Monday, June 02, 2008

Obama and the Triumph of COINTELPRO

I've been reading A Taste of Power by Elaine Brown. A review of the book would be a whole other conversation though. One thing that book brought to mind was the COINTELPRO program that was instituted by the US Government to neutralize certain types of black leadership and prevent the rise of a "black messiah" and if possible create one.

One would have to understand that this "black messiah" of which Hoover was so concerned about was one who spoke and acted in such a manner as it threatened the power of entrenched interests. That is, they feared that such a person would be able to have what would be considered a negative effect on US policy both internally and externally. Internally, such a messiah, would organize black people to resist racist oppression by the police and threaten businesses that prey upon black people. At an extreme the government was concerned that black people would rise up in an armed rebellion against the US government. To be clear, that was the extreme concern. However, As seen in the activities against Marcus Garvey (victim of the FBI predecessor MIB), Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, simply speaking out and organizing against the US government activities worldwide in such a manner that even some white people could understand was seen as a threat that needed neutralization.

To that end, the government did it's very best to destroy the most visible black leadership throughout the late 60's and early 70's. To that end we find that Dr. Frances Cress Welsing observed that black youth got the message: To stand up for black folk could get you killed. Black people have found themselves thoroughly declawed. Many former revolutionaries now sit in tenured positions at white institutions of higher education trying to make a living by recounting their lives as members of such and such organizations or they have become born again in various religions or become so called conservatives if they are not in jail, exiled or in mental institutions. While the black middle class is the largest thus far and the list of Black businesses with millions if not billions in assets have been growing steadily. Another side of black America has seen itself faced with huge incarceration rates, high unemployment among males approaching or surpassing 50% in certain urban areas and a below average marriage rate. On the international scene we have former revolutionaries as the primary terrorizers of their now "free" countries. We find Haitians eating dirt, rigged elections in Kenya spawning all manner of bloodshed.

If anything, BET and so called Gangster Rap was probably the best thing to happen for COINTELPRO since the murder of Fred Hampton. An entire generation of black folk and possibly a second are operating under the moto "don't hate." It's all about getting paid. By any means necessary has come to mean any means necessary to get that loot. There is no low mark. Nothing is off the table. Well except power. I recall when the Rodney King verdict came down. Cali was a mess. I saw in the Sean Bell verdict a bunch of mad black folk who knew full well there was nothing they could do except hold up traffic in NYC and provide empty quotations for the media to run with. I'm not saying that there ought to have been violence, but I assure you that no one will be losing an election over that. There will be no heads rolling and I seriously doubt John "Impeachment is now off the table" Conyers will be doing all that much from his committee.

The fact of the matter is that COINTELPRO has worked and worked extremely well. Integration has worked so well, that black persons who are deemed remotely troublesome can for purposes kiss their employment prospects goodbye. And should they manage to get and stay employed, they can kiss advancement goodbye and as an extra treat keep their mouths shut about anything remotely "controversial." On the other hand, great financial awards await those who "play by the rules" and "don't rock the boat." The final push is to marginalize Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and to a lesser extent Louis Farrakhan. Enter Obama.

I'm not saying that I think Obama is an on payroll CIA stool. Rather Obama is a culmination of disparate forces made to pacify and mollify black people. Black support of Obama is because he is black, sufficiently to the left and liked by white people . All other reasons are incidental to those three points. Blacks supported Jesse Jackson who did extremely well without disrespecting the black community and Jackson was able to garner a great deal of white support by extending from his base. Sharpton's run was seen as non-viable by blacks, who were carried by the "anybody but Bush crowd" even thought most of them agreed with what Sharpton had to say. In the end it was white acceptance, or the lack thereof, that doomed Sharpton's extra long shot bid. If we look at the ouster of Cynthia McKinney we see the same pattern. Although there were many aspects to her last loss, it was clearly evident that a good number of her black constituents failed to back her largely because they felt "embarrassed" by McKinney's actions. Yet, aside from that really bad episode with the DC Police, McKinney has been proven correct on all her stands. Black folk decided that mollifying white folk by disassociating themselves with "boat rockers" something black folk have had to do in the US since being brought here, was the way to go. Instead they voted in a quiet "non-confrontational" Hank Johnson. The black middle class learned the lesson well. Not truth to power, just access please.

Many black pundits like to point out that Obama is not running for president of "black America." No one seems to actually ask what exactly is the "black America" agenda that is so objectionable to white America that it is not even worthy of even being put on the table. Are white Americans against civil rights? Civil liberties? Are they against good public education? Against fair housing laws? Maybe they are against fair labour laws? Maybe white folk like losing houses to high interest ARMs. In any event, the real underlying message of such messages is that black people, including their so called "best and brightest" believe that black american issues are not important enough to be addressed at the national level. The issues are not important enough to hold all candidates, including the black ones, accountable. But the reason this is has been happening is because black folk have not been keeping their elected representatives accountable either. So it is common knowledge among the black political class that black folks are good for Democratic votes and a smattering of protests should something "racist" happens and little else beyond that.

In the end having largely ineffective black people who are good for the whims of the political and economic elites was the goal of COINTELPRO. Yes it may have been couched in language of targeting persons and organizations, but the larger goal was to put black folk back in the box. Today so called "black nationalists" are generally known as low lives, sexist men, with little job prospects with a propensity to father children they can't raise (yes this was said to me). Obama speaks this language of the old, bitter, out of touch black radical. He has repeatedly made these comments in reference to not only his pastor but by extension to those who think like him as evidenced by his comments on the white catholic priest. The fact that these statements can be made and go unchallenged by the majority of blacks, is a testament to the success of COINTELPRO.

Obama is a clear message to black folk. Leave those "black power" people alone. COINTELPRO has done it's job and done it well.

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