Thursday, June 25, 2015

Charleston, white terrorism and the Black Danse Macabre

By Malik Sekou OSEI and William PLEASANT

One of the major social afflictions in American social cultures is its abilities to always jump into the shitty eddy with both feet of a-historicism to explain everything and all truth away under the rubric of personal “Feel Good."

State Senator Clementa Pinckney, assassinated by the SC Republican Party
As usual, we are all treated to the sterile and vulgar flatulence of bloated toads of Black and white liberals attempting to explain white supremacy and its role in the genesis of racial domestic terrorism under the big tent of Kum-Ba-Ya moments. Blacks and whites exchange hugs around the Americana campfire. Meanwhile, we are expected to believe that last Wednesday's act in Charleston, SC was just the tantrum of a troubled individual and not the self-groomed ideologue of Americana. The fact of the matter is that Dylann Roof, the author of the Charleston Massacre, draped in his South African and Rhodesian apartheid regalia, really is as American and contemporary as mom, apple pie and Chevrolet.

After watching events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Baltimore, Los Angeles and a number of other places too numerous to mention, I had an unexpected impulse to speak to the more courageous and focused formations of “Black Lives Matter” and ask them to take their protests to the Black church where the families of the nine victims and their supporters felt compelled to publicly bestow forgiveness and solace to a militant ideologue of white supremacy, namely Dylann Roof. Either the "Black Lives Matter" mantra has yet to seep into the pews of America's Black congregations, or it has done so and the armies of toe-tapping church cultists simply reject it out of hand.

Nine Black people--three men and six women--were gunned down in Charleston. The superficial reason is apparent: Of course, America is terminally socially diseased and more than currently dysfunctional!

While most whites seeks to explain away America's gunslinging, lynch-roping institutionalize racism as a function of individual crazed behavior, of ignorant prejudice that afflicts "unenlightened crackers,” the underlying white mass reflex is to treat white terrorism as a sort of social geek show, an opportunity to turn away in disgust, an occasion to smugly take satisfaction in the fact that it's some other clown and not them who must now dance beneath the moral stagelight.

But, in all of the humming and praying and singing and moaning in the wake of the killings, not once has the Charleston Massacre been portrayed in truth. Indeed, it was a murder that took place in the erstwhile sanctity of a church. Without a doubt, the nine victims were innocent. But the killings did not take place in any church, and the prime target was not just some poor bloak who happened to show up for a Wednesday prayer meeting rather than beam up on the latest TV-borne cultural smack.

FACT 2015: The white supremacist REPUBLICAN PARTY enjoys unchallenged political hegemony in the US.
The alleged lone gunman, Dylann Roof, not only stalked the church but he also chose his target well. You see, there is nothing psychotic about political assassins. And without question, the attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was nothing short of a political rubout for the political benefit of the South Carolina Republican Party and its racist riff-raff base.

Reverend Clementa Pinckney, leader of Mother Emanuel AME Church, ate an assassin's bullet last Wednesday night because he was also a South Carolina State Senator. You see, there are great herds of blowhard Black preachers to cap in Charleston, no less across South Carolina. Dylann Roof could have had a turkey shoot. But no Black preacher in South Carolina wielded the political juice of Clementa Pinckney. He was the most outspoken progressive member of the South Carolina legislature where, despite the state's large Black population, Blacks occupy a handful of seats (22 State Assembly/ 10 State Senate, in atrociously gerrymandered districts). Pinckney served on the Banking and Insurance, Corrections and Penology, Education, Finance and Medical Affairs committees in the South Carolina State Senate. Needless to say, from these powerful positions, he was a dagger to the throat of the racist and reactionary Republican Party, bent on dismembering all social welfare in the state--education and medical affairs--and promoting the business agendas of the rich--banking and insurance and the prison-industrial complex.

Indeed, across the US, Black elected officials have been assassinated by white reactionaries since the end of the Civil War.

