An Open letter to America from James Baldwin


The day after Super Tuesday, 2016 when America is on the verge of seeing a known racist, xenophobic Islamophobe become the titular head of a major American political party James Baldwin‘s words ring clearer and truer today than they did over 45 years ago.

Angela Davis

Angela Davis

Initially he wrote this open letter to Angela Davis in response to her arrest stemming from a prison escape attempt made by Jonathan P Jackson.  In it he alludes to the handcuffs plainly visible in the photos of her arrest. The details regarding her arrest are still today shrouded in controversy but irrelevant to the contents of Baldwin’s letter. The letter written during the height of the civil rights struggle which included the murder of countless people dedicated to that struggle, those known and lesser know, uses symbolism that strikes a cord in today’s political climate.  It is an indictment of an atmosphere that cultivates fear and hatred, insecurity and desperation.

 

November 19, 1970

Dear Sister:

One might have hoped that, by this hour, the very sight of chains on black flesh, or the very sight of chains, would be so intolerable a sight for the American people, and so unbearable a memory, that they would themselves spontaneously rise up and strike off the manacles. But, no, they appear to glory in their chains; now, more than ever, they appear to measure their safety in chains and corpses. ………

You look exceedingly alone—as alone, say, as the Jewish housewife in the boxcar headed for Dachau, or as any one of our ancestors, chained together in the name of Jesus, headed for a Christian land………

I am trying to suggest that you—for example—do not appear to be your father’s daughter in the same way that I am my father’s son. At bottom, my father’s expectations and mine were the same, the expectations of his generation and mine were the same; and neither the immense difference in our ages nor the move from the South to the North could alter these expectations or make our lives more viable. For, in fact, to use the brutal parlance of that hour, the interior language of that despair, he was just a nigger—a nigger laborer preacher, and so was I. I jumped the track but that’s of no more importance here, in itself, than the fact that some poor Spaniards become rich bull fighters, or that some poor black boys become rich—boxers, for example. That’s rarely, if ever, afforded the people more than a great emotional catharsis, though I don’t mean to be condescending about that, either. But when Cassius Clay became Muhammed Ali and refused to put on that uniform (and sacrificed all that money!) a very different impact was made on the people and a very different kind of instruction had begun.

The American triumph—in which the American tragedy has always been implicit—was to make black people despise themselves. When I was little I despised myself, I did not know any better. And this meant, albeit unconsciously, or against my will, or in great pain, that I also despised my father. And my mother. And my brothers. And my sisters. Black people were killing each other every Saturday night out on Lenox Avenue, when I was growing up; and no one explained to them, or to me, that it wasintended that they should; that they were penned where they were, like animals, in order that they should consider themselves no better than animals. Everything supported this sense of reality, nothing denied it: and so one was ready, when it came time to go to work, to be treated as a slave. So one was ready, when human terrors came, to bow before a white God and beg Jesus for salvation—this same white God who was unable to raise a finger to do so little as to help you pay your rent, unable to be awakened in time to help you save your child!

There is always, of course, more to any picture than can speedily be perceived and in all of this—groaning and moaning, watching, calculating, clowning, surviving, and outwitting, some tremendous strength was nevertheless being forged, which is part of our legacy today. But that particular aspect of our journey now begins to be behind us. The secret is out: we are men!

But the blunt, open articulation of this secret has frightened the nation to death. I wish I could say, “to life,” but that is much to demand of a disparate collection of displaced people still cowering in their wagon trains and singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” The nation, if America is a nation, is not in the least prepared for this day. It is a day which the Americans never expected or desired to see, however piously they may declare their belief in “progress and democracy.” These words, now, on American lips, have become a kind of universal obscenity: for this most unhappy people, strong believers in arithmetic, never expected to be confronted with the algebra of their history.

One way of gauging a nation’s health, or of discerning what it really considers to be its interests—or to what extent it can be considered as a nation as distinguished from a coalition of special interests—is to examine those people it elects to represent or protect it. One glance at the American leaders (or figure-heads) conveys that America is on the edge of absolute chaos, and also suggests the future to which American interests, if not the bulk of the American people, appear willing to consign the blacks. (Indeed, one look at our past conveys that.) It is clear that for the bulk of our (nominal) countrymen, we are all expendable. And Messrs. Nixon, Agnew, Mitchell, and Hoover, to say nothing, of course, of the Kings’ Row basket case, the winning Ronnie Reagan, will not hesitate for an instant to carry out what they insist is the will of the people.

