By Clay Claiborne. First published by Linux Beach.
Politics in the U.S. may have reached a new low on Friday when a Maine legislator took the governor up on his challenge to make a voicemail message public:
“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” a recording of the governor’s phone message says. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cock sucker. I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist cock sucker. You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”
LePage’s answer to a question from Andrew Ritchie, a black audience member at a town hall meeting in North Berwick on Wednesday, might have been one of the reasons Gattine called the governor a racist. The governor said:
“Let me tell you this, explain to you, I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state. Now ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state,” LePage said. “I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx and Brooklyn.”
On Thursday, Gov. LePage told WMTW News 8:
“Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers.”
The Maine governor has a long history of making racist statements. He started collecting drug dealer data after he made this one, blaming the heroin epidemic in the second whitest state in the nation on black people, at a January town hall in Bridgeton:
“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty — these types of guys — they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”
When the Maine ACLU heard the governor’s statement that 90% of those being arrested for drug crimes were black or Hispanic, they demanded to see the arrest records, saying that if the governor’s numbers were true and 90% of those arrested for drug dealing in Maine were minorities, there was very likely some serious racial profiling going on because according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2012, 38 percent of people arrested for drug trafficking nationally were black.
Using current Maine government data, my own calculations show that blacks make up 6.1% (559/9,159) of all those either in prison or on parole/probation for all crimes and 12.2% (237/1,936) of those in similar jeopardy for drug crimes. You may be struck by the low numbers — for a state’s prison population — I know I was.
There is good news and bad news here.
The bad news is that black people are only 1.3% of the state population, so the percentage of black people in the Maine criminal justice system is extremely disproportionate. This speaks volumes about the racist reality of the criminal justice system headed by Gov. LePage.
The good news is that black people are only 1.3% of the states population so as yet, relatively few black people have had to live under the political rule of a chief executive like LePage.
This could well change next year if Donald Trump is elected president.
He has run the most racially charged campaign in living memory. He has campaigned from one racist statement to the next. About Mexican rapists, Muslims terrorists, a Mexican-American judge, Syrian refugees hiding ISIS, Black Lives Matter killing cops, and so on. These are the themes he is using to rally his troops, and recently he has brought into his campaign a number of prominent white supremacists, including Lauren LePage, the Maine governor’s daughter. She had been the executive director of Maine People Before Politics, described by the Press Herald as “an advocacy group formed to advance her father’s agenda.”
Donald Trump Is Not a Republican
The reason the last two Republican presidential nominees, the two living Republican presidents, and the Republican governor of the state in which it was held were not at the convention that nominated Donald Trump is because they recognize he isn’t just another GOP presidential candidate. In 2016, the Republican party has been hijacked by a white supremacist movement that sees Donald Trump as its leader and they are attempting to install a white nationalist administration that is likely to pursue racist and fascist policies that go far beyond those of the Obama administration or any other presidential regime in living memory.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes VDARE as “an anti-immigration hate website” which “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.”
Paul Manafort, a GOP stalwart, had been brought in to rein in the campaign somewhat. Now he is out. Meet the new team:
- Stephen Bannon is Trump’s new campaign chairman. He is also the current chairman of Breitbart News. Ben Shapiro was the editor-at-large of Breitbart News for four years, and he said “Under Bannon’s leadership, Breibart openly embraced the white supremacist Alt-Right.” Breitbart News has become central command for the politely named Alt-Right movement.
The most extreme elements of this alternative right are the 1488ers. The numbers stand for the 14 words in the Nazi slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and the eighth letter of the alphabet H twice to signify “Heil Hitler.” According to the Anti-Defamation League “the numbers form a general endorsement of white supremacy and its beliefs. As such, they are ubiquitous within the white supremacist movement — as graffiti, in graphics and tattoos, even in screen names and e-mail addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Some white supremacists will even price racist merchandise, such as t-shirts or compact discs, for $14.88.” 1488 showed up in Dylann Roof’s manifesto too and he was supposed to be a lone, unconnected, racist killer.
Now that you know what to look for, you will start to notice it.
But most mainstream Alt-Right supporters aren’t that extreme, according to Allum Bokhari, a reporter for Breitbart:
“They want to build their homogeneous communities, sure — but they don’t want to commit any pogroms along the way. Indeed, they would prefer non-violent solutions…The bulk of their demands, after all, are not so audacious: they want their own communities, populated by their own people, and governed by their own values.”
Trump Is Part of an International White Nationalist Movement
A caller to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show said of the Alt-Right:
“…it started in the last few years in Europe because of the Muslim invasion. And I think it’s… They’re beginning to get people over here, youngsters between 18, 25, 26, to convert to what they call ‘the alt right.’ I think it’s gonna be pretty intense. I think you should keep an eye out for it.”
