Experience, Wisdom, and a National Mystic

Experience, Wisdom, and a National Mystic


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Do we really want to adopt Machiavelli machinations as a community standard? Can we justify

this political behavior for our classrooms and streets? I in good conscious cannot justify such

national intrigue, no more than I can a brainwash education for our children.



Experience Wisdom and a National Mystic

By Rudolph Lewis


As we move closer to the presidential election year, within the African American community I’ve detected the equivalent of a BP (Black Power?) spill. There is a murky intellectual ooze spreading slowly into commentaries and conversations. . . . This all means that Obama will have to spend some valuable campaign time within the Black community not looking for votes but instead trying not to lose any. . . . He will have my vote in 2012. It’s not just about voting for a man. This is not American Idol. We are talking programs and how we govern a nation. Will we be protected by our government? . . . Voting for Obama might not improve things immediately but voting for the other party that in principal wants to privatize everything is just asking for misery—come Sunday we might need not one but two prayers.—Ethelbert

Things are not the way they used to be, / I won’t tell no lie; / One and all have to face reality now. / ‘Though I’ve tried to find the answer to all the questions they ask. / ‘Though I know it’s impossible to go livin’ through the past— / Don’t tell no lie. / There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air— / Can’t keep them down— / If you listen carefully now you will hear. / There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air.—Bob Marley, “A Natural Mystic”

In criticism we strike for the truth of things, yet we must be cautious and embracing, especially for those who have been on the fence too long. Conmen and “con-plans” will ever be with us, like ants and roaches. In domestic policies that’s the road chosen by the adherents of Reaganomics or “voodoo economics.” In foreign policies that’s the road chosen by neo-conservatives who seek phantom evil in the world. But those of us who have invested in political reform of Jim Crow and reactionary foreign politics and desire a more perfect union within the global community should be applauded for taking stances to move the ball forward toward the human goals of unity and prosperity.

The wars in Africa (e.g., Libya and Ivory Coast) and the Middle East (e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan) are troubles we did not anticipate at the dawn of the 21st century. Nor did we expect a farther satanic coalescing of corporate and state power that would launch a full assault on the American working class. With the election of Barack Obama we did not expect to be expanding U.S. police powers around the globe. We did not expect Wisconsin to be spreading like wildfire across the nation with Republican governors banning government unions, cutting workers pension plans, reducing wages, and laying off government employees.  But that is where we are as 2012 approaches.

Boosting or toppling our moderate leaders will not get us any closer to expanding human freedom and moving toward Canaan, full employment, and a chicken in every pot. The aftermath of November 2010 has taught hundred of thousands, if not tens of millions, of workers and American citizens that Tea Party politics are seeking the ruin of the middle-classes whatever skin they may be in. I have more in mind the particular predicament that exists within our black communities, whose unemployment is at more than 15 percent, and who learned from Martin King that war exacerbates poverty. This national quandary came keenly into focus with the U.S.-led invasion and plans to topple Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, which revived perennial fractures among black citizens and their intellectual leaders on which way Black America should go in defense of its integrity and dignity.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson on MSNBC complained that Obama’s policy on regime change—the how to of removing Gaddafi who “terrorizes civilians”—has not regrettably been stated bluntly and transparently. This technocratic and/or stylistic criticism gathers patriotically both Democratic critics and Republican detractors who want to be on the right side of American history. Ishmael Reed, author of Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media, which contains 55 accomplishments of Mr. Obama, accuses Gaddafi of madness, and excuses the Obama Administration for waging war on a sovereign nation that was no threat to national security or interests. Yet Mr. Reed believes the hype that Mr. Gaddafi would have killed 700,000 Libyans. What then, he seems to ask, would have happened to our vaunted self-image of exceptionalism? Reed, however, is known as a inveterate mythmaker. On his three-hour C-Span Book World interview, he revealed he voted, however, for Cynthia McKinney in 2008.

