Archive for April 2011
From Black Agenda Report: Lynch Law and Summary Executions in Rebel-Held Libya
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“The world’s most imperial-dependent, ill-disciplined and whining ‘liberation movement’ is still blaming black ‘mercenaries’ and soldiers from Chad for its failures in the field.” Chad, meanwhile, has officially asked the “international coalition” to protect its civilians from the rebels, who have executed “dozens” of Chadian migrant workers. In rebel-held Libya, black Africans and Gaddafi supporters are the people in need of protection.
Lynch Law and Summary Executions in Rebel-Held Libya
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“Dozens of Chadians have been ‘singled out’ and ‘executed,’ falsely accused of acting as mercenaries for Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, according to Chad.”
The African nation of Chad has called on Libya’s Euro-American “humanitarian” overseers to protect Chadian citizens from lynching at the hands of rebels backed by the West. The government in N’Djamena, which certainly has no interest in antagonizing the Euro-American juggernaut that has assumed a “responsibility to protect” whomever it designates as “civilians” in the territory of its northern neighbor, issued a formal request for “international coalition forces involved in Libya and international human rights organizations to stop these abuses against Chadians and other migrant Africa workers.” Dozens of Chadians have been “singled out” and “executed,” falsely accused of acting as mercenaries for Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, according to Chad, 300,000 of whose citizens were among the 1.5 million black African migrant laborers in Libya at the time of the February revolt.
Numerous reports from migrant workers who escaped from rebel-held areas indicate hundreds of black Africans have been lynched, including black Libyan citizens. (See “Race and Arab Nationalism in Libya,” BAR, March 9.) A Turkish oil worker related an especially horrific account to NPR: “We left behind our friends from Chad. We left behind their bodies,” he said. “We had 70 or 80 people from Chad working for our company. They cut them dead with pruning shears and axes, attacking them, saying you’re providing troops for Gadhafi. The Sudanese, the Chadians were massacred. We saw it ourselves.”
“Western media have lent sympathetic ears to rebel claims that assaults by Gaddafi’s black ‘mercenaries’ drove ‘the people’ to commit ‘excesses.’”
Although many western journalists have been all but embedded with the rebels for many weeks, until recently there has been precious little high profile corporate media reporting on the political complexion of Gaddafi’s armed opposition, atrocities against black Africans, or summary executions of prisoners, which are war crimes under international law. Western media have lent sympathetic ears to rebel claims that assaults by Gaddafi’s black “mercenaries” drove “the people” to commit “excesses.”
As usual, it is only after the U.S. government has embarked irrevocably on the warpath that corporate media reveal the flaws in the rationale. In the April 3 New York Times Sunday Magazine, reporter Robert F. Worth passes on the rebel’s version of one of their first confrontations with “mercenaries” in Benghazi:
“The next day, the protests resumed and grew more violent as the first groups of mercenaries appeared, in yellow construction hats, to fight the protesters. Some were Africans; some appeared to be foreign workers, including Bangladeshis and Chinese. Many were not mercenaries at all, but dark-skinned men from southern Libya or hapless African migrants in search of work. Some of the ones I talked to, in makeshift rebel prisons, said they had been tricked with promises of jobs and never paid at all.”
What is obvious from the account, is that the anti-Gaddafi crowd (mob) encountered polyglot groups of yellow-hatted foreign construction laborers (total foreign workers in Libya numbered over 3 million) in their march through Benghazi, and assaulted them, with black Africans receiving especially brutal attention.
“They wanted to kill the black soldier.”
The April 1 edition of Britain’s Globe and Mail reports on a “bitter struggle” among the rebels on “how to contain the anger unleashed after decades of oppression.” Translation: How to stop the summary executions of captured, or reputed, Gaddafi supporters – especially the black ones.
“Rebels have frequently treated dark-skinned prisoners more harshly than men of Arab ancestry,” Graeme Smith reported:
“That distinction was made brutally obvious to doctors at the intensive care unit of Al Bayda’s main hospital on Feb. 17 when they admitted two men – one black, the other with the local olive-skinned complexion – who stood accused of fighting the rebels. A crowd gathered outside the hospital, calling for blood. Some armed rebels pushed their way into the ward.