That statement is important because it connects the dots between the Syrian civil war and the rise of white nationalism in Europe and the U.S., and because it points out that these white nationalists are recruiting the same young white workers Left groups like the Green Party should be going after. Bokhari says “The French New Right also serve as a source of inspiration for many leaders of the alt-right.”
What Trump is seeking to install in the White House is the national wing of an international white supremacist movement.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s new campaign manager, like Bannon, is one of Robert Mercer’s people. His billions make The Donald’s hidden fortunes look like chump change. She was head of the Ted Cruz Super-PAC that the hedge fund billionaire had put $13.5 million into. Now it is being converted into a Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC with a new million dollar investment. His daughter, Rebekah Mercer lives in one of Trump’s Upper West Side [New York City] buildings, is a Heritage Foundation trustee, and director of the Mercer family foundation. Daddy provides the money and Rebekah sees to the details of how it is spent, and their fingerprints have been all over the Trump campaign recently. According to The Hill:
“Stephen Bannon, the Trump campaign’s newly appointed CEO, is ‘tied at the hip’ with Rebekah Mercer, said a source who has worked with the Mercers in their political activities.
“‘The Mercers basically own this campaign,’ said a source who has worked with Rebekah Mercer in her political activities.”
If it continues to be a winning campaign, these white supremacists will own the White House.
Donald Trump was at the Iowa Republican “Roast and Ride” biker rally Saturday organized by Joni Ernst, the successful 2014 Iowa Senate candidate who famously re-introduce the term ‘castration’ into our national political dialogue after Obama was elected. Writing for Wonkette.com, Matt Carpenter said that before her castration remark gained her a national audience, “she was an unknown, prattling on about the imminent invasion of jackbooted U.N. thugs.”
Although she talked about pigs, the real target of her castration comment was not lost on the English-speaking world. When she was picked to deliver the Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address last year, the U.K.’s Daily Mail went with the headline “Iowa’s hog-castrating senator Joni Ernst will deliver Republican response to State of the Union address –- and GOP aide hopes she ‘cuts someone’s cojones off.’”
These bikers are an important Trump constituency. Chris Cox claims to have 30,000 members in his Bikers for Trump which he says he is now converting to a volunteer security force. Lion’s Guard, the militia being organized to protect Trump, claimed it is a peaceful and exclusively online group. Then a militant contingent of Lion’s Guard bikers showed up at a Trump rally in Phoenix.
Jerry DeLemus, a Trump campaign official from New Hampshire, traveled to Oregon “to assist the small cadre of armed men who are seeking to provoke a standoff with federal officials there,” according to ThinkProgress. He has a history with the Bundy crew. In 2014, RawStory named him “chief of security” at Bunkerville when they were holed up in Nevada.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported that the number of hate groups in the U.S. was 892 last year, up 14% from the year before. Of those, they classified 276 as militias. Most of these consider themselves among Donald Trump’s “Second Amendment people.” SPLC summed up their concerns about what they see happening this way:
“From the candidacy of Donald Trump to the British decision to leave the European Union (EU), from the rise of a radical movement of antigovernment county sheriffs to a metastasizing rage aimed at political and economic elites, something important and incredibly dangerous is happening in the Western world.”
It has been said that Trump foreign policy adviser Walid Phares “was a high ranking political official in a sectarian religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon’s brutal, 15-year civil war.” So its safe to assume his team already has people with that skill-set should they decide to go that way. Right now, he is trying to win the election so anyone who opposes Clinton is his friend.
With these white supremacist leaders now firmly in command of Trump’s campaign, he has been trying to expand his support so that he can win by attempting to deceive voters desperate for change but put off by his extreme rhetoric. Earlier this week he made a number of fake appeals to black voters, in front of white audiences, and he appeared to soften his stand on immigration, but at the Saturday biker rally the tough talk was back:
“On Day One, I am going to begin swiftly removing criminal illegal immigrants from this country — including removing the hundreds of thousands of criminal illegal immigrants that have been released into U.S. communities under the Obama-Clinton Administration.
“In this task, we will always err on the side of protecting the American people — we will use immigration law to prevent crimes, and will not wait until some innocent American has been harmed or killed before taking action.
“I am going to build a great border wall, institute nationwide e-verify, stop illegal immigrants from accessing welfare and entitlements,…
“I am also going to cancel all unconstitutional executive orders…
“Now, what is Hillary Clinton going to do?
“She has pledged amnesty in her first 100 days…
“This is not to mention that Hillary Clinton wants a 550% increase in Syrian refugees.”
According to Jill Stein and the Green Party, it makes little difference whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becomes our next commander-in-chief. From their point-of-view, its six of one half dozen of another, but I would suggest that it will make a great deal of difference to undocumented workers in the U.S., starting with Day One. It will also likely have an effect on Syrians attempting to escape Assad’s barrel bombs.
