Issue Number 28 - February 6, 2003

Condoleezza: Appointee-in-Chief
Shock, awe and revulsion
Plain language on Blacks and Hispanics












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The electronic wonders of the Internet allow us to declare with finality that Khalil Bendib's January 30 cartoon "The Devil's Handmaiden" is his most popular work to date on . Bendib's depiction of Condeleezza Rice's climb up the ladder of success, only to reject the mechanisms of minority upward mobility once they had served her personal purposes, touched many of our readers where they live. Bruce Jackson wrote from his workstation at the Buffalo Report, his excellent political web site.


Mr. Jackson prizes concise language. Maddi Bee, on the other hand, likes to have some fun on the way to the point.

Sometimes I wonder who/what is steering my hand as I fool around on this machine called "computer." Lucky for me, my fingers happened to land on the Black Commentator site. So I subscribed.

During the (you gotta-be-kidding) State of the Union address by the Great Satan, before my eyes there appeared Little Miss Satan Sitting on her Tuffet, looking Nasty! The cartoon depiction of Dr. Con-Dough-Leeza Evil is oh-so-on-the-mark. She's marked. I had to turn off my TV. Seeing the Great One and Little Miss, not to mention the preponderance of pompous white Repubs and Republocrats at the same time is too much for my soul. Thanks.

And then there is Frank Sykes, who likes to imagine himself director of casting for George Bush's Black Review.

You got it so rightfully said and done. Indeed, Condoleezza is the Devil's Handmaiden, but better yet she is GW's Pom Pom girl, a cheerleader always on the sidelines cheering him on whether he is right or wrong. And Armstrong Williams is the water boy, giving him the juice to continue to oppress the Black and poor people.

Paul Moon would like to see some diversity in our cartoonist's Rogues Gallery, starting with offenders from his own ethnic neighborhood.

The cartoon was great. But if it is at all possible, could you do similar theme based cartoons on Elaine Chao, our favorite Asian American strikebreaker. Solely responsible for helping bust unions for the Bush dis administration. See the San Francisco longshoremen's' strike and the Homeland Security Law that prohibits strikes and her boss' invocation of the Taft Hartley Act. And one of my fellow Korean Americans, Wendy Lee Graham - she of the Enron tragedy, who sat on its Board of Directors, while she made millions and trickle down theory fame that put the country in the red during the '80's.

Collective pride, and shame

Our January 23 commentary on the GOP's attempt to pose appointees such as Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell as an alternative Black "leadership" generated an overflow of mail. Many of the most thoughtful letters arrived late, including this one from Ella Baccouche.

I want to commend the writer of the Rice article. It was right on point. I would like to add that since we no longer push critical viewing, reading, and thinking skills in the schools, what with the little funding there is teachers barely have time to teach the basics, it is very easy for the machinations of the propaganda machine to "bamboozle" the public mind. Even the literate and educated have a hard time teasing out the truth, especially if they are not well grounded in historical knowledge. Moreover, any dissenting views that may appear are quickly marginalized by the media.

I think the rule of "collective victory" strongly applied in this case as witnessed by the cheering ovation of the audience. It gave some Blacks the illusion that they had really overcome. I bet Bush and those he represents were very happy, indeed. It meant that they still have us in their pockets and that we will continue to behave in ways that are detrimental to our own self-determination. Thanks to this commentary, I now have a better understanding of the evil character of the hidden agenda of the government's "Appointive Black Strategy," a strategy that with the support of the propaganda machine has obviously been very successful in pushing the "business" agenda.

Interestingly, Ms. Rice's competence is rarely called into question by the corporate media - and certainly not by those who hold her up as a "credit to the race." Claire Perricelli, of Napa, California, is not impressed.

I appreciated your critique of Rice. Her supposed brilliance, her hard line pro-war positions on policy and her willingness to be part of the worst government this country has had in my lifetime of 57 years drive me nuts. How come so few ever mention that it was on her shift as NSA that 9-11 occurred, and that no heads have rolled as a result of the biggest breach of security in our history?

Bilal Saleem finds historical references for Rice's role in Bush's White House operation.

Ms. Rice is a perfect example of what the William Lynch speech represents, in my estimation!

Lets keep it real.

The historical (some scholars claim, apocryphal) Willie Lynch introduced his slave-control pamphlet to fellow plantation owners in a speech on the banks of the James River, Virginia, 1712.

I have outlined a number of differences among the slaves: and I take these differences and make them bigger. I use fear, distrust, and envy for control purposes. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and it will work throughout the South.

