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

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The president's announcement favoring the right of same sex couples to marry is long overdue and better than nothing. But it doesn't make him a fearless warrior for human rights, any more than Henry Kissinger's Nobel Peace Prize makes him Mahatma Gandhi.

Obama's No-Risk Drive-By On Gay Marriage

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Marriage is a legal and human right that same sex couples and their families need, want and deserve. “

President Obama's belated declaration in favor of same sex marriage was not an act of political courage. Courage is risky and the president put nothing on the line he could lose. It wasn't about leadership, because Barack Obama arrived after and not before most of his party and most of the country. Barack Obama did a presidential drive-by, a mock-assault in which he rolled by and sprayed a clip full of rhetorical blanks in the general direction of the foes of equal rights at no risk to himself and without targeting anything in particular.

Think about it. If this had been a Republican president, say Reagan or Bush, making the opposite announcement, it would have been accompanied with a fistful of new executive branch regulations, a couple new bills for introduction in Congress, and a proposed constitutional amendment. Almost a week later, Obama is finally suggesting that repeal of the odious Defense of Marriage Act would be a good idea. But don't wait up for his people in Congress to introduce it.

Make no mistake, Obama's announcement is better than nothing. Marriage is a legal and human right that same sex couples and their families need, want and deserve. Without it, same sex partners can't visit each other in hospitals, can't get medical coverage for spouses, cannot make emergency medical decisions for each other and their survivors and children are not guaranteed access to joint assets, pensions or survivors benefits when one partner dies, and they have no access to divorce courts when coiuples break up.

This is crucially important because divorce courts are the only legal proceedings where the objective is equitable distribution of assets along with the best interests of children. Without access to divorce court the high earner in a same sex couple can pocket the lion's share of assets and walk away. Child support? If gay couples can't legally adopt or marry, don't count on it.

The president's announcement satisfied a constituency that was mostly his already, and that makes significant campaign contributions as well. Some of his other supporters might grumble, but none of them will bolt. ”

Obama's belated announcement on gay marriage is good. It's just not all that good. Marriage is the overwhelming priority of well-off white gays. But the rest of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have other pressing issues.

If you're a gay teenager, your big problem might be having a place to live and attend school, how to stay out of the juvenile system after your parents kick you out or after your school turns a blind eye when you get beat down. If you're a gay or transgender adult, you might live in fear that your landlord or boss will discover your identity and fire or evict you. If you're gay or transgender and homeless, there are shelter and agencies who simply won't deal with you, and if you're in the custody of adult or juvenile correctional institutions, you've got special problems as well.

The president's announcement satisfied a constituency that was mostly his already, and that makes significant campaign contributions as well. Some of his other supporters might grumble, but none of them will bolt. So politically, it was a no-risk, no-lose proposition, and it gives staunch Obamaphiles still another halo, this one in rainbow colors, to hang on the head of their shining black prince.

So while the president's announcement in favor of gay marriage really IS a good thing, it doesn't make him a fearless warrior for human rights any more than his tainted Nobel Peace Prize made him Martin Luther King. After all, Henry Kissinger F.W. DeKlerk have those too.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120516_bd_obama_gay_marriage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:18pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The administration imposed the most draconian police state legal structures in U.S. history summoning the heads of NATO to Chicago. The pact accounts for 70 percent of military spending on the planet – combining the capacities of yesterday’s imperialists and the current superpower. “The Black man in the White House is seen, ironically, as the last best hope of the old colonial racial order and the rule of capital.”

 

The Empire Holds Its War Council in Chicago

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

U.S. anti-war movement now confronts a growing fascist infrastructure here at home, as it opposes imperial crimes, abroad.”

If anyone has doubts about what it means here at home when the U.S. seeks to militarily dominate the world, take a trip to Chicago, this week. There, you’ll see the Chicago police, the second largest force in the country, reinforced by cops from Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Charlotte, North Carolina, and backed up by two high decibel noise machines that were first used against American civilians in Pittsburgh to blow out the eardrums of protesters, back in 2009. Overall security for the NATO summit meeting is overseen by the FBI and the Secret Service, who in recent months have been given unprecedented police state powers, thanks to President Obama and a bipartisan Congress.

With dignitaries on hand from the more than 50 countries that have done Washington’s bidding in Afghanistan, there will be lots of opportunities for the feds to invoke their new powers to put demonstrators in prison for up to ten years if they set foot on property containing any person under the protection of the Secret Service. That could include huge chunks of the city. And, of course, who knows what kinds of plots the FBI is conjuring up through its squads of agent provocateurs embedded in the ranks of demonstrators. Thanks to the preventive detention without trial legislation signed into law by President Obama this past New Year’s Eve, every American has lost her Constitutional right to due process of law. Which means that a reconfigured and far more principled U.S. anti-war movement now confronts a growing fascist infrastructure here at home, as it opposes imperial crimes, abroad.