“’They had guns and knives,’ said Mahmoud Anass, 27, a resident on duty that night. ‘It was really scary. They wanted to kill the black soldier.’
“Doctors managed to hold off the enraged youths until a few hours after midnight, when the rebels dragged the two patients into the street.
“’An old man tried to stop them,’ said Faraj Khalifa, a doctor. ‘He said our religion does not permit the killing of unarmed men. But the youths were very, very angry. They hanged the black man in front of the hospital.’
“The patient with lighter skin was beaten, shot, and returned to the emergency room, Dr. Khalifa said.”
“Racism against black Africans, including black Libyans, appears endemic in eastern Libya.”
Here we have both a war crime and a racial hate crime – a microcosm of the mob rule that has swept regions of rebel control. As the Globe and Mail wrote: “Paranoia about mercenaries remains strong among the rebels, despite assurances from human-rights groups that most of the fighters among the pro-Gadhafi forces are Libyan citizens.”
More accurately, racism against black Africans, including black Libyans, appears endemic in eastern Libya.
The same article shows convincingly that rebels executed more than a dozen captured government soldiers at the town of Darna early in the rebellion, then buried their bodies at a crossroads next to a wall on which it is written, “killed by Gadhafi.”
It is likely that scores of soldiers whose bodies were found in a Benghazi barracks, burned beyond recognition, met the same fate. Rebels initially claimed the men were killed by Gaddafi officers for refusing to fight their own people.
The Super-Powered ‘Revolution’
The world’s most imperial-dependent, ill-disciplined and whining “liberation movement” is still blaming black “mercenaries” and soldiers from Chad for its failures in the field – that is, when they aren’t crying about not having a 24/7 umbrella of full-spectrum American dominance of the skies. On March 31, the Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) – half of whose members remain “secret” and many of whom may now be mere fronts – claimed that a unit of 3,600 Chadian troops have killed and wounded thousands of rebels since hostilities began. This phantom Chadian army, fighting more than a thousand miles from its impoverished homeland and supply lines, was supposedly to blame for the rebels’ military setbacks around the city of Brega, according to ITNC spokesman Ahmed Bani – evidence that “paranoia” about black enemies of the Libyan “revolution” is not limited to the mob.
The rebels are in fact stymied by the Americans, who show their Libyan dependents who is boss by periodically withdrawing the protection of U.S. airborne kill-at-will systems. President Obama signaled loud and clear that the council in Benghazi will not rule the country, when he intoned, from Chile, that “forty years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions. The transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people will be a difficult task.” That’s U.S. Imperial-Speak for: We will run the country for you, until you are ready to stand on your own, traumatized feet. Like Haiti.
“The Americans show their Libyan dependents who is boss by periodically withdrawing the protection of U.S. airborne kill-at-will systems.”
The U.S. is attempting to regain its regional balance as the winds of the Reawakening whip the Arab world. Washington has seized the opportunity in Libya to appear as an uber-protector of emerging forces for change, while positioning itself to quash any substantive threat to imperial interests. As added bonuses, the largest oil reserves in Africa are to be pillaged by multinationals, and the U.S. military can envision a huge new arena for AFRICOM, much larger than the U.S. facility in tiny Djibouti, on eastern coast.
The militant Islamist presence among the rebels will be worked to U.S. advantage, an embedded rationale to bring Libya wholly and permanently into the War on Terror theater of operations. Should an “insurgency” erupt with the fall of Gaddafi, all the better for a U.S. war machine that runs on bogeymen.
But, don’t be overly shocked and awed by the ferocity of the Euro-American counter-offensive. Arab nationalism, in its many manifestations, represents an existential threat to imperial survival. After generations of suppression of the Left in Arab lands, nationalism (and anti-imperialism) now often finds its expression from the Right, in religious form and language. Nevertheless, all nationalisms among subject peoples are ultimately antithetical to imperial rule.
