Black Poet Determined
to Fight New Jersey's Abolition of Poet Laureate
Message from Amiri Baraka, New Jersey and Newark Schools' Poet
July 1, 2003
The vote in the New Jersey Legislature today (38-2) to eliminate
the New Jersey Poet Laureate position is confirmation of the
ignorance, corruption, racism, and criminal disregard for the US
their credit, Assemblyman William Payne and Senator Donald
Tucker were the sole voices trying to uphold the poet's
Constitutional First Amendment rights.
this finally illegal vote is also a violation of Article 1,
section 10(1) of the U.S. Constitution (that neither congress
nor the states could pass Ex Post Facto Laws, i.e., a law in the
present that will make something that happened before that
subject to the contemporary statute).
vote is also an infamous confirmation of the anti-democratic,
neo fascist direction that the entire US nation has been headed
since the right wing coup that passed as the 2000 National
Election that brought to ascendancy and murderous power, a
counterfeit President for an increasingly fake democracy.
attack on the US Constitution has been led by the Israeli
Lobbyist Anti-Defamation League who cite three lines of a 244
line poem as proof of the poet's "Anti-Semitism"
("Who told 400 Israeli workers at the twin towers to stay
home that day/ Who told Sharon to stay away").
ADL in characteristic dishonesty claims the mention of Israeli
nationals is an attack on Jews, as if they did not understand
the difference between the religion Judaism and the reactionary
nationalism of Israeli political Zionism. But that is done to
cover the fact that American Jews were left to be killed in the
World Trade Center with the rest of we Americans, because
ISRAEL REGARDS AMERICAN JEWS AS AMERICANS FIRST, Whom the ADL
and the state of Israel regard only as sources of wealth and
influence which they must not lose. Zionist Israel sees the
American people the same way, as a cash cow and political
justifier of their historic policy of ethnic cleansing of Arabs
out of Palestine.
is why it was Israeli Nationals that were warned and NOT
American Jews. The CEO (Micha Macover), of an Israeli messaging
company, ODIGO, has already admitted to being warned. (See
"Israeli Company Workers Were Warned Of 911 Attack" By
Yuval Dror, Ha'aretz Daily, 12-20-2).
9-11 Twin Towers attack, as tragic as it was, has allowed the
Bush regime the opportunity and power to carry out an
unprecedented dismissal of historic allies, the United Nations,
international treaties, and permitted the hideous imperialist
assaults on the Arab peoples, Islam generally as a "Rogue
Nation," specializing in attacks at the Third World, and
human rights internationally, even flatly refusing to join
the World Court, with justifications as bizarre as to cite the
reason for invading Iraq , its failure to abide by UN
resolutions as the justification for the US dismissing UN
resolutions & invading Iraq.
declaration of "An Axis of Evil" turned out to
be a scapegoat of the month, supported by open lies to justify a
foreign policy of slander, violence, destruction and greed, as
inhuman as Hitler's.
the names of the scapegoated leaders and nations as cheers and
battle cries, the US imperialist superpower bombs and
invades Afghanistan screaming "Osama bin Laden, Taliban
(both enabled by Bush-1), Queada." Next with hideous
reversal of blame calling the Palestinians terrorists and, with
their leader, Yasir Arafat the main obstruction to peace for the
"suicide bombing" while Israel uses US tanks,
planes, bombs, guns, destroying entire Palestinian
US sides with the Butcher Sharon, who was thrown out of office
as Defense Minister by the Israeli people in 1984 for his
responsibility in the massacres of Palestinians in Lebanese
refugee settlements. Israel has failed to recognize a
single UN resolution, refusing since 1967 to end its occupation
of Gaza and the West Bank or to stop the illegal settlements on
Palestinian soil. Bush egging the Israelis on with calls
for "Regime Change"
the US mouthpiece for such tyrannical violations of human rights
and democracy, the ADL, has so much influence among US and New
Jersey politicians that they can decide whether or not the state
has a Poet Laureate position or not, or for that matter, by
overthrowing Cynthia McKinney and Asa Hilliard, who will be
elected as the Black Congresspersons from Atlanta and
invasion of Iraq was forwarded by the demonization of Saddam
Hussein, as the worst dictator in the world, his failure to
abide by UN resolutions, and his possession of "Weapons of
Mass Destruction. Since Bush-1 gave those alleged WMD's to
Saddam Hussein to attack Iran, the CIA could have checked
their receipts. We hear again the cry of "Regime
Change," as example of Condoleeza Rice's description of
a US "humanistic imperialism" necessary to bring
democracy to Iraq , when imperialist annexation of nations is
the exact opposite.. Add the utterly fallacious search for
"Weapons of Mass Destruction," still to be found. What
about the disgusting cry "Iraqi Freedom"?
vote in the New Jersey Legislature is clear demonstration of how
slavishly reflective of the disintegration of US democracy as
conducted by Bush counterfeit presidency!
Diimitrov's classic definition of fascism as "The naked
rule by terror by the most imperialist, jingoistic, sector of
finance capital." What Bush and company have done is use
the threat of terror as the justification for their right wing
assault on the Constitution and the democratic rights of
that now it is permissible for the state to disregard and
violate a citizen's First Amendment and other constitutional
rights, slander, and character-assassinate them if they
question, or criticize a foreign power and the foreign policy of
the US super power.
