Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The Washington Post reports that:
"Cpl. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, is among five Stryker soldiers charged with premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder. In interviews with Army investigators, he described a plot led by Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs to randomly kill civilians for sport while on patrol in Kandahar Province.
"Prosecutors have also alleged that members of the platoon mutilated Afghan corpses and even collected fingers and other body parts, and that some posed for photos with Afghan corpses. Morlock talked about how they threw a grenade at a civilian to "wax him." "
"Gibbs had pure hatred for all Afghanis and constantly referred to them as savages," Morlock said in the statement reviewed by the AP."
This story reveals how war disfigures and destroys the human spirit. As they dehumanize and blindly butcher civilians and enemy soldiers, men devolve into beasts. Unfortunately, this is not an anomaly. Such atrocities have occurred throughout history. To end such barbarism, we must end this unnecessary war.
Several news sources have revealed that Al Qaeda has been defeated in Afghanistan. U.S. intelligence reports state that less than 100 Al Qaeda members are in Afghanistan. According to ABC News, "[w]ith 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year."
The U.S. troops must withdraw from Afghanistan now. How many more U.S. troops and innocent Afghans must die before the Obama Administration ends this war?
Friday, September 24, 2010
No Wedding, No Womb encouraging couples to “abstain from having children until they are emotionally, physically and financially able to care for them.” Approximately 100 African Americans, from across the political and religious spectrum, posted blog articles encouraging marriage, self respect and responsible fatherhood. Some of my favorite bloggers such as Black Snob and Mocha Dad participated in the campaign. It was great to seeing African American bloggers unite to discuss this important issue. Hopefully, instead of simply writing about problems, the black blogosphere will unite again and actually mobilize and organize the community to remedy other challenges such as inner city violence, inferior education, unemployment, war and police brutality.
In her article on the Root entitled The (Poor) State of Black Families, Bobbi Bowman cites some sobering statistics to remind us of the urgency of this situation:
"Nearly 10 million black families lived in the United States in 2007. Twenty-one percent of these families were married couples with children. This is the lowest for all racial groups. The U.S. average is 32.4 percent. But nearly one-third of these families were single mothers with children under 18. The U.S. average is 12.1 percent."
"No surprise then that slightly more than half of black kids live with only one parent and that's overwhelmingly with their mother. A home headed by a single mom often equals an economically poor home. Black married-couple families have a median income of more than $65,000 a year, the lowest for all races. But the median income for a black family headed by a woman is about $26,000 a year. The poverty threshold for a family of four is $22,000 a year. Nearly half of young black children living with their mom are poor."
In his 2008 Father’s Day speech at the Apostolic Church of God on Chicago's South Side, then U.S. Senator Barack Obama summarized the problem:
"But if we are honest with ourselves, we'll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing - missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."
"You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled - doubled - since we were children. We know the statistics - that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it."
Here are a few concrete steps that we can take to address this epidemic. We must improve the quality of inner city schools. Without a quality education, it is virtually impossible to get a quality job. We must address the problem of chronic, disproportionately high African American unemployment. As result of high unemployment and the lack of education, many African American men are unable to support their spouses and children. We can write countless articles, give beautiful speeches and develop catchy slogans until the end of time. However, without addressing the fundamental issues of education and unemployment, the vicious cycle of single parent households and poverty will continue.
Although I have no objections to programs which encourage abstinence until marriage, we must face reality. In this society, we are constantly bombarded with sexual imagery in music, commercials, television programs and movies. In such a hyper-sexual environment, abstinence is rare. To confront the problems of teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, we must expand our sex education programs and advocate for free distribution of condoms in high schools and universities.
Additionally, more African American men and women should participate mentoring programs such as Big Brother Big Sisters. We should donate money to programs such as the President’s fathering program and the D.C. Fathering Court program. Community activists should replicate such programs all over the country. Those programs provide employment opportunities for fathers and enable them to fulfill their child support obligations. Equally as important, those programs help fathers establish and maintain stronger relationships with their children.
