Black Chicago is attempting to take back the Illinois Senate seat held for one term (1992 - 1998) by Democratic Presidential candidate Carole Moseley-Braun. The arithmetic says State Senator Barack Obama is the man to beat in a crowded Democratic primary field, newly enlivened by Republican incumbent Senator Peter Fitzgerald's decision, last week, not to run for another term. Blacks comprise about one-third of Illinois Democrats.

Chicago politics is nothing if not "fluid." Moseley-Braun rode to victory on the strength of a massive Black and Hispanic voter registration and get-out-the-folks campaign in 1992, then spent six uneventful years dissipating the excitement. She toyed with the idea of a Senatorial comeback, before allowing herself to be persuaded by anti-Al Sharpton Democrats like the Democratic National Committee's Donna Brazile that she had a higher calling.

That complicated Rev. Sharpton's life, but left the African American field wide open to Obama, who has the backing of Black Chicago Congressmen Danny K. Davis and Jesse Jackson, Jr. Rep. Jackson felt compelled to preface his reaffirmation of support for Obama with a disclaimer. "For those who wonder if I'm interested in filling Sen. Fitzgerald's seat, I am not. I remain honored to serve the people of the 2nd Congressional District and strongly support State Senator Barack Obama for U.S. Senate."

Obama, who was the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review, must be rated as the instant front-runner for the Democratic nomination, on the sheer weight of Black party enrollment, alone.

Sharpton vs Stephanopoulos: hair-raising confrontation

If Obama's numbers look good, Al Sharpton's South Carolina prospects are ideal. Forty percent of the state's Democrats are Black, and African Americans comprised 60 percent of voters in the last Democratic primary. On the face of things, it would appear that the Great White Hope in the February 3 primary - the first batch after New Hampshire's January 27 starting gun - will be the Caucasian American who comes in number two. Certainly, that's how the corporate press will play it. (See "What the Black Presidential Candidate Must Do," in this issue.)

Sharpton and the whole Democratic posse, including cardboard candidate Moseley-Braun, face off in televised debate in Columbia, South Carolina, May 3. The forum is sponsored by ABC, with blow-dried "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos the lone questioner - a formula for corporate theater with the candidates as props. This will be Rev. Al's chance to show that he can outmaneuver the primping corporate spin man, as well as outtalk the other candidates. Indeed, Sharpton's closest oratorical competitors are the two white anti-war candidates, former Vermont Governor Howard (the vacillator) Dean and Cleveland Congressman Dennis (the real deal) Kucinich, whose speeches are righteous poetry.

Education chief dislikes public schools

While Black Democrats engage in battle to convince voters in their base and beyond that they are the right men and women for the job, Republicans offer salaried Black role models in a can. The results can be embarrassing to those of us who cannot help but feel ties of empathy and history, even for the enemy's hirelings.

Education Secretary Rod Paige is a distracted man - his mind is not on public education. Appearing before a Senate appropriations committee, Paige had to consult a cue card to answer a simple line of questioning about rural education, put forward by Republican Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter. Paige strung nonsense sentences together about "accountability," finally provoking Specter to interject, "Mr. Secretary, how does accountability bear on eliminating the funding for a program?" Nothing substantive escaped Paige's lips. Senator Specter finally gave up, saying he'd wait for a written answer. Paige was glad about that. "Absolutely," replied Paige, as reported by the Houston Press. "I look forward to that because I think there are answers."

Paige is far more at ease with white Southern Baptists. Two weeks ago, Paige told their denominational press he favors private, Christian education because, "all things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith. When a child is taught that, there is a source of strength greater than themselves."

In other words, he does not like public schools.

At another religious event, the man who sits on billions of dollars of the public's money explained that, "in a religious environment the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school, where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values."

Meaning, Rod Paige doesn't like public school children. Self-hatred in a can.