Racism is often a strong component of particular nationalisms. (White American nationalism is a dramatic example.) Arab Muslim identity in the North African Maghreb, for some, is defined in opposition to darker, “Africans,” whether they are Muslim or not. Without doubt, this strain of racism is a huge barrier to South-North Pan-Africanism, and useful to the Euro-Americans. But, even nationalists who are afflicted with racism will fight to control their own land and resources – which is U.S. imperialism’s fundamental – and insoluble — problem.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Obama’s 5th Column Crumbles
Exclusive: Cornel West and other such political opportunists
“Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward all research.”—Malcolm X [el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz]
“Beware of the naked man who offers you clothes.”—African Proverb
The most insidiously dangerous of all systemic gatekeepers are those who masquerade as progressives or so-called leftists but who in reality act as the fifth column for the maintenance of U.S. Empire abroad and internal repression at home.
Perhaps the most egregious example of this can be found in those alleged ‘progressive’ members of the Black and White ‘intelligentsia’ who urged the struggling, everyday, Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people of this nation to support the 2008 then U.S. presidential candidacy of the corporate-backed, war mongering, silver tongued Barack Obama.
Thanks in no small measure to support from black systemic gatekeepers such as Cornel West, Amiri Baraka (aka Leroi Jones), Al Sharpton, and Henry Louis Gates, et al; Barack Obama became and was installed as the 44th president of the United States—the first nominally-black head of the U.S. Empire. It is now the year 2011, and the poor and disenfrachised people of all colors in this nation are suffering increased economic austerity, massive joblessness and home foreclosures, the largest incarceration rate in the world, a de facto police state, an extension and expansion of the unconstitutional ‘PATRIOT Act,’ a continuation of the outrageous ‘extraordinary rendition’ program, the continuance of the U.S. gulag at Guantanamo, and last but by no means least, the bloody U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and now north Africa.
The above-mentioned systemic gatekeeping opportunists knew full well by the middle of the year 2008, that Barack Obama was the darling of the blood sucking U.S. corporate/military elite. Nevertheless, they supported him and urged others to do so. They shamelessly urged that Obama be supported whether “critically” or otherwise. Thus, these systemic gatekeepers did all in their power to neutralize, ignore, marginalize, or stifle those, including Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon, The Black Commentator’s Larry Pinkney and Dr. Lenore Jean Daniels, and former U.S. Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney and her running mate Rosa Clemente etc., who for at least four years now, have been repeatedly disseminating the clarion call as to the enormous systemic dangers of supporting the corporate groomed and backed Barack Obama. On the other hand, the systemic political opportunists, and most particularly those of the Black and White intelligentsia masquerading as ‘progressives,’ were well aware of the fact they were urging everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in this nation to go against their own interests and court economic and political disaster in the person of Barack Obama.
Article continues at following link:
Awakening From Obama’s Seductive Spell
by Gary Olson
President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, expected to cost more than $1 billion, is underway. Given incumbency and likely opponents, he’ll probably win. Of course ZNet readers understand that won’t make a whit of difference for most Americans. But if you know someone still slumbering in an Obamamania-induced trance, I have a guaranteed spell breaker. Paul Street’s book, The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010, paperback) demolishes any remaining misapprehension that Obama is anything other than a Wall Street/military-friendly, seductive-sounding servant of concentrated wealth and power. I assigned it as a text this term in my course “U.S. Workers in the Global Economy” and for many students it was a game changer.
This week, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman expressed deep disappointment in the president and asserted that “Mr. Obama is still clearly clinging to his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend America’s partisan differences” (April 11, 2011). Perhaps, but given the facts, Obama’s record as president shouldn’t come as a surprise: Recycling discredited economic advisors like Rubin and Geithner, rescuing ruthless Wall Street speculators, extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the super-rich, abandoning his healthcare “public option” and quickly selling out to private insurers, going back on his pledge to close GITMO, maintaining 50,000 troops in Iraq while substituting mercenaries for others, a pitifully inadequate stimulus package, doing virtually nothing about the real unemployment rate of 18 percent and shrinking paychecks, a record-setting Pentagon budget, pushing anti-labor trade deals, reneging on his campaign promise to reform management-friendly labor laws and reducing payments to social security. Finally, in Obama’s Vietnam, the disastrous and immoral Afghanistan War which costs taxpayers $2 billion per month, 98,000 U.S. troops remain on the ground. In 2010 alone, 499 U.S. soldiers died there and 440 Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. led forces. Last year, U.S. troops in Afghanistan suffered a tripling of amputations of more than one limb. And this is only a short list from Obama’s first term which feels more like Bush’s third term.