Ultimately, we need a social revolution. Unfortunately, for many young black men, marriage is frowned upon. As reflected in today’s mainstream rap music, the pimp and player are glorified. Black male promiscuity is celebrated and the sisters are reduced to sex objects. That mentality promotes selfish individualism and perpetuates the destruction of the black family. To combat this problem, the community must do a better job teaching our young men and women to have self-respect. We must encourage our young people to value traditional marriage.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
My second day at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference was even more interesting than the first day. On the second day, I attended the following panels - Marching Toward Justice: the Centrality of the 14th Amendment, Is the New Right Wrong for People of Color, the Impact of the Hip Hop on American Politics and Rescuing Our Youth from Chaos and Carnage: Effective Strategies to Address Youth Violence.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) hosted the 14th Amendment panel. The panelists were Fox News commentator Juan Williams, legendary NAACP LDF attorney William Coleman, Harvard Law Professor Kenneth Mack, Howard Law School Dean Kurt Schmoke, University of Pennsylvania Professor Mary Francis Berry, Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree and Law Professor Michelle Alexander. The panel discussed the controversial proposal by some Republican leaders to hold hearings on whether to repeal a section of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The section in question states that "[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." To combat illegal immigration, some Republican critics argue such language should be repealed.
Ms. Berry explained that the 14th Amendment does not only apply to African Americans. One of the panelists stated that the legislative history of the 14th Amendment clearly establishes that the Congress considered the issue of immigration when they wrote the amendment. Citing Plessey v. Ferguson, Ms. Berry illustrated how the 14th Amendment has been used to suppress the rights of black people. She compared opening up the 14th Amendment to discussion to opening the 13th Amendment up to discussion.
Professor Alexander discussed how the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause did not prevent the emergence of Jim Crow. She further stated that the 14th Amendment did not prevent the modern day mass incarceration of African Americans. Ms. Alexander asserted that the discriminatory enforcement of anti-drug laws against poor, black communities has led to the mass incarceration of black people. The war on drugs has created a new group of second class citizens, African American ex-convicts. I look forward to reading her new book, The New Jim Crow.
Before she gave her presentation, she sat right next me, but I was too shy to speak to her. Anyway, in her closing remarks, Ms. Alexander stated that the 14th Amendment controversy creates an opportunity for the African American community and the Hispanic community to form a coalition.
At the end of discussion, Charles Ogletree joined the panel. In his brief remarks, Olgetree stated that every area of civil rights is being forfeited. He said that we are at a "point of urgency." Ogletree concluded by stating that "civic engagement is key."
Next, I attended the "Is the New Right Wrong for People of Color?" panel hosted U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-TX). The panelists included Republican Roger Clegg, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Brian Smedley of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Vice Chair of the North Carolina Republican Party and Chair of the Frederick Douglass Foundation Dr. Timothy F. Johnson and University of D.C. Law Professor John Britain. This was the most exciting CBC panel. Unlike other CBC panels, the panelists engaged in a heated debate.
Rep. Green opened the discussion by reading from the Texas State Republican Platform. The Texas Republican Party opposes affirmative action (including programs based on class ranking), D.C. statehood, motor voter laws, enfranchisement for ex-offenders, government early education programs and minimum wage laws. The Texas GOP supports the repeal of health care reform, the repeal of hate crime laws and the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education. After reading the platform, Rep. Al Green asked, "Is the New Right Wrong for People of Color?"
Tea Party supporter Dr. Johnson, an African American, gave a brief presentation. To avoid being labeled as someone who is out of touch with the African American community, Dr. Johnson presented his black man credentials. He said that he is a graduate of an HBCU, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, a former Democrat and a former NAACP member.