Though Mr. Obama’s policies, both foreign and domestic, are, on the whole thus far, similar to his Republican predecessors, 81 percent of Republicans “fiercely oppose Obama,” according to a recent Quinnipac survey. Most Americans think he does not deserve to be re-elected in 2012. So if Mr. Obama and his handlers thought he could ingratiate himself into the good graces of independent and hard hat white America by showing his martial character against the Oriental tyrant Gaddafi, the polls do not bear out their political calculations. But most cynical Americans—of whatever skin color—are probably as pragmatic as the Obama Administration, and know the options are sparse. That poll, they note, does not place him against any Republican candidates. My forecast is that in 2012 many will vote for Mr. Obama though dissatisfied with his first term.

Poet blogger E Ethelbert Miller, a staunch Obama supporter, has stated as much: Obama will have his vote in 2012. His sentiments evidence a moderate mystical despair, “Voting for Obama might not improve things immediately but voting for the other party that in principal wants to privatize everything is just asking for misery—come Sunday we might need not one but two prayers.” Because he recognizes only a slight differentiation between the Democrats and Republicans, Miller’s brain is seized by perplexing questions on whether American governments will despite its march toward the right protect us from real flesh and bone bogeymen. His lack of faith in Obama black idolatry leads him nevertheless into spurious attacks on Black Power, “a murky intellectual ooze,” as a roadblock to Obama’s re-election, rather than real felt disappointments in America’s black communities caused by an impoverishing presidential governance.

With the “murky intellectual ooze” smirk, Mr. Miller seemingly references Molefi Kete Asante and his Afrocentricity International piece titled, “Africans Beware the Saviors of Libya”). But also Miller has in mind Amiri Baraka, author of Home: Social Essays, Blues People, and Dutchmen. Baraka wrote the poem “The New Invasion of Africa,” which has been broadly distributed.  A communist Pan-Aftricanist, Baraka still has considerable influence nation-wide among young blacks, as well as those who remain from the Black Power/Black Arts era. His black-fisted and caustic poem has spurred a green light for protests against the Obama Administration, whose covert and injurious acts are seen as a foreign reflection of political repression and exploitation domestically. Pan-Africanist demonstrations and conferences are springing up all over the country.

Mr. Baraka, however, has been silent since he issued his surprising poetic indictment of Mr. Obama, the presidential candidate he championed in 2008. That support evidenced in “The Parade of Anti Obama Rascals” and “Act Like We Know” “excoriated and defamed” black left critics, like Glenn Ford, editor of Black Agenda Report and Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party as “rascals” and “pipsqueak.” Ford is stunned by Baraka’s turnaround, and is unforgiving. These black expressions of discontent—from Eugene Robinson to Glen Ford—are internecine squabbling that will not curb the ongoing illegal and immoral acts of Western aggression against Africa.

Okay, even if the majority of black voters, along with liberal white and Hispanic voters, decide that Mr. Obama is the only option for 2012, then what? Do we continue to be Obama apologists for illegal and immoral behavior, and call each other disparaging racialized names and speak of “murky intellectual oozing” coming from Black Power advocates and Pan-Africanist intellectuals who have little or no power in dissuading the majority of black voters to stay away from the polls? Beyond skin and skin politics aren’t their righteous criticisms to be made regarding the kind of government we desire and demand for a more perfect union? Isn’t there a need to tax the super-rich? Where has Mr. Obama stood on this issue? Has he done all that he could in using his office as a bully pulpit? Will a second term be any different than the first term? Can the Democrats recapture the House even with white worker revolt in Midwestern states?

Several weeks ago, according to a NYTimes Report, Mr. Obama signed a finding to introduce CIA agents into Libya in support of the Bengazhi rebels who are slaughtering black Africans, and there are covert plans hinted at by Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton to arm the Bengazhi rebels? Is this any different from the Nicaragua fiasco instigated by President Reagan, in the so-called Iran-Contra conspiracy? We all roundly condemned that presidential behavior. Do we now use a double standard in assessing the presidential intrigue and deceit of Mr. Obama in violation of UNSC resolution 1973? I ask this especially of post-race Negroes like Eugene Robinson and E. Ethelbert Miller? Mr. Robinson has little consciousness in such matters; he is one of those technocrats concerned about costs and success of military missions. Buddhist influenced Mr. Miller, one suspects, might be a good deal more concerned about any acts of militarism. Does the Black Church where he advises us to say double prayers for Obama or brothers in the barbershop condone such political corruption and unethical imperial acts of war?

