Sharpton tells it "Like It Is"
Anti-War Weekend, then war
Mandela on U.S. "unspeakable atrocities"
CBC-Heineken hookup for health





"We have a President that is Hell bent on war," said Rev. Al Sharpton. "I think the President is determined to go to war no matter what." Only one other Democratic presidential hopeful comes even close to speaking the unadorned truth about Bush's warlust - and nobody knows his name. (It's Howard Dean, the former Governor of Vermont, and the most progressive candidate that white Democrats have so far offered from their thin-blooded ranks.)

What role does oil play in Bush's stampede to war? Sharpton answered New York TV host Gil Noble with his own rhetorical question: "What is it that Iraq has that North Korea doesn't have?"

Noble's show is named, appropriately, "Like It Is," an oasis of intelligence where Sharpton was allowed a full hour to explain his campaign agenda. Sharpton's performance was sterling, his positions sophisticated and correct in every respect, delivered with precision and a full grasp of history. "Civil liberties have been suspended," said the social activist. "What they did covertly in the Sixties, they are doing overtly, now."

The United States proclaims the sovereign right to commit crimes against humanity as a matter of policy. In the presence of such a monumental affront to civilization, a campaign for presidential impeachment seems small, timid - but it's all that's available, constitutionally, until the next election. The anti-war movement counts within its ranks a former U.S. Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, who knows how to draw up such things as articles of impeachment "setting forth high crimes and misdemeanors by President Bush and other civil officers of his administration." Sign up at Vote to Impeach, while you prepare for...

Worldwide Anti-War Weekend

Organizers expect hundreds of thousands to protest in New York, February 15, and in San Francisco, the day after - and none too soon. February 15 is the ominous date by which many nations have ordered their diplomatic missions in Baghdad evacuated in anticipation of the U.S. blitz.

United for Peace and Justice is the point organization for the two major U.S. demonstrations, under the slogan "The World Says No to War." Scheduled New York speakers include South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, NAACP chairman Julian Bond, Martin Luther King III and performers Harry Belafonte, Mos Def and Danny Glover.

Literally millions around the globe will protest in 30 cities during the weekend, from London to Tokyo and Johannesburg.

One political truth holds for every nation in the world - with the possible exception of the United States and Israel: the people do not want George Bush's war.

Mandela: Vote Bush Out!

Nelson Mandela is a man whose powers of diplomacy have rattled history, itself. Yet conventional diplomatic speech is incomprehensible to Bush's barbarians. Last week, Mandela spoke plainly, in outrage. "If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care for human beings," the Nobel Peace Prize winner told the International Women's Forum, in Johannesburg.

This is what A Man said:

"One power with a president who has no foresight and cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust."

"Because they (America) are so arrogant, they killed innocent people in Japan during Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

"Who are they now to pretend that they are the policemen of the world, the ones that should decide for the people of Iraq what should be done with their government and their leadership?"

"Their friend Israel has got weapons of mass destruction but because it's their ally they won't ask the UN to get rid of it. They just want the (Iraqi) oil... We must expose this as much as possible."

"All Bush wants is Iraqi oil…."

The 84 year-old giant of the 20th century appealed to the American people to demonstrate against Bush and vote him out of office. Referring to U.S. bullying of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Mandela uttered words that resonate in Black America: "Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man?"

According to News, "President Thabo Mbeki has also voiced an increasingly stronger opposition to U.S. plans of an Iraq invasion" and endorsed demonstrations for the weekend of February 15.

Arab states punk out, Ivoirians grovel

Mandela has few peers in modern history - and certainly none among Arab heads of state. As the American wave breaks over the region, Arab governments openly and covertly collaborate with the invader, to the disgust of their own people.