Pinckney was the chief sponsor of legislation that created a state-financed child health care system.
  • He attacked the wholesale tax seizure of farm lands, especially Black-owned property.
  • He led the effort to establish public financing of state electoral campaigns.
  • He demanded tighter gun control and background checks for buyers.
  • Pinckney went after the lucrative real estate developer industry along the so-called "Gold Coast" (the Myrtle Beach-Charleston-Hilton Head Island axis) by demanding higher taxation for outrageously under-funded public schools.
  • He demanded that health insurance companies cover the costs of smoking cessation treatment...
Make no mistake, Clementa Pinckney was no V. I. Lenin, but he was a consistent irritant to South Carolina's white supremacist gangster class and leading business interests. Within the backward politics of the ignoramus-ruled, impoverished and racially terrorized state, anybody approaching Pinckney's robust defense of Black people and the poor in general was destined to pay a price. He paid with his life. This carefully avoided perspective actually reduces the current exhibition of national mass grief and political handwringing to a vast circus of insane political denial by Black people and equally galling opportunism by the political/cultural elite.

Karl Marx
"Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce..." Marx, 18th Brumaire

Dylann Roof's killing rampage in Charleston was not a "Hate Crime." It was a calculated hit, designed to decapitate the South Carolina Democratic Party Left that overwhelmingly resides among the Black members of the state legislature. It was also intended to send a clear message that future "Pinckneys" can expect a similar fate.

Instead of confronting the bloodthirsty nature of US electoral politics in 2015, we are treated from head to toe with sociological and psychology-tinged excuses for why and how Black Americans, 150 years after the abolition of de jure slavery, find themselves as politically disarmed as the day they walked off the plantations. You see, the issue is not what to do with the trigger man Dylann Roof but how do we address his racist and reactionary political leadership and material enablers. And of course, that calls into question the legitimacy of every US institution, from the two-for-one political party system to the corporate whore mass media to the dog-n-pony show of American religious/ethical centers. The logical conclusion is that they are all ineffectual in providing Black people (and the poor) with even a modicum of political empowerment, i.e., the capacity to execute self-defense against the very material social sectors that thrive on their oppression.

In the wake of the Clementa Pinckney assassination, the most popular excuse for this failure rests upon the sociological observation that Americans of all ethnicities and classes tend to be armed to the teeth. Democratic Party and Republican Party ideologues argue that either there are too many guns in the hands of the population or still too few.

For the Republican side, Charles Cotton, a National Rifle Association board member, wrote the night after the Emanuel AME Church massacre, "Something else to consider: The pastor of this church, who was killed, is a State Legislator in S.C. And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue."

Victims of the 1963 18th Street Baptist Church bombing.
Well, it appears the assassination would have been prevented if the negroes had properly defended themselves. They ostensibly committed spontaneous and collective suicide through 1.) the inability/unwillingness to shoot back at Dylann Roof in their church and 2.) supporting and following the political leadership of State Senator Clementa Pinckney, who incidentally promoted gun control. For Cotton, the coloreds died for lack of good judgement. The NRA fanatic, of course, avoids the fact that the reason why Dylann Roof went to Mother Emanuel AME Church was because it was a church, a target of vulnerability. It was unarmed. For all of Roof's alleged seething negrophobia, his political mission to rid America of the Black people, he had ample opportunity to kill dozens more Black folks on the street corners of Charleston than at a mid-week Bible study session. There was only one hitch, "the brothas," equally strapped, would have no doubt answered him round for round. Would Cotton explain away the bullet-riddled, white corpse of Dylann Roof in the streets of Black Charleston as a case of death by poor judgement? Not likely.

