Lannan Foundation and Nation Books presented Chris Hedges with Reverend Jeremiah Wright on 12 November 2012 at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Hedges spoke about poverty in the U.S., then followed by a conversation with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Distributed by OneLoad.com.
Barack Obama’s politically expedient decision to betray and abandon his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, exposed his cowardice and moral bankruptcy. In that moment, playing the part of Judas, he surrendered the last shreds of his integrity. He became nothing more than a pawn of power, or as Cornel West says, “a black mascot for Wall Street.” Obama, once the glitter of power fades, will have to grapple with the fact that he was a traitor not only to his pastor, the man who married him and Michelle, who baptized his children and who kept him spiritually and morally grounded, but to himself. Wright retains what is most precious in life and what Obama has squandered—his soul.
June 8, 2011
In a Democracy Now! special broadcast, we are joined by legendary journalist Bill Moyers, a founding organizer of the Peace Corps, press secretary for President Lyndon Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, and senior correspondent for CBS News. Public television is where he has made his home, producing many groundbreaking shows and winning more than 30 Emmy Awards.
Israel and the United States, which could be charged under international law with crimes against humanity for actions in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, will together boycott the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Geneva. Racism, an endemic feature of Israeli and American society, is not, we have decided, open for international inspection. Barack Obama may be president, but the United States has no intention of accepting responsibility or atoning for past crimes, including the use of torture, its illegal wars of aggression, slavery and the genocide on which the country was founded. We, like Israel, prefer to confuse lies we tell about ourselves with fact.
As the old saw goes, “When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.” It is equally true that “When they say it’s not about race, it’s about race.” And so it went with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright as the Clintons plowed that furrow, and so will it go again with him if the Republicans are able to bring him front and center in the Fall. We all know that they will try their damnedest to make the election over Rev. Wright and what he supposedly stands for, not about George Bush and John McCain and Barack Obama and what they really stand for. (Of course in the case of BushMcCain they will also try to run on what they say they stand for, which has little to do with what they really stand for, but that one is for another day.) And so, it will come down once again, first and foremost as I said in my TPJ column 189, “A Game Plan for Obama,” control of the agenda. One very important way for Obama to get control of the Rev. Wright agenda item is to make it very clear what it really is about: race and racism.
It was after I wrote my column TPJ No. 190 “Is the Rev. Wright Wrong?” that Rev. Wright made his now-famous appearances on Bill Moyers’ show, and before the NAACP (April 27, 2008) and the National Press Club (at which, known to few, the audience other than journalists was made up of African-American church officials [April 28, 2008]). The chorus of condemnation from the Mainstream Media, even among well-known middle-of-the-road African-American journalists like Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post and Bob Herbert of The New York Times, grew louder and louder. Wright, explaining his positions at length, with the style and vernacular of a flamboyant churchman of any ethnicity, was condemned as an ego-maniac, as a traitor to the U.S., as absolutely not in the tradition of oh-so-conveniently dead Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who happened to have said many similar things, perhaps in not quite as colorful language, but anyway he is conveniently dead). How dare he?
You can read a transcript of the supposedly scandalous remarks, especially at question time, from the famous National Press Club news conference here. I did happen to hear live a number of the answers to questions that so many pundits and Sen. Obama himself took such offense at. I didn’t think that there was anything out of the ordinary, and nothing like the “damn-the-Constitution” and “all liberals are traitors” (treason being an offense that carries the death penalty) that we hear from the Right-Wing Republican Radio Screamers all day every day. And boy, does this man know his Old Testament and how to use it. In sum, I didn’t find his comments particularly scandalous.
He talked about how Black Liberation Theology, which grew out of Latin American Catholic Liberation Theology, has a lot to say about the problems of oppressed peoples everywhere; about the good works that his congregation has done in their community over many years; about how the progressive evangelist Jim Wallis (white) has called for a national apology for slavery; about how Christianity, his faith, has been used as a cover for evil as well, like the Klan; about finding a fair settlement to the Palestine/Israel problem; about how whites fueled the Underground Railway; about how he rationalized his statements about “damning America;” and about how he separated himself from Sen. Obama. He also had the temerity to point out that large numbers of African-American listen to the words of Minister Farrakhan, “whether they agree with him or not.”