Take this simple little list of differences, and think about them. On top of my list is "Age", but it is there only because it starts with an "A": the second is "Color" or shade, there is intelligence, size, sex, size of plantations, status on plantation, attitude of owners, whether the slave live in the valley, on hill, East, West, North, South, have fine hair, coarse hair, or is tall or short.

Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action - but before that I shall assure you that distrust is stronger than trust and envy is stronger than adulation, respect, or admiration.

The Black slave after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self re-fueling and self generating for hundreds of years, maybe even thousands.

Don't forget you must pitch the old Black male vs. the young Black male, and the young Black male against the old Black male. You must use the dark skin slaves vs. the light skin slaves and the light skin slaves vs. the dark skin slaves. You must use the female vs. the male, and the male vs. the female....

Of course, both sides of the Condoleezza argument can play the Willie Lynch card. Deonna Moore appears to think that critics of Rice - and of Right-leaning Black Democrats - are the real architects of disunity.

We need to stop tearing one another down. Just because Ms. Rice is a black woman advisor to a Republican President, and Rep. Ford refuses to stay in the same mind frame that has set and left the Democratic Party in the mess that we are in, does not make them bad individuals. I applaud their efforts and works. They have my unequivocal support, and they are making it better for me when I decide to run for a political office.

James Hardy gets himself all worked up over "Condi" and "Armstrong."

I think that your article on Condoleezza Rice was simply atrocious. I think by condemning Condi and Armstrong you do African Americans a disservice. People who achieve and break barriers based on their own merits are what our community needs. The opposite of which is trifling, ignorant sheep to the slaughter. Republicans are trying to reach out to us, based on achievements and credentials. Democrats are taking us for granted at every turn. The only way to make effective change is if we infiltrate all parties and push consensus to meet the needs of our communities. As we all know African Americans are not homogenous, so why should we flock to one side of the debate (like fools). We should value the true diversity of our own brothers and sisters to make sure we are covered on all sides of whatever the debate is. African Americans should be achievement-oriented, and not be ashamed of their accomplishments and we shouldn't hate, either. It reminds me of the school kid who pick at the smart ones saying that they are "talkin' white" because they speak English correctly.

Wake Up!!! Keepin' it Real is Relevant!

Note that both Mr. Saleem (anti-Rice) and Mr. Hardy (the Condiphile) urge us to "Keep it Real!" That's also 's mission.

For the last several generations, there has existed a broad Black political "consensus" around a range of issues reflected in "black leadership's civil rights agenda in regard to housing, jobs, education, criminal justice, and an overall pro-active federal role in ending racism's impact in these areas through affirmative action and related policies." (See Dr. Martin Kilson's report to the National Urban League, "State of Black American Politics," August 8.)

The Black Agenda finds varying levels of expression within the national Democratic Party, but is anathema to the national Republican Party. This is the simple and straightforward reason that African Americans vote nine to one Democratic in national elections. Even "sheep" are not foolish enough to vote for wolves.

"African Americans remain in remarkable, consistent agreement on political issues, a shared commonality of views that holds strongly across lines of income, gender and age," wrote in our November 21 analysis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies survey of Black opinion. "There is no 'split' among African Americans on core political issues."

The goal of the GOP's Black Appointive Strategy is to destroy the Black consensus, in part by tapping into deep, historical African American yearnings to see Black faces in high places - no matter how hollow the titles or hostile the policies of the placeholders.

The "disunity" Mr. Hardy decries is the sound of the Black body politic rejecting the GOP's handpicked Black "leadership," a self-serving pack of hirelings and hustlers. It is a painful process. Most African Americans hunger for brilliance, integrity and, above all, loyalty among high Black office holders.

Instead, George Bush serves up a full course of old style racism - and a side order of Condoleezza Rice.

Shock and Awe

postings went up at progressive addresses all over the Internet, last issue. In our lead commentary, "The Mother of All War Shows," we stated that oil "is not the real prize of war" against Iraq. "The prize is nothing less than world domination: all the riches above and below the earth and seas."

The strike on Iraq will be an apocalyptic expression of American will - designed to "shock and awe" the planet.

That's the whole point. The War Party wants the world to know that there is no escape from the raging superpower. Very soon, the U.S. military will stage a show more shocking and awful than can be imagined, for the benefit of a global audience. As Ullman envisions, it will be "rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima." The intent is to break the will of the species. Iraq is merely a convenient stage, Saddam Hussein an extremely unfortunate prop.

Mark Swaney, a member of the Green Party, believes we are on the mark.

It has finally happened - I have read the first intelligent analysis of Bush's war plans. Kudos for having the brains and guts to print the truth!!