Enter the Green Party
The Washington Post also found her indifference towards the final election outcome difficult to understand, even as she made light of a job very far from anything in her experience:
“Ms. Stein did not exactly convey a sense of awe about how tough the presidency is. ‘I don’t believe that it is rocket science,’ she said of administering the federal government. But that blitheness may not be surprising from a politician who cites climate change as a global emergency — and then argues the country would be no better off electing Ms. Clinton, who promises to continue Mr. Obama’s progress on warming, than Mr. Trump, who has said the whole thing is a hoax invented by the Chinese.”
The Washington Post editors pressed the question further in their sit down with her:
ARMAO: How would you feel the day after election if your votes, the votes you get, make a difference between Donald Trump getting into the Oval Office and he gets elected? How would you feel?
STEIN: I will not sleep well if Donald Trump gets elected, and I will not sleep well if Hillary Clinton gets elected.
ARMAO: That doesn’t really answer my question.
STEIN: Well, it tells you how I’m going to be feeling on that day. I will be continuing to build our power base, because, as Frederick Douglass said, power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.
Jill Stein’s full interview with The Washington Post editorial board ran 70 minutes long. A search for “white” in the transcript turns up 4 instances of “White House” and nothing else. She mentions “racism” twice, as a term Martin Luther King [Jr — sic] would have used and a legacy we need to get rid of. She also speaks of “the crisis of police violence and racist violence that’s before us.” Nowhere in this hour-plus talk does she as much as mention the extreme white supremacist aspects of the Trump campaign that almost everyone else is buzzing about. The same can pretty much be said about the Jacobin interview we will look at shortly. She completely ignores what for many has become the central question of this election year and the key difference between the two contenders. Like it or not, we face a binary choice here and then she blows off the incredulous WaPo editor by paraphrasing a Black revolutionary that has been dead for 121 years.
Now, how clever is that?
Jill Stein also sees herself as the leader of a revolutionary movement and she has done a lot of good work. She is aware that the strategy she is asking her supporters to follow could well result in a President Donald Trump and he will most likely be bringing his white nationalist campaign leadership into the White House, but she has given no thought to how organizing might be affected by a fascist in the White House. She says Trump is a fascist yet she assumes he will be just like Clinton, Bush, or Obama and that is a very dangerous assumption. There are a great many indicators already that just isn’t the case.
“What Do You Mean by ‘White Nationalist’”?
There is an important reason why Jill Stein and the Green Party are doing their best to ignore or down play the influence of white nationalists in the Trump campaign. If they can get over 5% of the vote they could receive $20 million in federal matching funds, so they want your vote.
Despite the fact that she has absolutely no chance of winning, they want your vote.
Even if voting for Stein helps put Trump over the top, they want your vote.
They don’t believe in voting strategically to effect the outcome of an election if it means choosing among possible winners that are less than ideal — ideal in this case being represented by Jill Stein, nevermind that she is clueless with regard to what is going on in U.S. politics domestically as illustrated by her failure to comment on the white supremacist influences in the Trump campaign and clueless internationally, a question we have addressed in the past and will touch upon again below.
In pursuit of your vote, the Green Party and its supporters are advancing arguments along two lines, both of which are treacherous in my humble opinion:
- Donald Trump is just another Republican candidate. Nothing special to see here folks. So what if he wins? I fear no evil!
- And in case you don’t entirely buy into that bit of willful blindness: He has absolutely no chance of winning so you should feel free to make a symbolic vote.
Both of these arguments are extremely dangerous because they disarm people in such a way as to make a Trump victory all the more likely and don’t prepare people to continue the struggle under what could be very different conditions.
To support the first point, they focus their fire on Clinton while keeping quiet about Trump’s white nationalist connections. They perform a great service to the Trump campaign because they want the people to see him as just another reactionary GOP candidate like Romney, McCain, or Bush, and he isn’t. They find themselves cleaning up the Trump campaign to make it an acceptable alternative.
In a piece unabashedly named “’The Spoiler’ Speaks”, Jacobin started with the second point when Bhaskar Sunkara interviewed Jill Stein recently and it accused those concerned that a vote for Jill Stein might put Trump in the White House of “inflating the faint chances of a Donald Trump presidency.”
I hope they are right but I also think they are playing with fire by disarming people with such remarks. Unless Jacobin can show me where they predicted a year ago that Trump would trounce 17 other Republican candidates and emerge as the party’s nominee, I am not likely to believe their predictions going forward, and since The Donald has been seen recently paling around with Nigel Farage, it would be good to remember how many people failed to predict the success of the Brexit vote that has been driven by many of the same forces.
I also find it interesting that many of these Left voices are ready already to announce “Mission Accomplished” with regards to defeating this attempt to have a white nationalist administration follow the Obama presidency and base their predictions on their faith in bourgeois political polls. There are serious indications that because many are reticent about being open with their support for a racist, Trump poll numbers may seriously underestimate his vote. That’s what happened with the Brexit vote. They know this. They aren’t stupid, but they won’t mention this and continue to promote the poll numbers to argue that it is safe to vote for Jill Stein.