Apparently words like the ones the Rev. uttered are said on Sundays in black churches all over the country. I’ve never been to a black church on Sunday (to a white one either) so I wouldn’t know for sure. But I thought it fascinating that the black ministers in his national press club audience when asked, thought that what he said was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact they were delighted that for once sentiments expressed by many of them on a regular basis before their own congregations were getting national exposure. Unfortunately for them, the nation was not treated to any dis-passionate representation of what he said but rather to a knee-jerk establishment reaction to it, even from African-American “good liberals” like the aforementioned Bob Herbert and Eugene Robinson. And for better or worse, that’s what Sen. Obama had to go with. Standing in his place I would have gone with them too. It is a losing battle in our country for an African-American running for President to attempt to rationally explain what someone like Rev. Wright (who has more military service than the leaders of the current Regime have combined) means when he says what he says, and that he says it because he wants his country to become a better place for everyone, not just him and his people.
And so, how dare Sen. Obama not completely disassociate himself from the Rev. Wright? Peggy Noonan, the well-known Reagan hagiographer, told us, on the morning of April 29, 2008, towards the end of “Morning Joe’s” romp of the day through the orchards of Wright and Obama, that the Senator should offer a series (not just one mind you) of speeches, distancing himself from the Rev. Wright and explaining in detail a) just how and what he would be distancing himself on and b) why-oh-why did he not do it much sooner. (It should be noted that Noonan is adopting some strangely liberal positions on certain matters, such as George Bush, but it remains to be seen if she develops any kind of consistent change in ideology.)
The more I listen to this stuff, the more I am reminded of oratory that I heard much too much of when I was child in the 40s, 50s and 60s, before the (partial) triumph of the civil rights movement. You know, how certain “coloreds” are just “uppity.” They talk too much and they say things that are just wrong, dontchaknow, they just offend our American way of life. And when “coloreds” (and you know the other words applied) become “uppity,” why they have to be put in their places.
And so, Wright is “uppity” because, for example, he dares to speak the truth about the United States having blood on its hands around the world, starting with the institution of slavery that was recognized in our Constitution, originally, with African-Americans counting as three-fifths of a person (and Native Americans, slaughtered by the many tens of thousands in the 19th century, not counting at all). Think further, the Philippines, 1902, Iran, 1953, Guatemala, 1954, Vietnam, 1956, Brazil, 1964, Chile, 1973, Afghanistan 1979, Nicaragua, 1984, Iraq, 2003, for openers.
And Sen. Obama, why he is “uppity” for daring to become a serious candidate for President. By golly, the Rev. Huckabee and his friends at the virtually all-white, virtually all-male NRA know just how to put such “uppity coloreds” in their places, now don’t they. And he is “uppity” for, if he actually got into the Oval Office and lived to tell the tale, he would try at least to make major changes in both foreign and domestic policy and the way political business is done in this country. How uppity can you get? And so, Wright needs to be “put in his place,” and Obama needs to explain, at great length mind you, just why and how he should not be ultimately caricatured and classified as just another uppity “colored” and put in his place, too.
Let’s just hope that both Wright and Obama will have none of this. Right now Wright is doing Obama’s political work for him by gradually distancing himself from the Senator. Obama, even if he were so inclined to do any more of that scut work than he has already done, doesn’t need to bother. As for Obama, the last thing he needs to do is to fall into the Noonan Trap and “explain himself” endlessly, all the while being drawn further down into the quicksand of “oh Senator Obama, you didn’t do it right. Could please explain some more?” To change both policy and politics, the Senator just has to keep on doin’ what he has been doin’: talking about how is going to change both and doing the one of the two that he can do right now, before the elections: doing politics in an entirely new way.
In his introduction to my previous column on the Rev. Wright controversy, our Editor/Publisher Judge Stephen Gheen, said: “Dr. Steven Jonas, TPJ’s Contributing Author, wades into a subject that some believe is the ‘third rail’ of the Obama campaign – Reverend Wright. Dr. Jonas offers a thoughtful defense of Rev. Wright; one that every Democrat should read.” I don’t regard what I had to say as a “defense of Rev. Wright,” but rather as an explanation and for some of them justification of several of the various historical and policy positions that he has taken.
I have a suspicion that the Rev. knew exactly what he was doing, however, by seeming to sound “off-the-wall” to those (most listeners) totally unfamiliar with the language of BLT: giving Sen. Obama some “stuff” with which he could justifiably distance himself for the benefit of the MSM and some “centrist” Democrats who otherwise like him and his ideas, and know that he’s got a much better shot at McCain than does Hillary “Bill/Monica/Foster/Whitewater/Pardons/Cattle-deal/failed-health-plan/and-what-have-you” Clinton. That the good Rev. did, and we have heard nothing from him since. I must say, however, that I hope he stays quiet. For if he doesn’t, the media noise will once again drown out all of the good process and substantive policy positions that Obama stands for.
