Designated Scapegoats and Bogeymen

Designated Scapegoats and Bogeymen


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Bonds will never be pardoned whether found guilty or not. He, like Emmett Till

and the people of Haiti, are not respectful enough, and, as Thomas Jefferson noted,

people of their ilk are not more than three-fifths human anyway.



 Book by John Maxwell

How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists

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Designated Scapegoats and Bogeymen

By John Maxwell


I am not a fan of O.J. Simpson but I don’t believe he murdered his wife. The reason: no one has satisfactorily explained how Simpson could have butchered two people and then taken a plane to Chicago two hours later without leaving the slightest sign of blood or other evidence in his house or anywhere else.

There is no way someone as demonstrably foolish as Simpson could have cleaned himself and his house in two days, let alone the two hours available to him, without leaving DNA or any other evidence for the Los Angeles Police department to find. Forget about the gloves and the shoes, neither of which could be connected to him despite the best efforts of two zealous and skilled prosecutors.

But Simpson, as Newsweek said at the time, was trying to live like a white man: “”He even played golf!”  And Time magazine artfully painted him “darker than the hero he was” to make his guilt clearer to the magazine’s largely white audience.

Simpson joins a long line of black men, from Jack Johnson and Marcus Garvey to Michael Jackson and Martin Luther King, whose skin colour made them ineligible to enjoy the rights normally afforded to most human beings.

Simpson has now been set up in a crude ‘sting’ operation designed to put him in prison and allow his enemies to capture his wealth.

There are rewards for ‘respectful negroes’ in the words of Vincent de Roulet before he was expelled from Jamaica in 1972, the only US ambassador anywhere to be forcibly ejected from any nation as persona non grata.

Barry Bonds, the great American baseball player, is not a ‘respectful negro’ and has long been persona non grata to a wide spectrum of the US press. He clearly has no right to a fair trial on the charges that he lied to a Grand Jury about taking performance-enhancing drugs. Unlike the turkeys of President Bush, feathered or non-feathered, Bonds will never be pardoned whether found guilty or not. He, like Emmett Till and the people of Haiti, are not respectful enough, and, as Thomas Jefferson noted, people of their ilk are not more than three-fifths human anyway. Which is why, while we hear about black assaults on white people, we do not hear about cases like the black girl who was imprisoned, raped, beaten and tortured for more than a month by a white family in West Virginia.

AIDS – The ‘Gay’ disease

On June 5, 1981, the US Government Centers for Disease Control (CDC) introduced the world to the disease that eventually became known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. In its weekly Mortality and Morbidity Report (MMWR), the CDC reported

In the period October 1980-May 1981, five young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at three different hospitals in Los Angeles, California. Two of the patients died.” Although the report noted that the “patients did not know each other and had no known common contacts or knowledge of sexual partners who had had similar illnesses,” it stated, “The fact that these patients were all homosexuals suggests an association between some aspect of a homosexual lifestyle or disease acquired through sexual contact and Pneumocystis pneumonia in this population” (MMWR).

According to the Kaiser [Foundation] Network, a CDC report of June 18, 1982 was the first time that scientists connected a sexually transmission agent with the new disease:

On June 18, 1982, the CDC released its first report connecting a sexually transmitted agent with the outbreaks of KS, PCP and other opportunistic infections appearing among young, gay men. The report stated that one “hypothesis” pertaining to the outbreaks is that “infectious agents” responsible for the diseases are being  “sexually transmitted among homosexually active males.

The new disease became identified as a disease of gay men until in 1982 the CDC revealed the disease appearance among other populations such as “haemophiliacs, Haitians and intravenous drug users” and suggested a connection between the disease and blood products.

The new disease frightened many people because its origins were so mysterious. As the Kaiser Foundation reported

On April 22, 1983, Kevin Cahill, then director of the tropical disease center at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that as “the numbers afflicted [by AIDS] grew … an insidious outbreak exploded into a frightening epidemic.” He wrote that the “puzzling” condition “led to fear, then panic” as more groups of people were classified as at risk for the disease (Cahill, New York Times, 4/22/1983).

