July 2, 2009 - Issue 331

Global Terror: Censorship to Exterminate
Represent Our Resistance
By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD
lackCommentator.com Editorial Board


If we must die - oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vein; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
-Claude McKay, If We Must Die


A time comes when silence is betrayal.

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the last 41 years, poor and working class Blacks have increasingly tuned out in ways unlike enslaved Blacks or Blacks during the years of the Reconstruction to the Civil Rights era.

In part, the corporate media is to blame with its emphasis on ratings and profits. Sitcoms, TV personalities, reality TV and infotainment have replaced news coverage. Commercials employ strategies in targeting communities of individuals to think as the ONE featured in the ad.

On the other hand, the economic arms of the government, the corporate interest of a preferred education to prison agenda help maintain a population of Black poor and working class adrift in multiple “prisons” that keep them statistical victims for academic and government policy makers and actual victims for educational business ventures and, of course, the prison industrial complex. Often identifiably attired (thanks to a market that caters to the cynical materialization of stereotypes), without substantial wages or income or long term housing (thanks to gentrification, unemployment, and felon convictions) this population has long made it possible for a middle class to prosper.

Enslaved Blacks in the U.S. could hear the drum beats of revolution in Haiti. They could counsel themselves on the best ways to reach the “underground railroad” paths to the north or Canada. Today, the drum beats are digitally produced and the “underground railroad” takes Blacks from one relative or friend from one city to the next to “stay” for a few days or until I get my check or until the kids’ father sends money or until I find a job or until I catch up with the guy who has something for me. Worse, a young man or a mother with small children might not make it any farther than a park bench or viaduct. They are keeping that boy or boyfriend from selling drugs in the house or going to court or going to the parole office or going to the aid office. They are dealing with the “system,” “the man,” particularly when the system or the man is Black. God will work it out, for the individual, by and by.

An occasionally police shooting of an unarmed Black youth or a “racist” killing of a Black person will draw limited attention to the poor and working class Black - but, again - only as “victims,” an individual victim, preferably - until an acquittal of the police involved (this time) brings the news on television to a halt. The people disappear again, beyond the reach of Meet the Press or 60 Minutes or Oprah. Betrayed, censored, and ignored, the “individuals’ in this population have tuned out!

But now it seems the poor and Black working class might serve a more visible value in the “war on terror.” A vulnerable population, they are attracting the attention of the FBI and their informants. Having scouted out a small Black community, they came with offerings of cash and a way out.

It is a way out - from one prison to another, bigger prison and a far ranging narrative of political violence.

It is doubtful the Newburgh “terrorists” could talk with you about Iraq or Palestine. I am not sure they would be able to locate either on a map. I don’t think they could speak on Marx’s theory of Capitol and I doubt they have read Frantz Fanon and, if you asked, they might ask, in return, if he’s a rapper. They are just beyond Foucault’s Discipline and Punish and landed at Ground Zero and the world of Zeitgeist, the documentary. But Onta Williams, James Cromitie (Abdul Rahman), David Williams, and Laguerre Payen (Haitian, suffering from schizophrenia) are the stars of an on-going feature film, “Homeland Security.” FBI informants are placed where they need to be and then - camera, lights, action!

Anti-Semitic Black men who happen to be - bingo - Muslim, too, were planning an attack on a Jewish Center in the Bronx - a center the might not have known about or be able to locate or have any interest in, except for the informant stalking the homes of their families, taking them to lunch, driving them around in very expensive cars and jeeps, promising them jobs, cell phones, all the while talking about jihad, jihad!

“We are not the Brady Bunch, and no, we are not the Cosbys,” said Alicia McWilliams, aunt of David Williams, speaking at the WESPAC Foundation: Action and Education for Peace and Justice, on the Newburgh 4 case in White Plains, New York, on June 18, 2009. “How does a petty drug dealer become a mastermind terrorist?” How is it that these men have been accused of conspiracy to use WMDs and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles?

“They got themselves into something they couldn’t get out.”

And the “something” is a dragnet for the expansion of the mega-narrative: the “war on terrorism.” Onta Williams, James Cromitie, David Williams, and Laguerre Payen link to Islam puts the face of “terrorists” - homegrown terrorists - on the nightly news.

“When the government wants to do something, it will do something.”

Right, again.

A President Obama can joke and an audience laughs about the Uighurs (detained for 7 years and tortured as suspected “terrorists”) because the government’s “war on terrorism” is galvanizing its power to effectively manage a war in which the global public is terrorized by its inhumane practice of censorship and this practice of censorship is enhanced to eliminate the exercise of the First Amendment.

McWilliams says that the collective families around the Newburgh 4 are a “family of women without men.” The direct target of socio-economic entrapment, Black women represent a collective of women, predominately poor, working class, mothers, particularly unwedded mothers, and their children. Former Democratic Senator Patrick Daniel Moynihan’s War on Poverty Report (1965) identified this collective the “enemy.” The senator and sociologist didn’t hear the voices of abandoned mothers in communities with high unemployment rates, and apparently didn’t remember U.S. history - when Black women’s children, fathered by white slaveholders, were sold in the market. The U.S. since 1865 has never valued the collective of Black women and her children.