This is also part of their treachery.
In making their, “no worries, Hillary’s got it in the bag” argument they also ignore the possibility that the election could be stolen, a real or fake “October surprise” could stampede people into voting for Trump, or even the remote possibility of an extra-legal seizure of state power.
As fantastic as it might sound, this final option should not be entirely discounted. The majority of the fast growing right-wing militias are coming under Trump’s leadership. Also, seemingly forgotten by a Left eager to convince us Trump represents no special danger, is former Air Force officer Michael L. Weinstein’s important work in exposing the control an Evangelical Christian network has been gaining inside the U.S. Air Force. His Military Religious Freedom Foundation has responded to the Trump campaign with one of its own: Help Build The Wall Separating Church and State in the U.S. Military And by the way, Breitbart, and Trump’s new campaign manager Steve Bannon (ex-Navy) are all mobbed up with these Pentagon evangelists. The closer the vote, the more possible any of these scenarios become.
This racist assault on the White House needs to be defeated by a landslide if its not to be repeated in four years or attempted by a coup d’état.
Honoring the title of their piece, Bhaskar Sunkara jumped right into the question of Jill Stein siphoning off enough progressive votes to put Donald Trump in the White House:
“I guess among liberals a lot of this pushback is because of this fear that you could possibly play the spoiler. This type of fear was brought up in 2000, then again in 2004.
“What would you say to a Bernie Sanders Democrat in a swing state that likes your politics… but is planning to vote in November for Hillary Clinton?”
Jill Stein responded:
“Donald Trump doesn’t stand alone. He’s part of a right-wing extremist movement that is getting traction now all around the world.”
This is true and more. He isn’t just part a worldwide right-wing extremist movement. He is the leader of a white supremacist movement in the U.S. and the question is why should we be indifferent to the possibility, no matter how slim, of this movement taking over the executive branch of the U.S. government?
“This isn’t happening by accident. This is because of neoliberal policies…throw working people under the bus.”
I would go further and say that neoliberalism lays the basis for fascism as the next step in its futile attempt to resolve the growing contradictions of capitalism.
“These are the policies of the Clintons and the centrist Democratic Party…Hillary has always been in bed with the banks.”
By blaming everything from imperialist wars to capitalist crisis on the Clintons, Jill Stein supports Trump’s demagoguery and obscures the systematic nature of the problem.
“She supported the Wall Street deregulations that lead to the financial meltdown and the economic misery that gives rise to demagogues like Donald Trump.”
These have been the policies of capitalism ever since the Clintons invented it. The economic misery engendered by the financial meltdown has created opportunities for the Left as well as the Right to rally ordinary people to its banners. That the Right can only do so by demagoguery means doesn’t exactly excuse the Left’s failures in this regard. The same can be said about the claim by both Jill Stein and Donald Trump that Clinton’s wars created ISIS. U.S. imperialist wars in the Middle East have created the conditions for the rise of extreme right-wing movements like ISIS among the Muslim masses, this is true. These same conditions can lead to revolutionary movements and has in Libya and Syria, among other places.
When Donald Trump says Obama and Clinton are the “founders of ISIS,” he is accusing them of helping to create ISIS in a very material way, the way those who accuse Bashar al-Assad of letting jihadists out of prison to join Daesh or buying their oil say he helped to create ISIS. What Trump is really doing with his “Obama founded ISIS” line is signaling to his white nationalist base his support for one of their favorite conspiracy theories. When Jill Stein says “Trump’s right: Clinton’s wars created ISIS” she is cleaning up Trump’s charge so she can support it, but she is also doing something else as a supposed revolutionary: she is excusing the Left’s failure to execute because imperialist wars have created the conditions for revolution as well as reaction.
Finally, after beating around the bush for a bit more, she gives us her bottom-line response to the fear that she could be a spoiler, i.e. draw enough votes away from Clinton to give the election to Trump:
“Just understanding history, which your readers tend to do, I would remind them that the only solution to right-wing extremism is a unified left that truly supports radical progressive policies.”
Is that how Hitler was defeated? Will strong rhetoric like that defeat Trump?
Running-mate Ajamu Baraka’s Black Agenda Report (BAR) uses convoluted language and twisted logic to name Donald Trump the lesser of the two evils in the example below. Could this be related to BAR’s support for Putin’s politics in other areas?
“Although both major party candidates acknowledge that the economy is benefiting only the One Percent, the difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton lies in how they ‘identify the source of the problem,’ said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, the Duboisian scholar and Black Radical Organizing Committee activist from Philadelphia. ‘Clinton says that the policies of financialization, of Wall Street privilege, of trade deals like NAFTA and TPP, are not fundamentally wrong — that we should tweet them, not change them,’ said Dr. Monteiro. ‘Trump, in essence, argues that the problem of the American economy is grounded in the export of capital, and that this is the source of the impoverishment of the American working class.’ Monteiro believes ‘Trump’s stating of the problem is far more accurate than Clinton’s,’ but neither of them ‘provide a solution to the problem.’”
