Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Republican House majority hadn't even taken their seats yet, but their presence wasn't necessary to pass the biggest military budget since World War II. Not only can't Obama blame his wars on George Bush, but the First Black President has dramatically outdone his predecessor in expenditures on the machinery of death. “Yet only 12 Black members of Congress can bring themselves to vote against Obama's wars.”

 

Obama War Budget Breaks All Records – But When Will Black America Break with Him?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Forget about the Obama’s phony rhetoric; the proof is in the numbers.”

On Capitol Hill, resistance to U.S. militarism has all but collapsed – and the Republican majority in the U.S. House has not even arrived, yet. With no opposition whatsoever in the Senate, and only 48 nay votes in the House, the Congress last week passed the biggest military budget since the end of World War Two. Only 42 Democrats, including just 12 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, dared to defy their warmongering president and compliant House leadership.

From the moment that Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination, we at Black Agenda Report have been predicting that he would become the most pro-war president in modern American history. Forget about the Obama’s phony rhetoric; the proof is in the numbers.

The military budget firmly cements Barack Obama’s place as the biggest pro-war president in two generations. Today, the United States, although it is the world’s only superpower, spends almost as much as all of the rest of the world’s militaries, combined. The U.S. defense authorization for 2011 is $725 billion. China, with the second most expensive military machine on the planet, spends less than $80 billion a year.

If Barack Obama lasts for eight years in office, he is on track to spend $5 trillion dollars on the Pentagon, significantly more than George Bush, who in turn spent a lot more than Ronald Reagan. But, as they say on the TV commercials, that's not all. The defense budget doesn’t include expenditures for Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, nuclear weapons work at the Department of Energy, military aid to other countries through the Department of State, NASA space programs that are really military projects, the military retirement fund run out of the Department of Treasury, and the interest payments on past military expenditures that were financed by debt. Inclusion of those hidden costs of war would bring military-related spending to well over $1 trillion dollars a year – and rising all the time.

The Black misleadership class in general demands that African Americans sacrifice their own economic survival interests to Barack Obama's political interests.”

In real dollars, the U.S. is spending far more on the military than at any time during the Cold War, when there was another superpower in competition, and more than President Lyndon Johnson spent at the height of the Vietnam War. Dr. Martin Luther King broke with LBJ over that war, in part because he knew, in King’s words, “that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.”

Under the First Black President, that military suction tube is far bigger and more destructive than in Dr. King's day, while the economic crisis is arguably much worse, threatening the very viability of Black America as a national community. Yet only 12 Black members of Congress can bring themselves to vote against Obama's wars, and the Black misleadership class in general demands that African Americans sacrifice their own economic survival interests to Barack Obama's political interests.

Obama is not merely a continuation of the Bush administration's war policies, he has accelerated the descent into a war economy. That is nothing for any Black person to be proud about.

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: 20101229_gf_WarBudget.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:45am EST

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Righteous hatred of injustice is a very good thing, no matter what the pacifiers and accommodators (get paid to) say. And if injustice fuels determined resistance, then 2010 should have been a gusher year. 2011 promises to provide even more cause for righteous hatred. For example, the NAACP is taking big bucks from Wells Fargo, the destroyer of Black neighborhoods and whole cities, to teach Black people how to be responsible with (what’s left of) their money. Who deserves our hatred most, the giver or the receiver?

 

Thanks 2010? 2011: The Hate That Hate Produced!

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

More Black people are going to prison and police brutality was so rampant this year that it is simply hate gift-wrapped!”

In 1959 Mike Wallace and CBS made the first of what would become the last of the major media mistakes of the modern era. They may have thought that by producing their series The Hate That Hate Produced and by showing a national audience the kind of Black rage at white America that existed beneath the veneer of a seemingly more hospitable Civil Rights Movement that this hate-filled form would be demonized. But their giving air time to Malcolm X and then the subsequent offer of space and time by other mainstream media outlets to other Black radical elements in the country backfired and helped spread a revolutionary consciousness that ultimately threatened this country’s established order. But, no more, and as one movement veteran has said, “today they only put fools on the air.”

I bring this up now because as the year comes to an end and the season’s mythology takes me over I’d like to return to this idea of a mistake made and the potential in 2011 for the hate that hate has produced to become a positive. And especially since being associated with the leading Black left internet operation often means I hear people telling me that “you all at Black Agenda Report are too hard on Black people,” or “you all are too pessimistic” or simply that we are all “a bunch of haters,” I’d like to take a moment to reflect on how 2010 may mean something great for 2011. I mean, I am proud – especially at this time of year – of my anti-religiousness, of being a heathen. And I am also a proud part of a small but growing cadre of haters who look to reclaim that concept from pop rappers who turned “hatin’” into a preemptive strike against legitimate criticism of their complicity in our oppression – our mantra being “Hate Harder!” But even I am not impervious to the impact of seasonal propaganda that has turned an African astrological allegory into an imperial hostile resource and consciousness grab. So lets take this wreckage of 2010 and see in it its accidental – dare I even say dialectical – positive potential for a revolutionary 2011. Let this seasonal moment be more than a commemoration of the birth of Gerald Massey’s “mythological Christ.” Let this become the moment of a rebirth of an organized hate that hate produced!

Black unemployment and poverty have increased while attention to issues of Blackness in the press have decreased.”

And it can be! Look at the gift 2010 has turned out to be in helping establish a righteous hatred of what exists! Two years into Obama’s presidency and we have to be more clear than ever that Kwame Ture was right! Black visibility is indeed not Black Power! Black unemployment and poverty have increased while attention to issues of Blackness in the press have decreased. More Black people are going to prison and police brutality was so rampant this year that it is simply hate gift-wrapped! Oh, and look! More Latinos have been imprisoned, detained and deported under Obama than any other two year period in U.S. history! And for our dear sisters and brothers of Arab or Persian persuasion, you’ve gotten more bombs, more threats of bombs, more Israeli settlements and targeted assassinations! Yes! All that yummy hatred delivered year-round!

Oh and look! We also got more broken promises regarding the internet. Mhmmm, yummy, hateful goodness. So as we are forcibly moved more and more online we have less protection from those who promised they would offer it to us. Remember Obama’s line once upon a time about being “second to none” in protecting net neutrality? Well, now that he and his FCC have all but made sure this is never going to happen, its just more hate that can produce more hate! And ooh, this summer we also got the One Nation Working Together rally that made Al Sharpton’s Reclaiming the Dream rally look like a guerrilla warfare training camp! And speaking of Sharpton, you know, the one that marched to reclaim Dr. King, he is so hateful that he is now openly referred to by the establishment press as a “surrogate” in service to Obama whose role most recently is to tell Black people that this latest hate-filled tax bill will actually help them. Mhmmm… the hate tastes so good!

