Fight on, Sister McKinney
Afghan dope on U.S. streets
Black futures on the market
bears witness to racist crime
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electoral defeat of Rep. Cynthia McKinney signals the end of any "special
relationship" between African Americans and mainstream organized
American Jewry. Plenty of Blacks will make themselves available to tell
these mainstream Jewish organizations differently, but the end has come,
(Note my language,
carefully: I did not say that we have reached the end of any relationship
with "the Jews." I did not make blanket reference to "Jews"
in general. "Mainstream" refers to the powerful, established,
politically directed institutions that claim to speak for Jewish American
concerns. They are well known, and require no listing in this brief
Many African Americans
will say the final break has been a long time in the making, that the
relentless attacks on affirmative action mounted by mainstream Jewish
groups beginning in the Seventies sundered Black-Jewish connections,
decisively. I don't think relationships among peoples are as simple
as that. When old ties unravel, they make a mess of the place, leaving
frays here and clumps over there. It's hard to be sure what tore when.
But when the relationship
is truly over, both parties know it. Sometimes it's nobody's fault,
or a shared responsibility. In the case of the massive unraveling that
has occurred over the past year - climaxing in the assaults on Rep.
Cynthia McKinney - mainstream Jewish groups must take all of the blame.
mainstream organizations have fallen under the sway of racist right-wingers
in both Israel and the United States. They have acted in concert with
the Christian and corporate Hard Right to undermine Black political
cohesion and independence. They promote the careers of Black surrogates
to thwart the genuine aspirations of the people. This is the conduct
of an enemy.
have acted with cruel, gratuitous arrogance. They have already
achieved over-kill levels of congressional influence in Middle East
affairs, but insist on grinding the last, mainly Black pockets of opposition
into the dirt. They brag and strut, reveling in their power to intervene
in the politics of the Black community. Such displays of relative strength
- rooted in money and media - are designed to create deep animosities.
We will all reap the whirlwind.
Perhaps there has
been significant internal protest within mainstream Jewry against this
charge to the right, but we have not heard it. Instead, those media
organs most closely associated with the Jewish mainstream have spoken
with one voice, as if reading from a common script, with words of open
contempt for the dignity and aspirations of Black people. They have
lied and smeared and, yes, conspired to foist their own candidates upon
ties are becoming especially hostile.
The Black Commentator
engages in vigorous critiques of the internal workings of the African
American body-politic. We do not shy away from "airing dirty linen
in public," because we realize that it is impossible to reach the
Black public without everyone else listening in. We also believe it
is important to address our white allies - and they do exist - plainly
We don't hear the
sounds of any equivalent debate from within the centers of mainstream
Jewish organizations. Even on the Jewish Left, the near-silence is appalling.
To us, that signifies either cowardice or capitulation to the racists
of the congregation.
Jews continue to
be at the core of white progressivism in America - as individuals.
And we acknowledge the many, small groups that proclaim themselves to
be committed to peace and justice as Jews. I know that many Jewish
progressives recoil in revulsion at the havoc that is being wreaked
in the name of the Jews. Their burden has become heavier in the
wake of 9 - 11 and the madness that has swept Tel Aviv and Washington.
The dramatic rightward
lunge within the American Jewish mainstream affects more than just relations
with African Americans. It is intimately connected to the criminal policies
of the Ariel Sharon regime in Israel. For a look at the American supporters
of Sharon who are behind some of the most horrific distortions in U.S.
foreign policy, we recommend "The Men From JINSA and CSP,"
by Jason Vest, in this week's issue of The Nation - a magazine largely
written by Jews who remain on the right side of history.
earned the overwhelming support of Blacks, nationally and within her
district. Her stature as a leader has been enhanced for having fought
so courageously. The American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
and its money, the media that it speaks through, and the Republicans
and other rightists who combined against McKinney cannot separate her
from her constituency, or weaken Black determination to exercise our
own political will.
AIPAC has done Jews
a great disservice.
A tale of two
Two sets of families
of 9/11 victims filed suit in federal court, this summer, seeking to
prove that culpability for the attacks goes beyond Osama bin Laden's
al Qaida. One group went after bin Laden's family business, members
of the Saudi Arabian royal family, and the nation of Sudan, demanding
$116 trillion. This faction made lots of news.
The second group
filed suit against President Bush, Vice President Cheney, National Security
Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Norman
Mineta, Secretary of Transportation. These families are only suing for
$7 billion dollars, but the much lower price tag is not the reason you
probably never heard about their litigation.
Both sets of plaintiffs
present compelling scenarios to back up their claims. Each group should
be seen as having equal moral authority, as relatives of people killed
under the same circumstances. But only one of the suits is deemed fully
The group suing
the Saudis and Sudan wants to bankrupt both nations, charging they are
financiers of terrorism. On the face of things, the anti-Arab litigants
would seem like the more wild-eyed parties - $116 trillion is almost
12 times the yearly gross domestic product of the United States, the
world's biggest economy. Put another way, the award sought is equal
to three years of the entire planet's economic output ($37.7
The more modest,
$7 billion families charge that Bush and his cronies knew in the months
and weeks before September 11 that something horrible was about to happen,
and let the crime unfold, anyway. As the online publication Truth Out
explains, this is called the LIHOP theory: Let It Happen On Purpose.
