Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Faith-Based Obama Expands Corruption of Clergy

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The damage inflicted on independent Black politics may be irreversible.

With his plans to expand on George Bush’s so-called Faith-Based Initiatives, President Barack Obama has endorsed and made his own, the most backward, reactionary scheme of the previous administration to further undermine progressive concepts of government in general and the integrity of the Black body politic in particular. By his endorsement of the politics of faith-based bribery on an institutional scale, Obama once again reveals himself as both an opportunist of the lowest order and a reflexively rightwing oriented personality. On this issue, he has made himself identical to Bush, and embraced a great corruption.

Let us remember from the outset what George Bush intended when he launched his Faith-Based Initiatives at the beginning of his disastrous regime. Bush’s political strategy for Black America was based on two pillars: support for inner city educational privatization through school vouchers, and direct cash payments to church-based organizations to provide a range of public services previously the domain of government agencies. The doubled-edged strategy was a stroke of evil genius, a scheme hatched by the far-right Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the primary source of Bush’s domestic social agenda.

Through massive financing of a previously nonexistent network of Black school voucher supporters – which had been invented out of whole cloth by rich white benefactors – Bush hoped to create a critical wedge between African Americans and teachers unions, the twin bastions of urban Democratic politics. To an alarming degree, he succeeded.

Thanks to Barack Obama, faith-based bribery may now become a permanent fixture of the American political landscape.”

Even more insidious was Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives, whose goal was two-fold. First, he would disguise the massive defunding of public services for the poor by pretending that subsidies to religious service organizations could accomplish the same goals. Second, Bush hoped to recruit corruptible elements of the Black and brown clergy to the Republican cause, by dangling federal grant moneys in front of their noses. Thousands of greedy ministers took the bait, bringing their compliant congregations with them. The combination of school vouchers and faith-based bribery created the perception, if not the reality, of a growing Black trend to the Right. Bush had in great measure succeeded in encouraging and exploiting the worst tendencies within the Black Church.

Barack Obama has chosen to continue down the shameless path pioneered by George Bush. Faith-based Initiatives undermine the progressive tradition of the Black social gospel, beckoning preachers to pervert their ministries in return for government dollars. It is no less a corruption in the hands of a Black Democrat than under the white Republican, George Bush. Obama has expanded on Bush’s assault on the separation of church and state, and on the credibility and integrity of the Black Church.

The damage inflicted on independent Black politics may be irreversible. What began as a cynical ploy by Republicans to subvert a segment of the African American clergy is now being institutionalized by America’s first Black president. Thanks to Barack Obama, faith-based bribery may now become a permanent fixture of the American political landscape – a weapon of mass moral destruction that can be wielded by any party in power.

Barack Obama, who is so quick to critique Blacks on their alleged failures in morality, nutrition and even hygiene, encourages the pollution of the Black church with the rankest kind of pork barrel and patronage politics. In this regard, Obama is of no higher moral caliber than George Bush.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090210_gf_faith_based.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

Reconstructing Black New Orleans?  Show Us The Money!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The aim of the obstructionists is to prevent the return of New Orleans’ previous population”

New Orleans – especially Black New Orleans – remains a stunted version of its pre-Katrina self because of the twisted, intentions of those who rule the region and the nation. This racist vision of what America and its cities should look like – a vision that is averse to the physical presence of Black and poor people – is at war with the most fundamental imperatives of economic growth and social justice.

The dream of a reconstructed New Orleans, in which the 30 percent of the population that is still in exile would return to a city replenished with jobs, affordable housing, quality education and functional public services, is totally at odds with the scaled down, whitened up, gentrified and antiseptic New Orleans that corporate planners envision. Determined that their racist model prevail, these national and regional rulers have deliberately thwarted rebuilding of basic local infrastructures, effectively sabotaging the city’s recovery. Such is the inescapable truth that emerges from the seeming chaos of post-Katrina New Orleans and the supposed pervasive incompetence of government agencies at every level.

There is method to this madness. The aim of the obstructionists is to prevent the return of New Orleans’ previous population – to make the city unlivable for those without money for as long as it takes, until the former residents give up hope of every coming back. That is why, three and a half years after Katrina, New Orleans languishes in a dismembered state, like a patient on an operating table with his insides exposed and vital organs disconnected – while the doctors and nurses mill around doing nothing. Clearly, somebody has an interest in that patient never walking out of the room, alive.