Dr. Johnson defended the Republican Party and the Tea Party. Dr Johnson argued that the Republican Party emancipated African Americans and fought for civil rights. According to Dr. Johnson, many Democrats like the late U.S. Senator and former Klu Klux Klan member Robert Byrd opposed civil rights. He mentioned how many African Americans are social conservatives who oppose gay marriage and abortion. Although I do not agree with 95% of what Dr. Johnson said, he is a powerful and charismatic speaker. He will probably become a significant national figure.
In response to Dr. Johnson's presentation, Wade Henderson acknowledged some of Dr. Johnson's points and proceeded to the explain how the modern Republican Party is opposed to the interests of African Americans and minorities. He discussed the Republican Southern Strategy and its opposition to hate crimes laws and health care reform. Mr. Henderson stated that the Tea Party opposes the Dream Act, a bill that would permit qualifying undocumented youth to be eligible for a 6 year long conditional path to citizenship. Under the bill, eligible youth would be required to complete college or two years of military service. He also mentioned that the Tea Party honored Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joseph M. "Joe" Arpaio. Sheriff Arpaio is one of the main proponents of Arizona's racist, anti-immigration law.
To refute Mr. Henderson's arguments, Mr. Clegg mentioned a Washington Post news article challenging the notion that the modern Republican Party is racist. He did not mention the title or the author of the article. The article was in the Outlook section. Mr. Clegg argued that people should not oppose or support a party based on race. Unfortunately, I had to leave early in order to attend the "Impact of Hip Hop on American Politics" panel.
I attended the second half the "Impact of Hip Hop on American Politics" panel hosted by U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. The panelists included Jeff Johnson, WPGC radio host Big Tigger, hip hop artist 9th Wonder, Amanda Diva and a few others. Hip hop has had an impact on politics. Recently, examples include Will.i.am's viral Yes We Can video supporting the Obama campaign and Puffy's Vote or Die get out the vote effort.
However, after hearing Tigger discuss how difficult it is to recruit major celebrities to support his AIDS Awareness program and other community efforts, I am starting to agree with John McWhorter on the issue of hip hop. According to Tigger and 9th Wonder, many of these hip hop artists are basically money hungry, divas who are difficult to work with. Over 90 percent of the popular hip hop artists only rap about money, drugs, sex and violence. The few conscious rap artists are far less influential. If we are depending on hip hop to save us, we are in bad shape as a people.
Finally, I caught the tail end of U.S Rep. Bobby Rush's "Rescuing our Youth from Chaos and Carnage: Effective Strategies to Address Youth Violence". NBA great Isiah Thomas was panelist. Since many panels were concurrent, I missed a quite a few good panel discussions. I look forward to attending the CBC Conference next year.
Prominent Republicans such as Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Rep. Mike Pence and U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell are scheduled to speak at the Value Voters Summit.
They will share the stage with notorious anti-Muslim bigots such as Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association and Gary Bauer. Mr. Fischer asserts that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in the military. In addition, he contends that Muslims should not be allow to immigrate or to build mosques. This is yet another example of how hatred of Muslims is tolerated and promoted. If the word "Muslim" was substituted with the word "Jews" or "Catholics", people would be outraged. Similarly, all people of goodwill should universally condemn anti-Muslim bigotry. We must demand that mainstream politicians disassociate themselves from such bigotry and prejudice.
Imagine if President Barack Obama or some other prominent African American politician shared the stage with New Black Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz. People would be up in arms.
Friday, September 17, 2010
I enjoyed the Fatherhood panel discussion. As Valerie Jarrett's Chief of Staff Michael Strautmanis stated during his presentation, the problem of absent fathers is a structural and fundamental problem in the black community. Prior to attending the panel, I did not know that President Barack Obama started the first White House mentoring program. Under the program, twenty young men and twenty young women are paired with senior Obama Administration staff members. In addition, Mr. Stautmanis discussed the President's new fatherhood initiative.
