ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
The 9-11 Twin Towers attack . . . has allowed the Bush regime the opportunity
and power to carry out an unprecedented dismissal of historic allies, the United Nations,
international treaties, and permitted the hideous imperialist assaults on the Arab peoples
Beloved Black Poet Determined
to Fight New Jersey’s Abolition of Poet Laureate
Message from Amiri Baraka, New Jersey and Newark Schools’ Poet Laureate
July 1, 2003 The vote in the New Jersey Legislature today (38-2) to eliminate the New Jersey Poet Laureate position is confirmation of the ignorance, corruption, racism, and criminal disregard for the US Constitution.
To their credit, Assemblyman William Payne and Senator Donald Tucker were the sole voices trying to uphold the poet’s Constitutional First Amendment rights.
But this finally illegal vote is also a violation of Article 1, section 10(1) of the U.S. Constitution (that neither congress nor the states could pass Ex Post Facto Laws, i.e., a law in the present that will make something that happened before that subject to the contemporary statute).
The vote is also an infamous confirmation of the anti-democratic, neo fascist direction that the entire US nation has been headed since the right wing coup that passed as the 2000 National Election that brought to ascendancy and murderous power, a counterfeit President for an increasingly fake democracy.
This attack on the US Constitution has been led by the Israeli Lobbyist Anti-Defamation League who cite three lines of a 244 line poem as proof of the poet’s “Anti-Semitism” (“Who told 400 Israeli workers at the twin towers to stay home that day/ Who told Sharon to stay away”).
The ADL in characteristic dishonesty claims the mention of Israeli nationals is an attack on Jews, as if they did not understand the difference between the religion Judaism and the reactionary nationalism of Israeli political Zionism. But that is done to cover the fact that American Jews were left to be killed in the World Trade Center with the rest of we Americans, because ISRAEL REGARDS AMERICAN JEWS AS AMERICANS FIRST, Whom the ADL and the state of Israel regard only as sources of wealth and influence which they must not lose. Zionist Israel sees the American people the same way, as a cash cow and political justifier of their historic policy of ethnic cleansing of Arabs out of Palestine.
That is why it was Israeli Nationals that were warned and NOT American Jews. The CEO (Micha Macover), of an Israeli messaging company, ODIGO, has already admitted to being warned. (See “Israeli Company Workers Were Warned Of 911 Attack” By Yuval Dror, Ha’aretz Daily, 12-20-2).
The 9-11 Twin Towers attack, as tragic as it was, has allowed the Bush regime the opportunity and power to carry out an unprecedented dismissal of historic allies, the United Nations, international treaties, and permitted the hideous imperialist assaults on the Arab peoples, Islam generally as a “Rogue Nation,” specializing in attacks at the Third World, and human rights internationally, even flatly refusing to join the World Court, with justifications as bizarre as to cite the reason for invading Iraq , its failure to abide by UN resolutions as the justification for the US dismissing UN resolutions & invading Iraq.
Bush’s declaration of “An Axis of Evil” turned out to be a scapegoat of the month, supported by open lies to justify a foreign policy of slander, violence, destruction and greed, as inhuman as Hitler’s.
With the names of the scapegoated leaders and nations as cheers and battle cries, the US imperialist superpower bombs and invades Afghanistan screaming “Osama bin Laden, Taliban (both enabled by Bush-1), Queada.” Next with hideous reversal of blame calling the Palestinians terrorists and, with their leader, Yasir Arafat the main obstruction to peace for the “suicide bombing” while Israel uses US tanks, planes, bombs, guns, destroying entire Palestinian neighborhoods.
The US sides with the Butcher Sharon, who was thrown out of office as Defense Minister by the Israeli people in 1984 for his responsibility in the massacres of Palestinians in Lebanese refugee settlements. Israel has failed to recognize a single UN resolution, refusing since 1967 to end its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank or to stop the illegal settlements on Palestinian soil. Bush egging the Israelis on with calls for “Regime Change”
Yet the US mouthpiece for such tyrannical violations of human rights and democracy, the ADL, has so much influence among US and New Jersey politicians that they can decide whether or not the state has a Poet Laureate position or not, or for that matter, by overthrowing Cynthia McKinney and Asa Hilliard, who will be elected as the Black Congresspersons from Atlanta and Alabama.