More of Obama’s true colors emerged when he refused to utter a word of solidarity with besieged public workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere. This is the same person who, while campaigning in 2007, eloquently proclaimed “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collective bargaining when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself and I’ll walk the picket line with you as President of the United States of America because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.” And only a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations could contribute unlimited funds to politicians, Obama named Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, notorious for exporting job and tax avoidance, as his “jobs czar.”
However, contrary to complaints from a few disgruntled liberals, Obama isn’t a morally compromised, spineless individual, betraying his most cherished ideals. Quite the contrary, Street documents via exhaustive examples that Obama has been consistently to the right of center throughout his public career and is doing what he was groomed to do. It was the combination of a brilliant marketing strategy, beguiling rhetoric, and something approaching a cult of personality that put him over the top in 2008.
Article continues at following link:
The President Is Missing
by Paul Krugman
What have they done with President Obama? What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?
I realize that with hostile Republicans controlling the House, there’s not much Mr. Obama can get done in the way of concrete policy. Arguably, all he has left is the bully pulpit. But he isn’t even using that — or, rather, he’s using it to reinforce his enemies’ narrative.
His remarks after last week’s budget deal were a case in point.
Maybe that terrible deal, in which Republicans ended up getting more than their opening bid, was the best he could achieve — although it looks from here as if the president’s idea of how to bargain is to start by negotiating with himself, making pre-emptive concessions, then pursue a second round of negotiation with the G.O.P., leading to further concessions.
And bear in mind that this was just the first of several chances for Republicans to hold the budget hostage and threaten a government shutdown; by caving in so completely on the first round, Mr. Obama set a baseline for even bigger concessions over the next few months.
But let’s give the president the benefit of the doubt, and suppose that $38 billion in spending cuts — and a much larger cut relative to his own budget proposals — was the best deal available. Even so, did Mr. Obama have to celebrate his defeat? Did he have to praise Congress for enacting “the largest annual spending cut in our history,” as if shortsighted budget cuts in the face of high unemployment — cuts that will slow growth and increase unemployment — are actually a good idea?
Among other things, the latest budget deal more than wipes out any positive economic effects of the big prize Mr. Obama supposedly won from last December’s deal, a temporary extension of his 2009 tax cuts for working Americans. And the price of that deal, let’s remember, was a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, at an immediate cost of $363 billion, and a potential cost that’s much larger — because it’s now looking increasingly likely that those irresponsible tax cuts will be made permanent.
More broadly, Mr. Obama is conspicuously failing to mount any kind of challenge to the philosophy now dominating Washington discussion — a philosophy that says the poor must accept big cuts in Medicaid and food stamps; the middle class must accept big cuts in Medicare (actually a dismantling of the whole program); and corporations and the rich must accept big cuts in the taxes they have to pay. Shared sacrifice!
I’m not exaggerating. The House budget proposal that was unveiled last week — and was praised as “bold” and “serious” by all of Washington’s Very Serious People — includes savage cuts in Medicaid and other programs that help the neediest, which would among other things deprive 34 million Americans of health insurance. It includes a plan to privatize and defund Medicare that would leave many if not most seniors unable to afford health care. And it includes a plan to sharply cut taxes on corporations and to bring the tax rate on high earners down to its lowest level since 1931.
Article continues at following link:
In President Obama, Republicans find a patsy
while progressives get man who wasn’t there
Shades of the beginning of the health care reform debate, when Obama kicked off the proceedings by taking a single-payer approach off the table and making it clear he wasn’t that enthused about a public option.Just like that, Obama gave away his bargaining chips. No need for anyone to get huffy because he was going to be oh so reasonable.That’s why 2010 will be forever remembered as the year Obama bound up the nation’s partisan wounds and beat Republicans’ swords into plowshares to be used in a cooperative, fruitful quest for health care reform everyone could support and feel good about.
In fact, what we’ve been able to do is to present to the House Republicans a budget framework that would cut the same amount of spending as Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers originally proposed — their original proposal for how much would be cut.
And several weeks ago, there were discussions between the White House and Speaker Boehner’s office in which we said, let’s start negotiating off of that number, $73 billion. We are now closer than we have ever been to getting an agreement. There’s no reason why we should not get an agreement. As I said before, we have now matched the number that the Speaker originally sought.
