Doing Us Proud: Black America Has Lost Its Moral Compass

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

When a Bush, a McCain, or a Romney condones corporate crimes against the rest of us, lies to us, tortures and imprisons at will and murders civilians at a whim, it's a moral disaster. When a black Democrat does it, it's nothing personal, just business. And we are soooo proud. What's wrong with us?

Black America Has Lost Its Moral Compass

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

At our October 12 affair at Harlem's Riverside Church, Black Agenda Report's executive editor Glen Ford said that the most damning and lasting result of the Obama presidency might be that black America was losing its moral compass

Those of us, this author included, who reached adulthood in the brief eight or nine year heyday of the modern Freedom Movement got to see our elders shuck the shackles of what was proper and legal and take to the streets in defiance of evil in authority. We learned that going door to door, organizing our friends, our neighbors, our fellow workers on the job, calling meetings and demonstrations, and standing up to unjust authority, at whatever cost was the highest duty of citizenship and the only way things ever changed.

During the eight years Obama will have served in the White House, Ford observed, black youth can expect to see nothing like this. Where we learned to be skeptical of what our government, and often our elders told us, they are learning to believe, or pretend to believe whatever they're told. Where we learned the highest goal of the struggle was improving the lives of ordinary people, they are learning that the highest goals are the big house, the prestigious career, the large lifestyle of those who serve the power and unlock the mysteries of the Market.

They'll go through a period as long as the zenith of the Freedom Movement without witnessing one major instance of black defiance of unjust power, of illegitimate authority, or illegal war. And of course it's not as though injustices of class and race, or illegal and genocidal wars waged with our tax dollars and with our lives have gone away; they have not.

If you reached adulthood around 1970 it was relatively easy to get and keep your moral bearings. In the present era, not so. This, he said, may be the awful legacy of the Obama era ---- a generation unmoored from the moral compass that guided their forebears, a generation unaccustomed to organized dissent or defiance or civic action outside the guidelines prescribed by their betters.

We hope Glen is wrong. But the evidence is mounting that he might not be.

The genius of Barack Obama's career is that it has used modern marketing techniques to package the aroma of an imagined popular grassroots movement in the service of a corporate candidate with a thoroughgoing corporate agenda. Democrats are after all, as Doug Henwood often says, a party of capital that pretends for electoral reasons for a few weeks out of the year to be a party of the people. The Obama campaign fit these pretensions masterfully.

In the last couple weeks before the election, Matt Stoller wrote two excellent articles --- The Progressive Case Against Obama and Why Is the Left Defending Obama --- which exquisitely detail the many broken promises and deliberately missed opportunities of Obama's first four years. Stoller points out that many of the awful actions of the Obama regime would be loudly denounced if undertaken by a Bush, a McCain, or a Romney, but are quietly acquiesced to when committed by a black Democrat.

Barack Obama invaded Libya, an African country. His administration orchestrated a massive campaign of disinformation, including lies about Libyan aircraft firing into crowds, Libyan mercenaries primed with viagra and primed for mass rape, and much more. Libya's leader was one of only two out of 54 African nations NOT taking US military aid, and he had been one of the main funders of South Africa's ANC and other liberation movements, and a backer and proponent of the African Union as well. He was a target, and with massive US and NATO intervention in the air and on the ground, he was taken out. Afterward, Obama openly sent troops to Congo and several other African nations, all actions which his predecessor or either of his Republican opponents could not have done.

Stoller also explains that President Obama's protection of the Wall Street criminals who crashed the economy have permanently restructured American property rights in favor of the richest, something else that Republicans could not have brought off without massive upheaval and protest. But being black and proud, our elders in the African American community, if there is such a thing, did not object. They are invested in the president as a success story. They tell us it's about pride, but really it's about their own position. He's a leader because he's a success and a success because he's a leader, and so are they. He legitimizes our black political class, and they shield him from critical analysis, along with themselves in the bargain. So just as Barack Obama can implement Republican policies without protest, “progressive” black and Latino mayors like Philly's Mike Nutter and LA's Villagrosa can push school privatization down the protesting throats of their constituencies.

Personally I'm an atheist. But the book of Exodus tells the story of the Hebrews who, after throwing off Pharaoh lost what we'll call their “moral compass.” They were condemned to wander in the desert forty years before they got it back. That's a bad precedent. Climate change, the economy, the threat of genocides in Congo and elsewhere, the prison state and corporate greed everywhere all indicate that we don't have forty years to get this together.