The flip side to Charles Cotton's racist cretinism, delivered by no less than the President of the United States, was even more appalling. On the morning following the massacre, Barack Obama took to the airwaves to deliver his two cents. Said America's first "Black" president, "We don't have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. ...And at some point it's going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively." Obama used the massacre as a platform to reiterate his failed gun control policies, policies that he and everybody else knows have no chance of passing a federal legislature that is openly bribed and intimidated by the NRA. So, an alleged racist lunatic got his hands on some firearms (not unlike the case of most local police officers in the US today). By Obama's measure " innocent people were killed in part" by too ready access to guns. But what was the other part? Obama never said during his remarks to the nation on June 18th.

Could the other part be that one of his own party leaders was targeted for assassination by Obama's political opponents? Could it have been that Clementa Pinckney stood as a lightening rod of Black and progressive opposition to the boastfully reactionary and white supremacist South Carolina Republican Party? Could that microscopic shred of the other part be that the church killing was in the historical tradition of armed repression against Black elected officials in South Carolina? Or more importantly, could that atom-sized other part be Obama's unwillingness and/or inability to employ his authority as president to confront white supremacy in any of its manifestations, including its terroristic spasms? On June 18, President Obama was having none of that other part.

In fact, in his broadcast address, Obama used the term "Black" and "African America" only in describing the origins of Mother Emanuel AME Church, never in description of the victims. (Please refer to the transcript: Likewise, he never used the words white, racist, terrorist/terrorism, lawlessness or assassin at all. But he did make emotional use of Dr. Martin Luther King's remarks on Birmingham's September 1963, 18th Street Baptist Church klan bombing that left four Black teens dead--not because they were Black but because they were in a church, by the way, according to the "Black" president. Obama simply and opportunistically drew the "got-jacked-in-church" parallel. But what was chilling about the president's blatant exploitation of history--in service to his moribund gun control policies, never on behalf of defending Black folks--was that when compared to President John F. Kennedy's response to the 1963 Birmingham bombing, JFK comes off more pro-Black.

Kennedy declared (September 16, 1963), "I KNOW I speak on behalf of all Americans in expressing a deep sense of outrage and grief over the killing of the children yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama. It is regrettable that public disparagement of law and order has encouraged violence which has fallen on the innocent. If these cruel and tragic events can only awaken that city and State--if they can only awaken this entire Nation--to a realization of the folly of racial injustice and hatred and violence, then it is not too late for all concerned to unite in steps toward peaceful progress before more lives are lost."

Here JFK clearly identifies political incitement and racist terrorism as the cause of the killings. It is highly unlikely that he would have attempted to appease white sensibilities by claiming, like Obama, that anti-Black bombings in the US South had one microgram to do with too easy access to dynamite !!!

After being subjected to the Dempublicrat political two-step dance around political and racial polarization in contemporary America--the sociological explanation--we are now witness to the shake 'n shimmy of the psychological canard. We are supposed to believe that Dylann Roof blasted the minister and several parishioners of Mother Emanuel AME Church because he was 1.) an ignorant redneck loser, 2.) jilted by his white girlfriend who chose a Black lover instead, 3.) overdosed on mis-prescribed psychotrophic drugs and/or 3.) just plain nuts.

In the US, the seriously mentally ill out-number the military and they have guns.

If only one of these psychiatric conditions was a cause for racist mayhem in the USA, then the streets would be littered with Black bodies everyday at the hands of white lunatics. Mental health diagnosis and treatment in this country is an utter joke. According to NAMI (National Association on Mental Illness), "One in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17−about 13.6 million−live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder." (March 5, 2013,  National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health). In short, the number of potentially homicidal folks daily walking the streets of America exceeds the entire number of US military personnel by at least ten times, and they tend to have firearms or can easily obtain firearms. So, Dylann Roof was crazy when he murdered nine people in Charleston? He was crazy before the act, during the act and will remain out of his mind until the day he croaks. So what? He still, nonetheless, carried out a planned political assassination that requires a political retaliation, if but only for social prophylactic reasons. Roof's political leaders and enablers, nested in the Republican and Democratic parties, must be made to pay a price.

