August 28, 2013.
Obama is no Dr. Martin Luther King
The grave-markers of the martyrs of the Black Freedom Movement – in their thousands – have been reduced to cobblestones on the road to the Obama presidency. In Sharpton’s grasping, narrow vision, the great mass struggles of half a century ago amounted to nothing more than Blacks bum-rushing the velvet ropes so they could party with the elite. No social transformation, just a change of coloration. No world peace, just a piece of the imperial pie.Read the whole article here.
The problem, of course, is not Sharpton’s personal vulgarity and corruption, but the worldview that he shares with the whole cabal of Black misleaders. To put it simply, they never agreed with Dr. Martin Luther King on the need for a “revolution” that is “international in scope” and would force the United States to “repent of her modern economic imperialism,” as historian Paul Street notes in this issue. They do not share Dr. King’s socially transformational “dream.” Indeed, they have no core vision at all, other than that Black American individuals be widely represented within structures of power in the United States: Black titans of Wall Street, Black generals and – the ultimate prize – a Black president.
In that sense, the Black Misleadership Class’s “dream” arrived in 2008. Barack Obama is the great prize, the racial victory that must be defended at any and all costs. The collapse of the Black economy, the evisceration of the Constitution, mass Black incarceration, multiple and constant U.S. wars against weaker peoples – none of this can be allowed to tarnish or undermine the embodiment of Black progress, Barack Obama. Which is why it is perfectly logical to Sharpton and Ben Jealous and their ilk that Obama star in the March on Washington commemoration, as both the symbol and the personification of “The Dream.” It is the dream of those who want nothing more than to become full-fledged partners in U.S. imperialism.
It is inconceivable that Dr. King would share the stage with a president who was at that moment preparing a savage and illegal attack on a sovereign country. Dr. King’s voice has been censored and his dream vandalized, repackaged and presented as a gift to a corporate agent with a Kill List.
*****Comment: I received an email from a former student that simply said:
"Professor I was a student of yours when Obama became President. I did not like your views on him. But must now confess the fact that you were right."It is not the first such email I have received since Obama's ascent to power. And, I would hazard a selfish guess that it won't be the last. Before you think I am trumpeting my ego here let me assure you that of course I am - but only in part.
Truth is I would rather be wrong. I would rather be writing a post now saying I underestimated the upstart Senator from Illinois and his "Yes We Can" and "Change We Can Believe In" mantras and all the deceitful promises he made and is still making.
As a political scientist I listened closely to the man and the thing that worried me the most was the manner in which he was able to deflect reality and create dream clouds all around.
He sold dreams to a weary people. Folks wanted to believe him but if you waded deep enough there really was no substance to his politics: a lot of wishful motioning but very little substance.
But I also think Glen Ford is right above when he essentially argues that Obama is a construction of a greater effort to bring elite blacks closer to the "velvet ropes" of power in the US. In other words, he did not just happen. Obama does not represent a revolution in any sense. Rather he is the evolution of race and the power that defines its priorities.
The US is the quintessential whiteness state and black elites have not ignored just how brutal its power arrangement can be to those who would challenge its position.
Few, if any, would just ignore the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X without recognizing that going up against the powers that be is a fatal misstep.
And so the black elite have sidled up to whiteness and immersed themselves in its logic and power arrangement. The outcome is Obama. He may be the first black president but he is indelibly defined by the course and substance of whiteness.
So in those early days when he was making a noise about running for president and young undergraduates and a few older graduate students came to my office at Portland State University to debate the merits of an Obama presidency something started to nag at me.
That something was the realization that if he became president he would set the struggle toward racial justice back at least 5 decades to the time before Dr. King talked about the "promissory note" and what America owed to black and brown people and the poor.
What I did not fully expect was that Obama would seamlessly morph into his predecessor G.W. Bush and wage the same wars on black and brown bodies with the same impunity.
I also did not expect that Obama would fool so many people - many of them very smart people who somewhere toward the end of his first four years in office felt the sting of betrayal but voted for him anyway because he was the lesser evil.
What were they thinking? How could they be so complicit in view of all the evidence?
Of course Obama is not done yet. It is way to early to write this man's political obituary. Three or so years remain and he will no doubt continue his warmongering ways.
It is very likely that in the next few days or moments he will unilaterally strike at Syria and, thereby, ironically align himself with Al-Qaida militants who are also focused on weakening Syria, Hezbollah and, of course, Iran.
Innocents will be added to those he has killed with drones in lands that have no reason to expect that the US has its best interests at heart.
Inside the US black life is defined by the same crucible of white racism and the proof is in the number of black and brown men and women who are serving sentences for victimless crimes.
How then has black and brown life improved under the first black president?
So, it would be too selfish to just say "I told you so" and leave out the larger part that is saddened and worried by the struggle that lies ahead to undo Obama.
And we are not free.