In a New York Times Magazine piece, author Robin Henig described AIDS as a condition “as relentless as leukemia” and “as contagious as hepatitis,” which is spreading so quickly that “scientists simply cannot catch up with it.” Henig noted that although AIDS was primarily spotted in homosexual men, it “has now struck so many different groups that its course cannot be predicted” (Henig, New York Times, 2/6/1983). A 1983 New York Times article noted: “In many parts of the world there is anxiety, bafflement, a sense that something has to be done — although no one knows what — about this fatal disease whose full name is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and whose cause is still unknown” (Altman, New York Times, 5/24/1983).

Shortly, two different groups of scientists claimed to have discovered the causative agent of AIDS: Luc Montagnier and others at the Pasteur Institute in Paris published their results in the April 7, 1984 edition of the Lancet while an American team, led by Dr Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute claimed they had discovered virus and published their findings in the journal Science on May 1, 1984. Eventually, both sides agreed to share the credit.

What could not be explained and has never been explained, however, is how the disease appeared so suddenly in so many different places. Most epidemics have an identifiable source. AIDS seemed to spring up fully blown, all over the United States and Africa.

 Ignorance, Bigotry and Prejudice

The CDC had at one time called the new epidemic ‘Gay related Immune Deficiency’  (GRID) and fundamentalists leapt on the bandwagon with people like Pat Buchanan rejoicing in the New York Post that homosexuals had  “declared war on nature and nature was now exacting an awful retribution.”

The gays were the first, but not the last to be singled out by an ignorant and hysterical press and public. A physician connected with the National Cancer Institute was widely quoted in the press as saying that “We suspect that this may be an epidemic Haitian virus that was brought back to the homosexual population of the United States.”  Although eventually proven to be incorrect, the statement was widely quoted and had a negative effect on the perception and treatment of Haitian Immigrants in the United States” according to Dr Paul Farmer, an American professor of Medical Anthropology who has spent the best part of his life in Haiti and is now in Rwanda trying to cure the world of AIDS and Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis.

Not all the scientists in the world will ever convince some people, including some so-called scientists, that they are wrong about HIV/AIDS, about Global Warming and Climate Change or, I believe, in their heart of hearts, that the world is not flat.

In the middle 1980s I was at the house of a friend who had returned the previous day from the US. He had brought back an issue of the Miami Herald including the magazine Tropic. In that magazine I discovered that there were three not two foci of HIV/AIDS in the United States. Everybody knew about New York and San Francisco. I learned about another – Belle Glade, a town in West Palm Beach County in Florida where HIV/AIDS was epidemic among the resident population and among the immigrant farm-workers from Jamaica and Haiti.

Somehow the world has never heard about Belle Glade and until this day, most people writing about HIV/AIDS probably have never heard of it.

What sparkled my curiosity was that the disease had apparently broken out nearly simultaneously in three widely separated locations, in New York, San Francisco and in an immigrant community in Florida.

On August 11, 1985 the Miami Herald reported from Belle Glade:

AIDS — the latest disease to emerge in an area where tuberculosis, malnutrition, venereal disease and other illnesses are common — is grim news for the sugar cane-and-vegetable-growing town deep in the Glades, western Palm Beach County’s farming belt.

And researchers have written an even more disturbing footnote for the usually fatal disease.

In Belle Glade, AIDS has crossed the line that had divided the public from those considered most at risk — homosexual men, intravenous drug abusers, blood transfusion recipients and hemophiliacs. AIDS is believed to be passed through blood or semen.

More than half the Glades’ cases don’t fit those usual high-risk profiles — far more than in the national experience. Nationally, only 6 percent of the 12,256 AIDS cases fall outside the usual high-risk categories.

Both those categories include Haitians with AIDS, but the figure is much higher in Belle Glade. Thirty-two percent of its AIDS patients are Haitian, while nationally only 2.7 percent of the AIDS patients are Haitian.”

