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

It’s been two generations since the beginning of modern mass Black incarceration. Prison populations, which only doubled from 1925 to 1972, increased more than seven-fold over the next 38 years, with Blacks accounting for ever higher proportions of inmates. The latest statistics do not indicate that white people “have reconsidered – or even acknowledged – their extraordinarily broad support for placing more Black people in captivity over the past 40 years than at any time since slavery.”

Mass Black Incarceration Ending? Don't Hold Your Breath

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Half of the states reported decreases in their prison populations.”

For the first time since 1972, the total number of people held in U.S. prisons has gone down. And, for the second year in a row, the number of persons under supervision – such as parole – by state departments of correction, decreased.

Does this mean the beginning of the end of mass Black incarceration in the United States? Not hardly. That would require an historic reversal of a nationwide policy to find new places to put Black people who refused to stay “in their place,” in the wake of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. There is little in the current American political conversation that indicates white people have reconsidered – or even acknowledged – their extraordinarily broad support for placing more Black people in captivity over the past 40 years than at any time since slavery.

It takes the government almost a year to tabulate the past year’s prison statistics, so the latest numbers are from 2010. They show about 7.1 million people under some kind of correctional supervision – one out of every 33. That’s down 1.3 percent from 2009, the year that saw the first decrease in supervision in two generations. The total population in state and federal prisons – not counting local jails – stood at 1.6 million inmates, down six-tenths of one percent. State prison populations decreased by almost 11,000, and local jails by almost 19,000, but federal prison populations grow by eight/tenths of one percent, to almost 210,000 inmates. That was, however, the smallest percentage increase in a generation – since 1980.

Half of the states reported decreases in their prison populations, with California and Georgia shrinking the most.

Twenty-four states and the federal prison system increased their inmate populations.”

Speculation on why prison populations have, at least temporarily, peaked, centers on the financial crisis. It is true that states are experiencing unprecedented difficulties paying their bills. Some states have clearly responded to their fiscal crises by finding ways to incarcerate fewer people. Michigan reduced its prison population by 6,000 inmates in three years, mainly by decreasing the number of inmates who wind up serving more time in jail than they were originally sentenced to. California is under court order to cut its prison population by 30 percent, or 40,000 inmates. But the court order came too late to have a significant effect on 2010 prison numbers.

Only half the country has seen any decrease, at all. Twenty-four states and the federal prison system increased their inmate populations, with Illinois, Texas and Arkansas leading the pack. And states have found other ways to cut down on inmate costs without putting fewer people in prison, through wholesale privatization of prisons, and imposition of draconian fees on prisoners, probationers and parolees.

The Pew Research Center on the States cites programs that divert some offenders to probation, and accelerated release of low-risk inmates. However, studies have shown that such diversion programs tend to serve disproportionately white offenders. Therefore, it is highly premature for anyone to speculate that the era of mass Black incarceration may be ending. For the foreseeable future, one out of eight of the world’s prison inmates will continue to be African American.

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

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

Direct download: 20111228_gf_PrisonStats.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Democratic Leadership Council, Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s 1980s scheme to diminish the growing influence of Black voters, has reached its ultimate success with Barack Obama, the second DLC president. To put it another way, “Obamaism is simply Clintonism with a darker face.” Three years of President Obama have left the Democratic Party with nothing to say worthy of hearing, in this election year. “Ron Paul’s foreign policy and civil liberties stance, as a Republican, is noteworthy only because of the contrasting light it shines on the vast desert that Democratic Party politics has become under the grip of militarists and Wall Street.”

 

The Wasteland of Democratic Politics

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

We know that we are in an electoral political wasteland when the only major party discussion of U.S. empire and endless warfare takes place in the Republican presidential primary.”

There is no drama in the Democratic Party, this election year. The Democratic domain is a dead zone that has had all the oxygen sucked out of it by Obamaism. Of course, Obamaism is simply Clintonism with a darker face. Bill Clinton was the first Democratic Leadership Council President. Al Gore would have been the second, if George Bush had not stolen the 2000 election through massive disenfranchisement of Black voters in the Sunshine State. Gore did not see fit to contest the election based on the theft of hundreds of thousands of Black Florida votes. Instead, he hitched his fortunes to hanging chads and a Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court.

There was a certain consistency in Al Gore’s decision not make an issue of the racism at the root of his loss. In the 1980s, Gore and Clinton formed the Democratic Leadership Council in order to dilute the influence of the growing numbers of Black southern voters. With southern whites steadily fleeing to the Republican Party, Gore and Clinton founded the DLC as a moneybag for corporate contributions to keep pro-business whites in Party leadership positions in the South, on the theory that he who controls the purse strings, controls the Party. It worked so well, the DLC quickly spread from its southern base to become the Party's national corporate wing, dedicated to suppressing the influence of Blacks and labor. The DLC used its money power to nurture the careers of Black corporate Democrats like Barack Obama, whose name first showed up on the DLC membership list in the summer of 2003. With overwhelming corporate support – especially from Wall Street – Obama went on to become Bill Clinton’s successor as the second Democratic Leadership Council president, just in time to save the banks from the 2008 meltdown. It should have come as no surprise that the second DLC president would not lift a finger to save Blacks from economic catastrophe. And so, three years later, the only good economic news for African Americans occurs in their own color-coded imaginations.

Obama became Bill Clinton’s successor as the second Democratic Leadership Council president.”

We know that we are in an electoral political wasteland when the only major party discussion of U.S. empire and endless warfare takes place in the Republican presidential primary. On foreign policy, Ron Paul calls for closing hundreds of U.S. bases abroad, opposes U.S. empire-building and the fraudulent war on terror. Paul opposes preventive detention and the drug war, and he has led the charge against the Federal Reserve which, under President Obama, has become the umbilical cord that binds the imperial American state to the imperial bankers Wall Street.