Other panelists discussed similar fatherhood and mentoring programs. In general, all of the programs focus on employment services, child support and father involvement. One of the panelists, Isaac King discussed why he started his own fatherhood program. As a basketball coach, Mr. King noticed that only one or two fathers attended the games. Most of the game attendees were single mothers. For more information on these programs, please click the following links: Fatherhood and Fathering Court.
The next panel that I attended was U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush's blogger panel. Panelists included Stacy Ferguson, Krystal High, Dave Stein, Natasha Eubanks and a few others. The Congressman began the discussion with some words of wisdom. Quoting a friend of his, Rep. Rush said, "You are a master of the words you don't use and a slave to the words you do use." He predicted that many people will change their names to disassociate themselves from past, embarrassing online writings. After listening to Mr. Rush, I am probably going to really think twice before posting anything online.
Although the bloggers panel was interesting, I did not learn anything new about blogging. No, I take that back. I did learn about the FTC rules regarding blogs and advertising. Bottom line, if a company pays a blogger to promote a product, the blogger must disclose that fact. Also, I found out about a couple of blogs such as http://www.theybf.com/, http://mamalaw.com/ and http://politic365.com/. I look forward to reading them. Since I am a political junkie, I will probably will add Politics 365 to my list.
Finally, the Judiciary Issues Forum was the last session that I attended. The panelists included U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, Kemba Smith, Charles Ogletree, Nkechi Taifa, Julie Steward and others. Professor Ogletree began the discussion by voicing support for Rep. Waters against the ethics charges, and many in the crowd stood up and applauded. He offered to donate $1,000.00 to Ms. Waters' legal defense and encourage others to do so as well. Throughout the program, many attendees voiced support for Ms. Waters and suggested that the ethics charges are based on race. Ms. Waters reminded the attendees that the discussion should focus on the cocaine sentencing disparities.
The panelists discussed recent legislation reducing the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity from an 100 to 1 disparity to an 18 to 1 disparity. Although the reduced disparity is a major bipartisan accomplishment, Professor Ogletree emphasized that the public must continue fighting to equalize sentencing for crack and powder cocaine. He said that the public must push for "1 to 1 until it is done." He stressed that the sentencing disparity is not based on any substantive facts. Congress found that there is no legitimate basis for distinguishing between crack and powder cocaine. Ogletree said that disparity is still discriminatory. The sentencing disparity has a disproportionately impact on African Americans.
Julie Steward argued that the public should lobby Congress to make the law retroactive. The current law only affects those who are convicted after its enactment. The people sentenced under the old law are still subjected to the 100 to 1 sentencing disparity. To match Ogletree's catchy slogan, Nkechi Taifi said, "We must have some electricity around retro activity!" Everyone started laughing.
I look forward to Day 2 of the CBC Legislative Conference.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
We must identify, expose, condemn, isolate and alienate such traitors. Please share your thoughts.
Monday, September 13, 2010
In his Forbes article, conservative Dinesh D'Souza asserts that Obama is fulfilling his father's "anticolonialist" dreams. D'Souza wrote:
"Anticolonialists hold that even when countries secure political independence they remain economically dependent on their former captors. This dependence is called neocolonialism, a term defined by the African statesman Kwame Nkrumah (1909--72) in his book Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, writes that poor countries may be nominally free, but they continue to be manipulated from abroad by powerful corporate and plutocratic elites...This was the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. and many in his generation, including many of my own relatives in India..."
"From the anticolonial perspective, American imperialism is on a rampage. For a while, U.S. power was checked by the Soviet Union, but since the end of the Cold War, America has been the sole superpower. Moreover, 9/11 provided the occasion for America to invade and occupy two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, and also to seek political and economic domination in the same way the French and the British empires once did. So in the anticolonial view, America is now the rogue elephant that subjugates and tramples the people of the world."
"It may seem incredible to suggest that the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying...He came to view America's military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet."