I am finding it quite interesting that those arguing against voting for either Trump or Clinton, find themselves arguing that Trump really isn’t that bad. I think we are going to see these two arguments joined a lot, the same way people opposed to intervention in Syria feel the need to badmouth the revolution.
#MAGA #WhiteGenocide #SummerOfChaos
None watching political events in the U.S. this week can doubt that the question of the role of white supremacists and white nationalists in our national government are at the center of the 2016 presidential campaign. On Friday, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton were calling each other bigots. But Jill Stein misses it. The word “white” and the word “racism” are foreign to the Jacobin interview as with the WaPo piece. She sees Trump’s right-wing extremism and she limits her vision to that. She leads a party that is maybe 3% Black and she isn’t speaking to these important concerns of Black people in this election. In a recent Gallup poll, 72% of black women said they strongly feared a Trump victory in November, which probably also means they will be voting for Clinton and fear Stein will be a spoiler. Her answer to their fears is a ‘left’ slogan which will leave them wondering if this unified left she is hoping to lead even sees the same presidential election they do?
I had earlier called her a Putin sock-puppet and Assad apologist. In response to the criticism that she has allowed herself and the Green Party to be used by Russian imperialism, she responded:
“This propaganda campaign that I’m kissing up to Putin is a total joke.
I went there to, basically, call for a peace initiative and an end to the bombing.”
At a time when Russia was doing most of the bombing in Syria, she went to Moscow and criticized US bombing but not Russian bombing. She was attending an anniversary party for Russia Today (RT), one of Putin’s main propaganda outlets. Trump adviser Michael Flynn was there as well. Judging by RT’s coverage, Putin favors both the Trump and Stein campaigns. Of course, he knows who has a chance of winning. He’s not an idiot.
“People who said I went to cozy up to Putin, that’s Hillary’s trolls.”
As many as half a million Syrians are dead. Assad and his supporters are responsible for 95% of the killing. Assad’s biggest supporter is Putin. Jill Stein blames Clinton and Obama for what has been happening in both Libya and Syria. She doesn’t tell Putin to stop the bombing when she is breaking bread with him, so obviously anyone who is critical of her foreign policy must be one of Hillary’s trolls. If you have any doubt that Jill Stein was actively supporting Putin’s warmongering while in Moscow to celebrate the 10th anniversary of RT, you should read this piece in Sunday’s New York Times: “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories.”
One has to question why Putin’s war propaganda arm has published 105 articles in praise of Jill Stein.
Who is the useful idiot in that relationship?
She is sensitive to this charge because it is pretty clear that Putin would prefer a President Trump to a President Clinton, so he wouldn’t mind it at all if Jill Stein did turn out to be the spoiler. And since Jill Stein and the Green Party already support Putin’s chauvinist policies in Syria and the Ukraine and he completely supports her plans to disengage from NATO and cut U.S. defense spending by 50%, she might be open to charges she is a Kremlin agent and not just an extremely naive presidential hopeful.
Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now is also a big Jill Stein supporter. This is not surprising since they share a similar ‘anti-imperialist’ view of the world, and whether it be to support Jill Stein and the Green Party or in service to its supporters in Moscow and Damascus, Democracy Now has also tried to paper over the tremendous difference between this presidential election and past ones. In fact, most regular viewers could be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton is actually the greater of the two evils, but on Friday she had two foreign quests that apparently didn’t get the memo that there was nothing special about the Trump campaign and it threw her for a loop. First came the ‘anti-imperialist’ Assad apologist Vijay Prashad:
VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, look, I mean, it’s — you can see from your news report at the beginning that, in domestic terms, there is a great difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump has not only been absorbed by the white nationalists, but he himself appears to be a white nationalist.
Amy’s response was to wonder with Vijay if God knew what Trump would do if he became president. Then came actress Emma Thompson:
EMMA THOMPSON: Well, there are no words, really. Nigel Farage is a — you know, I mean, he’s a nationalist. He’s a white nationalist. And that’s what Donald Trump is. And so, it’s very — it’s very distressing to hear —
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you mean by “white nationalist”?
EMMA THOMPSON: — to hear him at all, ever.
AMY GOODMAN: When you say “white nationalist,” what do you mean?
EMMA THOMPSON: I mean, I feel that, in some ways, the less said about Donald Trump, the better. But I do see that it is a terrifying situation. And actually, Mr. Prashad, who I was listening to earlier, was so wonderful on the subject, because he said, from the outside looking in, one of the things that, actually, I — I mean, obviously, if I were an American citizen, I’d be voting for Clinton.
