We begin with two letters that arrived like gifts from the blue amid the ghastly events and statistics of last week - welcome reminders that serendipity, like luck, is not to be treated lightly.

While printing out information from your site for a school project I'm doing about Blacks against the war I went to your "art" section and low and behold I see the mural my face is on. It was such a shock I just had to email you. My name is Tameka Jones and I am the young lady at the top of the Common Threads mural. I am currently studying Drama and Africana studies at NYU. Just wanted to say keep up the good work and was wondering where you were located and if possible, might I be able to contact you directly for my report?

Yours for Freedom,
Tameka Jones

Naturally, we answered in the affirmative - and grinned all day in that self-satisfied way that causes normal people to move to the other side of the elevator. The photo of the Philadelphia mural - titled "Common Threads" and, at eight stories tall, the largest on the East Coast - was featured in the inaugural issue of , April 5, 2002. Ms. Jones' letter arrived as we were celebrating the publication's first anniversary.

The day was not yet through when the following email arrived from Dwight Williams:

I was born and raised in Philadelphia but I moved out of town some 30 years ago.

Recently I was back in Philadelphia for my mother's funeral. As I road in a limousine behind my mother's hearse down Broad Street in Philadelphia, I went past this very mural which I have now learned is titled "Common Threads."

When I saw that gigantic mural I was deeply moved and proud of Philadelphia for having the insight and wisdom to encourage the arts and beautify my city.

Thank you for putting these murals and this information on your web site. The arts are our vision of the world we live in and our vision for the world we hope to create.

And we were joyously humbled in the felt embrace of humanity's, "Common Threads."

The torture of Black Tulia

A kind of good news arrived last week for 38 men and women from the Texas panhandle town of Tulia. Four years ago, one-tenth of Tulia's Black population plus a few white friends and associates were hauled off on drug charges in the wee hours, all on the uncorroborated word of a sleazy white undercover officer. A nationwide campaign finally forced a review of the Tulia travesty, but not before vast damage had been done, as reported in the April 3 New York Times:

Seven of the 38 who were convicted based on his accusations went to trial, receiving sentences of at least 20 years. Fourteen other people received prison sentences after pleading guilty. Twelve pleaded guilty and were sentenced to probation or had earlier probation revoked. Two people pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and were fined. Three had cases dismissed but had probation revoked in other counties while the Tulia charges were pending.

A judge declared that undercover officer Tom Coleman's testimony was not to be believed, prompting the special prosecutor in the case to pronounce the "system" vindicated. concluded:

Anti-drug law activists say that the 46 men and women arrested in 1999 were victims of a "senseless" drug war run amuck. That explanation fits the bare facts of the case, but is not the essential truth. Black Tulia was viciously assaulted because white Tulia wanted it to happen. Larry Stewart, the elected Sheriff who hired Coleman, is still on the job. That's proof enough of white Tulia's intent.

Hazel Brown Rockeymoore wrote:

I agree with your assessment of the Tulia situation. In fact, being from West Texas, I would venture to guess that there are still a lot of "Tulias there, just waiting to be discovered." Many thanks to Bob Herbert, with his in-depth articles on the Tulia problem. The articles in the New York Times publicized the situation to the nation and to the world. I would like to give credit also to Will Harrell, Executive Director of the Texas ACLU. He was right there and on top of the Tulia problem at the beginning.

I love the Black Commentator E-magazine. It is phenomenal. I look forward to reading it every week.

We credited Bob Herbert and the work of the "NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, two prestigious Washington law firms, a dedicated non-rich lawyer from Amarillo, thousands of man-hours of work by many small, activists groups like the Drug Policy Alliance, and ceaseless agitation to throw out the convictions of 38 of Tom Coleman's victims." But there is much more to the story.

Friends of Justice is a grassroots group who came together in December 1999 to overthrow the injustice of the Tulia Drug Sting. Local concerned citizens began to ask questions and organized with friends and family members of the defendants to publicize and protest the sting as well as provide support to the devastated families. Several families sacrificed careers and reputations making this struggle a full time obsession. We were finally able to catch the attention of The Texas Observer in June, 2000, the Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice in August, 2000.

After the initial publicity provided by those groups, the ACLU and Drug Policy Alliance joined in the struggle. The NAACP attached its name to the struggle and then finally the NAACP Educational and Legal Defense Fund tackled the situation with big time "Yankee lawyers". In the meantime, Friends of Justice continues to answer calls for help from across the state, keep prisoners informed, and travel to Austin, testifying for changes in laws which allow such travesties across the nation.

