piece, “How to Spot
a Black Trojan Horse” exposed Hard Right front man Cory
Booker’s stealth campaign to become Mayor of Newark, New Jersey,
and appeared in our second issue, May 8, 2002. In our July 31
e-MailBox column, we mistakenly cited the Kilson piece as ’s
first Guest Commentary. The reasons are – inexplicable, possibly
neurological, and certainly not justifiable by the catchall
excuse of haste.
humbled to relearn a lesson: one should be careful not to slight
one dear friend in the rush to honor another. Our apologies
to Ms. Johnson, a friend and colleague of more than two decades,
for treating her like “chopped liver.”
progressives will not be gagged
column was being prepared, a judge appointed by Zimbabwe President
Robert Mugabe ruled that the government may press forward with
charges against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The
judge dropped charges against two others accused in plotting
to kill Mugabe.
insists that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) recognize
the legitimacy of his presidency as a prerequisite to talks
sought by the Presidents of South Africa, Malawi and Nigeria
– a concession that elements of MDC’s leadership have resisted.
The opposition’s demands, submitted to Zimbabwean church leaders
seeking to mediate the political crisis, include “normalization
of relations” with the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund, according to AllAfrica.com.
there is a lot more going on in Zimbabwe besides the “plight”
of white farmers, whose numbers have been shrunk by more
than half – and their holdings by far more than that – over
the last three years. Yet many Black Mugabe supporters in the
U.S. are weirdly bonded with the corporate media in their mutual
determination to limit discussion of Zimbabwe to seizures of
land from the dwindling white commercial farmers, to the exclusion
of all other issues of urgency to 12 million Zimbabweans, their
neighbors, and activists in the Diaspora.
by the June 27 Final
Call, the December 12 Movement has “been in the forefront
in orchestrating the response to a June 3 letter sent to Pres.
Mugabe” that harshly criticized his repression of civil society
in Zimbabwe. The letter was signed by prominent African American
progressives, including Bill Fletcher, President of TransAfrica
Forum; Salih Booker, of Africa Action; former Ambassador Horace
G. Dawson, director of the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs
Center at Howard University; Patricia Ann Ford, executive vice
president of the Service Employees International Union; Julianne
Malveaux, TransAfrica Forum board member; Rev. Justus Y. Reeves,
executive director of the Mission Ministry of the Progressive
National Baptist Convention; the Coordinating Committee of the
Black Radical Congress; and William Lucy, president of the Coalition
of Black Trade Unionists.
considers the slanders unleashed by December 12 Movement activists
and others against the signers of the Open Letter a kind of
crude and unacceptable “gag rule” that is “designed to shut
down African American discourse on the subject of African development
and democracy, itself.” As we wrote in “The
Debate on Zimbabwe Will Not Be Throttled,” July 31:
a twisted kind of Black “solidarity” that mirrors the ‘patriotism’
of the white Right in the U.S., these groups claim that criticism
of Mugabe gives aid and comfort to American and British schemes
against the national independence of Zimbabwe. Since the Americans
and British are always scheming to commit crimes against
Africa, the threat to Black American critics of Mugabe and other
African Strong Men is meant to be a permanent injunction. Under
these terms, the time will never be right for progressives
in the Diaspora to make common cause with the African people,
if that involves strong critiques of specific African governments.”
made good use of the summer pause to compose a commentary-length
response to our Cover story and its five companion documents:
saw your story on Zimbabwe while reading one of my favorite
I just wanted to thank you for putting it together, including
a range of perspectives and in a format that hopefully can spark
a more serious level of discussion in the Pan-African World.
Lord knows we need it, because ignorance is our greatest internal
As an informed observer of the situation
in Zimbabwe and the debate taking place within our community,
I have been disappointed by what has been happening. In my view,
many of those most critical or supportive of the current government
who have spoken/written in the public, have used arguments based
on analyses that are insufficient to raise the level of consciousness
in our community to a level where we could actually mobilize
concrete support for the people of Zimbabwe.
