Doing Us Proud: Black America Has Lost Its Moral Compass
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
When a Bush, a McCain, or a Romney condones corporate crimes against the rest of us, lies to us, tortures and imprisons at will and murders civilians at a whim, it's a moral disaster. When a black Democrat does it, it's nothing personal, just business. And we are soooo proud. What's wrong with us?
Black America Has Lost Its Moral Compass
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
At our October 12 affair at Harlem's Riverside Church, Black Agenda Report's executive editor Glen Ford said that the most damning and lasting result of the Obama presidency might be that black America was losing its moral compass
Those of us, this author included, who reached adulthood in the brief eight or nine year heyday of the modern Freedom Movement got to see our elders shuck the shackles of what was proper and legal and take to the streets in defiance of evil in authority. We learned that going door to door, organizing our friends, our neighbors, our fellow workers on the job, calling meetings and demonstrations, and standing up to unjust authority, at whatever cost was the highest duty of citizenship and the only way things ever changed.
During the eight years Obama will have served in the White House, Ford observed, black youth can expect to see nothing like this. Where we learned to be skeptical of what our government, and often our elders told us, they are learning to believe, or pretend to believe whatever they're told. Where we learned the highest goal of the struggle was improving the lives of ordinary people, they are learning that the highest goals are the big house, the prestigious career, the large lifestyle of those who serve the power and unlock the mysteries of the Market.
They'll go through a period as long as the zenith of the Freedom Movement without witnessing one major instance of black defiance of unjust power, of illegitimate authority, or illegal war. And of course it's not as though injustices of class and race, or illegal and genocidal wars waged with our tax dollars and with our lives have gone away; they have not.
If you reached adulthood around 1970 it was relatively easy to get and keep your moral bearings. In the present era, not so. This, he said, may be the awful legacy of the Obama era ---- a generation unmoored from the moral compass that guided their forebears, a generation unaccustomed to organized dissent or defiance or civic action outside the guidelines prescribed by their betters.
We hope Glen is wrong. But the evidence is mounting that he might not be.
The genius of Barack Obama's career is that it has used modern marketing techniques to package the aroma of an imagined popular grassroots movement in the service of a corporate candidate with a thoroughgoing corporate agenda. Democrats are after all, as Doug Henwood often says, a party of capital that pretends for electoral reasons for a few weeks out of the year to be a party of the people. The Obama campaign fit these pretensions masterfully.
In the last couple weeks before the election, Matt Stoller wrote two excellent articles --- The Progressive Case Against Obama and Why Is the Left Defending Obama --- which exquisitely detail the many broken promises and deliberately missed opportunities of Obama's first four years. Stoller points out that many of the awful actions of the Obama regime would be loudly denounced if undertaken by a Bush, a McCain, or a Romney, but are quietly acquiesced to when committed by a black Democrat.
Barack Obama invaded Libya, an African country. His administration orchestrated a massive campaign of disinformation, including lies about Libyan aircraft firing into crowds, Libyan mercenaries primed with viagra and primed for mass rape, and much more. Libya's leader was one of only two out of 54 African nations NOT taking US military aid, and he had been one of the main funders of South Africa's ANC and other liberation movements, and a backer and proponent of the African Union as well. He was a target, and with massive US and NATO intervention in the air and on the ground, he was taken out. Afterward, Obama openly sent troops to Congo and several other African nations, all actions which his predecessor or either of his Republican opponents could not have done.
Stoller also explains that President Obama's protection of the Wall Street criminals who crashed the economy have permanently restructured American property rights in favor of the richest, something else that Republicans could not have brought off without massive upheaval and protest. But being black and proud, our elders in the African American community, if there is such a thing, did not object. They are invested in the president as a success story. They tell us it's about pride, but really it's about their own position. He's a leader because he's a success and a success because he's a leader, and so are they. He legitimizes our black political class, and they shield him from critical analysis, along with themselves in the bargain. So just as Barack Obama can implement Republican policies without protest, “progressive” black and Latino mayors like Philly's Mike Nutter and LA's Villagrosa can push school privatization down the protesting throats of their constituencies.
Personally I'm an atheist. But the book of Exodus tells the story of the Hebrews who, after throwing off Pharaoh lost what we'll call their “moral compass.” They were condemned to wander in the desert forty years before they got it back. That's a bad precedent. Climate change, the economy, the threat of genocides in Congo and elsewhere, the prison state and corporate greed everywhere all indicate that we don't have forty years to get this together.
Black America has lost its moral compass. We used to know right from wrong, and have the courage to stand. In the era of Obama, we have lost it. We'll need to fight to get it back.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.