ADOS stands for American Descendants of Slaves, a group founded by Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore, supposedly advocates of reparations for the descendants of Africans enslaved in the US. Moore is a former LA County prosecutor, Carnell a former US Senate staffer, and both have been blogging, Tweeting, YouTubing and fishing in the waters of corporate social media a good while now.
ADOS has strong ties to Republicans and racist white supremacists. Its co-founder Yvette Carnell sits on the board of the cynically misnamed Progressives For Immigration Reform, an outfit founded by noted white supremacist John Tanton, who’s been trying to manufacture black and so-called environmentalist organizations to parrot his racist views on immigration, eugenics and more since the 1970s. It’s a match made in heaven for PFIR, which has struggled to invent or find a black group to fly their crooked flag for four decades, and if things work out it’ll be a good career move for Carnell too. CNN, Fox News or ABC would be delighted to bring on a charismatic black commentator willing to spout Trumpist talking points interspersed with faux reparationist rhetoric. If Yvette does get a broadcast talking head job out of this, that might be the only piece of #tangibles2020 that comes out of the current presidential campaign.
We live in a nation where most people cannot find the countries their tax dollars pay to bomb every day on a map, a country where sixty million (mostly) white people voted for Trump. There’s no reason to imagine this proud North American ignorance of history, the planet and its people is confined to white Americans. When Barack Obama threatened to bomb Syria, polling showed that black people, always the least hawkish of US constituencies, were more inclined to war than their white neighbors. So the appearance of a social media savvy right wing black reparationist group, with hashtags like #lineagematters followed by 3 or 4 American flags, a group which claims the exclusion of Mexican, Central American, African and Caribbean immigrants is necessary to protect the livelihoods and social capital of black Americans should be no surprise.
Popular support for empire, such as can be obtained, depends, as we have observed before, on lots of fake news and fake history. ADOS embraces capitalism, empire and the American Exceptionalist ideology that goes with with it. Until now, black reparationists have aligned themselves with colonized people around the world. But true to its roots in social media and right wing politics, ADOS takes the short cut, to embrace the racist narrative of Zionism. ADOS leaders and followers routinely assert that US military, diplomatic, financial support of Israel’s apartheid regime are examples of “reparations for the Jews,” in support of its own reparations claim in the US. The Jews got theirs, ADOS followers say, pointing to Israel. It’s time we got ours. This is both telling and pernicious for all kinds of reasons.
The fact is that since the fall of the old regime in South Africa 25 years ago, Israel is the world’s premiere apartheid state, viciously persecuting Africans, Arabs and anybody else it deems not “Jewish,” however they define that. The fact is that Zionists, and the Zionist project was never about representing all Jews, or making a home for all Jews, or reparations for the persecuted. It has always been about using Jewish nationalism to establish a settler state. To depict a racist settler state as an example of restorative justice requires bottomless cynicism on the part of leaders who know better, and deep historical ignorance on the part of followers who don’t.
In the absence of real journalism, for which Julian Assange may be on his way to a Guantanamo torture cell for practicing, such narratives are easily disseminated on Twitter and YouTube, where the flat earthers, the moon landing skeptics, the birthers and the folks warning us about us about the lizard people all have big followings too. But none of them enjoy shoutouts from Cornel West, none of them try to wrap themselves in the just cause of reparations and none of them aim to affect the 2020 elections. ADOS does.
We’ll talk more about that some other time. As my colleague Glen Ford says, we need to pass HR 40. I agree. Ford says we need an extended debate among black people on just what reparations and restorative justice look like. That sounds sensible. But it’s hard to imagine how such an exchange 3can take place in an atmosphere of willful ignorance and disinformation. And somebody really should talk to brother Cornel.
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