Only in Obama’s sappy, pushover dreams.
Ever the ones to bargain in bad faith and move the goal post once their demands are met, Republicans suddenly decided if Obama would so easily cave to $33 billion in 2011 domestic spending cuts, he could be made to cave for $40 billion.
If Obama had a clue about economics and good economic advisors giving him sound pointers, he’d have started out fighting tooth and nail against anycuts to the 12 percent of the budget mostly allotted to helping children, the elderly and needy of all ages. If Obama had a clue, he would’ve insisted that while the economy still needs stimulus spending to promote job creation, and while the states are shredding their safety nets, he’d tolerate no cuts to the 2011 budget.And, if Obama had the courage of any Democratic political convictions, he would’ve been the one to become more hostile, more demanding and more uncompromising.An Obama demonstrating that kind of unbending resolve, that willingness to stand behind and fight for what’s right, is the one we thought were voting for in 2008. It’s the one we’ve needed along.
Faced with mounting “tea party” resistance, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has rejected the reductions as inadequate and called the Democrats’ proposal “smoke and mirrors.”
According to a senior administration official, Boehner said at the White House meeting that he wanted what amounted to $40 billion in cuts.
That surprised White House aides, who believed Boehner had accepted the $33-billion number, at least if details could be hammered out.
Sadly, maddeningly, that kind of Obama is the man who wasn’t there.
|From Asia Times:
Amiri Baraka and Barack Obama – Then and Now
By Glen Ford
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Black poet-author-activist Amiri Baraka has turned his pen on Barack Obama, a man he defended like a pit bull as recently as…it seems like yesterday. “Baraka kept up the abusive barrage against anti-Obama ‘rascals’ of the left, right up to the president’s assault on Libya.” But, a change of heart is not sufficient. Baraka and a bunch of other ex-Obamites need to practice some serious and public self-criticism.
“All of a sudden, Obama was ‘a negro selling his own folk, delivering us to slavery.’”
It took a savage assault on Libya by America’s First Black President and his European colonial allies – but Amiri Baraka seems to have finally given up on Barack Obama. Sorry, but I’m not one of those who is ready to say: All is forgiven, Brother Baraka. Because, although he has given Obama a tongue-lashing, in his inimitable, slashing and gutting style in the poem “The New Invasion of Africa ,” Amiri Baraka has neglected to criticize himself for serving as a Left attack dog for Obama for more than three years. During that time, Amiri Baraka excoriated and defamed  Obama’s “Black and progressive critics” as “anarchists,” “criminal” and whatever other insults traveled from his mind to his mouth. He said that it “is criminal for these people claiming to be radical or intellectual to oppose or refuse to support Obama.” That was back in June, 2008. He called Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney a “pipsqueak” and disparaged as “rascals” all Blacks who did not swear fidelity to the Obama campaign. “We should be supportive of what Obama is trying to do,” said Baraka. “We should spend our energy opposing the far right and the Republicans.” Obama was not to be challenged. Instead, Baraka declared , “It is time for the left to really make some kind of Left Bloc to support Obama.”
Thus, Amiri Baraka was among those who proposed to create a left flank for Obama, in order to shut down left criticism of Obama. The theory was that Obama would help the left if the left helped him become president, with no questions asked. Which is really too stupid to be called a “strategy” – as history was very quick to demonstrate.
“Baraka excoriated and defamed Obama’s ‘Black and progressive critics’ as ‘anarchists,’ ‘criminal’ and whatever other insults traveled from his mind to his mouth.”
Amiri Baraka kept up the abusive barrage against anti-Obama “rascals” of the left, right up to the president’s assault on Libya. Then, all of a sudden, Obama was “the negro yapping” to make imperial aggression “seem right” – “a negro selling his own folk, delivering us to slavery.”
Some of us who have been wise to corporate, center-right Obama for going on eight years consider Baraka’s recent epiphany to have come far too late for redemption. Others say, better late than never. But surely, his new position is incomplete without an explanation and recantation of his politics of the last three years.