US plunge to the far right evokes the grim history of Germany's
last democratic Weimar Republic, before Hitler came to power to
transform the German Republic into a fascist state. Although
Hitler was head of the Nazi party, he was appointed Chancellor
legally by President Hindenburg, with more legitimacy than the
Bush Florida Coup!
it was Terrorism, the mysterious "Reichstag fire" (now
universally understood to have been set by Hitler himself)
that allowed Hitler to pass the Reichstag Enablement Act, much
like the Patriot Bill and Homeland Security, and in the name of
eliminating the terrorist -- jailed union members, communists,
and later liquidated them, including 6,000,000 Jews. 9-11 has
allowed the same internal citizen disorientation and fascist
reorientation in Germany as inside the US today!
course, I will sue. For starters, for violation of my democratic
rights, the US constitution, slander, character assassination,
injury to myself and my family, psychological assault, creating
the context for possible physical assault on myself and family.
Bias crime, stopping my appearance on many campuses thereby
interfering with the right of Afro-American and democratic-minded
students the opportunity to judge for themselves whether the
work was anti-Semitic or not. Censorship as well as interference
with my ability to make a living, and restraint of trade. I
would also like to take up the question of why the ADL is not
made to register as an agent of a foreign power.
important factor related to our suit is news that recently
(4/26/03 -Rense.com) a Colorado couple successfully sued the ADL,
for the same kind of attack, calling them "anti-Semitic."
The ADL was defeated to the tune of $9.75 million dollars
rewarded to their victims for Slander and Wiretapping
obscene act of the NJ Legislature's real effect is to
advertise themselves as mindless, sub-literate stooges for
foreign interests. And what does this say about a state
too backward to have a Poet Laureate?
and again I have asked that there be a mass forum where the poem
could be projected and the poet and whoever is upset by it go
down the work, line by line, so any anti-Semitism could be
shown. But the ADL and the NJ Legislature have refused; though I
doubt 10% of these political nincompoops have even bothered to
practical terms, what the Legislature has actually done is to
guarantee litigation against themselves, individually and as a
body, the Governor, and the ADL. It is likely to be litigation
of historic significance since it will be an attempt to oppose
and help nullify the insidious anti-democratic trend Bush has
set loose across the nation. The irony is that even this
legislation cannot remove me as Poet Laureate, since the
appointment was made by the New Jersey Humanities Commission and
not the governor or legislature and any attempt to remove me,
would be a further confirmation of the legislature's intent to
violate the constitution and the first amendment.
more disgusting and dangerous is the ADL's threat a few months
ago, to have the children of West Orange wear yellow stars of
the Holocaust when Newark's children go there to play sports!
Now, in an attempt to prevent my appearance at Barringer High
School (my alma mater) June 30, to give the Commencement
Address, they threatened to picket Barringer and otherwise cause
disruption. In addition there was even the straight out
neo-fascist pledge to begin to remove my books from the schools.
it be that the US has become the wagged dog of the Israeli
Zionist tale (sic)? The 9-11 enabled US invasions of
Afghanistan, overt support of daily Israeli terror against
the Palestinians while calling the victims the terrorist, and
most recently the completely dishonest explanation for the
invasion of Iraq, which now has US troops -- mostly young
working class and poor whites, Afro American, Latino, Asian
youth -- being killed every day in Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi
Arabia, or sometimes even by Bush's Israeli confederates.
Americans must oppose these violations of the US Constitution,
especially the censorship which rises in its intensity, at the
same time the campaign to privatize media in the US, by trying
to remove public radio and television, eliminating support of
the arts by public monies, forcing artists to rely more and more
on private sources, foundations, corporations.
to this vicious and dangerous Right-wing campaign to censor and
control all forms of public communication, (e.g., the attack on
the New York Times was inspired by the editors'
consistent exposure of Bush wackier policies) is now fundamental
to any efforts to stop the US disintegration into a neo-fascist
corporate imperialist state. Actually, such organized Peoples
Democratic campaign against violations of the First Amendment
and the general onslaught of the Bush junta (Asscraft, Cheney,
Wolfowitz, Rice, Pearle, Rumsfield, etc.) are at the base of the
critical need to build a US Peoples Democratic Anti-Fascist
Since January the Office of NJ Poet
Laureate, in association with Kimako's Blues People (Amiri &
Amina Baraka, Directors), Celeste Bateman Public Relations, with
help from Weequahic Park Association's publicist, Joe
White; Robert McRae, Logistics; Reggie Baker,
Transportation; supported by funds from the Newark Public
Library and the Newark Board of Education, has
produced a series of readings by important poets from all
over New Jersey, as well as New York, Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania in the Newark Schools and Newark Public Library --
the last Friday and Saturday of each month.
So despite the slander, character
assassination, media disinformation and attacks by the Governor,
the ADL, and the generally ignorant or specifically devious, the
work of the Second New Jersey Poet Laureate (the first Afro
American) one wonders does this have something to do with the
aggressiveness of the assaults has gone on, intentionally
handicapped, but nevertheless vigorous and important, alive and
well. And it will continue, no matter the slander and the
We have received several hundred letters
of support and copies of letters addressed to Gov. McGreevey and
the NJ Legislature denouncing this attack on our First Amendment
rights. But with the initiation of litigation, people who want
to be part of what will be a growing anti-censorship
anti-violation of the First Amendment Movement,
Contact us at AMIRIB@AOL.COM
or Fax 973 242-1509