But what, in America, is the will of the people? And who, for the above-named, are the people? The people, whoever they may be, know as much about the forces which have placed the above-named gentlemen in power as they do about the forces responsible for the slaughter in Vietnam (or Iraq, or Afghanistan or Syria or Kosovo). The will of the people, in America, has always been at the mercy of an ignorance not merely phenomenal, but sacred, and sacredly cultivated: the better to be used by a carnivorous economy which democratically slaughters and victimizes whites and blacks alike. But most white Americans do not dare admit this (though they suspect it) and this fact contains mortal danger for the blacks and tragedy for the nation.

Or, to put it another way, as long as white Americans take refuge in their whiteness—for so long as they are unable to walk out of this most monstrous of traps—they will allow millions of people to be slaughtered in their name, and will be manipulated into and surrender themselves to what they will think of—and justify—as a racial war. They will never, so long as their whiteness puts so sinister a distance between themselves and their own experience and the experience of others, feel themselves sufficiently human,sufficiently worthwhile, to become responsible for themselves, their leaders, their country, their children, or their fate. They will perish (as we once put it in our black church) in their sins—that is, in their delusions. And this is happening, needless to say, already, all around us.

……….White lives, for the forces which rule in this country, are no more sacred than black ones, as many and many a student is discovering, as the white American corpses in Vietnam prove. If the American people are unable to contend with their elected leaders for the redemption of their own honor and the lives of their own children, we, the blacks, the most rejected of the Western children, can expect very little help at their hands: which, after all, is nothing new. What the Americans do not realize is that a war between brothers, in the same cities, on the same soil, is not a racial war but a civil war. But the American delusion is not only that their brothers all are white but that the whites are all their brothers.

So be it. We cannot awaken this sleeper, and God knows we have tried. We must do what we can do, and fortify and save each other—we are not drowning in an apathetic self-contempt, we do feel ourselves sufficiently worthwhile to contend even with inexorable forces in order to change our fate and the fate of our children and the condition of the world! We know that a man is not a thing and is not to be placed at the mercy of things. We know that air and water belong to all mankind and not merely to industrialists. We know that a baby does not come into the world merely to be the instrument of someone else’s profit. We know that democracy does not mean the coercion of all into a deadly—and, finally, wicked—mediocrity but the liberty for all to aspire to the best that is in him, or that has ever been.

We know that we, the blacks, and not only we, the blacks, have been, and are, the victims of a system whose only fuel is greed, whose only god is profit. We know that the fruits of this system have been ignorance, despair, and death, and we know that the system is doomed because the world can no longer afford it—if, indeed, it ever could have. And we know that, for the perpetuation of this system, we have all been mercilessly brutalized, and have been told nothing but lies, lies about ourselves and our kinsmen and our past, and about love, life, and death, so that both soul and body have been bound in hell.

The enormous revolution in black consciousness which has occurred in your generation, my dear sister, means the beginning or the end of America. Some of us, white and black, know how great a price has already been paid to bring into existence a new consciousness, a new people, an unprecedented nation. If we know, and do nothing, we are worse than the murderers hired in our name.

If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.

Therefore: peace.

Brother James

 

Advertisements

Answering the President’s challenge


We all know about the tragedy that happened in Oregon where college students were murdered by an American terrorist with self proclaimed ties to the political right, also known as the #demonicGOP or Republican party.  That part of his bio is conveniently left out…even his name won’t be uttered by the Oath Keeper sheriff of the county where the shooting occurred probably in no small part because the shooter reminds the sheriff of himself….a conservative gun loving, gun toting true blue American. In the President’s remarks above, those made passionately, he issued a challenge to news organizations at about the 6:30 mark of his speech which many responded too and which have become a constant theme here at Miscellany101 about terrorism versus good old fashioned American crime…the kind of crime we’ve become used too and are good at doing so much so that we outdo the terrorists.

Let’s start with the basics; we are a country of criminals of all shapes, sizes and descriptions. There are many people who mean to do their fellow citizens harm and this intent is practiced on a daily basis.  DAILY BASIS! There have been more mass shootings in this country of “exceptionalism” than there have been days of the year, that as of October 1…a mass shooting defined as one in which four or more people have been shot, not necessarily killed.  If you want to quarrel over being killed versus being shot as a measure of qualitative American lifestyle you’re an idiot.  Jamil al-Amin was correct back in 1967 when he said, ‘violence is as American as cherry pie’; our propensity to embrace it, see it as a solution to all our problems and even enable it through the auspices of police departments and the NRA will only insure we continue down that path in even more egregious ways. So the President has a right to be angry if he wants to be the “leader of the free world”, wherein his country, our country surpasses ALL of the world, free or otherwise, in firearm fratricide.

But that isn’t the challenge we’re answering here……..THIS IS!

