Debating Dr. Dyson: Facts vs. The “Wall of Words”


by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Obama is the “most progressive president since FDR.” So says Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. The president has also solved the problem of predatory lending. If there were any facts behind these assertions, the United States would rate a lot higher on the Global Well-Being Scale. Unfortunately, the First Black President’s ability to push forward the Right’s agenda makes him the “more effective evil,” says Glen Ford.


Debating Dr. Dyson: Facts vs. The “Wall of Words”

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Obama put Social Security and other entitlements ‘on the table’ for chopping two weeks before taking the oath of office, and has pursued an austerity partnership with the GOP ever since.”

It was great fun to confront Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, the Baptist preacher and Georgetown sociology professor who stood in for the so-called “progressive” wing of Obama boosters, last Friday on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! We got the chance to make BAR’s case, that the First Black President has shown himself to be, not the lesser of two evils on the corporate electoral menu in November, but the more effective evil.

Over the last four years, Obama has crafted a “veritable model” for austerity through his “deficit reduction commission, which came up with the figure of $4 trillion in cuts, which he now includes among his solemn promises to the American people.” Obama put Social Security and other entitlements “on the table” for chopping two weeks before taking the oath of office, and has pursued an austerity partnership with the GOP ever since.

The Affordable Care Act, Obama’s most heralded achievement (aside from killing bin-Laden), “was actually born in the Heritage Foundation—that’s a right-wing Republican think tank—in the late '80s. Essentially the same bill was a Republican bill in 1993. Bob Dole ran on that bill in 1996. Mitt Romney picked up that bill for Massachusetts later on. And it then emerged as the Obama bill.” Obama has locked the drug and insurance corporations so deeply into the federal health care money flow, it will be damn near impossible to dislodge them in the foreseeable future.

He has accomplished “a kind of merging of the banks and the state, with $16 trillion being infused into these banks…and the line between Wall Street and the federal government virtually disappearing.” In other words, Obama is constructing the classic edifice of fascism, which is aptly described as the unbridled rule of the most reactionary, rapacious elements of finance capital.

Like no other president in history, and far out-Bushing George Bush, Obama has mortally wounded the Bill of Rights with his preventive detention legislation, signed into law while the nation celebrated last New Year’s Eve. Under Bush, a president’s authority to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial was merely a theory of the resident chief executive. Obama made the theory into a law that all future presidents will have at their disposal – an alloyed evil worthy of all the superlatives of Hell.

Obama is the war president who simultaneously drone-bombed five countries – Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan – and who has boldly redefined war. After bombing Libya for seven months, Obama told Congress that there was no need to trigger the War Powers Act because nothing resembling a war had actually occurred. “It is not a war, as far as Obama’s doctrine is concerned, unless Americans are killed. So you can slaughter as many people in the world as you want to, as long as Americans’ casualties are kept at low or no.”

Obama has mortally wounded the Bill of Rights with his preventive detention legislation, signed into law while the nation celebrated last New Year’s Eve.”

The impulse toward so-called “humanitarian military intervention” now trumps centuries of international law, thanks to Obama. Terms like “national sovereignty” are no longer useful to the Chief Executive of Empire, who commits crimes against peace – the highest crime on the planet – as a matter of daily routine. Under the Nobel laureate president, “wherever the United States deems evil to occur, it will and should intervene militarily. That is anarchy. That is chaos. But actually, it’s called imperialism.”

These are just a few of the damnable highlights of Obama’s presidential record, which should be the basis for evaluating his worthiness of support. Obamite “progressives” like Bill Fletcher and Carl Davidson insanely insist in the title to their August 9 Alternet article that “The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama’s Record…Which is Why We Are Voting For Him.” The fact is, on progressive terms, Obama’s record is indefensible – which is why Dr. Dyson was compelled to repeatedly agree with my set of facts on Democracy Now!

I’m quite please with how the exchange with Dyson went. His style is to throw up a “Wall of Words,” like an anti-aircraft gunner filling the sky with flak. It’s impossible to engage all of the bits and pieces of subjects swirling around his ascending speech-column – and silly to try, since your job is to make your own case, not to dignify the other guy’s every utterance. However, some of Dyson’s remarks are worth a playback – if only to note how far to the right the political conversation in Dyson’s circles has gone in the Age of Obama.

