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

"We vow not to support President Barack Obama for renomination for another term in office, and to actively seek to impede his war policies unless and until he reverses them," says a petition signed by hundreds of social activists. But the baton of progressive political and moral leadership may be passing from Black America, dominated by a venal misleadership class that refuses to actively oppose President Obama's wars.
Why Black MisLeadership Won't Sign the Anti-War Petition
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"These African American misleaders are the political heirs to those Blacks that derided Dr. King for taking his stand against Lyndon Johnson's war."
A Petition is making the rounds, in which hundreds of signatories have vowed to oppose President Obama "as long as he supports war." It's the kind of message that Dr. Martin Luther King would have signed onto. We know that, because that's precisely what Dr. King told President Lyndon Johnson, in April of 1967: that he would oppose his president and onetime ally as long as Johnson continued to wage war in Vietnam. Many believe that's the reason Dr. King was assassinated exactly one year later.
There are very few Black names on the current anti-war petition, but not because Black notables fear assassination if they oppose Obama's wars. It is because the narrow and selfish class that has come to dominate the political life of Black America  thinks it can do better for itself by collaborating with the war makers than by opposing them. Believing themselves to be somehow wired into power through the Democratic Party and their corporate connections, these African American misleaders are the political heirs to those Blacks that derided Dr. King for taking his stand against Lyndon Johnson's war. They are the same opportunists that berated Dr. King for sacrificing what had been a close, working political relationship with the most powerful man in the world, on the issue of war. Dr. King's answer to them was that the war must be opposed, not only on moral grounds, but because it condemned the poor of the United States to remain in that condition, by draining the government and society of all available resources "like some demonic destructive suction tube."
"Obama's multiple and expanding wars are no less antithetical to the interests of African Americans, today."
Dr. King was saying to the Black leadership class of his day: it may serve your personal interests to collaborate with President Johnson and pro-war Democrats and thus remain in good standing with power, but you are harming the interests of the poor, of Black people as a whole, and of all humanity. To be on the wrong side on the war, or to engage in endless dithering and delay in order to avoid confrontation with power on the issue of war, is to work against the fundamental interests of one's own people. Dr. King was forced by urgent necessity to break with President Johnson because war was against the interests of the Black America.
Obama's multiple and expanding wars are no less antithetical to the interests of African Americans, today. The "demonic destructive suction tube" that feeds a trillion dollars a year into Obama's wars strips Black America of all hope of emerging from permanent Depression. As long as such fantastic sums are expended on war, there is no escape from an economic race to the bottom that will mangle Black society beyond recognition.
The Black misleadership class, fearful to protect their own, tenuous political and corporate connections, give lip service to peace but refuse to confront the President that makes war.  In thrall of power in a Black face, and hoping some of the benefits will accrue to themselves, they allow the baton of progressivism to pass from the hands of Black America, or fall to the ground. History will look on them with revulsion.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. Sign the anti-war petition at WarIsACrime.org.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20110126_gf_ObamaPetition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball
Sam Yette chose to speak and write as a Black man and a professional, thus making himself no longer employable at Newsweek magazine during the Black Freedom Movement. In his book, Yette concluded that "black Americans are obsolete people." It is up to Black people to refuse to accept America's verdict - and dare to make our own verdict on America.
 
