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

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