Of course, Ron Paul is no friend of Black people, or working people of any race. He is a racist, who has always worked closely with white supremacists who wish for a return to the apartheid America of the founding white fathers. Ron Paul’s foreign policy and civil liberties stance, as a Republican, is noteworthy only because of the contrasting light it shines on the vast desert that Democratic Party politics has become under the grip of militarists and Wall Street.

The Republicans are ugly, nasty and evil. President Obama is the most attractive and articulate servant of Wall Street and war – and, therefore, an even more effective evil. There is only one alternative, and that is mass political action in opposition to the rule of the rich. Without a people's movement, the people inevitably lose.

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

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

Direct download: 20111228_gf_ElectoralWasteland.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

NATO’s outrageous claim that no civilians were killed in the 7-month air war against Libya has been challenged by Russia and, in a very modest way, the New York Times. “NATO’s policy of refusing to investigate civilian deaths is evidence on its face of a depraved disregard for civilian lives and the intention to avoid prosecution for crimes against civilians.” The Times recent concern over Libyan victims of NATO bombing lacks credibility, given its wildly biased reporting of the war. “Thousands of black Libyan citizens and African migrant workers are dead at least partially as a result of western media lies.”

 

NATO's Depraved Disregard for Libyan Civilian Casualties

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

NATO carried out a plan designed for no other purpose than to hide the killing of civilians, to methodically suppress all evidence of war crimes.”

After leaving the door open to the United States and its European allies to destroy Libya from the air for seven brutal months, Russia is now pressing for an investigation of civilian casualties inflicted by NATO. The Russians, along with the Chinese, abstained from voting on the infamous United Nations Security Council resolution establishing a “no-fly” zone over Libya, ostensibly to protect civilians, a legal fig leaf that NATO interpreted as a go-ahead to batter Libya with 7,700 bombs and missiles. Incredibly, NATO’s secretary general proclaimed in November that no civilian casualties had resulted – that is, no confirmed civilian casualties. NATO made sure there could be no confirmation of civilian killings through its own classic Catch-22 policy: Only those civilians that NATO, itself, confirmed were dead could be listed as killed, and NATO’s firm policy was never to investigate civilian casualties. Thus, the civilian death toll was guaranteed to be zero.

The Russian envoy to the UN describes NATO’s claims as “pure propaganda” – but it’s much worse than that. NATO carried out a plan designed for no other purpose than to hide the killing of civilians, to methodically suppress all evidence of war crimes. And that is certainly not only clear evidence of intent to commit war crimes, but is also, itself, a violation of the rules of war – that is, a separate war crime. International law requires that combatants take care to minimize civilian casualties. NATO’s policy of refusing to investigate civilian deaths is evidence on its face of a depraved disregard for civilian lives and the intention to avoid prosecution for crimes against civilians. By the standards of international law, the entire NATO chain of command, civilian and military, should face trial for war crimes. That means, the military and civilian authorities of France, Britain, the United States, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Canada, plus their Persian Gulf allies Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who joined in the criminal enterprise. And yes, that means U.S. commander-in-chief Barack Obama, who ghoulishly “led from behind” by flying about one-fifth of the missions and providing most of the bombs and missiles and logistical support.

By the standards of international law, the entire NATO chain of command, civilian and military, should face trial for war crimes.”

The New York Times claims its own investigation has uncovered between 40 and 70 civilian victims of NATO, a ludicrously low number in an air offensive that struck scores of Libyan cities and villages, in a war that NATO’s Libyan allies claim killed 40,000 people. The Times and its western corporate media colleagues have no moral authority in this matter, having acted as megaphones and virtual agents of NATO’s massive psychological warfare operation against the Libyan government. They reported fictitious tales of massive rapes by Libyan soldiers as fact, and fanned the flames of race war by spreading the lie that the Libyan regime was protected by legions of black African mercenaries. Thousands of black Libyan citizens and African migrant workers are dead at least partially as a result of western media lies.

Nowhere in the New York Times' puny list of civilian dead do the names of Moammar Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren appear. They were killed in the last days of April by NATO bombs that struck Gaddafi’s home – four civilians killed in an assassination attempt that was, itself, illegal under U.S. and international law. The New York Times was not upset, then. They remain accomplices in the same crimes they purport to investigate.

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: 20111221_gf_LibyanCasualties.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:02am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What if the First Black President eviscerated the rule of law, legalizing assassination and detention of U.S. citizens without trial? Would he still be considered a “credit to his race?” His supporters may convince themselves they are safe in Obama’s hands, but he has also “given President Gingrich or President Romney or President Palin those powers – the same powers Egyptian generals have used to imprison thousands of protesters in military jails.”

Is There a Limit to Black Tolerance of Obama's Police State, Assassinations and Wars

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With preventive detention the law of the land and political assassination official U.S. policy, Obama is poised to enter the realm of the unthinkable.”

In my political circles, we used to go through the rhetorical exercise of asking each other, What does President Obama have to do to irretrievably alienate his core of supporters? What horrific atrocity would Obama have to commit, that would cause him to lose his solid Black base?

The problem with this little game of What If, was that Obama kept upping the ante, with one outrage after another, each more nightmarish than the last. What if he put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block? Obama promptly did that, two weeks before taking the oath of office. So we had to pick another hypothetical Obama act that might constitute a deal-breaker with Black America. How about: What if the First Black President launched an all out military attack on Africa? Seven months ago he did just that, in Libya, following up with a huge intensification of the cruelest war in the world, against Somalia, and the assignment of U.S. Special Forces to central Africa.

