The Congressional Black Caucus is “the heart and soul of the resistance movement in Congress,” said California Rep. Barbara Lee, speaking at a “State of Black America” panel at Laney College in Oakland, Calif., last week.
Lee’s right. She and her Black corporate Democratic colleagues are in the forefront of a kind of “resistance” – but not resistance to the routine murder of Blacks by police, or the economic race to the bottom led by the Caucus’s patrons on Wall Street, or to gentrification, hyper-militarization and war.
Their own resistance
Instead, the Black Caucus has been waging a desperate resistance to the incipient grassroots movement that emerged in Ferguson, Missouri, three years ago. This perversion of “resistance” now speaks in anti-Russia tirades. But that’s only the CBC’s latest diversionary tactic as it scrambles to reclaim its squandered legitimacy.
Like the rest of the Black Misleadership Class, the Caucus feared that a revival of movement politics might unleash forces that could not easily be contained. The Black elite’s job is to keep the lid on Black protest – the real resistance – so that the dispersal, disempowerment and demoralization of Black communities can be accomplished with as little disruption as possible.
The rebellions in Ferguson and Baltimore threatened the carefully constructed arrangement between corporate power and the Black political class – a deal forged and mediated largely through the structures of the Democratic Party.
Owned by Dems
The Black political class lives and feeds within the institutional confines of the Democratic Party, which has colonized most of the Black community’s civic groups and churches.
For the Black elite, “resistance” means defense of the Democratic Party against all challengers – including independent political challenges from grassroots Black America, which is decidedly to the left of the Democratic Party.
Ferguson thus created a crisis, not just for the ruling order in general, but also for the corporate-dependent Black Misleadership Class, rooted in the Democratic Party.
The first casualties were the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as well as lesser lights of their ilk, whose legitimacy as Black leaders was rejected by a new cadre of activists.
The Democratic National Committee’s attempt to absorb #BlackLivesMatter was also rebuffed – for the time being, at least – in the late summer of 2015, when #BLM leaders declared:
“The Democratic Party, like the Republican and all political parties, have historically attempted to control or contain Black people’s efforts to liberate ourselves. True change requires real struggle, and that struggle will be in the streets and led by the people, not by a political party.”
Just two months before a Ferguson cop gunned down Michael Brown, the Congressional Black Caucus showed its true allegiances when 80 percent of its members voted against a bill that would have halted Pentagon transfers of weapons, gear and training to local police departments.
Two years later, when all of Black America was in mourning or engaged in outraged action over the police murders of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota, the Congressional Black Caucus tried to change the subject, staging a diversionary sit-down on the floor of the U.S. House demanding gun control – as if that had anything to do with mass police killings of Black people.
With the defeat of corporatist Democrat Hillary Clinton by the overt racist Donald Trump, the Black Caucus exited from reality-based politics altogether. Atlanta Congressman John Lewis forgot all about Republican voter suppression, which had stolen at least two presidential elections in this century and surely played a decisive role in Trump’s 2016 victory. Instead, the first thing out of Lewis’ mouth after the Electoral College verdict was “…Russians!” And that’s all the Black Caucus has talked about ever since.
Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, who were among the eight Black Caucus members that voted to halt the Pentagon’s wholesale militarization of local police in 2014, have now made common cause with the rest of the Caucus in demanding that Facebook, Google and other social media gatekeepers censor their pages to prohibit “promotion of division and racial animosity and racial hatred.”
Excuse for censorship
Google was eager to interpret this as a mandate to censor the Left. The corporation openly brags that it has altered its algorithms to suppress “controversial” subject matter, resulting in dramatic declines in visitation to a whole range of left-wing web sites, especially those singled out by the Washington Post right after the election, as giving aid and comfort to Russia. (Black Agenda Report is the only Black site targeted by the Post.)
The Black Caucus has found its comfort zone, in the heat of battle against Russia (and China, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and everybody else on the imperial hit list).
The CBC motto: “My master’s enemy is my enemy.” They have taken the meaning of “House Negro” to a new level. Having nothing to offer their constituents, the Black Caucus has become the War Party’s rhythm section, beating the drums of the New McCarthyism.
On November 4 and 5, the Black Is Back Coalition will hold its annual conference and march on the White House under the theme, “The Ballot AND the Bullet: War and Peace in the Era of Donald Trump.” There is a consensus among the Coalition that the ballot can be useful in conjunction with struggles for social and economic justice, Black self-determination, and peace.
But the Black Misleadership Class, which includes the vast bulk of Black Democratic office holders, is loyal to nothing but its own class fortunes and personal careers. When the crunch comes, they change the subject, and then opt for war.
Glen Ford is executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com. E-mail him at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.