School bombing

Although Bush's Black front men must be held to special account - that is, punished by any means within our power - they are but devil dogs to the Great Scoundrels they serve. Cincinnati educator, journalist and businessman James E. Clingman paints a damning picture of the people calls Pirates, leaders of "a country that is willing to sacrifice its children's education for more smart bombs." Prof. Clingman sent the whole Bush crowd to Hades in a BlackPressUSA commentary:

Now we have ushered in a new era. The moneychangers have subscribed to the notion that building more smart bombs is more important - and more profitable - than building smart children. Remember the old Doritos commercial on television? I can see some Jay Leno impersonator in Washington saying, "Go ahead, use as many as you like; we'll make more." Well, we are also making dumb children. But who cares about that? We'll just put them in our nice private prisons - and throw away the key.

"Pass me another billion dollars," Cheney says to Bush. "They won't miss it." George asks, "What ever happened to my No Child Left Behind policy, Dick?" Cheney mused, "We didn't leave any behind, Mr. President; they are all in jail. Hey, you wanna send 'em some smart bombs for Christmas?"

Empty anniversaries

1968 was one helluva year, begetting a slew of anniversaries memorable for the broken promises of 35 years ago. When first enacted, the Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin, and has since been expanded to include gender and family status. Seventy-two percent of complaints still come from African Americans, although filings by people of Middle Eastern and Asian descent rose from 10 percent to 12 percent in 2002, in the wake of September 11, according to a report of the National Fair Housing Alliance.

Citizens filed 25,246 federal housing bias complaints in 2002. Yet alliance president Shanna Smith says that represents only one percent of all cases of discrimination. The obvious conclusion is that victims of discrimination have no confidence that they will get relief from federal authorities. The assessment is backed up by 35 years of evidence.

Richard Nixon won the Presidency in 1968 with a "Southern Strategy" that drew big business and white racists under the same umbrella. As a sop to African Americans, and in hope of creating a Republican wedge in overwhelmingly Democratic Black ranks, Nixon launched a minority business enterprise offensive, including set asides for minority contractors. States and cities followed the federal lead.

The ideological soul mates of the present administration set out to dismantle Nixon's legacy, root and branch, turning the language of equal opportunity on its head.

"Equal protection under the law means that governments cannot discriminate against individuals on the basis of race or gender," said Phil Kent, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, one of a gaggle of Hard Right anti-affirmative outfits with connections straight to Bush's inner circle. "This is a very well-settled area of the law."

Having already savaged minority-contracting programs in Atlanta, Nashville and Charlotte, Kent's crew is taking on the state of North Carolina - the first time they have challenged a state program under the U.S. Supreme Court "strict scrutiny" guidelines for combating discrimination. Essentially, the foundation claims that minorities and women in North Carolina cannot prove they are entitled to the 10 percent of highway contracts awarded in 2001 - 02, a paltry $36.3 million.

Realizing that this is a fight to the death, minority business supporters are planning boycotts and other actions against corporations that contribute to the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which they describe as "a total enemy of the black community."

For a partial list of the SLF's foundation funders, check out Media Transparency. They are the same rich bigots that crafted George Bush's domestic and foreign policies, the seed money dispensers of the Pirate network.

Conservatism kills

The "new conservatism" ushered in by the Bush administration is the biggest obstacle to quality health care for Black Americans, said Johns Hopkins University Medical School associate dean Dr. Levi Watkins. Addressing a Founders Day gathering at historically Black Tennessee State University, in Nashville, Watkins said, ''There exist unfair and unwarranted obstacles for many minorities - African-Americans, elderly - to get health care even when you have the same degree, same insurance, same economic status.'' Watkins attended Tennessee State before becoming the first black graduate of Vanderbilt School of Medicine.

''Affirmative action," declared Dr. Watkins, "I went to Vanderbilt on it."

According to a recent report of the Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of Black, Hispanic and Native American students training to become doctors will plummet if affirmative action programs are outlawed by the High Court.