But as Obama demonstrated last week, there is no willingness within the DP leadership to even utter the "R" word (racism). As per the Republican Party, Dylann Roof was actually carrying out the implied and explicit marching orders of its leadership. Political terrorism (judicial and extra-judicial) is actually a platform tactic of the Republican Party today. Remember how the Florida State Police delivered the state's electoral votes to George W. Bush by literally chasing Blacks and Latinos from the polls in 2000? So, who will exact the political pound of flesh on behalf of the Charleston victims?

This question leads to the most bizarre dance of denial of all. Black Democrats, the civil rights establishment,  the traditional preacher class and large portions of the Black Left would be the likely folks to make at least a partial political assessment of the Charleston massacre. To them logically falls the task of organizing the Black masses, in the face of the utter failure of Obama, the Democratic Party, the white liberal establishment and the corn-fed Black intelligentsia, to at least provide for political self-defense. They are supposed to appreciate that Dylann Roof is not a lone, deranged white kid who unfortunately got a gun for his birthday but a militant in a movement dedicated to maintaining white supremacy at any cost. Roof is not a creature of the white political fringe but a mainstream actor, especially within the Republican Party contours of South Carolina.

Flags don't massacre Black people, racists do!
But logic nor sanity do not attain anymore in Black America. This is illustrated best by he crystallized demand of the Black political class in response to the Charleston Massacre. There has been no demand for political power, no demand that the instigators and enablers of assassins like Dylann Roof be at least banished from the political stage. Oh no! The NAACP, the Al Sharpton clique and the regular Black Democratic Party has launched a  shrill demand that South Carolina government buildings change their outdoor decor.

Since April 11, 1961, to commemorate the Civil War centennial, a so-called Confederate flag has flown over the South Carolina state capitol. Actually, there never was a Confederate flag that ever flew over any government building of the 14 secessionist states during the Civil War. What is generally described as the Confederate flag--the stars and bars-- is only the battle banner of Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Needless to say, Lee's army was trounced by Union forces and the South went down in total defeat, taking its tattered military banner to the grave with it. After decades in the social trash heap, this emblem re-emerged in the wake of the 1954 Brown vs. Topeka Supreme Court ruling outlawing public school segregation, as a symbol of white backlash against efforts to crush apartheid in southern commercial and cultural institutions. It became the American swastika only at that time. For example, the all-white Georgia state legislature explicitly incorporated the rebel battle banner into its state flag in 1956 as a show of white defiance to desegregation. In 2001, due to broad protests, Georgia removed the segregationist reference from its flag. Only the State of Mississippi has a flag that includes the stars and bars at this time.

1956 Georgia flag incorporated the Confederate battle banner as an act of defiance to desegregation.
Hours after the Charleston Massacre, somebody somewhere got the notion that the South Carolina government's penchant for displaying the mid-20th century symbol of white supremacy was inappropriate, and a bitter reminder of the racial hostility that motivated Dylann Roof to kill nine people. The sentiment went viral through a social media campaign to #TakeItDown, even provoking our "Black" president Barack Obama to suddenly realize that maybe the "Confederate" flag might be offensive or even intimidating to most Black people. He had never mentioned the issue before.

Now with Obama and white liberals in tow, a movement has been spawned where, rather than confronting the issue of political terror against Black people led and enabled by the Republican Party and its southern affiliates, removal of the Confederate flag has become the strategic objective. The AP quoted Lasheya Williams, a Charleston resident and relative of one of the murdered church members as saying, “South Carolina won’t get better overnight; people are set in their ways. It’s sad that it took a tragedy like what happened last week for her to call for it [Confederate flag] to come down. Regardless, this is a baby step.”

Indeed, Dylann Roof may have sparked a new public fashion craze across the South. South Carolina's governor Niki Haley was the first to haul down what had previously been her colors, stating, "Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state, and without ill will, to say it’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds. One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come.” Rightist Republican Governors, like Haley, in Mississippi and Alabama were quick to follow suite, relegating the hated flag to truck stops and trailer parks. Why not? It cost them nothing because the Confederate flag means nothing when the "Confederates" (white neo-fascists) hold state power in the South. In fact, the Confederate flag has accomplished its mission, i.e., rallying downwardly mobile and ignorant southern whites around the Republican Party.

