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

 

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We are all Muslim- says Michael Moore


….and he’s asking for your help to get that point across to the members of the #demonicGOP and Donald Trump since his increased Islamophobic rhetoric

Dear Donald Trump:

You may remember (you do, after all, have a “perfect memory!”), that we met back in November of 1998 in the green room of a talk show where we were both scheduled to appear one afternoon. But just before going on, I was pulled aside by a producer from the show who said that you were “nervous” about being on the set with me. She said you didn’t want to be “ripped apart” and you wanted to be reassured I wouldn’t “go after you.”

“Does he think I’m going to tackle him and put him in a choke hold?” I asked, bewildered.

“No,” the producer replied, “he just seems all jittery about you.”

“Huh. I’ve never met the guy. There’s no reason for him to be scared,” I said. “I really don’t know much about him other than he seems to like his name on stuff. I’ll talk to him if you want me to.”

And so, as you may remember, I did. I went up and introduced myself to you. “The producer says you’re worried I might say or do something to you during the show. Hey, no offense, but I barely know who you are. I’m from Michigan. Please don’t worry — we’re gonna get along just fine!”

You seemed relieved, then leaned in and said to me, “I just didn’t want any trouble out there and I just wanted to make sure that, you know, you and I got along. That you weren’t going to pick on me for something ridiculous.”

“Pick on” you? I thought, where are we, in 3rd grade? I was struck by how you, a self-described tough guy from Queens, seemed like such a fraidey-cat.

You and I went on to do the show. Nothing untoward happened between us. I didn’t pull on your hair, didn’t put gum on your seat. “What a wuss,” was all I remember thinking as I left the set.

And now, here we are in 2015 and, like many other angry white guys, you are frightened by a bogeyman who is out to get you. That bogeyman, in your mind, are all Muslims. Not just the ones who have killed, but ALL MUSLIMS.

Fortunately, Donald, you and your supporters no longer look like what America actually is today. We are not a country of angry white guys. Here’s a statistic that is going to make your hair spin: Eighty-one percent of the electorate who will pick the president next year are either female, people of color, or young people between the ages of 18 and 35. In other words, not you. And not the people who want you leading their country.

So, in desperation and insanity, you call for a ban on all Muslims entering this country. I was raised to believe that we are all each other’s brother and sister, regardless of race, creed or color. That means if you want to ban Muslims, you are first going to have to ban me. And everyone else.

We are all Muslim.

Just as we are all Mexican, we are all Catholic and Jewish and white and black and every shade in between. We are all children of God (or nature or whatever you believe in), part of the human family, and nothing you say or do can change that fact one iota. If you don’t like living by these American rules, then you need to go to the time-out room in any one of your Towers, sit there, and think about what you’ve said.

And then leave the rest of us alone so we can elect a real president who is both compassionate and strong — at least strong enough not to be all whiny and scared of some guy in a ballcap from Michigan sitting next to him on a talk show couch. You’re not so tough, Donny, and I’m glad I got to see the real you up close and personal all those years ago.

We are all Muslim. Deal with it.

All my best,
Michael Moore

P.S. I’m asking everyone who reads this letter to go here and sign the following statement: “WE ARE ALL MUSLIM” — and then send post a photo of yourself holding a homemade sign saying “WE ARE ALL MUSLIM” on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #WeAreAllMuslim. I will post all the photos on my site and send them to you, Mr. Trump. Feel free to join us.

michaelmoore

To some Muslim readers of this blog, Moore’s stance may be considered blasphemy….after all they might posit, Moore is NOT a Muslim and to that I would say how do they know, but if people abdicate their obligation to protest racism and demagoguery we will be victims of the likes of Donald Trump and the GOP.  At the bottom of Moore’s piece is a petition directed at Trump that reads in part,

In desperation and insanity, you call for a ban on all Muslims entering this country. I was raised to believe that we are all each other’s brother and sister, regardless of race, creed or color. That means if you want to ban Muslims, you are first going to have to ban me. And everyone else.

We are all Muslim.

Please sign it. I did.

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??