For more information and less "spin" from the home front, contact: Thelma Johnson, President, Friends of Justice, Alan Bean, Director e-Mail: nandabean@amaonline.com

Black Gulag

To hardly a murmur from the Bushmedia, the Justice Department last week announced that the American prison population has passed the two million mark, the net result, said , "of daily racist practice in every hick town, suburb and urban center of the land... a Gulag such as has never existed in the history of the world - irrefutable evidence of the barbarism that throbs at the deepest core of American society."

Through the ups and downs of crime cycles, race is the constant factor in the Gulag's inexorable expansion. About half of all jail and prison inmates are Black, 12 percent of African American males in their twenties and early thirties are incarcerated at any given time, and 28 percent of Black males will spend some time behind bars. "Prison," we wrote, "has become integral to the collective Black experience."

Ella Baccouche speaks to the institutional racism that funnels so many millions of Blacks to such horrible institutions.

In response to your article on the "Gulag", those statistics jumped off the page and into my face. Let us not overlook the fact that the acculturation process toward "Gulag" status begins at a very young age for Blacks in America. For example, our so-called "educational" institutions have a uniformed police officer and an attendance officer on campus. Their jobs are to keep dossiers on all the students and refer to the Court those students who commit infractions of the attendance laws and/or the student conduct codes. The statistics you cited predict that the majority of the referred students are Blacks and Hispanics.

It is difficult to deny that there must be this underlying intransigent racism that blinds these officials and school administrators so much that they fail to see the inequities and social consequences of their decisions. Some of these officials are Blacks who have, unfortunately, not reached the threshold of critical language awareness so that they become consensual and compliant in a world of spun racist propaganda adversely affecting their own children. Whites get counseled and Blacks get referred. It is the institutions' response to the Black presence as you so eloquently put it.

Early introduction to the Courts, only one of the many columns that support the racist infrastructure here in America, seems to get little attention. Yes!! - "Prisons have become integral to the collective Black experience." But, let us not ignore the American educational institutions which have (from the get go) used the "courts and eventual prison" to track Blacks early in their lives. The tracking seems to be part of the pedagogy implemented in the classroom. Black students throughout their academic careers have consistently and relentlessly been disabled (both cognitively and socially) in the classroom and in the school plant by the negative messages they receive concerning their intellectual, cultural, linguistic and personal identities. It's obscene!!!

The United State now ranks Number One in per capita imprisonment. Worldwide, the African American incarceration rate is rivaled only by that of European Gypsies - by far the most historically oppressed group on the continent. From Dayton, Ohio Peter E. Fowler puts the national silence on imprisonment in perspective.

One of the more disturbing by-products of the media's myopic and nauseating round-the-clock coverage of the massacre in Iraq is their tendency to overlook/underreport the tidal wave of assaults on America's domestic front. As reported in its April 10 issue, the prison-industrial complex continues to devour black (and Hispanic) men at an astounding rate. But not unrelated are other issues that are potentially disastrous to America's minorities and underclass such as the Bush Administrations attack on affirmative action, cutbacks in spending on education, and the obliteration of social programs. These garner little press in this time of "war," when the reality is that these and other conservative policies essentially amount to war on black, brown, and working class Americans. It's time for the "new voices" (as Al Sharpton would call us) to turn our attention to the terrorists that have commandeered the nation's capitol and oust them from power by any means necessary. - keep bringin' it!

A murderous culture

The Black Commentator has consistently refused to disassociate the racist foreign and domestic policies of the Bush Pirates from the white electorate that supports them. Overwhelming white American approval of the rape of Iraq once again confirms that the dominant culture is deformed by delusions that have now placed the survival of humanity in jeopardy. Unique in the world, Bush and the nonpartisan supermajority are "products of a white American cultural bubble that glories in its transparency to the globe but sees only its own illusions staring back," as we wrote in last week's commentary, "Soul Power '68, Pirate Power '03."

This sick majority is cowardly at root, but swells with criminally insane pride at the carnage wrought by U.S. machines of war and the relatively safe personnel who man them. Lenwood E. Johnson knows the kind.

Some African Americans on this big Plantation called Houston, Texas, are telling me that they are having to deal with these Bushites on their jobs bragging about how "They had kicked Iraqis' tails" (the word "tail" is just for paraphrasing).

Is there any one around that can compare the resources of Iraqis to the U.S to make a comparison of the lack of equality in the invasion (not war)? Is there a way to look at the GNPs, populations, sanctions, other resources to show the disadvantages of the Iraqis?

