One Blue Dog missing

In our October 17 issue we mistakenly referred to Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. as the "solitary Black" member of the Blue Dog Coalition, the southern-based crowd of House members who squeeze themselves into contorted "centrist" positions somewhere between Democratic leadership and the White House. Common Cause activist James Benton wrote to remind us that Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop is also a Blue Dog. We promptly corrected the error. Our only excuse is that Congressman Bishop's conservatism places him so far afield of conventional Black politics, we sometimes overlook him in plain sight.

Permanent War, justifiable fears

Our commentary, "Permanent War - Permanent State of Emergency" struck a chord with a number of readers. Tram Nguyen searched for a glimmer of light at the end of the road Bush is taking - and found none.

I just read the Letter to Readers, regarding the war without end. I wish I could say you are wrong, that the U.S. government does not have that coordinated of a plan, that there must be more chinks in their armor, and that even they will stop short of going over the brink into attacking Iraq and fomenting endless armed conflicts... but I can't.

Part of what hurts the most is that not only are some white folks acting crazy or at best insolent and uncaring, immigrants and U.S.-born people of color are pitiful for the most part in our response. Maybe we will all stand up when we no longer have any choice, when the shit really starts hitting the fan.

I have to say, after weeks of intermittent discussion and reading about this coming war, I haven't been as afraid and depressed as I was after reading your piece.

Ms. Nguyen is an editor with the progressive magazine, Color Lines.

"Race hatred is the only fuel that can sustain permanent, global war," the October 17 commentary warned. Brookie Tribo agrees.

This is praise of your article Permanent War, Permanent State of Emergency. You couldn't be more accurate about fueling racial hatred. If everyone would wake up they would understand the "agenda" behind race problems in this country. Racial strife and division is being deliberately provoked and managed as a form of control. It's simply the divide and conquer approach. If people would realize this and stop being manipulated they could pull together against the real problem... the elites running this country. I am white and I plainly see what's behind all the so-called "racial strife". Anybody with insight can watch the major media and see the setup. I also believe you are right that the black community will suffer most. Keep up this type of commentary. People need to wake up to what's going on.

Mr. Tribo added that "fear" is also a dangerous mobilization tool of the war hawks.

Our article emphasized the historically unique nature of the Bush doctrine: "The simple capability to deter the U.S. from acting as it chooses is deemed a legitimate cause of attack." Ron Harvey believes there have been other sources of similar threats to world peace.

I just read your commentary, "Permanent war, Permanent State of Emergency". Very well done.

In the article, it was stated that a "threat" to America is any nation that that has the capability to keep America from imposing its will on another nation. "[N]o other nation" has ever made such a statement, says the commentary. I must differ with this based on my recollection of hearing the communist definition of "Peace is the absence of opposition to communism." Sorry, I do not have a reference for this quote.

Otherwise, I am glad to hear you telling the truth about the "War on Terrorism".

We responded:

Dear Mr. Harvey:

W can't connect with the quote you're searching for, but we get your point.

Predictions that one social system will triumph over another are not threats of aggression by one state against others. For example, when Soviet Premier Khrushchev said of the U.S., "We will bury you," he meant that socialism would out-produce capitalism. The Soviet and Eastern European economies were growing at phenomenal rates in the early Sixties, as were China and North Korea.

The Bush administration has a plan, and believes it has the means, to dominate the Earth. These are unique times.

Belafonte's magnificent critique

It was with great satisfaction that we reprinted Harry Belafonte's sterling political performance on Larry King Live, an experience we wanted to share with the world. Along with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Belafonte continues in the tradition of Paul Robeson, the great singer-activist-scholar who was consigned to a kind of internal exile for daring to denounce U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Wylie S. Rogers remembers those times.

I want to register my full support for Harry Belafonte's characterization of the role and relationship of Powell and Rice in the Bush Administration and I want to applaud your site for your support of his courageous stance.

I am a man of 62 years, old enough to experience the lynching of Emmitt Till, old enough to participate in the struggle for civil rights in the South and the urban uprisings of the North, old enough to witness the wholesale retreat from social justice and equality during the Reagan years. And yes, old enough to have suffered through the Clarence Thomas fiasco.

For me, Belafonte's words are like a gale of fresh air momentarily blowing away the suffocating stench of U.S. politics, a politics of arrogance, hypocrisy, and economic and social neglect. My fervent hope is that his remarks will serve as a spark to awaken the sleeping giant that is the long-suffering American people.