…..and about those “terrorism” related deaths…many of them were commited by our own homespun white/black American terrorists, like this one or this one or this one or this one or……….While one can show there are “others” who committed acts of terrorism on America soil where people were killed  the only thing they have in common with one another and the other Americans who’ve committed acts of terrorism is the fact that they lived here in America and had access to firearms, proving what al-Amin said back in 1967 about “our” inclination to murder and death. It cuts across color, race, ethnicity…it is something unique to our political system which says we have a right to firearms and many more others of us have a right to kill. If you claim this is a Christian country beware your Christianity which warns you, Mathew 26:52, ‘he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword’. Fix this America!

 

Netanyahu is in town


CongressInvited by the US congress to speak and influence American policy no less, Netanyahu is enjoying the right to free speech and possibly usurp American foreign policy but his own country is not broadcasting the speech Americans will hear without a FIVE minute delay and after removing all references to campaigning in order to “keep the address from influencing the upcoming election”. (That also happens to be one of the reasons why Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu during this visit; it appears Obama is more Israeli than Bibi) But that’s hardly the reason why Netanyahu is receiving resistancenetanyahu from his own country towards his speech and visit here….it probably has more to do with the fact even his own citizens can’t stomach the lies he’s telling to a very gullible US congress and Main Stream Media.

When the Israeli prime minister argues that his speech will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he is not only misleading Israel, he is strengthening Iran,  Amnon Reshef, former head of the army’s armored corps, said at a news conference Sunday.

Boo yoow anyone??

 

Muslims of the world, listen up!


If you are thinking of coming to America, you should know there is a political party that is not interested in you keeping or practicing your religious identity. If you want to identify as a Muslim you are not wanted in America. Just so you know.

For far too many people in America, the default color is white


….and Bobby Jindal is another example of that in what he allows his image to be seen as and how others perceive his image to be.  It speaks of racism and privilege which says nothing is acceptable if it’s not whitened and one is never good enough if he/she’s not lighter.  As was noted here

Arasalan Iftikhar was banned from further appearances on MSNBC for stating that Bobby Jindal was “trying to scrub some of the brown off his skin” after his anti-Muslim comments in London, but as offensive as his statement may have been, it looks as if he was right.

Some say Jindal may run for president next year. I don’t know but I care that he’s allowing the “lie” that white is right to continue to invade the Nation’s consciousness if he does by allowing this perception he has of himself and what he allows others to have of him.

This is Jindal's wikipedia photo

This is Jindal’s wikipedia photo

This portrait was drawn by an unnamed supporter of Jindal

This portrait was drawn by an unnamed supporter of Jindal

This is the governor's official portrait and hangs in the state capital

This is the governor’s official portrait and hangs in the state capital

No comment


measles and africa

Remember this?


Not only did Reagan deal with terrorists as president, as revealed in
the Iran-Contra scandal, the preponderance of evidence now supports the charge that his campaign negotiated with Iranian hostage-takers while he was running for president in 1980, to delay the release of hostages before the election, which could have helped Carter win reelection — what was known as “The October Surprise.” Given that Reagan wasn’t president then, but was negotiating to thwart a president’s attempt to get hostages released, this is not simply questionable behavior, it is arguably an act of treason. Democrats’ reluctance to vigorously investigate Reagan’s misdeeds — the exact opposite of GOP attitudes toward Clinton and Obama — has left much of the true story still shrouded in mystery, but what we do know is damning enough in itself, and still cries out for a truly thorough investigation.

First of all, there’s no doubt that Reagan himself set the precedent of Iran-TIMEdealing with terrorists — and encouraging more hostage-taking. He and his administration convinced themselves they were dealing with “moderates” in Iran. But they also famously sent Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to hang out with Saddam Hussein, and collaborated with Osama bin Laden in building up the most extreme mujahideen elements fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan — the very forces that eventually gave birth to the Taliban. When his own hand-picked “Tower Commission” confirmed the basic facts of the Iran-contra scandal, Reagan went on national TV and said, “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.” (emphasis mine)

So goes an article which goes into detail about Ronald Reagan’s romp with terrorism and negotiations and how he failed at it miserably.  The problem for America is Reagan is a right wing ‘god’ who cannot be blamed for anything he did or was done while he was in office no matter how terrible the results were for the American people….and too many of us won’t call him on it.  Oh sure….a few articles like the one sourced above come out but even it claims

….

As we watch the current manufacture of “scandal” surrounding the release of Sgt. Bergdahl, it’s illuminating to contrast this with the way in which multiple very real interconnected scandals under Ronald Reagan were both isolated from one another and then minimized, never receiving the sort of thorough investigation that Republicans are now demanding every time that President Obama so much as coughs.

I’m glad those in opposition to the #DemonicGOP haven’t resorted to the tactics of such a forlorn ex-political party….truth stands out clear from error.  There’s no need to mislead people in order to gain their loyalty but whenever anyone says Obama negotiated with terrorists remind them he did a better job of it than Ronald Reagan who started the practice.