Randall Kennedy and bad whiskey
McKinney: pain, sorrow and anger
Dr. Onyeani challenged on Zimbabwe
Offer to buy out The Black Commentator

Dear Reader,

We hope that we mauled N-word author Randall Kennedy sufficiently last issue to at least momentarily deter him from further assaults on Black people's dignity and sensibilities - although racial treachery seems to be his nature. In composing the August 22 piece on the Harvard-based public intellectual disgrace (The N-word 3 Ways), we thought it appropriate to borrow two quotations from the recently published American Directory of Certified Uncle Toms. The directory, from which few Black luminaries emerge unscathed, was put together by the Council on Black Internal Affairs. Shelton Amstrod's firm assisted in the preparation of the manuscript for publication.

Your deconstruction of Randall Kennedy is brilliant! All of those Harvard negroes deserve a whuppin' like that. I would make 4 points:

1) Kennedy has a long history and he is praised by Alan Dershowitz in his book, "The Vanishing American Jew," for "standing up against black anti-Semitism" at Harvard (p. 133). At the Harvard lecture by Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad of the Nation of Islam (which I attended c: 1992) Kennedy actually snatched a protest sign from a white student (he was the only Black among the protesters) and held it up to Dr. Muhammad.

2) Kennedy is being used, as you so eloquently proved, to sanitize abusive anti-black rhetoric on white folks' behalf. It is interesting to note that Archie Bunker was used in this very same way. He popularized racist slurs and made racists almost huggable. What is not known is that internal CBS studies proved that the series would actually increase racism, and they aired it anyway and trashed the studies! Kennedy is Archie, Pantheon is William Paley
(See http://www.blacksandjews.com/ArchieBunker.Jews.html).

3) Harvard, as a whole, is where many, many racist philosophies have found happy repose. From the Indian "re-education" in the 1600s, to the pro-slavery, anti-abolitionists of the 1800s, to Agassiz' scientific racism theories, to its anti-Black policies in the 1900s, to its homestead for public uncle toms in the 2000s, "Harvard has ruined more negroes than bad whiskey."

And, 4) That nigger Kennedy is just no damn good.

Hear, hear! Or whatever they say at Harvard.

Dennis Kyne advises that we were wasting our time denouncing the author of, "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word."

What would Stokely Carmichael have to say about the time and space you are wasting on the N word, it is a word, and sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Or Bob Marley, the one good thing about music, is when it hits, you feel no pain. The world is a brain game. Stokely figured it out forty years ago. The should pay attention to the time you spend, as it is your only inventory. Deliberating over whether white people should say nigger or not is not cost effective when contemplating ways to spend your time.

The very laid back Mr. Kyne sounds like he was feeling no pain when he wrote this letter; but we get his point, which is shared by a lady who prefers to remain anonymous.

Being an African American and reader of your publication, I would like to feedback on your articles about the N-Word. Personally, I have become fed up reading about the N-Word. We as African-Americans need to stop making such a big deal out of matters that pertain to us. We get on one subject and run it in the ground. When an incident, such as the use of the N-Word becomes a racial issue, we need to address it at that moment and leave it alone. Afterward, let it go.

Reader Christine Gebhard comes from a country that turned racist words into mountains of human ash. She's familiar with hate-words in at least two languages.

I didn't read Kennedy's book and I won't. I only read the article about it on your website. I am German and white. Belonging to a so-called "superior" race with a white history we should be deeply ashamed of, we (whites) don't need a book which tries to whitewash the most hateful and cruel word I know.

Slavery in the USA and the German Holocaust is history. But the racism, ignorance, and hate on which both are grounded, is still alive. White people need much more education about the true history and that we whites have invented many words to degrade people who are different, just to justify our racist systems.

There shouldn't be the effort to "soften" words in the mind of people, especially white people. What a nightmare imagination: White people start feeling comfortable with using the N-word, which has such a horrible history (and present), because some Black people tell them, this is ok, as long as it isn't meant to be hateful.

But perhaps this book is a bad sign of our present: Again we whites as a whole are not able to confront ourselves with our dark parts of history. No, we are looking for somebody who is able to clearify our conscience. It is really sad when the oppressed people start telling the oppressors that the hateful words they use to degrade and humiliate them are acceptable. This is brainwashing. In its most effective ways, white supremacy reached its goal.

White supremacy made a comeback in blackface in DeKalb County, Georgia, last month. The sadness and rage over Rep. Cynthia McKinney's loss in the sprawl of metropolitan Atlanta is only beginning to be translated into hard analysis and effective action (see Cynthia McKinney's Honorable Defeat), but Michael Herron is issuing a blanket indictment. Herron signed his message, "an Angry Cynthia McKinney Supporter."