As for Clinton, how much better she would have been served had she, when the Rev. Wright thing broke, said words to the effect of: “This issue has no place in the campaign. One’s religion and religious views, and the views of one’s pastor for which one is hardly responsible, have no place in the campaign, as long as one is not trying to impose them on others, as the Republican Party tries to do regularly on such issues as abortion and homosexual rights. The Rev. Wright has not endorsed Sen. Obama. These attacks are out-of-bounds, and some would consider racist in nature. Now, when it comes to ministers who step into the political arena, like Sen. McCain’s Rev. Hagee, and whop want to pass a whole series of laws that would impose their particular religious views on moral questions like when life begins on the rest of us, that’s another story.” When the obits and then the history of her failed campaign for the Presidency are written this monstrous mistake (in several senses) will be featured, I’m sure.
Everything you wanted to know about Sen. McCain is at one website created by the Democratic Party. Check out:
This is a great resource and another great idea from the Democratic Party. Spread the facts about Sen. McCain to everyone you know – the facts are now at your fingertips.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a TPJ contributing author. He is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author of over twenty-five books. Dr. Jonas is one of America’s most perceptive Democratic political analysts.
Dr. Jonas is a Contributing Author for the webmagazine The Political Junkies.net (www.thepoliticaljunkies.net); a Columnist for the webmagazine BuzzFlash (http://www.buzzflash.com; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online (http://www.bestcyrano.org/; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC (http://www.oldamericancentury.org/; an invited contributor to the weblog The Daily Scare (http://www.dailyscare.com/; and Contributing Editor for the weblog (http://www.planetarymovement.org/, currently inactive). He also has his own weblog, “Dr. J.’s Short Shots, II” (http://drjsshortshots.wordpress.com/).
In his book The New Americanism, Dr. Jonas presents his proposal for that “new vision and mission” for the Democratic Party that so many, for so many years, have been urging it to find. A new vision and mission are obviously needed with increasing urgency as with increasing speed and determination the Georgites drive our nation towards frank theocratic fascism, and the Democratic Party flounders around in trying, and so far failing, to find an effective voice for the 2008 election. Dr. Jonas finds the needed vision and mission in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. “The New Americanism: How the Democratic Party Can Win the Presidency is available from Amazon.com (go to “Books;” enter the full title) and BarnesandNoble.com (same).
He is also the author of The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. Under the pseudonym “Jonathan Westminster” this book was originally published in 1996. It was republished with a New Introduction in 2004. Under Georgite rule, the “fictional non-fiction” scenario of this work of “future history” is, most unfortunately, becoming all too real. Now almost day-by-day too many of Dr. Jonas’ predictions are coming true. Both versions are available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com (go to “Books;” enter the title). The 2004 edition is also available at www.xlibris.com (click on “Bookstore,” then “Search” with the title).
TPJ is not subject to copyright. Anyone is welcome to freely quote and use material from TPJ. In reproducing or using material from the TPJ proper attribution is appreciated.
May 7, 2008
Broadcasting Legend Bill Moyers on the 2008 Elections, the Rev. Wright Controversy, the Media, Vietnam and More
Legendary broadcaster Bill Moyers helped organize the Peace Corps and served under President Johnson before going on to a distinguished career in journalism that continues today with the PBS series Bill Moyers Journal. His latest book, just published, is Moyers on Democracy. Moyers joins us to talk about the 2008 elections, the media and war. He addresses the controversy over Barack Obama’s former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. It was nearly two weeks ago on Bill Moyers Journal where Wright first spoke out since his criticism of US government policies became a major issue in the 2008 Democratic presidential race.
Posted with permission by:
World Socialist Party (US)
The latest scandal that surrounds Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama’s previous involvement with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and that highlights his difﬁculty fully disowning this association with the politically radical pastor until a statement unequivocally doing so publicly on April 29th is angrily upsetting his fans and supporters who fear that the time it has taken him to do this may seriously undermine his popularity among Democrats, and so impair his bid for president.
The mainstream press has not been able to provide any explanation for this hesitancy to detach himself from Rev. Wright either. It is certainly a major concern as Obama attempts to win the Democratic primary in Indiana on Tuesday, May 6th.
But a little bit of logic and materialist understanding may be able to come to our aid in explicating this curious phenomenon.
How would a young Chicago community organizer with strong ambitions to become a politician actually make his way into the political arena? His choice of church would have to be made carefully. There are hundreds of churches in Chicago, indeed more per capita than in any city in the United States. Young Obama could easily have joined any one of them if it were merely a matter of ﬁnding a place of worship in which to receive sermons about the miracle of God raising Lazarus from the dead. No, far more likely is that Barack, plotting to realize his political ambitions, would join a large, even controversial, church, such as the enormous Trinity United Church of Christ that has over 10,000 members, headed by Senior Pastor the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright’s church had been openly advocating Black liberation theological principles as those found in the writings of James Hal Cone (whose 1969 book Theology and Black Power was among the ﬁrst to delineate the importance of such a theological stress among churches in the black community). Barack would be best placed to forge community alliances in a church of especially disgruntled but educated and upward mobile parishioners if he were to win support for his own political aims of making a big political difference in America.
