Lying About the Harlem Protest Against Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It’s not enough that President Obama has Wall Street in his back pocket – or, is it the reverse? – but he also has loyal operatives among what passes for the Left. Daily Kos, In These Times and Democracy Now! misrepresented, and miscounted, last week’s Occupy Harlem-led protest at the Apollo Theater. In These Times writer Allison Kilkenny took a step backward in time, treating white Occupy Wall Street demonstrators like “outside agitators” for protesting Obama in Harlem. “Kilkenny doesn’t think Black progressives have the right to ask white and Latino progressives to attend Black-led demonstrations in Black neighborhoods.”

Lying About the Harlem Protest Against Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The turnout was larger than even the organizers had hoped, and heavily Black and Latino.”

Last Thursday’s demonstration, in New York's Harlem, against President Obama’s foreign and domestic policies was a great success, with about 400 protesters massed across the street from an Obama fundraiser at the Apollo Theater. But, you would not know that from reading the Daily Kos or In These Times, or from watching Democracy Now! That’s because these outfits represent the left flank of Obama’s apologists and protectors, whose self-assigned job is to perpetuate the fantasy that the First Black President is not a servant of Wall Street and the Pentagon. These publications and programs are also in thrall to another fantasy: that they have some kind of entree or influence with the Obama administration, when in fact, this White House is an annex of finance capital.

Nellie Bailey, the veteran Harlem organizer and member of Occupy Harlem, has already set the record straight: that this was a Black-led demonstration called for by Occupy Harlem, which enlisted the support of the larger Occupy Movement, Stop Stop-and-Frisk, MoveOn, the Black Is Back Coalition, and other progressive organizations. The turnout was larger than even the organizers had hoped, and heavily Black and Latino. But Democracy Now!, whose politics has undergone a palpable turn to the right during Obama’s time in office, told its audience that only about 100 people protested, when in reality, the MoveOn section of the demonstration alone approached that number. In this sense, Democracy Now! is worse than the police at reporting demonstrations it doesn’t support.

Democracy Now told its audience that only about 100 people protested.”

Daily Kos, which often behaves like an arm of the administration, published the rantings of someone calling himself Brooklyn Bad Boy, who admits he isn’t a “fan of street protests” but goes ballistic over the effrontery of protesting Obama. He claims the demonstrators ignore the pro-banker policies of Republican candidates. But then, the Brooklyn Bad Boy doesn’t show up at too many demonstrations, by his own admission, so how would he know? No matter, his pro-Obama stance qualifies for space on Daily Kos.

Allison Kilkenny’s In These Times article was the most insidious example of a hit-piece. She offered no crowd estimate, but made reference to a “handful” of Occupy Wall Street activists, thus belittling the turnout. Much worse, Killenny highlighted the uninvited presence of a few Lyndon LaRouche supporters in order to tar the whole demonstration – as if Occupy Harlem can dictate who shows up on the street. Then Kilkenny – a white woman – argues that white people from Occupy Wall Street should have stayed away from Harlem, on the grounds that their presence did not take “into account the city’s tense race relations” and the fierce gentrification of the neighborhood – gentrification fueled by Wall Street bankers.

As Occupy Harlem’s Nellie Bailey writes, Kilkenny is talking like old school southern white racists, accusing whites in Occupy Wall Street of being “outside agitators.” Kilkenny doesn’t think Black progressives have the right to ask white and Latino progressives to attend Black-led demonstrations in Black neighborhoods. She wants a segregated Occupy Wall Street movement, in which Blacks that oppose Obama’s corporate policies would get no meaningful solidarity from whites in the movement. Or, maybe she’ll just say anything to avoid confronting the corporate president.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

 
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