Certainly for some young women in the last 40 years, recognition of their humanity comes in the form of a baby’s smile. But babies grow up and many become young Black teens. It is no accident that young Black men like the Newburgh 4 grew up to become males (rather than men), stripped of their Black manhood by models of maleness specifically marketed for their consumption. Stripped of their inner spirit of resistance, an armor of collective power, these young men model the power of the individual, a “get rich or die” ideology. The images of “Nigga” and “Gansta” sell the madness to them as a commodity these young people readily accepted because it offers them a role, something recognizable to the general public. A criminally engineered narrative of crime, offers them the role of the “criminal.”

Many of us remember when Black communities throughout the U.S. had men willing to care for the needs of the whole community with after school and children breakfast programs. They stood up to defend families and neighborhoods against police brutality. They stood up to disrupt the socio-economic entrapment surrounding Black women and children. Their visibility and vocal acknowledgements of Black humanity terrorized the U.S. government who, in turn, announced to the global public that the Black Panthers were the enemy of “peaceful” and “law abiding” U.S. citizens.

It is interesting to note that The Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss in “Yet Another Bogus ‘Terror’ Plot” recognized the FBI’s narrative of “terror” as “bogus,” but he was unable to recognize his description of these Black youths - “a hapless bunch of ne’er-do-wells or run-of-the-mill thugs,” “losers,” Black “criminals” - as far more acceptable, indeed, realistic, according to the script U.S. whites have accepted about Black youths. In Dreyfuss’ article, there’s no indication that the victims of FBI entrapment are human! The children of Black women are guilty of being “losers” - code for worthless Black youths.

Analysts say the high levels of joblessness would be accompanied by increases in child poverty, strained government budgets, and black and Latino unemployment rates approaching 20 percent.

This statistic appeared in a Washington Post article by Michael A. Fletcher - in June 2009 - that is, in the era of post racial politics! These “losers” are left to survive or not in depressed Black community like that of Newburgh, NY.

As Nawal El Saadawi reminds us, censorship in the U.S. is more “dangerous because it is subtle and invisible. It’s embedded in the most sophisticated freedom to write and express, and it is the big media and in the big academia.” Power is Dreyfuss’ megaphone speaking on the “losers” of this government proclaimed post racial politics. Here is the mainstream Left in the U.S. parting the divide between the “losers” and the - what – winners? And they do so in the same manner the U.S. government has always done it - by repressing an understanding of the conditions in which these mothers, aunts, sisters, girlfriends have had to confront. Censoring the “unfamiliar” is both personal and political in that a dismissal of these men as “hapless…losers” embraces the U.S. Empire’s racist core and thus furthers the tragedy of misery and suffering in those communities adrift from the mainstream.

White liberals see “losers” in their backyards. The “losers,” who by playing the role of “losers,” continue to make it possible to maintain the supremacy of individualism in the U.S. while promoting the “poor little ones” narrative elsewhere, a narrative disguised behind profitable “humanitarian” campaigns in First World nations.

And now the U.S. government has need of the “losers” to save the “homeland” from terrorists!

Don’t pretend to be democratic. The hem has unraveled all along the borders, and the seams are exposing openings as large as the crater created after the “fall” of the Twin Towers or the “cracks” in the levees on 17th Canal in New Orleans in 2005. In an “economic crisis,” speak of the “free market” and “investments” for “job creation.” Send “democracy” to other nations.

What does it mean to “send democracy” to other nations? It means demand the acceptance of individualism and repress collective interests of the people. Take Haiti, for instance. When Former President Bill Clinton (you may remember him best as the First Black President) restored Haiti’s democratically-elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide to “power” in Haiti, he pinned a note with a long list of conditions on the inside of Aristide’s lapel. The economic agenda in Haiti had to conform to the interests of U.S. corporations rather than the interests of the poor and working class of Haiti. Individuals can become winners. The masses of Haitians were to be “losers” -  slave-wage workers for U.S. corporations. Aristide insisted on change for the people as a collective, desiring freedom from this U.S. socio-economic entrapment of Haiti. Bush I yanked him out of the country!

Or consider Saddam’s Iraq with 90 plus percent literacy before the U.S. determined that Saddam or Osama Bin Laden or both or Saddam and Al Qaeda or whatever had WMDs weapons, and, of course, the Iraqis, the U.S. determined, needed to be “liberated” from the madness! Allow the free market to make corrections in that nation - and freedom and democracy appears! The free market hasn’t much use for a literate citizenry there or anywhere. Money, moving up the stream toward U.S. corporations, matters because, to control oil and natural gas reserves, it takes money. And the “losers,” I suppose, are the thousands living in exile from their “occupied” Iraq and the thousands in their graves?

Here, the Obama administration is putting the final touch to a program that would attract college students to a CIA spy program. In a program similar to the ROTC - but better! - secrecy will shroud student participants! Literacy in the history of conquest, exploitation, colonialism, and neocolonialism, and McCarthyism, COINTELPRO, the prison industrial complex and corporatism is not required.