After beginning to sew important social connections on Chicago’s South Side through the Trinity United Church of Christ, Barack Obama went on to Harvard Law School in which he became the ﬁrst black president of the Harvard Law Review, his ﬁrst major breakthrough into the world of the wealthy, powerful and inﬂuential that is essential to establishing a critical footing upon any important political career. He returned to Chicago to head an inﬂuential voter registration drive, taught law at the University of Chicago Law School, and then ran as a candidate for the Illinois Senate, which he won in 1996. Mr. Obama was representing the 13th District of Chicago, which is the same South Side area of Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods in which he had ﬁrst forged important connections through Reverend Wright’s church.
It is likely that Obama’s connections with Wright’s church could no longer be severed thereafter since to do so would be to alienate himself from his initial and ongoing power base in Chicago, even while it was being expanded into wider territory. It is not known to what degree, beyond this speculation, he had even assigned political positions as a senator to some of these members of the community who had supported him in his rise to political success the same way other African-American Chicagoans from the same community, such as Senator Emil Jones, Jr., (who is President of the Illinois Senate) had been instrumental in supporting Obama when he was a little known legislator (for more about this connection, see CNN.com article dated March 31st, 2008, entitled “Political ‘godfather’ boosted Obama’s early career”). While it is clear that Obama is a very bright, likeable and socially aware, presidential candidate, who is well meaning in his desire to reform the United States for the better, those who only see Obama’s lengthy hesitancy to detach from his prior association with Reverend Wright as a sign of his weakness as a politician, may be failing to understand the deeper psychological ambivalence that Obama may be experiencing about both Wright and his mega-church, given any other political associations that that church or its members either did, or continues to, provide for him as an aspiring politician.
Capitalism is a society deﬁned by a class that owns and a class that works for it. This reality will continue unabated until we, members of the class that works for the owning class, decide to put an end to it. We must never forget that however well-meaning, personally attractive, or articulate politicians may be, they remain politicians, who are as much attempting to rise in the political arena to accelerate their own upward mobility for pure personal reasons as much as to realize political ambitions of a reformist nature. Such personal motivations are not necessarily entirely avaricious. It is simply a reality that as the present political system exists to run the affairs of the capitalist class, nobody can navigate that realm without forging important relationships with those with money and power, backstabbing them when the relationships seem more costly than beneﬁcial, and sometimes, as did Obama recently, making unfortunately poor political decisions about maintaining relationships with them because of a fear of possibly losing important support associated with them.
Politics is crazy, yes. But we are the crazy ones in allowing the machinations of adult babies who are political careerists as a way of trying to meet our needs and to look after ourselves. The only way to establish sanity in our world is to stop supporting the politicians altogether and to create a world in which power resides permanently in the democratic hands of the community, in which the means of producing wealth are owned by that same community, and in which the production of wealth is produced to meet our needs freely. Now that is what we are talking about.
HOLLYWOOD, California – Attorneys for Paris Hilton and Britney Spears have filed a lawsuit against Reverend Jeremiah Wright for “stealing their thunder.” The lawsuit, which asks for $27 million in damages, claims Wright illegitimately flooded the news media with “hogwash about hating national policies, hating racism and just plain hating, all of which has deprived plaintiffs of their God given right to continually be the lead story in a world gone mad.” “By the time we’re done with that so-called reverend,” said Aaron Schlozman, an attorney for Paris Hilton, “he’ll wish Barack Obama had never entered his church.”
“The whole media focus on Jeremiah Wright is nothing more than a well orchestrated and purposeful distraction,” said Kingston Schwartz, a media consultant with Boston based Bucholtz and Associates, “to keep the American public from paying attention to the real issues that actually effect them personally, such as what body part Britney will flash next as she battles for custody of her kids.”
Barack Obama said he was not aware of the lawsuit, but said that he vehemently opposes everything all of the parties involved in the lawsuit believe in. John McCain said he wished the lawsuit would last one-hundred years while Reverend Wright told reporters, “All I got to say about Hilton and Spears is God damn their skinny white asses.”
Nicole Ritchie says she has no plans to join the suit, but the estate of Anna Nicole Smith has indicated they will join as soon as they can determine who will represent the estate.
