Saturday, January 16, 2016

Reverend Walter Coleman on Barack and Carlos

    Reverend Coleman is an old friend from Harvard and national SDS who has long worked in the latin community in Chicago, including with the great fighter Elvira Arellano.


     Here he speaks to the demonization of Barack and Carlos, a resonant linking (demonization is what the "Republican" party, the authoritarian dead-enemy of Lincoln lives off).  Carlos has emigrated from a murderous regime in Honduras (the democracy there was overthrown, with at least American toleration, early in the Obama administration).  Carlos seeks a decent life here as every immigrant has before him (my family, too, were immigrants, fleeing the tsar).


     Coleman analogizes the crowds at anti-immigrant i.e. "Republican" rallies to those "Democrats" who had picnics at lynchings in the South.  See the Equal Rights Initiative's report here.  This is the same racist demonization, sometimes called nativism.

       That this demonization is used to throw sand in the eyes of ordinary white folks while shoveling tax cuts to the .00001% is visible to anyone who looks carefully at American politics.  Such politicians particularly recommend "austerity" for black children on food stamps in the Mississippi delta and to block government programs that might put everyone back to work (the white male death rate is rising between 49-54, alone among the rates, including of American chicanos, in all developed countries - see here).  Fear and confusion are linked, for many whites and others, to racism and self-destruction.  h/t Jack Womack.

    Fear and demonization have also licensed to US invasions of the Middle East, with as Coleman says, increasingly disastrous consequences,  But one must also note: the nuclear treaty with Iran is a move, by Obama, to alter this dynamic and this week, resulted amazingly in the 16 hour negotiated release of American sailors.  Quite a contrast with the onetime hostage crisis or the capture of British sailors in Iranian waters in 2007. Still,  Coleman is right that Barack's continuing use of bombing/drones, mostly killing civilians and heralded sadly in the State of the Union this week (Barack is the President of the Empire...) is unlikely to defeat the "beehive" strategy of ISIS.


       And Bernie Sanders is right to speak directly to the Trump/Republican attempts to divide ordinary people, and represents, in this election, a decent and increasingly strong alternative.

BARACK AND CARLOS  By Rev Walter L Coleman
President Obama has been the target of the phalanx of Republican Presidential candidates – just as he was the target of the Republican Congress for the last seven years. There is no question that he has been targeted by these politicians in an effort to awaken support from the hard racism that exists throughout the United States.
No less than the President, “Carlos” is also a target of politicians seeking to build their support in racism. Carlos is a young Honduran refugee. We recently won Special Juvenile Immigrant Status for him. Carlos will now apply for the next step: an adjustment of status to become a legal permanent resident.
The Republican Presidential Phalanx targeted those like Carlos who come as refugees to the southern border of the U.S. The Phalanx claimed that  youngsters like Carlos are “magnets” for illegal immigration and terrorism. The cheering crowds of candidate supporters during the recent debates vented their fear, hatred and racism much as southern white crowds once cheered and celebrated at lynchings. You don’t feel the effects of this vicious combination of emotions until you look into the eyes of Carlos and see that he is the object of their hatred.
While Carlos (among thousands like him) was attacked but not named during the debate, the President was pointed to directly.
The threat of ISIS terrorist attacks in the United States has changed the focus of their attack on the President but has made it even more openly an appeal to racism.
The rise of ISIS is part of both a general and a specific response to U.S. efforts to dominate the countries of the middle east and to control the oil as well as U.S. blind military and political support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. ISIS has gathered support generally from the Muslim populations of the Middle east because of long standing and deep resentment against U.S .policies  in that region. ISIS established its land base in Iraq because the U.S. instituted a government which suppressed the rights of Suni Muslims.
President Obama inherited this history when he became President. I believe he made a sincere effort to reposition the United States in relationship to the region. He was not successful because, as the CEO of the Empire, he could not implement a strong enough break with the past. He tried to ease out of the history of the the middle east and was confronted with the rise of Suni militarism and religious fascism.
He has rightly understood the strategy of ISIS, which we could call a “beehive” streategy. They established a land base because of the history of the U.S. in that region. Once established, they became a beehive. If the U.S. used its military power to attack the beehive then “the bees” would attack the U.S. both in country and around the world. 
Obama has followed a strategy of using air power to contain ISIS while mobilizing an international coalition with Suni Muslims in the lead – to actually defeat the temporary nation they have established. It is a slow and painful process – and may not be possible.
We should also recognize the limitations that the President faces. 
On the one hand, he faces a Republican Party which is making an unparalleled attack on the U.S. presidency while openly mobilizing the racism in the country against its first African President.
At the same time, President Obama is as much the captive of the Democratic Party as its leader. We have had to fight to “Free Barack.” We had to fight to get Barack to side with Carlos – but when when we fought he did! There has been a failure to develop a movement in the United States that could challenge U.S. foreign intervention policies of the democratic party. This failure has made the President much less effective than he could have been in establishing a new history for the United States.
In the same way, the movement has failed to confront the myth that refugees from Honduras come here for the American Dream. “Carlos’” situation is a consequence of the U.S. sponsored military coup of Honduras in 2009 which gave rise to the conditions from which young Carlos had to flee for his life!
The grassroots movement that has arisen to challenge the Democratic Party on domestic issues has timidly stayed away from U.S. foreign policy. We are paying the price. And so are young people like Carlos. 
It was wonderful to see Carlos reunited with his sister, who fought hard for his security. Familia Latina Unida, our churches and our ministries will continue to find ways to stand up for young people like Carlos and we will continue to stand up against efforts to use young people like Carlos – as well as the first African American President - to mobilize the racism in this country by political opportunists. It took a movement to beat back Jim Crow and to force the Democratic Party to oppose segregation. It will take a movement organized community by community to beat back Donald Trump and then bend a Democratic President towards justice. The strong hold of racism in this country that has been laid bare in the demonization of “Barack and Carlos” should be a wake-up call to the next generation.

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