Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tribute to the Late Gil Scott Heron

Yesterday, the great poet Gil Scott-Heron passed away. As reported in the New York Times,

"Musician Gil Scott-Heron, who helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs such as "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," died Friday at age 62.

A friend, Doris C. Nolan, who answered the telephone listed for his Manhattan recording company, said he died in the afternoon at St. Luke's Hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip.

"We're all sort of shattered," she said.

Scott-Heron's influence on rap was such that he sometimes was referred to as the Godfather of Rap, a title he rejected."

May God forgive him for his sins and bless him with paradise. Let's take a minute to honor this dear brother.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cornel West Responds to The Critics!

Watch the full episode. See more Tavis Smiley.

Recently, Cornel West sparked a firestorm of controversy by making disparaging remarks about President Barack Obama. More specifically, West described Obama as a "mascot for Wall Street". West also said that Obama's "formation is culturally white" and that Obama has a "certain fear of free black men." Listen to West's response to the controversy and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Barghouti: Netanyahu Wants Palestinians "to Live as Slaves in a System of Apartheid and Segregation"

After watching Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before Congress, two things are obvious. First, under Netanyahu's rule, there will be no peace in the Middle East. Second, Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, are nothing but subservient lawn jockeys, shoe shiners and boot lickers for Israel and AIPAC.

In the U.S. mainstream media, we rarely hear the Palestinian prospective. For an alternative view, please take a minute to listen to Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Obama's Middle East Foreign Policy is More of the Same Old Stuff

Last week, President Barack Obama gave a major address on the Middle East. Today, he gave a speech before the pro-Israel lobbying group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

After listening to both speeches, I am convinced that Obama is not offering a new approach to the Middle East crisis. It is just the same old stuff that has been presented by previous U.S. administrations. There is no fundamental change in American foreign policy.

During his speech before AIPAC, the President reaffirmed his call for Israel to return to the 1967 borders. As reported in the New York Times, the President stated:

“There was nothing particularly original in my proposal. This basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations.”

Obama went on to essentially backtrack clarify his position by stating that the Israelis and Palestinians "will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967." Maybe I am missing something, but that sounds like double talk to me.

Unfortunately, as many pundits have stated, the President's call for a return to the 1967 borders may merely be a ploy to provide the U.S. with cover to oppose an upcoming U.N. vote to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state.

In addition, Obama's "unshakable" and unconditional support for Israel is troubling. To prove his devotion to Israel, Obama touted his Administration's withdrawal from the Durban Review Conference, opposition to the Goldstone Report and veto of the U.N. resolution condemning illegal settlements.  Instead of being proud of its position on those issues, the Obama Administration should be ashamed for taking such reactionary positions. 

During last week's Middle East address, the President stated that the U.S. would veto any resolution recognizing Palestine as an independent and sovereign state.  Apparently, Obama plans to continue America's long history of vetoing numerous U.N. resolutions pertaining to Israel. This is no surprise given the fact that he bended over backwards to placate AIPAC during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. How much tap dancing does Obama have to do to prove that he is down with Israel?

Despite all those efforts to appease the pro-Israel lobby, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and company are still displeased with President Obama. As reported in the New York Times,

"Most significant among his public objections, Mr. Netanyahu said that Israel would not accept a return to the boundaries that existed before the war in 1967 gave it control of the West Bank and Gaza, calling them indefensible."

Netanyahu should not slam the President for saying what has long been the position of previous administrations. Israel owes it very existence to the U.S. Netanyahu should show some freaking gratitude.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dyson and Baraka Engage in a Heated Debate About Marable's Book on Malcolm X

Today on Democracy Now, Michael Eric Dyson and Amiri Baraka engaged in an intense debate regarding Manning Marable's new book, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Check out the debate and tell me what you think.

The Continuing Relevance of Brother Malcolm X's Message

On May 19, 1925, the legendary black freedom fighter Malcolm X was born. Today, we should to take a moment to reflect on our dear beloved brother's contribution to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality. We should reflect on the relevance of his revolutionary ideology in this Age of Obama.

I am just about finish reading Manning Marable's masterpiece, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. As I continue to read the book, I wonder what would Malcolm X think about the state of black people today. I am convinced that many of his views remain relevant today.

Malcolm X said that we should control the politicians in our community. In his Ballot or the Bullet speech, he proclaimed that:

"The time when white people can come in our community and get us to vote for them so they can be our political leaders and tell us what to do and what not to do is long gone. By the same token, the time when that same white man...can send another Negro into the community and get you and me to support him so he can use him to lead us astray, those days are long gone too."

America has made tremendous progress in race relations. Due to the Voting Rights Act, we have the power to elect our candidates of choice. We have an African American President. We have many black congressional representatives and mayors. There have been a few black governors. I am sure that Malcolm X would not pacified by the quantity of African American politicians. He would focus on the quality and commitment of those politicians.

Can we truly say that we truly control the politicians in our community when most of them depend on corporate contributions for their political survival? In the tradition of Malcolm X, we must challenge our politicians and so called leaders when they support policies that are contrary to the interests of black people and oppressed people. We cannot efford to simply be enamored by black faces in high places.