Amy Goodman’s response was “Emma Thompson, we’re going to have to leave it there. That does it for our show,” but I do hope she can find someone who can explain to her white nationalism and its relationship to the Trump campaign because right now she is promoting views that may help him become president.
“Hillary Clinton’s Wars”
We are hearing a lot this election season about Clinton the warmonger and Clinton’s wars, both from the Trump campaign and the Green Party. What exactly is meant by Clinton’s wars isn’t made exactly clear, but it’s safe to assume that both camps are alluding to her push for NATO intervention in Libya as Secretary of State and her infamous “We came, we saw, he died,” joke about the death of Gaddafi is often cited as an example ( corrupted to “We came, we saw, we killed” by Vijay Prashad on Democracy Now). Since wars is plural it may also include her vote for the Iraq war, which was a lot of politicians’ war, as well as her expected or suspected role in the Syrian civil war.
Both the Alt-Right isolationists and the ‘anti-imperialist’ Left share a common view that sees an imperial U.S. policy as the main instigator of the trouble in Libya and Syria just as it was in Iraq. In 2003, NATO invaded Iraq with 239,000 NATO ground troops, took out Saddam Hussein, and put in what they thought were their own people. This was the classic regime change operation and local opposition to the regime was irrelevant. The regime change operation was planned in Washington with little Iraqi input and little thought about the day after. Then a massive fighting force was sent in to execute it.
What happened in Libya and Syria was quite different. In both countries, mass demands to end 40-year old dictatorships arose as part of the region wide Arab Spring in 2011. In both both Libya and Syria, protesters started fighting back after their peaceful demonstrations were met with gunfire. Armed resistance turned into an armed insurrection in both countries. Ghadafi was only a little ahead of the curve compared to Assad but he was the first to confront the United Nations with a government facing Arab Spring opposition that showed himself willing to use his full military might, including tanks, artillery, and a modern air force to put down the revolt.
For a variety of reasons — not limited to Europe’s critical need for Libyan light sweet crude when they were emerging from the world financial crisis — a leading section of the Western imperialists, including then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, decided it might be best if they intervened to stop Ghadafi from continuing to carry out wholesale slaughter as he did in Abdabiya on his way to Benghazi and ensure a relatively brief conflict. NATO didn’t start it and they didn’t win it. Libyan revolutionaries (thuwar) never allowed them to put in ground troops. What they did do was level the playing field by denying Ghadafi the use of his air force and heavy armor. He had to leave his tanks hidden and fight with tactical vehicles just like the thuwar. Also, NATO enforced an effective naval blockade that denied Ghadafi Assad’s endless supply of bombs, but they didn’t provide many weapons to the thuwar. Once when some rebels were trapped on a mountain in western Libya the French air-dropped some weapons.
It was the Libyan thuwar that did the hard fighting and dying and defeated the regime. Now they will have to endure the decade of chaos and re-organization that generally follows every revolution. At least Libya today is safer than Chicago. Without NATO’s assistance, they might still be slugging it out against enormous odds like their brothers and sisters in Syria, and like Syria, the death toll would likely be an order of magnitude higher, but without NATO’s no-fly zone, there still would have been a democratic revolution in Libya just as there was in Syria.
By the time the Syrian conflict started heating up, these same interventionist-minded imperialists had a change of heart, if you can call it that. They decided that it might be better, after all, to let the dictator suppress the rebellion by any means necessary. Sec State Hillary Clinton went on a Sunday morning news show and announced that Assad would not be subjected to the Ghadafi treatment. It was a ‘weapons-free’ allowance from the biggest military power on the block and Assad kicked his killing machine into high gear.
Our anti-imperialists like the Green Party and Democracy Now miss all of this because they completely ignore or dismiss the struggle of these Arabs against their dictators. They see in these developments only the machinations of Western powers. When they acknowledge Arab fighters at all they are either reactionary jihadists or Western proxies, which is to say traitors or stooges.
Vijay Prashad is an ‘anti-imperialist’ Middle East ‘expert’ and he also talked about the region on Friday and he made clear that as far as he was concerned, Iraq, Libya, and Syria are like three peas in a pod, meaning the U.S. is equally responsible for ‘regime change’ in all of them, meaning the indigenous people haven’t played a large role in any of them. Nevermind several hundred thousand NATO ground troops in Iraq versus zero in Libya, regime change is regime change and is to be opposed. He told Amy Goodman:
“Well, you know, the story in Libya is not dissimilar to the story in Iraq with Saddam Hussein or with Syria, which we’ve just been talking about… To assume somehow that in each of these societies there’s one bad guy who everybody hates is the most simplistic understanding of the Middle East. And the United States, you know, through NATO, conducted a regime change operation inside Libya, just as they did in Iraq.”
This ‘anti-imperialist’ view considers only state actors and divides the world into ‘imperialist’ and ‘anti-imperialist’ camps. Since Ghadafi and Assad said the right things, they considered them to be in the ‘anti-imperialist’ camp and worthy of defending, never mind how they treated their own people. The suffering of people under ‘anti-imperialist’ dictators — either before or during the uprising — never troubled them as much as it did some people.