When the Justices hand down their decision in the suit against the University of Michigan Law School's diversity program later this year, the effects will reverberate across the academic landscape of the nation. "Without race-conscious admissions policies," said the association, "medical schools would be unable to increase the number of minority physicians necessary to serve America and its ever-growing minority population, expand areas of academic research, and raise the general cultural competence of all physicians."

How one man dealt with the U. Michigan Klan

In 1966 engineering student Roger Witherspoon confronted racism in the raw at the University of Michigan. No sooner had the 17-year-old, barely 100 pound freshman set foot on the Ann Arbor campus, than he was run over by a motorcycle, denied treatment at the University Hospital, and threatened repeatedly with death. His only ally was a Jewish student named Tom.

I had two hunting knives. I gave one to Tom and we each took half the dorm. We tried every doorknob. If it was unlocked, we opened it. If anyone was on the phone, we cut his cord. If they balked, we threatened to cut them and were prepared to do so.

I entered the room with the student with the flags and made him take down the Confederate battle flag. I cut it up.

Tom later asked why I hadn't cut down the Nazi flag as well.
"That's not my issue, Tom. I'll deal with the Klan, you deal with the Nazis."

How soon - and how foolishly - some of us forget. The same people who tormented young Witherspoon in the most liberal town in Michigan, where he found only one white person who could claim to be a human being, dominate civil society, today. Did tens of millions of epiphanies occur since 1966? If so, where are they written?

Witherspoon is now a staff journalist at the Westchester, New York Journal. His full account is available at Counterpunch.

Black trade unionists mobilize

"Bush is the most right-wing President since Ronald Reagan occupied the White House," said Coalition of Black Trade Unionists President Bill Lucy, rallying CBTU members against Bush's "undeclared domestic war against diversity and racial progress." The coalition is the nation's largest Black labor organization, with 50 chapters in the U.S and Canada.

"Bush not only opposes affirmative action, he also has rolled back workers rights, cut programs that help poor families and turned his back on the fiscal and urban crisis gripping states and cities," said Lucy, who is also Secretary-Treasurer of the 1.2 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). "It's the message, not the messenger, that lacks credibility here. It's about achieving a truly diverse society, not pushing America backward, that should be the President's aim."

Lucy dismissed Bush's Black appointees as "ornaments of diversity." White House attempts to appoint right-wingers to the federal bench "confirm an unmistakable pattern of deceit and hostility toward civil rights."

AFSCME's partner in the Living Wage Movement, the giant Service Employees International Union (SEIU), may soon hit the streets of Washington, DC. SEIU's Justice for Janitors campaign has proven its ability to wage simultaneous battles on behalf of largely immigrant workers in Boston, Los Angeles, northern New Jersey, and Chicago. DC's 4,000 janitors' contract with the city's building managers runs out April 30.

"Our members are absolutely committed," said Valarie Long, president of the SEIU Local 82, in an interview with the Washington Post. "They see that every other major market has fought this battle and won. Nobody wants to go on strike, but people also don't want to be backed into a corner of living the way they're living."

A typical janitorial worker in Washington makes about $8 an hour, with little or no benefits. It would cost only pennies per square foot of office space to meet SEIU's demands.

Criminal background

Alabama has a long way to go to catch up to 1968. The state's constitution remains riddled with Jim Crow law, including provisions requiring segregated schools and poll taxes. Federal courts have already struck down most of the segregation-era law, but Alabama politicians could never bring themselves to undo the work of their fathers. Not that Alabama's whites minded tinkering with the constitution - it's one of the longest and most amended in the nation.

Democratic Sen. Wendell Mitchell, a sponsor of the measure, told the Washington Times, "It's something we should have done a long time ago, to remove all those vestiges of racial reference in our constitution. It's something we need to clean up."

White supremacy is embedded much more deeply in the American national character than words in a state constitution. In a breathtaking sweep through continental carnage, Southern Connecticut State University Professor Ira M. Leonard concludes that non-domestic violence has killed or wounded 2 million Americans over the centuries - most of them people that white Americans did not consider to be full human beings. A much longer version of Prof. Leonard's January speech to the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences is available on Alternet, titled "Violence is the American Way." It is a ferocious story, the blood soaked Birth of a (Deformed) Nation.

