Readers discuss the black electoral engagement and the politics of Hong Kong. We share your comments for “Freedom Rider: The WFP, Phony Outrage, and Black Misleaders” and “Why the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 Must Be Opposed.”
In “Freedom Rider: The WFP, Phony Outrage, and Black Misleaders” Margaret Kimberley argues that the Working Families Party has undemocratically endorsed Elizabeth Warren over Bernie Sanders and is using black misleaders to give this move political cover.
Zappa Montag writes:
“The Dems will lose with Warren, blame Sanders and the progressive/radical wing of the electorate. They will use this as an excuse to move further right and crush the progressive/radical electoral movement.”
De Cliff writes:
“I agree that our so-called leaders are too often failing the Black masses, in the United States as well as around the world, because of their excessive fealty to establishment political parties that they think will grant them power or political favors. But the question we are left with after reading the commentary is, What is the answer? Apparently not that we must make it a priority to build an independent Black political party or even that we must organize our community and find new leadership from the grassroots up, based on Pan-Afrikan political principles as opposed to those of the donkey or the elephant. Instead we are told ‘this won't work, and not that either, and by the way, not that over there either, but the alternative is this, which is even worse.’ The commentary first criticizes Warren, then takes a shot at Sanders, then tells us to head ‘for the democratic party exits’ a la Candace Owens, then finally warns of a ‘replay of a Trump victory.’ It seems that the message of the article is this: Be confused. Be very confused.”
Austin Mayle writes:
“Bernie Sanders had the perfect opportunity in 2016 to dramatically shift US politics by calling out election fraud and corruption, which was already shown in reports and exposed even more in the leaks. He could have accepted the many offers -- best might have been to run as a Green and/or put support behind Jill Stein (whose platform he basically took as his own this year).
“The goal should have always been getting rid of the Democratic Party, which is by far the most disgusting in history -- and I will say this -- far worse than the Nazis, who they basically helped birth. The Republicans are the same, except becoming, at a point, openly, a pro-business, war, etc., party.
“As far as black leaders, there is no room for progressives or democratic/bourgeois socialists. We know the history. As they say, fool me once... If you are not talking radical politics and reparations, step away.”
Alex Taubes writes:
“Thank you for your excellent piece on the WFP. WFP’s false pretenses are especially evident in Connecticut. WFP is silently playing an instrumental role in the destruction of a truly progressive mayor (and the first black woman mayor) of New Haven, Connecticut, Toni Harp.
“Mayor Harp won the endorsement of the WFP in the Democratic Primary because her record and platform more closely match the supposed ideals of the WFP: labor rights, economic justice, criminal justice reform, etc. But following Mayor Harp’s loss in the Democratic Primary (largely on the strength of predominantly white wards in the city), the WFP has publicly said it will not spend any resources supporting Mayor Harp’s re-election.
“Full disclosure: I am a civil rights attorney volunteering for a ‘People’s Campaign’ to elect the Mayor on the WFP line notwithstanding her lack of institutional labor support.”
In “Why the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 Must Be Opposed” Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, and K.J. Noh give a detailed account of the imperialist machinations behind the current Hong Kong protests and why this unrest does not justify proposed Congressional legislation changing Washington’s relationship with Hong Kong.
Francisco Vergera writes:
“Please allow me to add some information and suggest a few precisions in your otherwise excellent paper. These are of course just details.
1) “You call the election of the chief executive by universal suffrage by the name of ‘direct democracy.’ This is a mistake in names. Electing representatives (whether one or many) to do something on your behalf (in your place) is ‘representative’ government, not ‘direct’ democracy. Referenda on a given subject, or voting at the town hall for a new school or a vote for removing a bad representative, is ‘direct’ democracy. Electing people to choose for you (is often a good thing) but it is not ‘direct democracy.’ By speaking this way, you give a nice name (direct democracy) to something which can sometimes be very ugly (the western party system).
2) “You write that ‘The bill fits all the requirements of a well-crafted extradition bill” but you don’t tell us (the uninformed) what such ‘requirements’ are. Are there any ‘specificities’ in the extradition treaty that could make it humiliating for Hong Kong residents? You say that the treaty excludes “extradition for political crimes,” and provides many procedures for review, which is fine. But, in what specifics is it different from the extradition treaty with the UK for example? Is it required, for example, that the infraction be a crime in both territories (mainland China and Hong Kong)? Is it symmetrical? etc.
3) “You write ‘extradition treaties do not constitute an infringement on sovereignty.’ You are wrong. Some extradition treaties do, some don’t.
4) “You write ‘The working classes want--and deserve--better representation, and better conditions of living or working, which the current political system cannot deliver (and which Beijing cannot change until 2047)’. Both of these ‘cannot’s’ are excessive. Beijing can change the political system before 2047. This could be a violation of an international treaty but it can be done.
“I have heard a journalist propose the expropriation of wealth above 50 million dollars, making higher education free and introducing rent control. It could be a political mistake because of the message sent to Taiwan (they could think ‘this awaits us too’) or to Tibet (‘if we make enough noise, we can get this too’). But it is perfectly possible. If one studies the treaty attentively, it might even turn out to be legal (or on the border of legality) by the principles of natural law or equity (that the British constitution admits). But the question is not if it is legal, or if it is possible. The question is whether it is wise.
“As for the ‘current political system’ not being able to deliver, I see that a similar, non communist system (in Singapore), delivers much more. With 5.2 million inhabitants, Singapore has 1.05 million public housing units in which 80% of the population live. A 3 room apartment can be bought at the price of 4.5 thousand dollars the square meter (130 to 200 thousand US dollars for a 60 square meter apartment, depending on the neighborhood). Hong Kong, with 7.4 million inhabitants, has only a ridiculous 150 thousand public housing units. The square meter is being sold at 33 thousand dollars (three times the price in Paris and seven times the price in Singapore).
5) “You say of Hong Kong ‘It is now on a downward trajectory, a city-state whose prime has passed.’ This is wrong. Hong Kong gives this impression because it is growing at 2.9 % à year (for the last nine years) in a neighborhood that is growing at 7.1 %. This is nevertheless 2.4 times faster than France. Hong Kong has other problems. Starting wages for university graduates have fallen by 40% in the past 30 years. The number of young people coming out of universities in Hong Kong is enormous, the good wages in the financial sectors have disappeared and they are wrongly blaming China for their unhappiness.
“Please do not misunderstand my comments. Your article is excellent and goes against all the false things that are being said.”
Debates over imperialism and its consequences can enrich our movement as long as they center the role of Western imperialism as the most destructive force in the world. We will continue to engage in these debates and inform you on them.
Jahan Choudhry is Comments Editor for Black Agenda Report. He is an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia, PA.
Please join the conversation on Black Agenda Report's Facebook page at http://facebook.com/blackagendareport
Or, you can comment by emailing us at [email protected]