Samuel Yette and The Choice: Black Survival in the United States
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball
"Yette said that he could have kept his nice job had, 'I been a nigger instead of Black, a spy instead of a reporter, a tool instead of a man, I could have stayed at Newsweek indefinitely.'"
Samuel Yette died last week and the choice he wrote of, a choice long ago reached by this country, is a choice we've still not caught up to.  It is a choice of this nation to more or less discard an increasingly unnecessary Black population and a choice poised to that Black population as to how to respond.  Our range of acceptable responses seems to have dwindled since Yette wrote the book and much of the bases upon which he developed his concerns seem to have only worsened.  Having suffered heavy losses in the fight against the national will to discard its Black population, we have accepted the choices often imposed on the defeated, the colonized.      
Yette was the first Black Washington correspondent at Newsweek magazine and author, in 1971, of The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America, the book that got him fired from that position.  He said he was compelled to write his book after witnessing an absence of change over the decade of struggle in the 1960s.  He said that he could have kept his nice job had, "I been a nigger instead of Black, a spy instead of a reporter, a tool instead of a man, I could have stayed at Newsweek indefinitely."  Instead Yette wrote in The Choice that at the dawn of the 1970s the United States was simultaneously at war with the "colonized colored people of Indochina" and "the colonized colored people of the United States."  He referenced the then exploding numbers of Black un- and under-employment and the statement made by the labor secretary that the nation was "piling up a human scrap heap" of surplus laborers.  Yette concluded that "black Americans are obsolete people."  And since then these rates of un- and under-employment have risen while so many more of the Black surplus are siphoned off into the prison-industrial-complex, the post-1970s big boom business which scholar Lawrence Bobo also says is creating "Black internal colonies."  It is no wonder then that the Economic Policy Institute report from 2008 concluded then that Black America is in a "permanent recession."
"Black elected leadership means nothing in the face of a system whose choice has been made regarding Black people."
And there are more painful similarities.  Yette wrote in 1971 of the many preferred distractions liberals maintain to avoid an inward look at the treatment of the domestically colonized.  He said that while it may have become more in vogue to focus on the "environment... that it is Blackness that is unsightly in America."  He said that while others feel the war is a more "pressing" issue that it remains "racism" whose "arrogance of superiority" demands "economic and military exploitation" as much here as abroad.  And especially given the popularity over the last two decades of the television show and all its spin-offs, it is important that Yette pointed out for those who thought that "Law and Order" was of prime importance that the phrase is but a Nixonian "euphemism... for the total repression and possible extermination of those in the society who cry for justice where little justice can be found."
Yette also pointed out the fact that Black elected leadership means nothing in the face of a system whose choice has been made regarding Black people.  He said these officials are "powerless" but that the "fault" was not with them but "the system" itself.  Even they knew, he said, that their elections were false hope that inspired an equally false "confidence" in the political system.   But ultimately Yette was clear, the nation had made a choice and it was one that threatens the long-term survival of Black people.  And before we are too quick to run off to find solace in the heavily promulgated images of Black success, let us remember what legal scholar and professor Derrick Bell said not too long ago.  He equated the nation's public policies as having the equivalent impact of weekly, random selections of Black people who would be taken to a "secluded place and shot."  Black suffering and the permanent, worsening conditions we face are not an accident of fate or the result of uncorrectable patterns of Black behavior.  No, they are intentional.  They are national policy.
The nation has made its choice.  We, however, seem to have also made ours.  Our willingness to not break with convention, to not assume our own agenda and to advocate and implement our own alternatives theoretically, practically and with some degree of unison has resulted in our choice being to go along and hope for a brighter day.  Let us heed the warning in his death that we did not during his life.  The Choice Samuel Yette wrote of was theirs, but now must become ours. 
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Dr. Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at: freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20110126_jb_SamYette.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:08am EDT

 

