Friday, March 18, 2016

The Vulture

Gil Scott-Heron

It is no secret that I love the poetry/ music of Gil Scott-Heron....

The Vulture

Standing in the ruins of another Black man's life,
or flying through the valley separating day and night.
"I am death," cried the Vulture. "For the people of the light."

Charon brought his raft from the sea that sails on souls,
and saw the scavenger departing, taking warm hearts to the cold.
He knew the ghetto was a haven for the meanest creature ever known.

In a wilderness of heartbreak and a desert of despair,
Evil's clarion of justice shrieks a cry of naked terror,
taking babies from their mommas, leaving grief beyond compare.

So if you see the Vulture coming, flying circles in your mind,
Remember there is no escaping for he will follow close behind.

Only promise me a battle, a battle for your soul and mine!

Listen to "The Vulture" (1:40)

IMO, this poem is as poignant today as it was in 1970 and in my humble opinion The Vulture still represents "the meanest creature ever known."

Evil's clarion of justice...leaving grief beyond compare:

Systemic discrimination and oppression
Economic and political disenfranchisement
The Prison Industrial Complex
Drug and alcohol addiction
The Drug "War" killing a generation of young men
Extreme and hopeless generational poverty
Violent and indiscriminate street gangs
Police Profiling and Brutality
Low expectation "credit factory" high schools
Building of walls and Deportation
Agony, Despair and Rage

The revolution will not be televised...only promise me a battle, a battle for your soul.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Scott Nearing:The Great Madness

Scott Nearing

My thoughts on The Great Madness and the 2016 "Humanitarian-Precision" Death of Drone Warfare and calls for carpet bombing our "enemies"...

In 1918 the United States government indicted Scott Nearing (a pacifist, political activist, socialist, economist, etc.) for publishing an article entitled The Great Madness: A Victory for the American Plutocracy, on the charge that it interfered with the government's ability to recruit soldiers for WWI.

Excerpts from The Great Madness:

The plutocracy welcomed the war not because it was a war, but because it meant a chance to get a stronger grip on the United States.

Things at home were in bad shape and promising to get worse. Millions of people were sore on the system which fed the owner and starved the worker; millions of casual laborers - men and women wandered from job to job; from city to city, discouraged, homeless, indifferent. People no longer asked, "Will there be a revolution?" but, "When will the revolution come?"

The plutocrats had lost public confidence. They realized that if they were to hold their position - public confidence must be regained.  How could the plutocracy - the discredited, vilified plutocracy - get public opinion? There was only one way: it must line up with some cause that would command public confidence. The cause that it chose was the "defense of the United States."

The plutocracy spread terror over the land!

"Patriotism" was the refrain of every speech and every article - a patriotism of their own particular brand.  The plutocratic brand of patriotism won the endorsement of the press, the pulpit, the college, and every other important channel of public information in the United States. The "educated," "cultured," "refined," "high-principled" editors, ministers, professors and lawyers accepted it and proclaimed it as though it were their own. Turning their backs upon principle, throwing morals and ideals to the winds, they tumbled over one another in a wild scramble to be the first to join the chorus of plutocratic patriotism.

The people were not consulted (on a declaration of war), their wishes were not considered.

And the American people stood for it. Emotionalized, dazed, stupefied, and blinded by the great madness that possessed their souls, nearly a hundred million people cast aside their most cherished principles, sacrificed their hard-won liberties, and began spreading brotherhood and democracy by the sword. The plutocracy had won everything for which it had been fighting - immunity, power, wealth. The people were war-mad, - at least, there was enough of the war madness in the country to enable the vested interests to put across anything that they wanted.

Beside and beyond this economic, political and social power the Plutocracy had millions of deluded people in its grip incapable of thinking because of the fearful war madness that possessed their souls.  They aroused the people, agitating and irritating them, until they were frantically repeating the blatant lie that the real enemy of American liberty lived in Berlin. Then they stung them with high prices, filched their liberty, plunged them into war, took a million of their brothers and husbands and sons to wage a war of aggression on the battlefields of king-ridden Europe, and because nothing happened at once, they believe that they had won. They had won victory and death.

The plutocracy and the democracy cannot exist side by side. If the plutocracy wins, dollars rule; if the democracy wins, people rule.

There can be no alternative and no compromise.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Strange Fruit 2016

Watch Billie Holiday perform Strange Fruit

Today in class we studied and analyzed (in relation to 1930's New Deal racism) the anti-lynching anthem Strange Fruit (1939), written by Abel Meeropol and famously performed by Billie Holiday...sadly, I feel the message applies today.

Here is my take on Strange Fruit in italics:

Southern trees bear strange fruit.

American streets are stop and frisk.

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root.

Your vigilante "justice" puts us all at risk.

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,

Young boy going out to grab a Sprite, 

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. 

Face down in blood on the street at night.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,

Corporations, riches, and urban sprawl,

The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,

We'll never again hear his southern drawl,

Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,

"I can't breathe" is what one man said,

Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Now just layin' there looking up dead.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,

"Super Predators" for us all to kill,

For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

Just send the family the funeral bill,

For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,

Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Oh America, in Death do you trust!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The "Trump" Know Nothings

A quick history lesson...

In the 1850's, the United States received a flood of European immigrants, including 2 million+ Germans and 1 million+ Irish. Native-born Americans (Nativists) formed an anti-immigrant political party known as the Know Nothing Party.

The xenophobic Know Nothings believed that:

The new immigrants were unwanted competition for low paying jobs.

The Irish Catholics were more loyal to the Pope than to the President.

The new immigrants didn't share "our values".

The new arrivals increased the crime rate and "welfare" costs in the United States. 

They called for:

Harsh restrictions on immigration.

The exclusion of "foreigners" from voting or holding political office.

A 21 year waiting period to become naturalized citizens.

American corporations and factories to boycott "foreign" workers.

Is the 2016 version of the Republican party becoming an equivalent of the Know Nothings?

Currently we have 42 million "new" immigrants in the United States, including 11.7 so-called undocumented immigrants, consisting of a huge segment of our population and economic engine...yearning to breathe free. 

My advice to the GOP: 

Every person in America matters and can "make us great" again.

Immigrants should be loved, embraced and celebrated.

Being an American should not be based on performance or merit.

Anti-immigrant/ anti-human policies does not equal immigration reform.