It was becoming evident that there was no line of civilized behavior that Obama would not cross in service of corporate empire at home and abroad. And yet, his core supporters had still not reached their limits of tolerance for the man in whom they had invested so much hope in 2008.

Now, with preventive detention the law of the land and political assassination official U.S. policy, Obama is poised to enter the realm of the unthinkable – a future of pure horror in which there is no rule of law. When a president can lock up or kill whomever he chooses, without formal charge or trial, the rule of law ceases to exist. The finality of that verdict is not mitigated by the fact that George Bush also believed, as does Obama, that U.S. law already implicitly gave presidents the power to indefinitely detain. It is now codified – a law that negates the rule of law.

It was becoming evident that there was no line of civilized behavior that Obama would not cross in service of corporate empire at home and abroad.”

Obama’s guiding hand finessed the legislation through Congress, anointing this president and those who come after with the power to lock up American citizens for life without trial, or even being charged. Obama has given President Gingrich or President Romney or President Palin those powers – the same powers Egyptian generals have used to imprison thousands of protesters in military jails. Obama expresses sympathy for an Arab Spring while presiding over a dark American winter. This is his historical contribution: the evisceration of the Constitution as we had previously understood it, a far deeper mark on the historical record than breaking the White House color bar.

If there is any constituency for preservation of the rule of law, it must be Black America, a people whose lives on this continent began in the perpetual incarceration of slavery and who today comprise one out of every eight prison inmates on the planet, and whose political prisoners from a previous generation of struggle still languish behind bars. Is Black love of the idea of a Black president so perverse, that it would tolerate – or even celebrate! – a man who gives himself and his successors the power to imprison and kill at will?

Enough of this nonsense about greater and lesser evils. When it comes to murdering the Constitution, Barack Obama is a champion evil-doer.

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

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

Direct download: 20111221_gf_ObamaDetention.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EDT

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

Mumia Abu Jamal’s life and work is testament to the need to put political prisoners at the top of the agendas of movements for change. “Political prisoners have much experience with the legal system, the police, the entire apparatus of surveillance and incarceration, all of which is essential knowledge for those now entering political activism for the first time.” Besides, “We wouldn’t do half bad by replacing some of the Dysons, Simmons and Sharptons with folks like Ashanti Alston, Mutulu Shakur and Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoats.”

 

Political Prisoners: Lessons for Occupationists and Us All

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

We need to encourage a renewed focus on the politically incarcerated because we are likely to see those ranks increase.”

After this week's rally for Mumia Abu-Jamal in Philadelphia, at which much of the focus was his being removed from death row, at least one thing has again been made clear; going forward all movement building must deeply involve the plight of political prisoners. This point was made several ways by several different speakers, including Cornel West who described the more than 30 years of this particular fight, and Desmond Tutu who cautioned that the move of Mumia from death row was cool but not a real victory – and who better than a veteran of the freedom struggle in Azania to tell us about incomplete “victories.” And there was the tireless Ramona Africa who echoed Tutu’s sentiments by acknowledging that not being in solitary confinement was itself no guarantee of safety, and how Mumia’s enemies considered this move a close second to actual execution since he would now be in general population with “his own kind” and likely, hopefully, to be killed by one of them. So what was a rally and tribute to Mumia was also a lesson to be learned about the kinds of struggle required, a lesson we all can use at this time of outspoken frustration with the current world.

There are at least three reasons for aggressively including the politically incarcerated: 1) Their experience, 2) their analysis and 3) the standard they establish for the rest of us. Their experience as conscious actors for liberation, as activists, journalists and soldiers needs to be studied and incorporated by the emerging campaigners in and out of these occupations. Their analyses having gone through decades of political struggle can only help shape the evolving activities here and around the world. And as long as they remain locked up political prisoners serve as permanent reminders of an absence of real change. Especially now as the current president worsens the previously set precedent of denying civil liberties and constitutional rights and as more and more new initiates to social movement occupy political activity we need to encourage a renewed focus on the politically incarcerated because we are likely to see those ranks increase.

To the first point, political prisoners have tremendous reservoirs of knowledge regarding struggle with the state. They have decades worth of time to reflect on their successes and failures, on what did and did not work and why. Political prisoners have as much experience with the legal system, the police, the entire apparatus of surveillance and incarceration, all of which is essential knowledge for those now entering political activism for the first time.Mumia has himself penned a number of books, including a recent one dealing particularly with jailhouse lawyering, but simply studying the legal case of any political prisoner becomes a painful and detailed lesson in the function of “law.”

As long as they remain locked up political prisoners serve as permanent reminders of an absence of real change.”

Secondly, the analyses that come out of all this experience are essential. Who better to guide us through the web of radical thought and organization than political prisoners? Who better than they to offer guidance in grappling – on an organizational level – with issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and radical implementation of radical theories? And especially for this still largely White occupation effort, there is simply no reason for people like Michael Moore and Naomi Klein to speak on their behalf while Claude Marks, David Gilbert and Laura Whitehorn are still here. And while these folks should and do speak to the rest of us we wouldn’t do half bad by replacing some of the Dysons, Simmons and Sharptons with folks like Ashanti Alston, Mutulu Shakur and Russell “Maroon” Shoats.

And again, lastly, their standard of commitment, action, study and continued incarceration allows political prisoners to serve even further as liberation guideposts. Let theirs be the standard upon which we determine success and upon which we judge ours or their actions. And let their lack of freedom be genuine reminders of our own.