 

North Carolina’s good and pretty damned bad news


NC

North Carolina state government is run solely by Republicans, known for being the party of family values and tough on crime.  Today it is neither, instead if you’ve got business you want to conduct and need the help of the Republican controlled government you can hire call girls to convince the State’s legislators to do your bidding. The opinion of the State’s  “Ethics Committee has just opened up a major problem for their state — they just made it legal for lobbying firms to purchase prostitutes to service politicians.” In a ruling that’s just as bad as the Citizen’s United case decided on by the $50KUS Supreme Court which gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other ‘political tools’ to defeat or promote individual candidates or policy. Legally armed it seems the Republican party will go to any lengths to pursue it’s agenda even when the means are totally against the Party’s claims of standing for moral, traditional values. That shouldn’t come as any surprise, politicians in general and Republican governors in states bordering North Carolina have come under recent scrutiny for unethical, sometimes illegal behavior. (I’m speaking of Bob McDonnell in Virginia and South Carolina’s Mark Sanford) What’s even depressing is that it seems given the chance the electorate prefers morally corrupt Republican officials to sanitized Democratic policy…….NOT GOOD.

the 3's silhouetteThe good news coming out of North Carolina is the prosecutor’s office handling the murders of three young American Muslims has said it will seek the death penalty against Craig Hicks who had confessed to the crimes. There is no doubt he did it; he turned himself in immediately after killing his victims and it was clearly a capital murder case which the prosecutor confirmed with this decision.  There are still those who claim this was about a neighborly dispute, i.e. parking and that insistence might strengthen the DA’s case for seeking the death penalty judging on what has been found in Hicks’ possession;

A search of Hicks’ computers showed he kept pictures and notes on parking activity in the lots around his condo, police said in the warrants.

which would surely prove intent and premeditation but it’s also equally clear from

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

Hicks’ own Facebook posts he hated religion and or religious expression.  The clearest manifestation of religion, indeed the in-your-faceness of the Muslim women who wore hijab were his Muslim neighbors who he killed.  Hats off to the Durham county district attorney.  North Carolina trends towards a conservatism stronger than the Nation’s and with the current Islamophobia prevalent on the national stage whether the DA can prosecute towards a death penalty will depend on the judge accepting his evidence for such a ruling.  Stay tuned; it ain’t over yet.

 

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.

Media’s role in dumbing down America


Gavin-Ellzey

I can’t imagine how incredibly stupid this guy is or how he’s been lead so astray by the folks who’re supposed to provide us with information. It’s one thing to believe everything you hear but then to respond to it in such incendiary ways that are or bordering on criminality is inexcusable.  In any event it is sad to hear, see people in positions of policy or authority make such comments; they should forfeit such places in society or be made to resign.

Gavin Ellzey, the vice chairman of the Kansas Republican 3rd Congressional District Committee, advised on Twitter in early July that “offending Muslims is the duty of any civilized person.”

Ellzey added, “Especially with a .45.”

In an interview with The Star, the Overland Park resident acknowledged writing the tweet in response to television news reports about Christians being “crucified” overseas

Here’s the issue. The report he read or saw was most likely false, made up out of thin air, and Ellzey living in 21st century America was not able to know that or didn’t care to.  Ignorance is one thing, apathy or indifference that causes one to incite others towards acts of violence is another. Both Ellzey and the media reports he listened to are guilty of the latter.  We don’t know or can blame that media outlet that led Ellzey to say such insane things but we can hold his feet to the fire.  If one thinks that media can’t possibly be so irresponsible, here’s an excellent case in point.

Commentators who were not there provided chilling descriptions of an alleged attack on the Roquette Synagogue in the Bastille area of Paris last month. Evoking the Nazi Holocaust, they described hordes of thugs desecrating the building as they tried to harm those inside. According to the reports those responsible were Muslim, pro-Palestinian demonstrators consumed by anti-Semitism, inflamed by the slaughter of civilians in Gaza by Israel.

“Worshippers barricaded themselves inside the Synagogue de la Roquette as demonstrators tried to storm the building with bats and chairs,” is how The Independent’sabsent Paris correspondent chose to put it. The seemingly authoritative claim was followed up around the world.