Then, make a comparison between the age of a man to the age of a child so that these uneducated, warmongering, southerners can understand. However, please understand it is not the southerners that I am concerned about. I just want to give our Brothers some ammunition.

Also remember, the southerners would hunt down runaway slaves who would have made a job for one of them. The same is true for Iraq. Soon American corporations will be moving to Iraq and paying salaries of 25 cents an hour instead of $8 for the same position. They never can learn because of the "plunderer" genes.

In our reply to Mr. Johnson, we congratulated him on "not allowing the racists to talk trash with impunity." The actual facts of American superiority in conventional arms (no one can be truly supreme in nuclear warfare) present the world with a new reality - one that the Bush men fervently believe will empower them to reign as global, corporate kings.

The real point is that there is no comparison between the U.S. military and that of any developing country. These are totally asymmetrical relationships. For example, the number of Iraqi aircraft is irrelevant if not one can be flown into battle because of absolute U.S. air supremacy.

Under these circumstances, conventional military resistance to the U.S. amounts to suicide. This is also the rationale of the Palestinian suicide bomber, who is going to die anyway if he attacks a hard Israeli target, so why use an AK-47?

U.S. flaunting of its asymmetrical superiority will inevitably lead some of those who resist to believe that they have no choice but to go after "soft" targets: you and me. (Now, if they could somehow find a way to target only those good old boys you wrote about, the delusional racists who cheer while the Pirates get us into war, that would be poetic, wouldn't it?)

The North Koreans have a different answer. "The Iraqi war shows, "said Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry, "that to allow disarmament through inspections does not help avert a war, but rather sparks it.... Only a tremendous military deterrent force" - meaning, nuclear weapons - can make a nation safe from the Bush men.

Suicide bombers and nuclear brinkmanship - this is what the good old boys, drunk on whiteness, are cheering. There is no human group more savage than the civilian ranks of the American War Party - people with no real enemies and nothing material to gain from the slaughter they abet, yet who have made international targets of us all.

Bob Dorr sent us a letter of encouragement from Waterbury, Connecticut.

I just read your column and I agree with you 100%. The US has just isolated itself from the rest of the civilized world. It is a mistake that will affect us for many years. It is a sad day for our nation. Thank you for your thoughtful commentary.

Randall Washington demanded clarification, and put us to work.

Truly I understand and am in agreement with your thesis in this regard. But, I am somewhat perturbed with the preface. Please, elaborate further in regards to the statement: "...but of which they have no understanding whatsoever."

Please forgive me, but this prefaced statement is truly premature. They have no understanding, this government which has designated its tactics and strategies to insure the success of this conflict? Have no understanding of what? What they truly intended this confrontation to be? All others things than what they expressed to the world, specifically the national constituents, a greater good, an initiative of peace, an eradication of the "Axis of Evil"? Clearly you cannot believe that this administration knows not what it is doing, despite what it expresses to us. Coversion and clandestine tactics are the standards of the day. Well, the standard of contemporary times, for these tactics are nothing new. They have been utilizing them since the Korean War and before. Check your resourses! This government knows exactly what it is doing, and knows exactly what it projects in regards to its final goals ...Fundamental participation and representation in the New World Order, the finite goal of the Illuminate.

Hetep, S'Akhu

Without engaging Mr. Washington on the subject of the Illuminate, we welcomed the opportunity to explore the non-military means at the world's disposal in resisting the U.S. offensive-against-all:

"They have embarked on a project to bring to heel a world that they hold in great contempt, but of which they have no understanding whatsoever."

The Pirates know only what they want to do, not the people whom they want to do it to, about whom they have no understanding whatsoever. In the same fashion, the slaveholders did not know or understand the African, nor did they care to. They knew only the purposes to which they intended to put the African. They worked their will through brute force. As long as brute force is sufficient, the oppressor may maintain the privilege of his delusions. This has been the white American experience.

We submit that you give the oppressor too much credit, which we believe has been an historical shortcoming in our analysis of the enemy. He may be smart or clever, but he operates within frames of reference that do not match reality but, rather, serve to rationalize his privileged position in the world. His wealth and power have allowed him the latitude to make huge strategic and tactical mistakes, yet (collectively, as Europeans) emerge victorious over centuries.