So even in death former political prisoner Safiya Bukhari continues to teach through her work and her legacy. As she said, “The issue of political prisoners is part of [the] movement that we are building, and in building that movement we must understand that this is not a separate issue. It is an integral part of that movement. It can’t be put in front of the movement and it can’t be an afterthought. It must be woven into the very fiber.”

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto and is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. He can be reached viaIMIXWHATILIKE.ORG.

Direct download: 20111214_jb_PoliticalPrisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With his claim to the right to kill and indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial, President Obama “has crossed a Constitutional Rubicon that would have been beyond the capacity of George Bush or any white Republican.” The groundwork for Obama’s nullification of the rule of law was laid through federal “prosecutions whose sole purpose has been to establish that there exists an ‘enemy within’ U.S. borders, that it is largely Black as well as Muslim, and which requires a greatly expanded police state with extraordinary powers.”

 

The Racist Roots of Obama’s Preventive Detention

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The national security state has proven adept at using race, ethnicity and class like battering rams to demolish Constitutional protections.”

It should have been clear that the United States was on the road to preventive detention of U.S. citizens back in 2006, when the federal government went after the so-called Liberty City Seven, Black men from Miami’s poorest ghetto who were charged with plotting terrorist attacks. With unrelenting zeal, the U.S. Justice Department pressed the case that men who were too poor to escape their own devastated neighborhood – some of whom were actually homeless – represented a grave danger to the United States. They were charged with plotting to bring down the Sears Tower, even though only one of them had ever been to Chicago, and none knew anything about explosives. It took three trials to convict five of the Liberty City Seven, who were sent to prison during President Obama’s first year in office. They have since been joined by the Newburgh 4 and many others, in prosecutions whose sole purpose has been to establish that there exists an “enemy within” U.S. borders, that it is largely Black as well as Muslim, and which requires a greatly expanded police state with extraordinary powers.

Before one can successfully eviscerate the Constitution in the name of national security, one must first demonstrate to the public that there exists a class of people for whom the new laws are intended, fellow citizens whose presence is such a danger to society that the rule of law as previously understood should no longer apply. Under George Bush and Barack Obama, the FBI has dedicated vast resources to conjuring up the specter of dark and dangerous internal enemies – with an emphasis on “dark.” The FBI chose to troll its informants and their fishhooks dangling with money among the poor of the Liberty Citys and Newburgh New York’s of the nation, creating a profile of the kind of people that the law should not protect. Under both Republicans and Democrats, the national security state has proven adept at using race, ethnicity and class like battering rams to demolish Constitutional protections.

Once Obama took unto himself the power to assassinate his fellow Americans without trial or charge, preventive detention of citizens became inevitable.”

It is a great historical ironA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With his claim to the right to kill and indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial, President Obama “has crossed a Constitutional Rubicon that would have been beyond the capacity of George Bush or any white Republican.” The groundwork for Obama’s nullification of the rule of law was laid through federal “prosecutions whose sole purpose has been to establish that there exists an ‘enemy within’ U.S. borders, that it is largely Black as well as Muslim, and which requires a greatly expanded police state with extraordinary powers.”

 

The Racist Roots of Obama’s Preventive Detention

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The national security state has proven adept at using race, ethnicity and class like battering rams to demolish Constitutional protections.”

It should have been clear that the United States was on the road to preventive detention of U.S. citizens back in 2006, when the federal government went after the so-called Liberty City Seven, Black men from Miami’s poorest ghetto who were charged with plotting terrorist attacks. With unrelenting zeal, the U.S. Justice Department pressed the case that men who were too poor to escape their own devastated neighborhood – some of whom were actually homeless – represented a grave danger to the United States. They were charged with plotting to bring down the Sears Tower, even though only one of them had ever been to Chicago, and none knew anything about explosives. It took three trials to convict five of the Liberty City Seven, who were sent to prison during President Obama’s first year in office. They have since been joined by the Newburgh 4 and many others, in prosecutions whose sole purpose has been to establish that there exists an “enemy within” U.S. borders, that it is largely Black as well as Muslim, and which requires a greatly expanded police state with extraordinary powers.

Before one can successfully eviscerate the Constitution in the name of national security, one must first demonstrate to the public that there exists a class of people for whom the new laws are intended, fellow citizens whose presence is such a danger to society that the rule of law as previously understood should no longer apply. Under George Bush and Barack Obama, the FBI has dedicated vast resources to conjuring up the specter of dark and dangerous internal enemies – with an emphasis on “dark.” The FBI chose to troll its informants and their fishhooks dangling with money among the poor of the Liberty Citys and Newburgh New York’s of the nation, creating a profile of the kind of people that the law should not protect. Under both Republicans and Democrats, the national security state has proven adept at using race, ethnicity and class like battering rams to demolish Constitutional protections.

“Once Obama took unto hiA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With his claim to the right to kill and indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial, President Obama “has crossed a Constitutional Rubicon that would have been beyond the capacity of George Bush or any white Republican.” The groundwork for Obama’s nullification of the rule of law was laid through federal “prosecutions whose sole purpose has been to establish that there exists an ‘enemy within’ U.S. borders, that it is largely Black as well as Muslim, and which requires a greatly expanded police state with extraordinary powers.”

 

The Racist Roots of Obama’s Preventive Detention

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The national security state has proven adept at using race, ethnicity and class like battering rams to demolish Constitutional protections.”

It should have been clear that the United States was on the road to preventive detention of U.S. citizens back in 2006, when the federal government went after the so-called Liberty City Seven, Black men from Miami’s poorest ghetto who were charged with plotting terrorA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With his claim to the right to kill and indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial, President Obama “has crossed a Constitutional Rubicon that would have been beyond the capacity of George Bush or any white Republican.” The groundwork for Obama’s nullification of the rule of law was laid through federal “prosecutions whose sole purpose has been to establish that there exists an ‘enemy within’ U.S. borders, that it is largely Black as well as Muslim, and which requires a greatly expanded police state with extraordinary powers.”