An alleged testimony was published by a US-based news site called The Tablet. With a mixture of blood-curdling melodrama, murderous threat and pure racism it recounted how “Parisians from Arab countries” used an axe and even firearms. The writer – allegedly a Jewish woman solely identified as ‘Aurélie A’ – says of one: “I want to leave him for dead!”

Now, more than three weeks since the 13 July incident, the international current affairs magazine Newsweek is running a cover story on the Synagogue ‘attack’ claiming it has contributed to a new “Exodus” of Jews from Europe. Elaborating on the picture of vengeful Islamists, writer Adam LeBor quotes another “trapped” witness – who is not identified at all – maintaining that the alleged siege was “like an Intifada.”

Mr. LeBor opens his piece with the words: “The mob howled for vengeance, the missiles raining down on the synagogue walls as the worshippers huddled inside. It was a scene from Europe in the 1930s, except this was eastern Paris on the evening of 13 July, 2014.”

Except it wasn’t. Such reports are pure fabrication. Nobody attacked the synagogue, nobody was trapped inside, no worshippers were hurt and there were no missiles thrown at it. Comparisons with the kind of demonic crimes committed against European Jews in the pre-war years, and during the occupation of Paris, are profoundly wicked.

I was in rue de la Roquette on 13 July and what actually happened was that a vigilante group called the LDJ (Ligue de Défense Juive, or Jewish Defence League) stormed away from the synagogue towards a largely peaceful protest in Place de la Bastille. Armed with metal batons, gas canisters and café chairs and tables, they initiated street fights with their enemies while chanting ‘F*** Palestine’.

The truth was not only recorded on film, but Serge Benhaïm, the President of the Synagogue, confirmed categorically that there had been no attack on his place of worship, and no damage caused to it or those inside. He said that none of the opposing groups had got within 150 metres of his synagogue……

If you ever want to express your outrage as I have, you can write him here: gavingop@gmail.com

You know it’s bad when it’s written about by non-Muslims


islamophobiaThe “it” here is Islamophobia and it’s rearing its ugly head again in circles of the GOP.

Yesterday I wrote about the danger of demonizing Muslims. I cited remarks fromseveral Republican politicians who argued a couple of years ago that no mosqueshould be allowed near the site of the 9/11 attack in New York.

Today I looked at a speech given last night in California by Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. Jindal’s speech, which asserted a religious right to practice anti-gay policies in private business activity, echoed the argument made 14 years ago by Bob Jones University in defense of its policy against interracial dating. The resemblance is uncanny. You can read the whole article here.

But Jindal’s speech raised another problematic theme as well: the idea of a war between Islam and Christianity. Here’s what he said:

In nation after nation, Christians are being slaughtered by radical Islamists for their beliefs. … Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that “The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. … When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” And today, around the world, many Christians are living out that calling. That is a shooting war over religion, not a silent one.

In targeting Islam, Jindal is hardly alone. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another likely Republican candidate for president, asserted two years ago that “Sharia law is an enormous problem.” And last fall, a third likely candidate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, told an overwhelmingly Christian audience at the Values Voters Summit:

Today I want to tell you about a war the mainstream media is ignoring. From Boston to Zanzibar, there is a worldwide war on Christianity. …

Ever since 9/11, commentators have tried to avoid pointing fingers at Islam. While it is fair to point out that most Muslims are not committed to violence against Christians, this is not the whole truth and we should not let political correctness stand in the way of the truth. …

We send billions of dollars a year to Pakistan and Egypt. We helped put new Islamic regimes in place in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama now sends arms to Islamic Rebels in Syria. In Egypt the mob attacked our embassy and burned our flag. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that terrorists who kill Americans tend to do so in the name of Islam. It’s quite another thing to accept them as representatives of their faith, to affirm their message of enmity between Christianity and Islam, and to portray Islamic law as a threat within this country.

Do the Republicans running for president really believe that? Do they think such talk will make this country safer? Do they think it will make us more free?

The answer to the last three questions is no but demagoguery has never been about truth, it’s about power and that’s why members of the Republican Party do it to reclaim power from the party of the first black President.