I stood out on a street corner for 2 days waving a McKinney sign in the air. I made telephone calls. I stuffed mailboxes and I put up yard signs and passed out flyers. I begged people to come out to vote. They said; sure I'll be there. Some of the same people that I spoke to (I called them back on the telephone) stated that they had something to do and didn't get a chance to make it to the polls, then had the nerve to tell me that they were very upset that McKinney had lost. They blamed it on the Jews! Her voters didn't show up at the polls. If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain. You should shut the hell up.

This isn't the Jews fault, this isn't AJC's fault, and it's not the Republicans fault. It's our black parents fault for not teaching our lazy asses the importance of voting. If you don't vote you don't deserve to complain about anything. The people with the votes have the power. When you have a majority and you don't stick together you deserve to get screwed hard, deep and rough with anything they can screw you with. Like I said, if you don't vote you don't have the right to complain. Shut Up!

Ties that no longer bind

The Letter to Our Readers section of our last issue (Fight on, Sister McKinney) began, "The electoral defeat of Rep. Cynthia McKinney signals the end of any 'special relationship' between African Americans and mainstream organized American Jewry." We expected, and received, a spirited response.

Your note on the defeat of Cynthia McKinney was thoughtful, but I think you got it wrong.

First, there was no special relationship between AIPAC and the black community to end. AIPAC is a simple-minded right wing lobbying organization with a simple, single-minded agenda that has nothing to do with race. If there was a black congresswoman who publicly and loudly said that she both thought white people were evil devils and that the Sharon government was always right, AIPAC would, robotically, support her. On the other hand, I'm sure they would support a Klan member who was in favor of the right wing Israeli factions just the same. They would support a creature from Pluto as long as it supported extending the suicidal settlement policy for more years. The AIPAC agenda is certainly stupid and self-defeating, but it's not anti-black as far as I can tell.

Second, AIPAC had very little to do with CM's defeat. What defeated CM was the left's habitual disregard for getting stop signs put in, helping people do paperwork for the government, and getting pork (or the hallal/kosher equivalent). All those dull things that only matter to working people, but not to all the clever progressive intellectuals. Compare CM and Hilliard's records to Barbara Lee or Dingell or Rangel, and you will see why those two members of the Black Caucus were in trouble while others were invulnerable. You gotta return phone calls, show up at Rotary Club meetings, get people's kids into the Academies, and get money into the district if you want to keep the job.

Third, there is a special relationship between blacks and Jews that cannot be destroyed by AIPAC or anyone else. The relationship is sustained by both good and evil. As long as Jews and African-Americans remember their shared heritage of slavery and oppression we will be tied together in our shared and perilous journey to freedom. And if we are not good and thoughtful enough to remember that we are in this together, the Aryan Nations folks will try to help us. Peoples who fight their natural allies while their bitter enemies gain strength have a special mention in the book of fools. I hope that American Jews and African-Americans don't add another chapter to this book.

"Citizen K" is sorry to remain anonymous, "but that's how it has to be right now," she says.

Citizen K misses our point. Of course there has never been any relationship between African Americans and the American Israel Political Affairs Committee. AIPAC's policies are made in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Its only relationship to American politics is that of a foreign agent.

Our remarks were directed at mainstream Jewish organizations, indigenous American institutions. Their position on McKinney was succinctly expressed by Ira N. Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council: "One of the most antagonistic persons - if not the most antagonistic person - to the U.S.-Israel relationship is gone." Note that Forman's concern is for "the U.S.-Israel relationship," not the Black-Jewish relationship. Forman and his colleagues' priorities are clear, as is the responsibility for the demise of the Black-Jewish relationship, in organized form.

It is in this spirit that Bert Zackim took to task, and threw in some Arab-bashing.

Whatever "special" relationship that did, or did not exist between Blacks and Jews might or might not be compromised by the defeat of Ms. McKinney. She has to accept, as you do, the consequences of her own specious and sometimes outrageous comments. Did not the electorate have the last word, most specifically in the voting booth? You make it sound as if the Jews paid the Blacks, and the Republican voters took a few bucks from the Hebrews. You give the Jews too much credit and too much power. The responsibility belongs to the voter, and mostly to Ms. McKinney, who sided with the slave holding slave-trading Arabs. So much for her thinking process. I am happy that she is out of office.

Frankly, we needed some air after that one. A fresh breeze arrived from Lois Swartz, one of the good guys.

We, Jews, organized a McKinney fundraiser in Philadelphia because she was a good candidate and because the traditional organized Jewish community claims to speak in one voice. They are not speaking in our name and we created a coalition with Jews, Muslims, Christians, African Americans and others. I read your editorial with a heavy heart. If the mainstream Jewish organizations know the relationship is over they won't admit it. We dissidents want to keep working on peace and justice issues in coalition with others.