And perhaps the icing on this hate cake can be the story that is slowly beginning to emerge of how the oldest civil rights organization now has its financial literacy program funded by the very organization that helped wipe out Black and Brown home-ownership! That’s right boys and girls! Wells Fargo is giving the NAACP a bunch of money to have that organization teach Black people to be more responsible with their money instead of defending those people against the predatory lending of their new sponsor.

Mhmm… I for one couldn’t be happier with 2010 and I couldn’t be more optimistic that 2011 will be the year of the organized hate that hate produced.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. While you still can visit us online at BlackAgendaReport.com!

Jared A. Ball can be reached via email (at least for now!) at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101228_jb_thanx.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Europeans and Euro-Americans are proud of their heroes, even if – especially if – they are mass murderers and mega-thieves. Some are incensed at African demands that the bones of the infamous imperialist Cecil Rhodes be dug up from his Zimbabwean grave and shipped back to England. But “no people have an obligation to respect the graves of their murderers.”

 

Let the Imperial Bones Rot in their Own Countries

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The victims of British imperialism have every right to expunge the influence – including the rotting bodies – of their former oppressors and tormentors.”

The mayor of Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, says the remains of the infamous British imperialist Cecil Rhodes should be dug up and sent back to Great Britain. Sounds like a good idea to me. Britain has exported many things to the world, most notably, mass murder, the annihilation and suppression of whole nations and peoples, and Cecil Rhodes was one of the great practitioners of imperial slaughter. Certainly, the victims of British imperialism have every right to expunge the influence – including the rotting bodies – of their former oppressors and tormentors. The arch-racist Cecil Rhodes, whose most fervent belief was that Africans should not be sovereign in their own lands, has no right to pollute those same lands with his foul presence. No people have an obligation to respect the graves of their murderers.

The Daily Mail newspaper, of London, carried the story of Bulawayo’s mayor’s complaint. Based on readers’ comments about the piece, it is clear that a white-ruled country is the proper resting place for Cecil Rhodes. An Irish reader lamented his own people’s sufferings at the hands of the British, and wrote that, “by today’s standards” Rhodes would certainly be incarcerated for his crimes “after trial in the Hague.” Then the Irishman railed against what British bankers have recently done to his own country. But in the end, he concluded that British crimes were not quite as bad as those of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

What bizarre reasoning! The Irishman believes that centuries of British murder and pillage around the globe, including in his own country, is not as bad as what he imagines one Black man in a relatively small country has done in the course of only 30 years in power. In the final analysis, the Irishman prefers the idea of white power, no matter how bestial and murderous, to Black power in a Black country.

The existence of one Black man who has the impudence to give the finger to Europe is considered a threat to civilization.”

Other newspaper readers from England, Australia and South Africa were even more dismissive of the effrontery of a Black mayor in the sovereign nation of Zimbabwe calling for the exhumation and deportation of the bones of an imperialist killer and mega-thief. For all of these writers, five centuries of constant European aggression against all of the non-white people's of the planet amounts to...well, not very much in the larger scheme of things. But the existence of one Black man who has the impudence to give the finger to Europe is considered a threat to civilization. Such thinking is only logical when one believes that white power and human civilization are the same thing.

The United States, which behaves as a great white power regardless of who is the nominal president, is even more narrow-minded than Europe in its dealings with the non-white world. U.S. rulers, including Barack Obama, believe that Washington has the inalienable right to smash and eradicate anyone or anything that might be an impediment to American global hegemony, which they believe is synonymous with human civilization – just as Cecil Rhodes equated British power with civilization, itself. Which is why the British and the American imperialists are, in reality, the world's worst barbarians.

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: 20101229_gf_CecilRhodes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:20am EST

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Those purported liberals and progressives that urge pragmatism and caution in the face of raging imperial warfare and Wall Street’s predations, must not feel their own lives are at stake. “If they did really believe that corporations were leading the planet to doom or that the fascists they are protecting us from are just outside the gates, would they really only respond by a few rallies and a vote for a Democrat?” Blacks and browns are the folks living at Ground Zero.

 

The Professional Left Versus The Left of Us

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Black, Brown, Indigenous and working people need to abandon the conventions of the professional left and develop our own politics.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was partially right when earlier this year he dismissed the “professional left.” There is indeed a professional left, those whose entire careers and claims to fame are based on permanent liberal challenges to power and who arrogantly dismiss as immature, and worse dangerous, those who would push leftward beyond those limits. “Don’t go too far,” they tell us, “vote for us or THEY will get elected and then we’re in real trouble!” But that’s because liberals aren’t in real trouble. They don’t really believe that. If they did really believe that corporations were leading the planet to doom or that the fascists they are protecting us from are just outside the gates would they really only respond by a few rallies and a vote for a Democrat? Then maybe they are as “fucking stupid” as Rahm Emanuel said they are.

But to some the fascism warned of in all those faint allusions to totalitarian horrors already exists and the death camp trains have been running for decades with barely a peep from the professional liberals. Should we care about Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo when he never felt pressure enough to even lie about wanting to shut down the Corrections Corporation of America? Prisons and the racist legislation, hyper-policing, brutality and fraudulent judicial system that keep them filled are among the nation’s biggest businesses. Joblessness and poverty continue to worsen and even the tens of thousands dying from war abroad are more than matched by the deaths in this country resulting from public policies which deny adequate housing, food and health care to millions. When rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are found to be as high in Black communities in the United States as they are in war-torn cities overseas and children tell counter military recruitment workers that they might as well risk death fighting in foreign wars when they get shot at here at home since at least that offers the chance of health care and education who is really interested in more liberal threats of “it could be worse”?

Prisons and the racist legislation, hyper-policing, brutality and fraudulent judicial system that keep them filled are among the nation’s biggest businesses.”

For Marcus Bellamy of the Arizona-based Black Organizing Network and Arizona Green Party this was the point of a series of events that took place this week in Phoenix. For Bellamy and co-organizers Arizona is the national “ground zero, the laboratory for the state testing out just how far it can go in terms of racial oppression.” According to Bellamy all the recent fuss over Senate Bill 1070 itself works to mask that “the migrant community is being used as a mere experiment in methods that can one day be used against the entire population – workplace raids, detention centers, extension of biometric data collection in prisons, the hiring of an armed volunteer force that enforces immigration law (which in any other country would be labeled a paramilitary force), integration of local and national police agencies along with cooperation from the National Guard in the name of ‘border protection,’ and so on may seem like an attack on the stereotypical ‘Mexican’ but will eventually morph into a blanket assault on anyone who defies the status quo.”

So sure, the professional left will undoubtedly tell us of all the small victories achieved in this week’s reversal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the passage of the Low Power FM Radio Act. And we are soon to hear more from the Black professionals, or “surrogates,” called upon by Obama to explain how Black people will benefit from the new tax bill. But who really cares if imperialism is gay or straight or if we are now to get more liberal/non-profit radio or if Black people will get extensions on unemployment benefits instead of proper jobs with proper wages? Black, Brown, Indigenous and working people need to abandon the conventions of the professional left and develop our own politics even if they be dismissed as immature, impractical and simple fantasy. Professional liberalism is no answer for us.

