Shifting Tides, Shifty Obama-ists

[We are not accustomed to quoting the Bible, but sometimes the biblical words have become part of common culture, as in this:  “Matthew 7:15-20, ‘You Will Know Them by Their Fruits’ — ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.'”  Which is appropriate warned, when perusing the shifting claims and tides of Obama-ists like Angela Davis, whose latest statement (read down to her Guardian article) reaches into more radical territory to restore credibility.  Davis, who partially broke with the path of the revisionist CPUSA many years ago, and who has made contributions to the growing prison abolitionist movement, still has promoted electoral-democratic-reform illusions about the imperialist system against revolutionary strategies. (our highlights, for emphasis). —  Frontlines ed.]

  • From Black Agenda Report, by Glen Ford — March 27, 2012 — “Angela Davis Lost Her Mind Over Obama” —  The “delusional effect” that swept Black America with the advent of the First Black President has warped and weakened the mental powers of some of our most revered icons – and it has been painful to behold. Earlier this month, Angela Davis diminished herself as a scholar and thinker in a gush of nonsense about the corporate executive in the White House. The occasion was a conference on Empowering Women of Color, in Berkeley, California. Davis shared the stage with Grace Lee Boggs, the 96-year-old activist from Detroit. The subject was social transformation, but Davis suddenly launched into how wonderful it felt to see people “dancing in the streets” when Barack Obama was elected. She called that campaign a “victory, not of an individual, but of…people who refused to believe that it was impossible to elect a person, a Black person, who identified with the Black radical tradition.”……There was a hush in the room, as if in mourning of the death of brain cells. Angela Davis was saying that Barack Obama is a man who identifies with the Black radical tradition. She said it casually, as if Black radicalism and Obama were not antithetical terms; as if everything he has written, said and done in national politics has not been a repudiation of the Black radical tradition; as if his rejection of his former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was not a thorough disavowal of the Black radical tradition. In his famous 2008 campaign speech in Philadelphia, Obama blamed such radicals for compounding the nation’s problems.
  • From Democracy Now, January 21, 2013  —  Addressing the Peace Ball in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the renowned author, educator and political activist Angela Davis urges those content with President Obama’s re-election to continue pushing him for social change. “This time around we cannot subordinate our aspirations and our hopes to presidential agendas,” Davis says. “Our passionate support for President Barack Obama … should also be expressed in our determination to raise issues that have been largely ignored or not appropriately addressed by the administration.”
  • And Angela today, adjusting her tone, more accurately and radical, to the shifting tides, as anger and defiance grow…………

“From Michael Brown to Assata Shakur, the racist state of America persists”

by Angela Davis, The GuardianSaturday, 1 November 2014 
 
Although racist state violence has been a consistent theme in the history of people of African descent in North America, it has become especially noteworthy during the administration of the first African-American president, whose very election was widely interpreted as heralding the advent of a new, postracial era.

When The Movement Was Strong And Culture Was A Weapon

[The following article, from the website of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, is about a time when popular entertainers often contributed to political movements and to the defense of targets of government repression, because of the strength and influence of the movements.  The case described, of Aretha Franklin coming forward to bail Angela Davis out of jail, largely out of solidarity and in opposition to injustice, is posted here as a good example of the times, in which support was given to such revolutionaries as George Jackson as well as to such members of the revisionist CPUSA as Angela Davis.  —  Frontlines ed.]

August 20, 2012, http://mxgm.org/when-the-movement-was-strong-and-culture-was-a-weapon/

From 1970′s Aretha to 2012 Beyoncé

by Kamau Franklin, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

A 1970′s news article on Aretha Franklin’s heroic gesture to pay bail for then recently arrested Angela Davis has been circulating on face-book (link is at end of article). Aretha offered to pay bail stemming from the capture of Angela Davis in New York after a massive FBI woman hunt in 1970. Ms. Davis was charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy for allegedly supplying weapons for an attempted courtroom escape led by Jonathan Jackson to free his brother and revolutionary leader George Jackson.  Angela Davis already well known for her battles with then California Governor Ronald Reagan over her right to teach in California Universities after being identified as a communist sealed her image as a revolutionary icon in the Black movement.  The article has caught the attention of many because of Aretha’s striking and unapologetic stance in offering bail towards Mr. Davis release. Aretha Franklin states