Where I get uncomfortable is when Cynthia McKinney's father and I assume others say it was the J E W S that were to blame. His comment and I assume his thinking are too simplistic for the complexity of today's world. American Jews are very short sighted in becoming a one issue, support Israel at any cost machine and giving up progressive politics. We haven't. When we had our fundraiser, our closest contact with Blacks was through our friendship with a Delta. Chaka Fattah, our congressman, was "out of town" and Jerry Mondesire and J. Wyatt Mondesire (Sunday Sun) never replied to our invitation. We plan to continue with our coalition building and to go from strength to strength.

P.S. We were a front page article in the Forward, which my grandparents read in Yiddish. Lois Swartz, Bubbes and Zaydes for Peace in the Middle East. Despite the name we are not a one issue group.

Ms. Swartz sent along a column from Ahmed Bouzid, President of Palestine Media Watch, in which Bouzid referred to the fundraiser organized by Swartz's Philadelphia group: "For all their differences, the people in that room had this in common: they were against the Israeli occupation, for a just and lasting peace and coexistence in the Middle East, against religious intolerance and bigotry and against the warmongering fever that has swept across the halls of our government."

Steve Cohen writes with a clear head and a troubled heart.

Just wanted to thank you for your precise and well-argued piece on the McKinney defeat. You hit it on the nose saying just what needed to be said.

As a Jew who grew up with the "special relationship" I know we have lost something important and I am angry at the leaders of "my community" who seem to delight in pouring gasoline on that relationship as they forge a new Jewish identity from which I recoil.

First-time Black Commentator reader Gary Spencer is engaged in a political search operation, and found us while "wondering where progressive black folks had been on the net." His views on the defeat of McKinney:

Her loss speaks to a bigger problem for progressive African Americans: when a candidate who has been progressive in the past loses credibility, what do we do? I live in the Atlanta area and wanted McKinney to succeed. She was great on the issues: affirmative action, the environment, pro-privacy, pro-choice, etc. However, her campaign, and therefore by implication, her, never did articulate a clear policy on the middle east. I believe her policy was probably one of evenhandedness, unlike the U.S. policy heretofore, but it came out like, "Jews, kiss my @#$." In addition, her father, who kept his nose in the campaign, made annual anti-Semitic statements, and she couldn't seem to keep him out of her business.

I think she was right to say that Sept. 11 needed to be investigated, but was there any evidence she could share that Bush hid the prior info to help his friends? That was really over the top. Was there no one to talk to her to help her to self-censor some of the craziness prior to her speaking it?

Mind you, I believe her replacement will be a weak, middle of the road sort of democrat that has not helped us more in the past. I was sorry [Majette] won, but I understand why she did. Unfortunately, the moderate view looked better than the outspoken view, because the latter did not speak with a clear policy that a broad range of progressives would want.

The discussion I want to have is how do we get more progressive candidates in office? Is the Democratic Party worth it?

That depends on the ability of Blacks and progressives to reshape the party, which must either respond to the Hard Right's New Black Strategy or collapse. We'll explore the immediate and long-term challenges in our September 19 issue. Meanwhile, Mr. Spencer appears to believe that Denise Majette and Arthur Davis, the congressperson-elect from Alabama who rode in on the same money train, should be viewed simply as "moderate" Democrats, and nothing more. That is a fatal misjudgment. Trojan Horses are the most dangerous devices of warfare - stealth weapons.

Emily White is also a recent member of 's readership.

I thoroughly enjoyed your comments about Congresswoman McKinney. She is the victim of the hard-right. Although at times I shuddered at some of her remarks, just a little too outspoken, she nevertheless would have earned my continued support had I been in her district. Keep up the good work.

Zimbabwe: similar views from MSU

We received two letters from Michigan State University, home of one of nation's most impressive African Studies departments, responding to Dr. A. Chika Onyeani's September 22 Guest Commentary on white farmers in Zimbabwe. Dr. Tracy Dobson is a professor of fisheries and wildlife currently studying conditions in Malawi, who has been "following events in Zimbabwe for quite some time." He writes:

I thought the writer on Zimbabwe overlooked some important points. Yes, the British taking [dating back] 100-150 years ago was a horrible thing, but I think that the author oversimplifies the current situation. For example, there are hundreds/thousands of black workers on those white farms who have been displaced by the violence, and they and their families have been seriously harmed by it all. I don't know of many who would disagree with the underlying premise, but it's a question of how to do it reasonably, fairly, and least disruptively. In Africa, Zimbabwe's was the strongest economy outside of South Africa, and it now stands in ruins because of this, harming all Zimbabweans. How does this help? And, you should consider into whose hands lands are going. Most, perhaps all are going to Mugabe's friends and supporters, elite folks, not poor farmers!

