Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I am a woman, I am a man, I am a citizen

Yesterday, at 1000 rallies around the United States, working people raised their voices in solidarity with the those of Madison, Cairo, Tunisia, Greece, London, and the legacy of Martin Luther King. See here. King was murdered supporting garbage workers who were on strike in Memphis. Despised, denied, degraded by the paternalistic mayor and the city government, they had marched, each carrying a sign: “I am a man.” Today at Metro in downtown Denver, 100 custodians in SEIU marched, each brandishing a mop. See here and here,

We do not just represent labor or the poor, as King put it (“the poor people's march” and encampment in Resurrection City in Washington after King was shot). Each of us is a person. Citizenship means equal liberty for all. Democracy, in Lincoln’s words is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” The democracy of the several hundred who gathered at Metro – and some 4,000 who rallied at Civic Center Park at 5:30 - contrasts with the so-called representative government composed overwhelmingly of millionaire lawyers (Rand Paul is a opthalmologist; W was a businessman…- not many others and none who come from among ordinary people).* Abraham Lincoln who farmed and split logs, also became a lawyer, but was from the people. Barack Obama was a community organizer, and came from remarkably outside the mainstream even though he, too, is a head of the Harvard Law Review, a constitutional lawyer though betraying the rule of law in consigning Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to a secret military trial. Unlike the cowardly United States, other countries like Spain trust the rule of law to deal with terrorists. See Greenwald here,Lithwick here and Maddow here.

It is often said by politicians that their way of doing things is democratic. It isn't. About policies that serve a common good and decency, Democrats often do the opposite. In contrast, the people in Wisconsin stood up; the democracy of the 14 state senators in exiting the state supported the people (and transformed the politicians).

The war complex – the military-industrial-political-think tank-corporate media – intelligence/police complex (with its international component – see here and here – maintains a corrupt – serving the banks, attacking the poor - order. Manning Marable, a great scholar and activist, died this past Friday. His book on Malcolm X, published yesterday, reveals that Malcolm became a radical trying to unite all black people and willing to work with whites in his Organization for Afro-American Unity. His inital "auto"-biographer, Alex Haley, worked secretly with the FBI which fed him information on his first article on the Muslms (“Nation of Hate”) to divide the black movement. He did not publish 3 chapters of his version of the Autobiography which contained Malcolm’s political program. These were purchased from Haley’s estate at an auction by a wealthy black man for $100,000. That man would only meet with Marable at a restaurant. What was he afraid of? He let Marable look at the chapters for 15 minutes (this was dishonorable on the man’s part, but Manning figured out a lot, having read a lot of other material Malcolm wrote during these years).

Malcolm had supported Martin Luther King in the South (‘if you don’t deal with the brother in there [the nonviolent brother], you will have to deal with the brother out here…”). The theme of the rallies on April 4th around the country is “We are One.” This is the most dangerous thought for the bankers at AIG and Goldman Sachs, the weapons makers of GE (who paid $0 in taxes last year), partying while the “government” slashes only those federal progams which help ordinary people…”We are one” could have been the thought of Egyptian people as they overturned the 29 year tyrant Mubarak, of the Greek or English workers as they rallied against the same massive cutbacks of decent social programs, the feeding of big banks including Goldman Sachs at the expense of the poor.

The FBI and the New York police department knew before-hand of the assassination of Malcolm planned for the Audubon ballroom. They stood aside (thus, the assassination of Malcolm becomes a police murder). Worse yet, Marable discovered that there were 6 murderers from New Jersey, 2 of whom are still alive and have never been charged (45 years later). Of the three people sentenced to 25 years in prison, one was shot at the Audubon Ballroom by Malcolm’s head bodyguard. The other two were not at the ballroom. Manning Marable was a very good and determined scholar. But is he really the only investigator who could figure these matters out? who had a professional obligation to do so?

The police and the FBI thus participated in the murder of Malcolm X and saw to it that the wrong people were convicted, the story never told. Manning Marable almost survived until the publication date of his great work – Monday, April 4th, 2011 by Viking Press. That work shows, among many other starting revelations, that there is a strong secret police (FBI, CIA), regular police (“Red squad”, etc.) aspect to what is too limitedly called the military-industrial complex. Eisenhower, as Andew Bacevich discovered, actually had the words in his address – military-industrial-congressional complex, but crossed the last out on the grounds that it would frighten people. He should have shaken people up because the United States gone far down this dark path.

Though the police and FBI have also never found the murder of Martin Luther King important to investigate (we have a national holiday to King, but…), Coretta Scott King and her family did or do not believe that James Earl Ray murdered King…

The week before Malcolm was shot, police/Nation of Islam operatives (no way of knowing at this point exactly what the links are except that there was mutual knowledge) blew off a bomb at the back of Malcolm’s apartment where his four daughters were sleeping. Haley said Malcolm called him afterwards, his voice so distraught and distorted that he could not understand for several moments - though he had talked with Malcolm for years about his autobiography - who was on the phone. A week later, Malcolm called off his armed bodyguards at a Sunday rally at the Audubon ballroom and said that since a more middle class black audience was now coming, they should not check for weapons and frighten people off. He let the killers walk in (Marable discovered that the killers had staged a walk-through previously). Perhaps Malcolm’s death was a complicated form of suicide. King, too, had worried about the danger to his family. He had had a vision (reported in his Autobiography) that he was in the Lord’s hands). As my student Orlinda Ramirez at Metro has suggested, there is some great fearlessness in doing these things at the highest level (the one at which no one avoids violent death). Striking at one’s family, one’s children, is of course the most dire threat, something that Malcolm, perhaps, chose not to survive.

“I am a man” – the signs in Memphis said. King died with the garbage workers, and today human beings all over the world celebrate the memory and the fierce reality of this struggle. Capitalism is a system, as we see today in the United States and even Britain and Europe, where the “welfare state” is over. The banks steal endless amounts of taxpayer money and award ever new bonuses and stock options (“hungry ghosts”) plunge people who had been doing decently into poverty and despair. Even Obama has had Larry Summers and Tim Geithner close to him, done nothing effective to block foreclosures...

One of my colleagues at Metro yesterday spoke to me about a husband who had lost his job, a wife who had been a paralegal at a law firm and laid off (they could mechanize much of her work). The wife had come back to school, and come in to talk with him about a paper she had written. They have a five year old daughter who has lost health insurance…That is the new America, the new Europe. It bears more resemblance to the ferocity of early and middle capitalism than to the welfare state and the so-called affluent society (John Kenneth Galbraith’s phrase; he worked to make America decent, but that society has never existed for black folks, latinos and poor whites). The authoritarians (note Paul Ryan’s new budget slashing while worshipping militarism) stick up the government to plunge poor people further into poverty.

“We are one” – that is a human and universal slogan. It needs to be pressed by mass nonviolent non-cooperation against all the tyrants, especially the tyranny of the rich here in America. Against war, against the money spent on militarism, against the foreclosures, unemployment, and cuts to education and health care, against the poisoning of the environment. No one else – not Democratic politicians in high places, even Obama – will ride to the rescue. These 1000 rallies, inspired by Madison, point the way to a new and deeper kind of resistance.

*There are of course decent people in Congress like Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters. But they are rare, their views on most issues not covered in the corporate media.

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