The United States' use of mercenaries is unprecedented in scope for a major power in modern times, and further weakens a decaying empire. Unable to defeat the resistance in two of the poorest nations on the planet, America increasingly depends on high-paid killers-for-profit to man the battlements. In Iraq, where the U.S. is reluctantly making an exit, "President Obama plans to substitute outgoing U.S. troops with mercenaries." The same may happen, soon, in Afghanistan.
Will the Last Mercenary Turn Out the Lights On U.S. Empire
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Washington is likely to find out that its privatization of war cannot save the empire's last toehold in Iraq."
The soldier of fortune has become an indispensable element of U.S. imperial rule. Mercenaries are a key item in President Obama's menu for continued American domination of Afghanistan and Iraq, as deadlines arrive for withdrawal of uniformed American troops. With foreign wars going badly for the United States, more and more it looks like the last defenders of America's imperial Alamo will be murder-for-hire corporations like the one formerly known as Blackwater.
All U.S. troops - whether the Americans call them combat soldiers or not - are scheduled to leave Iraq at the end of this year. The Americans never intended to leave, but were forced on the way out the door by the Iraqis during George Bush's presidency. Now President Obama plans to substitute outgoing U.S. troops with mercenaries, who would guard remaining U.S. installations, the Green Zone and the U.S. Embassy, the biggest embassy in the world and really a base, itself. But the Iraqis hold a special hatred for the American mercenaries, who roamed the country, killing civilians for pleasure, often in sprees of mass murderous drunkenness. Washington is likely to find out that its privatization of war cannot save the empire's last toehold in Iraq. 
The same moment will come in Afghanistan, where civilian contractors outnumber U.S. soldiers. American mercenaries under arms number 26,000, which is about one and a half times the size of a U.S. Marine division. President Obama has promised to begin the process of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July. It's quite clear that the Americans never plan to actually leave, but the Afghans want them to go, and for that reason they will be going. The Americans would surely try to dominate the country through their huge mercenary army. However, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, like most people, doesn't like mercenaries running around his country. He's already applied a variety of measures to constrain their freedom of movement, and it is difficult to imagine that Karzai or any other Afghan leader would permit the mercenaries to stay on after the U.S. soldiers leave. So, some guy from Blackwater may wind up turning out the lights on the U.S. imperial presence in Afghanistan, a couple of years from now. The most expensive army in the world, supplemented by even more expensive hired killers, cannot defeat one of the world's poorest countries.
"The Americans would surely try to dominate the country through their huge mercenary army."
How about two of the world's poorest countries? Somalia hasn't had a national government since the early Nineties, but its people refuse to allow foreigners to rule them.  The puppet regime set up in Mogadishu by the Americans and Europeans controls only a few city blocks. Soldiers rented by the U.S. from Uganda guard the escape route to the airport. The richest nation on the planet cannot defeat one of the world's most poorly financed resistance movements, the Islamist Shabab. So, who ya gonna call? Blackwater, whose founder, Erik Prince, was awarded a contract to try to create an army to defend the puppet Somali state. But mercenaries like Erik Prince are incapable of creating armies that will defend a country's sovereignty. They can only create mercenaries like themselves, who fight for money. And such mercenaries cannot, in the end, defeat genuine people's movements - in Somalia, or anywhere else. Not anymore.
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: 20110126_gf_Mercenaries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:54pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In reporting on U.S. slaughter of civilians in Afghanistan, the New York Times equated the loss of Afghan lives with the mislaying of emails. What has been mislaid is the American moral compass.
 
America's Moral Vacuum: Dead Afghans = Lost Emails
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"The United States is suffering from an overload of depravity."
On the day that the federal government set aside to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the great man of peace, the New York Times featured an article on a major problem the United States is encountering in pursuing its endless, high-tech wars. No, its not money; the U.S. government spares no expense in financing the maintenance and expansion of American empire. And clearly, the Democratic congressional opposition to America's wars has collapsed - certainly since a Democrat took on the job as war maker-in-chief. The great obstacle to perfection of the American style of mass killing, it turns out, is "information overload."
It seems that U.S. troops in the field are getting so much information from so many different sources about targets for obliteration, they're having trouble figuring how who to kill. Assorted military experts told the Times that information overload is the reason the American military winds up massacring so many civilians in Afghanistan. All those smart bombs and automated, unmanned airplanes and other brilliant gadgets are just, well, too smart for the soldiers to keep up with, inevitably -  but not on purpose, of course - causing collateral damage to Afghan women, children, families, wedding parties and other nuisances that clutter up the landscape of the country, getting in the way of the U.S. war machine.
The Times story blames information overload for last February's drone attack that killed 23 Afghan civilians. There was plenty of information that showed there were children in a civilian convoy of vehicles that was preparing to leave a village, but American personnel, in their zeal to eliminate any potential threats to U.S. troops, disregarded that information and fired their missiles at the civilians. The Times compared the slaughter of innocents to a mistake by an office worker "who loses track of an important e-mail" as his messages pile up.
"U.S. troops in the field are having trouble figuring how who to kill."
In this innocuous newspaper story on Martin Luther King Day we see the full scope of the moral rot that has consumed the U.S. military, the New York Times, and American society as a whole. To the Americans, the Afghan civilians were not victims of an occupying foreign war machine that treated them like roaches to be stamped upon in their own homeland. No, they were the equivalent of a mislaid email. The Americans were not engaged in crimes against humanity, against peace, and against the right of all peoples to be sovereign in their own countries. No, it was the Americans who were victims - of too much information. This was not a mass murder of 23 people attempting to go about their lives in their own neighborhood. No, it was a technical problem that is most notable for the difficulties posed to the American war effort by an excess of information.
What Dr. King would say, were he to read the abominable excuse for murder published by the New York Times, is that the United States is suffering, not from an information overload, but an overload of depravity, a barbaric indifference to human suffering. Lost Afghan lives are not the equivalent of lost emails. And any society that thinks that way is a moral vacuum whose denizens have lost their souls.
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: 20110119_gf_MoralVacuum.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:20am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

