NBC is hawking a wild tale about Black Identity Extremists, scheming Russians, and military training camps in Africa.
“By the FBI’s definition, damn near all Black folks are Black Identity Extremists.”
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” --Malcolm X
On May 20, the day after Malcolm’s birthday, NBC correspondent Richard Engel posted a breathless report, claiming to possess documents showing “Russian operatives” hatched a plot to “recruit African Americans with criminal records, giving them sabotage training at camps in Africa and returning them to the U.S. Another proposal: encouraging African Americans to push for independent statehood in the South.”
Over footage of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, Engel said his sources linked the plot to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian catering magnate often referred to in U.S. media as “Putin’s chef.” Prigozhin was among the 13 Russians indicted by Robert Muellter for allegedly "communicat[ing] with unwitting individuals" on social media with the aim of disrupting U.S. politics.
“Engel posted a report showing ‘Russian operatives’ hatched a plot to ‘recruit African Americans with criminal records, giving them sabotage training at camps in Africa.’”
Engel said NBC got the documents from a Russian “investigative group” called The Dossier Center, which has “in the past revealed authentic material to us.” What Engel neglected to tell viewers is that the Dossier Center is financed by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once the richest oligarch in Russia, who is now the world’s most prominent Putin-hater after spending a decade in prison before being released to exile in Switzerland, where he coordinates a steady stream of anti-Russia propaganda and intrigue that is lustily consumed by U.S. and European corporate media.
The Dossier Center/ Khodorkovsky allegation is tailor-made to fit the political profile of so-called “Black Identity Extremists” concocted by the FBI to repackage and resurrect Cointelpro in the Black Lives Matter era. According to a 2017 Intelligence Assessment by the Bureau:
“The FBI defines black identity extremists as individuals who seek, wholly or in part, through unlawful acts of force or violence, in response to perceived racism and injustice in American society, and some do so in furtherance of establishing a separate black homeland or autonomous black social institutions, communities, or governing organizations within the United States.” (emphasis mine)
“The FBI concocted ‘Black Identity Extremists’ to repackage and resurrect Cointelpro.”
Note that, by the FBI’s political reckoning, Black Identity Extremists include not only those who call for outright secession of liberated southern territories from the United States, but also advocates of “autonomous black social institutions, communities, or governing organizations within the United States” – a definition that encompasses demands for community control of police, schools, or any other “governing” or even “social institutions” in the U.S. By such definition, damn near all Black folks are Black Identity Extremists.
In an extended, print report for NBC, Engel does inform readers of the exiled Khodorkovsky’s involvement. He then delivers a one-paragraph history vignette designed to give credence to the claim that Russians are the Rasputins behind Black American yearnings for self-determination:
“The idea of African American statehood has an intellectual precedent in Russia. During the early 20th century, communists in America proposed forming a ‘black-belt nation’ in the South. Some party members traveled to the Soviet Union for training.”
“’Black Identity Extremists’ include those who advocate autonomous black social institutions, communities, or governing organizations within the United States”.
Engel assumes the “Russian connection” -- in this case, Soviet -- is damning to all involved. But the truth is, during the 1930s the Communist Party USA was, by some estimates, as much as 25 percent Black. Many of the Black members were drawn to the Party by its position on self-determination for the “Black Belt.” Although Marcus Garvey was deported from the U.S. in 1927, his Universal Negro Improvement Association had galvanized Black nationalist aspirations throughout the country, and some of his followers wound up in the Communist Party. The CPUSA leadership were never comfortable with the “Black Belt” position, which was adopted in accordance with the Soviet policy to allow autonomy, or even secession, to national groups within the borders of formerly Tsarist Russian territories.
By 1956, the FBI was bragging that the CPUSA “had failed to attract even a significant minority of the Negroes in the United States to its program.” Actually, a decade of frenzied red-baiting had driven away all but the most committed members of all races. But the Party’s Black self-determination position had attracted far more Black people than it repelled. The Party finally dropped its “Black Belt” stance in 1959. But in 1956, while concluding that the CPUSA was weak in Black America, J. Edgar Hoover launched a new program of surveillance and disruption: COINTELPRO, based on the assumption that “communists” had infiltrated the growing civil rights movement. “Black separatists,” loosely defined, would soon be at the top of the target list. Some of them would advocate a Black State in the South, but freedom fighters like Denmark Vesey (1822) and Nat Turner (1831) long ago had plans for Black Belt liberation – by knife and fire -- without benefit of the Soviets. Richard Engel and his ilk are simply acting as annexes to the FBI’s updated COINTELPRO, repackaged as Black Identity Extremism, in the context of the New McCarthyism of Russiagate.
“The CPUSA leadership were never comfortable with the ‘Black Belt’ position.”