The Bush men have reached too far, their unprecedented global ambitions far outweighing their actual power. In the 21st Century, power - the ability to cause things to happen, or to thwart the initiatives of others - is diffused throughout an inter-connected world in ways never experienced by human beings. Global hegemony is a problematic prospect under any combination of theoretical circumstances. The Bush men's attempt to impose their domination under the current relationship of forces is doomed by objective circumstances. Their delusions, however, render them incompetent to such a degree that they will accelerate the very national decline that drove them to challenge world order, in the first place. They are compounding their weaknesses, and are already showing the limits of their strengths.

The U.S. cannot occupy the world, cannot force the planet to continue to prop up the dollar, cannot crash into every global conversation, and is incapable of understanding the conspiracies that every sector and nationality of humanity is even now plotting against American hegemony. Which bring us to...

The redlining of America

In a very kind letter, John Maas cited the following paragraph from our April 3 commentary, "Racist War, Pirate Plunder."

A wired world is taking note of every pathological tick in the twisted American face. Even now, a myriad of plans are evolving to sidestep the dangerous, delusional United States as mankind goes about its collective business. A kind of international redlining will increasingly make itself felt, but not seen. The Bush men believe they are willing into existence a New American Century, while in reality they are creating an America-phobic planet in which the U.S. has earned an invisible but powerfully consequential non-favored nation status. Having invented the concept of globalism, the United States will be consigned to pariah status - and shrink, until it learns to live by human norms and scales.

Mr. Maas wrote: "This paragraph is one of the most to-the-point analyses of this madness sans the intellectualizing that I have read. Let's hope so. Bravo!"

Yvonne Black thinks we got it right - mostly.

Your essay "Pirates Plunder" is an extraordinary and poignant article. I agree with the premise of the article that the U.S. will implode, but in contrast to the articles position I think that the implosion unfortunately will occur sooner than your article indicates. One additional comment, I think that The Black Commentator is truly one of the webs best sites and your staff of writers are exceptional. Keep up the great work.

In the X-rated instant that the tanks crossed the Kuwaiti border, the Bushmedia climbed beneath the sheets of embeddedness and became one with their Leader. The burden of detailed analysis of corporate media thought, the tricks and euphemisms of the butt-kissing profession, is lifted. They are harlots, flashing noisily and garishly by on The Stroll.

Gertrude F. Treadway, a person of refinement, would not put it that way. Nevertheless, she is shocked, shocked "and appalled."

I am thoroughly appalled by the corporate media, as I know you are. The glee with which they are touting this so-called victory over Iraq is nauseating. I caught just the tail end of Lou Dobbs' Moneyline on MSNBC last evening, and it was distressing to think that so-called civilized people could revel in the overthrow of another sovereign nation. He painted those of us who dissent with this war as "persons who have forgotten what freedom is all about." Then, he had the gall to quote Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" while showing the collapse of the Berlin Wall and equating that with the dismantlement of Saddam's statues!

Until and unless we can wrest the media away from the corporations, I am afraid we are to be subjected to a constant barrage of propaganda. This, in turn, feeds the thoughtless masses and keeps them dancing to George Bush's tune, until we are shadows like those on Hiroshima's walls.

International

One of our most prized letters arrived in time for the April 10 EmailBox column. Dr. Asselin Charles, Associate Professor of French and English, Wenzao College of Languages, Taiwan, asked: "Any chance of producing the occasional, say a couple of times a year, parallel edition in the major languages of the African Diaspora? The French, Spanish, or Portuguese speaking brothers and sisters around the world would be thrilled to hear a fearless voice from our midst."

Derrick Gibson wrote to elaborate on that theme.

An international edition is a great idea but not in the languages of our old slave and colonial masters. The international edition of should be led by versions produced from the multiple languages that are rooted in the African continent - from the sea-level shores of Tripoli to the heights of Kilimanjaro and from the Horn of Africa to the Ivory Coast. After that - and only after - should other languages from around the world be brought online.

As the context within which we exist today is the remnants of hundreds of years of denial that Africans (certainly African-Americans) had a culture and their own languages that are the equal of European vernacular, we as a people need to lead the way in the re-acquisition of that which has been stolen. Anyone remotely familiar with the impact of publishing the Bible in English will be excited by the potentialities released when is first published in Kiswahili.

In the spirit of wishfulness, we would hope that Kiswahili speakers and others, should they decide that The Black Commentator has value to their particular conditions and struggle, would translate what is useful on their volition from whatever language version that is available.

Janet Hughes writes:

Thank you for your telling "how it is" articles. I agree so much and am glad to obtain new and insightful information on your website. I think it is very interesting that the black population are taking the lead against this evil pack in the White House today.