White Left resistance to effective, comradely collaboration with Black Leftists "makes impossible the 'revolution of social values' called for by Dr. King."  Whites control far more resources on the Left, especially in media. However, "the general absence of Black intelligence in White media, specifically that which is defined as White Left or Progressive media, inhibits broad social movement building."
 
Black Radical Thought Will Save Us All
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball
"Without sustained and serious inclusion of Black knowledge into segments of the White Left there is simply no hope for either or any other community."
It doesn't happen enough but when it does we should revel in the example and perhaps even build from it. The "it" to which I refer is the acceptance of Black intelligence into predominantly White spaces.  And regardless of what some may think of interracial exchange the simple fact is that without sustained and serious inclusion of Black knowledge into segments of the White Left there is simply no hope for either or any other community.  The general absence of Black intelligence in White media, specifically that which is defined as White Left or Progressive media, inhibits broad social movement building.  It prevents those engaged in Black struggle from receiving the necessary support they deserve from White potential allies with greater resources and makes impossible the "revolution of social values" called for by Dr. King from occurring within the dominant White society; a revolution of values without which no greater form of Black American liberation can emerge.  We may not like it but without significant changes from within White America the already bleak condition of the Black struggle can only worsen.
So recently when one of the White Left mainstays in my own media diet, Media Matters with Bob McChesney, had one of those rare moments where Black intelligence was welcomed and almost gave a sense of what is possible.  His guest was Dr. Sundiata Cha-Jua, noted scholar of history and African American Studies at the University of Illinois and current president of the legendary National Council of Black Studies.  In an exceptional display of knowledge and principle Cha-Jua demonstrated the hopes and fears represented in just this kind of interaction.  The hope is found for Progressives in some measure of inclusion of the analysis of Black America, the fear is represented, as explained by Cha-Jua, in the absence of press coverage of the interracial solidarity shown among those participants in the recent Georgia prison strike.   
"To prevent further rebellion, Black radicalism had to be given no coverage at all."
McChesney is a leading White progressive scholar in media studies and within the media reform movement whose position can be seen as metaphorically representing the larger White Left.  He writes eloquently of the need for change, albeit largely in a media reform context, and hosts a show which broadly speaking consists of left-of-center academic and activist thought.  But with few exceptions does his show ever invite Blackness that goes beyond his use of Thelonious Monk as theme music.  Cha-Jua was more than adequate as representing metaphorically the Black radical tradition whose inclusion in the broader White Left dialogue is usually kept to a minimum.
In less than one hour Cha-Jua was able to brilliantly outline some key gaps in perspective that continue to inhibit progress.  He gave a brief but powerful overview of U.S. history, which he rightly said is woefully unknown to most in the country.  This included the post-Civil War development of racial and national identity and the permanent inscription of Black as sub-human and perpetual slave.  He described the famed 1967Kerner Commission report in which media and press coverage - or the lack thereof - instigated much of the Black rebelliousness of the 1960s.  But Cha-Jua also noted the need emanating from that report that to prevent further rebellion, Black radicalism had to be given no coverage at all.  Hence the dilemma still faced by Black progressive movement building and broader national movement building, as well as, the continued complicity in this played by members of the White Progressive media world today.
Perhaps most indicative of my point about the damaging disconnect still prevalent between progressive elements within Black and White America was the brief exchange the two had regarding the Tea Party.  Cha-Jua's use of George Jackson's prescient analysis of fascism from 1971 caused a defensive attempt by McChesney to redefine that language into a safer "right-wing populist movement."  This required a Black radical assertion that just like the current attack on institutional Black radical thought in the form of Black Studies the community itself has to assure its right to, as Cha-Jua said, not "censor our thought in order to conform to the mainstream."  Lynching was, he said, "terrorism" just as segregation was "apartheid."  And Black Studies and Black radical thought are disciplines with their own theories and modes of interpretation which, I am suggesting, must be allowed to inform key segments of the White Left as much as the Black community if any real and sustained movement is to be developed.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20110119_jb_BlackRadicals.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:07am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Baby Doc" Duvalier is either one gutsy mass killer and mega-thief, or he believes the Americans wanted him to return to Haiti. The pitiful regime of Rene Preval seems to be waiting for the Americans for instructions on what to do with Duvalier. "if Aristide had shown up unannounced, he would never have made it out of the airport without being put under arrest." 
 
