Posts Tagged ‘black panthers’
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, Things That Aren't What They Seem
In an scorching indictment of Obama’s first four years as president, Black Panther veteran Larry Pinkney (former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa) weighs in on the betrayal of African Americans by Obama and the black “intelligentia.”
At his website Intrepid Report, Pinkney castigates Black America’s so-called intelligentsia for placing “pigmentation and hollow pride” above principles and selflessness.
According to Pinkney, “They have betrayed (and continue to betray) the masses of everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in this nation and throughout Mother Earth. What they have done and who they are must never be forgotten.”
The article continues: “The Black intelligentsia (Pinkney identifies Cornell West and Angela Davis by name) knew, or should have known, better than many, that any person, irrespective of color or gender, who rises to become the head (i.e., chief executive) of the U.S. Empire would not hesitate to:
1) Give trillions of dollars of the people’s money to corporate banksters and other Wall Street robber barons.
2) Federally eliminate the much needed single payer universal health care option.
3) Militarily bomb Africa.
4) Murder women, men and children with incessant predator drone missile strikes upon other sovereign nations.
5) Utilize a self-legitimized ‘kill list’ to commit extrajudicial murders of Americans and non-Americans alike, without the bother of legitimate due process.
6) Sign into law the draconian NDAA—which calls for the indefinite detention in this nation of U.S. citizens—without charge, trial, judge, jury, or legal defense.
7) Continue operating the torture chamber at the U.S. gulag known as Guantanamo.”
Later he writes, “Notwithstanding his double-speak political rhetoric, Barack Obama has indeed ‘redistributed the wealth’ of this nation. He has massively redistributed the wealth from the public sectors, the dwindling middle classes, and the poor to the super-rich corporate/military elite—which is a fact which cannot possibly escape the awareness of the Black intelligentsia and which is precisely why he was overwhelmingly supported by the corporate elite of Lockheed, Goldman Sachs, and the assorted and sordid banking and pharmaceutical multinationals of Wall Street, etc.”
Read more here.
by stuartbramhall in Inspiring Moments in Resistance, Things That Aren't What They Seem
Debating the Government Monopoly on Violence
It will be instructive over coming months to watch the response of OWS protestors to the orgy of militarized police violence that has all but shut down the major public occupations. In just two months, the Occupy movement has used the combined tools of social networking, strategic outreach, consensus governance and mass civil disobedience to build the largest mass resistance in the US since the 1930s. The Office of Homeland Security and other federal agencies coordinating the simultaneous crackdowns seem to think a show of force will persuade protestors to give it up and return to their former lives. As many have nothing to return to (no jobs and, in many cases, no homes), I think this may be a serious tactical error. Even before the police crackdown, there was growing concern about keeping numbers up over winter, as well as inadequate representation of women, minorities and unskilled and blue collar workers. With a little nudge from the authorities, Occupy activists have made a good decision to regroup and engage in strategic planning.
I believe there will be strong consensus to resume their public occupations when the weather warms up. Nothing crosses the digital divide quite so effectively to Americans without Internet access. How committed the government is to stopping them is uncertain. Are the 1% and their lackeys are determined to suppress the Occupy movement by any means necessary? If so, how far are OWS participants are willing to go to preserve their movement?
Our Culture of Violence
As OWS groups across the country strategize over winter, younger activists, especially, will ask why the police should have a monopoly on violence. These discussions won’t take place on Facebook or Twitter, but they will happen (at least they are happening in New Zealand). A pending bill to authorize the indefinite detention of American citizens without criminal charges amplifies the urgency of these discussions. Violence is an integral part of the American psyche, as demonstrated by the continuing upsurge in gun ownership. We are all bombarded on a daily basis with mindless violence, through TV, movies and videogames. The view of American foreign policy presented by the mainstream media centers around violent retaliation. The vast majority of Americans will tell you that the US had to attack Afghanistan and Iraq to retaliate for the 3,000 Americans killed on 9-11. This pervasive emphasis on violence occurs in an intenseley competitive, consumer-driven culture in the absence of any moral framework to channel aggression into more “humane” or “civilized” outlets.