Your story helps address those weaknesses
in the debate and opens up deeper questions which we need to
begin raise, such as:
1. How is our community going to tackle our
conditions as African people in the 21st century world, if our
discourse, debate and even definitions of "progressive
leaders and governments" are still based on 20th century
terms, labels and rhetoric?
I would be the first to salute Mugabe's historical
role in the liberation of Zimbabwe from colonial political rule.
At the same time, if liberation is defined as a process (not
an event), I can also be the first to be constructively critical
of Mugabe today given the current realities in the society which
ZANU-PF (as leaders) must accept a "share" of responsibility
for. In addition, I can raise the question of the value in evaluating
whether Mugabe's leadership represents a constraint or source
of support on the continued development of Zimbabwe in the future?
In the real world, just because someone is
outspokenly critical of imperialism does not put them above
criticism nor make them inherently progressive. Nor should anyone
who criticizes someone who has a record of "anti-imperialist
statements" be labeled as an "imperialists."
Some have compared Mugabe to Fidel Castro
as leading "progressives," "revolutionaries"
and "anti-imperialists." While they both may share
such labels based on their public rhetoric, in my view that
is insufficient to base such a position.
I would define Castro as a "revolutionary"
not because of his anti-imperialist rhetoric. It is because
of what he has been able to do to help empower the people of
the Cuban society. I believe it is what he has been able to
do in terms of improving the conditions of life for the masses
of Cuban people which is what makes him progressive, and at
the end of the day is what gives him the support to articulate
an anti-imperialist position to the world. In a sense the underlying
source of him being a "revolutionary" is not what
he says about the west. It is what he has done for the people
of Cuba that enables him to be critical of the west.
That to me is the kind of 21st century definition
and method of evaluation that our community needs to develop
about leaders and governments in Africa, if we want to help
African peoples to be empowered to control their societies.
The people of Zimbabwe can't eat, get health care, and receive
education based on how much anti-imperialist rhetoric the government
or political parties produce.
2. When is our community going to "learn"
how to deal with that fact that people/leaders/organizations
in our community can have different views, without allowing
our differences to become sources of division in our community?
If we do not learn this lesson from history, our community is
doomed to repeat past errors and to be divided and ineffective
like we did over the MPLA/UNITA split in Angola and Idi Amin
I mean today we have many people and groups
at the top in our community arguing different positions, based
on different perspectives and perhaps even agendas. That is
a reality along with the fact that many people do not like to
deal with contradictions. However, the cost of that reality
or not dealing with that reality of contradictions is an issue
that many in this debate seem to down play. I mean how can those
who support Mugabe not call into question the fact that he was
paying big bucks to Washington-based lobbyists that used to
be members of the Reagan Administration and supported Apartheid?
At the same time, how can those who are critical of Mugabe not
also call into question how much of the economic plan for Zimbabwe
developed by the MDC opposition party is little more then an
IMF and World Bank structural adjustment program. If "capitalists"
can have huge divisions among themselves as they do today with
the current administration, and yet still not be divided, why
can't we in our community?
In my view a real cost of the collective
weakness, is that the masses in our community are not learning
the truth about what they need to know in order to effectively
deal with the structural internal and external issues facing
the people of Zimbabwe. In the absence of knowing, our people
just remain followers of whoever is arguing one side or the
other, which does not truly empower our community to get informed,
to think and maybe to act.
article is a great contribution to that and I can only hope
that all of the groups and individuals who are either for
or critical of the current government in Zimbabwe will pick
up this effort to educate our people, not just debate each other
with simplistic generalizations and labels. As one informed
person noted in the debate, we should not blindly assume that
everything starts and ends with being supportive or critical
of Mugabe. There are other political forces in addition to ZANU-PF
and the MDC (which we don't hear about in the media) in the
Zimbabwean society that may offer a more progressive vision
It remains to be seen if either ZANU-PF or
the MDC offers a real progressive alternative path for the future
of the Zimbabwe society. A path which seeks to address the underlying
structural issues facing the society. We in the Diaspora can
and should play a supportive role in that kind of process, but
it starts with us really educating ourselves.