Brother Malcolm challenged U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson for failing to protect civil rights workers. He challenged them for their imperialistic foreign policies in the Congo, Vietnam and elsewhere. Malcolm X condemned Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. Today, we must oppose U.S. imperialism. Let's remember Malcolm X by opposing the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Malcolm X said that we should control the economy of our communities. Today, we have extraordinary examples of black entrepreneurs such as Oprah Winfrey and Jay Z. Currently, there are six African American CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Despite those major accomplishments, black people still do not own the restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, gas stations, banks and malls in their communities. We don't even own the beauty supply stores in the 'hood. Many of those businesses are owned and controlled by outsiders. Essentially, we remain economically colonized.

Unlike this current generation of bloggers and political pundits, brother Malcolm X knew that liberation would only come through organized struggle. For over a decade, he was a leader and member of the Nation of Islam. Later, he formed two organizations, Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). His militant philosophy inspired young people like Huey P. Newton to create revolutionary organizations. He inspired civil rights groups such as SNCC and CORE to take a more militant stance. Words have power. However, writing is not enough.

We must join or create organizations to address the needs of our people. With ongoing problems such as poverty, high unemployment, racial profiling, police brutality, mass incarceration, inferior schools, high dropout rates and inner city violence, there is plenty of work left to be done.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Monday, May 9, 2011

President Obama Discusses How the U.S. Tracked Down Bin Laden

Last night, President Barack Obama appeared on 60 Minutes.  The President discussed how U.S. intelligence and military forces finally tracked down Osama Bin Laden. It is a fascinating interview.  The interview raises interesting political questions about assassinations, sovereignty and international law.

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, Obama said that if Pakistan was unwilling or unable to act he would take action. I am glad that the President kept that promise.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

On May 3, 2011, President Barack Obama honored the brave Freedom Riders who risked their lives fighting for equality. The President issued this proclamation:

"Fifty years ago, America was struggling to implement the ideals of justice and equality set forth in our founding. The Freedom Rides, organized in the spring of 1961, were an interracial, nonviolent effort to protest the practice of segregation. Setting out from Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961, the Freedom Riders sought to actualize the decision in Boynton v. Virginia, which held that interstate passengers had a right to be served without discrimination, and to challenge the enforcement of local segregation laws and practices."

"The Freedom Rides, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and other devoted advocates, built upon the boycotts and sit‑ins that were defying Jim Crow segregation across the South. The Freedom Riders themselves were black and white, often students and young people, and committed to the cause of nonviolent resistance. Along the way, buses were attacked and men and women were intimidated, arrested, and brutally beaten. The publicity generated by the courageous Freedom Riders as they faced continued violence and complicit local police drew the attention of the Kennedy Administration and Americans across our country."

"Through their defiant journeys, the Freedom Riders sent a resounding message to the rest of our Nation that desegregation was a moral imperative. The Freedom Riders also motivated and mobilized the next generation of civil rights leaders. The unflinching bravery and unyielding commitment of the Freedom Riders inspired many of those involved to become lifelong activists, organizers, and leaders in the civil rights movement."

"Today, we remember the Freedom Riders for the sacrifices they made in pursuit of the rights we now enjoy. They showed that people working together across backgrounds and boundaries could hold America accountable to our highest ideals and bend the arc of history towards justice. They showed that young people have the power to generate a movement for equality and steer the course of our Nation. Because of their efforts, and the work of those who marched and stood against injustice, we live in a country where all Americans have the right to dream and choose their own destiny."

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2011 as the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides. I call upon all Americans to participate in ceremonies and activities that honor the Freedom Riders and all those who struggled for equal rights during the civil rights movement."

"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth."

Although there has been great progress in this nation, the struggle continues. Even in this age of Obama, racial inequality still exists in education, economics, criminal justice, health care and other areas. We should honor the Freedom Riders by joining today's struggle for equality and justice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Should America Use Torture To Fight Terrorism?

As expected, former Bush Administration officials are taking credit for locating Osama Bin Laden. They claim that so-called enhanced interrogation methods helped the U.S. gather vital information used to track down the terrorist leader. Now, the debate over torture has been reignited.

As reported in the New York Times,

"Did brutal interrogations produce the crucial intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden?

"As intelligence officials disclosed the trail of evidence that led to the compound in Pakistan where Bin Laden was hiding, a chorus of Bush administration officials claimed vindication for their policy of “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding."

"Among them was John Yoo, a former Justice Department official who wrote secret legal memorandums justifying brutal interrogations. “President Obama can take credit, rightfully, for the success today,” Mr. Yoo wrote Monday in National Review, “but he owes it to the tough decisions taken by the Bush administration.”

"But a closer look at prisoner interrogations suggests that the harsh techniques played a small role at most in identifying Bin Laden’s trusted courier and exposing his hide-out. One detainee who apparently was subjected to some tough treatment provided a crucial description of the courier, according to current and former officials briefed on the interrogations. But two prisoners who underwent some of the harshest treatment — including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times — repeatedly misled their interrogators about the courier’s identity."

"The discussion of what led to Bin Laden’s demise has revived a national debate about torture that raged during the Bush years. The former president and many conservatives argued for years that force was necessary to persuade Qaeda operatives to talk. Human rights advocates, and Mr. Obama as he campaigned for office, said the tactics were torture, betraying American principles for little or nothing of value."

Should America use torture to fight terrorism? Please tell me what you think.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Has Been Brought to Justice!

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Great speech, Mr. President. Great work, Mr. President. Can we bring the troops home now, Mr. President?