Several years ago Essence Farmer finally won her case in Arizona allowing her to run a natural hair braiding business without a license since cosmetology school does not teach that skill. This week Black Floridian barbers are being raided and jailed by armed and masked agents for precisely that same licensing issue. “Ground zero” strikes again.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com .

Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101222_jb_ProfLeft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With the “compromise” on Internet neutrality, President Obama has betrayed another campaign promise, and this time has no excuse that the Republicans made him do it. The outcome was really never in doubt, since Obama named as his FCC chairman a man who helped make radio and television into a corporate wasteland, under Bill Clinton’s administration.

 

There Goes the Internet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama signed the death warrant for Internet Neutrality when he appointed Julius Genachowski as FCC chairman.”

The Federal Communications Commission’s failure to ensure Internet neutrality signals the beginning of a kind of Oklahoma land rush up and down the digital highways. The FCC has fired the starting pistol to allow giant telecommunications corporations to make their mad dash into what was formerly public space, and stake their own, private claims while charging rent and tolls and fees from horizon to horizon. We, the public, are to be treated like the Indians of Oklahoma, in 1889, dispossessed in favor of business and commerical interests. President Obama is the Great Father in Washington who spoke with forked tongue when he swore that he would “take a backseat to no one” in the cause of Internet neutrality.

President Obama, of course, controls a majority on the FCC, and is ultimately responsible for the commission’s decision. He can’t claim that the Republicans forced his hand by holding anything hostage. No, Obama stabbed Internet neutrality in the back because that’s the job description of a corporate politician – to facilitate the orderly dispensing of public property to private pockets.

The FCC decision was described as a “compromise” between public and corporate interests. Politicians like Barack Obama believe that corporations have an inalienable right to make ever-increasing profits, and that right supersedes any claims by the non-corporate citizenry. Therefore, it is perfectly logical that the wireless sector of the Internet – which is growing by leaps and bounds and holds the most promise of fantastic profits – become a playground for the corporations, who will be allowed to do pretty much as they see fit. On the non-mobile side of the Internet, the FCC’s new rules are full of loopholes, allowing Internet carriers to create fast lanes for higher paying companies and customers. Think of the Internet as a vast plain on which a great city is to be built. Now, consider that a few huge corporations will be given the privilege to draw the grid for that new city, and to decide who gets to live in the high-class neighborhoods, and who winds up in the ghetto.

The FCC’s new rules are full of loopholes, allowing Internet carriers to create fast lanes for higher paying companies and customers.”

The FCC's decision was totally predictable. Just as Obama guaranteed that the banks would would rob the U.S. Treasury blind, when he brought Bill Clinton's old Wall Street gang into the White House, so Obama signed the death warrant for Internet Neutrality when he appointed Julius Genachowski as FCC chairman. Genachowski was the top communications advisor to the Clinton White House and an architect of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That infamous legislation led directly to the greatest corporate consolidation of radio and television stations in American history. Julius Genachowski is one of the reasons that today's radio and TV landscape is such a wasteland of corporate sameness. Now, he is positioned to do the same thing to the Internet, courtesy of Barack Obama, the guy who never made a promise he wasn't prepared to break.

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: 20101222_gf_FCC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Wall Street’s seizure of the U.S. government has made meaningful economic recovery impossible. The financial capitalist class will not invest in productive enterprise, and prevents the government from doing so. It’s much easier to make money through systematic, multi-trillion-dollar raids on society.

 

No Recovery Under Rule of Banksters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Wall Street is stripping the country of its ability to pull out of the death spiral.”

There will be no economic recovery for the masses of people in the United States. A real recovery, with decent jobs at decent wages under secure terms of employment, is now impossible absent a social upheaval such as the United States has never experienced. The reason is structural, and in some ways, simple. Wall Street has effectively captured the apparatus of government, and is methodically stripping the country of both its assets and the nation’s ability to pull out of the death spiral.

When the history of the era is written, Barack Obama’s term in office will be remembered as the period when Wall Street achieved its definitive conquest of the American state, thus depriving the society of the means to avoid economic and social disaster. Two men helped give us stark evidence of the theft of the American state as it was occurring. Neil Barofsky was the former prosecutor charged with overseeing the $700 billion TARP bank bailout program. But back in the summer of 2008, just six months into Barack Obama’s presidency, Barofsky reported that the federal government had already funneled about $14 trillion to bail out financial institutions. That’s 20 times as big as the TARP bailout, about the size of the annual real economy of the United States. The Obama administration and the Federal Reserve, acting on their own, were giving the banks 20 times as large a bailout as the Congress had voted for. Then, a year later, in July of 2009, Neil Barofsky dropped another bomb: the total federal bailout of the financial class could be $23.7 trillion, about 34 times the TARP bailout and approaching twice the gross domestic product of the United States. But it gets worse.

The banks will not invest in productive enterprises that provide decent jobs, and they will not allow the government to invest in jobs.”

This fall, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the other key person in providing evidence of Wall Street’s seizure of the American state, forced the Federal Reserve to submit to a one-time, snapshot audit. It showed that the Fed had provided American and foreign banks with $12.3 trillion in taxpayer money. That’s about six trillion dollars more from the Federal Reserve than Barofsky had discovered, a year before, bringing the total to about $30 trillion. That mind-boggling figure is about half the size of the entire economy of the planet Earth!

But the theft is even bigger than that. The Federal Reserve routinely lends banks money at virtually no interest, which the banks then use to buy U.S. Treasury bonds for which the banks are paid interest. This is a daily taxpayer subsidy to Wall Street that also amounts to trillions of dollars. The banksters bet some of this money in their derivatives casinos, which are valued at 600 to 1,000 trillion dollars – many times more than the real economy of the planet – and they spend a portion of their stolen loot to buy politicians to help them steal more money from the government. But they will not invest in productive enterprises that provide decent jobs, and they will not allow the government to invest in jobs, because that would reduce the amount of money the banks can steal. And that is why there will be no economic recovery worthy of the name, under the current structure of power in the United States.

So, what do you prefer – poverty, or an uprising? Those are the only choices.

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: 20101222_gf_BankTrillions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38am EST

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The answer to monotony and monopoly on your radio dial is not for profit low power FM community radio. Wealthy and powerful corporate interests have bought judges, regulators and legislators by the bag, and used them to block the people's will for more choice and more power over how the people's airwaves are used. In the last days of the current Senate, S-592, which will authorize the FCC to grant licenses to thousands of community broadcasters hangs by a thread.

Call Your US Senator – Last Chance for Low Power Community Radio, S- 592

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Now, after lingering on the horizon a full ten years, the possibility of thousands of new low-power FM stations looms again...”

