ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



The Korean War provoked an American psychosis which has persisted to this day:

it is that the US is threatened by any movement which it does not control

and by any nationalism which is not based on the US pattern


Book by John Maxwell

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

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Beyond the Law . . .

By John Maxwell


Some of the more thoughtful US media are now reflecting on why the United States is not as popular abroad as they think it should be. For some of these media, the major worry is France, the oldest ally of the United States and since the Iraq crisis, one of its most derided and reviled. According to Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, France is now the ‘enemy’.

Part of the problem is that the Americans do not realise that the French attitude to the United States is  part of a much more general worldwide aversion to modern United States policies and not simply, as some would have it, a lust for equal billing on the world stage. It is also not directed at the American people as a whole.

Another part of the problem, of course, is that the United States government  makes no bones about the fact that it has no friends, as Kissinger said, only interests. If you treat others as simply pawns to be summoned when you are in need, you are likely to find that they don’t come when called. Few of us relish being treated like pet dogs.

To move, as Bush did on Friday, to punish an entire nation – Cuba – to secure some more  votes in Florida, demonstrates just  how unprincipled the present directors of US policy have become. The Valerie Plame affair is another example

The Korean War provoked an American psychosis which has persisted to this day: it is that the US is threatened by any movement which it does not control and by any nationalism which is not based on the US pattern. During the Cold War it was communism which was the great danger, now it is terrorism an abstraction with roots in the reality of  inequity, poverty and squalor. No one appears to understand that while the US is admired for its wealth and technological superiority. 

Many peoples believe that they were exploited in the process of the US achieving its present overlord position. People do not dislike Americans so much as they resent the US government’s  tendency, mirrored by its press, to treat everyone else as expendable. The President of Harvard , Lawrence Summers made the feeling explicit in a notorious memorandum  several years ago in which he recommended the export of toxic wastes and pollutants  to the Third World because the lives of people like us  were  so much less valuable than American lives.

This tendency is explicitly reflected in a document prepared by the right-wing think-tank which calls itself the Project for the New American Century  – PNAC. Among those associated with this rat’s nest of reaction are such Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and dozens of other cronies and advisers to the President and his administration.

Targeting Genotypes

In one of the PNAC seminal documents “Rebuilding America’s Defences,” the writers explicitly reject the idea of a peaceful, cooperative,  multi-polar world: The document suggests that US military intervention in many regions of the world will be required for the foreseeable future. Defense of the homeland is the first aim of the new policy,  intimately connected with the major aims of the military which are to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars” wherever required – and to “perform the ‘constabulary’ duties associated with shaping the security environment of critical regions.”

The explicit end of all this is  that the United States will not tolerate the emergence of any power likely to be able to begin to  threaten US dominance at any time  in the future and effectively extends “America’s” boundaries to the very ends of the earth.

But the most sinister aspect of this document, and one which has  so far attracted no real attention, is the aim that the US should dominate all areas of the art of making war, particularly “the world of microbes . . . advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes [and] may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool”

What this passage says, quite explicitly, is that at some time, perhaps quite soon, the United States will not only be waging pre-emptive war against nations, but against racial sub-types – blacks, Native Americans, the Chinese, Arabs and so on.

Not to put too fine a point on it, this is an American version of  Hitler’s Final Solution. It serves notice on any non-chosen peoples that they are expendable, that they are surplus to requirements. “The Bell Curve” suggested that soon the cognitive elite would live in monstrous, affluent,  gated communities surrounded by the suppressed, pullulating lesser breeds. The Wolfowitz cohort goes further. They  simply intend to exterminate the lesser breeds when the moment is opportune.

Nuking Colin Powell

It should therefore come as no surprise that  within the past few days the leader of the Christian Right, the Rev. Pat Robertson, ha endorsed  the idea of exploding  a nuclear device on the  US State Department.

Robertson was talking on his radio show with   writer Joel Mowbray, whose most recent book accuses the State Department of endangering the security of the United States by all sorts of sophisticated treacheries.

This, of course, is a part of the psychosis left over from Korea, when Henry Luce, founder of TIME magazine and General McCormick, owner of the Chicago Tribune, were at war with the Democratic party for failing to “seize” victory in China (1945) and Korea (1950). It was all part of a huge betrayal by  effete Eastern  Liberal types who have now morphed  from being nigger-lovers to actually  being niggers in some cases. What fate Dr Robertson has in store for Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, is anyone’s guess.

The targeting of genotypes should not surprise us if we remember the 2000 election campaign, when Mr. Bush, the Republican candidate sought the endorsement of Bob Jones and his University, where blacks and whites were forbidden to fraternise. That Bush visit was a signal to the Republican faithful that nothing had really changed  They would talk tolerance but not practice it. Mr. Cheney’s masochistic pre-occupation with Civil War battlefields is another symptom of the same tendency..