 

The Racist Roots of Obama’s Preventive Detention

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The national security state has proven adept at using race, ethnicity and class like battering rams to demolish Constitutional protections.”

It should have been clear that the United States was on the road to preventive detention of U.S. citizens back in 2006, when the federal government went after the so-called Liberty City Seven, Black men from Miami’s poorest ghetto who were charged with plotting terrorist attacks. With unrelenting zeal, the U.S. Justice Department pressed the case that men who were too poor to escape their own devastated neighborhood – some of whom were actually homeless – represented a grave danger to the United States. They were charged with plotting to bring down the Sears Tower, even though only one of them had ever been to Chicago, and none knew anything about explosives. It took three trials to convict five of the Liberty City Seven, who were sent to prison during President Obama’s first year in office. They have since been joined by the Newburgh 4 and many others, in prosecutions whose sole purpose has been to establish that there exists an “enemy within” U.S. borders, that it is largely Black as well as Muslim, and which requires a greatly expanded police state with extraordinary powers.

Before one can successfully eviscerate the Constitution in the name of national security, one must first demonstrate to the public that there exists a class of people for whom the new laws are intended, fellow citizens whose presence is such a danger to society that the rule of law as previously understood should no longer apply. Under George Bush and Barack Obama, the FBI has dedicated vast resources to conjuring up the specter of dark and dangerous internal enemies – with an emphasis on “dark.” The FBI chose to troll its informants and their fishhooks dangling with money among the poor of the Liberty Citys and Newburgh New York’s of the nation, creating a profile of the kind of people that the law should not protect. Under both Republicans and Democrats, the national security state has proven adept at using race, ethnicity and class like battering rams to demolish Constitutional protections.

“Once Obama took unto himself the power to assassinate his fellow Americans without trial or charge, preventive detention of citizens became inevitable.”

It is a great historical irony that the election of the First Black President has vastly accelerated the assault on the most elementary rights to due process – rights without which the rule of law simply disappears. A man who looks like the ethnic group that is most opposed to abuses of state power, a constitutional lawyer from the group that has suffered the most from arbitrary imprisonment, is leading the charge towards indefinite preventive detention of U.S. citizens. Barack Obama announced his principled support for preventive detention only a few months into his term, in the spring of 2009. He didn’t specifically include U.S. citizens in his framework of detention, back then, but once Obama took unto himself the power to assassinate his fellow Americans without trial or charge, preventive detention of citizens became inevitable. Obama has crossed a Constitutional Rubicon that would have been beyond the capacity of George Bush or any white Republican. He is, by these deeds alone, the most effective evil on the political scene, today. But Obama's nullification of the rule of law was ultimately made possible because this country remains so eager to deny Constitutional protections to Black and poor people, like the Liberty City Seven. Its citizens will sacrifice their own freedoms, just to spite the rights of darker people. And that is how they will lose those freedoms.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.ist attacks. With unrelenting zeal, the U.S. Justice Department pressed the case that men who were too poor to escape their own devastated neighborhood – some of whom were actually homeless – represented a grave danger to the United States. They were charged with plotting to bring down the Sears Tower, even though only one of them had ever been to Chicago, and none knew anything about explosives. It took three trials to convict five of the Liberty City Seven, who were sent to prison during President Obama’s first year in office. They have since been joined by the Newburgh 4 and many others, in prosecutions whose sole purpose has been to establish that there exists an “enemy within” U.S. borders, that it is largely Black as well as Muslim, and which requires a greatly expanded police state with extraordinary powers.

Before one can successfully eviscerate the Constitution in the name of national security, one must first demonstrate to the public that there exists a class of people for whom the new laws are intended, fellow citizens whose presence is such a danger to society that the rule of law as previously understood should no longer apply. Under George Bush and Barack Obama, the FBI has dedicated vast resources to conjuring up the specter of dark and dangerous internal enemies – with an emphasis on “dark.” The FBI chose to troll its informants and their fishhooks dangling with money among the poor of the Liberty Citys and Newburgh New York’s of the nation, creating a profile of the kind of people that the law should not protect. Under both Republicans and Democrats, the national security state has proven adept at using race, ethnicity and class like battering rams to demolish Constitutional protections.

“Once Obama took unto himself the power to assassinate his fellow Americans without trial or charge, preventive detention of citizens became inevitable.”

It is a great historical irony that the election of the First Black President has vastly accelerated the assault on the most elementary rights to due process – rights without which the rule of law simply disappears. A man who looks like the ethnic group that is most opposed to abuses of state power, a constitutional lawyer from the group that has suffered the most from arbitrary imprisonment, is leading the charge towards indefinite preventive detention of U.S. citizens. Barack Obama announced his principled support for preventive detention only a few months into his term, in the spring of 2009. He didn’t specifically include U.S. citizens in his framework of detention, back then, but once Obama took unto himself the power to assassinate his fellow Americans without trial or charge, preventive detention of citizens became inevitable. Obama has crossed a Constitutional Rubicon that would have been beyond the capacity of George Bush or any white Republican. He is, by these deeds alone, the most effective evil on the political scene, today. But Obama's nullification of the rule of law was ultimately made possible because this country remains so eager to deny Constitutional protections to Black and poor people, like the Liberty City Seven. Its citizens will sacrifice their own freedoms, just to spite the rights of darker people. And that is how they will lose those freedoms.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.mself the power to assassinate his fellow Americans without trial or charge, preventive detention of citizens became inevitable.”