Black America has lost its moral compass. We used to know right from wrong, and have the courage to stand. In the era of Obama, we have lost it. We'll need to fight to get it back.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)


Maybe on this issue Obama is right and we're wrong

Obama, paraphrasing him:  "There is no Black America or White America, there is only one America..."

We've not only lost our moral compass, I don't believe we'll ever regain it.  The evidence is too overwhelming.  Cenk makes no bones about Obama's cynicism nor his, check out the article and then read the reader's comments.   If one is not left with the distinct impression that we are all socio-paths and psychopaths, then I don't know what you're reading. 

Why Obama Will Disappoint Progressives and I Voted for Him Anyway

by Cenk Uygur

Anyone who thinks President Obama will magically turn around in his second term and be a real progressive is high on a 2008 supply. Soon after President Obama is re-elected he will do the Grand Bargain deal with Republicans, which will cut Medicare, Medicaid, discretionary spending and maybe even Social Security. On top of that, they will pretend to get extra revenue from closing loopholes but in reality they will definitely do a corporate tax cut and perhaps even a top rate tax cut for the rich.  President Obama views this as the height of courage because conventional wisdom in Washington is that screwing over your own constituents is very, very bold. Yes, not laying a glove on the rich and powerful while you take the lion's share from the middle class, poor and powerless is so bold! And if it's so courageous why don't both sides tell us that's what they're going to do before the election? And yes, this time the Republicans will take the deal because it actually helps their donors a tremendous amount. "'ecE

E.C.:  Black Americans are now truly Americans, we worship money, fame and fortune with the best of them, we treat anyone who questions these values, who doesn't fawn at status and celebrity and wealth with the shallow, dismissive term "hater."  No intellectual rigor or insight required, no critical thought at all.

We murder each other at rates that are staggering.  And I'm sorry, it's not about poverty, it may be about drugs and their ravages upon us but it's not poverty.  It has more to do with a disrepect for the value of human life, thirst for materialism, and a desire for status and poverty..."things,"  "shit.."  My parents were Miss. sharecroppers who lived in debt peonage.  We were not raised to use violence to take some elses pittance.  And those robbing, killing and stealing in the ghetto's ain't getting no "come up" robbing and stealing and killing those just as broke as them.  People are robbed and murdered who don't put up resistance.  They are simply depraved, like the overwhelming majority of the rest of Americans.

I just had a "debate" in the office and I can summarize it by saying I won't waste my time trying to teach or reach another delusional Black person who worships Obama like a God, and I won't get mad at White Liberals who abandon us either, when every critical thought on their part, every wound that they feel for the downtrodden at the hands of Obama is twisted and turned on its head as if THEY are the racist attacking the holier than thou Black President. 

We're screwed six ways to Sunday, that's about all I can say, and this too.  I use to get angry at the seeds of hate we sowed around the world, attacking the weak and stealing their resources or putting our foot on folks necks because they didn't bend to our will, but I can't anymore. I got angry because I believe Black Americans were not co-signing these actions but would suffer the consequences of them.  Can't say that anymore.

I may not be a so-called Christian but I do believe there are spiritual laws and karma that operate in the Universe, or if this talk bothers you, call it cause and effect, blowback if that's your preference, don't matter what you call it or how you see it.  But we're going to get ROI, it ain't gonna be what we thought, but it's coming.  And my last word of the day is, I think about Curtis Mayfield's lyrics increasingly, every month, every year and they get more appropro with each passing moment:

"If there's a hell below, we're all gonna go."

What happened to, "We the People who are darker than Blue?....

Sisters, Brothers and the Whities Blacks and the Crackers Police and their backers They're all political laughters Hurry, people running from their worries While the judge and his juries Dictate the law that's partlyflaw [ From: ]
Cat calling love balling fussing and cussing Top billing now is killing For peace no one is willing Kind of make you get that feeling Everybody smoke Use the pill and the dope Educated fools From uneducated schools Pimping people is the rule Polluted water in the pool And Nixon (and Obama) talking about don't worry He say don't worry He say don't worry He say don't worry But they don't know There can be no show And if there's hell below We're all gonna go Everybody's praying And everybody's saying But when come time to do Everybody's laying Just talking about don't worry They say don't worry They say don't worry They say don't worry....