As much as I have ongoing friendships with
people who are supportive and critical of Mugabe, (some might
be critical of this letter) I hope that we can all agree on
the value of raising our collective level of consciousness in
our community. The issues of Zimbabwe are not just about Zimbabwe,
just as the issues of land in Zimbabwe are not just about who
owns the land. One good place to start in terms of learning,
would be to explore and discuss the analysis presented in Prof.
Horace Campbell's new book entitled: "Reclaiming
Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation."
Given that some in our community have labeled
Prof. Campbell an "imperialist" because he has been
critical of Mugabe, I hope that won't prevent people who are
either supportive or critical of Mugabe to explore the analysis
in the book and using it as a tool for informing our communities
about issues which affect the all societies and communities
in the Pan African world in the 21st century. That might
be one of the most "revolutionary" things both sides
of the debate could agree on and do together.
Campbell’s paper, “Need
for Debate on Realities of Life for the Zimbabwean Working Peoples”
was among the documents reviewed in our piece. The Syracuse
University political science and African American studies professor
prepared the paper for the June 20 national conference of the
Radical Congress. We consider the document to be an ideal
basis for serous discussion on contemporary Zimbabwe.
Likkud’s American agents
indicates that lots of people have gotten the mistaken impression
is somehow connected to Cynthia McKinney’s political operations.
The truth is, the former Georgia Congresswoman keeps turning
out such fine speeches, we can’t resist publishing them.
address to the U.S.
Campaign to End the Occupation organizers’ conference, in
Safety Without Peace. No Peace Without Change,” July 31)
McKinney recalled last summer’s primary election, when the America
Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) “targeted me for defeat.”
point I’m trying to make here is that what happened to me will
happen over and over and over again unless you make a stand.
You say you want a better US foreign policy, but what are you
willing to do about it? What are you willing to risk about
decades, AIPAC and its predecessors have marked for political
death U.S. elected officials who even mildly oppose Israeli
government policy. Journalist Gettye Israel shares with us her
research on the subject.
was good to finally read McKinney's response to the recent
political attack that she and [former Alabama Congressman Earl]
Hilliard received from pro-Israeli organizations, namely AIPAC.
organizations have not limited their crusade to black elected
officials who do not tow the line. Both blacks and white
who have dared to question or criticize the state of Israel
have been targeted. Hilliard
and McKinney are simply the latest political victims of this
George W. Ball (former Under Secretary of State) and Douglass
B. Ball wrote in The Passionate Attachment (America’s
Involvement with Israel, 1947 to the Present), “Faye
Williams, a 1986 candidate to become Louisiana’s first
female black member of the House. Jewish groups viciously attacked
her in the November election because her campaign manager, Sam
Burgan, was an American of Jordanian extraction. Although she
supported Israel and opposed the PLO, Sheldon Beychok, head
of a pro-Israel [organization], sent mailgrams urging her friends
to withdraw their support because she was a PLO sympathizer.”
my knowledge, the first political victim of pro-Israeli organizations
was white incumbent, Paul McCloskey [Republican] of California.
He criticized the Israeli lobbyists for blocking America’s
Middle East policies. Although he had consistently voted for
aid to Israel, he was critical of Israel for using the funds
to expand illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories. He
suggested that U.S. economic aid to Israel be reduced by the
amount Israel continued to spend on Jewish settlements in the
West Bank and Gaza. The
Anti-Defamation League accused McCloskey of being anti-Semitic.
“I had hoped that the American Jewish community had matured
to the point where its lobbying efforts could be described and
debated without raising the red flag of anti-Semitism,” he stated.
McCloskey was defeated by the former San Diego Mayor
Pete Wilson, who was heavily financed by the pro-Israeli forces,
according to authors Ball and Ball.
Congressman Paul Findley of Illinois, a former white incumbent,
was also a target of the pro-Israeli forces.
Although Findley had routinely supported pro-Israel legislation,
he made the identical mistake of former UN Ambassador Andrew
Young, who subsequently lost his post.
In 1980 he met publicly with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
and called for the recognition of the PLO.
