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the cheers seemed loudest . . . when he demanded that "we reject torture and stand for the rule of law," that we

"welcome immigrants from different lands and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship

like we do and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people."



Obama in Berlin
Speaking to an Overwhelmingly Friendly, International Crowd
By Victor Grossman



July 25, 2008

I attended the big rally with Obama in Berlin Thursday evening, not as a press representative but as one of the crowd. And what a giant crowd it was! The news reports counted "over 200,000" but to someone sandwiched in so tight I could hardly lift my hand to scratch my itching nose, much less applaud, it seemed like a million! The predictions had been for "anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000" and the official start was at 7, so I stupidly arrived at 6.30, too late to find anything but a tiny spot to stand on (when the pushing ceased), so far back from the monument where Obama spoke that I couldn't even see the big screen. I saw only the heads and backs of those in front of me.

The crowd, overwhelmingly friendly, was amazingly international; partly, no doubt, because the speech was only in English with no translation. I saw countless African-Americans, African-Germans as well as Africans carrying or wearing flags and banners from Kenya, Angola and other countries. Among those sandwiched in next to me were a very tall French-speaking African fellow (just in front of me), a father and son from Dublin, Ireland, three young women from Italy (one little student too short to see even the heads in front of her), also a Frenchman, two Californians and a young man of possibly Arab background. All the same, I guess the majority were of German background. I would guess that 90 to 95 percent of the crowd could be classified as "youth" under thirty. The event resembled a giant pilgrimage.

Most came to cheer and applaud, and cheer they didand applaud when, unlike me, they could move both hands. Barack Obama is immensely popular in Germany, about 80 percent detest the present president and this is even more intensely true of the young people and the international community so well represented at the rally

Obama spoke freely, without notes or prompter, and as eloquently as ever. He was constantly interrupted by the cheering, but it gradually became apparent that the cheering varied with his message and with the varied views of the listeners. In the first large section of his speech Obama - like so many political orators in Berlin—dealt at length with the Berlin Wall and the western air lift to West Berlin and Berlin's great victory over tyranny and communism. Probably because so many in his audience were neither originally West Berliners nor even alive during the air lift of 1948-1949 and either unborn or very young when the Berlin Wall came down, their enthusiasm for such sentiments was nothing like what it had been for a Kennedy or Reagan when they spoke in West Berlin years ago. Only a few old-timers like myself will have noted that when Obama spoke of "the bullet-holes in the buildings" still visible not all too far way he ignored their meaning, the struggle to free Berlin from the Nazis waged by the Soviets

at an incredibly heavy cost; in fact, he carefully—or tactfully—avoided any mention of Germany's Nazi past, while his words and sentiments about (West) Berlin's fight for freedom had been repeated so often they may have become clichés to many.

There was even less enthusiasm when Obama said: "My country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan and for our shared security the Afghan people need our troops and your troops. We have too much at stake to turn back now." Despite the positions of all major German parties except the LEFT, close to 80 percent of the German people oppose sending German troops to that country, and very few clapped at these remarks. All posters and banners had been banned from the rally at the request of the Obama campaign committee, but near me a young woman handed up a banner she had been hiding to three young men who had climbed to the top of a street lantern. When they unfurled it we could read its message, "No troops for Afghanistan", and on a smaller poster, "End the death penalty". Not many in the giant crowd saw this, Obama certainly couldn't, but one TV channel did show it the next day.

And there were more doubtful nods than loud applause when he stated: "In Europe the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world rather than a force to help make it right has become all too common."

A leading member of the right-wing governing Christian Democratic Union summarized the speech by saying: "Except for personal nuances it could have been made or almost made by John McCain." This certainly applied to many of Obama's words about the past but also those regarding Iran and free trade.

But it did not apply to some statements, and these were the ones which received the loudest applause and cheers. We must "stop the spread of nuclear weapons", he said, "This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of the world without nuclear weapons."

He got cheers for "We must support the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a sure and lasting peace " and loud approval when he stated: "Let us resolve that all nations— including my own - will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere."

It was hard to judge, but the cheers seemed loudest to me when he demanded that "we reject torture and stand for the rule of law," that we "welcome immigrants from different lands and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people."