Yet Black people, particularly the erstwhile leadership, actually share Lasheya William's notion that somehow political progress has been made, even a "baby step." Nothing has changed. Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and arch-jester of the civil rights establishment, correctly quipped, “She [Haley] could not have gotten elected, I’m sure, had she taken this position when she was running for office, because of the racism that honestly exists in South Carolina.” Dees hit the nail on the head; Haley was elected because she campaigned as a negrophobe. And Niki Haley, ironically a person of South Asian descent, will probably be ousted in the next election by the folks who will accuse her of race treason for betraying "their" flag.

SC Gov. Niki Haley easily retired her white supremacist fetish flag with gusto.
We have a Black political leadership that insists that the Charleston Massacre was an act of racial terrorism that can only be politically addressed by removing a symbol. NAACP president Cornell Brooks demanded on June 19, "...[A]n inspiration of hate, as an inspiration for violence that symbol has to come down.” Does anybody really believe that if the Confederate flag is retired across the country, then nobody will be inspired to commit white political terror? The KKK and the skinheads will retire? Openly reactionary and racist Republican-dominated state legislatures will happily resign their seats? Will white killer cops take vows of peace and regret? Brooks and his crew are simply doomed to a danse macabre, since they cannot face the fact that their reliance on the Democratic Party as the engine of Black Liberation (political empowerment) has only produced two results:  1.) The often anti-Black "Black" presidency of Barack Obama and 2.) A tremendous white racist backlash organized within the Republican Party that effectively holds national political hegemony. Moreover, the traditional Democratic Party coalition (trade unionists, liberal-progressive whites and "minorities") has proven totally ineffective in providing even a crumb of political support to Blacks who now find themselves literally standing alone, facing the business-end of America's racists guns. As such, the Black Left has been reduced to demanding editorial privileges over US iconography. Only in this way, striking the Confederate flag from the state houses of the South can be deemed a "victory" or a racial political advance--even a baby step--by Black Leaders.

But let us be clear, the American powers would have us believe that endless war, belligerence, aggression and threats of new, more catastrophic wars, part of the drive for US global domination, have no consequences. Indiscriminate violence and killing on the part of the American military or intelligence apparatus are their daily raison d'etre. US officials and politicians, mafia-like, blandly discuss “killing” alleged terrorists or “eliminating threats” to “America’s national interests.” Murder, whether by drone or other modern means, has become routinized to a banality. The president, as we know, meets with his advisers every Tuesday, to go over a “kill lists.”

Dylann Roof, if he was the lone culprit in Charleston Massacre, simply brought America's ultra-violent, racist repression to the domestic stage. Like Barack Obama, he simply lashed out at targets of impunity, led and enabled by a political structure bent on racial domination at home and abroad. Let us not forget that only two months ago, in North Charleston, South Carolina, less than 10 miles from the scene of Wednesday night’s massacre, a local police officer murdered Walter Scott in cold blood with five bullets to the back. Like the worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME Church, Scott was also a target of impunity.

Coming to a town near you...
As the US structural TERMINAL CRISIS deepens, with its further descent into economic austerity and naked domestic military repression, the epigones of Dylann Roof will go on the march, not just in the South but across the nation. As lone assassins or as organized death squads they will carry out the bi-partisan program of silencing dissent for the glory of the American Way of Life. Observe! In 2015, a liberal Democrat like South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney--a legally elected, by-the-rules government official--enjoyed the same fate as Mississippi's Medgar Evers or Chicago's Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. In other words, the US state in profound decline finds itself compelled to lash out at even the mildest opposition, especially when it emanates from it Black arch-foes.

History is on our side but not time.
The rebellion of the slaves shall be the war of the landscapes!

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