I only hope that has a wide readership. If all of your commentaries are as well written and brilliant as the first two I've read then you get my vote for the best news analysis anywhere in America or the world for that matter.

I'm passing this article on to as many as I can far and wide.

Donald Call writes from Pompano Beach, Florida.

Excellent article. I can only hope that the last paragraph comes true. I have been waiting for this country to wake up for the past 2 years and I am constantly disappointed. We are under the spell of the most mean spirited, gun-toting, bible thumping, racist, corporate owned, administration in the history of this country. We also have the dumbest electorate in the world.

When I talk to Republicans it's like talking to a wall. Harry Truman said: "Selfish men have always tried to skim the cream from this nations natural resources. Their instrument in this effort has always been the Republican party"
Thanks for your website. It's great.

Ken Winston arranged his response to our commentary in verse format.

It is not about oil or Iraq. You are right.
It is meant to be a lesson to the world.
What you say cannot be fathomed by most people I know.
I for one will not be cowed.
Thank you for your bravery.
God help us all.

"When the set is ready," we wrote, "George Bush will flip the switch and the sky will flash and glow over Iraq, a warning to the world."

Robin sent a letter in anticipation of the impending event.

Thank God, Thank God someone wrote this article. I was cringing in "shock and awe" after The Grand Idiot's State of the Union address. Not because of what he said, but because of the response of the American Public which all networks reported as rising 10 points in favor of war.

I can't believe how much this regime is getting away with. I look at my country with distaste and horror and wonder. Where is the soul of America, rising up in outrage and disgust at these machinations?

Artist Michael Dickinson expressed his shock and awe by sending us the image of a collage he created.

Dead draftees in the dustbin of history

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the assembled Pentagon press corps that conscript soldiers of years past added "no value, no advantage, really..." to the armed forces, hardly a corporate media eyebrow was raised. It fell to veterans groups to protest the chief civilian war hawk's disrespect to 17,725 fallen American conscripts of the Vietnam War.

In our January 30 commentary, "Rumsfeld: Dead Soldiers Count for Nothing," we hypothesized:

If the U.S. were a healthy parliamentary democracy, Donald Rumsfeld's remarks of January 7 would have brought down George Bush's government, necessitating new elections. Instead, the man with the demonic grin continues as the drum major for new foreign wars, even as he belittles a previous war's dead.

Rumsfeld remains in place, we believe, because after 30 years of a volunteer military, broad sections of the American people have no personal connection to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. A public that lacks empathy for yesterday's dead draftees (and volunteers - what's the difference?) cannot truly be emotionally bonded to this generation's soldiers, either. The suburbs and professions are gripped by a war fever of the couch and video kind.

"Rumsfeld loves his perfect weapon, the volunteer military," we concluded. "They may die in the nation's imperial enterprise but, among the people whose opinions count, they will not be personally missed."

Prof. Sam Hamod is editor of Today's Alternative News. His opinion counts with us.

Your piece on the conscripts, so many of whom died in Viet Nam, was excellent; you need to keep forwarding it to Peter Jennings at ABC, some investigative reporters at CNN, PBS (especially Bill Moyers and the NOW show) and even dumb Dan of CBS and Broken Jaw at NBC.

Keep up the good work.

Permanent Domestic Emergency

Back in November, warned that "the evidence is rolling in, and it is unmistakable: the Bush people are assembling purely political lists of individuals and groups to be targeted during some future crisis, real or manufactured." (See "Bush's Domestic Enemies List: Preparing for "National Emergency.")

African Americans will bear the brunt of the Permanent National Emergency which must accompany Permanent War. Although white anti-war activists seem to be the focus of the emerging national internal security apparatus at the moment

The people who haul white lawyers and Catholic nuns off of airplanes will kill a Black activist in his bed the very same night. This is what passes for equivalence in a racist society.

White folks are being put on some serious lists. Under the perverse duality of America, that means the canaries are already dying.

We present the following letter from Maria Luisa Etchart, who has lived in a society in which dissenters "disappear." She was responding to last week's commentary on Iraq.

Your article gave me a clearer picture of the horrid events we are all fearing and it makes sense, every word of it. I am Argentine, living at present in Costa Rica and believe everything you say because in a smaller scale we experienced the destruction of our economy, the disintegration of our society and the sinking of our hopes in a very short time. Are we, Argentines to blame? Perhaps yes, to some extent because we weren't able to detect the deadly trap we were walking into and the few of us who did were disregarded by the vast majority and considered as paranoids.