What is the extent of mob violence? Indiana University Historian Paul Gilje, in his 1997 book, "Rioting in America," stated there were at least 4,000 riots between the early 1600s and 1992. Gilje asserted that "without an understanding of the impact of rioting we cannot fully comprehend the history of the American people."

Now, to the nitty-gritty: How many victims did riots and collective violence claim over the 400-year American historical experience?

This can never accurately be known, considering it includes official and unofficial violence against Native American Indians, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Asians and untold riots, vigilante actions and lynchings, among other things.

But a conservative guesstimate of, perhaps, about 2,000,000 deaths and serious injuries between 1607 and 2001 (or about 5,063 each and every year for 395 years) seems a reasonable - and quite conservative - number for analytical purposes, until more precise statistics are available.

At least 753,000 Native American Indians were the intended victims of warfare and genocide between 1622 and 1900 in what is now the United States of America, according to one scholar. The number for African-Americans might equal or exceed the estimate for the Indians, 750,000.

The total number of deaths for all other forms of collective violence seems well under 20,000. The greatest American riot, the New York City Draft Act riots of July 1863, resulted in between 105 and 150 deaths, while the major 1960s riots (Watts, Los Angeles, Newark, N.J., and Detroit, Mich., accounted for a total of 103 deaths, and the 1992 Los Angeles riot claimed 60 lives. The estimate of deaths from the 326 vigilante episodes is between 750 and 1,000. Approximately 5,000 individuals were known to have been lynched between 1882 and 1968, and about 2,000 more killed in labor-management violence.

Horrendous as this sounds - and it is horrendous - this 2,000,000 figure pales when compared to the major form of American violence which historians have routinely ignored until very recently. Historians of violence have largely ignored individual interpersonal violence, which, in sharp contrast to group violence, is very frequent, sometimes very personal - and far deadlier than group violence.

In 1997, two distinguished legal scholars, Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins, compared crime rates in the G-7 countries (Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States) between the 1960s and 1990s in their book, "Crime Is Not The Problem: Lethal Violence In America Is." Bluntly, they stated their conclusion: "What is striking about the quantity of lethal violence in the United States is that it is a third-world phenomenon occurring in a first-world nation."

Global Race War

And now that same America pounces upon the world, presuming fitness to rule based on nothing more than that which it showed the Indian and the slave: brute force. American morality is expressed in one sentence from a Washington Post article dated April 18: "The U.S. military has said it has no plans to count the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the three-week war.... " Among the pro-war supermajority, there is not a trace of human concern or connectedness with the people of Iraq. This deformity of soul must extend to the entire region and beyond, since the supermajority knows nothing of geography or world culture, investing itself with the totality of what it recognizes to be human.

This is Race War. Underlying economic motives provide the reasons for the aggression, but do not define the character of the conflict. The continuous settler wars against Native Americans were motivated by greed for free land, but in character, they were wars of extermination. The constant aggressions of the slave trade and the domestic maintenance of slavery were motivated by a desire for free labor, and for the profits of trafficking in human flesh. But the character of the enterprise was racial predation, centuries of Race War. War is what it is, not what the aggressors claim or hope it to be. The objective facts of war are not dependent on the realization of either party's goals, but are defined by the actions of the participants. No Indian was ever killed by a crooked land deal, nor was a single African enslaved by any contract between two bankers in London. Their fates were sealed in wars defined by race.

Race: The Great American Mobilizer

The Pirates who lead United States can only achieve their goals through the familiar modalities of Race War. The supermajority may deride French fries, but they are willing to cook Iraqis, just as they did Vietnamese. There is no majority for an oil or dollar war. Racism unites the majority in a Race War. Therefore, that is the kind of war we get - complete with plantation nomenclature:

The New York Times, April 22, "U.S. Overseer Vows Quick Restoration of Iraq's Services"

The San Francisco Chronicle, April 22, "U.S. overseer tours Baghdad"

Language carries the baggage of history. In this case, the weight is unmistakably packaged and felt as The White Man's Burden.