Imagine for a moment that it's technically feasible to place community-owned, not for profit low power FM radio stations in between the corporate broadcasting behemoths that now rule the radio dial. With broadcast footprints of only a few miles apiece, these new low power stations could offer a range of local news, public affairs programming, real music and accessibility that might revolutionize the listening experience for millions.

Imagine a president pledged to sign that law, and it passing U.S. Senate, only to be held up in the House, where the National Association of Broadcasters spread bogus technical objections and lots of campaign contributions to block it. That president was Bill Clinton and the year was 2000. During the Bush administration the powerful NAB dug into its deep pockets again and again to stall low-power community radio. Now, after lingering on the horizon a full ten years, the possibility of thousands of new low-power FM stations looms again. This time low power legislation has passed the House. Once again, the National Association of Broadcaster has bought and paid for a tiny minority, a handful of key senators, who have used the arcane rules of the U.S. Senate to place a “secret hold” S-592, low-power FM radio bill.

In a moment I will give you the number to call your US Senator to demand that they support the choice and accessibility on the radio dial that thousands of new nonprofit low power FM stations will bring. Get a pencil or pen, or whip out your cell phone to record that phone number.

Everybody knows that S-592 will certainly pass the senate this year if the Senate is allowed to vote on it. On the left and on the right, grassroots community forces in every states and city across the country can become broadcasters through low power FM radio. Although the broadcast airwaves nominally belong to the people, the NAB's senators intend to frustrate and block the people's will. This is a time for action. If there was ever a moment to call both the US Senators from your state and express your direct democratic desire to them, this is it. This is the final chance for low-power FM radio in the current Senate. If it doesn't pass now, it has to make its way through the House of Representatives all over again.

Click here to call your Senators now 

Call the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, that's (202) 224-3121 to find your Senators and demand that they support the low-power community radio S-592. The answer to monotony and monopoly on your radio dial is low power FM radio. It's broadcast power to the people, not the corporations. (202) 224-3121 to ask for the two senators from your state TODAY. That's (202) 224-3121, and ask them to bring S-592 to the floor and pass it. Don't delay.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and check us out every weekday morning for your cup of the Black Agenda Morning Shot.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He's based in Atlanta and is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. You can reach him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20101215_bd_lowpower_fm_radio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:47am EST

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Georgia prisoners who began a courageous, peaceful and nonviolent protest strike for educational opportunities, wages for their work, medical care and human rights have captured the attention of the world. Black Agenda Report intends to closely cover their continuing story. Glen Ford recorded a conversation with one of the striking inmates in Georgia on Wednesday, December 15. Click the flash player below to listen.

Update story on the strike and support efforts of the newly formed Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights below the fold.

GA Prison Inmate Strike Enters New Phase, Prisoners Demand Human Rights, Education, Wages For Work

Story by Bruce A. Dixon, audio interview by Glen Ford

The historic strike of Georgia prisoners, demanding wages for their labor, educational opportunities, adequate health care and nutrition, and better conditions is entering a new phase. Strikers remain firm in their demands for full human rights, though after several days many have emerged from their cells, if only to take hot showers and hot food. Many of these, however, are still refusing their involuntary and unpaid work assignments.

A group that includes relatives, friends and a broad range of supporters of the prisoners on the outside has emerged. They are seeking to sit down with Georgia correctional officials this week to discuss how some of the just demands of inmates can begin to be implemented. Initially, Georgia-based representatives of this coalition supporting the prisoner demands included the Georgia NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the National Association for Radical Prison Reform, the Green Party of Georgia, and the Ordinary Peoples Society among others. Civil rights attorneys, ministers, community organizations and other prisoner advocates are also joining the group which calls itself the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights.

Prisoners have stood up for themselves, and the communities they came from are lining up to support them. Today, at a groundbreaking for a private prison 300 miles southeast of Atlanta in Millen GA, residents of that local community opposed to the private prison are greeting the governor and corrections brass with a protest. They will be joined by dozens more coming in from Atlanta who will respectfully urge state authorities to talk to the prisoners. We understand that one person there has been arrested. Black Agenda Report will have photos and footage of that event on Thursday.

The braod-based Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners Rights fully supports the heroic stand of Georgia's prisoners. “This isn't Attica,” one representative of the coalition explained. “No violent acts have been committed by any of the inmates involved. We hope state corrections officials will be as peaceful and respectful as the prisoners have been, and start a good faith dialog about quickly addressing their concerns.”

Right now, the ball is in the hands of state corrections officials, and reports are that in some of the affected prisons, authorities are fumbling that ball, engaging

They transferred some of the high Muslims here to max already,” one prisoner told Black Agenda Report this morning. “They want to break up the unity we have here. We have the Crips and the Bloods, we have the Muslims, we have the head Mexicans, and we have the Aryans all with a peaceful understanding, all on common ground. We all want to be paid for our work, and we all want education in here. There's people in here who can't even read...

They're trying to provoke people to violence in here, but we're not letting that happen. We just want our human rights.”

The transfers are intended to deprive groups of leadership and demoralize them. In some cases they may be having the opposite effect, stiffening prisoner morale and making room for still more leaders to emerge.

The prisoners insist that punitive transfers are an act of bad faith, the opposite of what we should be doing,” said Minister Charles Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam in Atlanta. “The coalition supports them and demands no punitive transfers, either within or between institutions, and absolutely no transfers to institutions outside Georgia.”

Members of the public should continue to call the prisons listed below, and the GA Department of Corrections and the office of Georgia's governor, Sonny Perdue. Ask them firmly but respectfully to resolve the situation non-violently and without punitive measures. Tell them you believe prisoners deserve wages for work and education. Ask them to talk to prisoners and the communities they come from.

It's simple. With one in twelve Georgia adults in jail or prison, parole or probation or other court and correctional supervision, prisoners are us. They are our families. They are our fathers and our mothers, our sons and daughters, our nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and cousins. Most prisoners will be back out in society sooner, not later. It's time for us all to grow up and realize that warehousing, malnourishing, mistreating and abusing prisoners does not make us safer. Denying prisoners meaningful training and educational opportunities, and forcing them to work for no wages is not the way to do.

It's time to fundamentally reconsider prison as we know it, and America's public policy of mass incarceration.

Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford are reachable at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com and glen.ford(at)blackagendareport.com, respectively. Black Agenda Report intends to provide ongoing coverage several times per week of the ongoing struggle of Georgia prisoners.

Direct download: ElaineBrownAndInmateSpokesman18mins00secs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:31pm EST

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Cornell University’s acclaimed Africana Studies and Research Center has been stripped of its autonomy, a bad omen for survival of independent Black studies at institutions across the nation. Black Studies was born of the Black Freedom Movement, which is no longer capable of defending its constituent parts. The move at Cornell “is meant to finish off one of the few remaining vestiges of an insurgent struggle that forced Black Studies into the nation’s institutions of higher learning.”