There is, no doubt, a group of evil-doers behind the scene but we will never know who they really are until it's too late. The visible faces, hateful as they may be, are merely tools to divert our hatred, something like Orwell's description of the dreadful face everybody hated for two minutes every day as a way to release the steam gathered by the system they were forced to live in.

Though it's a bit difficult for me to write in English, since Spanish is my native tongue, I truly appreciate reading all the material you publish because it's courageous and well written. I feel inclined, however, to believe that a different kind of humanity is possible and I do my best every day to make my actions as harmless as possible, both to other people and to nature, our common heritage, and that is probably the reason why I have always felt the pains and injustices suffered by your people as if they were my own. It was a pleasant surprise to find your page one day on the Internet because I wouldn't have had the chance of hearing your precious voices otherwise.

Capital "Strike" in Haiti?

Our newly renamed The Issues section last week featured Kevin Pina's coverage of the ongoing crisis in Haiti, where the island nation's "tiny elite played the Venezuela card, declaring a national 'strike'" in opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas party. Pina reported that the event passed almost unnoticed in the places where Haiti's destitute majority do their shopping.

Most banks, gas stations, supermarkets and specialty shops kept their doors closed today which stood in stark contrast to the bustling activity in the marketplaces of the poor. "Only those who have money and can afford to stay closed are behind this strike," stated one woman as she paused from bickering with a customer over the price of carrots.

Brian Concannon Jr. conveyed his appreciation of Mr. Pina's work.

I enjoyed your Haiti commentary very much. As someone who works with poor Haitians, I found it refreshingly accurate. I would encourage you to write more about Haiti: no one has suffered as much from institutionalized racism for three centuries as Haitians have, and no one is suffering as much today. Haitians pay a horrible price, initially for being black, but worse because they insist on being free.

The 200th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution approaches. Look for Kevin Pina's byline in next week's .

Plain language on Blacks and Hispanics

University of California at San Diego Associate Professor Jorge Mariscal's January 16 Guest Commentary called attention to the phenomenal movement of Hispanic immigrants - mainly Mexicans - into the Old Confederacy. In the states of Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia and North Carolina, Hispanic populations multiplied three to four times during the Nineties. With the Trent Lott affair as backdrop, Mariscal declared, "Despite the hoary black/white paradigm that still determines all discussions about race in the United States, demographic changes tell us that Latinos will have much at stake in the on-going economic and racial realignment of American society."

The Chicano educator and activist provoked an intense reader response to his statement: "The discussion of race in the U.S. is still firmly grounded in a narrow and antiquated black/white reality." Dawn Uwangue offered her own window on race in America:

Latinos fit into the American racial madness pretty much according to the old schoolyard rhyme: If you're white, you're all right/If you're brown, stick around/If you're yellow, you're mellow/If you're black, get back.

The non-white immigrant groups coming into this country fit into this racial pyramid, whether they know it or not, and whether they like it or not.

As Richard Pryor famously joked, being able to yell "nigger" is a basic qualification for US citizenship. A working knowledge of the history of American apartheid would inform any new American's understanding of what it means to be an American. To go along and conform to the status quo is to support the white supremacist hierarchy. If they wish to challenge that hierarchy and build a better future for themselves and their families, they have to form coalitions with African-Americans. We know the most about challenging white supremacy in this nation; apart from the Native Americans, we've had the most practice.

Mariscal responded within days, although we were not able to immediately accommodate his letter and others due to last week's crush of mail.

As a young Mexican American boy growing up in Los Angeles, I was excited every time Richard Pryor appeared on TV. Something about his fearlessness in the face of white supremacy spoke to me, although at a level I did not understand until I was an adult. For the same reasons during my youth, we were attracted to Muhammed Ali who was a similar but even more powerful figure. As Latinos in the U.S. with no role models in the media, many of our heroes were African American. My favorite ball player was Junior Gilliam of the Dodgers. We weren't about to use the N-word in order to "fit in" with the white folks - pace Pryor and Toni Morrison.

Dawn Uwangue's invokes the old saw "If you're white, you're all right; if you're brown, stick around; If you're yellow, you're mellow; If you're black, get back" to suggest that Brown people in this country get a better shot than blacks. rightly points out that the saying has more to do with issues internal to the Black community but it is true that it is widely used now in multi-ethnic settings. As I pointed out to my colleague Quincy Troupe when he dropped the old rhyme on me, you can only believe that if you don't know the history of the Southwest. Where we grew up, the rhyme began "If you're black, stay back; if you're brown, stay down" and so on. In the Southwest, the words "wetback" and "spic" had all the power of the N-word and then some. Back in the day (as in the late 19th century), thousands of Mexicans were lynched in Texas. Today, Mexican workers are hunted down and beaten by white youth in California and vigilante "ranchers" in Arizona and hundreds of Mexicans die every year trying to cross the border in search of a better life.