I found this fact most suspicious and still do but I have never heard of anyone–any epidemiologist investigating this peculiar circumstance and the even stranger coincidences.

Additionally, the speed with which the disease spread to Africa when it was still a “Gay disease” surprised me and still surprises me.

There is something else that still astounds me. In a vaccine trial some years ago the proposed vaccine proved to be more effective in people of African origin than in any other group. Because it was ineffective in non-African ethnic groups, work on this vaccine was discontinued.

I found this more than a little odd, since it seemed to indicate that there was something in the vaccine that targeted certain populations, as the disease itself appears to target certain populations, spreading much faster in Africa and India than in the United State, Europe and China, where melanin is in shorter supply. And since Africans are the group most vulnerable to HIV, why not release the vaccine for use among them?

A new/old Lie

Anyway, the latest attack on the Haitian people is a new hypothesis by one Dr Worobey, who has recently claimed to discover a Haitian origin for the American version of the disease. This thesis has been refuted by the reputed co-discoverers of the virus, Gallo and Montagnier, but, as is the practice of the American media the initial accusation stands, largely uncontradicted.

A month or so ago the US and British media allowed the world to hear that the eminent, reputable, honoured co-discoverer of DNA, a racist fossil named James D Watson, had declared that blacks were less intelligent than whites.

Watson was forced by his scientific ethic to withdraw his remark in the following terms: “”To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I apologise unreservedly.”

As someone said, a lie goes round the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes. In this case, the truth didn’t even get the chance to check the shoelaces. Most of the media did not report the terms of Watson’s retraction. It was made to appear that he had simply been tactless, not a dishonest old bigot.

The Haitians are after 200 years, accustomed but not inured to the libels and slanders of the North Americans and Europeans. What they now fear is that the continuing slow-motion genocide in Haiti will be easier for the world to ignore, now that everyone knows that blacks are back to where Thomas Jefferson placed them two centuries ago. The United Nations, representing the world, including Jamaicans and all the world’s blacks, can carry out an American designed programme of repression and anti-democratic military action without the slightest peep of protest from anyone.

Appeal for Aid

The Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) reports that their appeal for help (carried in this column two weeks ago) was successful in getting enough water purification tablets to stave off the emergency in that area for the giant slum of Cite Soleil (Site Soley) but that people still need food.  You can contact the HLLN directly at  Marguerite Laurent is the President of the HLLN.

The Beach Stealers

The UDC – or what I prefer to call the Ultimate Devastation Conglomerate – is still pursuing its policy of stealing public beaches. As I have reported before in these pages, their latest target is the Winnifred Beach at fairy Hill, near Port Antonio. This was one of the very first (if not the first) beaches to have an official reservation under Norman Manley’s Beach Control Law, half a century ago.

The UDC wants to take over the beach, expel the locals and build a top end holiday resort for foreigners, robbing the Jamaican people of one of its few good beaches and devastating the local environment. The people of Winnifred Beach have taken legal action to secure their established prescriptive rights and had implored the beach Control Authority (NRCA/NEPA) to take up their case as the Authority is legally bound to do.

The BCA launched an action but have now discontinued it without telling the people – and in defiance of Norman Manley’s Act.

Nevertheless, the people concerned are pursuing their action, which will be heard in the Buff Bay RM court on February 12, 2008.

The friends of Winnifred are not taking this lying down and intend to continue the struggle on behalf of all Jamaicans. Because it is vitally important to the Public Interest in all public beaches. We cannot afford to lose this beach if the people of Jamaica are to retain their rights to their own country.  You can make contributions to the Fighting Fund at –    Winnifred Defense Fund at Scotia Bank, Port Antonio Branch account N°807657

      You can find out more at the website:

If you believe in this campaign I would urge you to come to the meeting on the beach, Fairy Hill, on Sunday, December 2. If you are interested in becoming a part of the solution.  Bring your family and make a day of it.

Copyright©2007 John Maxwell

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 25 November 2007




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