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09.19 Shell and Exxon's secret 1980s climate change warnings [that capitalists suppressed this for continuing profit is the most unforgivable crime ever]Trump administration rolls back methane pollution rule despite harmful health impacts [continuing in the tradition of stupid capitalism at all costs]
09.18 'I was horrified that children are breathing air this dirty inside the school' [if your government isn't working, change it!]
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09.18 'This Election Is Last Chance to Stop Them': Kudlow Confirms Trump and GOP Ready to Gut Safety Net After Midterms [Yes, there are far too many sociopaths]
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09.18 Racist rioting in Chemnitz has reopened Germany’s east-west split [We are all mixed-race after 10,000 generations. Helping suffering people makes us feel good, so become their friends instead.]
09.15 A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come [SCARY]
Van Overboard: Obama's Problem With Strong Black Voices
First published in Empire Burlesque earlier today, 7 September 2009
Obama's "vision of America" does not include any "positive change, transformation, real change, not cosmetic change" in a "social order that has gone sour." And that the "War on Terror" is just peachy-keen with him.
Barack Obama seems to be making quite a habit of throwing overboard any black person associated with him who might have spoken an uncomfortable truth or raised some disturbing questions at some point in their lives. First his lifelong friend and mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, now his "green jobs" advisor, Van Jones. As Jonathan Schwarz puts it:
It's like the old saying: When the going gets tough, the tough get panicked and start throwing people under the bus.
I hope Michelle is keeping an eye out for any Greyhounds coming down the street.
Let's look again at the precursor to Obama's latest cave-in to rightwing white folks: his skewering of Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 campaign. It's worth re-considering as an indicator of the character and outlook of the man -- traits we are seeing confirmed, over and over, now that he's in power.
Arthur Silber wrote with savage brilliance on this subject last April, and you should read his piece in full. Taking off from that deep foundation, I offered a few observations of my own at the time, which are excerpted below:
On Monday, Barack Obama humiliated and demeaned himself with yet another denunciation of his old friend and mentor, Jeremiah Wright. But there was no "national dialogue on race" this time around -- just cold, flat-out condemnation. Obama even declared that Wright was "not the same man I've known for 20 years" anymore -- echoing the newly crowned King Henry's blast at Falstaff: "I know thee not, old man; fall to thy prayers." ...
Obama ridiculed Wright for "caricaturing himself" at a National Press Club appearance, and declared that his preacher was a vain showboat: "What mattered to him was commanding center stage." Obama bristled with disdain as he condemned Wright for his "divisive and destructive" remarks....
But this is indeed a curious and telling episode. If one actually takes the trouble to read Wright's remarks before the Press Club -- which almost no journalist in America did, although they are easily available at the Washington Post's web site -- it is difficult to see what in God's name all the brouhaha is about. Even Wright's most "controversial" remarks -- about AIDS, Louis Farrakhan and, in Obama's words, "equating America's wartime efforts with terrorism" -- are couched in plausible contexts, and are actually more nuanced than the, well, caricature of them that Obama condemned. Most ludicrous of all were Obama's hysterics about the "divisiveness" of Wright's remarks, when the theme of racial and cultural and religious reconciliation was sounded over and over throughout the appearance.
At any rate, let's do something really radical here. Let's actually see what Wright actually said. The quotes below are from the WP transcript. Now, I realize that reading a transcript is different from watching a "spectacle," as Obama put it, on the Tee-Vee. ... But still, there are scattered pockets out there where words still mean something, so let us consult the text. Here's Wright on the "black church":
Well, perhaps Obama is correct, after all. This is pretty divisive stuff. It divides the miniscule sliver of rapacious elites (and their sycophants) from the vast majority of the American population. Obviously, when Obama says he is trying "to bridge the gap between different kinds of people," he wants to reconcile "the poor, the widows, the marginalized" with "the powerful few." The former should learn to love the latter -- and for God's sake not seek to change any social orders or sick systems. No, that kind of talk is indeed "appalling." As Obama says: "It is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country." Good to know, Barack. Thanks for clearing that up for us.
Wright goes on:
This is what Obama called "a very different vision of America" from the one that he espouses. Obama is "outraged" by this kind of com-symp stuff -- dissing Oliver North, for God's sake! Why, the mind boggles at such anti-American divisive unpatrioticness! Outrage indeed!
Then Wright got to the heart of his divisive, destructive, racist remarks:
That was the end of his prepared remarks. He did not mention AIDS, Farrakhan or the War on Terror in the talk; these were all brought up by questioners afterward. And his responses formed the soundbites which will now reverberate in the media echo chamber from now until election day. So let's take a look at these controversial remarks.
First, what Obama called "such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS." After citing some books on the subject, Wright said:
I personally don't believe that the U.S. government concocted the AIDs virus; but the notion that a government which conducted murderous medical experiments on black men for decades, and sold chemical weaponry to a brutal dictator (and, by providing military intelligence, helped him use them against the Iranians), and also launched a war of aggression in Iraq that has killed at least million innocent people might also be capable of creating and unleashing a deadly disease is certainly not implausible. (See Arthur Silber for much more on this.)
Now what about Farrakhan? Obama denounced Wright for saying that Farrakhan was "one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st centuries." Of course, Wright didn't say that. He said Farrakhan was one of the "most important" voices, because he was able to reach millions -- and move them to action. This is simply a statement of fact. Adolph Hitler was one of the most important voices of the 20th century for the same reason. And so was Martin Luther King Jr. Let's go to the tape:
As for terrorism, Wright simply referred the questioners to his previous "controversial" sermon on the matter. And here's what he said in that sermon:
So there you have it. This is what Obama calls "equating the United States' wartime efforts with terrorism."
Let's give Obama the benefit of the doubt when he says he is not just "politically posturing" in his denunciations, that he is speaking from the heart. What are we left with? That his "vision of America" does not include any "positive change, transformation, real change, not cosmetic change" in a "social order that has gone sour." And that the "War on Terror" is just peachy-keen with him; in fact, it is so sacrosanct that it cannot even be criticized. A war of aggression that kills hundreds of thousands of innocent people cannot be compared with "terrorism"; it is a legitimate expression of national policy, even if one might disagree with its timing and the mechanics of its execution.
Seen anything in the past eight months that would prove this wrong? Me neither.
* * *
P.S. It's been almost a month since we had the last transmission from Arthur Silber, a rather harrowing bulletin from the midst of an horrific health crisis. I don't know what his situation is at the moment, but it is likely to be very dire. If you have any spare wherewithal at all, please consider sending some of it his way, to help see him through this current bout.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on September 7, 2009.
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