It is not a war, as far as Obama’s doctrine is concerned, unless Americans are killed.”

The current resident of the White House “is the most progressive president…since FDR,” said Dyson. Funny, isn’t it, that a president who is purported to be second only to Franklin Roosevelt in leftiness leads the assault on entitlements – the legacies of FDR, LBJ and other presidents and their Congresses – from within the Democratic Party? If Obama is a contender for Roosevelt’s place in the pantheon, then so is his political twin, Bill Clinton. Had we only known that such giants walked among us! If only Barack and Bill had left a record in office that would testify to their greatness. (Sorry, Bill Fletcher, I forgot that the record doesn’t matter.)

Obama has solved the pesky problem of predatory lending, said Dyson with a straight face. “The predatory lending that was going on with consumer practices have been addressed.” The solution must have been sent to the wrong address, probably to a boarded up house. Candidate Obama, who opposed any moratorium on foreclosures as unraveling subprime schemes ravaged Black and brown neighborhoods in early 2008 (Hillary Clinton and John Edwards backed voluntary and mandatory moratoriums, respectively), became the president who, as the New York Times recently reported, refused to spend hundreds of billions in available federal funds on the housing crisis, while five million Americans lost their homes; whose Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, declared he would not spend money on housing even if another $100 billion was available, and who also refused to spend most of $6.7 billion set aside by Congress for groups and regions hardest hit by the crisis; and whose administration bullied state attorneys general to settle the robo-signing “crime of the century” on favorable terms to the banks. Nothing about the U.S. housing crisis has been addressed in ways that are meaningful to the American people, especially Black and brown folks. Except in Dyson’s world (in Fletcher’s world, it doesn’t matter).

Obama has solved the pesky problem of predatory lending, said Dyson with a straight face.”

There’s this term called “liberal internationalism” that’s floating around, which Dyson thinks describes Obama’s foreign policy. Dyson is pleased with “the way in which the liberal international policy—yes, liberal, not progressive, not radical, but liberal internationalism—has reintroduced an openness to a Muslim world, despite the complicated and contradictory practices that exist there.” I suspect that Dyson is still hearing Obama’s smooth talk to Muslims in the summer of 2009. We get an update on Obama vs. Bush policy from Michael Hayden, Bush’s former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency. Hayden told C-Span that Obama and Bush’s policies are now quite alike – except Obama kills more people.

We’ve seen all of these continuities between two very different human beings, President Bush and President Obama. We are at war, targeted killings have continued, in fact, if you look at the statistics, targeted killings have increased under Obama.”

We have made it so politically dangerous and so legally difficult that we don’t capture anyone anymore. We take another option, we kill them. Now. I don’t morally oppose that.”

And neither does Dyson, we assume – as long as it’s a “liberal” internationalism.

Dyson, who was speaking from Charlotte and sounding like a delegate to the convention, said folks that don’t “get in the game” of Democratic politics are “engaging in a form of rhetorical narcissism and ideological self-preoccupation that has no consequence on the material conditions of actually existing poor people.”

Not trusting myself to respond to such insulting language, I leave the task to two BAR readers, both of them named John:

Has Dyson forgotten the lessons of the abolitionist and civil rights movement (among others) which taught that through civil disobedience that policies can be influenced from without, regardless of elections? Otherwise, I can't explain his single-minded focus on presidential elections as a vehicle for change. Finally, to say that by not supporting Obama for the principled reasons that you have elucidated isn't doing anything constructive for the poor is the most disingenuous form of cheap shot I have ever witnessed. I was infuriated by this in particular because it is the poor who most desperately need change and for someone to stand up and fight for them. Obama has been missing in action on so many issues that have affected struggling people. So for him to say that by critiquing Obama in the way that you have is actually destructive to the poor is just disgusting.”

The second John likes to deal in deep sarcasm. His letter was sent directly to Dyson:

Like you, I believe it is time to move beyond the reflexive opposition of the black left to imperialist violence, lawlessness and racism, opposition that was formerly embodied by such figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and the millions of sisters and brothers in the movements they led and represented. Some call your position grasping opportunism, or perhaps a modern form of Bookerism, but I prefer to name it pragmatism and realism.
“Once again, I would like to thank you for lending such a powerful and intelligent black voice to that cause.”

Nuff said.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].


