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Tyranny of Crazies

For history of the American Negro is unique also in this: that the question of his humanity, and of his rights therefore as a human being, became a burning one for several generations of Americans, so burning a question that it ultimately became one of those used to divide the nation. - James Baldwin, “Stranger in the Village” James Baldwin : Collected Essays

It’s always been Black people.

Listening carefully to a conversation conducted by two “intellectuals” on the subject of Western Civilization. Be patient and if you’re honest with yourself and in possession of enough Euro-American history, then you’ll inevitably be privy to hearing the cries of African mothers whose children are snatched from them. In the Empire, where the sun will never set, you’ll hear workers hammer together the first auction blocks. In a distance, you’ll see the unpacking of the first slave ship. The first captured Africans will appear and begin walking ashore. Even if the two white intellectuals never reference the significance of the enslavement of Africans as the foundation of their “civilization,” you’ll know, nevertheless, how deep-seated and pervasive is the anti-Blackness sentiment in all things Western.

It’s always been Black people whites most fear and, as a consequence, hate.

Here in the US, Black Americans always cause trouble for the good citizens of the nation. Those arriving Africans landing on US shores didn’t volunteer to work their lives away to benefit generations of white Americans present and generations of white immigrants to come. But, then, that’s the problem. That’s what generates so much animosity, still, in the 21st Century.

Recently, I read an article in The New Yorker that seemed to suggests that Black militancy, the rise of the Black Panthers, Stokley Carmichael (Kwame Ture), and the Black Power slogan brought about the downfall of the New Left. White young Americans couldn’t sustain their empathy for the plight of Black people, once they took up their generation’s fight for freedom, shouting loudly for all to hear, white supremacy is our enemy!

How dare these people after generation upon generation of confronting the terror and torture campaigns of enslavement followed by Jim Crow, how dare these people raise their fists in the air and angrily cry out “Black Power” or assert any expression other than gratitude for white participation in the Civil Rights Movement!

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Thomas Hayden, Jack Weinberg, Mario Savio… university campus protests for change had been the good ole’ days - erased when Black youth donned leather jackets, berets, and guns. Never mind the breakfast program for hungry Black children. For openers.

It all ended. White American returned home. And what did these once-activists do, if not turn their back, most of them, on the idea of democratizing America? To hell with it! To hell with Black people! No wonder our parents and grandparents despised these people.

They are violent! The battle cry of J. Edgar Hoover who seemed to have spent the bulk of his career at the FBI, particularly as its leader, convincing white Americans (and conservative Blacks) that Marcus Garvey, W. E. B DuBois, Malcolm X, Rev. Martin L. King, Jr., and the Black Panthers were enemies of democracy. Violent, as individuals, these rebel-rousing Blacks could stir up Blacks to overturn the US government.

Hardly any of the Oath Keepers or Proud Boys or other right-wing militia groups that staged an anti-democratic insurrection to overturn the 2020 presidential election on January 6, 2021, were on the FBI’s radar prior to their storming of the US Capitol in Washington D. C.

Even while young white Americans march back home, the war in Vietnam was consuming Black lives who didn’t have the familial/political clout to burn their draft card and who died on foreign soil fighting against another race of people engaged in their battle to be free of the tyranny of Western fascism (rather than democracy, since the latter has yet to come to fruition in the US). And as Muhammad Ali pointed out in 1967, when he refused to fight in an imperialist war, he didn’t have any “quarrel” with the Vietnamese fighters or their people. After all, what had they done to him or Black Americans?

Maybe it’s these days in which Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin (a predominantly white state with a large population of those white liberals who couldn’t return home fast enough, just ahead of the FBI COINTELPRO kill-or-incarcerate pogroms for Black activists and an equal number of whites who think Black anything is a threat to their security) isn’t afraid to point to the 2020 protests of the Black Lives Matter movement and proclaim how their cry for social justice was tantamount to terrorism. The insurrectionists of January 6, 2021, on the other hand, were no threat to anyone! Sen. Johnson recognized them as good citizens, concerned citizens, and above all, unarmed and therefore not violent like the Black Lives protesters. Had it been those Blacks at the Capitol…

It was the Black people who must have corrupted the votes allowing for the presidential tally to declare Joseph R. Biden the winner.

