Antiwar, US Politics and Labor

Ignominious Surrender on the Mall

By Glen Ford

The Black misleadership class and their labor counterparts held a ceremony of surrender to the War Party and Wall Street, on the Washington Mall, this past weekend. After spending millions to assemble a multitude, big labor, the NAACP and the usual Black entertainers—Reverends Sharpton and Jesse Jackson—could not fix their trembling lips to utter one demand to the power in the White House, whose disfavor they fear even more than they dread the white nationalist hordes of the Tea Party.

Despite the constant references to Dr. Martin Luther King and the 1963 March on Washington, the weekend bus outing bore no resemblance to a “movement” of any kind that Chicago’s Mayor Daley would not approve. Rather than building a popular platform to give voice to substantive demands—that Obama cease acting as Wall Street’s philanthropist, call a halt to his wars, and spend the peace dividend on jobs and education—the weak and timid misleaders instead used October 2nd to transmit power’s demands to the people. Vote for the Democrats! And under no circumstances, embarrass the White House! Then, after November 2, go home and await further orders.

The Black and labor misleaders have found that the best way to hide their own cowardice in the face of corporate power and its servants in the White House and Congress, is to vastly inflate the threat posed by the Tea Party. Indeed, the Tea Party has never had bigger boosters than the men and women on the microphone at the Mall on Saturday. Only by pretending that the Tea Party’s legions are equivalent to the second coming of Genghis Khan, can big labor and Black Obamites justify their abject failure to fight for anything meaningful from Obama and the Democrats.

The truth is, a real people’s movement could defeat the phony Tea Party “movement” and put fear in the hearts of corporate Democrats, too. But Saturday’s charade was no threat to anyone, and all but guarantees a further strengthening of the Right through a bolder Tea Party and ever growing corporate domination of the Democratic Party.

With all its ostentatious, nervous patriotism and silly yammering about how Saturday’s crowd was just as “American,” if not more so, than the Tea Party, the “One Nation” event felt, in some ways, like a throwback to the days when Negroes were obsessed with proving to whites that they were also true blue for Uncle Sam. Ironically, one of the oldest speakers provided the only dignity to the occasion. Eighty-three year-old Harry Belafonte, alone among the main speakers, confronted President Obama directly on his wars. The famed entertainer, who spent freely of his own money to fund the Black Freedom Movement when it really was a movement, hoped that America “will soon come to the realization that the wars that we wage today in faraway lands are immoral, unconscionable and unwinnable.”

That’s as close to speaking Truth to Power as Saturday’s event got—except for those of us lefties who went down to show that the movement was not yet dead. Unfortunately, our impact was minimal amid a sea of bodies bussed in with no mission other than to serve Barack Obama.

Black Agenda Report, October 6, 2010