United States

Barack Obama: The Empire Strikes Back

By Larry Pinkney

The Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Rice clique has so brutalized this nation over the past eight years that, at this point, even a double-talking, Ronald Reagan-praising, pro-Zionist, “unilateral” militarist, colored-imperialist opportunist—in the person of Barack Obama—seems palatable, if not downright appealing, to a significant portion of U.S. citizenry.

This is how the Democratic and Republican parties actually work together hand-in-glove to play the American people for fools on a fiddle, ensuring that the nation’s populace is in a punch-drunk, manipulated state of fear and exhaustion, devoid of in-depth critical thinking. This is how the corporate, military, prison apparatus of the U.S. Empire utilizes the twin demons known as the Democratic and Republican parties to use the American people, and the peoples of the world, as a perpetual ping pong ball in an unceasing state of manipulation.

Observant, informed, clear and critically thinking persons know that the U.S. is an empire, and that empires are about the business of economic, political, and social exploitation and domination i.e., hegemony. Empires by their very nature are not cuddly, caring, or comforting entities; and when their spokespersons appear to be such; it is tantamount to the foreplay of a black widow spider just prior to disabling, killing and utterly devouring its mate. Unfortunately, it is for the peoples of America and the world, who are once more in the role of being euphemistically devoured by the U.S. corporate, military, apparatus of the representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties.

Principles are not subservient to opportunism or political expediency, nor should they be. However, principles are the one thing that Barack Obama and his Democratic and Republican colleagues overwhelmingly lack.

The words of the late Chicano writer and activist Ruben Salazar, aptly apply to all of us irrespective of color or gender. He said in 1963, “A very practical teaching of mental hygiene is that one cannot run away from himself, or what he is. To do so is to invite disaster. Somewhere along the way the Mexican-American must make a stand and recognize the fact that if there is to be progress against those barriers which prevent and obstruct a more functional citizenship, he must above all retrieve his dignity and work as a person with a specific ethnic antecedent, having a positive contribution to make to civilization. No man can find a true expression for living who is ashamed of himself or his people.” Indeed.

In this vein it should be borne in mind that the recent deliberate corporate media diversion pertaining to a so-called “inflammatory” quoted sermon by Reverend Jeremiah Wright was and remains a red herring, meant to divert Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White people from the pressing issues of substance, such as specifically how Barack Obama, and the other candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties propose to address:

A failing U.S. economy.

The loss of jobs.

The ongoing bloody and unacceptable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Universal health care.

Corporate greed.

The ongoing thievery of and encroachment upon indigenous native peoples lands and rights.

Increasing homelessness in America.

A dwindling middle class.

A burgeoning U.S. prison population.

Increasingly shrinking opportunities for college or university education.

Global warming.

An infrastructure of bridges and highways that are in serious decay throughout this nation.

These are the concerns and issues that need to be substantively addressed; and these are the very ones that the Democratic and Republican parties have little of substance to offer. The most inflammatory thing about the entire Reverend Jeremiah Wright matter was the cynical and manipulative manner that his words were taken out of context and distorted by a U.S. corporate media complicity intent upon diverting peoples’ attention away from the above-described pressing economic, social, and political concerns. Sadly, but quite predictably, many of us Black, Brown, Red, and White folks allowed ourselves to “go for the ghost;” or as brother Malcolm X warned us, to be “hoodwinked” and “bamboozled.”

The fact is that racism is an undeniable, pervasive, and wholly unacceptable reality in the United States, and contrary to the recent assertion of U.S. Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, things have not gotten better for the overwhelming majority of people in this nation. In fact more often than not, in many respects, they’ve grown much worse. Moreover, Barack Obama surely must know that racism and racial distrust and/or intolerance are fueled by not substantively and definitively addressing the very economic, political, and social concerns—the issues delineated above. No amount of “hope,” “change,” or other feel-good rhetoric will address and reverse these realities. Nothing short of radical i.e., root, systemic change will ever reverse these realities, and Barack Obama and his colleagues in the Democratic and Republican parties are well aware of this; which is precisely why the Democratic and Republican parties will never push for systemic change.

The argument, for example, that the stance of U.S. Presidential candidate Barack Obama as pro-Zionist, pro-expanding the military budget, and pro-“unilateral” U.S. military actions inside the borders of other nations is one taken primarily in order to become President of the United States fundamentally begs a more important question. Is the only way to become President of the United States, to be a de facto unprincipled, war-mongering imperialist bent upon U.S. world hegemony? And if the answer to that question is in the affirmative, isn’t the principled course of action for people of good will, those on the left, and so-called progressives—to set out to fundamentally and systemically change the political, economic, and social structure of this nation to one based upon human care and not deceit, economic exploitation, and perpetual warfare?

U.S. Presidential candidate Barack Obama is absolutely not anywhere near being the representative or the fulfillment of, the stated vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who stood stalwartly opposed to militarism and imperialism of any kind, including that of the United States. And certainly Brother Malcolm X repeatedly emphasized his opposition to U.S. imperialism’s empire.

Another argument made by some who urge support for U.S. Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, is the call to supposedly “make history.” However, the question is: precisely what kind of history is to be made by supporting the imperialistic, corporate-backed candidacy of Barack Obama? Indeed, of what value is “making history” if it is one of deceit, imperialism, perpetual warfare, and ultimate annihilation? Is this the history that critically thinking people of good will want to be responsible for having helped foster? I think not.

Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples in this nation do have a real choice. This choice will never be presented to us by the corporate, ever-consolidating media, who are cronies of the U.S. corporate, military apparatus. We do have a viable radical alternative to the insane cycle of the inextricably linked Democratic and Republican parties.

We must critically think and organize outside of the systemic box. We must call upon ourselves and each other to creatively organize different and independent political so-called third parties, which are not beholden to the corporate, military, prison apparatus.

This is not about false hope. This is about a future of hard work and organizing. We must either utilize these choices and make them real or run the very real risk of losing them forever. Editorial Board member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker , by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]., March 27, 2008