This comes from a man who became CEO of Alltel when his past credentials included being a member of the lucky sperm club and working as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch and Stephens Inc. The grand idea of Scott taking over as chief executive of Alltel probably came after a round of golf between his father Joe Ford and Jack Stephens at Augusta National, where all are prominent members.
Nevertheless, Scott's greatest contribution to his own legacy was engineering a Wall Street grand slam where he sold Alltel twice (once to private equity firms and a few months later to Verizon), banking billions for his namesake, the Stephens empire, and the entire investment banking community.
Little Rock was left with two companies, wireliner Windstream and another wireless stock company (Allied) that will either be sold (for billions) or end up struggling to compete with the bigger phone giants like AT&T and Verizon. In the end, Alltel expatriates with good-paying technology jobs not lucky enough to land at Windstream or Allied will most likely leave the state for better jobs, take lower paying jobs, end up jobless or on the unemployment line.
Ford, a Christian man who quotes scripture at the drop of a hat, likens himself to some kind of capitalist savior. However, his real legacy will be that he was the man who sold Alltel to Verizon and lied to employees about their futures. Just because Mr. Ford has his billions doesn't mean that he earned it, fair and square. If Scott was honest with himself and the God that he boasts about serving, he would testify to the fact that he is perfect example of a 1%-er who didn't have to lift a finger to get what he got. In fact, King of the 1%-ers would be a perfect title for someone who certainly puts a face and voice to those of us not lucky, hard-working, or God-fearing enough to have a chance at the American dream.