Consequently he was labeled a “practicing anti-Semite”
and referred to as “one of the worst enemies that Jews and Israel
have ever faced in the history of the U.S. Congress.”
In 1982 Pro-Israel supporters financially backed Richard
Durbin, the challenger, and provided him with $685,000 of the
$750,000 total contributions that he received. Findley wrote
a book about his ordeal, None Dare Speak Out. In 2000 Senator Durbin received $232,671 from
the pro-Israel lobby.
Congressman Gus Savage, also of Illinois, was targeted by Pro-Israeli
organizations. Savage had been an outspoken critic of the
biased U.S. policy towards the Middle East conflict. He also criticized U.S. aid to Israel and its miniscule support
of Africa. In the early
90’s the pro-Israeli organizations threw their support behind
a younger, well-educated, pro-Israel black challenger, Mel Reynolds. According to Richard H. Curtiss’ Stealth
PACs: Lobbying Congress for Control of U.S. Middle East Policy,
Reynolds received $41,550 from pro-Israel Political Action Committees
(PAC), with 87% coming from sources outside of Illinois.
Subsequently, Reynolds defeated Savage.
However, Reynolds did not complete his term; he was incarcerated
for having phone sex with a minor.
other Black Congressional Representatives have received
significantly fewer funds from Pro-Israel organizations.
However, when compared to pro-Arab PACs, Jewish organizations
have contributed a lot more. From 1978-2000 black Congressional
Representatives have collectively received $589,458 from pro-Israel
PACs. Congressman John Lewis has received more funds from pro-Israel PACs
than any other black Congressman. Comparatively, only two Black
Congressional Representatives, Earl Hilliard ($2,500) and Cynthia
McKinney ($1,000) received contributions from the Arab/Muslim-American
PAC in 2000. For election periods, 1984, 1986, 1988 and
1990 black Congressional Representatives received a career total
taken from Stealth PACs: Lobbying Congress for Control of
U.S. Middle East Policy, and Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, October/November
have one major goal: to control Middle-East policy so as to
ensure that the military occupation continues. Further,
both democratic and republican administrations, senators and
representatives have been bought by these organizations.
During the 2000 election cycle, pro-Israel organizations contributed
$3,545,733 to Democrats and $2,192,769 to Republicans.
The payoff includes
presidential contenders Braun, Graham, Kerry, Lieberman and
Gephardt who received a cumulative total of $777,814 from
pro-Israel organizations and individuals between 1990-2202.
(Center for Responsive Politics).
politician who dares questions the government of Israel will
become the target of an “anti-Semitic” smear campaign in which
the objective is to silence and eradicate all opposition
to Israel's continued dominance and oppression of the Palestinian
people, the rightful heirs of the land, mistakenly known as
of the rich
nothing the Bush men hate worse than taxes – except poor people.
To further divert the Internal Revenue Service from the pockets
of its friends, the White House set the IRS loose on millions
of working families that have been, since 1975, collecting modest
Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), averaging around $2,000. As
we reported in our July 31 commentary, “Bush
Uses IRS to Push Around Poor People,” the scheme demands
that the poor provide extensive documentation to prove that
they are entitled to monies “that they have already earned
through years of Social Security payments.”
Bush men are carrying on the tradition of harassing the poor
away from programs that might better their lives. While congressional
strangulation has crippled the IRS’s ability to audit rich individuals,
whose cheating costs the public an estimated $30 billion a year,
the Bush Treasury Department proposes to force the poor to jump
through impossible hoops to receive help in caring for their
successfully lobbied against some of the wickedest rule changes,
including a requirement that caretakers prove they are related
to the children they are raising ‘by submitting marriage certificates
from marriages that occurred many years ago, or in other countries,
or between two people other than the person filing the forms,’
said ACORN spokesman David Swanson. There can be no purpose
to such torture by paperwork than to drive deserving families
out of the program.”
grotesque assault on EITC is yet more proof of the utter cynicism
of the Hard Right, as they
“conspire to weaken both the extended families of the
poor and the neighborhood ties that support these families.”