I heard varying impressions from those who walked off to find their bicycles or find their way through the wooded Tiergarten, Berlin's Central Park, to the nearest stations of the el, the subway, bus or tram. I heard no one speak against him; a tiny group of US Republicans had waited uselessly in back of his hotel, but represented almost no one but themselves and a few right wing politicians in leadership positions, possibly including Angela Merkel.

Some of those I heard in the el seemed thoughtful, however, and occasionally disappointed at the many clichés, while others justified their use as required by the campaign for president and his guest status in Berlin. I heard one woman, the American wife of a Berliner, saying that even if Obama wins a lot of pressure will be necessary, not only in policies toward Afghanistan. She would certainly vote for him, she said, explaining to those nearby, "In the USA they used to talk about 'a Great White Hope'. After eight years with Bush and the danger of more years with McCain, we think of Obama as our 'Great Black Hope'".

I think that summed up the feelings of most of the quarter of a million people of Berlin, more or less, who jammed into the park that hot evening to hear the man they hoped would visit in coming years as US president.

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A World that Stands as One

Berlin Obama Speech (excerpt)
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery)


July 24th, 2008 / Berlin, Germany

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth - that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more - not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations - and all nations - must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.  Obama Berlin Speech

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Hardly Innocuous

The pundits on MSNBC and CNN asserted universally that Obama's speech was "innocuous."   How obtuse can those idiots be?  Obama made several courageous references to the need to "tear down walls."  The obvious references were to those walls currently being erected between the US and Mexico and Canada, and between Israeli settlements and the Palestineans.   These are actual, physical, ugly walls, not metaphors.

Obama showed courage by referring to these real physical walls.  He will be punished for doing so.   It is now absolutely certain that Obama will not be elected. Today, Obama deliberately sacrificed the presidency in order to tell the truth. Obama's speech in Berlin was the clearest proof so far of his character and his courage.   He is indeed cosmopolitan.   Senator William J. Fulbright and General George C. Marshall (Marshall Plan) were also guilty of this crime, which is the greatest crime that any American, regardless of race, can commit.  

That crime isCOSMOPOLITANISM!Wilson

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The Courage and Character of Obama

Given before a quarter million people, the Obama speech in Berlin was indeed a great one, delivered with great sophistication. He makes the Race proud. He's a charmed man, who has a capacity in voicing the views and hopes of the right and the left, of peaceniks and warmongers and freedom lovers, of capitalists and financial marketers and naive environmentalists, of imperialists and nationalists and jingoists, etc. But is charm indeed "courage"? Or is it a deceptive artifice. The devil is always in the details, McCain will rightfully respond.

The "tear down walls" phrase was not used in Israel or on the Mexican border. The Palestinians would have cheered him and made him a saint if he had sounded such words. So too would millions of poor in Mexico City. If he had been so courageous, the Israeli government would have politely shown him the door and alerted their American lobby.

If he had uttered those words in Israel I quite agree with you that Obama was quite willing to sacrifice the presidency for truth. What is clear in Obama speech making is that nothing is “obvious” and certain. Contrast those mincing moments, the different kinds of cadences, when he's interviewed on the suggestive points of his speeches.

Rather than sacrificing the American presidency, this Middle East and European campaign tour has indeed secured his election as our next president.  Check the change in the AOL poll ratings and other online polling on the trust that has arisen for Obama in foreign policy. They have reversed in his favor. As Shelby Steele has pointed out in his New York Times OP piece, at this stage in the general election campaigning, Obama is running only against himself.—Rudy

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Con Men & Bullies

                      By Rudolph Lewis


We have no exit by which to escape

his charms. His magic words of youth

have us waving flags of hope, wearing

signs on our foreheadswe held in his

embrace, a circle around the sun. With

financial packages, stealth planes, ships,

in his right hand, democracy and bibles

in the left, the new kid on the block will

be home next week from a tour of zones

of war. He stuck a folded prayer in one

hole at a wailing wall, ignored another,

praised the fall of another. Like Joshua

before a multitude, he said, we’ll tear

down more walls. The sun did not stop.


