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