In Canada, Toronto Sun contributing foreign editor Eric Margolis listed the actions that Arab nations could - but will not - take to preserve some vestige of honor and national independence:

What could Arabs do to prevent a war of aggression against Iraq that increasingly resembles a medieval crusade? Form a united diplomatic front that demands UN inspections continue. Stage an oil boycott of the U.S. if Iraq is attacked. Send 250,000 civilians from across the Arab world to form human shields around Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. Boycott Britain, Turkey, Kuwait and the Gulf states that join or abet the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Withdraw all funds on deposit in U.S. and British banks. Accept payment for oil only in Euros, not dollars. Send Arab League troops to Iraq, so an attack on Iraq is an attack on them all. Cancel billions worth of arms contracts with the U.S. and Britain.

At least make a token show of male hormones and national pride. But the Arab states won't. They will cringe, temporize, then join the vultures who will feed on Iraq's bleeding carcass, while vying to prove their loyalty to Washington.

The imperial adventure counts on cowardice and confusion as much as high-tech "shock and awe." Wherever Bush's line of march takes him, he will find pliant natives to welcome the tanks with rose petals. Or, in the case of the Ivory Coast, cocoa beans.

Angered at French refusal to throw their military might against Northern forces in the Ivory Coast's civil-ethnic war, more than 100,000 Ivoirians rallied in the capital, Abidjan, to demonstrate their eagerness to trade in one neocolonial master for another. The New York Times was there to record the degrading spectacle.

[A]ffection for Americans and anger toward the French was on full display today. Demonstrators waved American flags. One held up a photograph of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. "We Trust in USA," read one placard. Another: "Bush please help Ivory Coast against French terrorism." R. Kelly and Aaliyah songs blasted improbably from the stage speakers.

Anyone who could speak a few words of English did, whether broken or polished. "Do you want me to speak French?" the firebrand leader of the Young Patriots, Charles Ble Goude, shouted from the stage. The crowd hollered its disapproval.

"Are you ready for English?" he shouted again. The crowd hollered heartily.

"I want the United States to come and help my country, which is being destroyed by the right wing of the French government," Mr. Goude, 30, said in an interview later in the afternoon.

"Ivoirians love America because America governs peace of the world," said Zadi Any Roland, 49, a rally participant.

Venezuela's upper crust slink back to the mall

Backs are straightening up in Latin America. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have toughed out a "strike" organized by the rich and managers of the oil industry. Although oil production is only half pre-December 2 levels, other commerce in the nation of 23 million returned to normal as the mostly white upper classes ultimately found abstention from shopping unbearable. Chavez has steadfastly resisted local elite and U.S. demands to subject his popularly elected government to another vote any earlier than August, when a recall is authorized by the constitution.

With the opposition in disarray, former paratroop colonel Chavez proclaimed "victory," promising to "continue with an offensive strategy." The Washington Post's online Sunday home page sneered, "Chavez Gloats as Strike Fades." Readers of the Post, a virtual annex of the U.S. State Department, will remember that the paper joined Condoleezza Rice in gloating over the U.S.-backed coup that briefly removed Chavez from office, last April. Then the dark legions from the shantytowns put him back in the Presidential Palace.

He who gloats last...

The racial dimensions of the Venezuelan conflict - a clash between "blonds" and "brunettes," as journalist Greg Palast describes it - are obvious to African Americans. The high-rise rich have turned their neighborhoods into armed camps. According to the February 2 New York Times:

[M]iddle-class and affluent families said they felt increasingly afraid that the left-leaning Mr. Chávez was preparing to install a communist system that would force them from their homes and businesses. They accuse the government of arming pro-government groups, called the Bolivarian Circles after South America's liberator, Simón Bolívar. The residents said they had every right to defend themselves….

Gun sales have soared [to] more than 600,000 registered and unregistered weapons on the streets. The number of private security guards doubled in the last few years, newspapers report, to 200,000. And neighbors who once barely spoke to one another have formed community war councils.

Rafael Arraíz, a poet, spoke of a "middle class turned hysterical" by the rhetoric of Mr. Chávez, a former army officer, and the daily predictions of apocalypse by opposition leaders. "They entrench themselves in their neighborhoods," he said, "waiting for an invasion by hordes of revolutionaries."