It may be difficult for them to acknowledge, but I think their lack of concern and lack of support for the revolutionary struggles in Libya and Syria come from a deeply chauvinist place, one that insists on seeing their home country at the center of everything else in the world. I know that is the case with regards to support for Assad and Putin on the Trump side of the house.
This brings us to the meaning of the agitational slogan “Clinton’s Wars” whether brandished by the Right or the ‘left.’ As applied to Libya, it is a doubling down on the white chauvinist notion that the U.S. government under Obama and Clinton’s leadership was the driver of what happened there. Both Donald Trump and Jill Stein deny the Libyan people their victory so that they can call it a crime and pin it on Hillary Clinton (oh poor Ghadafi, the most mourned ‘victim’ of the war). This is white chauvinist nonsense that can only benefit a right-wing movement. Even if Jill Stein is successful in using “Clinton’s Wars” to win votes away from Hillary, only the right-wing will benefit.
Philip Giraldi, the ex-CIA spook that unites both the Right isolationism and Left “anti-imperialism” in one personality, being both a frequent contributor to the American Conservative and a member of Ray McGovern’s VIPS, summed up his problem with the Clintons this way:
“So the Clintons see their future tied to a mishmash of a country that is, a possible contradiction in terms, both ‘inclusive’ and ‘diverse,’ which will keep them and their like in power for the foreseeable future as opposed to a nation guided by citizens yearning for a ‘past’ in which Americans were safe in their communities, sent their kids to good schools and had well-compensated jobs with health and pension benefits.”
The Alt-Right racism Giraldi expresses above isn’t contradicted in his mind by the “anti-imperialist” Left opposition to the revolutions in Libya and Syria because they are cut from the same white chauvinist clothe.
Greens and Blacks
Roger White wrote a very insightful piece about the challenges the Green Party faces in winning Black support and participation. Although it was written almost a decade ago, it is still relevant today because, sadly, not much has changed since then. He begins by explaining why black voters tend to vote for the lesser of two evils:
“Black voters in the US are like all other voters here with one exception. Many of our ancestors had to die for the right to vote for the lesser of two evils. Naturally, we want our votes not only to count (no slam dunk) we want them to make a difference. Because Blacks are not an electoral majority in any state or nationally, maximizing the worth of our choices by being a part of an electoral coalition that has a real chance to win power is a priority.
“Black voters tend to register their anger and frustration at the political status quo simply by not voting, not by supporting third parties.”
His focus is on race relations within the Green Party and he talks about the cultural barriers to entry black activists face:
“The environmental, peace, and third world solidarity movements from the 1970s and 80s, the grassroots of the US Green Party, has always represented a policy majority and a cultural minority — a minority that Black activists found it difficult to relate to.”
One of the main reasons people join the Green Party is because it provides them with a social network of like minded people that they feel comfortable operating in and things that they feel good about doing with them.
“Another problem is proximity. The Green Party is heavily influenced by three main demographics — educated, urban, nonprofit activists; educated, university town professionals; and well-to-do hippies in the exurbs. All three bases of support have organizations and social networks that provide the party with multiple, reinforcing contacts with potential recruits, volunteers and leaders very few of whom happen to be Black.”
And the attempts by Green Party activists to overcome these obstacles?
“What do white activists do when there aren’t enough dark people in the room? Outreach.
“Set up a table at the public university in town. Pass out fliers for the next meeting at the Saturday morning flea market. E-mail blasts to activist- of -color list-serves. Whatever works. Problem is — that shit don’t work. Moreover, white activists know that shit don’t work. But they get a double bonus. They can pretend to be doing something ‘pro-active’ to bring in colored folks with the knowledge that few if any colored folks are coming in — at least not to stay (they’ve been known to slip out right before the vegan pot-luck). Multiracial organizing is not easy. Doing it in bad faith makes it harder.”
I have been a Black man heavily involved with the white Left ever since I lead a university Students for a Democratic Society chapter in 1968, and I have come to the conclusion that the reason the Green Party, Veterans for Peace, and so many other organizations on the ‘anti-imperialist’ Left continue to be dominated both culturally and numerically by white activists is that they want it that way.
We tend to get involved in the social justice movement less because of our own dire social situation and more because we feel a need to do something about all the wrong we see around us. This is a good staring point, as activists tend to come from among those some safe distance from the very edge of existence. The problem comes when we put remaining in our own comfort zone ahead of the requirements of growing the social justice movement.
It has always been extremely important to these ‘anti-imperialist’ Left groups to have a few people of color around, and even in leadership, so that they can claim to be ‘multicultural,’ as long as they support the party line and otherwise keep quiet. If they begin to critique chauvinism in the group’s dynamics or party line, that is a different matter. When that happens, the colored activist go from being seen as assets to being seen as liabilities because this ‘left’ continues to be so much paler than the people it seeks to lead and isn’t really trying to change that. That is why White’s critique of the Green Party’s work with the Black community has been largely ignored and so rings as true today as it did 10 years ago.