Above all, we who desire to protect our democracy must move quickly to protect this courageous man from the attack dogs of the right.

Baraka's verse

Guest Commentator Rachael Kamel's brilliant exposition of the controversy surrounding Amiri Baraka ("Urban Legends," October 17) drew a quick and positive response from K. Witcher.

I enjoyed reading the analysis made about the poem "Somebody Blew Up America" by poet Amiri Baraka. Actually, if anyone was aware of the strides made by Baraka in Newark, New Jersey alone they would not have made any deal out of a few lines in the poem. Baraka has led peoples' causes for over forty years in Newark - initiating the election of the first Black Mayor; the idea of the first parade in tribute to Crispus Attucks, the drive to correct unfair hiring and promotions of African Americans in supervisory and principalships in Newark schools and etc.

I believe this magazine should interview Baraka.

Baraka is on our list of future interviewees, as is his son, Ras Baraka, 33, a deputy mayor and public school vice principal, in Newark, with a growing national reputation.

Unpaid African debts

We have presented two Guest Commentaries on Zimbabwe in recent weeks, and a third in this issue of . (See "Land Struggles and Democracy in Zimbabwe," by Chris Lowe.) Reader Leroy Wilson, Jr., an attorney, submits his own brief on the subject.

Throughout the history of Africa, Europeans have forcefully removed black Africans from their land or have swindled them out of it (with King Leopold II of Belgium perhaps being the best example of the latter). South Africa, Rhodesia, Kenya and the Belgian Congo, quickly come to mind. One of the items that is missing from the Zimbabwe debate is the duty of the white farmers to account for the profits that they reaped from the use and occupancy of the land that they stole.

The press has focused on the asserted "right" of the farmers to be paid "just compensation." Where is their coverage and the righteous indignation of fair-minded peoples on the right of the black Zimbabweans to be paid for their land that was stolen and the right to profits generated from this land? In this connection, your readers might wish to refer to "The Trial of Jomo Kenyatta," by Montagu Slater, Secker and Warburg (London 1955) at pages 7-9, and all of Adam Hochschild's "King Leopold's Ghost" (A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism In Colonial Africa) A Mariner Book, Houghton Mifflin company (Boston New York-1999 first Mariner Edition)

When it comes to history and politics, Atty. Wilson engages in due diligence.

Extra credit at Hampton U.

We at are proud that the publication has a strong readership among traditionally black universities and colleges. This letter, from Hampton University's Dr. Clayton G. Holloway, made our day.

Thank you very much for sharing with me the relevant articles on how world affairs affect African Americans and other peoples of African ancestry.

Your publication, which stimulates analytical and critical thinking, is performing a great service and it achieves excellence in its highest forms. Please be encouraged and keep up the good work.

Dr. Holloway is Director of the Humanities Program at Hampton.

Keep writing.

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Issue Number 15
November 4, 2002





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Other commentaries in this issue:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Bogus Election "Study"
Black Majette vote grossly inflated, analysis reveals By Bruce A. Dixon, Associate Editor

Guest Commentary 1
Harvard Professor Lambasts THE CRISIS Editor
Martin Kilson says magazine bolsters NAACP foe

Guest Commentary 2
Land Struggles and Democracy in Zimbabwe
by Chris Lowe

Wellstone: The best of them all

Permanent war, permanent Uncle Toms
NAACP for peace
Solitary killers and mass muderousness
Prisoners of the American gulag

Politics Trumps Religion:
Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative
By Barbara Miner

Commentaries in Issue 14 October 17 , 2002:

Permanent War: Permanent State of Emergency

Trojan Horse Watch: Bob Johnson’s message invades Black radio...Rep. Harold Ford: mess of the blue dog...The Trojan Horse TV show

Briefs:The Four Eunuchs of War...The most dangerous game...Smack, Blow, and Blowback...Lethally stupid and more...

IRAQ, WAR & COLOR RACISM: By Dr. David Graham Du Bois, Guest Commentator

A Jewish Peace Activist on Baraka’s Poem: Urban Legends by Rachael Kamel, Guest Commentator

e-MailBox: The Real Rosa Parks...NAACP challenged on war...Plato and the Emperor George...Deceitful billionaire busted...Anglo-Saxon alarmed

RE-PRINT: Harry Belafonte on Colin Powell...CNN Larry King Live Interview with Belafonte

Interview: Educate and Advocate - Henry Nicholas on social justice in America

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