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

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

In official folklore, the US armed forces are the virtuous repositories of honor, probity and moral virtue. But the real history and culture of the US military, from invading Spanish Florida to prevent its being a refuge for escaped slaves, to Wounded Knee, to massacres in Haiti and Central America, to Fallujah and marines pissing on Afghan corpses, are something else altogether.

The US Military: A Global Force, But Not For Good

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

On November 19, 2005 a squad of US Marines murdered 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians including 9 children...”

No State of the Union address is complete without multiple standing-ovation references to the steadfast courage, self-sacrifice and honor of the men and women serving in the uniform of these United States. But while some or all of these characteristics can doubtless be found among active duty members of the US military, they are notably absent among its military and civilian leaders, and consistently contradicted by the military's own longstanding traditions.

On November 19, 2005 a squad of US Marines murdered 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians including 9 children, in cold blood, not with shrapnel or random crossfire, but mostly with well-aimed rifle shots to the head and chest indoors and at close range. Three officers received written reprimands for actions after the incident, and charges were filed, then dropped against seven of eight marines. On January 24 staff sergeant Frank Wuteridge, the only remaining marine charged in the case accepted a plea deal that lets him off with a reduction in rank to private.

At the same time that killers are released with perfunctory wrist slaps, US army private Bradley Manning, a genuine hero, endures persecution and solitary confinement for releasing documentary evidence of of numerous diplomatic and military atrocities, including actual film of a US helicopter gunship mowing down unarmed Iraqi civilians including two Reuters cameramen and the children of a man who stopped his family car to help the people he saw bleeding in the street.

That's what he gets,” oinks a self-righteous American military voice on the tape, “for bringing his kids...” to a firefight.

The navy currently runs an ad campaign branding itself “a global force for good.” Few claims could be more deceitful”

Lying, justifying and covering up, not honor and self-sacrifice, seem to be guiding principles of US military and political leadership, the sure and certain paths to a successful career. When up-and-coming army major Colin Powell was detailed to look into reports of atrocities committed by the Americal Division, he knew what was expected of him. Powell minimized and dismissed the reports, overlooking among other things the massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians at a place called My Lai. Twenty years later, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the US invasion of Panama, Powell ordered the bombing from the air of an undefended, largely black civilian neighborhood of Panama City in which hundreds were killed, in order to prevent them from coming into the streets to support Panamanian president Noriega.

Since Wounded Knee, since the slave and Indian-hunting expeditions of Andrew Jackson, these have been the real traditions of the US military. The navy currently runs an ad campaign branding itself “a global force for good.” Few claims could be more deceitful. The military has plenty of doctors, engineers and even chaplains. But its main jobs aren't building things, healing people or telling the truth. The core job descriptions of the US military and their civilian leaders are breaking things, killing people, and lying about it. They are indeed a global force. But not an honorable one. And not for good.

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 lives and works in Marietta GA, where he's on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.

Direct download: 20120125_bd_on_US_military_honor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is no longer unthinkable that Barack Obama could face Newt Gingrich in November. If that happens, the political lines will be unequivocally drawn around race – and only race. But Black people will have no defender. “The issue in a contest between Obama and Gingrich will be the same as between Gingrich and Juan Williams, a slimy Black right-winger who claims African Americans wallow in a culture of ‘victimhood.’” Sound familiar? Maybe that’s because “the coded language and euphemisms of white supremacy are deployed by both Republicans and Democrats, and forms the core of American political speech.”

For “cracker” references, read the story.

 

Newt Gingrich: King Cracker

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Gingrich is drawing a racial line in the sand, just as the segregated Atlanta Crackers baseball team did on their playing field.”

It now seems possible that the presidential election could wind up being a contest between the quintessential corporate Democrat, Barack Obama, and Newt Gingrich, King of the Crackers.

Now, before any radio station considers pulling this commentary from their airwaves as some kind of hate speech, let me inform the listeners that “cracker” was a label proudly worn by masses of white folks, and especially popular in Gingrich’s state of Georgia. From 1901 until 1965, the Atlanta Crackerswas one of professional baseball’s most successful minor league teams. These Crackers played out of Atlanta’s Ponce de Leon field until the Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee, in 1966.

Newt Gingrich knows all about Georgia Crackers. The Atlanta Crackers baseball team was still going strong when Gingrich went to high school in Columbus, Georgia, and they played their last game the year he graduated from Emory University, in Atlanta. It was very popular to be a “cracker” in Georgia in those days…and, apparently, it still is, throughout the South, including South Carolina, where Gingrich won the Republican presidential primary.

The former House speaker from Cobb County, Georgia, just outside Atlanta, won a standing ovation when he rejected reporter Juan Williams’ suggestion that Gingrich was purposely insulting Black peoplewith his rhetoric on food stamps and his urging that African American children be put to work as janitors in public schools. That’s the kind of talk that makes unreconstructed Georgia crackers and their soul mates everywhere proud. Gingrich is drawing a racial line in the sand, just as the segregated Atlanta Crackers baseball team did on their playing field. And, it is serving him well in the Deep South Republican Party, which began its transition to the White Man’s Party with Barry Goldwater’s presidential run in 1964, followed by Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” in 1968.