And like the Old McCarthyism, with its red-baiting Black collaborators (most notably, the NAACP under Roy Wilkins), the Congressional Black Caucus is ever-ready to prove its allegiance to U.S. empire. NBC’s Engel had no trouble finding a House Negro to authenticate his story. “It does not surprise me at all the extent to which Russia would go to undermine democracy, and really to target divisions that already exist in our country,” said Black Florida Congresswoman Val Demings. Demings is a career cop and former police chief of Orlando, and made it her business to get appointed to the Homeland Security, Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, the better to serve the National Security and Mass Black Incarceration State. Along with 75 percent of the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus, Deming voted for the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 ,which made law enforcement officers a “protected class” and assault on police a “hate crime.” Four years earlier, 80 percent of the Black Caucus voted to continue the Pentagon’s infamous 1033 Program that funnels billions of dollars in military weapons, gear and training to local cops – making the Black Caucus the Great Enabler of U.S. militarized policing.
“Engel had no trouble finding a House Negro to authenticate his story.”
They are resisting nothing – not police surveillance and armed occupation of Black communities, and certainly not the endless austerity and war that are their party’s – and the Republicans’ – only foreign and domestic policies, the only vision that is permitted by the oligarchs that rule both parties. Russiagate was invented to give the Democrats another chance to run against Trump and his narrow white base, and -- the overarching aim of the “deep state” operatives -- to keep the fires of endless war burning. The betrayal of the Black Misleadership Class is complete. They have utterly forsaken peace and justice in Ferguson, Caracas, Damascus and Kinshasa -- their only solidarity is with Empire.
The FBI has spelled out in clear language that it surveils people that advocate “a separate black homeland or autonomous black social institutions, communities, or governing organizations within the United States” – a broad political cohort that includes most activists associated with Black Lives Matter, as well as all 17 of the Chicago aldermen that say they support the CPAC community control of police bill, as well as community control of schools. That the FBI treats such activists as enemies of the state is proof the Bureau is, and has always been, a secret political police.Yet the House Negro Rep. Demings – a native of Florida, the state with the highest percentage of Black people ineligible to vote in the country -- collaborates in pointing fingers at Russians.
“The Bureau is, and has always been, a secret political police.”
Black Congressional Democrats could demand the FBI halt its unconstitutional political surveillance. But they won’t because they are in bed with the national security state. Since Russiagate, all the Democrats are fawning toadies of the FBI and the CIA, including “Auntie” Maxine Waters, the Los Angeles Congresswoman who once charged the CIA with bringing crack cocaine to her city. Now she’s all-in with the spooks.
“Here you have a president who I can tell you and guarantee you is in collusion with the Russians to undermine our democracy,” Waters told attendees at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Town Hall on Civil Rights in Washington, D.C., last year. She is certain of this because then-FBI Director James Comey told her so, just as the corporate media “report” that the DNC emails were “hacked” by Russians and then given to Wikileaks because the CIA said it was “confident” that’s how it happened – despite Wikileaks denials.
“Since Russiagate, all the Democrats are fawning toadies of the FBI and the CIA.”
Wikileaks, however, has never been caught in a lie, and the CIA virtually never tells the truth.
The FBI cannot tell the truth about its new COINTELPRO operation without admitting to high crimes and misdemeanors. Therefore, the ACLU Real Justice Program sued the FBI in March to “demand answers about why and how the FBI is targeting Black people based on racial stereotypes rather than true security threats based on evidence.” The Bureau cannot admit that it spies on Black people because its political mandate and purpose is to subvert Black aspirations for self-determination, by any means necessary.That’s illegal. So they will lie and promise to stay within the bounds of the law in the future. The Black Misleadership Class’s job is to believe them, accept their contrition, and declare a civil rights victory. And then attack the Russians.
Malcolm X, known as much for his smile as his sternness, would find today’s Russiagate idiocy almost laughable. Just as, in the Sixties, southern segregationists demonized “outside agitators” for stirring up “our Negroes,” today’s corporate media blame Russians for the presence of a white nationalist in the White House, and for exacerbating every homegrown ill of U.S. society. Funny, how Russia went from “a gas station masquerading as a country,” in the words of the late degenerate John McCain, to a super-power so skilled at political manipulation, its operatives stole a national election with $100,000 in Facebook ads, and threaten to wreak more havoc in 2020.
“The FBI’s political mandate and purpose is to subvert Black aspirations for self-determination, by any means necessary.”
Malcolm would ask, Who does the lie serve? After three years of Russiagate, it is now forbidden to take the same position as Putin on issues of war and peace – even when Putin is right. Folks fear being called “witting or unwitting dupes.” And when Russian click-baiters mimic the language and symbolism of the Black liberation movement, corporate media infer that the Black people that genuinely hold those positions might have absorbed them through Russian-tainted social media. All in all, its been a marathon of a mass psychological operation, initiated by the CIA and FBI and sustained by a determined corporate media. Malcolm would urge Black folks to double down on struggle and stop listening to the Trickster.
“I just don’t believe that when people are being unjustly oppressed that they should let someone else set rules for them by which they can come out from under that oppression.” — Malcolm X
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].
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