Baby Doc Must Think the U.S. Has His Back
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"He would not have had the nerve to return if he did not think it was alright with the United States."
When mass murderer and mega-thief Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier dares to return to the scene of his and his father's crimes without expectation of immediate imprisonment or worse, then we know that the rule of law has been utterly destroyed by the foreign occupiers of Haiti. From 1957 to 1986, the Duvaliers terrorized the Haitian population, killing or disappearing tens of thousands. Baby Doc is believed to have stolen nearly a billion dollars from his homeland before the Americans airlifted him to extravagant exile in France, 25 years ago. He would not have had the nerve to return if he did not think it was alright with the United States, the real overlord in Haiti.
Haiti's poor excuse for a president, Rene Preval, must also think Baby Doc is under United States protection. Preval had vowed to arrest Duvalier if he ever made good on his threat to return, but state prosecutors could only summon the courage to pay a polite visit to Duvalier at his hotel in Port-au-Prince. Later, they accompanied him briefly to a government office and then escorted him back to his hotel. No handcuffs were ever in evidence.
This is what happens when a nation's sovereignty is stolen. The lowest criminals on earth can simply fly into Haiti, and book a hotel room, but the local authorities fear to do anything until the United States speaks to the issue. In Haiti, Washington's word is law. The Preval regime is helpless to seize the criminal, Duvalier - thief of the nation's treasury and executioner of its sons and daughters - unless the United States gives its permission.
"The Americans are so morally bankrupt they may actually believe there is moral equivalence in keeping both Aristide and Duvalier out of the country."
Observers with a sense of legal decorum and decency wonder how the Americans will turn Duvalier's visit to their advantage, somehow. If they have Duvalier ejected from Haiti, then Washington can pretend to be an even-handed overlord who keeps out former dictators as well as the democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, whom they booted out in 2004. The Americans are so morally bankrupt they may actually believe there is moral equivalence in keeping both Aristide and Duvalier out of the country. But then, of course, if Aristide had shown up unannounced, he would never have made it out of the airport without being put under arrest.
Whether the Americans realize it or not, or even care or not, Duvalier's arrival cannot help but accentuate the imperial nature of U.S. policy toward Haiti. If there is one living man on earth that vast majorities of Haitians want imprisoned or dead, it is Baby Doc. If he is allowed to leave a free man - or, in the craziest of all worlds, remain in Haiti as a free man - the world will assume that is Washington's choosing.
Meanwhile, the ­Institute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti and an international lawyers association are demanding that the Haitian government "comply with Haitian law and arrest ex-President Jean-Claude Duvalier." They insist Duvalier is not protected by any statute of limitations, because his offenses are crimes against humanity.
It will be interesting to see how the American bosses wiggle their way out of this one. But then, they've already shown that they can steal a whole country in the full light of day, and call it legal. 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: 20110119_gf_BabyDoc.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If ever there were a Black leader whose political motivations and inclinations could be predicted, it was MLK, one of the most documented leaders in American history. His steadfast, coherent, courageous positions on issues of peace and social justice remained consistent even as they evolved. If he were alive, Dr. King “would not be erecting a protective barrier around Barack Obama, the First Black President of the United States, but would instead confront him.”