Bill Fletcher is an even worse case. Fletcher was a founder of Progressives for Obama, with the same idea as Amiri Baraka: to shut down Obama critics on the left. But, you wouldn’t know that to hear him now. Fletcher claims the left’s mistake was not making demands on Obama from the beginning – without acknowledging his own role in preventing any such thing from happening.
New Black Panther Party leader Malik Zulu Shabazz, who put up a spirited, although weak, defense of Obama at one of our Great Debates  in Harlem, right after the election, now shouts that Obama “represents the White Man” and that his wife ought to leave him .
And there are plenty of others, too many others, who used whatever influence they had to ensure that Obama was not challenged from Blacks and progressives in 2008 and the two dismal years that followed. Failure to provide a genuine self-criticism reflects not only on their judgment – which is already discredited – but on their character. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com .
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com .
By HERB BOYD and CURTIS SIMMONS
Amsterdam News Staff
Published: Thursday, March 31, 2011 12:04 AM EDT
After more than two years in office, the first president of African descent finally made his way to the historic cultural and intellectual center of Black America, Harlem.
And for many in the Harlem community, his visit was nothing short of a big letdown.
The president made two stops: at Harlem’s new “it” spot the Red Rooster (a restaurant), and at the always tony Studio Museum of Harlem (the place that is the beneficiary of a favorite charity soirée of the up-and-coming and arrived Black professional class of New York City).
But the DNC events in Harlem saw few Black professionals or members of the Harlem establishment at last night’s events. While Harlem’s Black politicos were well represented at the Studio Museum, and the president gave shout-outs to Rangel, Dinkins, Perkins, Wright and Dickens, a casual scan of the audience showed that between 80 and 85 percent of the audience was neither African-American nor Latino, the core of the Harlem community.
“I was thinking we would see more of the community and community leaders,” said State Sen. Bill Perkins. “These seem to be the early money people, the financial supporters,” he said.
Earlier in the evening some 50 people (one observer estimated there were four of five Black guests) forked over $30,800 apiece to attend the Democratic National Committee’s fundraiser at the Red Rooster. A block away, more than 200 demonstrators braved an icy windchill factor, many of them unemployed or barely earning in a year the amount requested for one night in Obama’s Harlem venture.
“War is real. This is our wakeup call,” charged longtime activist Nellie Bailey, who is steadfastly opposed to gentrification in Harlem and Obama’s intervention in Libya. “We want money—not for war, but for our children, our seniors here at home.”
Bailey cited that Obama had given $60 million to educator Geoffrey Canada to build a charter school in the middle of the St. Nicholas Houses as part of a $100 million development project. “Sixty million dollars when our public schools have no materials, no supplies,” she said.
“They have instituted a no-fly zone, but the [NATO coalition] continues to run interference for one side,” said Professor Bill Sales, referring to the military intervention in Libya that has nullified Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi’s warplanes and his air defense and severely hampered his ground forces. “And we know that NATO and the U.S. are inseparable.”
Dr. Sales said, “We must hold Obama accountable,” and this was the message he concluded with as he handed the bullhorn to City Councilman Charles Barron.
“Obama is wrong…U.S out of Libya,” Barron chanted, and the crowd joined him for several minutes as huge dumptrucks positioned themselves along 125th Street where vendors are normally stationed. “We did not elect Obama for him to bomb Africa. We elected him to stand up like a man against the forces of imperialism.”
Barron was also concerned about the rebels in Libya, mindful of the machinations of the U.S. State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA. “Even the African Union advised Obama to get out of Libya,” Barron continued. He was adamantly opposed to AFRICOM, which is essentially a combination of the CIA, the Defense Department and the Pentagon in Africa. On its website there is a plethora of information about Africa, particularly on Libya.
Willie Jones, who came all the way from Brooklyn to see what was happening, was also disappointed. “I think it’s an insult to our community and its people to have an event here and charge such a huge amount of money to attend. When is Obama going to walk the streets here and greet the people like he does at other places? It’s a shame, and that’s all I got to say.”
Jones’s friend, who didn’t want her name mentioned, agreed. “I do believe Barack has lost his mind,” she said, pulling Jones to move on.
Perkins put into context how many long-term community folks see both the Studio Museum and newcomer Red Rooster as venues. “These spaces are not exposed to the people of Harlem,” he said. “They are spooky for people concerned about gentrification,” he said.