The “individual” won’t say - no! The economic crisis assures the government that individuals won’t say - no. The individual will wave the red, white, and blue (not the red flag) while he or she trains to spy on friends, neighbors, strangers! Think of all the new prisons and the applications flowing into the Bureau of Prisons (BoP). This is not a new jobs program for “losers.” This is for the winners like Shahed Hussain, Pakistani informant in the Newburgh case. (Will he receive screenwriting and directing credit for creating the narrative of imminent attack on synagogues in New York City and its prevention, and an attack on military aircraft at the Stewart Air National Guard Base?). This is the individual that matters - the individual who won’t say no to collaboration with the forces promoting global repression of the majority while corporate surplus billions have elevated the gains of Wall Street overseers.

The collective and its leadership is another matter!

President Obama sees and hears the Iranian protesters. “It would be wrong for me to be silent on what we’ve seen on the television - the last few days,” he said to the White House press staff, according to an Associated Press report.

And what I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was… And they should know that the world is watching.

But, here in the U.S., who is watching the “hold” within a hold where Muslims and political activists are put away - out of reach, out of sight?

The U.S. government informs the global world that along with Black Americans and Muslims, political activists are “losers” too. Political activists are labeled “terrorists in the press,” said journalist Will Potter on Democracy Now!, June 25, 2009. “They are smeared before they enter the courtroom and labeled as a terrorist in press conferences…And when they are sentenced, the government pushes for terrorism enhancement penalties.”

Who is watching the U.S. government?

The U.S. government claims that its agenda is non-political, non-racial. It doesn’t target certain religions. Yet, as Potter points out, the majority of prisoners detained at the Bureau of Prisons’ (BoP) Communication Management Units at Terre Haute, Indiana, and at Florence, Colorado’s Supermax prison are Muslims. A third site in Marion, Illinois also houses Muslims and political activists - “losers.” At these Communication Management Units and at the Supermax, communications is among the powerful with the fancy high-tech toys. The detainees’ First Amendment Rights are null and void!

The U.S. government uses its “war on terrorism” to not only intimidate and incarcerate Muslims but also to carry out, as Potter observes, a “war on dissent.” Terrorism is used to push a political agenda to dominate and control social movements. Political activists are punished, Potter explains, “not because of they are criminal but because of the politics of their crimes…They have very strong networks of support. They can get information out. And putting them in these facilities is an attempt to neutralize that.” The CMU’s, Potter said, are the final step” in the process to neutralize dissent.

The arrests and incarceration of Muslims and activist is political as both groups are linked to “the war on terrorism.”

We are ultimately talking about violations of the First Amendment, fear, and censorship. We are talking about pre-emptive strikes against free speech and the freedom to criticize and protest against a government that engages war on the idea of a collective of people. Muslims might speak critically of the U.S.’s domestic and foreign policy regarding the mistreatment of Muslims, as the masses of Black Americans once did before they tuned out. They might organize - not necessarily for violence against the U.S. - but organize to neutralize fear and fight for the right of Muslims to be recognized as human beings and not as obstacles in the way of oil and natural gas procurement for the U.S. and Europe. They might become activists, and, as activists speak out and organize. Organizers have influence on others. A judge in Benton Harbor, Michigan, fearful of Black activist Rev. Edward Pinkney’s influence on others, proclaimed (in code, again, to the authorities) that the minister had too much influence, and this proclamation echoed that of a police officer in New York who had witnessed Malcolm’s power to influence community activism. That’s too much power for one man! And the FBI, with a target in sight, crafted a narrative of “terror” and selected their “individuals” to hire in the name of homeland security. Criminalizing people for what they might do to influence others, to challenge others to speak out, is political because it’s perceived as a threat to a government fearful of losing the power of a bully.

Power originating from the government to the individual to spy and lie on friends and neighbors is the only acceptable power a bullying Empire will tolerate! The U.S. Empire can never have too much influence, too much power! Censorship is political and a brute expression of the U.S. Empire’s power intended to exterminate the wrong kind of influence on the global public. The Empire’s power to trounce influence must be felt by all through the individual “loser.” The general public learns what it knows about the “unfamiliar” (particularly unassimilated) Black, Red, Brown, and Muslim though the corporate media - and narratives of confession.

The narrative of confession by detained Muslims and activists are seen and read - even if the extractors knowingly extract lies. Well, they are familiar and more comfortable with lies. Admitting guilt, admitting to “inferiority,” “weakness,” admitting to wrong thinking, acknowledges the one and only power and the rightness of the U.S. Empire - and that, after all, is what the narrative of Empire has proclaimed in its own voice!

But now, you, the accused, the “loser,” have the floor. We’ll hear you. Speak! Confess!

Democratic? No!

We are a people who have yet to disengage ourselves from the chessboard. We are pawns, alienated from ourselves; we have sold our humanity to an illusion called “American values.” We are carrying out democracy; we are free! No!

Don’t wait until something happens to you!, Rev. Pinkney warns us (therealpublicradio.net). Listen to a man who won’t be silenced on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.

If we don’t become the collective of people working toward the transformation of power, we will truly become losers.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been a writer, for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola University, Chicago. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.


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