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“…the chickens come home to roost.”
-El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

We held our breaths in this quietness like the moment you come to the end of OHM - but there is no resumption of normal breathing to be expected anytime soon. My grandmother cooked our meal quietly in the kitchen, and I could hear my grandfather, ever so carefully, hauling the trash cans from the back porches of our apartment building. During those early years of my life when I lived in my grandparents’ home, no sound could be louder than the ringing of the phone or the door bell.

And it would ring like a siren that phone my grandmother always seemed to reach pick before the second ring. When our own last breath seemed near, she would signal with a nod or a wave of her hand - this is not that.

Not that - this time.

That had something to do with the man in the photo that hung in a frame on the den wall. I could not remember his face, the actual uncle such a long way, in a place called Korea. I could make out from conversations between my grandparents that he was soldier. The hat, collar with the name tag, and the American flag! Uncle is a soldier!

Only when he returned did I understand that the draftee “re-upped” to serve again in the U.S. Army. He was in love with a Korean woman, whether wife or so-to-be-wife, I do not remember now. My grandfather did what he could to help, but my uncle returned to Korea only to discover that his wife was dead, killed by a U.S. sweep of her village. Only after he returned did I understand the prominent location of my uncle’s photo had less to do with my grandparents’ pride in having their son in the war. The war.

The U.S. Army claimed my uncle returned home alive. It sent someone with my uncle’s name. But we began to hear the beginnings of a rumbling and then the explosion, again and again, from the man in the back bedroom. This man roared and thrashed chairs, whatever he could reach to throw at no one in particular. All the while, the other man in the den stared out from the photo.

“He’s seen so much,” they would tell me later. “People killed.”

And he killed?

The young man in the photo never returned home. The one in our home hated everything, every living thing in sight.

Flames consumed running children and women and village homes. It was reality TV, required viewing in the evenings on campus. U.S. soldiers fired rifles, threw grenades, lit matches to straw homes all the while insisting that the “enemy,” on his or her own land, in their own villages and homes, must succumb to the will of democracy!

Black young men and draftees asked why they should fight to the death miles away against a people who never called them nigger. Other Blacks organized and took the streets saying Hell No, We Won’t Go - we have freedom to fight for here in the U.S.

Keep asking me, no matter how long
On the war in Viet Nam, I sing this song
I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.
-Muhammad Ali

I remember those years. But since then, the will of democracy has consumed many freedom fighters who never returned to this battlefield again.

Before Korea and Vietnam, Black Americans urged the government to send them to war. And they were sent. Some died, often as heroes. Many returned hoping their efforts and sacrifices would change the hearts and minds of white America toward Black Americans. But before the commencement of World War I, the U.S. government with the help of returning colonial veterans saw “ethnic communities not as fellow citizens but as internal colonies requiring coercive controls” (Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State). Just as “race was the frame for perception and action” in U.S.’s colonial Philippines, returning colonial veterans were determined to return home and “to turn the same lens on America” (Policing America’s Empire).

The Old Guard always returns and never dies!

Bull Connors and George Wallaces preceded battalions of FBI agent provocateurs and informants with high-powered rifles, revolvers, and prison cells. Presidents, democrats and republicans alike, with their political henchmen in congress and the senate, hailed military and corporate surveillance and terrorist agendas, killing the campaign on poverty and instituting policies of “law and order.”

Be careful what you ask for!

Military recruiters scourer the halls of “low-achieving” high schools in economically poor communities, offering adventure and belonging, a uniform and a rifle while pointing to a photo of the “enemy” today. Our children, criminally deprived of the cultural knowledge of indigenous “terrorists” brutally killed and forcefully removed from their ancestral lands, criminally deprived of their heritage among indigenous freedom fighters against terrorists who kidnapped and transported their ancestors in the work to uplift capitalist, ultimately imperialists, sign on to fight for democrats, republicans, capitalists, imperialists - terrorists!

Don’t fight against us, who create impoverished communities where you live (and will return) and who incarcerate your sisters and brothers. Fight the enemy! Kick down the door - for us!

Do it now for your commander-in-chief, the peace maker, Barrack Obama! He (did you notice he’s Black) and the war surge against “terrorism” are guaranteed to change you - forever!

It is not that it is the wrong time for a Black president, but any time would be wrong to have a Black president enabled by democrats and republicans alike to enforce and to extend war and the military / corporate industrial complex. Anytime would be wrong for the Left to betray an anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist agenda to promote a single man, a Black man, who never claimed to be anti-war and who stayed away from the issue of race.

