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Obama's calculations and those of the Tea Party white male are indeed not one and the same. His geopolitical goals

are much more fuzzy than those of the American corporate establishment, and Nicolas Sarkozy's.

Mr. Obama is one of those Negroes who wants, so to speak, to eat his cake and have it too.

 

 

Obama, Political Cynicism, and the Tea Party

By Rudolph Lewis

 

If Obama were to bomb all the Arabs back into the Stone Age and burn every Koran he found, he would still be scorned by the Tea Party and he would still be denounced as a Muslim.Wilson

Ideology is probably a good first step on the road to African-American political consciousness. But it will never be sufficient. I learned that early, at least by the time I was twenty and a member of Baltimore SNCC. My Black Power friends mocked me for my fondness for Dr. King. I suppose my Baptist and African roots found a profound political connection in his educated rhetoric and Southern soul. Of course, my love for King did not undermine my love for Malcolm X. They were of the same coin in their struggle for black progress and black liberation. And when Martin came out against the Vietnam War I was fully committed to him and his campaign for poor people.

I know very little about Malcolm’s religion. In the end he put religion aside for he saw religion as a source of conflict for Afro-Americans who want to pursue the struggle for black liberation. My interest emphasized his developing politics and world view. Of course, Martin was no religious fundamentalist: he rebelled against the Black Baptist convention and attempted to overthrow the then present Negro Baptist leader. But that move was unsuccessful and thus he found a political alternative in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was in effect non-denominational and non-church. It was indeed Christ-centered, but not solely Christian: it was rather a kind of Christian syncretism, religion as social justice determined by worldly experience.

I once had an academic friend who stated publicly her religion was Pan-Africanism. That went too far for my taste. But I too have been affected by Pan Africanism as a mode of thought, which can be at least dated back to the 1850s in the writings of Martin R. Delany. What Negro thought, even on the lowest level, has not been affected by our connection to Africa. Pan Africanism has many branches, both reactionary and revolutionary and all in between. I was influenced by Pan-Africanist thought sufficiently enough to spend ten weeks in the Congo. I discovered soon after my arrival, like Richard Wright and Amiri Baraka before me in their visits to Africa, that African-American political consciousness cannot be placed under the umbrella of African consciousness, that is, under the political thought that exists today in Africa since Nkrumah of Ghana and Nasser of Egypt. African consciousness and African-American political consciousness may indeed, however, run on parallel tracks, both having varying visions of African unity. In both instances there is a political fuzziness.

I am neither pro-Arab nor anti-Arab.  I was early on warned by one of my Baltimore mentors, Walter Lively, to be cautious about Arab and Muslim romanticism, often thought of in the same vein. He made clear that Western imperialism and Arabian imperialism have had a derisive and destructive impact on the children of Africa. Of course, the culture and technology of both lands have had much to offer us on our journey to a larger humanity and civilization. Subsequently and recently, I have had conversations with writers Kola Boof of Egyptian and Nubian birth and Chinwezu of Nigeria. Both of them are rabidly and embarrassingly anti-Arab which make them fearful of any Arab intervention in African affairs. Their Arab opposition goes far beyond ideology and border on a racial hatred of the Arab, at the expense of good, sound, and reasonable politics.

Their views and experiences are much more visceral than any event that has approached my experience. Like many SNCC veterans, I have sympathized and continue to feel for the devastating position that the Palestinians find themselves, especially with the not too long ago savage Israeli military attack on Gaza. Many have already forgotten about that. Mr. Obama had little or nothing to say about that murderous attack on civilians. The misery of Palestinians were soon wiped out of American consciousness and forgotten by the political left and the corporate media. I have had however less distant contact with Arab belligerency. Back in the mid-1980s when I was teaching in New Orleans, there was a murderous attack by Arab merchants (as I recall they were Palestinians): they shot down a running black in the street because he stole a bottle of wine. The black community burned down their store. Even steven, as far as it went, or almost so.

I have no beef with Moses, Jesus, or Muhammad, or even with Buddha, or other religious prophets. They have moral aspects much to be admired, and some highly questionable reported practices and views. As a consequence I have read a good deal of religious literature to satisfy my own intellect and have made use of religious material in some of my writings, for and against religious tenets. On the whole I suspect my views run in a skeptical humanist vein, with a willingness to listen to and hear the revealed word.

But back to politics and the matter of the American attack on an African country, namely, Libya. What is the source of this vicious military attack on the Libyan peoples and their sovereignty, when only a few weeks ago the West was cozying up to Libya as a source of oil and economic investment in Western banks and other Western institutions? Of course, this war-making has long and short range implications. Long range interests center around the ambitions of Africom, whose military plans desire to create a safe and viable source for African natural resources so that the West can retain its international and racist leadership.

