Molefi Asante’s Insane War on BAR and the Black Radical Tradition
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
Molefi Asante, promoter of Systematic Nationalism, poses as the consummate Race Man but is in practice an agent of white corporate power. In fear of exposure for his backstabbing at Temple University, Asante has lashed out at the Black Radical Tradition and all its practitioners as “dupes” of white Marxists – an extraordinary assault on a great Black political legacy.
Molefi Asante’s Insane War on BAR and the Black Radical Tradition
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“He is a madman on a mission: to delegitimize, de-Black, and de-African the Black Left in the Diaspora and on the Continent.”
We were the subject of a rambling screed posted late last month on the Facebook page of Dr. Molefi Asante, the liar, charlatan, hustler, and current agent of white corporate power at Temple University, in Philadelphia. At more than 4,300 words, it was an incoherent mess, beginning with the insane assertion that the “Black Radical Tradition...at least the public head of it, was the Black Agenda Report headed by Glen Ford.” Without a hint of sarcasm, Asante, chairman of what he calls the Department of Africology at Temple, then proceeded to dismiss “the so-called Black Radical Tradition” as “nothing more than a weak ideological propaganda gallery of Africans trying to imitate white Marxists.”
Only a loon would describe Black Agenda Report, a seven-year-old publication that barely keeps its head above water, as the repository of anything so grand in scope as the Black Radical Tradition, which encompasses much of the political legacy of an entire people. Make no mistake, Asante is a loon. But he is a madman on a mission: to delegitimize, de-Black, and de-African the Black Left in the Diaspora and on the Continent. Thus, in his first sentence, he describes the Black Radical Tradition as a “thin strip of intellectual curiosity” – as if hardly worth confronting. The Black Left is further diminished by positing BAR, a small weekly magazine of news, commentary and analysis, as the Black Radical Tradition’s leading manifestation. Asante attempts to make Lilliputians of everyone, past and present, that does not subscribe to “Systematic Nationalism,” which is not a tradition or movement, but the title of one of his books.
“Asante is a small peddler of cultural products who sells his Black persona to predators.”
In furtherance of his commercial and political enterprises, Dr. Asante consistently makes common cause with white corporate power, which shares his hatred of the Left. (This article will not touch on Asante’s mentor Ron Karenga’s role in the deaths of Black Panthers Bunchy Carter and John Huggins, in Los Angeles, in 1969 – although these crimes should never be forgotten.) Asante’s eager complicity with Temple administrators in terminating Dr. Anthony Monteiro’s contract with the Department of African American Studies is yet another episode in his jihad against the Black Left.
It is a wildly asymmetric alliance. Like its corporate educational siblings in major cities around the country, Temple is both a local real estate developer and a player in global capitalism. Its relationship to Black and brown Philadelphia, and to the emerging peoples of the planet, is inherently predatory. Asante is a small peddler of cultural products who sells his Black persona to predators, to advance their common goal of weakening the influence and cohesion of the Black resistance. Although Asante and his ilk drape themselves in African garb and mouth super-nationalist rhetoric, in practice their role is to buttress white corporate power and privilege. Thus, in his diatribe against the Black Radical Tradition, Asante said:
“Universities reserve the right to choose their faculties; Temple never gave up that right to the community and was not expected to do so by anyone except those who did not understand the rules.”
Kashara White, a student of African American Studies, native North Philadelphian and a leader of the campus/community coalition, understands “the rules” perfectly well. The problem, she told Black Agenda Report, “is not that the school isn’t following its policies, but that their policies are unjust.” Ms. White and her comrades are “fighting for students and community people to have a real voice at the university” concerning curriculum and faculty – for which Temple students pay tens of thousands of dollars a year – and issues like gentrification of surrounding Black neighborhoods. It turns out that Super-Black Asante’s credo is actually “All Power to the Administration!”
“In practice their role is to buttress white corporate power and privilege.”
Asante’s books and lectures are filled with talk about Africans wielding agency, making their own history. But he pretends that Kashara White, fellow Black student leader Paul Conge and the many other Black and brown campus activists who have denounced his behavior don’t exist. Instead, Asante gives whites all the credit. “The white students used their propaganda talents to attach Monteiro’s fight to numerous other grievances, gentrification, police brutality, Mumia, poor housing, and corporate power. Few black students joined this movement.”
What a slur against the Black people of Temple University and North Philadelphia, who, according to Asante, don’t have the sense or “talents” to mobilize against racial oppression and corporate dictatorship on their own. And, What a damnable and deliberate lie! The vibrant movement that resulted in Asante becoming department chairman, last spring, was comprised of the same community/labor/student coalition – and the very same organizers – that are now denouncing him. The demands then were much the same as the demands now: an end to gentrification and police brutality; real student and community influence over university policy; and a fair deal for campus workers. The difference is, the Department of African Studies (Africology?) is now run by the Black turncoat who fired a principal organizer of the first protest: Dr. Monteiro.
