By the late Glen Ford
Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday is the greatest sheer spectacle of hypocrisy and historical duplicity of the year, as Black misleaders take center stage to claim his mandate and mission on behalf of a corporate party.
The birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is commemorated each year at thousands of events in literally every U.S. city, yet the martyred human rights leader’s political philosophy is totally absent from the agenda of today’s Black Misleadership Class, a grasping cabal of hustlers and opportunists that have grown fat and infinitely corrupt through their collaboration with “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.” Their “freedom train” was the Democratic Party, the half of the corporate electoral duopoly that allowed colored folks to ride as first class passengers – as long as they didn’t question the schedule or the destination. The budding Black misleaders hopped on board the Democratic Party express to the boardrooms of corporate power at about the same time that Dr. King was making his definitive break with the evil “triplets’” infernal machinery, including both corporate parties.
In his April 4, 1967 “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence” speech at New York City’s Riverside Church, Dr. King burned his bridges with the nation’s top Democrat, despite President Lyndon Johnson’s indispensable role in pushing civil and voting rights and anti-poverty bills through Congress and championing an affirmative action rationale that — as spelled out in his 1965 speech at Howard University — was a principled endorsement of reparations for crimes committed against Black people by the U.S. society and State.
Johnson went farther than any previous U.S. president in acknowledging Black American citizenship rights and grievances, even as the Republican half of the electoral duopoly was preparing to assume the role of White Man’s Party through Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy.” Yet, Dr. King, a proponent of peace and democratic socialism, understood that the way to the “Promised Land” was not through Black collaboration with the evils inherent in capitalism and its ceaseless, predatory wars. “I have come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house,” King told his friend , Harry Belafonte.
“Dr. king understood that the way to the ‘Promised Land’ was not through Black collaboration with the evils inherent in capitalism and its ceaseless, predatory wars.”
By 1967, the War in Vietnam was consuming the promises of Johnson’s Great Society. America was undeniably the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” King declared. The U.S. had already killed a million Vietnamese, “mostly children,” but it was also a war on America’s poor.
“I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube,” King told the crowd at Riverside. “So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.” That meant breaking with the Democrats and their president. More importantly, in his Riverside speech Dr. King framed the Vietnamese as engaged in a righteous struggle to complete their long quest for sovereignty and independence. King broke with imperialism, the consummate expression of the all three “triple evils.” So they killed him, the next year.
The National Security State, the protector of the capitalist order, to which both parties are beholden, then proceeded to crush the Black movement to the left of Dr. King – most fiercely in the Gestapo-like assault on the self-determinationist and staunchly anti-imperialist Black Panther Party in the bloody year of 1969.
By 1970, the Black Radical Tradition lay mostly in the graveyard, and the way was clear for the Black Misleadership Class to monopolize Black politics on behalf of their corporate overseers. The first act of the first big city Black mayor, Cleveland’s Carl Stokes, was to put the police under the command of a Black retired general, whose first act was to issue the cops flesh- and bone-destroying hollow point bullets.
The rise of the almost entirely Democrat-allied Black Misleadership Class is perfectly coterminous with construction of the Black Mass Incarceration State. The “New Jim Crow” was a bipartisan project, initiated under Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, which vastly increased the manpower and funding for local police departments, and was put on hyper-drive by Republican President Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs” – a War on Blacks that never ended but was re-declared by Republican President Reagan and reinforced by Democrat President Bill Clinton. At the local level, the exponential growth of the Mass Black Incarceration regime was administered by increasingly Black city governments, which oversaw and processed the deportation of millions of Black men, women and children to the Prison Gulag. Virtually all of these Black operatives of race and class oppression are Democrats. And all of them are celebrating their own political ascension as the wondrous outcome of Dr. King’s “dream.”
By 2014, 80 percent of the Congressional Black Caucus was voting to continue the Pentagon 1033 program that funnels billions of dollars in military weapons and gear to local police departments. Four years later, 75 percent of the Black Caucus voted to make police a “protected class” and assault on cops a federal crime.
Although the Black misleaders were quick to join the domestic war on the Black poor, African American public opinion remained war-averse, skeptical of U.S. motives on foreign shores. In 2003, only four Black members of Congress backed George Bush’s invasion of Iraq. But the advent of the Black Democratic President — a misleader par excellence – gave much of the Black Caucus a free pass to play warmonger. Half of the Blacks in Congress voted to continue the bombing and regime change in Libya, an African nation, in the summer of 2011. None of the Caucus has raised serious objections to the U.S.-aided slaughter of more than six million Congolese under Presidents Clinton (Dem.), Bush (Rep.), Obama (Dem.), and Trump (Rep.). The American military occupation of much of the African continent through AFRICOM is a non-issue among the Black misleaders.
RUSSIA!!! on the other hand, is an existential threat “to our democracy,” say the Black Democrats, who are eager to pledge their allegiance to the same CIA and National Security State that assassinated Patrice Lumumba, murdered Malcolm, King and scores of Black Panthers, and worked hand in glove with white-ruled South Africa to kill thousands of freedom fighters across the continent. Los Angeles Black Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who once (correctly) charged the CIA with flooding her city with crack cocaine, now struts around waving an American flag while denouncing “Russian” meddling in a U.S. election that was actually stolen by Republican suppression of Black votes, as usual – with no serious protest by Democrats, as usual.
The Black misleaders are as silly as they are shameless, but they are not ineffectual. No white man could eviscerate Dr. King’s radical legacy, or make Malcolm X appear harmless to the imperial order – that’s a job for the Black Misleadershsip Class. While Dr. King rejected an alliance with the “triple evils,” Black Democratic misleaders describe their deal with the Devil as smart, “strategic” politics. They whip up war fever against small, non-white nations that seek only the right to govern themselves, behaving no differently on the world scene – and sometimes worse – than Donald Trump.
They shame and weaken Black America, and have joined the enemies of life on Earth. King would shake his head, mournfully. Malcolm would keep his tight smile, doggedly. Then both would organize to expose and depose the Black Misleadership Class.