The Bush men may be too white for the load. Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Richard Myers speaks of "the new American way of war" before he has occupied most of Baghdad. Discounting the other party in the conflict - the Iraqis he was only days before killing with abandon - he pronounces this new "way of war" a success. Only by eliminating Iraqis from the equation can Myers achieve this leap of logic. He is rendered incompetent to the task before him, the not yet begun job of occupying a nation.

Myers and his colleagues do loathe the prospect of further conventional warfare against Iran or Syria in the near term. They can count tanks and airplanes and even Arabs and Persians, if they are grouped in regiments and divisions.

Yale history professor and author Paul Kennedy, in an April 20 Washington Post opinion piece, noted that U.S. ground power is at the limits of its reach.

It is small wonder that while liberals protest soaring defense expenditures, the U.S. military repeatedly warns of overstretch and is dismayed at the hawkish calls for further adventures; in the recent war on Saddam Hussein's regime, part or all of eight of the 10 U. S. Infantry divisions were tied down in Iraq or standing by to go there.

If American deployment were not based on racist assumptions - that the Iraqis are incapable of acting upon their own vision, or of having a vision - the Bush men and their generals would be terrified. Yet they make plans for establishing bases in four specific places from which they will shuttle forces to and from bases in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region in order to project forces outward - while Iraqi society awakens all around them. General-diplomat Colin Powell talks more like a human being than the rest, but he's carrying The Burden, too. "We have been successful in Iraq," said Powell. "There is a new dynamic in that part of the world."

Yes, the U.S. has unleashed a "new dynamic" - but it sees and hears only its own motions and words.

William Kristol, editor of the Pirate rag, The Weekly Standard and an architect of the New American Century, understands that the U.S. military is structurally exhausted. But Kristol believes he knows the minds of the region's natives. For the time being, writes Kristol, the U.S. can get by using "the psychological leverage" created by American "victory."

It is as if the natives have nothing to do but play at American games, rather than their own. Kristol shares with the rest of the Bush men an innate belief that they are the motive forces of history - no, the only forces shaping history. They can imagine nothing else. Therefore, they will always be taken by surprise, and will only prevail in situations they can fight their way out of. Custer was like that, until his last stand.

The Pirates lack discipline. Intent on employing "psychological leverage" on lesser beings, they confuse each other and the populace on whom they depend to sustain their war. "We are in a regional struggle is impossible to win the war on terrorism so long as the regimes in Syria and Iran remain in power," said Michael Ledeen, of the American Enterprise Institute. "The good news is that both are vulnerable to political attack."

It really does not matter if such threats are meant for domestic audiences, for Syria and Iran, or as part of some intra-Pirate maneuvering. The people of the region and wider world hear Ledeen, assume that he speaks for powerful circles (he appears on powerful media), despair of meaningful negotiation with the Americans, and prepare for the worst. The American pro-war supermajority hears noise about more places they cannot picture and, having taken years to fix two demons in their minds (Saddam and bin Laden) in the space where billions of people should be, begin to wilt like exhausted or drunken sports fans.

The national dialogue of empire is empty of content, incapable of sustaining the project over time. Bill Clinton sees that. In an curiously under-reported speech to the Conference Board, circulated by Agence France Presse, the former President said, "Our paradigm now seems to be: something terrible happened to us on September 11, and that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us. And if they don't, they can go straight to hell."

It sounds to us like Clinton, who nobody ever called stupid, is talking about delusional behavior.

Condoleezza mouth's off

Condoleezza Rice, who should be aware that her National Security Advisor voice carries into foreign capitals, cavalierly offers her formula for dealing with the not-so-great powers. "Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia." Does she think her boss has defeated these three nations, too? What possible advantage did she purchase for the United States through such contemptuous, public utterances?