The 400 anti-Bush family members cite repeated warnings from Israeli,
German, Russian and Egyptian intelligence agencies, of plans to hijack
airplanes to use as weapons against U.S. targets of symbolic importance.
The 600 anti-Arab
relatives refer to evidence uncovered by French intelligence, that the
Saudi princes were being shaken down by bin Laden, after having initially
funded his activities. The princes were afraid, the story goes, that
bin Laden would attack their business enterprises if they didn't pay
him hush money.
These two versions
of reality are not mutually exclusive. They do not contradict one another,
and can be argued on their own terms. Both contain facts that are now
obvious: The foreign intelligence warnings were real. Dick Cheney and
Presidential-brother Jeb Bush took precautions that make no sense unless
they were fearful of something big. Saudi princes did fund bin Laden
projects. Sudan did have a financial arrangement with Al Qaida operatives.
Yet major media
coverage favors the anti-Arab faction of litigants. It's a lot safer,
politically, although the LIHOP theory is at least as rich in evidence.
When it comes to
searching for dangerous truths, the corporate media don't want to know.
Fields of poppies,
but no news
We have yet to read
any breakdown of the percentage of heroin reaching U.S. streets from
Afghanistan since the crushing of the Taliban, who by most accounts
had seriously attempted to eradicate the poppy crop. Reports from cities
around the U.S. indicate that cheap smack is in big supply. As we wrote
in our April 5 issue, the CIA's covert arrangements with anti-Soviet
Afghans in the late-Seventies and early Eighties succeeded in boosting
the Afghan share of the U.S. heroin market to 60 %.
show clearly that pro-U.S. Afghan warlords are cashing in on the country's
poppy crop with impunity, their reward for standing by the American-installed
government in Kabul. However, the consequent reign of terror on American
streets appears to be a taboo subject for most American reporters, in
sharp contrast to the British press. "[A] bumper harvest suggests
an increased amount of the drug on its way to the UK, where 90% of heroin
originates in Afghanistan," reports the BBC. "The new government
in Kabul has to rely on a patchwork of militias and factions, some of
whom are heavily involved in the drugs trade themselves."
Every warlord in
Afghanistan is a paid ally of the U.S. To remain outside the fold means
death or a cave-bound existence. The Taliban and al Qaida are in no
shape to cultivate or refine poppies. The Afghan heroin on U.S. streets
is a result of the way George Bush is running the war. Now, don't you
Don't bet Black
futures on the market
Last issue, we noted
that Burger King, the number two icon of American cuisine and the focus
of many Black self-help through franchise-ownership dreams of days gone
by, had been unceremoniously gobbled up by a faceless conglomerate.
We thought it a sign of the times that BK's selling price, $2.26 billion,
represented just 60% of the value of a single, $3.8 billion (felonious)
"mistake" on the Expense ledgers of Worldcom, a now-bankrupt
We brought this
item to your attention to dramatize the cosmic scale of money-manipulation
- legal and illegal - under contemporary corporate rule, and to take
a dig at those who once (and still) preached Black liberation through
private capital accumulation.
No sooner had we
published the issue, than Worldcom announced that it had found another
"mistake" worth an additional $3.3 billion, bringing the total
discrepancy to $7.1 billion - more than three times the value
of Burger King!
A whole world of
ghetto dreams shrinks to the vanishing point, in such a mad universe.
It was with sadness, then, that we witnessed a speaker at the Reparations
rally in Washington make the case for the centrality of Black business
in the struggle to transform African American lives. All of us are forced
to maneuver under the terms of global corporatism; the super-rich invented
the rules and run the game. In this framework, we build our little companies
to accomplish what we want to do in life. There is no other choice at
this point in history, because the rules allow none.
But please, do not
spin dreams of liberation based on "the market." We cannot
sit down at that table, where Burger King is served up as a snack for
the real players.
More free enterprise
We'd like to share
with you a portion of one of Black South Carolina Congressman James
Clyburn's reports to his constituents. Clyburn does a great service
by testifying to the true nature of "free enterprise" in the
In 1971, Governor
John Carl West appointed me the first African American to hold an
administrative position on a South Carolina chief executive's staff
- at least as far as we know. I feel certain, however, that a memorandum
I saw while serving in that capacity was not intended for my eyes.
The memorandum had been written by an economic development consultant
and listed counties to be avoided when recruiting industry to the
state. These counties were all rural and all predominantly black.
The theory was that South Carolina, a right to work state, could see
the proliferation of labor unions if industries located in these counties
because African Americans were deemed to be "joiners." At
the time I didn't understand the significance of what I had seen.
Today I do.
Some of those counties
now fall within Clyburn's district, and are among the least developed
in the state. What the congressman describes is organized theft and
corruption, glimpsed briefly 31 years ago, resulting in ruination of
Black lives in South Carolina to this very day. In the tally of Reparations,
what is this single, accidentally witnessed crime worth? How many billions
of dollars would be required to address this injustice to Clyburn's
hundreds of thousands of Black constituents, alone?
A few more Black
businesses in the deliberately blighted area will not begin to make
up for such systemic depredation. Far more useful would be efforts to
unionize the entire district, state and region, and thus bring about
the racists' original, worst nightmare.