Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Sharpton, Jealous and Morial Make Small Talk at the Big House

 three stooges visit the presidentBlack Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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The three civil rights leaders attempted a tricky maneuver with last week's visit to the White House.  How could they appear to pressure President Obama to finally act on Depression-level Black unemployment, while making no such demand? It was a fool's errand, for which they were well suited.

 

 
Sharpton, Jealous and Morial Make Small Talk at the Big House

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“They left the meeting babbling about helping the president with Republicans, but with no larger commitment in hand from Obama.”

When NAACP chief Ben Jealous emerged from a White House meeting with Barack Obama, last week, Jealous told the media:"What's clear is that we have a president who gets it." Barack Obama “gets it,” alright. He gets it, that organized Black leadership is grateful just to be allowed into the presidential presence. Obama gets it, that so-called civil rights leadership is terrified of even the appearance of exerting pressure on or, heaven forbid, making demands of the first Black president. Obama gets it, as he always has, that he can treat the civil rights establishment like fools, and they will dutifully oblige him by acting the part.

By their own accounts, Ben Jealous, National Urban League president Marc Morial, and Rev. Al Sharpton, spent much of their hour with President Obama discussing ways they can help Obama garner Republican support for his programs. This is deep, deep farce. The three Black civil rights figures have virtually no influence on Republican Party politics. That’s not their constituency and not their job. The expectation was that Sharpton, Jealous and Morial went to the White House on behalf of Black people, among whom they theoretically have some influence, to pressure Obama to take stronger action on Depression-level Black unemployment. Instead, they left the meeting babbling about helping the president with Republicans, but with no larger commitment in hand from Obama.

The president himself declined to make any statement concerning the meeting – an indication of its relative unimportance in the White House scheme of things.

“Obama still hasn't come forward with a serious jobs plan for the cities.”

In fact, the three civil rights figures have been spinning their wheels and wasting everybody’s time. They seem most giddy about having clarified to the White House what Black people mean when they cry out for action on reducing Black unemployment. "This is about place. It's not about race," rhymed the NAACP’s Ben Jealous. Government jobs programs targeted on the cities would effectively bring down Black unemployment, since Black people reside disproportionately in the cities. Nobody is demanding that jobs be created specifically for Black people, said Jealous.

But that's always been the case. There has never been a serious legislative proposal to create “Black” jobs. That's a red herring created by Barack Obama, himself. It was Obama who replied to every question on Black unemployment by saying he would never support any specifically Black jobs program – even though no one was asking for one! Obama was setting up a straw man – a Black demand that did not exist – in order to knock it down.  His purpose was to impress white people by appearing to be standing up to Black folks.

Through this dishonest and despicable ploy, Obama succeeded in deflecting criticism on Black unemployment for over a year. Now Ben Jealous says the president “gets it.” But Obama still hasn't come forward with a serious jobs plan for the cities. Black people have been demanding a “Marshal Plan for the Cities” in every election in the past 40 years – except for the election of 2008, when Blacks made no demands at all on candidate Obama. And the NAACP, the Urban League, and Al Sharpton still cannot fix their mouths in the shape of a demand. A pitiful excuse for leadership.

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

Direct download: 20100217_gf_WHMeeting.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:17am EDT


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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When it comes to civil and political liberties, the U.S. is a far less free place than it was, a generation ago.” Citizens acting under the slogan “Free Nelson Mandela” would have been prosecuted as criminals under the Patriot Act, as interpreted by both the Bush and Obama administrations.
 