Donald Trump and the Alt-Right crowd are enjoying such success with disaffected young white workers because the ‘anti-imperialist’ Left has never confronted and defeated the white chauvinism in its own culture and political line and that is a prerequisite to struggling with those white workers against their own racist tendencies and winning them to a greater unity in the cause of social justice.
This is difficult and challenging work. It will take most Green Party activists out of their comfort zone but ultimately they have to choose between what is comfortable and what is necessary. This choice will also face those Green Party activists on November 8. A vote or Jill Stein may feel good, but what is necessary this election year is for progressive people to just bite-the-bullet and vote to deny Donald Trump the White House.
The “Greater Good” Fallacy
People — especially working class people — make choices all the time between possible options and almost never among those possible options is what the person would call their ideal. Take for example finding work. It is the fortunate job-seeker that is forced to choice between a number of competing offers. Since almost nobody likes to work for a corporation, or have a boss, each of the jobs is likely to have features the job-seeker won’t like — evils, if you want to use a loaded moral term for them. The job-seeker will weight\ these negative features against the expected benefits of the job, first and foremost being ‘how much does it pay?’, and then the other features of the job, including location, how alienating the work is expected to be and a great many other aspects. And then the job-seeker will make a decision, from their very personal point of view, about which job is best for them and then accept that job offer.
The supposed guilt that goes with “accepting the lesser of two evils” will never enter into the consideration. Neither will the question of accepting jobs that haven’t been offered. Working people well understand the need to make pragmatic choices and then fight for what is possible. Every striker knows that even if they get everything they are demanding, it won’t be everything they need and it would be folly to refuse to vote for any contract that was only “less evil” than the other options. They could be on strike until they reached retirement.
Working people that aren’t motivated by the white supremacy Trump panders to or have fallen for his MAGA get-rich con job know that a Donald Trump presidency would be a major disaster for the U.S. Black people — which frankly tend to be on the progressive edge of opinions, are very clear about the danger a Trump presidency represents to us. In a normal election — the Republican presidential candidate could expect to get between 15%  and 8%  of the Black vote. It was less when Obama ran [ % rising to 6% for his re-election]. This year the GOP was hoping to get back some of that Black vote, but with Trump as their nominee it doesn’t look like that is likely to be the case. Most polling gives Trump between 0% and 2%, so below the margin of error. One Gallup poll found that 72% of black women had serious fears about the outcome of the election. Black people see a major difference where Jill Stein and the Green Party see more of the same. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Black people regularly get beaten up and thrown out of Trump rallies and this doesn’t happen at Clinton rallies, but unlike Jill Stein, they aren’t losing sleep worrying about a Clinton presidency. They know it will be more of the same. That we can handle. Bringing anywhere close to the seat of power people who are discussing whether pogroms will be necessary to reach their ultimate goal is not a matter to be trifled with.
I think its important that white progressives stand with the Black masses — in fact all people of color — in the U.S. that will be voting overwhelmingly to keep Trump out of the White House by voting for Clinton. If Trump is elected, it will be almost exclusively by white voters and because enough people didn’t vote for the other guy, who in this case is a women. If Trump is elected because enough white progressives voted for the “greater good,” that fact will be remembered through the hard times and do great damage to the solidarity of the progressive forces.
Jill Stein Should Withdraw Her Candidacy
This does not mean that she should withdraw her advocacy of a better world or that she and the Green Party don’t continue the important work of exposing the bankruptcy of both major parties and building an independent progressive party. It does mean they deal with real world conditions and practical choices. Working people will respect that and they will, listen to a Left voice that exposes the decadence of this morbid capitalist system and its two ruling parties but also counsels them to vote strategically to do what they already know needs to be done. Only a party that can lead the people from victory to victory along the difficult and winding path to a better world can expect to win and keep their support.
The main task that faces working people in the U.S. in 2016 is to strongly reject this racist appeal to white workers, unite across ethnic and national lines, and deliver a resounding defeat to this attempt to take power by these white nationalists. This can only be done by electing Hillary Clinton the next president. There isn’t time for anything else.
Working people get that.
Since the Green Party is not in a position to take more votes away from Donald Trump than they will from Hillary Clinton, they should refuse to play the spoiler, a role that might long be remembered. They should continue to expose Clinton and the Democratic Party and run candidates for local offices but they should withdraw their 2016 presidential candidates and warn people that this Trump candidacy represents a new and virulent threat that must be defeated now. If they can claim some victory in achieving that — and that is the main task now — without deceiving people about what a Clinton presidency will bring, they will be in a much better place to build a really massive progressive party and seriously compete for the presidency in the future.