Underneath all the talk about compassionate conservatism there has always been the visceral, subliminal ethnic text of hostility to non-whites, expressed in Bush senior’s advertisement featuring  Willie Horton and Bush junior’s friend of the court brief against affirmative action. The transfer of wealth from poor to rich makes blacks the first casualties of conservative compassion. Bush’s attitude to the UN Global anti-AIDS campaign is just another part of the jigsaw.

Beyond the Law

Scott McClellan is the White House Press secretary. This week, he was asked by the press about the criticism by the International Red Cross of conditions of prisoners at Guantanamo By’s Camp Delta Here is what he said: 

Let’s remember these individuals are enemy combatants, these individuals are terrorists or supporters of terrorism and we are at war on terrorism, and the reasons for detaining enemy combatants in the first place during a war is to get our intelligence and make sure these enemy combatants don’t return to help our enemies plot attacks or carry out attacks on the United States.

It is quite clear: “enemy combatants” are not human beings entitled to  justice or any of the basic human rights supposedly guaranteed by the US Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) normally does not go public, does not speak to the press, but on Friday, Christopher Girod, the  top official of the organisation in the USA  told the New York Times that the conditions under which the US was holding more than 600 detainees in Guantanamo Bay were unacceptable as it put the detainees “beyond the law.” 

The detainees were being held incommunicado, in indefinite detention without having been charged with any crime, without having been tried or brought before any court of law. Twenty-one detainees have made 32 suicide attempts in  the past 18 months and Girod said the open-endedness of the situation and its impact on the mental health of the population ha become a major problem.

Girod said it was intolerable that the centre was being used as an interrogation centre, where the detainees had no idea what was going to happen to them.

In relation to this matter, I believe that the Muslim chaplain arrested some weeks ago is probably guilty – of compassion.

Meanwhile, another group of Americans, who I think represent the real America, filed friends of court briefs in the US Supreme Court   in the cases of 16 detainees who are challenging the unjust and barbaric system. The brief was filed by 19 former diplomats including two former assistant Secretaries  of State. 

“Our most important  diplomatic asset has been this nation’s values,” they pointed out in their brief. Three retired US flag officers, two admirals and a general filed another brief pointing out that ignoring the Geneva Conventions in Guantanamo will give other nations the excuse to treat captured Americans in the same way.

The most salient  characteristic  of the cabal now in possession of the White House has been its ignorance of history and the US constitution. They talk about the role that history has presented to them, while steadfastly ignoring the Bill of Rights which has inspired so many other people fighting for freedom over the two centuries since the US liberated itself from Britain.

What is so amazing about these supermen-come-lately is their astonishing arrogance combined with a pervading ignorance  not only of their own history but a total disregard for other cultures,  history and politics.

When Rumsfeld sneered at “Old Europe” he was expressing the ignorant rudeness of the nouveau riche, entirely unaware that life is more complicated than bank accounts and armies.  At the age of 70, he may even now be learning better. When Cheney arrogantly persisted on Friday, in lying about Saddam Hussein’s “ties to terror,” he appeared confident that in his version of reality, the press would protect him from the truth and the consequences of what Jamaicans would call his “buttooism.”

Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and company have all sorts of academic degrees and large amounts of wealth between them.  They imagine that the world takes them seriously despite their lack of respect for the rest of us, and that we are afraid of them. After all, they have nukes and chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction at their command.

In this, they are even more prideful and bombastic than Mrs. Thatcher and her Conservatives.

Remember them?

Copyright ©2003 John Maxwell    photo above: Mrs. Glynn Manley  waits to have her books autographed by John Maxwell

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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A Wreath for Emmett Till

By Marilyn Nelson; Illustrated by Philippe Lardy

This memorial to the lynched teen is in the Homeric tradition of poet-as-historian. It is a heroic crown of sonnets in Petrarchan rhyme scheme and, as such, is quite formal not only in form but in language. There are 15 poems in the cycle, the last line of one being the first line of the next, and each of the first lines makes up the entirety of the 15th. This chosen formality brings distance and reflection to readers, but also calls attention to the horrifically ugly events. The language is highly figurative in one sonnet, cruelly graphic in the next. The illustrations echo the representative nature of the poetry, using images from nature and taking advantage of the emotional quality of color. There is an introduction by the author, a page about Emmett Till, and literary and poetical footnotes to the sonnets. The artist also gives detailed reasoning behind his choices. This underpinning information makes this a full experience, eminently teachable from several aspects, including historical and literary—School Library Journal

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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

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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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update 14 January 2012




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