It is a lead position won by default. In that general vein, Will Stites, of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, comments.

Thank you for The Black Commentator. It is very valuable to have a sober voice that speaks from within America, but does not proceed from the dominant corporate-power elite.

Though I am a "white" person, I have often thought that African-Americans are the force that has repeatedly saved our country from itself. I hope that the awareness will spread of how the Bush administration is a potentially fatal disease to our nation and our world. If we do not remove these dreadful people from office soon, the damage will not be reversible within our lifetimes.

The artistry of Khalil Bendib

Leutisha Stills, of Hayward, California wants to know, " How long is Colin Powell going to allow Donald Rumsfeld to continually cut him off at the knees in the media?" She explains.

To my way of thinking, Rumsfeld has no more regard or respect for Colin Powell's ability than a rabid dog. When is Powell going to grow some cajones and tell the Bush Administration to either allow his input, demand Rumsfeld's respect for his ability, or he's going to quit?

Keep the articles coming, . I'm glad to know someone is willing to tell it like it is and not drown in propaganda.

The Black Commentator's institutional personality is largely defined by distinguished political cartoonist Khalil Bendib, who has spoken eloquently on the matter of Rumsfeld versus Powell.

Eddgra Fallin is a voracious reader from Alabama. She likes the pictures, too.

I loved the War porn cartoon and I love the cartoon this week. As usual you are right on! Thanks for doing what you do.

Robert Roethig addresses his letter, "Dear Artist":

Your cartoon is a masterpiece!

We have been duped to support a war machine for oil that is the greatest single cause of spilling of red ink and red blood. Your cartoon helps us to look at who and what is really pulling Dubya's puppet strings. Yes. They are pirates. They are not respectable. They are a dirty gang of thieves.

The troops who are also duped are not "ours." They are only mercs, working for low pay for a god damned war machine for oil and corporate theft. The duped GI troops will not be supported once they come home with wounded consciences that keep them awake at night. When they commit crimes here that are far less worse than the crimes that they committed in Iraq, they will not be "supported." Tim McVeigh and others working for the U.S. Military Government mowed down surrendering Iraqi soldiers with his 50 cal machine gun in the 2nd Gulf War. He was not arrested for those murders. (The Gulf War I was between Iraq and Iran, and the U.S.M.G. ardently supported that spasm of murder and mayhem. Iran Contra was really Iraq, Iran, Contra.)

The duped troops will not be supported when they come home with lungs and chromosomes wounded by aerosolized radioactive powder and contact with DU238 ammunition. So, I do not support the duped troops nor their massas wargasms.

Our final letter arrived, signed simply, "A Herald." It concerns our commentary of last week. He/she quotes : "The world is certainly distressed with the United States, and is busily conspiring against the rogue nation." Then, the Herald writes:

Thus says God, regarding the US:

Daniel 11:

36. And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods; and he shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished; for that which is determined shall be done.
37. Neither shall he regard the gods of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall magnify himself above all.
38. But in his place shall he honor the god of fortresses; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
39. And he shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a
foreign god: whosoever acknowledgeth him he will increase with glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for a price.
40. And at the time of the end shall the king of the south contend with
him; and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass through.
41. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
42. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries; and the land
of Egypt shall not escape.
43. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and
over all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
44. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him; and
he shall go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to sweep away many.
45. And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the sea and the
glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

We thought it appropriate that He have the last word.

Keep writing.

 

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Issue Number 38
April 17, 2003

Other commentaries in this issue:

Cover Story
Conspiracy Theories

Cartoon
Injustice for All

The Issues
The stealth war on the poor... Philly bomber’s son makes good... Black casualties surprisingly high... Depraved indifference to the species

RE-PRINT 1
HIP HOP'S (UNSPOKEN) TEN COMMANDMENTS by stephanie mwandishi gadlin

RE-PRINT 2
Bush’s Other Declaration of War By Tammy Johnson, director of Race and Public Policy at the Applied Research Center

 

Commentaries in Issue 37 April 10, 2003:

Cover Story
From Soul Power '68 to Pirate Power '03

The Issues
The 2 million-person Gulag... Racists flood northern Utah... Black opinion dissected... Tulia’s long ordeal

e-MailBox
Will Colin Powell eat his own words?... An International Edition of BC?... Too much talk about "racism"?... How many reasons for skeezin’?

News From BC
BlackCommentator.com Enters 2nd Year

I've Been to the Mountaintop
April 3, 1968 speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.