Those two articles confirmed my initial impression. However, in some respects, I wish Gingrich and D'Souza were right. If Obama was anticolonialist, he would have immediately withdrew all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead requiring citizens to purchase private health insurance from avaricious companies, Obama would fought for a single payer health care system. If Obama was an anticolonialist, he would not have bailed out the Wall Street. Instead, he would have bailed out Main Street by imposing an immediate moratorium on foreclosures. If Obama was an anticolonialist, instead of lecturing Africans about nepotism, corruption, democracy and the rule of law, Obama would have demanded reparations for slavery and colonialism. In college, I studied Kwame Nkrumah and Frantz Fanon. Obama is no Nkrumah. He is no Fanon.
As always, I welcome your comments.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, planned to protest the 9/11 terrorist attacks by burning Holy Qurans. Under massive pressure from political, religious and military leaders, Jones decided not to burn Qurans. If he went forward, all hell would have broke loose. Thank goodness, we avoided such a catastrophe. All praise is due to God.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Jones’ actions are misguided and wrong on so many levels. I don’t where to begin. All Muslims are not responsible for not 9/11. All Muslims should not condemned for the actions of a tiny extremist minority. All Muslims believe that the Quran is the final revelation of God. By burning the Quran, he is sending a message of hate to all Muslims, not just extremists. This is a major sacrilege that will outrage the entire Muslim world.
His proposed action is a sacrilege against Christianity and Judaism as well. As Imam Plemon el-Amin stated on CNN, the Holy Quran honors Jesus, Mary, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, Ishmael and the other prophets of the Bible. The Quran confirms other divine revelations including the Torah and Gospel. Although there are some differences between the three major monotheistic religions, there are many similarities. I would hope that no informed, pious Christian or Jew would deliberately destroy the Quran. Similarly, no pious Muslim would destroy the Bible.
Jones’ plan will not accomplish anything constructive. He is simply throwing gasoline on a raging fire. He is perpetuating the enemy’s false propaganda, that American is waging a war against Islam. As Gen. David Petraeus’ warned, the pastor’s plans “could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan.” Under such circumstances, his actions are essentially treasonous.
In addition, the burning will exacerbate tensions here in America between Muslims and Christians. Instead of helping to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Jones is imitating their intolerance and ignorance. The burning of books is a common course of action for dictators and tyrants. Such actions should not occur in a democratic society.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Obama's post-partisan campaign rhetoric is long gone. Thank goodness! The gloves are off and the fight is on! It was refreshing to hear President Obama challenge the Republicans' obstructionism and failed economic ideas. Obama asserted, "When it comes to just about everything that we've done to strengthen our middle class and rebuild our economy, almost every Republican in Congress says no...If I said the sky is blue, they would say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they would say no...They think it is better to score political points than to solve problems....Their slogan is No We Can't...." Quoting the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, Obama asked, "What is it about working men and women that they [Republicans] find so offensive?" He went on to diss U.S. Rep. John Boehner as "the Republican who thinks he is going to take over as Speaker." Obama blasted the Bush tax cuts and the Republicans' "you're on your own" philosophy.
The President's speech was totally awesome. However, results are more important. Despite the passage of the first stimulus plan, the unemployment rate remains high at 9.6 percent. For African Americans, the unemployment rate is much higher. Hopefully, this new proposal will be successful.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
When humanity has the necessary vision and determination, we can transform the impossible into a tangible reality. Africans were enslaved in America and considered chattel property. After slavery, African Americans were subjected to the brutal oppression of the Jim Crow era. Today, the most powerful man of earth is an African American named President Barack Obama. In the 1990s, Apartheid ended and political prisoner Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa. For the most part, the conflict in Ireland has ended and peace reigns. The Berlin Wall came tumbling down. The Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War has ended. Recently, combat troops left Iraq. Similarly, there can and must be peace in Palestine and Israel. In the words of John Lennon, we must "give peace a chance". Failure cannot be an option.