It is a great historical irony that the election of the First Black President has vastly accelerated the assault on the most elementary rights to due process – rights without which the rule of law simply disappears. A man who looks like the ethnic group that is most opposed to abuses of state power, a constitutional lawyer from the group that has suffered the most from arbitrary imprisonment, is leading the charge towards indefinite preventive detention of U.S. citizens. Barack Obama announced his principled support for preventive detention only a few months into his term, in the spring of 2009. He didn’t specifically include U.S. citizens in his framework of detention, back then, but once Obama took unto himself the power to assassinate his fellow Americans without trial or charge, preventive detention of citizens became inevitable. Obama has crossed a Constitutional Rubicon that would have been beyond the capacity of George Bush or any white Republican. He is, by these deeds alone, the most effective evil on the political scene, today. But Obama's nullification of the rule of law was ultimately made possible because this country remains so eager to deny Constitutional protections to Black and poor people, like the Liberty City Seven. Its citizens will sacrifice their own freedoms, just to spite the rights of darker people. And that is how they will lose those freedoms.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.y that the election of the First Black President has vastly accelerated the assault on the most elementary rights to due process – rights without which the rule of law simply disappears. A man who looks like the ethnic group that is most opposed to abuses of state power, a constitutional lawyer from the group that has suffered the most from arbitrary imprisonment, is leading the charge towards indefinite preventive detention of U.S. citizens. Barack Obama announced his principled support for preventive detention only a few months into his term, in the spring of 2009. He didn’t specifically include U.S. citizens in his framework of detention, back then, but once Obama took unto himself the power to assassinate his fellow Americans without trial or charge, preventive detention of citizens became inevitable. Obama has crossed a Constitutional Rubicon that would have been beyond the capacity of George Bush or any white Republican. He is, by these deeds alone, the most effective evil on the political scene, today. But Obama's nullification of the rule of law was ultimately made possible because this country remains so eager to deny Constitutional protections to Black and poor people, like the Liberty City Seven. Its citizens will sacrifice their own freedoms, just to spite the rights of darker people. And that is how they will lose those freedoms.

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

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

Direct download: 20111214_gf_PreventiveDetention.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Arab Spring was not allowed to get very far before the Arab Counter-Revolution pounced, first on Libya, now on Syria, to reconfigure the region by military means and, thus, make it safe for the various members of the imperial club. The Americans and their European and Arab allies are seeking Syrian territory to place under their “humanitarian” shield – a “liberated” city like Libya’s Benghazi for them to “defend.”

 

Lesson of the Arab Counter-Revolution: Syrian Must Allow No Benghazis

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Counter-revolution, or, in the case of the Arab Spring, the crackdown on the very idea of a revolution, is always bloody.”

A year ago this month, the Arab Spring began in Tunisia, sending the United States, the old colonial powers of Europe, and the royal rulers of the Persian Gulf into sheer panic. The imperialists and hereditary potentates were visibly shaken at the prospect that mass movements in Tunisia and Egypt might spread throughout the Arab world, where the United States is deservedly despised by most of the public. After the old and moldy President Mubarak was removed from office by the Egyptian army, it became common to hear the Arab Spring upgraded to the Arab “Revolution.” But of course, that was very much premature, the kind of declaration that comes out of the mouths of people who are either delirious or have no idea what revolutions are all about. The imperialists and their allies, however, understand very well that the nature of revolution is to remove their fingers from the levers of power, to strip them of their wealth, and to punish them for the crimes they have committed. Revolution is more than a feeling. As Malcolm X said, “You haven’t got a revolution that doesn’t involve bloodshed.” And the primary reason for that is, the people who have wealth and power and know that they are guilty of unspeakable crimes will shed oceans of blood to avoid being overthrown. They will also throw a lackey or two of theirs to the mob, so as to give the people a feeling of victory. But, as I said, revolution is more than a feeling.

Counter-revolution, or, in the case of the Arab Spring, the crackdown on the very idea of a revolution, is always bloody. Often, it is a great display of blood, to remind the people of the real nature of power. By late January of this year, the United States and its European allies and the filthy rich royal parasites of the Persian Gulf had a game plan to make sure the Arab Spring was a very short season. NATO, with President Obama “leading from behind,” launched a counter-revolution with industrial-strength Shock and Awe, attacking a developing desert country of six million people with enough firepower to bring down a mid-size industrial nation. But the conquest took almost nine months, because Libya was defended by the most courageous little army in the world, heroes who braved death from the skies with no cover to hide them, and no hope of inflicting casualties on the Euro-Americans.

Syria faces the same cast of murderous characters that destroyed Libya.”

It is easy for American and European governments to justify to their people any atrocity, any war crime, any theft of sovereignty committed against Arabs and Africans and Asians. The official western narrative for the Libyan aggression was that NATO was obligated to save the city of Benghazi from Muammar Gaddafi. Now Syria faces the same cast of murderous characters that destroyed Libya. It is Act Two in the counter-revolution to short-circuit the Arab Spring. The Syrian regime is denounced, even by formerly friendly nations, for refusing to withdraw its forces from those cities that have seen the worst bloodshed. But, if Libya provides any lesson, it is that the Americans, the French and their Arab allies will kill many tens of thousands and destroy the country entirely if they are allowed even the smallest excuse to declare some part of Syria a “liberated area” deserving of support from NATO warplanes and missiles. Therefore, the Syrians must resolve that they give up not one inch of territory, that there be no cities – not even a small one – in the hands of the opposition. In short, no Benghazis.