Obama is governmental evil genius at its best

It is estimated that more black people, not fewer, voted in 2012 than 2008 despite the fact that Obama has, if anything, worsened the plight of  African Americans, despite the continuity  between Bush and Obama, despite the fact that targeted killings have increased under Obama.... 

The installation of  Obama into the presidency  is absolutely brilliant!  The ruling class can accomplish so much under the cover of a supposedly "black liberal" Democratic president.  Not only will  the very people hurt the most by his barbaric actions, or who so loudly protested them, stay silent, they will tirelessly defend those actions to the point of lunacy.  

I mean, these are the same people who strenuously objected to the previous administration’s reckless war-waging and catering to the rich policy.  The only thing that's changed is the face and party of the presidenc.

There are young Black women and men who are not fooled

I hear them call in to radio shows and talk about their reading, their activism and their anger.  Some read BAR.

In the mid1960s, I was a minor contributor but moreso an observer of the Black Civil Rights Movement in NOLA.  As an atheist Jew from NYC, I was always aware of my "outsider" status.  The FBI thought all dissent was dangerous and my first spouse, who worked in the Anti-Poverty Program and I were called "communists" (laughable).  The FBI agent waved the list of magazines we subscribed to as "proof": Mother Jones I think), Transaction,  I.F.Stone, The Nation, the Catholic Worker, the Realist.  He asked the boss to fire my spouse and the boss refused.

    At the time, I was also involved in small regular vigil group of 12 women, every Saturday, who stood with anti-war signs, on Canal Street, in front of the war memorial, protesting the war on Vietnam.  The FBI (white guys with crew cuts, white shirts and dark suits) kneeled in front of us, taking our photos, every week.  The FBI and NOLA police department took flash bulb photos in the faces of people leaving the Black WMCA on Dryades Street, shortly after we arrived in the summer of 1965, just before Hurricane Betsy.  It is important that the only place willing to give space for the antiwar speech (a visiting professor from Yale gave it) was the Black WMCA.  Only a minority of  people were involved in the peace movement in the 1960s. 

   The other night, during the post Superstorm Sandy alternate radio coverage on WBAI, running material from the Pacifica Radio Archives.  *WBAI has been flooded out of their studios at 120 Wall St., Man., and in borrowed studio on Upper West Side daytime for live coverage.  One night was all speeches of Howard Zinn, starting at 1965 talking about SNCC, going up through 1991, when I fell asleep.  He spoke to something both Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon have been talking about: dissent and disobedience to the government.  It was fascinating how he built on themes over time. 

*Pacifica Radio Archives has a lot of Black history and activism, as well as cultural workers who were activists, going back to the 1960s.

I seek power by my ability to define reality...

I find liberation through knowledge of self...

Here's the deal my Beloved.

The first order of business is for us to recognize our MINORITY STATUS, and I ain't talking race I'm talking ideas, concept and realism.

We must understand who and what Obama is/stands for.  I've said since 2007, he's inherently WEAK, and since that time other's have noted how he is CONFLICT AVERSE.  Still... others have noted that Obama is a CONSERVATIVE TECHNOCRAT.

So this is the person/concept we are dealing with.  Not just "Him" but the millions wedded to his mythology.

Let us not be afraid to chart our own principled course of action.  That will be huge leap going forward.  Are we willing to compromise our principles for pragatism, or are we undaunted in those things, those values and principles that define and represent our situational awareness of who and where we are in the Universe?

One of my favorite bloggers (may he rest in peace) was Joe Baegant.  Joe's gift was that he attempted to align the emotions and ethos of rural White Americans with those of urban Black Americans. (my interpretation of Joe, not his words).  I loved Joe because he understood, as much as Thomas Frank, that class usurped race. 

My most memorable recollection of what Joe said before his untimely and short passing was:  "Nobody gets out of here alive."

In other words, in 10, 15, 20, 30, years nobody will have any reason to remember us.  How many people remember MLK, Jr.?  How many remember what he stood for?  Same with Ghandi.  So let's not be afraid of our mortality while finding strength in our living moments. 

The question for me, on an intellectual basis, is:  "How long will the U.S. "Spring" last??? And what will us principled Libs/Progs do with it?  Will we leverage it or waste it? 

For E.C.: A bedtime story.

“Nobody gets of  here alive.”                                                                (Joe Baegent)

"Alas," said the mouse, "the whole world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these long walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into."