Quinn has a metaphor to fit the crime.
I just want to bury my head in the sand – but they keep taking
away the sand.
It gets awfully tiring just living in this country any more and finding
out nearly daily about some other way people are getting screwed. One wonders just how long it can continue.
I think I see a possible loophole for the poor in this idea, though: ”However,
under the proposed rules neighbors who also care for children
cannot sign affidavits attesting
to the child’s residency unless they are licensed providers.
(Ministers are exceptions!)”
Several years ago my son told me about a website
where anyone could get licensed as a minister. I wonder if it still exists. If you’re forced to play the game….
Which brings me to another issue I have a problem with in this country
– the complaint of the duped Republican lower-middle class folks
who decry the ruses that the poor sometimes use to collect welfare. It doesn’t seem to be so much of a problem when the rich play the
Bush regime is what happens when the Pirates seize the state,
and employ it as their own weapon.
secessionist white men
month’s Democratic Leadership Council “National Conversation,”
in Philadelphia, gathered together the collective dead weight
of the Democratic Party to mourn the plight of the insecure
white male. Not content to own and control vastly more than
is their due in every premium space in society, the white male
longs for a Democratic Party that is more like – the Republican
Party! DLC pollsters spit out numbers based on ridiculously
biased surveys indicating that minorities and unions offend
the sensibilities of white males. Insufficiently warlike behavior
on the part of Democrats will force white males to cling to
George Bush’s flight suit in 2004, said the DLCers, darkly hinting
that, should one of their own fail to win the nomination, the
right wing of the party might just follow the white male herd.
done it before, and we hope they do it again. That was the gist
of our July 31 commentary, “The
DLC’s National White Man’s Conversation: Let the rich rump of
the party go where they belong.”
white voters that the DLC invokes have already left the Party,
especially in the South. Thus, even if Blacks and progressives
were willing to once again sacrifice their own agendas to appease
the insecure (actually, just plain racist) whites of both sexes,
the electoral rewards would be minimal. The U.S. already has
one White Man’s Party. The DLC cannot build another one with
a white rump of “swing” voters – and this year, Blacks and progressives
are determined to stop them in the attempt.
liberal use of “A More Perfect Union,” the 2001 book authored
by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, with Frank Watkins, that also
inspired elements of Rev. Al Sharpton’s presidential campaign
platform. Congressman Jackson looked back with hindsight
at his own father’s maneuvers within the Party.
shortcoming of his two presidential campaigns was the failure
to build a sustained grassroots political organization that
specifically helped find, train, and elect genuinely progressive
candidates; something highly politically organized within the
Democratic Party just short of a third party. Had he created
a lasting progressive wing of Democrats, conservative Democratic
presidential candidates – and conservative Democrats generally
– could not say to progressives that they need to get on board
because 'they have no place else to go.' Under such circumstances,
progressives just might be able to go someplace else.
I suggesting that that means progressives should, at some point,
consider bolting the Democratic Party en masse for a third party?
Not necessarily. Perhaps we should try something never tried
before, seriously organizing political progressives within the
party so we will be respected for what we bring to the table
and treated as full participants in the existing Democratic
Party. Conservative Democrats have much more of a destructive
history of leaving the party (and the Union) than progressives.
Ralph Nader is the rare modern-day exception.”
Marjie Colson, like ,
searches for signs of a Democratic Party that is not just “someplace
else to go,” but a place worth staying in.
read your comments on the DLC and appreciated them. They
(DLC) sit like a heavy wet blanket on the rest of us.
But what about the Progressive Caucus in
the House of Representatives? I used to know John Lewis and
liked him, and admire Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee.
It looks to me like there is promising leadership developing
in the caucus. Wishful thinking, maybe?
I deserted the party in 1996 and 2000 to
vote for Ralph Nader. Gore was such a loser and so dishonest
I couldn't vote for him. I was proud to vote for Ralph.
I think he is one of the great men of our times.
I am glad to have found your web site and
will continue to enjoy reading it.
Shirley Smith wishes
good riddance to the DLC.