 

Black Studies and the Canary in Our National Mine

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Black Studies was initially the intellectual arm of a broader Black and African Liberation Movement.”

Cornell University’s Provost announced recently that the Africana Studies and Research Center would no longer report directly to his office as it has done for the last 41 years. The center will no longer retain its relative autonomy as a department and will be subsumed within the College of Arts and Sciences as a “unit.” This will effectively weaken control over budgets, faculty hiring and the determination of ideological direction and intellectual inquiry. And it is meant to finish off one of the few remaining vestiges of an insurgent struggle that forced Black Studies into the nation’s institutions of higher learning. And precisely because Black Studies was initially the intellectual arm of a broader Black and African Liberation Movement it cannot be but seen as emblematic of that movement’s poor state. If it is true that you cannot protect with letters that which you attained by force then we will need far more than petitions, Facebook pages and radio commentaries to save the Africana Center, Black Studies or indeed ourselves.

The Africana Studies and Research Center was born of mass struggle. As broader political struggles brought what had been a tradition of extra-institutional study onto the nation’s leading campuses, for Black students at Cornell these efforts culminated in the April 1969 hostile takeover of Willard Straight Hall. These intellectual insurgents, openly willing to engage in armed self-defense against hostile white students and area residents alike, demanded and attained the Africana Center and Dr. James Turner as their founding director. For 41 years the center survived as a role model and a pastoral where some of the African world’s finest minds would come and assist in developing the field of Black Studies and in particular defining that field as “Africana Studies” or the study of the African world holistically transcending colonial boundaries and imposed distinctions of national separateness inspired by European imperialism.

The program and even culture of counter-revolution has demobilized the movements which made Black Studies a historic phenomenon.”

This week Africana faculty, students, alumni and comrades have raised a call to the world both to save the center itself but to also warn of what is likely to come to others absent organized preparation. They explained this as a unilateral decision on the part of the university’s administration, one made with no input from or warning to faculty or students. James Turner said this is about managing ideas which are a “world of contestation and conflict.” Claims by the provost that this move is about helping Africana in reaching its goals were described by professor Carole Boyce Davies as part of a tradition of “infantilizing the colonized,” the old, “trust us, we know better than you how to take care of you” type of thing. Professors N’Dri Assie-Lumumba and Locksley Edmondson said this is about the “fear of” and “a need to control a minority” and to guard against “African thought.” Current director Robert Harris noted that in his more than 30 years at Cornell that he had never witnessed this level of disrespect and echoed the words of DuBois, saying that he now understood what it meant to be “in Cornell but not of Cornell.” He then also posed the serious question of what this means, what are the lessons to be learned?

For Dr. Chris Tinson, an outside ally of the Africana center and current professor of Black Studies at Hampshire College, the lessons are to be found in the “professionalization” of the field over the last 40 years. This has meant both “a direct challenge to American educational and institutional norms and values” and a “gradual erosion of curricular autonomy… which has distanced Black/Africana studies from the communities it was founded to serve.” This disconnect may speak to the relative silence from the broader community on this and similar attacks nationwide on Black Studies.

For professor Greg Thomas, another Africana ally and current professor at Syracuse University, these kinds of attacks should be no surprise but rather speak ultimately to this latest incident as being the canary in our national mine. As he says, this is the “program and even culture of counter-revolution” that has “demobilized the movement or movements which made Black Studies a historic phenomenon by any and every means… This is always Plan A, B & C of the white institution, ever corporatizing and constitutively hostile to the very idea of Black Studies uncompromised. And such plans are always put in practice with the use of known and unknown Negro collaborators.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. On the web visit and bookmark us at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared A. Ball, a proud graduate of the Africana Studies and Research Center, can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101215_jb_BlackStudies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:12pm EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The FBI’s war of entrapment amounts to a huge extortion scheme targeting the American people. The object is to terrify the public into surrendering their civil liberties in a twilight struggle with a mostly nonexistent domestic enemy. “These are high crimes, as high as they come, which, in a just world, would warrant many counts of impeachment for both chief executives responsible: presidents Bush and Obama.”

 

Who Is the FBI Really Trying to Entrap?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The FBI has fabricated the illusion of a wave of terror that did not, for the most part, exist.”

Attorney General Eric Holder told hundred of Muslims near San Francisco that the FBI’s sting operations penetrating mosques across the country are an essential “tool in uncovering and preventing terror attacks.” But of course, most of the FBI’s high profile prosecutions for alleged domestic terrorism involve plots that were hatched in almost every detail by paid FBI informants who nurtured the schemes to their pre-planned conclusions. So, in point of fact, the FBI has not been engaged in “uncovering and preventing terrorist attacks,” as Eric Holder claims, but rather, it has spent tens of millions of dollars and many thousands of man-hours concocting, financing, and providing training and equipment for crimes purely of its own invention. The FBI – first under George Bush and then even more aggressively under Barack Obama – has fabricated the illusion of a wave of terror that did not, for the most part, exist. In doing so, the U.S. government has perpetrated at least two classes of crimes: one, against those it has directly entrapped and prosecuted for crimes conceived and executed by the government, itself; and the second, larger class of crime, conspiracy to deliberately deceive and terrorize the American people, for the purpose of depriving the American people of their civil rights, and to foment a public hysteria that would facilitate the launching of military attacks on other peoples.

Poor and powerless men were manipulated like puppets in theatrical productions directed by the FBI for purpose of frightening an audience of 300 million Americans.”

These are high crimes, as high as they come, which, in a just world, would warrant many counts of impeachment for both chief executives responsible: presidents Bush and Obama. The irony is, the very atmosphere of hysteria and war fever that the fake terror plots engender among the public, insulates the perpetrators from accountability for their crimes. No wonder the incoming Obama administration shielded the outgoing Bush gang from prosecution. Obama instructed Eric Holder to expand the phony terror racket, not to shut it down. Both presidents’ historical legacies are now inextricably tied to a domestic war on terror that is largely a fiction.

The fiction has real victims, including the poor and powerless, largely Black and brown men who were manipulated like puppets in theatrical productions directed by the FBI for purpose of frightening an audience of 300 million Americans. The families of some of these entrapped, involuntary actors in the FBI's fake terror dramas are scheduled to gather at New York University, in Manhattan, on December 16, to devise strategies for seeking justice.

Muslim Americans have been criminalized as a community. In Irvine, California, an FBI operative was so brazen in soliciting recruits for jihad, mosque members got a court restraining order to shut him up. It turns out the informant was paid $177,000 to incite a holy war – the going rate, apparently, for inventing terror where none has previously existed.