 

What Would MLK DO, in 2011?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

He would not shrink from denouncing and opposing Obama’s wars.”

What would Dr. King do? It’s that time of year, and always a good time to ask that question. We can begin to answer it by saying what the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated on April 4, 1968 would NOT be doing: he would not be erecting a protective barrier around Barack Obama, the First Black President of the United States, but would instead confront him. He would not shrink from denouncing and opposing Obama’s wars. Dr. King would never passively tolerate the wholesale consumption of the American state by Wall Street. He would not have stood by for four decades while the United States created a system of mass Black incarceration that has now been dubbed the New Jim Crow. And we know he would have found it impossible to sit still while George Bush and then Barack Obama turned public education into a stifling exercise in learning-for-the-test.

Why are we see confident about how Dr. King would respond to contemporary crises if he were alive, today? Because King left a great bounty of documentation, enough writings, speeches, papers, and interviews to make Confucius envious.

Therefore, we have every reason to believe that Dr. King would vigorously oppose President Obama’s war budgets, the biggest in American history. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift,” said Dr. King, “is approaching spiritual doom.” But King was concerned about bread and butter issues as well. “One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society,” which the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Leader said was “shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam.

King left a great bounty of documentation, enough writings, speeches, papers, and interviews to make Confucius envious.”

Dr. King would have been unceasing in his opposition to mass Black incarceration. In early 1968, King declared: “It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.”

He would have been moved to action by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision allowing corporations to be treated as having the same rights of persons. “Property,” said Dr. King, “is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.”

Plus, we know MLK was a Democratic socialist, because he said so.

Dr. King, the intellectual, the philosopher, made himself clear on the value and uses of education back in 1947, when he was a student at Morehouse College, in Atlanta. “The function of education,” said the very young man, “is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.” It is inconceivable that King would have permitted No Child Left Behind and its destructive derivatives to wreck the learning experiences of the nation's children without a fight.

Dr. King would actively oppose Barack Obama's policies because, as he said: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

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: 20110112_gf_MLK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

When the rulers of the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world” warn folks to tone down the rhetoric, it’s both a joke and a threat. For surely the hyper-violent powers-that-be will find ways to turn their warnings into real harm. “The militaristic and imperial American state fosters a mass culture of violence that saturates the society at large.”

 

America: Violent to the Bone

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

American class and racial structures require unending applications of violence in order to sustain the prevailing social and economic order.”

The gruesome murders in Tucson, have prompted a huge chorus of establishment voices to call for a ratcheting down of political rhetoric, lest the more mentally unbalanced among us become unhinged, as is thought to have been the case with the Arizona shooter. At times like these, it is considered unseemly to put such tragedies into a larger context of American violence – a bit like going to a funeral and mentioning that lots of people died on the same day as the dearly departed – which would be a crude and boorish thing to do. The problem is, many of the mourners in this virtual national funeral procession have already brought their own agendas to the sad occasion. The rich and powerful believe it is their privilege to preach over the bodies, in order to properly spin the victims into the hereafter. And that means that the rest of us must also treat the sad occasion as a political event. And so, I will.

Lots of people do die from the violence that America’s political system engenders, tens of thousands every year here at home, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, around the world. The U.S. is uniquely violent among the rich nations of the planet, and that is because of its fundamental political history and social and economic arrangements. American class and racial structures are not only the fruits of great historical crimes of horrific violence, they also require unending applications of violence in order to sustain the prevailing social and economic order.

We must become fixated on violence, hyper-conscious of the violence that is inflicted on our own communities and on peoples and nations around the planet.”