The Anti-Empire Report
Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life
Since I gave up hope, I feel better.
“More than any time in history, mankind now faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” — Woody Allen
Food riots, in dozens of countries, in the 21st century. Is this what we envisioned during the post-World War Two, moon-landing 20th century as humankind’s glorious future? It’s not the end of the world, but you can almost see it from here.
American writer Henry Miller (1891-1980) once asserted that the role of the artist was to “inoculate the world with disillusionment”. So just in case you — for whatever weird reason — cling to the belief/hope that the United States can be a positive force in ending or slowing down the new jump in world hunger, here are some disillusioning facts of life.
On December 14, 1981 a resolution was proposed in the United Nations General Assembly which declared that “education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development are human rights”. Notice the “proper nourishment”. The resolution was approved by a vote of 135-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.
A year later, December 18, 1982, an identical resolution was proposed in the General Assembly. It was approved by a vote of 131-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.
The following year, December 16, 1983, the resolution was again put forth, a common practice at the United Nations. This time it was approved by a vote of 132-1. There’s no need to tell you who cast the sole “No” vote.
These votes took place under the Reagan administration.
Under the Clinton administration, in 1996, a United Nations-sponsored World Food Summit affirmed the “right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food”. The United States took issue with this, insisting that it does not recognize a “right to food”. Washington instead championed free trade as the key to ending the poverty at the root of hunger, and expressed fears that recognition of a “right to food” could lead to lawsuits from poor nations seeking aid and special trade provisions.
The situation of course did not improve under the administration of George W. Bush. In 2002, in Rome, world leaders at another U.N.-sponsored World Food Summit again approved a declaration that everyone had the right to “safe and nutritious food”. The United States continued to oppose the clause, again fearing it would leave them open to future legal claims by famine-stricken countries.
Along with petitioning American leaders to become decent human beings we should be trying to revive the population control movement. Birth rates must be radically curbed. All else being equal, a markedly reduced population count would have a markedly beneficial effect upon global warming and food and water availability (not to mention finding a parking spot and lots of other advantages). People, after all, are not eating more. There are simply more/too many people. Some favor limiting families to two children. Others argue in favor of one child per family. Still others, who spend a major part of each day digesting the awful news of the world, are calling for a limit of zero. (The Chinese government recently announced that the country would have about 400 million more people if it wasn’t for its limit of one or two children per couple.)
And as long as we’re fighting for hopeless causes, let’s throw in the demand that corporations involved in driving the cost of oil through the roof — and dragging food costs with it — must either immediately exhibit a conspicuous social conscience or risk being nationalized, their executives taken away in orange jumpsuits, handcuffs, and leg shackles. The same for other corporations and politicians involved in championing the replacement of food crops with biofuel crops or exploiting any of the other steps along the food-chain system which puts bloated income ahead of putting food in people’s mouths. We’re not speaking here of weather phenomena beyond the control of man, we’re speaking of men making decisions, based not on people’s needs but on pseudo-scientific, amoral mechanisms like supply and demand, commodity exchanges, grain futures, selling short, selling long, and other forms of speculation, all fed and multiplied by the proverbial herd mentality — a system governed by only two things: fear and greed; not a rational way to feed a world of human beings.
The Wall Street Journal reports that grain-processing giant Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. said its quarterly profits “jumped 42%, including a sevenfold increase in net income in its unit that stores, transports and trades grains such as wheat, corn and soybeans. … Some observers think financial speculation has helped push up prices as wealthy investors in the past year have flooded the agriculture commodity markets in search of better returns.” At the same time, the French Agriculture Minister warned European Union officials against “too much trust in the free market. We must not leave the vital issue of feeding people to the mercy of market laws and international speculation.”
It should be noted that the price of gasoline in the United States increases on a regular basis, but there’s no shortage of supply. There are no lines of cars waiting at gas stations. And demand has been falling as financially-strapped drivers cut back on car use.
Intelligence agents without borders
When Andreas Papandreou assumed his ministerial duties in 1964 in the Greek government led by his father George Papandreou, he was shocked to discover an intelligence service out of control, a shadow government with powers beyond the authority of the nation’s nominal leaders, a service more loyal to the CIA than to the Papandreou government. This was a fact of life for many countries in the world during the Cold War, when the CIA could dazzle a foreign secret service with devices of technical wizardry, classes in spycraft, vital intelligence, unlimited money, and American mystique and propaganda. Many of the world’s intelligence agencies have long provided the CIA with information about their own government and citizens. The nature of much of this information has been such that if a private citizen were to pass it to a foreign power he could be charged with treason.