Since all the facts indict Dr. Asante, he is left only with lies. His narrative is as fraudulent as his politics.
Dr. Monteiro enjoys broad Black support; whites are a helpful minority. A February rally and press conference at a union meeting hall drew preachers, politicians, and labor officials. On March 10, no less a union notable than the president of Local 1199C of the Hospital Workers Union, the legendary Henry Nicholas, urged the crowd to move inside Sullivan Hall, where Temple’s board of trustees was meeting, to stage a direct action.
“People like Asante sit around and plot on Black people.”
Asante, who is second to none in belittling Black people’s mental capacities, writes that Dr. Monteiro “asked a few community people who did not understand university rules to come to a rally. When they understood that they were being manipulated many of them backed away from the last protest.”
Asante invents scenarios out of whole cloth. But Sacaree Rhodes, the anti-hunger and homelessness activist, has the prevaricator’s number. “People like Asante sit around and plot on Black people. And then use the word African-centricity. What the fuck is that? You’ve got to stop romanticizing about treachery,” she told the March 10 rally.
Treachery, as in “betrayal” and “backstabing.” The facts are not in dispute. Dr. Monteiro urged skeptical coalition members to back Dr. Asante for African American Studies chairman at the conclusion of the 2013 protests. Dr. Monteiro was terminated in December. At first, Asante claimed the firing was Liberal Arts dean Teresa Soufas’ decision. “Did she consult with me to tell me what she was going to do? Yes, she did. I didn’t provide any guidance at all,” he told the Philadelphia Tribune. But he had already been contradicted by Soufas, who said Asante got rid of Monteiro because he was “making some exciting curriculum changes in the department and wanted different fields of study to be covered by instructors.” The university provost confirmed that firing Monteiro was Asante’s initiative. Cornered by the facts, in March Asante told his Facebook followers:
“In Monteiro’s case the African American Studies department had changed its academic direction to seek a more cultural orientation based on an Africological interpretation of African American, African Caribbean, and African experiences in Africa and in South America.” Then the shameless liar defamed his former colleague: “There is almost nothing noteworthy or notable in Monteiro’s career at Temple University and the faux demonstrations are examples of defrauding the public.”
The protest “headlined by Cornel West and Marc Lamont Hill” a few days before “was a spectacle of misguided and misinformed people eager to be a part of a public event.” West and Hill were “dupes” and Pam Afrika had been “trapped in [Monteiro’s] web,” said Asante. The Temple students and 250 educators who denounced Asante were under the sway of white communists in their midst. Marxists were promoting “anti-African ideas.”
That’s when BAR called Asante a “dashiki-wearing J. Edgar Hoover” in an article titled “Molefi Asante: Portrait of a Redbaiting Bootlicking Rat” (May 14), followed by “Molefi Asante Must Go, Say Students and Educators” on May 21.
The man was frothing. In his muddle-headed wrath, he had provided Monteiro with all the ammunition necessary to make the legal case that his firing was a political dismissal, actionable in court.
“West and Hill were ‘dupes’ and Pam Afrika had been ‘trapped in [Monteiro’s] web,’ said Asante.”
Asante’s latest, 4,300-word assault on the Black Radical Tradition should be read by every Black activist and academic throughout the Diaspora, so that there can be no doubt about the absurdity – and menace – of his politics.
Asante has conjured up a vast, chocolate-cherry conspiracy (brown on the outside, red on the inside) to undermine his cultural product-peddling business. The Black Radical Tradition is the means of subversion (under the direction of Glen Ford and Black Agenda Report). So, spread the word, as revealed by Molefi Asante:
“For its propaganda success, the so-called Black Radical Tradition needed a trained cadre of black imitators of white theorists, who, with a little reading of Marx, Lenin or Trotsky, could be prepared, after mastering the European critical tradition, to attempt to stamp out Systematic, that is, Black Nationalist Thought”…which is “the only real and historical radical tradition in the African American community.”
“The so-called Black Radical Tradition has sought to usurp the demands, concerns, and intellectual direction followed by our ancestors.”
Finally, near the end of his message, a descent into total incoherence:
“The only black radical tradition has always been Systematic Nationalism in the vein of Prosser, Turner, Vesey, Sengbe, Delany, Garnet, Tubman, Crummel, Garvey, Booker T. Washington some of the time, and the later Du Bois, Muhammad, Robeson, Hare, Harding, Malcolm and Karenga.”
Asante claims I called him an “Afrocentric Nigger” – another lie. However, he has earned every other epithet imaginable, and should be denounced and shunned until his last breath for his betrayals and for the damage he has done to sanity in Black discourse. Shaming and shunning can be quite effective, since Black stooges and agents for white corporate power lose their usefulness the minute Black folks disown them. Asante’s current symbiotic relationship with Temple University is quite fragile – as is the man’s hold on reality.
Reinstate Anthony Monteiro! Molefi Asante Must Go! Long Live the Black Radical Tradition!
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.