Point of View Columns

Black Lives Don’t Matter

The recent revelation by Richard Nixon’s domestic policy advisor that primary motivation behind the so-called War on Drugs was to destabilize the national black community should have ignited a firestorm of outrage. The truth is that the outrage has been muted in the black community and the white community has been just plain mute. Given how successful the War on Drugs has been in accomplishing its mission in destabilizing black lives, the deathly silence at its revelation raises the legitimate question, do black lives really matter in these United States of America?

Since the inception of the “Black Lives Matter” movement a constant question has hovered regarding its necessity. After all, don’t “all lives matter”? And that ought to be true that “all lives matter”, but clearly that is not the case.

Imagine if the revelation of the racist origins of the War on Drugs indicated a focus on the Irish community, or the Italian community or the Jewish community. Imagine that the results of this racist policy were the destabilization, degradation and incarceration of millions of members of the targeted ethnic group. It is fair to imagine that there would be one hell of a firestorm of justifiable outrage accompanied by clarion calls to eliminate all vestiges of this “war” as a reasonable first step – followed by enormous remediation strategies including reparations for the victims.
Putting aside this bit of imaginative thinking, the revelations of the Nixon policies targeted black Americans has elicited barely a yawn. It has been a 24 hour story at best.

There have been no calls for Congressional investigation and there has be virtual silence from the Congressional Black Caucus.

CNN, MSNBC and BET have dedicated a few moments of air time to this horror of historic proportions and then gone back to the mind numbing coverage of the Republican Clown Show that is disguised as a presidential campaign. Indeed, none of the remaining five presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican have taken note of this governmental atrocity.

It seems as if all Americans have become anesthetized when it comes to tragedies in the black community. Whether it is police violence, infant mortality, mass incarceration, gang violence or truncated life expectancy there is no shock value left regarding these tragedies and so many more.

And perhaps the final and sad explanation is that black lives really do not matter in this country. And that final and sad explanation is supported by the fact that the story of the Nixon race strategy, a strategy that comes uncomfortably close to community genocide, is not surprising given past American history and current American reality. And clearly the institutional disaster visited upon the national black community is not enough to elicit protest, demonstration and demands for true justice.

Where are the black ministers thundering from the pulpits, calling out this injustice and demanding justice? When is the next NAACP march, when is the next Black Lives Matter demonstration, when is the issue even going to be raised during the seemingly infinite number of presidential debates?

The answers are nowhere, never and never. The reality of black lives really not mattering in this country is a suffocating and sad reality in the United States of America.

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Point of View Columns

“Free Stuff” – An American Fairy Tale

The recent appearance by Mitt Romney at the NAACP convention was wrong on so many levels. In retrospect it seems that his sole reason for appearing was to demonstrate to his base that he was capable of strutting into an arena full of black people and telling them what they needed to hear – the Truth According to Mitt. That this was Magic Mitt’s Sister Souljah moment is pretty clear.

Any doubt about whether Mitt Romney was emulating Bill Clinton circa 1992 when then-candidate Clinton sought shore up his center and right flanks by publicly dissing the outspoken black entertainer were dispelled when Romney appeared at a fundraiser to gloat about the hostile reception that he received at the hands of black people. He actually told this private gathering of a distinctly lighter hue than he encountered in Houston that he told the NAACP membership “if they wanted a president who was giving out “free stuff” he wasn’t their man”.

Of course, he never actually said anything about “free stuff” at the convention itself (unless he said it under his breath), but safe in the more comfortable environs of tasseled loafers and St. John dresses, he found his courage to speak plainly and from the heart – at least that part of his heart that isn’t sequestered in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland. And, emboldened by his surroundings, Magic Mitt revealed his thinking when it comes to matters of history, justice to say nothing of the role of government in creating a sane and fair society.

The insult uttered by Mitt Romney is truly off the charts. To begin with, the membership of the NAACP is largely educated and middle class and more likely to being paying more taxes on a percentage basis per capita than Mitt Romney and most of his Bain Capital alumni. For Magic Mitt to suggest that because they are black, the convention attendees were mostly interested in “free stuff” is outrageous. The mentality that gives rise to such a comment is born of the most racist and vicious stereotypes.

Moreover, Mitt Romney should be very careful when speaking to any black audience about “free stuff”. The historical reality is that black Americans are the descendants of people who gave over two centuries of free labor through slavery which played a major role in building the economic infrastructure of this country. Black Americans are the descendants of people who were economically disenfranchised during the post-Civil War Reconstruction. Black Americans are still on the wrong side of every economic disparity table in this country from wages to cost of living.

