Readers challenged Glen Ford and Ann Garrison on the "white supremacist electoral bloc" in the US and genocide in Rwanda, respectively.
Critical responses to “Midterm Elections: Corporate Democrats Versus The Monster They Empowered” and “Et tu, RT? Amplifying Misinformation about Rwanda” mean a good dose of ideological struggle in this week’s column. Feedback pushed our writers to engage on this page.
In “Midterm Elections: Corporate Democrats Versus The Monster They Empowered” Glen Ford argues that the Democratic Party had a central role in building up the forces of Trump as a new white supremacist bloc and that only a new political force based on popular demands can challenge the status quo.
Kevin Chamberlain shares:
“When Hillary Clinton was describing some US citizens as “deplorables” my understanding was not that Clinton was utilizing that phrase as a description of “white supremacist voters.” I was then and now certain that the phrase “deplorables” was the way that Clinton described the lower middle class and lower class who did not support her and the Democratic Party. These were those who were unemployed or working in jobs with little pay and benefits. If we want to talk race, not class, mostly these were white, but not necessarily so. Another characteristic of this group was that they recognized that the Democratic Party no longer serves their interest. The Democratic Party was the party, under Clinton, that pushed through NAFTA and advocated for other legislation that has resulted in real unemployment levels rising. Obama and HRC were promoting other trade deals in the Obama administration that would have significantly caused greater unemployment. Recall HRC describing the TPP as the “gold standard” of trade deals. This group of “deplorables” understands that the nation is waging wars throughout the planet. The reason is that the youth of this underclass are the ones that are in the US military and see the destruction with their own eyes. There is the lack of good paying jobs. The members of this group are heavily propagandized and under surveillance in order to control. Housing continues to be very expensive for those trying to survive. After the housing crisis and Wall Street crash, Obama and the Democratic Party did nothing but help the big banks.
One could go on and on. The Democratic Party does not serve the people. In 2016, about 50% of electorate did not vote. 10,000 twitter accounts were closed this week. These were accounts that were telling people not to vote. The CIA was running many candidates in this election. If someone votes for the Republican, are they necessarily white racists? Today, in many districts, there is no real choice.
There needs to be a strong viable party that serves the interest of the working class. Furthermore, who uses the word "deplorable." I have been in the black urban community. I have been in construction work and shipping work et al. Much of my life has been spent among the working class; black, white and brown. Never has anyone spoken this word. The word is a word of the bourgeoisie and upper class. These are the ones clutching their pearls and thumbing their noses at the unwashed.”
Glen Ford responds:
“The thrust of my column is that, two years after Trump’s election, his White Man’s Party still holds the loyalties of majorities of white voters in the U.S. As I wrote, ‘majorities of U.S. whites are firmly committed to an openly white nationalist political program under the leadership of a billionaire huckster who speaks their vile language.’ Analysts may argue about what was on the minds of white voters in Michigan in 2016, but there can be no doubt that Trump has ruled as a white supremacist. The white supremacist bloc has become more coherent and self-aware during the Trump presidency, and shows no signs of eroding.”
In “Et tu, RT? Amplifying Misinformation about Rwanda”contributor Ann Garrison criticizes the Russian news channel for putting forward the US media narrative of an alleged Rwandan genocide of Tutsis by government backed Hutu forces and for adding that French troops were supporting the Rwandan state forces in this event.
Eritrean based Thomas C. Mountain, whose byline reads “the most widely distributed independent journalist in Africa”, writes: “Why is it that Ann Garrison et al never mention the word "Interhamwe"when speaking about Rwanda? Could it be that the FACT that theInterhamwe carried out the massacres in Rwanda, something the Frenchthemselves have repeatedly admitted, is not something she can addressand maintain the fiction that she presents as Rwandan history?The Interhamwe were a creation of the French Foreign Ministry, and theFrench themselves (i.e. France24 having repeatedly admitted having funded).Ann Garrison does not speak of the thousands of French troops presentin Rwanda during the massacres who were literally ordered, over theobjections of their officers, something again the French themselveshave admitted, to NOT intervene to stop the killings.
