Wednesday, August 28, 2013

At the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington For Jobs And Freedom President Obama Fails To Rise To the Occasion

President Obama speaks at a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Near him is a bell that once rang at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., which was bombed just 18 days after the March On Washington, killing four young black girls. (Evan Vucci / AP / August 28, 2013)

"One cannot change in one's head that which can only be changed in society."
--C.L.R. James

"A genuine leader is not a seeker of consensus but a molder of consensus."

--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"If you have no critics you'll likely have no success"

--Malcolm X


President Obama gave yet another lazy, dishonest, and petulant self serving speech today at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington yesterday which was full of empty rhetorical bromides and openly condescending platitudes that peevishly insisted that everyone else in this society (especially black people!) take so-called "personal responsibility" for their actions and behavior EXCEPT himself and his obviously evasive, aimless, and hubris stuffed administration. Substituting reactionary "tough love" homilies and skittish fatalistic pleas to his notoriously obstructionist white supremacist enemies on the right in place of advancing or aggressively calling for any semblance of a sound or concrete progressive public policy agenda that directly addresses the actual needs, desires, and aspirations of the millions of presently suffering citizens who actually voted for him in 2008 and 2012, Obama gave the embarrassingly weak impression that he was not really interested in providing any kind of real viable LEADERSHIP in the realms of domestic and foreign policy decision making that would seriously address the truly severe crises involving the State, capital, labor, political ideology, and civic engagement that is currently wracking this Republic. Instead the President spoke in absurdly broad, phony, and disturbingly vague circles about the role of "the People" in initiating and sustaining the "fight for hope and change" that wouldn't rely on "Washington" to deal with their structural, institutional, and systemic problems. Rather Obama contented himself with simply pretending that "the government ultimately couldn't or wouldn't really be responsible" for playing a major role in the transformative process of making the fundamental changes and bedrock reforms in this society's political economy, culture, and civil institutions that are absolutely essential to bringing about any real progressive changes in this nation's institutions and social/economic infrastructure worth their name.

Even more distressing is the ludicrous appearance of far too many intellectually and politically ill equipped black celebrities and extremely shallow pop culture mavens like Oprah Winfrey (!) and Jamie Foxx (!!) who mounted the dais and acted as though they are to be taken seriously in any real sense as "leaders" in this struggle. This was frankly an enormous insult to the nation's vast number of poor and working class citizens--many of whom are African American--who reasonably expect and thus justifiably demand that the government do its job that we democratically chose them to do which is protecting, defending, and strongly insisting that our human and constitutional rights be honored and given major priority over and above the rich and powerful elites. Without confronting the dire necessity of actively fighting for these changes and protections-- and all they entail--no amount of dismissively chastising any constituency within the national polity that make up the Republic will or can suffice. It is decidely NOT our job or role as mere "individuals" alone within this society to transform it. What is required is a much larger committment that requires that the entire society is engaged at the level of making, defending, sustaining, and extending these changes. That goes for the President and his administration as well as the rest of us no matter what our avowed, unrelenting, and committed enemies say or do. After all that's why all this activity is called a STRUGGLE...Stay tuned...



‘The Most Dangerous Negro’
August 28, 2013
New York Times


The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” so disturbed the American power structure that the F.B.I. started spying on him in what The Washington Post called “one of its biggest surveillance operations in history.” The speech even moved the head of the agency’s domestic intelligence division to label King “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of Communism, the Negro and national security.”

Of course, King wasn’t dangerous to the country but to the status quo. King demanded that America answer for her sins, that she be rustled from her waywardness, that she be true to herself and to the promise of her founding.

King was dangerous because he wouldn’t quietly accept — or allow a weary people to any longer quietly accept — what had been. He insisted that we all imagine — dream of — what could and must be.

That is not the mission of politicians. That is the mission of a movement’s Moses.

And those Moses figures are often born among the young who refuse to accept the conditions of their elders, who see injustice through innocent eyes.

King was just 34 years old in 1963.

As President Obama put it Wednesday:

“There’s a reason why so many who marched that day and in the days to come were young, for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear, unconstrained by the conventions of what is. They dared to dream different and to imagine something better. And I am convinced that same imagination, the same hunger of purpose serves in this generation.”

So now, America yearns for more of these young leaders, and in some ways it has found some, not just in the traditional civil rights struggle but also in the struggles to win L.G.B.T. rights and to maintain women’s reproductive rights.

Yet there remains a sort of cultural complacency in America. After young people took to the streets as part of the Arab Spring, many Americans, like myself, were left wondering what had become of American activism. When was the last time our young people felt so moved that they took to the streets to bring attention to an issue?

There were some glimmers of hope around Occupy Wall Street and the case of Trayvon Martin, but both movements have lost much of their steam, and neither produced a clear leader.

So as we rightfully commemorate the March on Washington and King’s speech, let us also pay particular attention to the content of that speech. King spoke of the “fierce urgency of now,” not the fierce urgency of nostalgia.

(I was struck by how old the speakers skewed this week during the commemorations.)

What is our fierce urgency? What is the present pressure? Who will be our King?  What will be our cause?

There is a litany of issues that need our national attention and moral courage — mass incarceration, poverty, gun policy, voting rights, women’s access to health care, L.G.B.T. rights, educational equality, immigration reform.

And they’re all interrelated.

The same forces that fight to maintain or infringe on one area of equality generally have some kinship to the forces that fight another.

And yet, we speak in splinters. We don’t see the commonality of all these struggles and the common enemies to equality.
And no leader has arisen to weave these threads together.

Martin Luther King was a preacher, not a politician. He applied pressure from outside the system, not from within it. And I’m convinced that both forms of pressure are necessary.

King’s staggering achievement is testament to what can be achieved by a man — or woman — possessed of clear conviction and rightly positioned on the side of justice and freedom. And it is a testament to the power of people united, physically gathering together so that they must be counted and considered, where they can no longer be ignored or written off.

There is a vacuum in the American body politic waiting to be filled by a young person of vision and courage, one not suckled to sleep by reality television and social media monotony.

The only question is who will that person be. Who will be this generation’s “most dangerous” American? The country is waiting.

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