Do we really want to adopt Machiavelli machinations as a community standard? Can we justify this political behavior for our classrooms and streets? I in good conscious cannot justify such national intrigue, no more than I can a brainwash education for our children. I do not recommend at this moment black voters stay away from the polls or vote against Mr. Obama in 2012. But conmen and “con-plans,” wherever they are found, should be exposed. We otherwise encourage lawlessness and power arrogance on the streets as well as in high places. We must demand peace at home and abroad. War against American working classes and foreign regimes are troubles we can do without. We cannot allow martial expediency change us. Say something!

The Obama trick is to be all things to all people at once. Literarily such tricks have their place; politically, attempts to placate all and sundry can lead to defeat. So what was good as author and candidate has become a grievous Obama fault in making presidential decisions about life and death. He wants to be bi-partisan without first being partisan, say Cornel West . He wants to be a technocrat and manager without the self-sacrificing burdens of leadership. His White House setting has seemingly trapped and corrupted him. Unlike a piece of writing a political leader cannot always walk away, achieve artistic distance. In a way, battered on all sides, Mr. Obama has become a prisoner on reaching the heights of power, not so much of Madison and the Constitution, but rather of corporate circumstances and corrupt advisors. But these all were choices made. Sadly, Mr. Obama is no longer the free man who wrote those two heaven guided books. And because he is a prisoner, he has become a really dangerous man in sheep’s clothing.   Do you recall that scene in Lawrence of Arabia when Lawrence reports to his general what happened while among the Arabs in the Arabian desert? The British general offered him a promotion to Colonel. And Lawrence expresses a reserve about such additional responsibilities of power. He says to his general something like, I had to execute a man, Yes, says the general, that’s understandable. But says Lawrence, I discovered I enjoyed it. Lawrence was losing his naiveté, his innocence, and after he is whipped by a Turkish officer who admired the whiteness of his flesh, Lawrence sinks farther and completely into moral and ethical corruption. And when he arrives at that battle in which his Arab army far outnumbers the Turks, he cries, “Take no prisoners!”

Let us pray, such corruption and dire choices do not overtake Mr. Obama. We indeed should pray that our black president can gain some gumption and backbone to rally the nation for taxing the super-rich so that he may achieve the admiration of a nation wilting under the assault of Republican gall. The nation is in need of relief and a leader who can deliver the ethical goods. Is Obama the One is possibly the question that still needs to be asked by African Americans, and answered definitively.

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The myth of American exceptionalism’ implodes   /  The Man Made River—Libya

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Harlem Protest against Obama’s Wars—”There is no such thing as a ‘humanitarian” intervention, when it comes at the hands of the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” said Dr. Williams Sales, professor of Africana Studies at Seton Hall University, speaking at a rally organized by Harlem Fightback Against War at Home and Abroad.

“Do not drink the Kool-Aid” on Obama’s Libya policy.—Black Agenda Report

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Michael Eric Dyson: Obama isn’t Moses, he is Pharaoh  /  Power of Nightmares, (Part 1/3), “Baby it’s Cold Outside”

Power of Nightmares, (Part 2/3), “The Phantom Victory” Power of Nightmares, (Part 3/3), “The Shadows in the Cave”

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Cornel West and the fight against injustice  /  Cornel West Calls Out Barack Obama

US Senate discusses sending troops to Libya

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Africans Beware the Saviors of Libya  / US Senate discusses sending troops to Libya

  Libya, Africa, and the Victorians (Manheru)

Rehabilitating U.S. Military Intervention in the Age of Obama

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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

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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

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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 7 April 2010 




Home  Obama 2008 Table  Editor’s Page   The African World   Transitional Writings on Africa

Related files:  Obama, Political Cynicism, and the Tea Party   Obama’s Mojo Ain’t Working  Speech on Libya Situation   Gaddafi: A System of His Own   Libya Getting it Right: Pan-African   Libya Geopolitics  

Qaddafi Apologizes for Arab Slave Trade  Straying from official orthodoxy  Hunger for a Black President  Libya Needs Dialogue: Yoweri Museveni  White Cloud Storms Africa  Obama Bombs Africa: Targets African Unity 

The Wealth of the West  Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination 

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