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

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

Direct download: 20111214_gf_ArabSpring.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:43am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama claims that bailing out the banks “infuriated” him. Lucky for them. “When Obama supposedly got furious at the banks, he put the whole government and the Federal Reserve at their beck and call and funneled more than $16 trillion into their accounts.” We could all profit by becoming the objects of Obama’s rage. He also imagines he’s Teddy Roosevelt – except for the fact that Obama, as president, has never shown the slightest inclination to bust up monopolies.

 

Obama: The “Trust-Buster” Who Never Busted a Trust

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Apparently, it pays big time to get Barack Obama ‘infuriated.’”

President Obama thinks he can win reelection by running the same hoax on his Democratic base as he did in 2008: flavoring his speeches with progressive sounding rhetoric while tightening the bankers’ grip on government and continuing his pursuit a “grand bargain” with the Republicans. In his speech on Tuesday in Kansas, Obama depicted himself as the reincarnation of President Teddy Roosevelt, known as a corporate “trust-buster” at the turn of the 20th century. But Obama is no trust-buster. He has never busted a corporate monopoly. His administration approved the merger of Comcast and NBC, consolidating even an bigger monopoly and giving the lie to his 2008 campaign promise to reinvigorate anti-trust enforcement.

The Obama m.o. is to talk a progressive game and then do just the opposite. He claims he found it “infuriating” to rescue the banks from collapse when he came to office. If that’s the case, then the best thing that could happen to Black people would be for Obama to get absolutely furious at us – and then the trillions would flow. When Obama supposedly got furious at the banks, he put the whole government and the Federal Reserve at their beck and call and funneled more than $16 trillion into their accounts. Apparently, it pays big time to get Barack Obama “infuriated.” If he gets mad enough at you, he’ll open up the windows at the Federal Reserve and hand out trillions of dollars in interest-free loans. Then, if you’re a bank that he’s really mad at, you can take the people’s money and buy U.S. Treasury bonds and get a healthy return on your cost-free investment.

Obama’s own pitiful program to keep families in their homes was a colossal failure that helped only a fraction.”

In Kansas, Obama claimed that his so-called banking reform legislation will funnel money to “families who want to buy a home or send their kids to college.” We’ve seen no evidence of that happening. But Obama did make sure that his “reforms” did nothing to upset the Wall Street derivatives casino that is now notionally valued at at least $600 trillion – about the same as it was before the 2008 meltdown and bailout. $600 trillion is roughly ten times the value of all the yearly goods and services produced by every man woman and child in the world. It is a ticking time bomb that will inevitably bring down the real world economy if it is not defused. Apparently, that makes Obama absolutely paralyzed with rage.

Obama says the banks “should be remedying past mortgage abuses that led to the financial crisis, and working to keep responsible homeowners in their home.” It’s nice to hear what he thinks banks “should” be doing, but he didn’t use his presidential clout to compel them to do much of anything to change their ways, even when he could, back when Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress. And Obama’s own pitiful program to keep families in their homes was a colossal failure that helped only a fraction. Perhaps Obama is now infuriated with himself.

Throughout his Wizard of Oz Kansas speech, Obama attempted to put moral and philosophical distance between himself and the Republicans. But this is not 2008. Anyone with eyes and ears and a memory now knows that Obama is a true believer in the old time deficit cutting religion, a disciple of austerity, a man who wants nothing more than to join hands with the GOP to gut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Obama is a charlatan who cites the deeds of dead presidents but pursues policies that are directly the opposite. In other words, he is a very elaborate liar.

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

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

Direct download: 20111207_gf_ObamaSpeech.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:48am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The United States and its allies have moved on to attempts at regime change in Syria, leaving the humanitarian crisis NATO created in Libya to fester. Thousands of mainly black prisoners languish in the jails and detention centers of various Libyan militias, out of reach of any central authority. “Detainees have been burned with cigarettes, beaten on their feet, hung by their arms, had their finger and toenails pulled out, and otherwise tortured.”

Libya Still a Killing Zone

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is no real government in Libya, no central authority to safeguard the lives of prisoners held because of their politics, or their color, or for no clear reason at all.”

At least 7,000 prisoners are held without benefit of law by various armed elements in Libya, suspected of having connections to slain leader Muammar Gaddafi. According to a report by the office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, most of the prisoners are black migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa. Others are black Libyans. The new regime, that was bombed into power by NATO after a green light from the UN Security Council, doesn’t make distinctions between black Libyan citizens and foreign blacks – they are all “slaves” and inferiors as far as the former rebels are concerned.

A doctor who is among the prisoners told reporters that detainees have been burned with cigarettes, beaten on their feet, hung by their arms, had their finger and toenails pulled out, and otherwise tortured. Those who were captured may be considered to be the lucky ones. Untold thousands have been massacred or simply disappeared. As one Nigerian man who lives in Libya said, “The Libyan rebels consider the blacks as their enemies and decided to kill any black man they come across.” A black Libyan who lived in Bani Walid, one of the last outposts of resistance to NATO and the rebels, said: “Anyone who tells the truth in Libya gets slaughtered.”

The former rebels cling to the lie, that Colonel Gaddafi employed legions of black mercenaries to keep him in power. Even the human rights groups that vilified Gaddafi’s regime now admit the mercenary stories were false, fictions that were reported as fact by virtually all of the western corporate media.

Those who were captured may be considered to be the lucky ones.”

There is no real government in Libya, no central authority to safeguard the lives of prisoners held because of their politics, or their color, or for no clear reason at all. Rebel military units from various cities hold the prisoners in makeshift jails and detention centers. Among the most aggressive armed factions hails from Misurata, whose brigades waged a long siege of the black town of Tawurgha, once home to 30,000 people. Tawurgha has now disappeared, its people dispersed or detained or dead.