[Current Rwandan President] Kagame is a criminal, just as [current Ugandan President] Museveni is, but the historical recordon the massacres in Rwanda show very clearly, something well known atthe time to African historians, that the French were responsible forthis heinous crime. The USA was too preoccupied with the transfer ofpower in South Africa and the strategically critical Horn of Africaand the coming to power of two rebel movements via the armed strugglein Eritrea and Ethiopia to be very concerned about the Great Lakesregion when this crime was committed.One would do well to view ‘The French African Connection’ from AlJazeera to place into context just how criminally involved the Frenchwere in Africa during the first decades of neo-colonialism in Africa.”
Ann Garrison responds:
“First, I would like to thank Thomas Mountain for drawing my attention to the three-part Al Jazeera series "The French African Connection." It seems to be the only source he cited, but it includes valuable primary source material about France and French corporations’ crimes in Africa to secure oil, uranium, and other natural resources, particularly in Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, and Mali. I have never imagined that France is an angel in Africa, and nothing could be further from the truth. A long and ongoing list of France’s postcolonial crimes in Africa includes collaboration with the US in destroying Libya in 2011.
Second, this is the first time I've heard this allegation: "The Interhamwe were a creation of the French Foreign Ministry, and the French themselves (i.e. France24 having repeatedly admitted having funded)." I would appreciate it if Thomas Mountain could share any primary source material about this.
Third, France created a humanitarian corridor for Rwandans fleeing into Congo, which was then Zaire. Rwanda claims that France actually created that corridor to help Interahamwe escape, but I don't know how anyone who sees pictures and video of one to two million Rwandans fleeing into Zaire could imagine that more than a tiny fraction of them were Interahamwe. See RWANDA 1994:NIGHTLINE.
Whenspeaking to RT, I objected to any individual French soldiers being found criminally liable for failing to protect Rwandans if they had no mandate to do so, and I do not believe they did. Should France or French soldiers be blamed for not intervening in the massacres? Perhaps, but that seems to be a moral judgment because I don't know of any law that would make them criminally liable for notintervening. Bill Clinton seems more to blame for preventing any UN intervention, but I don't know of a law that made him criminally liable for notintervening either.
When I watch the Nightline report I can't help finding fault with France for not getting food and clean water to the refugees dying of hunger, thirst, and contaminated water as they struggle to make their way to Zaire. However, according to Nightline, Médecin sans Frontiereswas there “doing what it could with what little it had.” No one else was providing humanitarian relief to the refugees as they fled, and I don't know of any law that makes that failure a crime.
My Rwandan friends tell me that France's Operation Turquoise saved a lot of lives. Here are a few words from Peter Erlinder's "Accidental Genocide," a narrated compendium of documents about the Rwandan war and genocide: June 23: French Operation Turquoise controls southwest Rwanda. RPF control one-third to one-half of Rwanda by April 21. RPF control the Kigali Airport by May 21 and three-fourths of Rwanda by June 23 when the French set-up Operation Turquoise. French troops enter the southwestern quadrant of Rwanda, and control approximately one fourth of the country. No or few mass killings in area controlled by French after June 23. Erlinder's source citation for that is Map 4, with the permission of Christian Davenport, Allan Stam, and Nick Greenfield, www.genodynamics.com.
Fourth,Thomas Mountain cannot prove what he claims to be fact simply by capitalizing FACT. Nor can he do so by asserting that he is “the most widely distributed independent journalist in Africa,” even if he is.
Fifth, I particularly recommend these books on the Rwandan war and genocide of October 1990 to July 1994, and its aftermath in Congo and the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda:
In Praise of Blood: Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Frontby Judi Rever, 2018.
Justice Belied, the Unbalanced Scales of International Justice, an anthology edited by Sébastien Chartrand and John Philpot, 2014.
Accidental Genocideby Peter Erlinder, 2013.
Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa: From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction by Robin Philpot, 2013.
How Paul Kagame Deliberately Sacrificed the Tutsi by Jean-Marie Ndagijimana. First published in French 2009 and English, 2010.”
This week’s column was the beneficiary of some serious debate. The struggle to understand the past will continue to shape our strategies in the present. We look forward to hearing more from you next time.
Jahan Choudhry is Comments Editor for Black Agenda Report. He is an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia, PA.
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