The invasion of Iraq was forwarded by the demonization of Saddam Hussein, as the worst dictator in the world, his failure to abide by UN resolutions, and his possession of “Weapons of Mass Destruction. Since Bush-1 gave those alleged WMD’s to Saddam Hussein to attack Iran, the CIA could have checked their receipts. We hear again the cry of “Regime Change,” as example of Condoleeza Rice’s description of a US “humanistic imperialism” necessary to bring democracy to Iraq , when imperialist annexation of nations is the exact opposite.. Add the utterly fallacious search for “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” still to be found. What about the disgusting cry “Iraqi Freedom”?
The vote in the New Jersey Legislature is clear demonstration of how slavishly reflective of the disintegration of US democracy as conducted by Bush counterfeit presidency!
Ironically, Diimitrov’s classic definition of fascism as “The naked rule by terror by the most imperialist, jingoistic, sector of finance capital.” What Bush and company have done is use the threat of terror as the justification for their right wing assault on the Constitution and the democratic rights of American citizens.
So that now it is permissible for the state to disregard and violate a citizen’s First Amendment and other constitutional rights, slander, and character-assassinate them if they question, or criticize a foreign power and the foreign policy of the US super power.
This US plunge to the far right evokes the grim history of Germany’s last democratic Weimar Republic, before Hitler came to power to transform the German Republic into a fascist state. Although Hitler was head of the Nazi party, he was appointed Chancellor legally by President Hindenburg, with more legitimacy than the Bush Florida Coup!
But it was Terrorism, the mysterious “Reichstag fire” (now universally understood to have been set by Hitler himself) that allowed Hitler to pass the Reichstag Enablement Act, much like the Patriot Bill and Homeland Security, and in the name of eliminating the terrorist — jailed union members, communists, and later liquidated them, including 6,000,000 Jews. 9-11 has allowed the same internal citizen disorientation and fascist reorientation in Germany as inside the US today!
Of course, I will sue. For starters, for violation of my democratic rights, the US constitution, slander, character assassination, injury to myself and my family, psychological assault, creating the context for possible physical assault on myself and family. Bias crime, stopping my appearance on many campuses thereby interfering with the right of Afro-American and democratic-minded students the opportunity to judge for themselves whether the work was anti-Semitic or not. Censorship as well as interference with my ability to make a living, and restraint of trade. I would also like to take up the question of why the ADL is not made to register as an agent of a foreign power.
An important factor related to our suit is news that recently (4/26/03 -Rense.com) a Colorado couple successfully sued the ADL, for the same kind of attack, calling them “anti-Semitic.” The ADL was defeated to the tune of $9.75 million dollars rewarded to their victims for Slander and Wiretapping Violations!!
This obscene act of the NJ Legislature’s real effect is to advertise themselves as mindless, sub-literate stooges for foreign interests. And what does this say about a state too backward to have a Poet Laureate?
Again and again I have asked that there be a mass forum where the poem could be projected and the poet and whoever is upset by it go down the work, line by line, so any anti-Semitism could be shown. But the ADL and the NJ Legislature have refused; though I doubt 10% of these political nincompoops have even bothered to read it.
In practical terms, what the Legislature has actually done is to guarantee litigation against themselves, individually and as a body, the Governor, and the ADL. It is likely to be litigation of historic significance since it will be an attempt to oppose and help nullify the insidious anti-democratic trend Bush has set loose across the nation. The irony is that even this legislation cannot remove me as Poet Laureate, since the appointment was made by the New Jersey Humanities Commission and not the governor or legislature and any attempt to remove me, would be a further confirmation of the legislature’s intent to violate the constitution and the first amendment.