So who is the real target of government entrapment? It could not be the individuals sucked into the FBI vortex, since Eric Holder's men knew they were incapable of independently carrying out the crimes and, therefore, represented no danger to society. No, American society, itself, has been entrapped by the Bush and Obama manipulators. The object is to terrify the American public, so that they will surrender their civil liberties – possibly the greatest extortion scheme in U.S. history.

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: 20101215_gf_HolderPhonyTerror.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:48pm EST

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After campaigning as a champion of network neutrality, President Obama has decisively broken yet another promise. The FCC votes December 21 on rules proposed by the president's FCC chairman which will begin the transformation of the free and open internet into somethning much more like cable TV, with corporate control over content, and hundreds or thousands of “channels”, but not much worth watching.

President Obama's FCC Sells Out on Network Neutrality – Another Constituency Thrown Under The Bus

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Never mind the big tent,” declared a cartoon by the artist Mike Fluggenock during the 2008 presidential campaign. “There's room for all” the caption declared “under Obama's Big Bus.” A full two years after that historic election, it's hard to name any part of the Democratic party's base constituencies that President Obama has not decisively betrayed. Last week gays, women, blacks, Latinos, the environment, the peace movement, labor, the unemployed and a host of others were joined beneath the speeding wheels of the Obama bus by those millions of Americans who believe greedy corporations should not control what we see, hear, write and communicate over the internet.

President Obama campaigned on the promise that he would take a back seat to nobody in guaranteeing the free and open internet. Two years out, it's abundantly clear thatu the president lied to us, and to the American people on network neutrality.

The pending merger between Comcast and NBC would create a gigantic corporation with both the motive and means to privilege the delivery of its own content over the enormous fraction of the internet that they own, and to slow down, inhibit, or apply surcharges to content originating from outside. Neither the administration's Justice Department or FCC have lifted a finger to oppose it. So-called compromise rules announced last week by Obama's FCC Chairman Julius Genachowki pay only the faintest lip service to the concept that the internet should be a common carrier available to all, and provide vast loopholes for internet providers to apply punitive charges to content and content providers they disfavor.

Thanks to the Obama administration, which once enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the media justice community, greedy telecom corporations will at last have their wish --- that the internet will become a lot more like cable TV --- five hundred, or five thousand channels, but nothing worth watching. The proposed FCC regulations will allow corporations even more power to control and restrict the content delivered via wireless broadband internet, thought to be the internet delivery technology of the future. Needless to say, the telecom and cable companies are well pleased. Their paid stooges at the Alliance for Digital Equality, the Minority Media Telecommunications Council, LULAC, the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation and the NAACP, and the Congressional Black Caucus are raking in telecom donations and cranking out press releases assuring us that giving their benefactors more control over the internet will create jobs and opportunities for all of us little people.

The five member FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposed rule changes on December 21. Certainly chairman Genachowski will vote for his own rules. Amazingly, it is possible that the two Republican commissioners may not because they object to any regulation of corporations whatsoever. Commissioners Kopps and Clyburn, however, are still thought to be staunch supporters of network neutrality, and should be contacted by email, phone or fax and asked to oppose the Obama proposal to let corporations control what we see, hear and send over the internet. This is a case when doing nothing is better than anything already on the table. For more information on what you can do, visit www.savetheinternet.com That's www.savetheinternet.com.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like the peace movement, which disbanded itself before the 2008 presidential election to avoid confronting

 

 

 

We told you so. Last week's Black Agenda Report deadline fell just hours before the administration's long awaited announcement on network neutrality, the principle that the internet should be a common carrier, free and open to all. During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama declared he would take a back seat to nobody on network neutrality, and pledged to pass measures that would ensure

Direct download: 20101208_bd_under_the_bus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:45am EST

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Much of mass popular culture in the United States is genocidal in intent. Worse, the manufacturers of racist films and other media products have enlisted the perverted talents of greedy and shameless Black operatives such as Tyler Perry. “This is all done to preempt any attempts at raising popular criticism of structural inequality or from ever popularly asserting the humanity of Black people at all.”

 

For Colored Antagonisms

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Lionsgate and Perry have again come through to satisfy the national need for Black pathology to be displayed absent any appropriate context or history.”

All one of my Black female students would say after seeing Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls was, “Who would want to be us?” It was really this question that finally made me go see the movie and having gotten to it so late let me just say this about it: Ishmael Reed is right. Lionsgate Films has found a partnership with a nominally Black man to make anti-Black films which are made for and marketed to White audiences. And worse even than the pro-Nazi propaganda films preparing Jews for death camps twice now in back-to-back films, this one and Precious before it, this team has depicted Black people engaging in the ultimate taboo of incest. This is all done to preempt any attempts at raising popular criticism of structural inequality or from ever popularly asserting the humanity of Black people at all.

The film is of necessity anti-Black. It focuses blame only on Black men and women and completely absolves White supremacy and capitalism as permanent structures of violence waged against their victims. The only good Black man in the movie is a New York City police detective which as an anti-reality cinematic trope is only outdone by the broader two hours of non-stop psychic abuse waged against Black people. One trauma after the next; from rape, to incest, to babies dropping from windows. And, like Reed has said of their previous releases, Lionsgate and Perry have again come through to satisfy the national need for Black pathology to be displayed absent any appropriate context or history in order to justify the dominance of the Settler, the Master, of White society itself.

This team has depicted Black people engaging in the ultimate taboo of incest.”

One day when we return to our previous battles between those we consider “people’s historians” and those we castigate as “establishment courtiers” we might do so on the basis of how they use their sources. When last Henry Louis Gates appeared in the New York Times it was to attack the notion of reparations for enslavement. To make his point he referenced historian David Eltis whose work on the numbers and specific origins of African people shipped to foreign lands Gates could re-work into an argument that some Africans benefited from enslavement to the point that reparations are simply not due. However, more recently, in his book Red, White & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms professor Frank Wilderson references Eltis’ work for quite another reason, one which is far more compelling and accurate. While Gates sought to use Eltis’ data to make silly claims of African culpability Wilderson brings us back to another more important aspect of Eltis’ work, one ignored by Gates: That Europeans could have made more money and been more effective in developing their empires had they enslaved fellow White Europeans rather than spending so much time and resources on going to Africa for captives and then shipping them abroad. Gates as a courtier cannot include or follow this logic and it is why Wilderson, working for the people, must.

Films like these work to prevent popular and radical challenges against the very nature of the state.”

Wilderson’s point in citing Eltis is that this need of Europeans to solely attach Black to Slave and, therefore, to non-Human has formed “the founding antagonism,” an antagonism that shows up time and again in popular culture, in particular film. This is why popular films cannot display a Black humanity which White society cannot afford to acknowledge. In other words, slavery is not simply a relationship of labor or servitude. Slavery becomes an irrevocable condition attached to the people themselves, people who are actually never to be Human. Quoting Orlando Patterson, Wilderson explains that, “Slavery… is the permanent violent domination of natally alienated and generally dishonored persons.” This is why Gates must attack reparations as a concept primarily because simply acknowledging the humanity of Black people threatens the very existence of the United States and the West themselves. Ironically enough this is why Wilderson and others challenge the concept of reparations from the far Left point of view. For them, reparations reaffirms the rightfulness of the state from which those reparations would come and, therefore, would reaffirm the permanency of Blackness as Slave or non-Human.