Government Violence Against Minorities
In this social context, the OWS commitment to non-violence will be extremely difficult to maintain, especially as the movement reaches out to traditional blue collar and minority communities. I can’t name a single working class or minority activist I have worked with in the last thirty years who would stand or lie there passively while the police beat them in the head or squirted them in the face with pepper spray. Police violence in minority communities is a daily occurrence.
The treatment of minority activists, even non-violent ones, is especially brutal. December 4th is the 42nd anniversary of the unprovoked raid on Fred Hampton’s apartment, in which the FBI and Chicago police murdered the Black Panther leader in his sleep. Four days later, on December 8, 1969 they carried out a similar raid in Los Angeles that Black Panther leader Geronimo Pratt miraculously escaped. This was followed by years of federally sponsored “death squad” activity on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South Dakota (which Ward Churchill documents with FOIA memos in his 1990 book Cointelpro Papers), culminating in an armed FBI siege against American Indian Movement activists who had come to protect older residents. In 1985 the Philadelphia police, with federal support, destroyed an entire neighborhood by dropping a bomb on a household of activists belonging to the black liberation movement Move.
Fast forward to 2011, and police shootings of unarmed black men are so commonplace they are almost never prosecuted. This is on top of the thousands of cases of sub-lethal police violence (beatings, tasering, pepper spray) that all minority communities struggle to cope with as they go about their daily lives.
To be continued.
by stuartbramhall in Things That Aren't What They Seem
My own knowledge of left gatekeepers stems from 14 years as a single payer activist (1988-2002) in Washington State. Our local single payer movement was launched by a group of doctors belonging to Physicians for a National Health Program. Our goal was to reduce health care costs and cover the uninsured by following the example of all other industrialized countries, by lobbying the government to create a Canadian style government-funded “single payer” health program to cover all Americans. Our group seemed to make the most progress in the first five years, when we were a primarily doctor-run organization focused on educating other doctors, lawmakers and community groups about the mechanics of a single payer health care system. In fact we were an important partner in a broader coalition that included the Washington State Medical Association and the Washington State Hospital Association and that pressured the government to appoint a blue ribbon commission to develop a proposal for a state based, publicly financed health care system.
In 1993, when we joined with Seattle Gray Panthers to form a broad based citizen’s coalition, we began to have the same difficulties many of experienced in the antiwar and Central American solidarity movement, and which one African American member experienced as a Black Panther in Los Angeles. It started with the appearance, out of nowhere, of quirky strangers who disrupted and sabotaged our meetings, tampered with our database and seized control of our contact list to launch rumor and character assassination campaigns. In 1994 one of these “outsiders” managed to take control of the leadership and totally shut down the single payer for six months. After we learned he had done the same, seizing control of the database and the leadership and committee structure of two other groups – the Anti-Gulf War Coalition and the Seattle chapter of Democratic Socialists of American, we logically assumed he was a Cointelpro agent and worked for the FBI. I describe all this in the second half of my memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee.
Who Infiltrated Washington’s Single Payer Movement?
In retrospect, some aspects of this “infiltration” of the single payer movement that strike me as distinctly different from classic the Cointelpro methodology. The first was a heavy reliance on the formation of “parallel” health care reform organizations, both to compete with us for new members and to discredit us. The second was a much higher level of sophistication and national coordination than is normally associated with the FBI operation. The FBI memos American Indian Movement activist Ward Churchill reproduces in the Cointelpro Papers suggest that J. Edgar Hoover’s Cointelpro operation was quite decentralized – that for the most part, he left it to field agents to devise their own strategies for infiltrating and sabotaging local Black Panther chapters.