My call for a reevaluation of this country's racial sickness by focusing on the new Latino immigrants does not in any way claim that our working-class black hermanas and hermanos don't have it hard. Eric Bogan misunderstands my use of "antiquated" to describe the Black/White paradigm. "Antiquated" doesn't mean things aren't still real bad for most black folks. It does mean that in the last Census Latinos surpassed blacks as the largest "minority group" in the U.S. It also means that racists like Trent Lott have to deal with lots of Mexicans in their home state. This is precisely the point of remembering the Brown/Black coalitions of the Viet Nam war period. In the late 1960s in San Francisco's Mission District, for example, when seven Latino youth were falsely accused of killing a white cop ("Los Siete de la Raza"), it was the Panthers who came to their aid and established a defense fund. It's this kind of solidarity based on mutual understanding and shared political agendas that we will need in coming years.

While Mariscal was preparing his response to Uwangue, Adrienne D. Dixson composed a stimulating mini-essay on the subject, for which we are grateful.

I would like to offer two bits of support for the critique of Mr. Mariscal's description of "Deep South" race relations as antiquated. First, Toni Morrison, in her book, "Playing in the Dark," talks about the construction of whiteness and blackness, such that white, as Malcolm X so brilliantly pointed out nearly 40 years ago, has certain connotations in the popular imagination.

According to Morrison, the subject, the context, etc., of most of the American aesthetic - for Morrison, it is the novel - is decidedly White. What is good, is white. Conversely, Black has come to mean certain things in the popular imagination, and in the novel, black/Blacks, have a particular role. We see this so vividly playing out not only in our popular aesthetics, but now, in politics. Having said that, one does not necessarily have to be black, to become Black. I would argue that those who do not perform in ways that are acceptably White, become Black: Bill Clinton, Tonya Harding, (post-murder trial) OJ Simpson. Groups of people of color, are for the most part, cast into the lot of being black, that is, ignored, maligned, invisible, until they do, as Richard Pryor acknowledges, learn to say "nigger". This saying "nigger" is both literal and figurative. We see how particular groups become "American" and are thus, conferred the status of Whiteness.

This brings me to my second critique. The most striking example of this idea of White as White and Black as anything other than White, is in the State of Florida and in particular, the City of Miami. Cubans, most of whom are White Cubans, enjoy a level of freedom and power, that only those who have become White can truly understand and enjoy. Certainly there are other political factors that have contributed to Cuban-to-American White transmogrification; however, spend time in Miami and the racial politics become very clear. And, Miami is in the Deep South.

Critical Race Theorists (Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Charles Lawrence, et. al.), have argued that whiteness is tangible, has currency and can be conferred. Thus, whiteness is more than just skin color, but has a set of behaviors, actions, beliefs, language, that can perhaps be "learned" and at the very least, utilized to gain access and privilege (see for example Armstrong Williams, Condoleezza Rice). Thus, this discussion of the Black/White binary moves beyond "just" Black folks and White folks, but certainly includes Latinos and other groups who come and must decide on what side of the binary they will belong. Indeed making certain that these new immigrants understand what is at stake for becoming White - I would submit that most immigrant groups of color are by default black until they prove otherwise.

I believe, and agree with that it is important that immigrant groups, particularly those of color, understand what it means to become white and what they "give up" when they do so. Introducing them to "our" view is important if we are all truly committed to abolishing racism, classism and oppression.

Finally, S.R. King speaks to "identity" issues, as reflected in the official record.

The commentary by Jorge Mariscal notes the "antiquated black/white reality" as a matter of long ago history distinct from the struggles of the Latinos in the South and Southwest - especially in the 1960s. He further cites that first-generation immigrants "are walking into a black/white universe like virtual aliens from another planet."

Please remind him that until 1970, the United States Census often included those of Mexican, Latin American ancestry as "white". This provided Latino admittance and acceptance into "white" side of the "black/white culture".

It was only in 1970 that Latinos were routinely assigned in the Census system to the "minority" classification where Blacks had been since the Census began. Accordingly, it is hoped that Mr. Mariscal is not inferring that what really is "antiquated" in the discussion is the Black reality and that this should be updated with the new Latino reality. This would not be supportive of a conversation beneficial to either the Black or Latino reality, in my opinion.

There is no conversation more critical to Black America. Immense ramifications flow from swiftly changing demographics.

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