In the short term, the West found Libya an easy mark politically and militarily, all under the cover of the so-called democratic revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. In the assessment of these geopolitical machinations, Molefi Kete Asante and Afrocentricity International (“Africans Beware the Saviors of Libya”) are on target and should be given attention to the aptness of their views. Most African intellectuals, I think, will agree and take comfort in these African-American views and Asante's Afrocentric comrades.

But Obama's calculations and those of the Tea Party white male are indeed not one and the same. His geopolitical goals are much more fuzzy than those of the American corporate establishment, and those of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr. Obama is one of those Negroes who wants, so to speak, to eat his cake and have it too. That is, he wants to be loved by the Negro masses while at the same time serving the interests of the military-industrial complex and the racist-imperialist perspective of a critical core of white American citizens. These loyalties and emotional desires are in conflict.

While the American Negro is inclined toward excess in matters of race pride, he knows at the bottom of a heart conditioned by harsh experience and brutal reality that America is not a haven of justice and love for colored peoples and he is very knowledgeable of what police state tactics are and how they are used by American security forces against both black men and women. The American Negro knows that America has a great love for colored peoples of the world only in so far as they can be used for white Western benefit. Mr. Obama reminds me of the racial politics of once-Maryland governor Spiro Agnew. I was a Morgan State College student then and the Maryland Democratic Party had split and chose an out-and-out racist for its candidate. Mr. Agnew, who was then a Republican county government leader, told us Morgan students, "You need me more than I need you."

Well, that is what Mr. Obama's cynical politics has come to. He has little or no respect for us, for where we black people spiritually are. He wants our love but he has no love to give us, either with respect to our idealistic hopes abroad or our material needs at home. To satisfy Republicans, the Tea Party, and their political sympathizers, Mr. Obama is unwilling to make a vigorous fight to retain and promote needed social and educational programs that will advance social and economic progress for most of our black communities, and change the ubiquitous culture of anti-black repression.

To satisfy oil interests and the military-industrial complexes of America, the UK, France, other European countries, and Saudi Arabia and other Arab states (and win white friends), Mr. Obama is ready and anxious to make war on Africa and its peoples, if any of these military aggressions will get him elected to a second term.

21 March 2011

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Response to Barack Obama’s Libyan War

By Rudolph Lewis

 

I have just published Obama's declaration of war on Libya, an act of aggression under the guise of "saving lives" and avoiding mass murder of the citizens of Libya. Attached are selected critical responses from well-known journalists. From my side of town President Barack Obama has committed a most grave error in judgment. Likely he was pressured by Hillary Clinton, head of the State department, along with Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. It is all quite ironic that the most hawkish members of his Cabinet are these two professional women, one white and the other black.

From media reports, Mrs. Clinton has always been hawkish since she first entered the Senate and voted for the Iraq War. The other event that forms her judgment supposedly is the analogy of the Rwanda crisis and the hesitation of her husband in his decision as President when he allowed the genocide to proceed and ending with almost a million slaughtered. Whether Mrs. Clinton's analogy is appropriate is beside the point. Obama is the president and making war on Libya is his call. As Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, Ms. Rice consistently represented policies that were not in the best interests of Africa and its peoples. That is, she has long represented conservative and right wing positions, with a passion.

What we have here in decision-making is an Obama trait we have noted in his two years as president, namely, a tentative decision-making in which he splits the difference. In this case, the U.S. is following the rabid hawkishness of France and its president Nicolas Sarkozy, who has already recognized the Benghazi  rebels (before the UN Security Council vote) as the legitimate representative of Libya and in a half manner so has Mrs. Clinton. We know little or nothing about these representatives, their policies, or their interests. They are similarly spoken as representatives of "democracy," a catchword for Western economic interests. In any case Western leaders have no business as supposed leaders of democracy choosing the leaders of sovereign countries or undermining legitimate government by overt or cover means.

My primary opposition is on three levels: 1) violation of sovereignty, 2) lack of Congressional approval, and 3) lack of political consistency. Violation of sovereignty was the rationale for the first war against Iraq and the maintenance of a no-fly zone over Iraq. The U.S. has used the Arab League as a cover for its act of war against a sovereign state. The League is made up of autocrats (including sheiks and kings) and other anti-democrats. Its main mission is to sustain sovereignty, which it has now outrageously violated.