Obama Would Have Been Jailed Under Patriot Act
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
In some ways, the post-9/11 political and legal climate is worse than in the bad old days of the McCarthy era.”
If the Patriot Act had been in effect when the Free South Africa Movement was in full swing in the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Americans would have been liable for imprisonment on charges of rendering “assistance” to “terrorists.” When it comes to civil and political liberties, the U.S. is a far less free place than it was, a generation ago.
On February 23, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the scope of the Patriot Act’s ban on rendering “support” to organizations designated as “terrorist” by the U.S. State Department. The Obama administration’s interpretation of the law, like it’s predecessors’, is so broad, it could put American citizens in prison for engaging in almost any contact with any person the government linked to a designated group. This includes organizations that have never attacked the United States, and have no direct grievance with United States.
It’s all in the language, the interpretation of the statute. Justice Department lawyers claim it is a violation of the Patriot Act even to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of an organization on the list. In the case before the High Court, the U.S.-based Humanitarian Law Project insists on its right to help mediate conflicts among peoples abroad, such as the Kurdish people’s struggle for national expression and self-determination in Turkey. The Law Project wants to assist in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party. But the Kurdish party is on the American terror list, and the administration contends that even doing peace work with the Kurdish group amounts to assisting in terror. Once on the list, Americans are banned from virtually any contact whatever with the designated organizations.
Americans are being prevented from exercising their free speech rights to promote peace in the world.”
It should be noted that the Kurdish Workers Party has no fight with the United States, has never attacked American installations, and is a secular party not connected with Islamic fundamentalism.
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights argues that Americans are being prevented from exercising their free speech rights to promote peace in the world.
In some ways, the post-9/11 political and legal climate is worse than in the bad old days of the McCarthy era, almost 60 years ago. Back then, said veteran civil rights lawyer Ralph Fertig, “It was not illegal to help the communists or to be a communist. You might lose your job, you might lose your friends, you might be ostracized. But you’d be free. Today,” Fertig told the New York Times, “the same person would be thrown in jail.”
Imagine, then, if the Patriot Act had been in force in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan had placed the African National Congress of South Africa and the world's most famous political prisoner, Nelson Mandela, on the State Department's terror list, from which they would not be removed until 2008. Yet hundreds of thousands, millions, of Americans offered every assistance possible to the liberation movement – including, or so he claims, Barack Obama, himself. Yet, the Obama Justice Department is just as eager as the Bush regime to wield the Patriotic Act as an awesome weapon of fear.
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: 20100217_gf_TerrorAct.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:10am EDT

haiti kidsA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Haiti's people don't need occupying armies; they “deserve a massive human response to their material needs, and they deserve solidarity in their struggle to regain national self-determination.” Join the Black is Back Coalition this weekend for a National Mobilization in Defense of Haiti. “A free and independent Haiti can only rise under the democratic direction of Haitians, themselves – not under the guns of U.S. neocolonialism.”
 
The U.S. Ain't No “Model”: Defend Haiti in Miami, February 20
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Make our response to Haiti’s humanitarian and political crisis a model of solidarity.”
The United States ambassador to Haiti is claiming that the U.S. military takeover of that stricken nation is a “model” for American behavior in the world. If so, then the world is in great trouble. Let’s make our response to Haiti’s humanitarian and political crisis a model of solidarity with the victims of natural and man-made catastrophe. On Saturday, February 20, join with the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, in Miami, Florida for a National Mobilization in Defense of Haiti. Haiti doesn’t need a U.S. or United Nations occupying army. Her proud and long suffering people deserve a massive human response to their material needs, and they deserve solidarity in their struggle to regain national self-determination. Haiti’s future must be shaped by her own people, not by the occupiers that stole her independence, banned her most popular political party, exiled her president, massacred her most dedicated community activists, and laid her economy naked to foreign exploitation.
Haiti's dignity must be restored, along with her ability to feed, house, clothe and govern her own people. Join with the Black is Back Coalition on Saturday, February 20, in Miami, to declare that solidarity with Haiti does not come out of the barrel of U.S. guns. Demand all U.S. troops out of Haiti, and the return of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. A free and independent Haiti can only rise under the democratic direction of Haitians, themselves – not under the guns of U.S. neocolonialism.
Haiti’s future must be shaped by her own people, not by the occupiers.”
The Americans pile one crime against Haiti upon another, and then try to justify their illegal occupations on humanitarian grounds, while calling themselves benefactors and role models. What hypocrites and nation-stealers! The U.S. and France owe Haiti billions in reparations for their raw thievery of Haitian national resources, revenues and rights over centuries and to the present day. On February 20, in Miami, demand that the debt be paid, so that Haiti can be rebuilt along its own model, for the benefit of the Haitian people.
Washington claims to have Haitian interests at heart, but makes Haitian refugees persona non grata on U.S. soil – because they are Black and proud. The Black is Back Coalition demands that Haitians be treated the same as Cubans when seeking entrance to the United States. The U.S. pretends to be a model, but it is a model of racism. If Washington has empathy for Haitian poverty, then it should stop charging an $80 fee for Haitians to apply for Temporary Protective Status in the U.S.
Haiti owes the United States nothing, and never has. It is the U.S. and France that owe Haiti. The least that the Obama administration can do is to cause the World Bank and other financial institutions that it controls to erase Haiti's debts, and remove all restrictions on trade and aid to Haiti.
If Washington truly wants Haiti to recover from the earthquake, it must get its boot off Haiti's neck. Join the Black is Back Coalition on Saturday, February 20, in Miami, in Defense of the Haitian people. For more information, go to www.blackisbackcoalition.org.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Contact stpeteinpdum@yahoo.com or (727) 821-6620 for information on the National Mobilization in Defense of Haiti, or go towww.blackisbackcoalition.org. 

Direct download: 20100217_gf_HaitiDemo.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:45pm EDT