Ultimately though, films like these from Lionsgate and Perry work to prevent popular and radical challenges against the very nature of the state. Worse still, they prevent us from even debating among ourselves or with potential allies what a newly created world would look like because, “who would want to be us” quickly becomes, “who would want to be with us?” And in each case it is precisely the same no one who is coming to help us now.

For Black Agenda Report, I’m Jared Ball. Online visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached via email at: freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101208_jb_ColoredGirls.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. and its South Korean minion, over which Washington exercises deep and overlapping layers of control, hold military exercises that are, in essence, rehearsals for invading North Korea. The Americans simultaneously send a carrier task force into waters claimed by the world's number two economic power, China. Yet, U.S. media are full of wild and fanciful stories about North Korean “provocations,” “paranoia” and insanity, and the need for China to rein in its neighbor. Who are the real madmen, here?

 

The Racist Maligning of North Korea and Asians in General

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If anyone is pushing the envelop towards war in the Korean Peninsula, it is the United States.”

The United States and its South Korean underlings are conducting massive military maneuvers near the most heavily armed spot on the face of the Earth – but all the American corporate media can talk about is how dangerous, provocative, irrational and possibly insane North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, is. The United States has repeatedly declared that South Korea is protected by the American nuclear umbrella, meaning the Americans have targeted North Korea for pre-emptive nuclear attack – yet the American people are urged to live in terror of North Korea's handful of primitive atomic weapons, for which they have no effective long range delivery system. If anyone is pushing the envelop towards war in the Korean Peninsula, it is the United States, which is now engaged in a New Cold War with China.

The artillery exchange two weeks ago between North and South Korean forces – leaving 4 southerners dead and an unknown number of northern casualties – is portrayed in U.S. media as brazen aggression by a North Korean regime that is driven by a bizarre need to keep the rest of world on edge, or to show that Kim Jong Il’s son is a fierce warrior, or simply because the North’s leadership is hopelessly paranoid. The facts are, the U.S. and South Korean exercises are nothing less than rehearsals for an invasion of North Korea and, therefore, inherently provocative. The U.S. and South Korea are engaged in a kind of terror, sailing up and down the disputed waters off the coast of North Korea, firing off rockets and artillery shells, in defiance of repeated North Korean warnings that such behavior is scary and extremely warlike.

The U.S. and South Korean exercises are nothing less than rehearsals for an invasion of North Korea and, therefore, inherently provocative.”

This year’s aggressive maneuvers are also directed against China, whose capital city, Beijing, is within easy range of the American aircraft carrier task force that is churning around the Yellow Sea, whose waters China considers to be part of its exclusive economic zone. The Americans have chosen to simultaneously bully China and North Korea, while at the same time warning China to rein in North Korea’s behavior. This is outrageous conduct, but from the way it's reported by the U.S. corporate media, the Americans and South Koreans are simply engaged in a friendly walk in the park.

The latest U.S. maneuvers follow on the heels of Barack Obama's high-profile swing through Asia, a trip that was universally described as an attempt to isolate and encircle China, diplomatically and geopolitically. The current maneuvers are intended to make the point, militarily.

South Korea is now loudly proclaiming that they will launch air strikes against the North if there are any more artillery barrages. That, too, is a direct threat to North Korea from the United States, because the Americans control the U.S./South Korean Combined Forces Command, without which no effective air strike is possible.

The Americans are playing a dangerous game of provocation in Korea, and relying on a racist media to portray the North Koreans as madmen. I'm reminded of General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam, who said, "The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner.” By saying that, Westmoreland justified killing two or three million Vietnamese Orientals – proving who was the real barbarian and madman. 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: 20101208_gf_Korea.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:21am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Every few weeks or months, authorities come up with another hapless bomber or bombers. In nearly every case, the crime has been proposed to them by a police agent, a provocateur, who often furnishes the patsy with cash, instructions and weapons, real or fake, to carry it out. There are many unasked questions about these crimes. For one, why are they all Muslim youth? Aren't there any wannabe white Christian bombers?


Obama's Justice Department Manufactures and Arrests Another “Muslim Terrorist”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The cynical police practice of manufacturing crimes in which to entrap victims for prosecution is so old, so time-worn that it has a name. For more than a hundred years, the cops engaged in this practice have been known the world over as agents provocateur. Provocateurs are regular features of police states on every continent.

In what's become a depressingly familiar scenario in the U.S., federal authorities in Portland, Oregon singled out a ignorant, isolated, economically stressed young male Muslim with no family nearby and few, if any close friends. They paid his rent for several months. They put money in his pocket and bad ideas in his head. They put him in touch with other cops claiming to be in Pakistan and Yemen. When their prey snagged a job in Alaska, they kept him in the plot by placing him on a no-fly list so he could not leave town for gainful employment. Finally, the FBI furnished the young man with fake bombs, cell phone detonators and a van, and arrested him for trying to detonate the fake bomb.

“Fake terror scares are good politics for whoever is in office, and good business for the ever-expanding homeland security state...”

By now there have been many arrests of this kind. In some of them, FBI provocateurs had to rent cars for their hapless bombers, feed and clothe them, teach them how to use simple cameras. Federal cops purchased weapons for them and put them in alleged touch with pretend jihadis abroad. Police agents concocted fanciful crimes often far beyond the means of the supposed criminals to accomplish, imaginary capers like blowing up the hundred story Sears Tower or menacing New Jersey synagogues, crimes that might never have existed, even as thoughts without the instigation of police provocateurs.

Manufactured terror scares followed by arrests of the patsies are always greeted with a chorus of bipartisan approval from corporate media and establishment talking heads. Fake terror scares are good politics for whoever is in office, and good business for the ever-expanding homeland security state and its thousands of actual and wannabe contractors. The climate of fear that sustains and flows from them is just as politically useful to a Democratic White House it was to a Republican one.

Some Americans must have imagined the ascent of a black president and an African American attorney general might have made a difference. It has not. The only difference is that while the Bush terror threats were widely mocked and ridiculed, many so-called progressives have silenced themselves in this, the era of Obama. Sadly, neither the practices nor the the political uses of police-state provocateurs have changed not at all in the first two years of the Obama era, and aren't likely to change in the next two years.