Mitt Romney should be real careful when speaking to any black audience about “free stuff”. The life expectancy for black males is substantially lower than that of their white male counterparts. As a result, millions of black males in this country work for three decades and more, paying into the Social Security system only to die before receiving little if any of the benefits to which they are entitled. Their white male counterparts end of with the “free stuff”.

And what is “free stuff” anyway? Would “free stuff” include food stamps, public housing and medical care? In the Mitt World would “free stuff” include loans for higher education, Head Start and job training?

Or would “free stuff” include the trillions of dollars of tax cuts that billionaires and millionaires have received this country during the past decade? Would “free stuff” include laws that entitle the wealthy to legally shield their wealth from taxation in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland? Or, would “free stuff” include the historically gigantic subsidies and tax relief given to the energy and agricultural industries?

It would seem that Mitt Romney believes that services that the government provides to feed and housing and educating its citizens is not derived from some societal obligation. “Free stuff” is so insulting and derisive that it is clear that Magic Mitt’s perception of social services is at odds with the basic social contract that created and sustained a country that provided him with the environment and opportunity to become a wealthy man.

Like too many wealthy residents of the right wing of the right wing, Mr. Romney believes that he has amassed a great fortune solely by reason of his brilliant self and nothing more. And he obviously thinks that anyone who has not tasted from the cup of success is undeserving of that success and also undeserving of any assistance or support.

It is a mean, nasty and self-centered vision of self and the world that Mitt Romney articulated with his “free stuff” comment. It might have been off the cuff, but it was from the heart.

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Point of View Columns

All Guns, No Roses

While the G.O.Tea Party presidential circus careens across America spreading lies, misinformation and worn out comedy routines, black and brown America is killing itself. This is not a metaphorical observation. I mean it literally.

The latest New York City crime statistics indicate that even though 30% of the city’s population is African American, fully 60% of all homicide victims are black and 60% of the suspects in these crimes are black. If you add in members of the Hispanic community, fully 90% of all homicide victims in New York are black and Hispanic and 90% of the suspects are black and Hispanic.

Aside from reaffirming that the world is going crazy, these statistics tell a very interesting story. Most of these murders are committed with guns. It would be fair to say that there are too many guns that are too easily available.

But it is also about culture. For the past thirty years popular music, movies and literature have glorified violence, “gangster” ethos and disregard for human life. This cannot be disputed.

Consider the latest video game miscreation, “Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 3”, sold hundreds of thousands of games as soon as it was released. This game modernizes, romanticizes and glorifies warfare – basically the wholesale slaughter of the “enemy”. While the “enemy” might be mythical in the video game, an impressionable youngster who plays the game incessantly can easily translate the ethic and mindset to the streets on which he lives.

Meanwhile, for the past thirty years popular music and music videos have promoted, popularized and glorified violence – all in the name of “keeping it real”. Fifty Cents might be wearing a coat and tie now, but he made his money rapping about killing other people. The same is true for Jay-Z, BET and too many others.

The argument that these performers and entertainment networks are just “keeping it real” and “giving people what they want” is facile and baseless and virtually unworthy of serious consideration. The bodies of men, women and children pile up on the streets of New York and across this country while the beneficiaries retire to their mansions while riding in their Maybachs.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association and promoters of the “rights” of gun owners pervert the Constitution to somehow support the notion that everyone has the right to own as many automatic weapons as they can afford. States’ rights advocates in Virginia and South Carolina falsely claim that they have no responsibility for the carnage in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York even as they profit from the sale of weapons that have only one purpose – the wholesale slaughter of other people.

The combination of this country’s gun culture and the gangster culture promoted in communities of color has produced a lethal cocktail. If the Ku Klux Klan or Posse Comitatus or the Tea Party was killing blacks and Latinos at the rate that blacks and Latinos are killing blacks and Latinos, national outrage would rock this country to its very foundation.

The NAACP and the Urban League and the Congressional Black Caucus would be demanding Congressional investigations and the intervention of the United Nations. If white people were killing people of color at the current levels of homicide being perpetrated by people of color it would be an international disgrace.

Somehow, a black man killing a black woman or a Latino boy killing a Latino girl does not provoke the same level of outrage and concern. The combination of the gun culture and the gangster culture has turned every inner city street into a potential killing zone. And when the bodies fall there are the obligatory candle light vigils and marches and then it’s back to business as usual.

The problem is that “business as usual” shields the men and women who are responsible for creating this toxic atmosphere from any responsibility. The men and women who are responsible for the blood and gore and death never touch the rotten fruits of their labor while vacationing in St. Bart’s or taking private jets to Paris.

The numbers simply don’t lie. “Business as usual” means death on the streets of the cities of America. And the purveyors of this lethal, toxic and poisonous culture are able to escape any blame or responsibility.

The problem is that “business as usual” means another black girl or Latino boy will die before the end of the week. The rap potentates and music producers and gun advocates sleep easily in their beds of luxury.