Gingrich’s verbal weapons are simply sharper than most, but President Obama deploys a milder version of anti-Black rhetoric.”

The problem that Gingrich presents is not so much that he pollutes the public conversation with raw rhetorical racism. The coded language and euphemisms of white supremacy are deployed by both Republicans and Democrats, and forms the core of American political speech. Mass Black incarceration, mass Black unemployment, and de facto housing segregation are the domain of both major parties. Gingrich’s verbal weapons are simply sharper than most, but President Obama deploys a milder version of anti-Black rhetoric, sometimes even on Fathers Day.

The real problem is that the issue in a contest between Obama and Gingrich will be the same as between Gingrich and Juan Williams, a slimy Black right-winger who claims African Americans wallow in a culture of “victimhood” and who blames teachers unions for what ails the public schools. Sounds very much like President Obama. Juan Williams is worth $3 million to FOX News. Barack Obama’s re-election is worth trillions to Wall Street, which will back the corporate Democrat, just as they did in 2008. Gingrich, by drawing a racial line in the sand, only helps Obama draw attention away from his own service to Wall Street. So, the King Cracker from Cobb County actually has done a great service to corporate America, whose candidate will reap the votes of most folks who don't think of themselves as crackers.

Except for those of us who know that building a movement is much more important than voting for evil.

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: 20120125_gf_Crackers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:19am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It’s not enough that President Obama has Wall Street in his back pocket – or, is it the reverse? – but he also has loyal operatives among what passes for the Left. Daily KosIn These Times and Democracy Now! misrepresented, and miscounted, last week’s Occupy Harlem-led protest at the Apollo Theater. In These Times writer Allison Kilkenny took a step backward in time, treating white Occupy Wall Street demonstrators like “outside agitators” for protesting Obama in Harlem. “Kilkenny doesn’t think Black progressives have the right to ask white and Latino progressives to attend Black-led demonstrations in Black neighborhoods.”

 

Lying About the Harlem Protest Against Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The turnout was larger than even the organizers had hoped, and heavily Black and Latino.”

Last Thursday’s demonstration, in New York's Harlem, against President Obama’s foreign and domestic policies was a great success, with about 400 protesters massed across the street from an Obama fundraiser at the Apollo Theater. But, you would not know that from reading the Daily Kos or In These Times, or from watching Democracy Now! That’s because these outfits represent the left flank of Obama’s apologists and protectors, whose self-assigned job is to perpetuate the fantasy that the First Black President is not a servant of Wall Street and the Pentagon. These publications and programs are also in thrall to another fantasy: that they have some kind of entree or influence with the Obama administration, when in fact, this White House is an annex of finance capital.

Nellie Bailey, the veteran Harlem organizer and member of Occupy Harlem, has already set the record straight: that this was a Black-led demonstration called for by Occupy Harlem, which enlisted the support of the larger Occupy Movement, Stop Stop-and-Frisk, MoveOn, the Black Is Back Coalition, and other progressive organizations. The turnout was larger than even the organizers had hoped, and heavily Black and Latino. But Democracy Now!, whose politics has undergone a palpable turn to the right during Obama’s time in office, told its audience that only about 100 people protested, when in reality, the MoveOn section of the demonstration alone approached that number. In this sense, Democracy Now! is worse than the police at reporting demonstrations it doesn’t support.

Democracy Now told its audience that only about 100 people protested.”

Daily Kos, which often behaves like an arm of the administration, published the rantings of someone calling himself Brooklyn Bad Boy, who admits he isn’t a “fan of street protests” but goes ballistic over the effrontery of protesting Obama. He claims the demonstrators ignore the pro-banker policies of Republican candidates. But then, the Brooklyn Bad Boy doesn’t show up at too many demonstrations, by his own admission, so how would he know? No matter, his pro-Obama stance qualifies for space onDaily Kos.

Allison Kilkenny’s In These Times article was the most insidious example of a hit-piece. She offered no crowd estimate, but made reference to a “handful” of Occupy Wall Street activists, thus belittling the turnout. Much worse, Killenny highlighted the uninvited presence of a few Lyndon LaRouche supporters in order to tar the whole demonstration – as if Occupy Harlem can dictate who shows up on the street. Then Kilkenny – a white woman – argues that white people from Occupy Wall Street should have stayed away from Harlem, on the grounds that their presence did not take “into account the city’s tense race relations” and the fierce gentrification of the neighborhood – gentrification fueled by Wall Street bankers.

As Occupy Harlem’s Nellie Bailey writes, Kilkenny is talking like old school southern white racists, accusing whites in Occupy Wall Street of being “outside agitators.” Kilkenny doesn’t think Black progressives have the right to ask white and Latino progressives to attend Black-led demonstrations in Black neighborhoods. She wants a segregated Occupy Wall Street movement, in which Blacks that oppose Obama’s corporate policies would get no meaningful solidarity from whites in the movement. Or, maybe she’ll just say anything to avoid confronting the corporate president.

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: 20120125_gf_HarlemDemo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12am EDT