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

California NAACP Sells Out to Big Ag on Genetically Modified Foods

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR ,managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

We at Black Agenda Report have been pointing out a long time now that what used to be black and Latino civil rights and civic advocacy organizations have turned a corner and become mouthpieces for their corporate funders.

We called out the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation in 2006, and the National Conference of Black State Legislators in 2007, along with Bobby Rush and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus for siding with AT&T, Verizon and their telecom industry benefactors over their communities who need cheap and ubiquitous broadband. By 2008 we added the Urban League and NAACP to the list, along with Al Sharpton and his National Action Network for joining the corporate crusade to first cripple, then privatize public education. In 2009 and 2010 we've pointed to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's receipt of millions in donations funneled through execs at Georgia Power as its reason for not opposing the placement of leaky nuclear reactors in poor, mostly black Georgia town where most families already have a case or two of cancer.

The list of betrayals of these kinds of outfits of their supposed constituents to their funders is routine and nearly endless. But in California the state NAACP reached a new low in putting the profits of its donors over its supposed responsibilities to the people.

With very little money to spend, local activists succeeded in placing a measure on the California ballot this Tuesday which would have required all genetically modified foods, with a few key exceptions, to be labeled as such. Most of the industrialized world already has laws and regulations like this, which is why much of the stuff on US supermarket shelves cannot be sold in Europe or Japan or even many places in South America. The people in these places call much of what we see in stores every day “frankenfood”. They may be on to something.

Genetically modifications of foodstuffs have never been about increasing yield or enhancing nutrition. They are purely about expanding profits. Genetically modified seeds can be patented and farmers charged yearly royalties for seed they used to save and plant for free each year. They require lots of profitable herbicides and pesticides – in fact some of the genetic modifications make the plants produce their own herbicides and pesticides, which of course we eventually consume.

It's not a subject discussed much in media and not a place where Big Agriculture wants to go. So what do the swells at places like Monsanto do? The same as the nuclear industry, the telecom industry and the people who want to privatize education. They dropped a big check on the California NAACP, and sure enough that august body took a stand against California's Proposition 37.

Never mind that black children are more likely than anyone else to suffer from juvenile onset diabetes, and that studies in other countries have shown clear links between GMO foods and diabetes in children. The so-called leadership model of the modern civil rights organization in this post civil rights era is to front itself as the representative of and obtain its moral legitimacy from the oppressed, but take its funding and its orders from the oppressors. That's why we call them the black misleadership class.

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. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121107_bd_california_naacp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:41pm EDT

America and the Politics of Genocide in Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The genocide in Congo is the deliberate result of American and British policy.”

On Tuesday, the vast majority of African Americans cast their votes for a man whose hands are soaked in the blood of millions of Congolese. Barack Obama, like his predecessors George Bush and Bill Clinton, has pulled the strings, paid the cash, and sent the weapons that Uganda and Rwanda have used to cause the deaths of six million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since invading that country in 1996. Various organs of the United Nations have repeatedly found America’s two top allies in Black Africa complicit in the Congo genocide, and on every occasion, the U.S. and Great Britain have protected the mass murderers. And why not? The genocide in Congo is the deliberate result of American and British policy. Uganda and Rwanda are merely henchmen, who commit mass murder in return for a cut of Congo’s vast stores of mineral resources. Western businesses are the ultimate beneficiaries.

The International Court of Justice found Uganda guilty, in 2005, of killing and torturing Congolese civilians and plundering the country’s resources. Congo asked for $10 billion in reparations, but Uganda has paid nothing. Why should it? Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, was Ronald Reagan’s favorite African dictator and has served U.S. African policy, ever since. Uganda does not act on its own, but as a military asset of the United States. The same goes for Rwanda, which has been repeatedly cited for virtually annexing the eastern Congo in close collaboration with Ugandan forces. Rwanda President Paul Kagame acts as a puppet for U.S. policy in Africa, in return for lavish American military and economic aid and free rein to plunder and kill in the Congo.