Dyson Approved of Obama's role in FUK-US NATO Assault on Libya

by effective saying- What else was he supposed to do in the face of the 'murderous dictatorial Khadaffi regime'. Just last week at the DNC Obama [& Dyson] hyped how his forgein policy of [phony] R2P  humanitarian intervention [= bombing & regime-change] supposedly brought 'freedom & democracy' to Libya [he also repeatedly harped on the alleged 'Osama Kill Episode']. Of course Bro Glen Ford here @ BAR has repeatedly shown that the NTC's ranks were filled w AL-CIAeda types who effectively had a racist lynch-mob agenda & mentality. Well this is the 3rd time that Obama as POTUS has had a serious case of 'foot in [liar's] mouth disease' [he also hyped the safety of deep sea oil drilling just before the BP Gulf Oil Disaster & of nuke power just before Fukushima]. Now less than a week after he [& Dr Mike Dyson] hyped about bringing 'democracy & freedom' to Libya, their very same lynch-mob rebel-rousers in Benghazi burnt the US embassy & lynched the US amassador there [ironically on the 11th anniversary of 9-11]!!! Now this was all provoked by a white Jewish Israeli-American guy making a slanderous film mocking Islam & the Prophet Muhammed [hyped by that white Christian-Zionist Koran burning Rev Terry Jones]- but that's almost besides the point. O-Bomb-em, Hitlery{I Came, I Saw, He Died- Ha ha ha}Clinton, Sue Rice, et-al hyped this NTC lynch mob as their so-called champions of 'democracy & freedom' while literally gloating over Khadaffi's slaughtered corpse- just 1 yr ago!! And w his comment RE: Khadaffi & Libya vs Bro Glen Ford in this DN! debate, IMO we should also add Dr Mike Dyson {& DN! too} as NTC lynch-mob hypers!

Rev Dr Mike Dyson says he's a Christian minister- Well the Bible says 'You will Reap what You Sew' & the Old folks use to say 'What Goes Around Comes Around'. I think in geo-political speak they call it 'Blow-Back'.

Needless to say In all of Khadaffi's 42 yrs of so-called 'ruthless dictatorial rule'- nothing like this had ever happened- even though Reagan & his 'Iron Maiden' tried to kill him at-least twice in blatantly provocative acts of war. The US has held a grude vs Iran since 1979- when the Iranians stormed the US embassay in Tehran & held US Intel personnel, but not the ambassador, hostage for over a yr. Yet no-one died, all the hostages were returned in one-piece & the US embassy was NOT destroyed- never-the-less the US has had it in for Iran ever since. This makes what happened in Benghazi by the US backed NTC lynch mobbers on the 11the anniversary of 9-11- all the more Ironic.

and yet

it was great fun to watch the confrontation from last friday.  i had it queued up and watched it after work.  to use a dyson sports metaphor, i thought you had him on the ropes as you drove home point after point, making connections back to editorials i have printed out and given to colleagues and young people, many who blindly follow our president or who seem incapable of seeing what you and your site make incredibly clear; at one point, the good doctor (gotta love it) seemed so flustered he tried to interrupt you to ask you whom you were voting for, and you kept on with your point, but i wondered why you didn't take him up on the query at the end of your comment.  and when he asked later, and pushed, and you finally answered, i was so disheartened by your reply;  that, i thought, was the knockout blow, and a battered and beaten dyson walked away victorious.  no sell out?  know sell out!  still dazed by the fact that you said you and yours were voting for obama this time around, i hit play on the next video in the queue: one recommended to me by one of those young people with whom i had been talking poly trix--it was the video to lupe fiasco's "words i never said": "gaza strip was getting bombed, obama didn't say shit, that's why i ain't vote for him, next one neither . . . " last election, using web dubois's logic from his 1956 essay that you recently reprinted, i voted for the green party;  because i care about the least among us, i'm contemplating voting green again this election (have you read of cheri honkala's accomplishments?) if i don't pull a web and throw in the towel (some other lyrics young people--i'm in my fifties--have turned me on to include talib kweli--you try to vote and participate in the government and the motherfuckin democrats is acting like republicans--and boots riley--you're voting which you're hoping will stop the guns from smoking.  is someone fucking joking?  they're bankers in sheep's clothing).  so, mr ford, who has no clothes?  i will still read and pass your wisdom on, but really, man, you're voting for o?!  i think the english beat said it best: wha'ppen?