On the Left in the U.S., the battle became mainstream - indeed tamed. Focus on reform: vote a Black man in and he will tweak a little here and there, and we can return to the malls and shop in peace - minus Bush Jr. and his republican cronies! The Left has become mainstream. The Left’s goals have become compatible with those of the Democratic-military-corporate-Wall Street-party. A Black president, stripped, as most U.S. citizens, of any meaningful understanding of the government’s culpability in the problems confronting Red, Black, and Brown communities is a safe vote if you, too, are concerned about “law and order, if you want to create an image of democracy without actually conjuring up Red, Black, and Brown people.

If the Left had remained sincere about effecting change in the U.S., it would have remained focused the ultimate disappearance of capitalism from the earth and organized and educated the people as the necessary work on the way to an alternative, humane system for humanity and the Earth. Instead, the Left become foot soldiers in the army of the willing, accepting the policies of “law and order” because many on the Left are as terrified of the “darkies,” rag heads,” and “savages” as those who consider themselves “innocent” or, as the Black president reminds them, embodiments of good “American values.”

Those American values have always included the use of fear and terrorism. Just ask Colin Powell who, in a 2007 interview with Walter Isaacson (GQ), had is Eisenhower moment: “we shouldn’t use fear for political purposes - scaring people to death so they will vote for you, or scaring people to death so that we create a terror-industrial complex.” (Powell should know! He had his read this or else moment in the lead up to the invasion in Iraq).

We now have, “five fronts” in the “War on Terror.” As Glenn Greenwald writes in “Cause and Effect in the ‘Terror War,’” “if you count our occupation of Iraq, our twice-escalated war in Afghanistan, our rapidly escalating bombing campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen, and various forms of covert war involvement in Somalia, one could reasonably say that we're fighting five different wars in Muslim countries -- or, to use the NYT's jargon, ‘five fronts’ in the ‘Terror War’” (Salon.com). This is the democrats, again, and it is the Black president insisting that the U.S. “‘will continue to use every element of our national power’” (qtd. in Salon.com). “American values” aside, the U.S. employs its “national power” - to instill fear and terrorize others into submission - like the old days when scavenging for Native Indians or punishing defiant enslaved Blacks.

To be sure, a key goal of the democratic / republican versions of the military / corporate industrial complex and Wall Street in the last 40 years was to secure the hearts and minds of those on the Left through the use of fear - racial fear - thereby allowing the U.S. to beef up a very profitable “terror industry complex,” otherwise known as a police state in urban areas and foreign invasions in five countries and counting. The U.S. government learned to use the Left to repress resistance in the Red, Black, and Brown communities. It is the same agenda Israel and its teacher (the U.S.) is unfolding in Palestine now.

What part of this story does the Left refuse to acknowledge?

In “Obama’s Af-Pak War is Illegal,” Marjorie Cohn writes that the “‘global war on terror,’” while “uncritically accepted” by most U.S. citizens, is “not an enemy.” By that Cohn means this form of terrorism is not limited to a particular people or a particular nation-state. Terrorism, she continues, “is a tactic” – engaged in by whom? Resisters? And this: “One cannot declare war on a tactic.” To combat terrorism, she argues, you must identify and target its “root causes, including poverty, lack of education, and foreign occupation.”

But colonialism, genocide, and capitalism are nothing if not a manifestation of terror - as strategy. War is terrorism!

The genocide waged against Native Indians was terrorism carried out predominantly by the British and the French. The Native Indians rightly did their best to resist. Slavery, endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church, Spain, Britain, France, and other European countries was terrorism, and the victims (Africans and their descendents) did their best to resist what becomes an institutional practice of terrorism.

For many on this Earth, terrorism, as an institutionalized practice employed by governments against dissent, is the enemy. Globalization of capitalism, in which poverty, the lack of meaningful education, adequate housing, affordable health care, equitable education, and reservation, urban and foreign occupation serve as a tactical manifestation of that terrorism for the poor and the working class within the U.S. and aboard. Global capitalism produces its own brand of terrorism, thereby assuring resistance and sometimes that resistance appears in the form of retaliation - terrorism for terrorism.

Black Americans once employed a strategy for attacking terrorism in the U.S. But we know what happened.

It is never in the interest of those good “American values” or the interest of the Left to recall that history! No amount of reform will put an end to this violence. U.S. citizens, lead by the Left, asked for a nice Black man, and they got him - and all the guys from Wall Street, the military intelligence units, and all the corporate brass!

Be careful what you ask for!

And now we have Mr. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a “disgruntled” Nigerian, an anti-American, and an Al Qaeda terrorist? I invite you to read “From Niggers, To Raghead, Back to Niggers” by Black Commentator columnist and Daily Voice contributor Tolu Olorunda.

In the meantime, the wars continue.

My uncle should have been a poet. He was the poet laureate of the neighborhood in my mind, a beat-like poet in his black beret. But no one heard his voice. He became a demon, quietly pursuing demons.

And wars continue.

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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Issue 357
January 7, 2010

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