There's probably no shortage of ignorant, benighted white Christian youth who might be offered fake bombs and maneuvered into pretend bombing plots for which they too might be arrested. But don't look for that any time soon. Some kinds of terrorism are politically more useful than others, no matter what color the Democratic president and his Democratic attorney general happen to be.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Green Party of Georgia. He's based in Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20101201_bd_provocatuers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23pm EST

American Racism on Display in Wikileaks Iran Cable

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

One of the reasons U.S. imperialism is doomed – and there are many – is that the worldview of the imperialist renders him incapable of understanding why his system of control is collapsing, despite his overwhelming advantage in weaponry. Such blindness is a form of insanity. Yet, as a recent Wikileaks document reveals, the imperialist perceives those who resist his rule as irrational, defective, insane – as did the top U.S. diplomat in Tehran just before the embassy takeover of 1979

 

American Racism on Display in Wikileaks Iran Cable

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Bruce Laingen maintained that the main problem was not U.S. policy in Iran, but an inherent psychological ‘defect’ in the Iranian people.”

Among the quarter million diplomatic dispatches released by Wikileaks this weekend is a posting from the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran’s capital, dated August 13, 1979, just three months before the embassy was seized by Iranian students. The cable, by Bruce Laingen, the highest ranking U.S. diplomat in Iran at the time, is less than 1,000 words long, but speaks volumes to the essential racism of the American imperial worldview, and to white America’s fundamental unfitness for the role of superpower.

The Iranian revolution had earlier in 1979 overthrown the dictatorial Shah, whom the Americans had forcibly installed in power in 1953. Needless to say, Iranians blamed the Americans for the unspeakable crimes committed by the Shah’s regime. But Bruce Laingen maintained, in his cable to the State Department in Washington, that the main problem was not U.S. policy in Iran, but an inherent psychological “defect” in the Iranian people – or “Persians,” as he called them. These “underlying cultural and psychological qualities,” wrote Laingen, “account for the nature of these difficulties” in dealing with Persians. He writes: ”Perhaps the single dominant aspect of the Persian psyche is an overriding egoism” whose “practical effect…is an almost total Persian preoccupation with self [that] leaves little room for understanding points of view other than one’s own.” In other words, the Iranians are too sick in the head to comprehend United States policy in their part of the world. It’s a “cultural and psychological” defect – unrelated, of course, to the fact that the U.S. stole their democracy from them and put their own puppet on the Peacock Throne.

Not only were Iranians cursed by mental illness, but their inherent inferiority to westerners was made worse by their religion, Islam.”

Laingen observes that “the Persian” believes that he is surrounded by “hostile forces” – as if that were a clear symptom of mass mental illness rather than a logical conclusion based on a quarter century of rule by a U.S.-imposed Shah whose routine practice of torture was unsurpassed in modern history. Not only were Iranians cursed by mental illness, but their inherent inferiority to westerners was made worse by their religion, Islam, “with its emphasis on the omnipotence of God.” This, said Laingen, deprives Iranians of the ability to grasp “the inter-relationship of events” as they unfold. That is, the Muslim faith, itself, has rendered Iranians incapable of making sense of the world around them, according to the American diplomat. Finally, it is a “waste of effort” to try to cultivate “goodwill” with the Persians because, wrote Laingen, “given the Persian negotiator's cultural and psychological limitations, he is going to resist the very concept of a rational...negotiating process.”

In Bruce Laingen, we hear the unrepentant voice of the American slaveholder, who believed that Black resistance to slavery was a sign of mental illness. In the white supremacist's mind, Drapetomania was a mental disease that caused slaves to run away. Dysaethesia aethiopica was the defect that resulted in slave ill-discipline and “rascality.” In the eyes of the slaveholder and the imperialist, those who resist oppression are crazy. If that is so, then it is the crazies that will inherit the Earth.

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

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

Direct download: 20101201_gf_WikiLeaksPersia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Haitian people didn’t want it, even most of the candidates rejected it, so who was supposed to benefit from last Sunday’s farcical election? “The exercise only has value for those who paid for it, the Americans, who spent $14 million on this fraud in hopes of disguising the fact that Haiti is a U.S. colony.”

 

The Non-Election for the Non-Government of the Non-Sovereign State of Haiti

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is no Haitian state to speak of, no prize to win.”

The multitudinous assaults on Haiti's dignity reached a crescendo with this weekend’s elections, imposed by foreigners for the benefit of foreigners against the wishes of the Haitian people and even of most of the candidates. It is as if severely wounded and sick hospital patients – make that prisonhospital patients – were ordered to dance and sing for the pleasure of rich visitors. As should have been expected, most Haitians refused to perform like circus animals, on demand.

The Haitian sham elections for president and most of the legislature may go down as the most bizarre and macabre exercise in hypocrisy in the history of U.S. imperialism. Haiti’s most popular political party – no, the ONLY political party with a truly mass following – the Fanmi Lavalas organization of exiled president Jean Bertrand Aristide, was barred from running. By the time Sunday rolled around, 12 of the 19 candidates for president were denouncing the government for perpetrating a “massive fraud” on the citizenry. Turnout was probably not much more than single digits – which is actually the usual for Haitian elections in which Aristide’s party is not allowed to participate – an electoral travesty equivalent to outlawing the Democratic Party in New York City, Boston or Chicago.

With at least 1.5 million Haitians without adequate shelter, the entire population still in shock over the lost of 300,000 in January’s earthquake, an economy in ruins, a non-existent infrastructure and a raging cholera epidemic that international observers say could spread to 200,000 people, Haiti is the last place to stage an election. But the most important question has been: an election to what? There is no Haitian state to speak of, no prize to win. Haiti is no longer a sovereign nation, but has been reduced to a protectorate of the United States, France and Canada, with blue-helmeted United Nations soldiers acting as internal security. French African colonial regimes wielded more authority in the transition to independence than Haiti’s shell of a government exercises, today.

Haiti is no longer a sovereign nation, but has been reduced to a protectorate of the United States, France and Canada.”

Haiti is an occupied country, the victim of multiple invasions. The U.S. invasion of 2004 and the kidnapping and expulsion of its president opened Haiti to United Nations occupation – proud Haiti, stepped on and ground underfoot by an international cast of foreign armies paid for largely by the United States. Haitians themselves call the country the “Republic of NGOs,” with more foreign “aid” outfits per capita than any place in the world, all of them doing their own thing with no accountability to a single Haitian, including the despised, outgoing president, Rene Preval. Only a fraction of the billions raised for earthquake reconstruction have been spent, and only a small part of that was allocated to the Haitian government.

So, what election, for what government? The exercise only has value for those who paid for it, the Americans, who spent $14 million on this fraud in hopes of disguising the fact that Haiti is a U.S. colony. The U.S. insists on treating Sunday's results as valid, which may mean that a singer named “Sweet Micky” who sometimes wears diapers on stage will become the nominal head of state. And why not? There is no Haitian state. That is something for the Haitian people to build, once they have thrown off the dictatorship of Washington. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20101201_gf_HaitiElection.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09am EST