Leftist Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa declared in April that Ecuador’s intelligence systems were “totally infiltrated and subjugated to the CIA,” and accused senior Ecuadoran military officials of sharing intelligence with Colombia, the Bush administration’s top (if not only) ally in Latin America. The previous month missiles had been fired into a camp of the Colombian FARC rebels situated in Ecuador near the Colombian border, killing about 25. One of those killed was Franklin Aisalla, an Ecuadorean operative for the group. It turned out that Ecuadorean intelligence officials had been tracking Aisalla, a fact that was not shared with the president, but apparently with Colombian forces and their American military advisers. “I, the president of the republic, found out about these operations by reading the newspaper,” a visibly indignant Correa said. “This is not something we can tolerate.” He added that he planned to restructure the intelligence agencies so he would have greater direct control over them.
The FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is routinely referred to in the world media as “Marxist”, but that designation has not been appropriate for many years. The FARC has long been basically a criminal organization — kidnapings for ransom, kidnapings for no apparent reason, selling protection services to businesses, trafficking in drugs, fighting the Colombian Army to be free to continue their criminal ways or to revenge their comrades’ deaths. But Washington, proceeding from its declared ideology of “If you ain’t with us, you’re against us; in fact, if you ain’t with us you’re a terrorist”, has designated FARC as a terrorist group. Every stated definition of “terrorist”, from the FBI to the United Nations to the US criminal code makes it plain that terrorism is essentially a political act. This should, logically, exclude FARC from that category but, in actuality, has no effect on Washington’s thinking. And now the Bush administration is threatening to add Venezuela to its list of “nations that support terrorism”, following a claim by Colombia that it had captured a computer belonging to FARC after the attack on the group’s campsite in Ecuador. A file allegedly found on the alleged computer, we are told, suggests that the Venezuelan government had channeled $300 million to FARC, and that FARC had appeared interested in acquiring 110 pounds of uranium. What next? Chavez had met with Osama bin Laden at the campsite?
Amongst the FARC members killed in the Colombian attack on Ecuador were several involved in negotiations to free Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate who also holds French citizenship and is gravely ill. The French government and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have been very active in trying to win Betancourt’s freedom. Individuals collaborating with Chavez have twice this year escorted a total of six hostages freed by the FARC into freedom, including four former Colombian legislators. The prestige thus acquired by Chavez has of course not made Washington ideologues happy. If Chavez should have a role in the freeing of Betancourt — the FARC’s most prominent prisoner — his prestige would jump yet higher. The raid on the FARC camp has put an end to the Betancourt negotiations, at least for the near future.
The raid bore the fingerprints of the US military/CIA — a Predator drone aircraft dropped “smart bombs” after pinpointing the spot by monitoring a satellite phone call between a FARC leader and Chavez. A Colombian Defense Ministry official admitted that the United States had provided his government with intelligence used in the attack, but denied that Washington had provided the weapons. The New York Times observed that “The predawn operation bears remarkable similarities to one carried out in late January by the United States in Pakistan.”
So what do we have here? Washington has removed a couple of dozen terrorists (or “terrorists”) from the ranks of the living without any kind of judicial process. Ingrid Betancourt continues her imprisonment, now in its sixth year, but another of Hugo Chavez’s evil-commie plans has been thwarted. And the CIA — as with its torture renditions — has once again demonstrated its awesome power: anyone, anywhere, anytime, anything, all laws domestic and international be damned, no lie too big.
“After such knowledge, what forgiveness?” T.S. Eliot
Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington on April 28, during which he was asked about his earlier statement that the US government had invented the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, “as a means of genocide against people of color”.
Wright did not offer any kind of evidence to support his claim. Even more important, the claim makes little sense. Why would the US government want to wipe out people of color? Undoubtedly, many government officials, past and present, have been racists, but the capitalist system at home and its imperialist brother abroad have no overarching ideological or realpolitik need for such a genocide. During the seven decades of the Cold War, the American power elite was much more interested in a genocide of “communists”, of whatever color, wherever they might be found. Many weapons which might further this purpose were researched, including, apparently, an HIV-like virus. Consider this: On June 9, 1969, Dr. Donald M. MacArthur, Deputy Director, Research and Engineering, Department of Defense, testified before Congress:
Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory [resistant] to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.
Whether the United States actually developed such a microorganism and what it did with it has not been reported. AIDS was first identified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981. It’s certainly possible that the disease arose as a result of Defense Department experiments, and then spread as an unintended consequence.
