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

Ben Jealous’ Obscene “Truth and Reconciliation” Proposal

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Ben Jealous wants reconciliation without emancipation of those who sacrificed their youth for our people.”

NAACP chief Ben Jealous hasn’t taken a position on Assata Shakur, the exiled former Black Panther who President Obama’s FBI has elevated to Domestic Terrorist Number One – despite the fact that the grandmother has spent the last 29 years living peacefully in Cuba. Yes, Jealous knows that Shakur was a political prisoner before her escape, charged in the 1973 death of a New Jersey policeman. He told Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman that he thinks the NAACP will have to take a position on Shakur’s case at some point, and that he also feels for the families of the cops who died in New Jersey and in the Brinks robbery, in New York, in 1981. Jealous says he’s most interested in healing the nation from the effects of what he calls “politically motivated violence, on both sides.” What’s needed, he claims, is a kind of “truth and reconciliation commission.”

Ben Jealous’s clear reference is to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, convened in Cape Town, in 1996, by a multiracial cast of notables led by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Commission’s powers were limited to granting amnesty to perpetrators, or offering rehabilitation and reparations to victims. The hearings were quite controversial from the very start, and ultimately produced no political consensus among the races that justice was served.

What is there to conciliate about?”

It is most important to bear in mind that, at that time, an African National Congress government under Nelson Mandela had been in office for two years. The ANC’s political prisoners, including Mandela, himself, had been freed. The Commission could grant amnesty, but not administer punishment – which seemed far from fair to many members of the non-white majority who had been abused in every imaginable way for generations.

It is curious that Ben Jealous thinks this rather ineffective South African medicine can heal America’s racial wounds – especially since, unlike South Africa, and Barack Obama notwithstanding, whites are still firmly in control, here. Our political prisoners remain behind bars – scores of them, many incarcerated for more than 40 years, and some of them still in solitary confinement. What is there to conciliate about? The only decent demand is that they be set free, to enjoy what years they have left among family and comrades on the outside. Ben Jealous wants reconciliation without emancipation of those who sacrificed their youth for our people. In that light, his talk of reconciliation is an obscene diversion from the reality of still-living human beings trapped in perpetuity in America’s dungeons.

Ben Jealous wants peace much more than justice – forgetting that without some semblance of justice, there can be no peace. That’s why he stakes out a position on some fantasized truth and reconciliation scheme before taking a stand on the actual plight of Assata Shakur, on whose head his favorite president has placed a $2 million bounty. Why doesn’t Ben Jealous work his conciliatory charms on Obama, whose assault on human civilization is making conciliation with America more and more impossible for huge segments of the world’s population?

Clearly, the truth is that Ben Jealous has already reconciled himself with evil, and wants the rest of us to “turn the page” while evil is still on the throne. Sounds more like a Reconciliation and Capitulation Commission.

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: 20130605_gf_Reconciliation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:42am EDT

The African Union: Still Subservient After All These Years

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The African Union’s little rebellion against the International Criminal Court simply shows that African leaders understand that the Americans have no loyalties.”

Developments at the recent African Union conference highlight the abject subservience to the West of the vast majority of states on the continent – and African leaders’ occasional attempts to contest their subordinate status. On an independent-minded note, the African Union rebuked the International Criminal Court for its fixation on indicting only Africans for crimes against humanity. Ethiopia’s prime minister, who was also chairman of the AU meeting, said the court’s “process has degenerated into some kind of race hunting rather than the objective of taking care of crimes and impunities.” To drive home the point, the AU voted almost unanimously to ask the court to refer its case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his vice president back to Kenyan courts, saying Kenya had the capacity to adjudicate the matter on its own. Only Botswana objected to the proposal.

The ICC is known to eagerly indict just about anyone – any African, that is – who falls out of favor with the United States. The U.S. clearly favored Uhuru Kenyatta’s opponent in the presidential race, Raila Odinga – which may have been one reason that Kenyans voted the other way. Yet, the AU’s slap in the face of the court and, indirectly, its U.S. backers, is much less than it seems. Kenya remains an unwavering puppet of U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa, having joined in the invasion of neighboring Somalia at Washington’s behest. And Ethiopia and Uganda provide the bulk of the troops occupying Somalia under U.S. direction. On paper, the war in Somalia is an African Union and United Nations mission, but the war is run by the CIA and largely financed by the Europeans. The African Union’s little rebellion against the International Criminal Court simply shows that African leaders understand that the Americans have no loyalties and are capable of turning on any one them when it suits their purposes, and having them tossed into prison by the International Criminal Court. The African heads of state were simply looking out for their own heads.

A continental standing army?”

There was a lot of bluster in Addis Ababa about creating an independent African force to maintain order on the continent. The leaders voted to create an “intervening” military unit to rapidly deal with crises and coup d’etats. That would be followed by creation of a full-fledged African Standby Force – a kind of continental standing army – as early as 2015. AU spokesmen speculated that the force “could be 100 percent” African, in terms of men on the ground. However, it would still need logistical support from the so-called “international community” – a euphemism for the United States and Europe – who are, of course, the sworn enemies of African independence.

The truth is, virtually all the armies of Africa, except for Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Sudan, have become integrated into either U.S. or French military structures, and cannot act independently. African leaders claim they will try to break free by raising taxes on things like airline flights and hotel rooms – but that’s nonsense for home consumption. The African Union’s Peace and Security Commissioner, Ramtane Lamamra, spoke of the “historic nature and scope” of the AU’s tentative moves towards military independence. But they are parakeets in a cage, trying to sound like eagles, fifty years after the formation of the Organization of African Unity.

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: 20130605_AU_Force.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33am EDT