“Through a process combining hope and resentment, the organizer tries to create a mass army...” - Saul Alinsky
The website NewsOne.com -- which ironically promotes itself as ‘For Black America’ -- has done the Obama campaign proud and put Alinksy’s tactics into play with a new series of articles on reparations. If there was ever a topic that was designed to spark both hope and resentment for many in the black community, it’s reparations.
The reparations movement reached its peak in the late 1990s under a sunnier, pre-911 economy. At that time, a ‘reparations dream team of attorneys was formed that included Johnnie Cochran and Pigford architect Al Pires.
However, the issue faded away. When it came up for Candidate Obama in 2008, his position was intentionally cryptic -- he wasn’t in favor of reparations but he was in favor of thing that he called reparations. Confused? That’s the idea. As Candidate Obama said:
"I have said in the past -- and I'll repeat again -- that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed," the Illinois Democrat said recently.
At the time, Candidate Obama’s non-reparations reparations pledge actually won him praise from some quarters. As the Huffington Post reported at the time:
Let's not be naive. Sen. Obama is running for president of the United States, and so he is in a constant battle to save his political life," said Kibibi Tyehimba, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. "In light of the demographics of this country, I don't think it's realistic to expect him to do anything other than what he's done."
But this is not a position Obama adopted just for the presidential campaign. He voiced the same concerns about reparations during his successful run for the Senate in 2004.
There's enough flexibility in the term "reparations" that Obama can oppose them and still have plenty of common ground with supporters.
Now with the 2012 election looming, Obama faces a less enthusiastic electorate even among his core constituencies. While there’s no doubt that Obama will carry black voters handily in November, his positions on issues like same-sex marriage as well as high unemployment for African-Americans have eroded that support.
That’s where media like NewsOne comes in: to create a distraction from actual issues using a page straight out of the Rules For Radials playbook, their initial piece entitled Should Black America Get Reparations? lays out the goal right in the intro:
That single word has the power to bring forth memories of slave screams, blood-shed, lynching, raping and the unrepentant theft of generations of successful Black families by the United States of America.
It also has the power to breed resentment, as the 40 acres and a mule that Black Americans were promised by General William Sherman at the close of the American Civil War were snatched away by President Andrew Johnson and returned to their White owners.
Resentment amped up with visceral imagery of the horrors of slavery? Check. Just to keep things extra resentful, there are arguments made by Malcolm X and The Reverend Louis Farrahkhan.
If you have any doubt that there are election year politics at play, smack dab in the middle of the article is a link entitled “Why Black Christian Voters Need To Get Over Same-Sex Marriage”. I don’t even have to read the article to know the answer: so Obama can get elected, obviously.
We have the resentment but wait, where’s the hope? That’s where an article like Road To Reparations IS Achievable, But Securing Them Won’t Be Easy comes in:
Here’s an example of a healing, teachable moment from that article, in which attorney Kia Baldwin Richard is asked whether the USA can be tried for ‘crimes against humanity’ for atrocities such as slavery, Jim Crow and...Ronald Reagan. No, really:
NewsOne: The United States recently unsigned the “Rome Statute” that governs the International Criminal Court. In your opinion, is there any way that the country can still be tried for “crimes against humanity” for the atrocities of slavery, Reconstruction, Jim/Jane Crow, Civil Rights, and Reagan Eras?
Attorney Baldwin Richardson: From my reading of the Rome Statute, it appears that it does not apply retroactively. Thus, the United States could be tried under this statute for past atrocities, such as slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, etc. The Rome Statute specifically states that it will apply only to crimes committed after its implementation in July 2002.
There goes that sliver of hope that perhaps some international tribunal would frogmarch the United States in and declare that the Gipper’s reign of optimism was a crime against humanity.
Of course, the point of bringing up reparations isn’t to actually try to achieve the goal of actually getting reparations. Let’s be honest about the political reality for a second. We’re in the middle of a global financial crisis. Even if you could make the case for reparations to current generations of African-Americans on a moral basis -- which is highly debatable -- it’s simply not going to happen.
But that’s not the point. The point is to stir the pot. The point is to breed resentment and to create false hope. The point is get people to stop thinking about taking responsibility for their own lives and to hope that maybe, possibly they will be the winner in a race-based MegaMillions (tm) style giveaway program someday down the road. The point is to keep people feeling invested emotionally in a past that they’ve never experienced. The point is to set up a can’t win scenario based on an unjustifiable, unworkable policy demand and then, when it’s inevitably rejected, to blame it on America’s racism.
The point is to get Community Organizer in Chief Barack Obama elected to a second term, regardless of his performance in his first term.