     "You only need to change your direction," said the cat, and ate it up.


(Franz Kafka,  “A Little Fable”)







So where is the sign up sheet for the "Make Him Do It Movement?"

That the lesser evil editors at The Nation, Michael Moore, Daniel Ellsberg, Springsteen, Bill Black, Bill McKibben all talk about.  Every time Bruce or Glen are on Mark Thompson's radio show, Mark says, "Well we need a movement.  We have to make him do it."  And then 4 more years go by.  What a crock!

Students drowning in student loans voted for Obama.   How do we get to them to wake up these sheeple?

@Lady Di Who'll win the fight for the soul of their Party?

My Beloved, the sign-up sheet is being secreted in the bowels of the Democratic Party, and all the signatories signed it with invisible ink.  What do I expect?  Glenn Greenwald offers the unpleasant answer.  In case you didn't get the "Memo," here it is, written in not so invisible ink: 

The greatest and most enduring significance of Tuesday night's election results will likely not be the re-election of Barack Obama, but rather what the outcome reflects about the American electorate. It was not merely Democrats, but liberalism, which was triumphant.

To begin with, it is hard to overstate just how crippled America's right-wing is. Although it was masked by their aberrational win in 2010, the GOP has now been not merely defeated, but crushed, in three out of the last four elections: in 2006 (when they lost control of the House and Senate), 2008 (when Obama won easily and Democrats expanded their margins of control), and now 2012. The horrendous political legacy of George Bush and Dick Cheney continues to sink the GOP, and demographic realities – how toxic the American Right is to the very groups that are now becoming America's majority – makes it difficult to envision how this will change any time soon.

Meanwhile, new laws to legalize both same-sex marriage and marijuana use were enacted in multiple states with little controversy, an unthinkable result even a few years ago, while Obama's late-term embrace of same-sex marriage seems to have resulted only in political benefit with no political harm. Democrats were sent to the Senate by deeply red states such as Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota, along with genuinely progressive candidates on domestic issues, including Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, who became the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. As a cherry on the liberal cake, two of the most loathed right-wing House members – Rep Joe Walsh of Illinois and Allen West of Florida – were removed from office.

So the delirium of liberals this morning is understandable: the night could scarcely have gone better for them. By all rights, they should expect to be a more powerful force in Washington. But what are they going to get from it? Will they wield more political power? Will their political values and agenda command more respect? Unless the disempowering pattern into which they have voluntarily locked themselves changes, the answer to those questions is almost certainly "no".

Consider the very first controversial issue Obama is likely to manage, even before the glow of his victory dims, literally within the next couple of weeks. It is widely expected - including by liberals - that Obama intends (again) to pursue a so-called "Grand Bargain" with the GOP: a deficit- and debt-cutting agreement whereby the GOP agrees to some very modest tax increases on the rich in exchange for substantial cuts to entitlement programs such as social security and Medicare, the crown legislative jewels of American liberalism.

Indeed, Obama already sought in his first term to implement sizable cuts to those programs, but liberals were saved only by GOP recalcitrance to compromise on taxes. In light of their drubbing last night, they are likely to be marginally if not substantially more flexible, which means that such a deal is more possible than ever.

In other words, the political leader in whose triumph liberals are today ecstatically basking is likely to target their most cherished government policies within a matter of weeks, even days. With their newly minted power, will they have any ability, or even will, to stop him? If history is any indication, this is how this "fight" will proceed:

STEP ONE: Liberals will declare that cutting social security and Medicare benefits – including raising the eligibility age or introducing "means-testing" – are absolutely unacceptable, that they will never support any bill that does so no matter what other provisions it contains, that they will wage war on Democrats if they try.

STEP TWO: As the deal gets negotiated and takes shape, progressive pundits in Washington, with Obama officials persuasively whispering in their ear, will begin to argue that the proposed cuts are really not that bad, that they are modest and acceptable, that they are even necessary to save the programs from greater cuts or even dismantlement.

STEP THREE: Many progressives – ones who are not persuaded that these cuts are less than draconian or defensible on the merits – will nonetheless begin to view them with resignation and acquiescence on pragmatic grounds. Obama has no real choice, they will insist, because he must reach a deal with the crazy, evil GOP to save the economy from crippling harm, and the only way he can do so is by agreeing to entitlement cuts. It is a pragmatic necessity, they will insist, and anyone who refuses to support it is being a purist, unreasonably blind to political realities, recklessly willing to blow up Obama's second term before it even begins.

STEP FOUR: The few liberal holdouts, who continue to vehemently oppose any bill that cuts social security and Medicare, will be isolated and marginalized, excluded from the key meetings where these matters are being negotiated, confined to a few MSNBC appearances where they explain their inconsequential opposition.

STEP FIVE: Once a deal is announced, and everyone from Obama to Harry Reid and the DNC are behind it, any progressives still vocally angry about it and insisting on its defeat will be castigated as ideologues and purists, compared to the Tea Party for their refusal to compromise, and scorned (by compliant progressives) as fringe Far Left malcontents.

STEP SIX: Once the deal is enacted with bipartisan support and Obama signs it in a ceremony, standing in front of his new Treasury Secretary, the supreme corporatist Erskine Bowles, where he touts the virtues of bipartisanship and making "tough choices", any progressives still complaining will be told that it is time to move on. Any who do not will be constantly reminded that there is an Extremely Important Election coming – the 2014 midterm – where it will be Absolutely Vital that Democrats hold onto the Senate and that they take over the House. Any progressive, still infuriated by cuts to social security and Medicare, who still refuses to get meekly in line behind the Party will be told that they are jeopardizing the Party's chances for winning that Vital Election and – as a result of their opposition - are helping Mitch McConnell take over control of the Senate and John Boehner retain control of the House.

And so it goes. That is the standard pattern of self-disempowerment used by American liberals to render themselves impotent and powerless in Washington, not just on economic issues but the full panoply of political disputes, from ongoing militarism, military spending and war policies to civil liberties assaults, new cabinet appointments, immigration policy, and virtually everything else likely to arise in the second term. 

The Double Talking African American Elites

Almost all African American leaders, particularly those who claim to speak for the disadvantaged blacks, are attached to corporate money-lords for their careers and daily livelihoolds. They merely use poverty and hopelessness in the African American neighborhoods as a means to their personal aggrandisements. This trend by the black elites did not start four years ago when President Obama was elected! Bill Clinton, through Democratic leadership Council, found a way to these loyal black elites who will sing every sad song in the books to African Americans while grabbing money bags from corporations!

Who Needs The Repubs if the Dems are More Effective..

at enacting and furthering a fascist/corporatist agenda? I think that what  the writer described is what has been going on worldwide-imperialists propping up despotic shills in their stead who usually prove themselves to be just as ruthless as their puppetmasters. So Obama gets away with enacting policies/legislation that would have sparked massive outcries if pushed by repubs. But I wonder if black people's refusal to see any wrong in Obama's many wrongs is really a lack of moral compass or if it just unfortunately is a sign of humanity's failings? Is it that black people, simply are tired of being on a perrenial 'losing' team and see Obama's ascendancy as finally having made it to the 'majors'? No matter that he really is playing for the opposing team. I also think that a lot of people do not acknowledge or maybe they don't recognize that there is a global system of apartheid in place. I know a lot of people probably write off Frances Cress  Welsing's Isis Papers but I think it's worth noting that the global white minority has simply created a system for their optimum growth, potential and survival. (and they could not have done it without our complicity and co-operation nor could they continue it). If the world was egalitarian and we all acted in a civil and humane manner when dealing with each other; what do you think would happen to whites? EXACTLY. The current global system has allowed them to not only survive but thrive--of course at the expense of the world's global majority, but hey that's neither here nor there--for them. Until WE the global world majority decide to change the current power dynamics, and again, they as the global world minority, can only keep things as they are with our co-operation and complicity--with the likes of the Obamas & the Martelys & the Bashirs, etc...they will continue as they are and people like Obama will continue to be 'selected' by them to do their bidding. And as long as the masses go along with this sham and pretend it's akin to actual 'power' nothing will change.

I feel your anguish.


I feel your anguish and that of Mr. Dixon.         

Like Mr. Dixon, I am an atheist, but I agree with you that there are a lot of people who have lost their souls--literally or metaphorically.

I will not be celebrating Veterans' Day.  I see nothing to thank veterans for unless we want to honor their murder of foreigners who, as you observe, have done nothing to us.

It's not just Black America that is dead.  The country is dead.  Sic jacet pulvis, cinis, et nihil.