Obama has drawn closely to his side the old imperialists of Europe.”

The Chicago police claim they don’t plan to turn the eardrum-busting sound cannons on full volume against the demonstrators – just loud enough to convey “messages” to the crowd. The protesters are sending their own message, one that has become far more popular and general than could have been imagined, a year ago. Since the emergence of the Occupy movement, last October, millions of Americans have come to understand what Latin American peasants have always known: that the nexus of war in the world is Wall Street, and the Pentagon is its servant – as is the White House and most of the Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. War is waged for the purpose of global economic subjugation and, therefore, peace can only be won by dethroning the financial bad guys: the Lords of Capital. So, much of the peace movement now sees itself as an expression of the 99 Percent, against the warlike and greedy 1 Percent.

Once that lesson is learned, it cannot be shouted out by police sound-blasters.

President Obama has made skillful use of NATO, to make it appear that he is not a go-it-alone cowboy, like George Bush. Obama has drawn closely to his side the old imperialists of Europe, who looted and pillaged the earth for five hundred years, establishing the planetary racial hierarchy that has only recently begun to crumble. The Black man in the White House is seen, ironically, as the last best hope of the old colonial racial order and the rule of capital. The Global One Percent can only be maintained in power by the U.S. war machine. Ultimately, the world needs only one thing from the American people: that they dismantle the machine.

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: 20120516_gf_ChicagoDemos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41am EDT

The United States: An Impoverished, Delusional Society

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

When Europeans resist corporate austerity measures, they are struggling to avoid “being forced to live like most Americans, at the total mercy of the rich.” The U.S. safety net hardly exists. The “American way of life” is a state of profound insecurity and social disconnectedness.

 

The United States: An Impoverished, Delusional Society

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Europe is headed for deep turmoil because Europeans have something to defend.”

Thanks to the U.S. corporate media’s great skills of obfuscation, omission and just plain lying, Americans are quite confused about the political and financial crisis in Europe, and what it means on this side of the Atlantic. People in the United States harbor vague fears that the social turmoil they see playing out in European elections and on the streets may come here. This scares them, which is almost funny, in a very sad way, since what European working people are struggling to avoid is being forced to live like most Americans, at the total mercy of the rich.

Europeans are righteously upset because they have something quite precious to lose: a social safety net that provides levels of security that Americans have never experienced, and that many cannot even imagine. Since most overworked or underemployed Americans don’t know how Europeans actually live, they find it difficult to understand what all the fuss is about. U.S. corporate media fill in the vast blanks in American consciousness with slanders against Europe – the relatively comfortable French and the devastated Greeks, alike – branding them all lazy slackers who don’t want to work hard or pay their bills. America’s damn near nonexistent social welfare structure is packaged as a virtue, while the sights and sounds of European protest are made to seem ominous, dangerous, selfish.

Most Americans of modest means don’t travel to countries where the people live better than they do, or are so oblivious that they don’t notice the deep social service networks that underlie these societies. Americans cannot understand, for example, that higher educational achievement is so often tied to strong national compacts among citizens and fundamental notions of social equality – these qualities being absent in American life. CNN is quick to cite figures on European unemployment, but tells its U.S. audience virtually nothing about the social safety net that makes unemployment in Europe a very different experience than being without a job in the United States.

America’s damn near nonexistent social welfare structure is packaged as a virtue.”

A young relative of mine happened to graduate with a professional degree just in time for the 2008 meltdown, which wiped out all the new jobs in his profession. He sought work in France, being fluent in the language, and found it a far more welcoming society than his own. More than half of his rent was subsidized, because the French believe that people younger than 26 should have a chance to begin independent lives without undue burdens. My young Black American relative rode public transportation for half fare, as did his young French peers. While working, he considered getting another professional degree, which would have cost him less than $2,000 a year at a fairly prestigious French school. And he was a foreigner! A French student who had already paid into the health care system, could study for a year for less than $1,000.

My young relative eventually came home – because…well, this is home. It is a materially rich country, but one that is socially impoverished and, frankly, too ignorant to know it. Europe is headed for deep turmoil because Europeans have something to defend. They’ll fight to keep a decent social welfare net. The Americans don’t even know what a minimally just society looks like or feels like. We’ll have to create that society through struggle, and almost from scratch.

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: 20120516_gf_USvEurope.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:22am EDT