On the world stage, the United States has declared itself above the law, as if it had already completed the conquest of the globe.
Thousands of US troops are implanted on Syrian soil, the better to arm, train and protect the Islamist jihadists that act as foot soldiers for US imperialism in the region. Washington has no plans to leave – even after ISIS, the purported rationale for the US presence, has been reduced to small guerilla bands.
That the US has been enabled to invade and occupy a sovereign state is a testament to the collapse of progressive politics in general, and the moral debasement of a Black political class that is utterly at odds with its own people’s history.
Tethered mouth-and-foot to the Democratic wing of the rich man’s duopoly, the Black political class has disavowed and defiled the legacies of W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They have trashed the sacred essence of the Black Liberation Movement: Solidarity with other peoples oppressed by White supremacist capital.
In abandoning solidarity with those oppressed by the United States – comprising an ever-growing proportion of the world’s people – Black America sacrifices the moral authority to expect support for our own struggles. We are left alone to fend off the beast, here in its belly.
It is widely understood that U.S. rulers felt compelled to appear amenable to Black demands in the Fifties and Sixties because of concerns about how the rapidly decolonizing world viewed race relations in the United States.
Dr. Gerald Horne, the Black historian who has studied African-American political alliances dating before the War of Independence, maintains that it serves Black people’s interests to “ally – as our ancestors did – with the prime antagonists of US imperialism,” including, in various epochs, the British, French, Spanish, and later, the Soviets and Third Word revolutionary movements.
In “Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil,” his 1920 global sequel to “The Souls of Black Folk,” the public intellectual and political activist W.E.B. DuBois laid out his case for solidarity among the oppressed peoples of the planet:
“I believe that armies and navies are at bottom the tinsel and braggadocio of oppression and wrong, and I believe that the wicked conquest of weaker and darker nations by nations Whiter and stronger but foreshadows the death of that strength.”
Malcolm X urged Blacks to think in terms of “human,” not “civil” rights, and to take their case against the U.S. to the United Nations – as did Paul Robeson, earlier. The credo of Malcolm’s Organization of Afro-American Unity, released on February 21, 1965, the day he was assassinated, stressed the need for internationalist solidarity:
“The Organization of Afro-American Unity will develop in the Afro-American people a keen awareness of our relationship with the world at large and clarify our roles, rights, and responsibilities as human beings. We can accomplish this goal by becoming well-informed concerning world affairs and understanding that our struggle is part of a larger world struggle of oppressed peoples against all forms of oppression.
“We must change the thinking of the Afro-American by liberating our minds through the study of philosophies and psychologies, cultures and languages that did not come from our racist oppressors. Provisions are being made for the study of languages such as Swahili, Hausa, and Arabic. These studies will give our people access to ideas and history of mankind at large and thus increase our mental scope.”
Two years later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told a crowd at New York City’s Riverside Church why he was “Breaking the Silence” on the US war against Vietnam.
“…(T)he Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission…to work harder than I had ever worked before for ‘the brotherhood of man.’ This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ…. the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war.”
Dr. King saw clearly that foreign wars are incompatible with domestic progress.
“I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”
Black Panther Party leader Huey P. Newton took solidarity to a “higher level,” making common cause with those against whom the United States makes war. US imperialism is the enemy of all mankind, therefore: “We join the struggle of any and all oppressed people all over the world, as well as in this country, regardless of color, who are attempting to gain freedom and dignity.”
These are voices of the Black Radical Tradition, the tradition that has made African-Americans the most anti-war constituency in the United States, but which the Black Misleadership Class consistently betrays. For these infinitely self-centered creatures, even the Mother Continent is unworthy of basic human empathy, much less solidarity.
No one has been more intimately involved, over a longer period, than Susan Rice in the US-sanctioned genocide of at least six million Congolese. From 1996, as a national security staffer and undersecretary of state for African affairs under Bill Clinton, to the Obama administration, Rice has dutifully facilitated the bloodbath in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the hands of US allies Rwanda and Uganda.
Her service on behalf of this genocide, and other slaughters, earned Rice a shot at becoming Obama’s secretary of state when Hillary Clinton left the job in 2012.
Republicans mounted a campaign against Rice, claiming she was culpable for the jihadist attacks in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
Despite her well-known role in the worst genocide since World War II, most of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) supported Rice’s bid to become the top US diplomat.
The year before, in 2011, more than half of the CBC voted to continue the bombing of Libya, which had once been Africa’s most prosperous and generous countries. Only three members of the CBC are co-sponsors of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Stop Arming Terrorists bill, designed to halt US proxy jihadist wars in Syria and elsewhere in the Muslim world.
However, the Black Radical Tradition is not dead. The Black Is Back Coalition, in its 19-point National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination, calls for “U.S. Out of Africa, Asia and Latin America….
“In addition to U.S. military withdrawal to within its own currently recognized borders, we demand an end to U.S. proxy wars, drone attacks and political subversion of governments and people’s movements around the globe. Given that the U.S. was the first nuclear power, is the only country to have used nuclear weapons, and has never renounced First Strike, we demand U.S. nuclear disarmament without preconditions – unilaterally, if necessary.”
Not a priority
Among the establishment Black civic organizations – which behave like annexes of the Democratic Party – peace has no priority whatsoever. Even the Movement for Black Lives is weak on peace.
The M4BL’s closest approximation to an anti-war plank pledges to: “Use upcoming international opportunities and human rights mechanisms to expose the systemic human rights violations inflicted on Black communities, the linkages between people of African descent in the US with other Black people around the world, make connections with oppressed people globally, and chip away at American exceptionalism.”
In Syria, Washington is playing with nuclear war. Everywhere in the world, the US rejects the very notion of international law. The Movement for Black Lives better get busy with its “chipping away” project.
Glen Ford is executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com.