The victims of their vicious “business sleep” forever.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 5, 2011

The dogs days of July have morphed into the lupine days of August – the wolves are out and no one is safe. Sarah Palin cries crocodile tears about being labeled a terrorist, but she IS a terrorist. Critics claim that Obama “surrendered” to the Tea Party loons in the immortal budget/deficit battle that will rage for years, but who’s got his back? And meanwhile, in case no one noticed, the economy of the planet is plunging like Icarus who dared to come to close to the sun…….whither Daedalus?

Sarah…You ARE a Terrorist

At some point during the autopsy of the godawful debt ceiling battle it was reported that, during a meeting between Vice President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats someone referred to the Tea Party kamikazes as “terrorists”. This created an artificial hue and cry from the right wing of the right wing wailing and bellowing that their patriotic bona fides were being impugned.

In keeping with the strict rules of the theater of the absurd, Sarah Palin popped up and claimed that Tea Party advocates and their running hounds in the Congress were simply patriotic Americans who were advocating the benefits of fiscal probity. And then, just to be sure that we understood how ridiculous she is, the former governor of Alaska stated that if the Tea Party advocates were domestic terrorists President Obama would be “palling around with us like he palled around with Bill Ayres”.

As it turns out Sarah Palin and the Tea Party maniacs employed classic terrorist tactics in holding the entire economy of the planet hostage while making outrageous demands to reduce the size of government and cut vital social services, all the while refusing to even consider increasing revenues by any means. Osama bin Laden must be laughing from his watery grave.

In his most virulent dreams bin Laden could never have imagined collapsing the entire American economy. Knocking down a few buildings and blowing up a few airplanes is child’s play compared to the damage that Sarah and the Tea Partiers have in mind for this country. Al Qaeda killed thousands, the bullet heads in Congress and their supporters threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions, if not billions throughout the world.

Clearly Sarah Palin is counting on the collective amnesia of the American public. But we should remember that it was Sarah “Lock and Load” Palin’s website that put rifle cross-hairs on the congressional district represented by Gabrielle Giffords who was, in turn, shot in the head. The fact that yet another gun-toting loon committed the deed does not absolve Sarah Palin of responsibility for creating an atmosphere and fomenting violent emotions where something like this can happen.

And finally, her snide remark about Bill Ayres requires some kind of response. Sarah Palin is either too young or too dumb to realize that during the 1960’s progressive activists were being shot and killed by National Guard troops in places like Kent State and South Carolina State Universities as well as being beaten and jailed by Chicago police during the Democratic Party convention.

Radical philosophies were freely debated and espoused but rarely was there any violence that remotely resembled “terrorism”. What we do know is today Bill Ayres is Executive Director of World Hunger Year – http://www.whyhunger.org – dedicating his life to feeding the hungry while Sarah Palin continues to stir the boiling cauldron of hate and irresponsibility.

So you see Sarah Palin, it is YOU who is the terrorist.

Who’s Got Obama’s Back?

The retrospective regarding the role of President Obama in the recent debt ceiling fiasco has been immediate and not very kind to the president. While some commentators have correctly pointed out that negotiating with terrorists disguised as members of Congress and the Senate is an almost impossible task and he got the best deal possible under the circumstances.

Others have pointed out that Barack Obama seemed to allow himself to be bullied by the Eric Cantors and John Boehners of the moment never threatening retribution but always being amenable to compromise. Once he made it clear that he would do anything to avoid the nation’s credit default he became impossibly vulnerable.
By taking the 14th Amendment option off the table in negotiations with the Republicans President Obama gave up the one weapon that he might have used, at least as a threat. His reason for doing so is that White House lawyers did not think that it was a viable tactic.

The argument could go on but the question still arises – where was support for Barack Obama during the negotiations? Where were the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and Nancy Pelosi? Where were Al Gore and Bill Clinton and the National Conference of Mayors? The NAACP and the National Urban League were having their annual conventions during this recent madness, where were the resolutions supporting the president and demands for him to use the 14th Amendment hammer?

As I wrote earlier this week, Barack Obama was like a guy in a chair fight where everybody had a chair but him. Not a great place to be.

Let’s hope that going forward we will see the same support that got Barack Obama into office resurface in order to keep him in office.

The Crash of ’11?

On August 4, 2011 the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted by over 500 points continuing a decline that has taken place over the past month. Analysts connect this indication of economic turmoil to market distress in Europe as well as the budget dysfunction in Washington. And this has happened without a default by the United States.

The G.O.Tea Party is masterful in denying reality. This would be the same party whose most vocal members claimed that a default would not adversely affect the American economy. I am guessing that they also believe in the Easter Bunny.

Have a great weekend!

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