I love your paper. I am sick at what has become of the Democratic Party
– namely, the DLC. I don't consider the DLC as being Democrats.
The DLC are very proud about putting people in their places
in the Democratic Party.
I am a Liberal. I don't buy into the propaganda
that has tried to make Liberal a dirty word. The DLC is Right
of Center – right close to Bush. They lost the last election
due to many of their own ads quoting Bush and telling voters
that they agreed with Bush.
The Republicans didn't need to spend any
money on the election – the Democrats did their campaigning
for them. I should say the DLC.
Did the DLC learn a lesson? No. They will not listen to anyone,
much in the same way that Bush and his cabal refuse to listen
to Americans or people around the world. The DLC would rather
listen to the professional groups who are consultants to the
DLC. They worry about the voters who can't make up their mind.
They should be worrying about all of the voters who quit voting
because the Democratic Party refuses to act like Democrats.
Republicans are the Corporate Party and corporations are entities and
couldn't care less about Americans. Who needs the Republicans
or the DLC? Someone please take them.
death in Vietnam, remembered
the Vietnam generation is about to slip into commercial irrelevancy,
with at least one foot in the mass marketers’ least-sought-after
demographic category, a resurgent imperialism threatens Apocalypse,
Now and Forever, making old voices sound like oracles.
co-publisher Glen Ford’s July 3 commentary, “Fear
of a Black Street Army” recalled the 1965 troop buildup
that boosted U.S. ground forces above half a million, a largely
Black infusion that was designed to avoid excessive loss of
white middle class lives, but resulted in creation of a “Black
Street Army” that effectively “shut down the war.”
the Bush-Cheney Pirates plan unending warfare, to be waged by
an all volunteer military that Ford describes as “a Confederacy
in arms,” drawn disproportionately from the white South.
percent of the U.S. military enlisted from southern states in
2000, up from 31 percent in 1980. Dixie’s military dominance
dwarfs all other regions – the Northeast accounts for just 14
percent of recruits, the West, 23 percent, and the Midwest,
African Americans comprise 26 percent of the Army (and 22 percent
of the combined services), that proportion is halved among the
‘combat’ specialties such as infantry and armored gun crews,
and sliced further in the elite units that form the cutting
edges of war. The good old boys rule in these outfits – by design.”
in stark contrast to the Vietnam era, when elite Army units
were disproportionately – often majority – Black. In addition,
the 80 percent white officer corps, wrote Ford, has become thoroughly
politicized along Republican lines in the three decades since
the end of the draft.
prompted Bruce Foote, of Landover, Maryland, to travel back
into his own archives.
just read Glen Ford's article "Fear of a Black Street Army"
and it reminded me of my time in Vietnam and my many visits
to the welcoming oasis we knew as the "Soul Bar".
For many of us who were stationed in Saigon, a visit to the
Soul Bar was part of our daily routine. After going through
the ritual of giving some "dap" to everyone in the
place, we could just chill and listen to the juke box playing
the latest "soul" music that was available. The bar
girls didn't hassle you too much for "Saigon Tea,"
and white GI's were not allowed. For a while it was located
directly on "Plantation Road" but later the Soul Bar
moved to a place down an alley off Plantation Road. I
will always have fond memories of the place.
But unfortunately there's also an unpleasant
memory of a Black soldier from Newark, NJ being gunned down
by the MPs a few weeks before his tour of duty was scheduled
to end. He was spending the night at the Soul Bar and
the MPs raided the place looking for soldiers who may have been
violating the curfew. The brother went to the roof trying
to get away and he was shot from the roof by an MP.
Those of us stationed in or visiting Saigon
were not permitted to carry weapons. So the MPs were searching
for fellow Americans who they knew were unarmed. Yet they
shot and killed an unarmed Brother whose only threat was that
he might get away from them and escape the consequences of getting
caught violating curfew. And they got away with it. We
don't know what kind of story the Army gave the parents about
how their son died.
societies beget racist wars that spawn more racist murderers,
who then return to the scene of the original crime.
the following organizations for sending visitors our way during
the past two weeks: