by Solomon Comissiong
“It is painfully distressing to witness members of my community so willfully complicit with lethal war policies simply because they are coming from a brown skinned man,” writes the author. “African-Americans' honorable legacy of opposing Euro-America's imperialist wars is quickly eroding.”
Obama's Destructive Foreign Policy and Black Disillusionment
by Solomon Comissiong
“We must undo the mental spell placed upon us by the Democratic Party and their Trojan horse – Barack Obama.”
The anti-imperialist war legacy of African (black) people in United States is a rather long one. Most American born Africans have historically opposed Euro-America's bloody legacy of global military engagements aimed at everything from regime change to plunder to flat out planetary domination. Prominent African leaders like Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, not only opposed Euro-America's voracious appetite for death and destruction, by way of war – these leaders were outspoken in telling the world exactly why they opposed these wars. For instance, it was in 1967 at Riverside Baptist Church in New York City that Dr. Martin Luther King said:
“As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”
Dr. King, like countless other Africans, simply could not accept the US's deadly imperialist war in Southeast Asia. It clearly weighed heavily upon his conscience. He was not fearful that his rightful opposition to the Vietnam War would greatly distance himself with President Lyndon Johnson – doing the right thing mattered much, much more. Dr. King was not alone; a critical mass of African people refused to support this war. Professional athletes, like Muhammad Ali, were also among the great number of Africans who took courageous stances, vociferously speaking out against the war in Southeast Asia. I say all this to, not only provide historical context, but also to contrast history to the present day.
“Dr. King was not alone; a critical mass of African people refused to support this war.”
It distresses this African author to slowly come to the realization that African-American's honorable legacy of opposing Euro-America's imperialist wars is quickly eroding. This is by no means a rush observation on my part; my assessment dates back to 2008. It was in 2008 that a United States senator named Barack Obama was elected president. I was definitely within the minority of Africans who made the strong decision not to vote for either corporate candidate (Barack Obama & John McCain). Senator Barack Obama made it clear that he intended to expand the war in Afghanistan if he was elected – and he more than made good on that promise. This is merely one of the reasons I had for not supporting Barack Obama as president. And if there was no better option for me, I would simply not have voted in that election. I don't buy in to the lesser of two evils argument; if you do you are ultimately still voting for evil.
Several politically limited acquaintances of mine assumed that I was voting for the other warmonger, John McCain, when I informed them I that I would not be supporting their brown pirate. Without realizing it, they were showcasing the tiny boxes they resided within simply by way of their assumption. Within their politically manufactured world there are no other choices beyond that of Democrats and Republicans. They have been cleverly trained to believe that there are marked differences between the two corporate parties. Some of these individuals thought I was "selling out" because I was not voting for the brown man – the brown man who could not give a damn about championing any policies that might tangibly improve African/black people's living conditions. I was a "sell out" for not wanting to vote for a man who openly supported an imperialist war – a brown man who voted for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It mattered little that I was actually voting for an African/black woman who had more political experience than Barack Obama or that she was anti-war and supported polices geared towards eradicating poverty and improving the living conditions of those who have been historically marginalized (including black folks). Most admitted that they never heard of the Green Party (www.gp.org). These concrete reasons mattered little – they thought I was wasting my vote on someone "who could not win this election." These folks wanted me to sell out my morality by voting for the lesser of two evils simply because that evil was brown. Sadly, some of these folks did not even know who Cynthia McKinney was, however, upon learning about her policies they verbally approved of them but could not vote for her since she was unknown and therefore had "no chance of winning." "A vote for her was a vote for McCain", they said. They were oblivious tools of the Democratic Party, which now owned their political minds. For them, rationale discussion and facts were like Kryptonite.
“These folks wanted me to sell out my morality by voting for the lesser of two evils simply because that evil was brown.”
In 2012 the situation is even worse than in 2008. Since taking office, President Barack Obama has not only followed through on his promise to expand the war in Afghanistan, he has obliterated thousands of human lives and villages by drone strikes throughout that country. Unfortunately, he did not stop with Afghanistan; the brown faced war monger also ordered drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somali. The preferred targets of these drones appear to be civilians, since they murder far more innocent civilians than they do "enemy combatants." Perhaps anything living within these countries is regarded by the U.S. military as an "enemy combatant.” Over one million civilians dead in Iraq and tens of thousands dead in Libya and Afghanistan – when will it stop? Apparently, not with Barack Obama as president. We can assume Mitt Romney will do the same, however we know what Barack Obama will do – he has been doing it – killing innocent people throughout the globe.
Barack Obama's fetish for overseeing the killing of civilians in places like Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen seems to matter little to a great many African-Americans. Opposing this country's wars used to be a signature for American born Africans. You could always count on black people to take the lead when it came to being anti-war, especially imperialist ones. However, now that white liberals have found an acceptable enough black man to throw their vote behind, the African-America community has decided to follow their fraudulent lead. Barack Obama is exactly the kind of black man white liberals feel comfortable enough with, while superficially feeling good that they voted for a black man. Some even say, "With Barack Obama I don't see race. He is not black to me." Superficial gestures regarding race are hallmarks of the white liberal. Many of them become extraordinarily uncomfortable whenever white supremacy or institutional racism is brought up in conversation. These wolves in Democrat clothing could not give a damn about the systemic suffering levied upon people of color within the US. They cling to their "white privilege" just as conservative whites do – they just mask it better. Barack Obama was their ultimate "Trojan horse." The disdain Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had for white liberals was beyond justified – it was warranted.
“What are these white conservatives complaining about? Barack Obama is their man.”
Obama has allowed the fraudulent white liberals to sneak their policies and regressive positioning on race based issues into the US's communities of color. It has been an added bonus for conservatives and liberals, alike, that they found a brown face willing to kill people more aggressively, overseas, than his dimwitted predecessor. White conservatives that complain about Barack Obama are fools blinded by their instinctive racist tendencies. If they were not so damn racist they would realize that Obama is more friend than foe. Bail out amoral Wall Street institutions – done! Expand the US's anti-worker and anti-labor rights so-called Free-Trade policies (like the South Korea, Colombia, Panama Free Trade Agreement) – done! Pass a regressive health insurance reform bill that primarily benefits the greedy and unethical health insurance corporations – done! Sign a nefarious National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that makes the Patriot Act look like Pee Wee Herman – done! Kill US citizens extra-judiciously overseas – done and done! Ignore the suffering of black people in America and speak to them in a paternalistic tone that amuses white conservatives and makes white liberals comfortable – done! And, yes, expand America's white supremacist and imperialist theaters of war and kill more innocent civilians, by way of drones, than the half-witted George W. Bush – done! What are these white conservatives complaining about? Barack Obama is their man. They even have a black man willing to wage a war, based on lies, on the African nation of Libya.
Barack Obama has been more than willing to do the bidding for the Euro-American Empire, regardless the expense to humanity. He does it willingly. And unfortunately, many black people in America continue to follow his march of destruction, willingly. This African author has heard every excuse in the proverbial book when it comes to Obama's policies, especially those dealing with war. It is painfully distressing to witness members of my community so willfully complicit with lethal war policies simply because they are coming from a brown skinned man. It is like they have thrown out much of the African legacy and made a mockery of our solidarity with other oppressed people throughout the globe. And now many of us parade around wearing Obama paraphernalia as if it was a year round Halloween costume. They even wear t-shirts with the faces of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X on either side of the face of Obama. Africans have allowed disingenuous people to reinvent their historical icons and freedom fighters.
“Through their actions, they are telling African/black youth that waging war on behalf of the US white power structure is ok, even when it's in their ancestral homeland: Africa.”
Is that all the white power structure had to do – put a brown face on the same old imperialist war machine and the black people will follow it, support it, and champion it? If that is the case, it makes the African/black community look as though we have been warmongers all along---we just needed a brown face to sell global death and destruction, for us to swallow it whole. Those African/black people who continue to blindly support Barack Obama as if he were some sort of messiah are doing immense damage to future generations. Through their actions, they are telling African/black youth that waging war on behalf of the US white power structure is ok, even when it's in their ancestral homeland: Africa. They are telling these African youth that it is ok to sell out the collective interests of their communities, in order to prop up one man's political career – a career that only includes them as puppets. They are telling African youth that it is quite alright to ignore the concerns of oppressed people, whether they may be Palestinians, Afghans or Africans, in order to placate a white power structure. And, ultimately, they are telling their children: even you can become president, like Barack Obama, if you don't act too "black" or trouble those "good" white people with the issues of black folk.