The UN Secretary General says he believes, in the absence of any evidence, that “the leaders of the new Libya are indeed committed to building a society based on respect for human rights." The International Criminal Court, which was brandishing warrants for the arrest of Gaddafi and members of his government months before NATO established control over the country, is blind to the blatant ethnic cleansing, political persecutions and imprisonments, and rapes of displaced women that are ongoing in Libya. The same goes for most of the European and North American media, many of which continue to insist that NATO’s Libyan allies are freedom fighters, even though many of the one-time rebels are clearly Islamic jihadists who reject any formula for governing Libya that bears any resemblance to western notions of democracy.

Six hundred Libyan gunmen are said to have traveled to Syria to wage war against the government, there. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council has demanded measures to “protect” the Syrian people from their own government, language reminiscent of the UN Security Council resolution that ultimately plunged Libya into hell. And the Security Council has just tightened sanctions against Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa, another nation marked for regime change by the United States.

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

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

Direct download: 20111207_gf_LibyaAndSyria.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:08am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Clint Eastwood’s new movie is an attempt to sanitize J. Edgar Hoover’s dirty war to keep white men “atop the social pyramid.” It is also an apartheid film. “We get nothing of his concern over The Black Panther Party, or the surveillance and deportation of people like Claudia Jones and C.L.R. James, or culpability in the killings of say, Malcolm X and Fred Hampton (to name but a few).” It makes the case for a justifiable police state, in which “Hoover is cast positively as a much needed and tough organizer of law enforcement, a protege of Attorney General Palmer's raids against the violent radical terrorists of their day.”

 

J. Edgar and the Terrorism of Film

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Hoover returns even in death to remind the liberal, the affluent, the White that their place atop the social pyramid is legitimate and must be protected by any means necessary.”

J. Edgar, the new film by Clint Eastwood, is a real horror film, it is an act of violence, an act of terrorism. The film's careful construction of FBI founding father J. Edgar Hoover as a flawed but justifiable hero rather than an individual villain performing the tasks of a villainous institution has hit theaters with the precision timing of a predator drone strike and with similar political design. As old antagonisms produce new and threatening responses, as new generations emerge taking their turn asking serious questions about the planet, equality, justice and self-determination, be they occupiers or decolonizers, Hoover returns even in death to remind the liberal, the affluent, the White that their place atop the social pyramid is legitimate and must be protected by any means necessary. And no matter what they say they love him for it.

And that is why so much of the discussion surrounding the film has focused on its award-worthy acting or Hoover's sex life. A willful ignorance allows such a political monstrosity to be admired. From the beginning Hoover is cast positively as a much needed and tough organizer of law enforcement, a protege of Attorney General Palmer's raids against the violent radical terrorists of their day. And true to the form and function of mainstream media those dissidents are given no context, description, or honest reflection. The Bolsheviks, anarchists and labor movement activists are barely mentioned and only at all to give Hoover legitimacy in his own desire to catalogue and monitor every citizen and then to deport, falsely imprison or assassinate those he deems threats to national security. And, of course, only their violence is real violence. Certainly the violence of capital exploitation and imperial wars are not called into question. No. Only the actions of enemies are questionable. What ultimately stands unchallenged is the righteous attempt, even if imperfectly executed, of the state and Hoover to bring order to police work and to a society destined by the divine to be supremely White and capitalist.

The Bolsheviks, anarchists and labor movement activists are barely mentioned and only to give Hoover legitimacy.”

So for White radicals the film has only brief mention and dismissal. Black activists don't even appear. But why should they? The White radicals, like Emma Goldman, only briefly hit the screen to justify today's hostility to immigrants and so-called anti-terrorism campaigns. Goldman's on-screen deportation and the only passing reference to the assassinated anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, who are never mentioned by name only as the "two Italians," serve only to convey legitimacy to Hoover in the past and the targeted killings, detentions and anti-immigration policies of the present. Deport those you cannot kill. That completed there is no need then to even reference, for instance, Hubert Henry Harrison or Marcus Garvey both of whom were early targets of Hoover and called by him, "race pimps" and "notorious Negro agitator(s)."

And because of an otherwise inexplicable need of this film to dwell on the mundane aspects of mundane aspects of Hoover's career the film allows itself to simply run out of time. So countless minutes spent on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping - without any discussion of Charles Lindbergh's beliefs in eugenics and Nazism - along with an intimate look at Hoover's personal life with his mother and his male companion assure that we get nothing of his concern over The Black Panther Party, or the surveillance and deportation of people like Claudia Jones and C.L.R. James, or culpability in the killings of say, Malcolm X and Fred Hampton (to name but a few). Dr. King only appears as pornographic background, his politics and assassination apparently irrelevant. And the word "counterintelligence" is mentioned in the film only once but not as Hoover's Counter Intelligence Program and certainly with no discussion of that program’s continued impact. So, therefore, no mention could then be made of Hoover's direct involvement in framing Black radicals for crimes they did not commit but for which some still suffer incarceration, right now, in 2011.

Particularly at a time of expanded police and military power and the deep charm of an imperial president this film reads as a violent assault against history meant to terrorize today's audiences by reinforcing either an irrational fear of the state or an equally irrational justification for what the state does out of self-preservation. It is no mere historical drama, it is a blatant warning for today. Immigrants and radicals are to be monitored, deported, killed or imprisoned and it is all for the greater good that is the United States.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball. Online check us out at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto and is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University. He can be reached via IMIXWHATILIKE.ORG.

Direct download: 20111207_jb_JEdgar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41am EDT