Therefore, when those who have grown rich from organized violence, who are the same people who have made America, in Dr. Martin Luther King's words, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, today,” start talking about ratcheting down the rhetoric so as not to encourage violence, it is time for us to do the opposite. We must becomefixated on violence, hyper-conscious of the violence that is inflicted on our own communities and on peoples and nations around the planet, by the people who benefit from what Dr. King called the triple evils: racism, militarism, and materialism. Put in other terms, that's white supremacy, U.S. imperialism, and rule of the rich.

Those who profit from the existence of the triple evils are the fountainheads of the great violence that afflicts our nation and world. It is no wonder that the most racist political organizations, like the Tea Party, are also the greatest fomenters of domestic violence. They are political heirs to the slave master, who could not have existed without daily application of the most extreme violence to the slave. The militaristic and imperial American state fosters a mass culture of violence that saturates the society at large, inculcating disrespect for human life in general and absolute contempt for the lives of non-Europeans the world over. And the values of the rich – most especially the Wall Streeters that exercise complete hegemony over the machinery of government and the communications apparatus – are those of the mass killer, because the rich few can only remain in power by being prepared to murder the many who have nothing.

So, by all means, let's examine violence in – and from – America. And then let's ratchet up the intensity of struggle against the real culprits who profit from a culture of violence.

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: 20110112_gf_ViolenceInAmerica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:52am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Hip-hop flourishes overseas while becoming grotesque and underdeveloped at home. In foreign lands, hip-hop is seen as part of the American brand, along with Barack Obama. But domestically, as the product of a “subnation” within the U.S., real hip hop is suppressed, just as are the political institutions of its creators. Black America must develop and reclaim its own brands on the cultural and political levels.

 

Hip-Hop v. The U.S.? Brand Wars!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

This nation must brand its most oppressed as both deserving of that suffering but also able to overcome it.”

A recently published article reviewing academic research of nation branding got me thinking about last week’s statement from Chuck D of the legendary rap group Public Enemy. On the one hand this article, by Nadia Kaneva, describes at least some work whose focus is the ways in which nations are branded and for what purposes. She describes competing views of nation branding, various definitions and claims of particular impact, but it is clear that at least some in the world of high finance and geo-political strategy consider nation branding as necessary to the process of “social engineering,” managing populations and exerting a political and ideological dominance over the world.

On the other hand Chuck D’s concerns over hip-hop’s condition or place in the world speak to Kaneva’s own worries over the future direction of nation branding research. For Chuck represents what she describes as the “blind spot” in such research that avoids questions of how nation branding specifically impacts “subnational and transnational identities.” The hip-hop nation, and certainly the more real Black and Brown nation(s) that produce it, are indeed sub and transnational, and are impacted in specific – horrific – ways.

Of course brands aren’t meant to convey anything real. Brands are mirages meant to convey that which its producers think will yield them the most benefit, economically or politically. And nobody brands like the United States. And especially since 2008’s “Brand of the Year” became president the U.S. has for two years been named the world leader in “global image.” In fact, as a leading public affairs brand researcher says, 2009 was a year in which we “saw the United States make… a significant leap in its standing to the top nation spurred by the election of President Obama.” Its “reputation” in the world had been renewed, restored to its proper branded position as “a beacon of democracy” and free-trade business opportunity.

Chuck D explains that, while we have been kept from developing our national talents the cultural legacy has been taken up overseas.”

Chuck D’s concerns over the condition of hip-hop worldwide is also an issue of competing brands. And as he says, “never before have so many been pimped by so few.” He points out that the hip-hop community in the United States has lost is prominence globally. Among his many concerns is that corporate dominance over the cultural expression and ownership of mass media have forced hip-hop nation founders to now be last among those in the world who perform its core elements. Because of this nation’s ability and need to brand itself as quintessential freedom it must brand its most oppressed as both deserving of that suffering but also able to overcome it.

So simultaneously, for instance, Black America can be said to have reached its highest level of long-term unemployment since 1948 and still be able to produce a president and the famous rappers all of whom can be exported to the world as proof of this nation’s brand. Regarding the hip-hop nation, Chuck D explains, while we have been kept from developing our national talents the cultural legacy has been taken up overseas. There rappers are, he says, rhyming in “three languages,” which has “created super rappers to move the crowd with intensity and passion.” But the “arrogant” American, Chuck D continues, “comes in blackface.”