Barack Obama's presidency has thrown a great deal of African/black people in the US in to a perpetual state of confusion – and delusion. This author, if he tries hard enough, can partly understand the mass hysteria surrounding the advent of a brown skinned president of, perhaps, the most racist country on the planet. That being said, I cannot comprehend the continued frenzy and euphoria for a man whose polices leave those same people in the dark – no pun intended. Besides possibly feeling good about the color of the family in the White House, what are they to be joyous about? I would even contend that there is nothing to be exuberant about solely on the premise of having a face of color at the helm of the same old wretched system. If the system has not been radically altered what good is it to have a face of color delivering the identical death blows to people throughout the planet? Oh – that's right – the people must actually see the system, first, as evil and then, see the actions carried out by the chosen face of color as equally harmful. Therein lies the problem: far too many people of color have forgotten how destructive this system is, and that it has not changed whatsoever. The evil is still there. The evil never left – it is just being orchestrated, in large part, by a brown face. It is, "the more effective evil," as Glen Ford from Black Agenda report calls it.
“We cannot count on the media, even the corporate backed black media, a la Tom Joyner Michael Baisden, and the like.”
It is true that Obama's elocutionary talents work like magical spells (dare I say brown magic?) on people from all cultural backgrounds and skin colors. However, his warlock-like skills tend to be far less effective on those possessing the lost art of critical thought. Critical thinking tends to be one of the few tools at our disposal that can be used to combat baseless rhetoric. We must depend on each other for facts, perspective and rationale, as a means to see through attempts geared at having us support anti-human policies, such as imperialist wars and aggression. Those of us who know the truth about Obama and his policies, especially those aimed at destroying the lives of innocent civilians, must speak out. We cannot count on the media, even the corporate backed black media, a la Tom Joyner Michael Baisden, and the like. These stooges are no better than the black faces for hire on outlets like MSNBC. They have shown that they will support Obama no matter how much evil and death he orchestrates. Their careers as puppets for hire pay rather well.
We must be willing to serve as the vanguard of information. It is not meant to be an easy task but it must, at the very least, be attempted. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party and the United States government's contradictions must be exposed. The nefarious values of the Republican Party speak for themselves quite openly.
African/black America must wake up and wake up soon – our collective legacy of being opposed to imperialist wars is at stake. We must undo the mental spell placed upon us by the Democratic Party and their Trojan horse – Barack Obama. Our internationalism with other oppressed people should be a high priority. As I write this essay, there are women, children, men and elderly in places like Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan whose lives teeter in peril because of the US war machine. We must morally stand with them, if not for ourselves, then for our future generations. Do we really want our youth to inherit the warped "values" extolled in the name of war and exploitation? Do we want that blood on their hands?
Obama is not a messiah. He is a man – a flawed man, just like the rest of us. However, Obama is also a man who has accepted his role as deliverer of death drones and exporter of war. He found the money to bomb Libya into oblivion (killing tens of thousands of civilians) and create a civil war, yet no money for universal healthcare.
Some of us decided long ago, no matter how flawed we are, never to support imperialist wars and the destruction of other civilians. Our ancestors like MLK, Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer and countless others, refused to support these kinds of wars and injustices. They set an example for future generations to resist wicked ways and fight for justice. When will we, as a critical mass, in the present millennium, wake up from our delusional spells, step up, speak out, organize and refuse injustice of any kind – even when coming from a familiar looking face? When? When will we show the youth, through our collective actions and unity, that injustice is unacceptable? The excuses must cease! When you vote for the lesser of two evils – you still vote for evil. We must create a new political framework, rejecting the present two-party dictatorship as simply untenable for a humane society. Are we willing to build that society? If so, rejection of the status quo is imperative!
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, and the host of the Your World News media collective (www.yourworldnews.org). Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. He can be reached at: [email protected]