MSU professor Bill Derman reports that he has "just returned from two months research in Zimbabwe and have been conducting research there for 15 years." He also speaks to the plight of the farm workers.

The guest commentator on Zimbabwe is long on rhetoric and short on facts and analysis. Leave aside the focus on the farm owners and focus on the farm workers: what justifies their terrorization, brutalization and forced removal from their work and homes by people claiming to be war veterans, etc.? This is one of the most brutal forced dispossessions in independent Africa of a vulnerable, poor African working class. I continue to be amazed at the silence of those who claim to speak on behalf of the poor and oppressed to ignore farm workers. Lastly, it is not just workers but families who are loosing their homes, possessions, work, opportunities for education, etc.

Professor Derman has agreed to contribute a Guest Commentary on the subject.

We became familiar with the work of the next writer, Jared Ball, through the website of Organized Community Of United People (C.O.U.P.), a group of young activists in the Washington, D.C. area.

Thank you Black Commentator for taking a stance far too many are afraid to take. Too often Black "leaders," "educators," and "journalists" choose to hide behind either a paucity of knowledge or a similar lack of integrity and refuse to expose those harmful to our well-being.

As a youngish teacher, student and activist I cannot express powerfully enough how important it is to have sound and decidedly subjective critique and criticism to help us shape our arguments and direction. The constant wavering and insultingly false claims of objectivity weaken us. Objectivity in terms of politics, history, journalism, etc. is as much a myth as the tooth fairy, Easter bunny or American democracy.

Thank you for reminding us of the true purpose of journalism, writing and education. We need to remember the missions of Sam Cornish, John Russwurm, Ida B. Wells, JA Rogers and WEB DuBois. Our efforts in whatever area should have the unabashed, unapologetic goal of improving the lives of Black people and humanity as a whole. As Dr. John Henrik Clarke used to say, "education [journalism, writing, etc] has but one true purpose.... to teach us how to be responsible handlers of power."

We thank Mr. Ball, whose organization is engaged in both organizing and analytical projects.

The Black Commentator is proud that our readership is heavy with teachers and political leaders. The following writer is both.

I wish to convey my personal appreciation for your commentary. Often times, I do not fully agree with your presentations; however, that's only about 10% or less. As a professor of history, I will have my students read your commentary for their current events. Thank you!

Clarence "Tiger" Davis
Delegate, 45th Legislative District (Maryland)
Professor of History, Morgan State University

Peer recognition is good for the soul and the ego. Our burdens were made lighter on receipt of this message:

Yours is an absolutely first rate web site, essential browsing for anyone with a serious interest in African American affairs. My congratulations.

Jack White, retired columnist for Time magazine and now an occasional columnist for Savoy.

Mr. White's letter reminds us that journalism was once an honorable profession.

Karl Grotke, as you will learn, is an emotional type.

I read most everything you publish. I read it and laugh, shudder and once or twice almost come to tears. It is rare to find a media outlet that so often mimics what I have thought and known for years.

I should mention I am white, work for the federal Government (as a contractor) and have lived my life in a very middle class county in Maryland. I can't say that you have changed my mind on major issues but you have shown me an insight that I had till now missed.

Finally, Lance Watkins informs us that he has completed his preliminary assessment and concluded that is a worthwhile investment in time.

I wanted to inform you that I truly appreciate the depth and perception of issues put forth by Black Commentator. I had often been disappointed by other so-called intellectuals with panderistic, watered down fluff who would sell out at the first opportunity. Please keep up the good work. If you do decide to cash out in the future, please give Black people (including me) the first right of refusal.

Brother Watkins's remarks inspired the " buyout" headline at the top of this column, a shameless ploy to draw you into our eMailbox.

Keep writing.

Organized Coup website

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Other commentaries in this issue:

Cynthia McKinney's Honorable Defeat: The Hard Right's New Black Strategy rolls on

America Held Hostage - by Bush: Public safety doled out for a political price

A letter to our readers: Mugabe in the cross-hairs

Commentaries in Issue Number 10 - August 22 , 2002:

Zimbabwe's Mugabe and White Farmers: by Dr. A. Chika Onyeani, Guest Commentator

The Promise of Reparations

DC's Measure 62: A Green Light for Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation
by Opio Lumumba Sokoni, J.D., Guest Commentator

A letter to our readers: Fight on, Sister McKinney... Afghan dope on U.S. streets... Don't bet Black futures on the market... Rep. Clyburn bears witness to racist crime

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