Reasons for this he summarizes as a “lack of support from local radio, television and community in the United States,” which prevents “’local’ acts [from thriving] in their own radius [and] has killed the ability to connect and grow into a proper development as a performer, entertainer and artist.” This is, of course, the inevitable outcome within the confines of a subnation held in hostility. As Kaneva’s article points out, “every nation is a brand, and most nations have their brand made for them.” This imposed condition requires an equally imposed brand. In this case it is a brand that of necessity protects against the most likely group historically to have its cultural expression reflect its genuine condition.

Popular rap music is the perfect low-cultural brand equivalent to the higher cultural product that is brand Obama. Both demonstrate their restorative capacity for the country’s global image. And, therefore, the responses must be similar. Just as hip-hop must from within develop its own brand that will topple that which has been created for it by a hostile and dominant nation so too must we develop from within that which will re-brand what is real political struggle, movement and leadership.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

 

Direct download: 20110112_jb_HipHopBrandHip.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Wall Street is “feverishly preparing to destroy the financial integrity of local and state governments, much as speculative capital has ravaged member states of the European Union.” Rather than resist this grand assault, President Obama and other top Democrats pave the way for it with their attacks on unions and the public sector.

 

Obama Uses Bully Pulpit Against Own Constituents

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama uses his bully pulpit to tell the people that unions and public workers are the enemies of society.”

A perfect storm is brewing, whipped up by Wall Street, that threatens the most fundamental interests of Black people, workers in the private and public sectors, the unemployed and the residents of cities – that is, the core constituencies of the Democratic Party. But don’t expect the Democrats to be of much help, because the fact is that Party leadership is busy trying to drown its own electoral base, like kittens in a bag. This only sounds counterintuitive if one fails to understand that, although minorities, the poor, workers, union members and urban dwellers may be the people that vote the most for Democrats, Wall Street is increasingly the Party’s financial patron – and the sugar-daddy with the cash usually gets what he wants.

What Wall Street wants – and what it is purchasing from Democratic leadership – is the means to utterly eliminate meaningful opposition to rule of money. For this purpose, they are feverishly preparing to destroy the financial integrity of local and state governments, much as speculative capital has ravaged member states of the European Union. In the resulting panic, public unions – the biggest political barrier to corporate rule – will be reduced to impotent shells, if not decertified, outright. With the unions decimated and Democratic constituents in despair, finance capital will feast on the bones of the public sector in a bacchanal of privatization.

President Obama has taken the lead in dismantling the Democratic coalition assembled by President Franklin Roosevelt, in the 1930s. In two short years in office, he has gone for the jugular, targeting unionized teachers as the villains of education, thus setting the stage for massive corporate penetration of public schools through charterization. Obama played the same scapegoating game with federal employees, blaming them for budget deficits and imposing a wage freeze.

With the unions decimated and Democratic constituents in despair, finance capital will feast on the bones of the public sector in a bacchanal of privatization.”

American presidents are said to have the biggest “bully pulpit” in the world. Obama uses his bully pulpit to tell the people that unions and public workers are the enemies of society. As a Black Democrat, he's much more convincing than the Republicans – which is what makes him so valuable to the moneyed classes.

Next, the public is softened up to the idea that local and state government will go bankrupt, and that the problem is public employee pensions. In steps the Democrat Richard Daley, outgoing mayor of Chicago, who says employee pensions, which are huge government obligations, should be allowed to go bankrupt.

Daley was just playing the stalking horse for the hedge funds and other financial Dukes of Disaster who have been using derivatives to make bets on which cities and states will default on their obligations – just as they have been doing with the smaller nations of Europe. Creating a public hysteria ups the ante and also hides the fact that it is Wall Street that is creating the crisis, through its financial dealings and its purchasing of Democratic politicians. The banker-inspired hysteria creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of social, economic and political destruction. And one of the messengers of the evil-minded prophesying is Barack Obama.

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

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

Direct download: 20110105_gf_StarvedLaborCities.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:25am EDT