Certainly, Sen. Johnson isn’t the first American politician to voice such ignorance, deliberately. Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda had no problem selling to the German people images of Jews with horns on their heads. There’s a certain population of people who will believe what they are told all evidence to the contrary. They will not seek truth either. Repeat the image of horns atop Jewish heads or Black people protesting in the streets, shouting, angry, fed up with the lies… Watch the continuing rise again in American history of white supremacy as a way for white Americans to exist in the US without the burdensome issue of truth about themselves and their relationship to violence.

Exterminate!

A young Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin begets Robert Aaron Long and the shooting of predominately Asian women in Georgia. And unfortunately, given the history of the US and an entrenched love affair with weapons of destruction and violence against humanity and earth, it will happen again. And again.

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Patrollers of the plantations, many serving as “police” and bounty hunters, early keepers of the law and of order, were acting to one day join the ranks of their counterparts, the slaveholders! A dream, of sorts.

Black people have always been wrongdoers in the eyes of white America. For Blacks to be thought of as people who somehow en mass conducted voter fraud, not just in Georgia but in over 43 states, voting, mind you, to rid the country of a white supremacist and replace him with a Democrat and a Black-Asian woman as VP - criminal!

There isn’t anything wrong with the racism of Sen. Josh Hawley, with a fist-in-the-air photo at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. There isn’t anything wrong with Rep. Chip Roy invoking a return to the days of lynching, with ropes and good tall trees. Remember, remember, those good ole’ days not long ago…

No less than President Woodrow Wilson linked Black migration to voter fraud and he orders “the US Justice Department,” writes historian Walter Johnson, to open a criminal investigation on “the Negro ‘colonization’ and voter fraud in East St. Louis, Chicago, and several smaller Illinois cities.” And of course, violence ensued: whites burned and drove Black residents out of their homes, out of their communities.

So now, in 2021, the Republican Party doesn’t want Blacks to vote. Cut the number of polling places and shorten the days allowed to vote. Make sure the lines will be even longer than they have been in 2020 - but make it a crime to hand out water - to hand out water - and definitely don’t hand out food! That would be too rational. Humane. “Christian” in a country that claims to be “Christian.” It’s the Black people who are the outliers, the one’s who spoiled the dream of a dictatorship for Trump and an obliteration of that experiment with the ideology of democracy.

It was the Black people who must have corrupted the votes allowing for the presidential tally to declare Joseph R. Biden the winner.

And the victims of this outrageous crime are none other than…

I wonder how the new and first Indigenous Secretary of the Interior felt as she looked out at predominately white men and fielded questions from those who were to determine her suitability to be the top caretaker of the land?

How do we contend with a tyranny of crazies?

When I watched the Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia, surrounded by six white men, signing a bill into law, a law that would make it more difficult for Blacks to vote in that state, I, like so many Americans and people around the world, witnessed State Representative Park Cannon knock on the door of that room where it’s just the white guys, signing away the right of Black Americans to be heard at the polls. Rep. Cannon just knocked on the door, and law enforcement responds immediately, grabbing her on both sides. Handcuffing her. Arresting her. Jailing her for hours. Rep. Cannon, a Black woman, is charged with two felonies!

But not Governor Kemp, not Senators Mitch McConnell or Josh Hawley. Not Ron Johnson, laughing at what they are able to get away with by calling on the traditions of the Old South…

The 1978 film Sounder came to mind. It’s that one scene, I don’t remember the whole film, but that one scene where Cicely Tyson is out in front of a huge cart, as she pulls it forward with arms behind her on the handles. She struggles but looks forward. In the background, slightly uphill, are the white plantation community, men and women, dressed up in all their finery, looking down at Tyson’s Rebecca Morgan. They are laughing, hysterically.

And the laughter of this plantation community is audible to the enslaved Blacks looking on and to the viewer. And it’s a community that won’t admit its laughter sits atop its fear of Black people. It won’t admit the cruelty that others witness as anything other than an exercise of “freedom.”

There are no victims on that hill. Rebecca knows it. And if the viewer is imbued with a sense of decency then what is a painful scene to witness will educate to expose an anomaly to democracy.

The plantation concept of “freedom” will come to a crashing halt, for we see humanity in the woman the fearful attempt to demoralize. And when we look down at out own feet and legs we find we are standing. We see a frail woman pulling the heavy cart in the mud, moving forward, feeling and looking stronger at every step. And so do we!

We rise up! And once again, no matter the adversity, we remember that the struggle goes on.

It’s the only way tyranny of the crazies ends!

Lenore Daniels
The Black Commentator