The city’s population growth has stalled at a little over 70 percent of pre-Katrina levels. Most of the missing are Black”

Only deliberate sabotage of even the most basic recovery efforts can explain the failure to spend billions in dollars of moneys allocated for reconstruction. The powers-that-be had no problem forging quickly ahead with the destruction of public housing, but they have allowed private rents to increase by close to 50 percent. Two-bedroom apartments that rented for less than $700 before the hurricane hit in 2005, now go for almost $1000 a month. Most Blacks in New Orleans were renters. The powers-that-be are making sure there is no place for them to return to. The school system has been smashed into a jigsaw of pieces, none connected to the other. Health care festers at Third World levels.

It is a mistake to view New Orleans as the victim of incompetence. The political servants of the rich have done an exceedingly good job of ensuring that the only New Orleans that emerges from the muck of Katrina, will be a smaller, whiter, more affluent version preferred by the corporate classes and their hired hands at think tanks like the Washington-based Brookings Institute. Brookings has been keeping tabs on the New Orleans saga, and on the whole, likes how things are going. The city’s population growth has stalled at a little over 70 percent of pre-Katrina levels. Most of the missing are Black. But Amy Liu, co-author of a Brookings Institute report on New Orleans, says a smaller city is a good thing. Liu thinks the city needs time to recover the capacity to accommodate a larger population. But what she and the other corporate planners really mean is: first, let’s make sure the poor Blacks don’t come back. Then later, we’ll build a city fit for white, affluent habitation. Then they’ll muster the competence to spend the money to create the “new” New Orleans.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090211_gf_gulfcoast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52am EDT

The World Flees From The American Disease

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The only way to avoid another dose is to reject economic entanglements with the Americans.”

The world is reorganizing itself to avoid further exposure to the most virulent strains of what is now commonly referred to as “the American disease.” The contagion is dreaded like the worst kind of venereal infection. This disease is transmitted through political and economic intercourse with the Typhoid Mary of the planet, the United States. As headquarters nation for global finance capital, the U.S. acted as vector of the current planetary economic meltdown.

No country is fully immune to the ravages of the American transmitted disease. Having penetrated nearly every corner of the planet, the scourge, first spread by Wall Street hustlers, now threatens to undermine the economic organs of the entire Earth. Just as with biological infections, the disease must be contained before it can be cured. That means avoiding contact with the Americans and their hopelessly contaminated financial instruments: those festering derivatives that so poisoned the U.S. economy, it is virtually paralyzed.

When the Wall Street plague hit Europe in October of last year, the assembled heads of state were quick with a diagnosis, but not a cure. “We want entrepreneurial capitalism and not speculative capitalism, “ declared French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. But speculative capitalism is the only kind the United States has been peddling for a very long time. By now, much of the world has come to the realization that the only way to avoid another dose of the American disease is to reject economic entanglements with the Americans.

The pathology will continue eating away at the political economy for at least four more years.”

Meanwhile, the United States continues to incubate the infectious agents. The Obama administration is riddled with carriers of the disease – corrupt bankers and their accomplices at every level – ensuring that the pathology will continue eating away at the political economy for at least four more years. There can be no cure if you don’t get rid of the germs.

As the world erects defenses to keep the American disease from repeatedly infecting its global neighbors, the effect will be similar to the redlining of neighborhoods. The U.S. will fall further into decline as it is walled off from other nations’ efforts at economic development. That’s the meaning of the redlining of America.

The United States has been the object of redlining since at least 2003, when George Bush finally convinced the world that Washington was bad company with his illegal invasion of Iraq. Nobody wants to do business with a crazy man – or a crazy superpower. By late 2005, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations decided not to invite the United States as an observer to its annual meeting, but allowed the Russians and Chinese to attend as official observers. When the U.S. sent a diplomat anyway, he was turned away. Last December, the heads of 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean pointedly failed to invite Washington to their summit meeting in Brazil. Increasingly, the Americans are shunned as bringers of war and killers of economies, the two most feared symptoms of the American disease.

The corporations that threw their money behind Barack Obama for president were hoping his fresh face and charm would be seen by the world as a prophylactic for the American disease. But the Wall Street street walkers and the Pentagon refuse to change their risky behavior. Increasingly, the world has no choice but to put them in isolation. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090209_gf_american_disease.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:33am EDT