It is the paranoia of the guilty, the classes that cheered when April's brief dictatorship of the rich sent goons to hunt the elected leaders of the poor.

Should Chavez and the poor majority prevail, tense of thousands of the affluent will resettle in Miami to nurse their wounded white privilege. Many are already there, fuming and sputtering about a revolution that has not yet occurred, spinning tales from a world in which red is a code word for black and brown.

Death perception

At a health symposium during last September's Congressional Black Caucus Weekend, in Washington, Dr. David Williams addressed a panel designed to encourage a discourse on health, race and class. The University of Michigan researcher pointed to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey finding, that 57 percent of whites and 53 percent of African Americans were "unaware that Blacks have shorter life expectancy that the average white person." What is needed, said Dr. Robinson, is a "sense of outrage about the crisis in African American health."

Clearly, there can be no discourse about a crisis of which the public is unaware. The Congressional Black Caucus has broadened the definitions of legislative service, providing a national platform for discussion of critical issues facing Black America. The CBC also establishes Brain Trusts comprised of experts in various disciplines.

However, brains, publicity and discourse are not enough. The core mission of elected representatives is to craft and fund actual programs to ameliorate suffering. Through the non-profit Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the CBC has created "the first-ever health policy fellowship designed to give people of color the opportunity to address critical health issues affecting their communities, while gaining invaluable policy experience." A foundation statement explained: "Fellows will sit in on congressional committee meetings and help to evaluate and develop policy that will begin to bring about real solutions to the health crisis."

The Louis Stokes Urban Health Policy Fellowship Program, named for the former Cleveland Congressman, benefits from a five-year, annual donation from Heineken USA Inc., the nation's largest beer importer.

"By launching the LSUHPFP, the CBC with Heineken's help is sounding the alarm and aggressively pursuing proactive solutions to address the healthcare crisis that exists in America today," said Virgin Islands Rep. Donna Christian-Christensen, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust "We are confident that by implementing this program we can help to accelerate the effort to bridge the gap and build the leadership so critical to eliminating health disparities."

The disparities are immense, both in fact and public awareness of the facts. Some examples from the CBC Foundation:

In 1997, only 45% of the African-American population and 53% of the Hispanic/Latino population received influenza vaccinations, compared to 66% of Whites. To date, these percentages remain largely unchanged

Cancer deaths are disproportionately high among Latino/Hispanic Americans and African-Americans.

Vietnamese women are five times more likely to have cervical cancer while Chinese-Americans are five times more likely to have liver cancer.

The incidence of diabetes in African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American communities is one to five times greater than in White communities.

African-American and Hispanic/Latino groups accounted for 47% and 20%, respectively, of persons diagnosed with AIDS in 1997.

75% of HIV/AIDS cases reported are among women and children occur among people of color.

Only 50% of Native Americans, 44% of Asian-Americans and 38% of Mexican-Americans have had their cholesterol checked within the past two years.

The fellowship will initially focus on cancer, HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular health.


Former Cleveland Congressman Louis Stokes, Rep. Donna Christian-Christensen (V.I.-D), Chair of the CBC Health Braintrust and Mr. Dan Tearno, Vice President, Corporate Affairs for Heineken USA.

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Issue Number 28
February 6, 2003
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Other commentaries in this issue:

Send in the Clowns: The GOP’s two-ring Black "outreach" circus

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

Guest Commentary 1
"Shrub" Bush's Pathological Focus On Saddam Hussein by Alvin Wyman Walker, PhD, PD, PC

Guest Commentary 2
...AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST: Shunned DC Demands Full Voting Rights, First Primary By Sean Tenner

Commentaries in Issue 27 January 30, 2003:

Commentary 1
The Mother Of All War Shows

Commentary 2
Rumsfeld: Dead Soldiers Count for Nothing

Condoleezza: Traitor, or not?... Letters from the anti-war front... Rev. Dr. Greedygut redux

The Issues
Desegregating U.S. African policy... Haitian poor ignore capital "strike"... A more colorful anti-war movement

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