McKinney & Clemente: Black, Brown, Green and True
McKinney & Clemente: Black, Brown, Green and True
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
"The overarching necessity for Black America - and therefore, for the entire nation - is the rebirth of a Black-led mass movement for peace and fundamental social change."
"The Green Party was against the war when it started, is against the war now, and is against any military action against Iran that might take place tomorrow," declared former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, accepting the Green Party's presidential nomination, in Chicago, this weekend. "The Green Party is a peace party. A Green vote is a peace vote."
McKinney's statement is unequivocally true, a verity beyond question, as is her own deep commitment to social justice, tested and manifested during her 12-year sojourn in Congress. The 53-year-old activist and educator, whose last act as a U.S. Representative was to submit Articles of Impeachment against George Bush, not only speaks "truth to power" (or, as she puts it, "truth to empower), but demands that truth be the essential element of all American political discourse.
There is nothing quaint or convenient about The Truth. In a nation ruled by the raw power of money, the Lords of Capital market their own versions of truth designed to make wrongs seem right, and criminality appear normal. The corporate casting couch supplies political actors to mouth attractive untruths as required by the imperatives of Capital. Some of these actors are extremely talented, compounding the dangers they present to society. At every opportunity, they stomp on truth as if it were vermin - and for each vanquished truth they are paid a bounty in parceled power and prestige. U.S. presidents are manufactured in this way.
"The corporate casting couch supplies political actors to mouth attractive untruths as required by the imperatives of Capital."
Truth thus becomes a precious commodity in 21st Century America. At the Green Party podium, Cynthia McKinney reached back to the year 1851, when Black abolitionist Sojourner Truth asked a white crowd a rhetorical question for which only one answer was conceivable: "Ain't I a woman?" Having focused her audience on a simple truth, Sojourner proceeded to explicate the burning issues of the day: "Well children, where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter."
Truth is compelling, in any epoch. "In 2008, after two stolen Presidential elections and eight years of George W. Bush, and at least two years of Democratic Party complicity, the racket is about war crimes, torture, crimes against the peace; the racket is about crimes against the Constitution, crimes against the American people, and crimes against the global community," said Cynthia McKinney, relating well-known but relentlessly suppressed truths. "The racket is even about values that we thought were long settled as reasonable to pursue, like liberty and justice, and economic opportunity, for all. Yes, Sojourner, there's a lot out of kilter now, but these two women, Rosa and me, joined by all the men and women in this room, are going to do our best to turn this country right side up again."
The truth alone cannot set you free, but it will at least tell you what time it is.
"The only way I can even begin to accept this nomination is that I must understand that I am just a vessel, a representative of the work of an entire generation, and the Hip-Hop radical activist movement," said vice-presidential candidate Rosa Clemente, a South Bronx native of Puerto Rican parentage. The 36-year-old journalist was a key organizer of the 3,000-strong, 2004 Hip Hop Political Convention, in Newark, New Jersey. The delegates, all of whom paid their own way, drew up a Hip Hop Political Agenda that remains eminently compatible with the Green Party and "Power to the People" platforms under which Clemente and McKinney are currently campaigning. (A second Hip Hop Political Convention took place in Chicago in the summer of 2006.)
"The racket is about war crimes, torture, crimes against the peace; the racket is about crimes against the Constitution, crimes against the American people, and crimes against the global community."
"I stand on the shoulders of a generation of young people of color that are united, that clearly understand that we are suffering form structural racism, institutional racism and capitalism," said Clemente. These are truths that Barack Obama, the corporate Democrat, would rather end 20-year friendships than accept. Obama allows the celebration of his candidacy to serve as a vindication of historical and contemporary racist rule. In fact, his ascension is fully endorsed (and financed) by the overwhelmingly white Lords of Capitol.
No recess of reality is safe from corporate sanitization. In this election cycle, conducted amid overlapping, terminal crises of late-stage capitalism, the heroes are those who challenge the corporate media's endlessly looped lies - key elements in the structural supports that keep the evil edifice from crumbling outright. Heroines like McKinney and Clemente.
"I don't see the Green Party as an alternative," said Clemente. "I see it as an imperative."
A True Choice
"We are in this to build a movement," McKinney told her jubilant Chicago crowd. "A vote for the Green Party is a vote for the movement that will turn this country right-side-up again."
Had she chosen to do so, McKinney could have remained in the Democratic Party and attempted to recapture her House seat, outside Atlanta, as she did in 2004 after a two year absence. But the overarching necessity for Black America - and therefore, for the entire nation - is the rebirth of a Black-led mass movement for peace and fundamental social change. Without a movement, the corporate version of reality triumphs by default - not just through the two-business-party electoral racket, but in all aspects of life in which human beings must somehow locate themselves in the real world.
Much more is at stake than the Green Party's goal of garnering five percent of the presidential vote, which would make the Greens eligible for federal election funds next time around. Corporate hegemony is the enemy of the self-determination of peoples and individuals. It seeks to subdue every relationship except those of corporate ownership and control, and capriciously alters the terms of even those shrunken arrangements, at will. The current multiple crises afflicting humanity are all rooted in the commodification of the Earth's resources - including human beings. There is no choice but to resist the crushing grip, at every level of human activity.
"National Black politics has effectively disintegrated, stripped of all issues other than Obama's own fortunes."
In Black America, which the vital epicenter of any progressive national politics, the Obama phenomenon - a species of seductive invading organism that feeds on centuries of pent-up Black aspirations - has already dangerously disrupted the African American political consensus on peace, social justice and the validity of the Black historical narrative, itself (the Obama-Rev. Wright clash). Obama has caused Blacks to suspend the disbelief (healthy distrust) that has been at least a partial defense against white snake oil salesmen over the years. National Black politics has effectively disintegrated, stripped of all issues other than Obama's own fortunes. It is as if an entire people were reduced to the property of one, thoroughly dishonest man - in the service of another Man.
Obama's cynicism, his deliberate ambiguity and outright manipulation of ALL people - but especially African Americans - debases the morals of his desperate followers. In a remarkably short period of time they have come to accept half-lies as clever, and well-crafted untruths as things to be admired. To justify Obama's behavior, Blacks accept that all "politicians" say whatever they must in order to win office, and attach no moral onus to that, even when it is Blacks who are the ones being lied to and defamed.
Obama has sanctioned - sanctified! - opportunism of the most base kind. He has brought corporate and anti-Black values into the African American house, in ways that no combination of previous scoundrels could have dreamed.
"Those who delivered us into this mess cannot be trusted to get us out of it."
The McKinney-Clemente message is one of struggle, not blind hope and amorphous change. In the presidential candidate's words:
"Today's reality is harsh. But what's even harder for many to accept and admit is that our quality of life today is the making of the Democratic and Republican Parties. What our country has become through their public policy is reflective of their values. We will never get a United States that is reflective of different values if we continue to do the same thing. Those who delivered us into this mess cannot be trusted to get us out of it. That's why I signed up to do something I've never done before so I can have something I've never had before: My country, made in the likeness of the values of the Green Party."
That party is now headed by two Black women, one a Latina, who consciously seek to transform it into a vehicle for 24-7 movement politics PLUS effective electoral activity. That is the historic opportunity. The Democrats would have you waste your vote on an actor employed by corporations.
As Rosa Clemente reminded the Greens in Chicago: "We must remember the words of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass: "I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false."
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.comThis
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