For They Who Misconstrued What Bro Ford said RE Voting for Obama

This excerpt is from DN!'s own Transcript of the Debate between Dr Mike Dyson & Bro Glen Ford: }MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I would ask the good brother the question, what does the Black Americans and the American left do? Do you encourage people to vote for Obama vs Romney? Or do you encourage a kind of apathy that throws your hand up and says, "We can’t do anything about American foreign policy. [You insist that {so-called] 'liberal internationalism' that Obama is practicing is hardly distinguishable from what preceded him with the interventionist politics, the prevention interventionism, if you will, of George W. Bush"? Is there no difference? I don’t hear Glen Ford articulating for actual voters on the ground, what will you do November 6? What do you encourage them to do?

GLEN FORD: We are certainly NOT encouraging people to vote for the more Effective EVIL [= Obama]. However, members of my family and friends and people that we at Black Agenda Report deal with politically, are going to vote for President Obama [IMO this is a just plain statement of fact- like it or not]. All we ask of them is that they not tell any LIES about His Record in the process, that they [know &] Tell the TRUTH. And truth telling is not something that’s just engaged in in highfalutin principle; we make our decisions based upon the truth. Dr. Dyson just alluded to President Obama’s new doctrine of foreign policy, which is that any time some group of people—and you can always find some group—asks that the US intervene in the internal affairs of their country, then the US should. Yet He [Dr Dyson] never mentioned the term "international law." And this is one of the great historical legacies of the Obama administration. He has ignored international law, ignored the sovereignty of nations and decided that, wherever [& whenever] the US decides to, it should and will intervene militarily. That is Anarchy & CHAOS. But actually it’s called US IMPERILAISM... {

Now maybe you mis-understood what Bro Glen Ford actaully said, or maybe you think this is a grudging endorsement of Obama, if so I DisAgree. A plain statement of fact that most of his Black relatives & friends [& most Black Folks period] are going to vote for Obama is IMO simply acknowledging reality! Amy G even asked Bro Ford was he endorsing Rmoney [OF COURSE NOT!]. So Dr Mike Dyson says Bro Ford was ecouraging political apathy among Blacks & progressives- which is common rhetoric to try embarrass people & to lock Blacks & progressives into continuing to support the Corp Dim wing of the US 2 party Corp-controlled imperialistic duopoly. There are at-least 3 other choices that folks can vote for besides O-Bomb-em & Raw-money. But sitting out the Presidential election [which anyway it's the electorial college that determines who is going to be POTUS- NOT the people's vote] is better IMO than voting for O-Bomb-em in the name of [phony] progressivism or out of FEAR of the Repugs [the ole Dims as 'good-cop' vs Repugs as 'bad-cop' routine].

Great job, Mr. Ford!

Thank goodness there are honest people like yourself who can so eloquently set the record straight.

I used to be a huge Dyson fan. Not anymore. I'm convinced the man is covertly working for the establishment.  The fact that he attended Georgetown convinces me even further.

Dyson is far too intelligent not to see that Obama serves the interests of wealth and privilege, and far too intelligent not to see that Obama has done nothing but further the agenda of the Bush administration more effectively than Bush ever could.

I still can't help but think Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would be worse; however, at least it would eliminate this delusion that Obama serves the interest of "the people." 



Great debate with M.E.Dyson!

Outstanding debate with M.E.Dyson Mr. Ford!  I listened to it twice on last Friday's (9/7/12) Democracy Now.  You were amazing and so refreshing to hear.  I actually feel bad for Dr. Dyson whom I've seen often on MSNBC and for whom I had, and still have very high regard.  But you destroyed him, showing true sillyness of many of his arguments.  I honestly have never before in my life heard someone make a Baptist Minister stutter!  I wish more people could hear you talk.  And the points you brought forward are so very important to everyone, certinly more so to the Black Agenda, but definately not only.  I've always been an Obama supporter and Liberal (ACLU member for 34 years), and yes I'll probably vote for him again, but this time in stead of canvasing for him, I'm on street corners with a sign and talking to cars about the true purpose of Government.  THANK YOU!

And yet too

I wrote on here yesterday, and last night I thought about it, and I agree that Glens one mistake was in not saying who HE was going to vote fori f anyone at all. He could have said third party, or that that info was even private, btu the answer he gave wasnt helpful. I keep trying to get Webster Tarpley to commit too. He is kicking around Romney and his mormon background,but won't  come right out and support Obama directly, which in my opinion would ruin everything he's been saying for years.