In contrast, single payer activists in Washington State quickly discovered that single payer activists in Ohio, Oregon and California were experiencing the exact same problems that we were. As in our own state, short-lived “parallel” single payer organizations were being created by brand new left think tanks or left leaning foundations that claimed to support single payer health care – but disagreed with grassroots organizing to mobilize public support for it. Despite their nominal support for nationalizing health care, their newsletters, brochures and publicly forums almost exclusively focused on arguments against lobbying for single payer health care. What was even more uncanny was that the language articulated by the staff employed by these parallel organizations was virtually identical in state after state. All their arguments boiled down to the “political climate” and “politically timing” being wrong for single payer and accusations about grassroots single payer activists being “inexperienced,” “reckless,” and “wrong-headed” to aggressively push for it. In some cases, these parallel organizations also launched competing proposals based on the private health insurance model.
Co-opting and Forming Parallel Organizations
In Oregon, for example, single payer activists complained how the Oregon Health Action Campaign, which began as a single payer advocacy organization, was systematically co-opted by Governor John Kitzhaber and foundation-funded staff who argued the “political climate and timing” was wrong for single payer and revamped OHAC’s mission to advocate for Kitzhaber’s Oregon Health Plan. The OHP, enacted in 1994, employs state and federal funding to subsidize and maintain a private health insurance model.
Between 1997 and 2001, Washington’s single payer movement confronted four parallel foundation-funded (in Washington State, they also received substantial support from a very conservative Washington State Labor Council) health care reform organizations. The first, the Equal Opportunity Institute (EOI), was formed in 1997 to launch a health care initiative campaign (to expand the insurance-based Washington Basic Health Plan) to compete with our own single payer ballot initiative. The second was Just Health Care, which had a brief existence between 1999 and 2000, was solely focused on attacking our single payer initiative. The third was Code Blue Now! (2001-2008), which was supposedly formed to develop “public consensus” on the best way to reform health care (despite polling showing that 60% of Washington voters supported a single, publicly financed system). The fourth was the Rainier Foundation, a “progressive” foundation (2001-2005) also established to “promote consensus” around health care reform.
It was never clear from the website of these “parallel’ groups exactly where they got their funding. And since all but the EOI are now defunct, it would be quite complicated to get their tax records via the Freedom of Information Act. My sense has always been that they derived most of their funding from the private insurance industry (which stands to lose big if federal and/or state governments enact publicly financed health care programs). Thus in this sense they were most likely pure “astroturf” creations (*see below), though they clearly adopted techniques employed by CIA-linked counterinsurgency foundations and classic FBI Cointelpro operations.
* Senator Lloyd Bentson, himself a long-time Washington and Wall Street insider, is credited with coining the term “astroturf lobbying” to describe the synthetic grassroots movements that now can be manufactured, for a fee, by a dozen or so public relations companies. The Tea Party movement, largely created and funded by the infamous Koch brothers, is probably the most high profile example of astroturfing (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/oct/25/tea-party-koch-brothers)
Many of the public relations firms that launch “astroturf” organizations have strong links to the intelligence community. Transferring to a private sector public relations company is a common career move for former intelligence officers – though not quite so common as taking up employment with a private intelligence/security contractor.
Unlike genuine grassroots activism which tends to be money-poor but people-rich, astroturf campaigns are typically people-poor but cash-rich. Funded heavily by corporate largesse, they use sophisticated computer databases, telephone banks and hired organizers to rope less-informed activists into sending letters to their elected officials or engaging in other actions that create the appearance of grassroots support for their client’s cause. Source Watch (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Astroturf) cites a number of examples (in addition to the Tea Party) in which ordinary citizens (and occasionally citizen’s groups, such as the United Church of Christ and the Gray Panthers), have been recruited into Astroturf organizations to promote corporate agendas, such as
- blocking the transfer of federal licenses that WorldCom uses for its long distance and Internet services by Issue Dynamics Inc. using non-profit groups like the United Church of Christ
- defeating the Clinton administration’s proposed health care reform, through a front group called “Rx Partners” created by the Beckel Cowan PR firm, and the Coalition for Health Insurance Choices, created by public relations consultant Blair Childs
- harassing environmentalists through the Wise Use movement
- supporting clear-cutting American forests, through a front group called Citizens to Protect the Pacific Northwest and Northern California Economy
- opposing restrictions on smoking in public places, through a front group called National Smokers Alliance, which was created by Burson-Marsteller