Second, the executive branch of our government has consistently violated the Constitution by involving the United States in foreign wars without the approval of Congress. It has been a downhill slope since the end of World War II. The American people are the ultimate victims in these executive actions. As presidential candidate, Mr. Obama spoke forcefully against such executive behavior. That was when Bush was in his 2nd term. We mistook Mr. Obama for one who was against unnecessary and imperial wars. How wrong we were.

Third, if one examines the two Obama speeches on Libya, we find that they are filled with lies and half-truths and exaggerations. Saudi Arabia has never pretended to be a democratic state. It has declared all demonstrations illegal in the realm. Further, it has sent military forces into Bahrain and has already killed citizens protesting for democratic rights and an end of the nation’s apartheid.

In this declaration of war, we do not find the Obama we loved for speaking truth. We find a man who has been corrupted by the power of his office. It is quite regrettable on a personal as well as a policy level. We have already seen a black lawyer in the Pentagon, Jeh C. Johnson, assert that Martin Luther King would approve of our war-making in Afghanistan. I suspect Mr. Obama has been so blinded by power he too would also assert that Dr. King would look favorably on his declaration of war against Libya, its government, and its peoples. Is he really the Joshua, the righteous man, he promised. How the mighty fall!

Our so-called black leaders are ever willing to revise and pervert African American history as a means of sustaining material privileges and their purported leadership of black hopes and interests. One thing that we know from the last days of Dr. King is that imperial wars do not serve the interests of the American people, especially the working classes and in particular the black poor. Resources that could be used for peace and national prosperity are drained off into the military-industrial complex and the pockets of a wealthy elite.

In that this crucial matter has been placed before him, Mr. Obama wants to assure us in his tentative (half-stepping) manner that this aggressive war-making against Libya is not going to hurt us very much. That is if we put aside the immorality and illegality of his declaration of war. Ground troops will not be committed, he asserts. Militarily and economically, France, the UK, and states of the Arab League will take the lead. That will leave the United States free to deal with other such issues as deficit reduction and high unemployment among the working classes and the attacks on social and educational programs that serve the better interests of the American people at large.

But we know that is a great deceit. Once a war begins there is a desire to avoid loss of face or a hasty withdrawal, or seeming fool-heartedness. We have been in Afghanistan for ten years and another seven years in Iraq and we know not when the total withdrawal of those troops will occur or when these wars will stop draining the national treasury and causing the country to borrow money just to pay for those wars. It’s a pity that Mr. Obama has betrayed the black working classes and blackened his legacy as the first black president.

19 March 2011

posted 21 March 2011

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Africans Beware the Saviors of Libya  / US Senate discusses sending troops to Libya

  Libya, Africa, and the Victorians (Manheru)

Rehabilitating U.S. Military Intervention in the Age of Obama

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid

By  Frank B. Wilderson III

Wilderson, a professor, writer and filmmaker from the Midwest, presents a gripping account of his role in the downfall of South African apartheid as one of only two black Americans in the African National Congress (ANC). After marrying a South African law student, Wilderson reluctantly returns with her to South Africa in the early 1990s, where he teaches Johannesburg and Soweto students, and soon joins the military wing of the ANC. Wilderson's stinging portrait of Nelson Mandela as a petulant elder eager to accommodate his white countrymen will jolt readers who've accepted the reverential treatment usually accorded him. After the assassination of Mandela's rival, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Mandela's regime deems Wilderson's public questions a threat to national security; soon, having lost his stomach for the cause, he returns to America. Wilderson has a distinct, powerful voice and a strong story that shuffles between the indignities of Johannesburg life and his early years in Minneapolis, the precocious child of academics who barely tolerate his emerging political consciousness. Wilderson's observations about love within and across the color line and cultural divides are as provocative as his politics; despite some distracting digressions, this is a riveting memoir of apartheid's last days.—Publishers Weekly

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Becoming American Under Fire

Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship

During the Civil War Era

By Christian G. Samito

In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. . . . For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race. For Irish Americans, soldiering in the Civil War was part of a larger affirmation of republican government and it forged a bond between their American citizenship and their Irish nationalism. The wartime experiences of Irish Americans helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad. / For Love of Liberty

 Wilderson's observations about love within and across the color line and cultural divides are as provocative as his politics; despite some distracting digressions, this is a riveting memoir of apartheid's last days.Publishers Weekly

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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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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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Related files:  Oedipus and Ordinariness     Obama, Political Cynicism, and the Tea Party   Gaddafi: A System of His Own  Libya Getting it Right: Pan-African      Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination 

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