His fans boarded the el, peddled home,

dazed. In the cold winter, bright spring

I dealt with my kinsman like a brother.

Today’s victories always require black

body & soul, first. Now he wants more

troops to carry on a war in mountains

of poppies and hashish. “Fear, tricks,

and brute force” are always the game

of empire. Terrorists must be defeated

for the well-lit mansion on a Chicago

hill. This cowboy is a dude dressed in

immaculate dark suits, silk shirts, blue

ties. His bosom allies they are not us

me, you. Yet he’s our Great Black Hope.


26 July 2008

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Obama Prayer

"Lord, protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will."  Maariv Daily

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Your poems are really great. I enjoyed the one about our new boy on the block. Let’s hope that he will not go the way of all of them. I think that he has something great in him. He seems to be the meeting point of so many positive dynamics that America and the world need at the moment. He is like an aggiornamento. American politics in the last decade has been terribly polarizing.

Those who accuse him of being messianic may do well to know that hope has never been the province of cowards. Cowards draw the blinds of life and expire. They commit suicide because they are afraid to live. That this man is peddling hope, resonates with the most ancient dynamics of our nature, which bid us escape from the black holes of our solipsism to conquer our world and make it habitable.

Obama can make it. The burden of history is on his shoulders. We should all pray and support that brother. You Rudy can help elect him the president of the United States of America. Such leaders come once in a lifetime. If Americans due to their pettiness miss this opportunity, they will forever live to regret not letting this Joshua lead them to the promised land of felicity and opportunity.

I salute your courage.Franklyne Ogbunwezeh

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Franklyne, I am rather in the gray about Obama. Yes, in ways, he's preferred to McCain. One man seldom, however, changes life significantly for the better.  Usually, in possession of great power, it is for the worst. That's the danger. Under his reign, America will retain its imperial markings, and advance. That's what patriotism means in the USA. We have little inkling of his personal limitations or his resistance to pressures from the corporate media and their bosses. 
But I look forward to the racial symbolic difference his presence in the Oval Office will make. On the whole he's a scapegoat and we place too many burdensome expectations on his back because life has sunken so low in the last several decades. The communities of resistance to the corporate state are fractured, so they cannot be a sufficient counterweight. 
Though he's a "unifier" in his words, I expect a greater polarization, a deepening of ressourcement. What will be to his credit is that one cannot be more crushingly cruel than his predecessor without great effort.—Rudy

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Obama Dazzles Old Europe while McCain cries "No Mas"!—Barack Obama proved yesterday why November's presidential election will end in a 50-state sweep. John McCain has no chance. It's like George Bush climbing into the ring with Mike Tyson; one thundering left hook and the Crawford Caligula would be sprawled across the canvas in a pool of his own blood. "No mas"! The same fate awaits the crabby senator from Arizona. The polls are skewed to look like there's a political horse-race going on. There isn't. It's a complete rout. There's one well-toned thoroughbred striding from venue to venue electrifying the ever-increasing throngs, and one doddering, old mare limping towards the glue-factory. Someone should put a stop to it before McCain gets hurt.

Yesterday, at the Victory Column in Berlin's Tiergarten, Obama extracted Old Glory from the burn-pile and gave Brand America a desperately needed shot of adrenaline. 200,000 ecstatic Germans jammed the streets in what turned out to be the political shindig of the year. Many of them were waving American flags and chanting, "Obama, Obama, Obama". It was like Jack Kennedy had risen from his moldy sepulcher and made his way across the pond for one last rousing ovation. Obama has the very same affect on crowds. Its a gift and he knows how to use it to great advantage. . . .

McCain, on the other hand, is the perfect embodiment of his party; a rusty, broken-down hulk that's been stripped of its engine, its fenders and all its moving parts. Even the steering wheel is gone. It's a dead-loss; nothing is salvageable.McCain is in way over his head. This election is going to be a real embarrassment for him. It's too bad. He should be back at the Phoenix Rest Home shooing kids off the front lawn instead of waiting for the ax to fall in November. It's a rotten way to end a career. Information Clearinghouse 

posted 27 July 2008

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
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#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
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#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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