Is Rice trying her hand at unleashing her own "new dynamic," possibly? Again, it does not matter what Rice thinks she is doing. What she has actually contributed to is the "dynamic" of global recoil from and counter move against the United States.

Condoleezza arguably the most trusted National Security Adviser in the history of the position. The broker of the war cabinet, she is the one Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney must visit to express their views with Bush. - San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, April 15, 2003.

The Sunday talk shows are full of numbers. The U.S. will remain in Iraq five years, or two years, or more, or less, say the guests. The Bushmedia pretend that pursuing a Pirate until he or she commits to a certain number is somehow a form of journalism. Yet the Iraqi people are nowhere in the conversation, even by inference.

In Baghdad, British journalist Robert Fisk, who is rarely wrong for long and avoids grand predictions, writes, "It's going wrong, faster than anyone could have imagined. The army of 'liberation' has already turned into the army of occupation. The Shia are threatening to fight the Americans, to create their own war of 'liberation.'" In the days following Fisk's report, 20,000 Shia march with banners proclaiming their intention to rid Iraq of the U.S. presence. The message becomes general, loud enough for even the Bushmedia to hear. Yet they continue to ask the same Pirates the same questions, as if the Iraqis are children high on sugar. One is struck by the similarity to the way southern whites used to act while observing "Negroes" behaving in ways that whites refused to understand. They shake their heads, bemused, and invent an explanation for Black behavior that fits white preconceptions. If all the white folks agree on the explanation, it must be true.

On April 20, the first independent newspaper to hit the streets since the rise and fall of Saddam Hussein appears. It is published by the Iraqi Communist Party. Once 25,000 members strong and centered in the most dynamic sectors of secular Iraqi society - the universities, professions, oil workers, and the military - the party was first on the hit list presented to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party following the CIA-supported coup of 1963. Eight hundred were executed, cementing the Baathist's bond to the U.S. In 1968, the CIA helped the Baath Party further consolidate its power in Baghdad, and engineered Saddam's rise to the top of the party. The Communists were again decimated - or people who were said to be Communists. Saddam then moved on to other opponents, until all of Iraqi society was silenced.

Yet, there was the Communist paper this past weekend, first on the streets, part of a native mix that would befuddle a serious student of politics, but is beyond the possibility of comprehension by the Pirates who are already trading local franchises among themselves. What will the Americans make of the evolving Iraqi swirl? Wrong question. What will the Iraqi people make of their nation? That's for them to say.

There is nothing new about the American delusion. The character of the country has not changed since the last year of anti-imperialist Mark Twain's life.

Victory of the Loud Little Handful
by Mark Twain

The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men...

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger" (1910)

Add global Race War and an awesome military, and we have a rough facsimile of the present.

The Pirates used to be thought of as a loony little club. Now they are certain they will rule the world.

You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom. - Malcolm X

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Issue Number 39
April 24, 2003

Other commentaries in this issue:

Cover Story
Conspiracy Theories 2 - The Great Unraveling of U.S. Global Power

Condoleezza The Gatekeeper

What the Black Presidential Candidate Must Do

Prison data is understated... The proper time and place for looting... Comparative "Skeeza" analysis... Real and theoretical conspiracies

Guest Commentary
When Major Powers Stage a Coup by Randall Robinson

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Commentaries in Issue 38 April 17, 2003:

Cover Story
Conspiracy Theories

The Issues
The stealth war on the poor... Philly bomber’s son makes good... Black casualties surprisingly high... Depraved indifference to the species

Tracking Black youth to prison... Torturing Black Tulia... The Redlining of America... "Common Threads" of humanity

HIP HOP'S (UNSPOKEN) TEN COMMANDMENTS by stephanie mwandishi gadlin

Bush’s Other Declaration of War By Tammy Johnson, director of Race and Public Policy at the Applied Research Center

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