“My Daddy (Detroit’s Rev. C.L. Franklin) says I don’t know what I ‘m doing. Well I respect him of course but I’m going to stick by my beliefs. Angela Davis must go free. Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in Communism, but because she is a Black woman and she wants freedom for black people. I have the money; I got it from black people – they’ve made me financially able to have it – and I want to use it in ways that will help our people”

For context Aretha is speaking during a time in the early 1970′s when the dominant ideological current in the Black community had shifted from civil rights to Black Power. With all the inconsistencies related to the Black Power slogan it is clear that a critical mass of Black people during that time internalized it as statement of Black pride, activism within the community, standing up and forcefully challenging white supremacy over black lives and the contemplation of different forms of struggle and ideological beliefs within while attempting unity to the public. Broad concepts because it lacked the crystallization of an actual program to gain “freedom” but nonetheless during that time the idea of “Black Power” set the tone for community actions and collective responsibility.

Aretha of 1970 states she has “disturbed the peace and has been arrested”. She is hinting to a political arrest not one for drugs, shoplifting or for domestic violence, but for advocating for her people. Aretha Franklin was as big as it gets in terms of mainstream artist during that time in the Black community. She was not touting her donations to charity but her personal involvement and desire to be a part of the movement to free black people and in particular her solidarity with another Black woman.

What makes these statements even more note worthy is that Aretha was more a product of the times than a devout revolutionary artist. She was moved to her position by what was happening around her. Just as today’s pop figures/ artist are also not devout revolutionaries and are moved these days by anything but a movement.  As time evolves you can see how in just one generation a figure like Muhammad Ali takes a stance against US military adventurism that costs him millions in personal wealth and prestige from the dominant power players to his daughter Laila’s promotion of US military adventurism in an upcoming television series that will probably earn her great sums.  Times and context will mostly dictate this outcome and activist types should not waste much time in a critique of the vast majority of popular artist for not being “political” but instead movement people should be critiqued for hoping that popular figures/artist in today’s context will themselves be committed to community action. Continue reading

Black Agenda Report: “Angela Davis Lost Her Mind Over Obama”

 

Angela Davis: Is she forgetful, or deliberately fudging the truth about corporate-imperialist Obama when she links him to the "Black radical tradition"?

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | March 27, 2012

The “delusional effect” that swept Black America with the advent of the First Black President has warped and weakened the mental powers of some of our most revered icons – and it has been painful to behold. Earlier this month, Angela Davis diminished herself as a scholar and thinker in a gush of nonsense about the corporate executive in the White House. The occasion was a conference on Empowering Women of Color, in Berkeley, California. Davis shared the stage with Grace Lee Boggs, the 96-year-old activist from Detroit. The subject was social transformation, but Davis suddenly launched into how wonderful it felt to see people “dancing in the streets” when Barack Obama was elected. She called that campaign a “victory, not of an individual, but of…people who refused to believe that it was impossible to elect a person, a Black person, who identified with the Black radical tradition.”

There was a hush in the room, as if in mourning of the death of brain cells. Angela Davis was saying that Barack Obama is a man who identifies with the Black radical tradition. She said it casually, as if Black radicalism and Obama were not antithetical terms; as if everything he has written, said and done in national politics has not been a repudiation of the Black radical tradition; as if his rejection of his former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was not a thorough disavowal of the Black radical tradition. In his famous 2008 campaign speech in Philadelphia, Obama blamed such radicals for compounding the nation’s problems. He viewed people like Rev. Wright as having been mentally scarred by battles of long ago, who were unable to see the inherent goodness of America, as he did. This is the man who said he agreed with President Ronald Reagan, that the Sixties were characterized by “excesses.” Can anyone doubt that Obama considers the historical Angela Davis, herself, to be a part of the political “excesses” of the Sixties and early Seventies that he so deplores? Continue reading