If you think that our leaders, as wicked as they are, would not stoop to any kind of biological or chemical warfare against people, consider that in 1984 an anti-Castro Cuban exile, on trial in a New York court, testified that in the latter part of 1980 a ship traveled from Florida to Cuba with “a mission to carry some germs to introduce them in Cuba to be used against the Soviets and against the Cuban economy, to begin what was called chemical war, which later on produced results that were not what we had expected, because we thought that it was going to be used against the Soviet forces, and it was used against our own people, and with that we did not agree.”
It’s not clear from the testimony whether the Cuban man thought that the germs would somehow be able to confine their actions to only Russians. This was but one of many instances where the CIA or Defense Department used biological or chemical weapons against Cuba and other countries, including in the United States against Americans, at times with fatal consequences.
Breaking the media barrier
“You take that framework of people feeling locked out, shut out, marginalized, disrespected, and you go from Iraq to Palestine to Israel, from Enron to Wall Street, from Katrina to the bungling of the Bush administration, to the complicity of the Democrats in not stopping him on the war, stopping him on the tax cuts … If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form. You think the American people are going to vote for a pro-war John McCain who almost gives an indication he’s the candidate of perpetual war, perpetual intervention overseas?”
Thus spaketh Ralph Nader as he announced his presidential candidacy to a national audience on NBC’s Meet the Press in February. The next day his words appeared in the Washington Post, Kansas City Star, Associated Press, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, International Herald Tribune, and numerous other publications, news agencies, and websites around the world. And other parts of his interview were also repeated, like this in the Washington Post: “Let’s get over it and try to have a diverse, multiple-choice, multiple-party democracy, the way they have in Western Europe and Canada.”
This is why Ralph Nader runs for office. To get our views a hearing in the mainstream media (which we often, justifiably, look down upon but are forced to make use of), and offer Americans an alternative to the tweedledumb and tweedledumber political parties and their cookie-cutter candidates with their status-quo-long-live-the-empire souls. Is Nader’s campaign not eminently worthwhile? But as always, he faces formidable obstacles, amongst which is what H. L. Mencken once observed: “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”
Here are a couple of campaigns to contribute time and money to:
Ralph Nader — http://www.votenader.org/
Cindy Sheehan, running for Congress in San Francisco against Nancy “Impeachment is off the table” Pelosi — http://www.cindyforcongress.org/
“Building a new world” conference
May 22-25, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, 5-hour drive from Washington, DC. Cindy Sheehan, Kathy Kelly, Michael Parenti, David Swanson, Gareth Porter, William Blum, Medea Benjamin, Gary Corseri, Mike Whitney, Kevin Zeese, Robert Jensen, and others. Room and board available at reasonable rates. Full details at: http://www.wpaconference.org/
 Washington Post, November 18, 1996
 Reuters news agency, June 10, 2002
 Washington Post, March 3, 2008
 “Grain Companies’ Profits Soar As Global Food Crisis Mounts”, Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2008, p.1
 Washington Post, April 27, 2008, p.13
 William Blum, Killing Hope, pages 217-8
 New York Times, April 21, 2008
 New York Times, March 4, 2008
 Agence France Presse, March 24, 2008
 New York Times, April 21, 2008
 Hearings before the House Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, “Department of Defense Appropriations for 1970”
 Testimony of Eduardo Victor Arocena Perez, on trial in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, transcript of September 10, 1984, pp. 2187-89.
 William Blum, Rogue State, chapters 14 and 15
William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org
Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website at “essays”.
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission. I’d appreciate it if the website were mentioned. www.killinghope.org
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
by William Blum
By Mike Whitney
Obama is “outraged”.
After weeks of blistering attacks by the media, Barack Obama held a press conference yesterday and made it official; his friendship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is over, terminated, kaput. He would no longer associate with a man who believed that the United States of America could do horrible things to its people or that 9-11 might have been the result of US foreign policy. As Obama said, that’s just “outrageous”.
Obama”s press conference:
“I have spent my whole life trying to bridge the gap between different human beings…..That’s who I am and that’s what this campaign is all about. Yesterday we saw a very different kind of vision of America (Rev Wright’s speech to the National Press Club) I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle. The Reverend Wright I saw yesterday was not the person I knew 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but they give comfort to those who prey on hate. They do not accurately portray my values and beliefs. If Reverend Wright thinks that is ‘political posturing’ than he does not know me very well. And based on his comments yesterday I may not know him as well as I thought either.”
Blah. blah, blah. The media, of course, is elated with their victory; they’ve achieved their goal. They “persuaded” Obama to betray a friend. Mission accomplished. 1,816 articles appeared overnight on Google News celebrating the prodigals return to the fold; Barack is back. Hooray. Obama’s capitulation may be the greatest media triumph since the shrewish Linda Tripp produced the blue dress with the incriminating splotch. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Obama showed that he is not only willing to sacrifice his friends for his political ambitions, but that he’s also willing to distance himself from the very traditions and movements which made his candidacy possible. What more could they want?
