Ignominious Surrender On The Mall

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The "One Nation" pep rally for Democrats wrapped itself in "movement" images and language, yet never spoke a word of Truth to Power. "Only by pretending that the Tea Party's legions are equivalent to the second coming of Genghis Khan, can Big Labor and Black Obamites justify their abject failure to fight for anything meaningful from Obama and the Democrats."n

Ignominious Surrender on the Mall

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The weekend bus outing bore no resemblance to a 'movement' of any kind that Chicago's Mayor Daley would not approve."

The Black misleadership class and their labor counterparts held a ceremony of surrender to the War Party and Wall Street, on the Washington Mall, this past weekend. After spending millions to assemble a multitude, Big Labor, the NAACP and the usual Black entertainers - Reverends Sharpton and Jesse Jackson - could not fix their trembling lips to utter one demand to the Power in the White House, whose disfavor they fear even more than they dread the white nationalist hordes of the Tea Party.

Despite the constant references to Dr. Martin Luther King and the 1963 March on Washington, the weekend bus outing bore no resemblance to a "movement" of any kind that Chicago's Mayor Daley would not approve. Rather than building a popular platform to give voice to substantive demands - that Obama cease acting as Wall Street's philanthropist, call a halt to his wars, and spend the peace dividend on jobs and education - the weak and timid misleaders instead used October 2nd to transmit Power's demands to the people. Vote for the Democrats! And under no circumstances, embarrass the White House! Then, after November 2, go home and await further orders.

The Black and labor misleaders have found that the best way to hide their own cowardice in the face of corporate power and its servants in the White House and Congress, is to vastly inflate the threat posed by the Tea Party. Indeed, the Tea Party has never had bigger boosters than the men and women on the microphone at the Mall on Saturday.  Only by pretending that the Tea Party's legions are equivalent to the second coming of Genghis Khan, can Big Labor and Black Obamites justify their abject failure to fight for anything meaningful from Obama and the Democrats.

"Big Labor, the NAACP and the usual Black entertainers - Reverends Sharpton and Jesse Jackson - could not fix their trembling lips to utter one demand to the Power in the White House."

The truth is, a real people's movement could defeat the phony Tea Party "movement" and put fear in the hearts of corporate Democrats, too. But Saturday's charade was no threat to anyone, and all but guarantees a further strengthening of the Right through a bolder Tea Party and ever growing corporate domination of the Democratic Party.

With all its ostentatious, nervous patriotism and silly yammering about how Saturday's crowd was just as "American," if not more so, than the Tea Party, the "One Nation" event felt, in some ways, like a throwback to the days when Negroes were obsessed with proving to whites that they were also true blue for Uncle Sam. Ironically, one of the oldest speakers provided the only dignity to the occasion. Eighty-three year-old Harry Belafonte, alone among the main speakers, confronted President Obama directly on his wars. The famed entertainer, who spent freely of his own money to fund the Black Freedom Movement when it really was a movement, hoped that America "will soon come to the realization that the wars that we wage today in faraway lands are immoral, unconscionable and unwinnable."

That's as close to speaking Truth to Power as Saturday's event got - except for those of us Lefties who went down to show that the movement was not yet dead. Unfortunately, our impact was minimal amid a sea of bodies bussed in with no mission other than to serve Barack Obama. 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 [email protected].



Dear Beverly,

The Harry Belafonte link in the story takes you to Democracy Now's transcript of Belafonte's speech. He said: "The President’s decision to escalate the war in that region alone costs the nation $33 billion. That sum of money could not only create 600,000 jobs here in America, but would even leave us a few billion to start rebuilding our schools, our roads, our hospitals and affordable housing. It could also help to rebuild the lives of the thousands of our returning wounded veterans"

I didn't use that quote because it required too much set-up time, and the radio pieces are only four minutes long.


fear mongering

Dems were always accusing Bush Crime family of fearmongering, now the Obama Crime family follows suit!   Thanks Glen for the cynical humor!  I really needed that chuckle.

A Narrow view

What difference does it make whether speakers mentioned Obama or not? That doesn't affect how militant the march was. They didn't mention JFK at the Washington March in 1963 either, and some questioned that march'es militancy as well.

The One Nation March had plenty of demands, such as relief for the unemployed, funding for education, reforming bankruptcy laws opposition to taxpayer bailouts of banks.

The march leaders did call for voting this November, to defeat the Tea Partiers, but they also called for continuing to organize after election day and holding the nations leaders accountable. A wide variety of leftwing groups including many peace groups were represented at the March and demanded the end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. http://www.onenationforpeace.org/2010/10/call-for-jobs-peace-justice-goe...

The March wasn't perfect, but it was a great step forward.
Here are two good articles I found on the march.


Rolling Stone gathers no credibility

In a shameful, fawning interview with our double talking, double-dealing President, the editor and publisher of THE ROLLING STONE, Jann S. Wenner, allows Obama to get away with such gems as, "We got this historic health care legislation that we've been trying to get for a hundred years, ..." and  "I ended one of those wars, ..."