Another good response would have been to bring up Dysons weak point that the Nader votes led to Bush. Gore was the one who tried to put neo- con Joe Lieberman one a heartbeat from the presidency. Once 9-11 happened Gore who knows what Gore would have done, maybe the same thing maybe worse.

Blizzard of Words Can't Trump the Truth

Thank you for the service that you and Black Agenday Report do, Mr. Ford, and especially, for plowing through the snow drifts of Dyson's deceit.

I should say that I, unlike most of my black peers, have not and do not support Obama.

It began at the DNC in '04; his coming out speech there left me cold. He was touted as someone fresh and new and that he was. But, I didn't understand what the excitement was all about.  It tasted like the same wine in a brown paperbag.

A sister once called him: the Blackchurian Candidate. He is that, if you look at the difference between his words and his deeds. He is that Trojan Horse, the idol that seduces, mystifies and blinds, the glittering symbol, hiding the rot beneath and the trap within.

Dyson is a necessary adjunct to the evil, the verbal crack slinger, who hooks you with his slick talk that dazzles and obscures, but rarely enlightens. A human diuretic, he attempts to eliminate the toxic truth - along with the perpetrator's fingerprints. 

For a minister, his lack of morals, while astounding, is, however, in the long tradition of ministerial hypocrisy. Thus, it is true to the theology of Rev. Ike: "the best thing you can do for poor folks is not be one of them." And for his slavish support, the good Dr. is certainly fat, but not poor.

'Don't attempt to change the rules of the game - or see them . Tread water in the moral gutter and fish out a fine meal. Better yet, let Obama fish it out for you. After all that's the best we can do.'

'And stay dumb and loyal and keep buying my jive ass books.' What a hack-academic!

The game is afoot.

Obama is an implant of the Anglo-elite! They realized that a "black" could serve them in many ways easier than their usual "white". They used the same kind of tactics with Mandela when things got hot in South Africa, and as we can see aparthied abuses and the white's pillaging of South Africa is still rampant.

As for Dyson. His words are not for the poorly educated and probably not for anyone but himself. I once thought he was a 'righteous dude', but he showed himself to be totally the opposite. Glen Ford spoke in words that were righteous and as clear as a bell for anyone to understand. Yet he said he would vote for Obama and I thought to myself, why do that after stating that Obama is worse for us than the usual white racist bunch?

It stands to reason that the future holds more great tragedies for the African American and all people of color,  because voting and politics has been taken to a totally different (illusional) level which most "Americans" haven't caught on to as of yet. Some still fight to vote when voting doesn't count any longer because the whole game is obviously a con!

It seems everyone is missing what Glen actually said

I heard him so clearly! He said he sure is not going to tell folks to vote for the more effective evil.  That should address the concern.  I hope Obama weasels are not attempting to twist his words to say Obama is still the better bet after all.

Article on the Rise of Inequality under Obama

Matt Stoller on the statistics by Emmanuel Saez that shows the huge increase in inequality from Bush to Obama:

" It’s possible that the Obama policy framework is a bit less bad, but he has been more successful at implementation because unlike Bush, he han’t face any pressure from Democrats.  In other words, perhaps Obama’s policy thrust has just been implemented more fully, because the traditional opposition to plutocratic rule, the left, has been silenced.  Perhaps it’s a competence issue.  Or maybe you can chalk it all up to structural factors, though I suspect the JOBS Act and trade deals imply otherwise.  Maybe he really is as conservative as these policy choices suggest.  It’s hard to say."



For readers here, it's not "hard to say".

Freedom to Fabulous


Dear BAR,

Re: Glen Ford - Michael Eric Dyson - Debate



The Reverand Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson, named by Ebony as one of the hundred most influential black Americans, is currently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. (Neoliberal, Please?)



It does not matter, both equal COMPLICIT.


TRANSLATION (From his comments on DemocracyNow with Amy Twoface):

"Long live the empire.  Shut up and do as you are told.  By the way, do you like my shiny new office and shiny new car? Oh yeah, please buy my 100th book: I May Not Get There With You: Because I'm Busy Eating Caviar.



It is time for real heroes to stand up.