But this is just the beginning of Obama’s political education and Wright is just one of many weapons that will be used to bludgeon the well-meaning candidate into submission. By inauguration day, he’ll have been stripped of his dignity, his aspirations, and his identity as a black American. In other words, he should be primed and ready to accept his duties as the next President of the United States.
But Obama’s travails haven’t ended just because he ran up the white flag. Oh, no. In fact they’re just beginning. The free ride is over. The Wall Street Journal ran an article on Wednesday that represents the next line of attack on the guileless Illinois senator. This time the target is not Wright, but black academics and “Afrocentric educators” which the WSJ dismisses as “charlatans”.
Wall Street Journal:
“The list of Afrocentric “educators” whom the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has invoked in his media escapades since Sunday is a disturbing reminder that academia’s follies can enter the public world in harmful ways. Now the pressing question is whether they have entered Barack Obama’s worldview as well.
Some in Mr. Wright’s crew of charlatans have already had their moments in the spotlight; others are less well known. They form part of the tragic academic project of justifying self-defeating underclass behavior as “authentically black.” That their ideas have ended up in the pulpit of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ and in Detroit’s Cobo Hall, where Mr. Wright spoke at the NAACP’s Freedom Fund dinner on Sunday, reminds us that bad ideas must be fought at their origins — and at every moment thereafter.
Approving of self-destructive behavior in school is just one part of the vast academic project to justify black underclass dysfunction.” (“The Wright Side of the Brain” Heather MacDonald, WSJ)
“Part of the tragic academic project of justifying self-defeating underclass behavior as authentically black”?
Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark!
But MacDonald is right; how dare black Americans think they can have their own history, traditions and education? What utter effrontery. As the Ms. MacDonald so persuasively points out; it’s all “crackpot Afrocentric pedagogy”. But we must be vigilant (the WSJ warns us) because “we may be on the verge of seeing such madness spread into the White House.”
Hide the children!
Obama naively believed he could simply toss Wright overboard and be done with it. Wrong. There’s no Faustian bargain in politics; no “one moment” when a man sells his soul and moves up to the next level. Politics is like gangrene; it’s piecemeal. One body part turns black and rots off and then the disease moves somewhere else. It all depends on the host. The same is true of politicians; as they ascend the electoral stairwell they discard one chunk of their humanity after another. Eventually—if they can avoid the many land-mines—they enter El Dorado and take the swivel chair in the Oval Office.
It’s no different for Obama; and that doesn’t make him a bad man either. In fact, he would probably make a much better president than John McCain or Madame DeFarge. It just means that the system won’t allow people of integrity to reach the highest rung on the political ladder. They end up being compromised. Eventually, the level of compromise is so great that the system no longer functions properly; the economic situation deteriorates, the country is wracked with debt and corruption, the military is bogged down in unwinnable wars, and the liberties upon which the nation was built begin to crumble. Everything that’s happening right now. Obama can’t change that nor can anyone who operates within the system. That is what makes men like Reverend Wright more important historically than Obama, even if Obama becomes president. Wright represents people-powered change, “transformational change”; the change that takes place when workers organize into labor unions and shut down plants and factories. The kind of change when women form liberation movements and demand the right to vote or equal pay. The kind of change when gays demand equal protection under the law and equal opportunity at work. The kind of change when black people say “enough” and take their place at “white’s only” lunch counters or in seats at the head of the bus.
These society-altering changes, which have shaped the class-race-gender struggle in America, have nothing to do with politics or politicians. The heavy-lifting was all done by grassroots movements that took the political system by the throat, threw it to the ground, and demanded radical change. Those groups were spearheaded by dynamic and passionate leaders like Jeremiah Wright.
“Our congregation took a stand against apartheid when the government of our country was supporting the racist regime of the African government in South Africa.
Our congregation stood in solidarity with the peasants in El Salvador and Nicaragua, while our government, through Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal, was supporting the Contras, who were killing the peasants and the Miskito Indians in those two countries.”
There’s nothing wrong with Obama; he’ll probably be a better-than-average president. But don’t hope for miracles. Transformational change will not come from within the system; it must be forced on the system. And that’s what Jeremiah Wright is all about.
Good luck, Reverend.
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Sad, very sad. Gee, I’d vote for Rev. Wright, but not Obama. I so dislike the corporate media! Is anyone actually listening to the Reverend’s words? Would Obama disavow Martin Luther King, Jr. if he were alive today? Sounds like it. Obama is selling out big time, and possibly his soul as well. ~ Lo