Rwanda and Uganda are immune from international law because they do Washington’s bidding, sending troops wherever they are needed to buttress U.S. interests in Africa.

What is a samurai without a lord and master?”

Last week, Uganda pitched a kind of puppet tantrum, threatening to pull its troops out of so-called peace-keeping duties in Somalia. Museveni’s government is angry, because yet another United Nations report has been leaked, showing that Ugandan and Rwandan military officers are directly in charge of the so-called rebels that are wreaking havoc in Congo. This is not a Congolese civil war, but a continuation of a 16-year aggression by its two neighbors, financed and directed by the United States and Britain.

Uganda’s threat to pull out of Somalia has proven to be emptyAfter all, what is a samurai without a lord and master? Uganda’s value to the United States lies in its willingness to kill other Africans on orders from Washington. A Uganda withdrawal from Somalia would amount to going on strike against its employer, the United States – a very dangerous thing to do. Besides, who else is going to employ the Ugandan and Rwandan mercenaries?

By the time the Uganda delegation got to New York, there was no more mention of leaving Somalia, much less a Ugandan disengagement from the U.S. Special Forces units that President Obama sent into the Great Lakes region, last year. Uganda had temporarily forgotten its place as a servant in the neocolonial scheme of things. But, in truth, the Ugandans and Rwandans need not worry about the U.S. cracking down on their genocidal activities in Congo, because that, too, serves America’s purpose: to control Africa by drowning it in chaos and blood.

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: 20121107_gf_UgandaCongoSomalia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17am EDT

A “Triple” Betrayal in South Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

South Africa cannot forever put off the revolution that was left unfinished 18 years ago.”

Since the transition to Black political rule, in 1994, South Africa has been governed by the African National Congress and its partners in the so-called Triple Alliance: the Congress of South African Trade Unions, or COSATU, and the South African Communist Party. It is a complicated and sometimes incestuous alliance, in which membership in the various legs of the triangle is often intertwined. And it is a relationship riddled with contradictions, the most fundamental of which now threaten to plunge South African society into a long night of bloody conflict.

In recent months, about 100,000 mineworkers have found themselves in deadly confrontation, not just with foreign-owned management, but with the South African state; with their own COSATU unions that are aligned with the South African state; and with a Communist Party that behaves as if it is part of the state. The mine workers, who thought the South African struggle had been waged for the benefit of people like themselves, have discovered there is no one to protect their interests, or even their very lives. Last August’s police massacre of 34 striking mine workers, at Marikana, showed that South Africa cannot forever put off the revolution that was left unfinished 18 years ago.

It is infinitely sad to hear Black South African union officials urge police to treat mine workers as “criminals” for demanding a living wage. It is bizarre in the extreme to hear high officials in a party that claims to be communist label workers that want to be represented by a union of their own choosing as “counter-revolutionaries.” Yet that is the madness unfolding in South Africa under the unholy Triple Alliance.

This damnable arrangement benefits a small class of new Black millionaires whose fortunes are tied to white multinational capital.”

Late last month, in Rustenburg, police fired rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse thousands of workers wearing T-shirts in remembrance of the slain Marikana miners and demanding that the police not “get away with murder.” All across the mining regions, workers seeking to organize outside the government-sanctioned unions are hunted down and prosecuted under spurious charges, physically tortured and vilified as enemies of the state and of their own class.

But the mineworkers know something about class warfare and class betrayal. They have seen that their unions, under COSATU, are aligned with a government whose main priority is to keep foreign investors happy, and that will sacrifice the mine workers living standards, their freedoms, and their blood, to keep the system just as it is. And they know that this damnable arrangement benefits a small class of new Black millionaires whose fortunes are tied to white multinational capital.

The great tragedy is that COSATU, the Communist Party and the African National Congress are so deeply embedded in the political culture of South Africa, that it will take a gargantuan struggle to pry loose that which has been hopelessly corrupted and to preserve those legacies worht salvaging. In the process, it seems inevitable that many thousands of Black South Africans will die.

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: 20121107_gf_SouthAfrica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EDT