He also let pass without challenge equally bogus claims about reforming education--when he's actually auctioning it off to privatizers,  that he's initiated serious financial reform, and that he's ended torture.  

If the President had added that his mother was a Virgin and that he walks on water, Wenner would have nodded in agreement.

What is it about this son of a bitch that melts the heart of serious journalists like Wenner and Playthell Benjamin?  Are they so relieved that an inhabitant of the White House can forge a grammatical sentence with no malapropisms that the truth of what he says is secondary?

In the same issue of the magazine, Matt Taibbi kicks ass in an article on the Tea Party.  I would have liked to see what a real journalist like Taibbi would have done in an interview with Obama. 

It wasn't 1 nation and it didn't work

Most of the people who littered the mall on 10/2/10 were union cadavers brought in on union buses.  It wasn't a confluence of concerned citizens; it was a Democrat/union fundraiser for the Society for the Prevention of Progress.  The unions are linked to the Democrat Party like ham & eggs and both groups couldn't care less that the urban poor are still living in projects and eating gub'ment cheese sandwiches as long as they complain on cue.


The Tea Party is NOT NOT NOT a white nationalist movement.  Any honest person with a computer can look up scores of ethnic Tea Partiers so the claim that the Tea Party fuels race hatred IS A LIE.  Freedom must be defended for the individual.  If we can't get freedom for the individual to speak, to worship, to gather or to defend himself, group freedom is just an illusion.  We in the Tea Party are fighting for REDUCED government, REDUCED federal spending and regulation and REVIVED individual freedom accompanied by individual responsibility.  We'd love to have you on board but won't wait for you to get a clue.  See you in November.

From “Tea and Crackers” by Matt Taibbi, ROLLING STONE, 10/15


“Beneath the surface, the Tea Party is little more than a weird and disorderly mob, a federation of distinct and often competing strains of conservatism that have been unable to coalesce around a leader of their own choosing. Its rallies include not only hardcore libertarians left over from the original Ron Paul "Tea Parties," but gun-rights advocates, fundamentalist Christians, pseudomilitia types like the Oath Keepers (a group of law- enforcement and military professionals who have vowed to disobey "unconstitutional" orders) and mainstream Republicans who have simply lost faith in their party.”


“The Tea Party doesn't really care about issues -- it's about something deep down and psychological, something that can't be answered by political compromise or fundamental changes in policy. At root, the Tea Party is nothing more than a them-versus-us thing. They know who they are, and they know who we are ("radical leftists" is the term they prefer), and they're coming for us on Election Day, no matter what we do . . .”


“A loose definition of the Tea Party might be millions of pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid by the handful of banks and investment firms who advertise on Fox and CNBC. ...

...Angry white voters hovering over their cash-stuffed mattresses with their kerosene lanterns, peering through the blinds at the oncoming hordes of suburban soccer moms they've mistaken for death-panel bureaucrats bent on exterminating anyone who isn't an illegal alien or a Kenyan anti-colonialist.”

No March

Harry Belafonte was worth the trip. Wendell Pierce quoting King "Let us be dissatisfied" made another speech which spoke truth.

Sadly, so many there had never "rallied" before.  The power of joining the throngs, hitting the pavement and voicing the outrage, never happened.  The march that was not a march left those of us who know that power dissatisfied, and those that had never known that power uninitiated.  Part and parcel of the plan.

I suppose, it was more of a

I suppose, it was more of a rally, then a march, but everyone walked to Washington D.C. from across the country and to the Lincoln Memorial. It was a very important event for Progressives, and I will try to take part in future events in my area.

Forgot to Mention one thing

Glen Ford forgets to sufficiently mention one thing: the disgraceful, fawning role of the great majority of the organized left. I haven't read Ford's articles in awhile, but I was inspired to read this one after I read an article by one of these lefts which castigated Ford's piece. The article castigates Ford for a “divisive message serves as an obstacle to approach the elected trade union leadership or any section of it…. Most importantly, we need to respect those (i.e. the “progressive" wing of the union officialdom) whom we hope to engage.” By "respect" this writer means in reality fail to clearly criticize and offer an alternative to. These lefts are more concerned with their friendly relationship with the "progressive" wing of the union officialdom than they are with building a real rank-and-file opposition within the unions. As a result, they cut themselves off from that rank and file. I know; I was a member of the rank and file of the carpenters union for 30 years... until I was expelled for leading a mass wildcat strike. I've seen them all in action.

Being one myself, I am of course not against socialists; I just hate to see so many of them leave their real, concrete socialist principles at the door the minute they walk into a room with the union officialdom - that is, if "principles" has any meaning in the here and now.

Congratulations, Glen, for your sharp analysis. I feel the only thing missing is a little more on the alternative. The time is ripe and overripe for the organizing of some genuine, independent workers' candidates, leading to the building of a mass workers' political party. This is what those organizers of the rally avoided like the plague, and all too many of the left groups let them get away with it.