Even more disgusting and dangerous is the ADL’s threat a few months ago, to have the children of West Orange wear yellow stars of the Holocaust when Newark’s children go there to play sports! Now, in an attempt to prevent my appearance at Barringer High School (my alma mater) June 30, to give the Commencement Address, they threatened to picket Barringer and otherwise cause disruption. In addition there was even the straight out neo-fascist pledge to begin to remove my books from the schools.
Can it be that the US has become the wagged dog of the Israeli Zionist tale (sic)? The 9-11 enabled US invasions of Afghanistan, overt support of daily Israeli terror against the Palestinians while calling the victims the terrorist, and most recently the completely dishonest explanation for the invasion of Iraq, which now has US troops — mostly young working class and poor whites, Afro American, Latino, Asian youth — being killed every day in Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or sometimes even by Bush’s Israeli confederates.
Democratic-minded Americans must oppose these violations of the US Constitution, especially the censorship which rises in its intensity, at the same time the campaign to privatize media in the US, by trying to remove public radio and television, eliminating support of the arts by public monies, forcing artists to rely more and more on private sources, foundations, corporations.
Opposition to this vicious and dangerous Right-wing campaign to censor and control all forms of public communication, (e.g., the attack on the New York Times was inspired by the editors’ consistent exposure of Bush wackier policies) is now fundamental to any efforts to stop the US disintegration into a neo-fascist corporate imperialist state. Actually, such organized Peoples Democratic campaign against violations of the First Amendment and the general onslaught of the Bush junta (Asscraft, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice, Pearle, Rumsfield, etc.) are at the base of the critical need to build a US Peoples Democratic Anti-Fascist United Front.
Since January the Office of NJ Poet Laureate, in association with Kimako’s Blues People (Amiri & Amina Baraka, Directors), Celeste Bateman Public Relations, with help from Weequahic Park Association’s publicist, Joe White; Robert McRae, Logistics; Reggie Baker, Transportation; supported by funds from the Newark Public Library and the Newark Board of Education, has produced a series of readings by important poets from all over New Jersey, as well as New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania in the Newark Schools and Newark Public Library — the last Friday and Saturday of each month.
So despite the slander, character assassination, media disinformation and attacks by the Governor, the ADL, and the generally ignorant or specifically devious, the work of the Second New Jersey Poet Laureate (the first Afro American) one wonders does this have something to do with the aggressiveness of the assaults has gone on, intentionally handicapped, but nevertheless vigorous and important, alive and well. And it will continue, no matter the slander and the dishonest attacks.
We have received several hundred letters of support and copies of letters addressed to Gov. McGreevey and the NJ Legislature denouncing this attack on our First Amendment rights. But with the initiation of litigation, people who want to be part of what will be a growing anti-censorship anti-violation of the First Amendment Movement,
Contact us at AMIRIB@AOL.COM or Fax 973 242-1509
A Reply to Baraka
Let’s establish a people’s poet laureate award, state, national and international. We know every time we master the game, the devil changes the rules, so why have ourselves handicapped in a game with morons and spiritual savages when we are better people, people of truth and beauty, as you have taught, Baraka? You are the poet laureate of the black nation and him who don’t know don’t need to know. The Berkeley Black Repertory Theatre is under attack by the city of Berkeley because colonial whites feel blacks should not possess such a nice facility, even though the Berkeley Repertory Theatre has two theatres–ever heard of greed, lust, jealousy and envy. The same thing is occurring in Oakland with the Alice Arts Center, the center of Oakland’s African American culture, your friend Jerry Brown (Jerry white) and his cohorts want the blacks out so whites can perform opera and ballet as opposed to African culture. So we see coast to coast African culture and the black arts are under attack and we must be ever on the alert for the slinking devil who whispers into the hearts of men from among the jinn and men, as Qur’an warns. Mao taught us the reactionaries will never put down their butcher knives, they will never turn into Buddah heads. Ready or not, Revolution time!
Recovery Theatre is located at 133 Golden Gate Street, San Francisco, between Leavenworth and Jones. Call 510-798-9155.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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updated 12 July 2008