Friday, February 26, 2010

Urban Comedy: Tavis Smiley - A Crab Determined to Reach Beyond His Grasp


Urban Comedy: Tavis Smiley - A Crab Determined to Reach Beyond His Grasp

Well, he's at it again, people. In spite of the fact that President Obama has saved the nation from a second Great Depression, responsible for getting a stimulus bill passed that has saved tens of thousands of jobs, is currently struggling to reconcile a jobs bill in congress, and is hard at work trying to get a 'New Deal' for the American people in health-care reform, Tavis Smiley seems to still be stuck on stupid in the groundless, and needlessly divisive criticism that  President Obama doesn't have "a Black agenda."

True to form, Tavis has stirred up this nonsense at one of the most crucial times in American history, and this time he's even taken it a step farther by accusing "Black leaders" (the phrase 'Black leader' suggests that Black people don't have sense enough to think for themselves), including Rev. Al Sharpton, Ben Jealous, Charles Ogletree, Valerie Jarrett, Marc Morial, and Dr. Dorothy Height of saying the President doesn’t need a Black agenda. In doing so he grossly distorted the meaning of Sharpton's comment that the president doesn't need to ballyhoo a Black agenda - a position, in my view, that signals tremendous growth on the part of Rev. Sharpton.

While Tavis vehemently denied it when confronted by Sharpton, on Tuesday, February 23, during his commentary on Tom Joyner's Morning Show, Tavis said the following:

"But, my Lord, what a difference a year makes. Over the past few weeks a chorus of Black leaders have started singing a new song. I must have missed that choir rehearsal, J., because I don’t know the words to this new hymn. The President doesn’t need a Black agenda, they sing. He’s not the president of Black America, he’s the president of all America, and he need not focus specifically on the unique challenges Black America is facing, they sing."

I certainly don't want to imply that either President Obama, or Black leaders, are above criticism - I've criticized both. But if one does have an issue to bring to the table, one should at least make every effort to see to it that one's criticism is accurate, specific, valid, and most important, constructive. And from my point of view, Tavis' allegation was none of those things. All he's doing is advocating an agenda that would give Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News more ammunition to obstruct any initiative that actually would benefit the Black community.

But I'm not surprised. This is the third time I've written about Tavis' rants against the president, and each time, his rants seemed to be more ego based and self-promoting than they are substantive. Even if Sharpton did say what Tavis alleged, I wouldn't have a problem with that, since the President is the president of all of America. Thus, it is his job to address America's agenda, and thereby, create an environment where all people, including the Black community, can prosper. Isn't that what we demand of a White President?

In that very same commentary Tavis referred to Dr. Martin Luther King as "the greatest American we’ve ever produced." Yet, MLK didn't advocate a "Black agenda either"; he advocated exactly what President Obama is pursuing - universal equality for all - and just like President Obama, he was being severely criticized for it at the time - I know that for a fact, because at the time, I was young, dumb, and severely critical of him myself.

Dr. King didn't look upon Black people as intellectually challenged. He was of the firm belief that all Black people needed was a level playing field and we could compete with any other group of people in the world. In fact, he was the walking, breathing personification of that fact - and so was Colin Powell, Johnnie Cochran, and yes, President Barack Obama. They are all, the very best the world has ever known in their chosen fields.

All of these men have clearly demonstrated that the Black agenda must originate, and be pursued, in our homes, and at our dinner tables. We've got to teach our children that character and excellence should take priority over bluster, ego, and greed; that what's important in life is WHO you are, not what you are, or our social status. We must teach our sons that our women must be treasured, respected, and cared for, and that our children are our most valuable asset, and we must be there for them. We must also teach them that it takes more of a man to build a life, than it does to take one.

Because the fact is, Black people are the product of a racist society, and as such, we're just as racist toward other Blacks as the most racist White man in the country - in fact, even more so. Clear evidence of that can be seen in the fact that out of all of the murders of young Black men committed in the past year, not once have we heard that the perpetrator was wearing a sheet.

We've allowed the killing and degradation of Black people to become ghetto-chic. If the Klan was putting out the exact same videos that are being put out by many Black rappers, advocating acts of violence against Blacks, or portraying Black women as butt-swinging "bitches and whoes," the entire nation - including other Whites - would be in an uproar. But Black hip hoppers have raised dragging other Black people through the mud to an art form - and we not only condone it, but reward it, and we allow our children to consume it, all day, and all night long.

Thus, the very top priority of any "Black agenda," must not only be to correct that situation, but simply getting across the fact that it's a situation needing to be corrected - and President Obama, even with all of the treasure of Fort Knox at his disposal, cannot bestow either responsible parents, or, common sense upon the Black community - that's something that only we can do for ourselves.

Tavis should know that, but I don't think he's really interested. Yeah, I know - he's done this, and he's done that for the Black community. But I think everything he does is calculated to optimize his own profile. I've come to look upon Tavis as just another self-servicing demagogue who's using the dysfunction within the Black community to pursue his own agenda. No, he's not all bad, but I don't think that he ever does a thing without considering what it can do for him. Take a look at his website, You've never seen such self-promotion.

So Tavis' criticism of President Obama is nothing more than a temper tantrum that's been going on every since, then Senator Obama, had the audacity to forego Tavis' State of the Black Union telecast in order to declare his candidacy for president before the Illinois statehouse. Tavis acted like he was anointed by the Black community to determine whether or not to confer our collective approval.

Thereafter, Tavis was quoted as saying, "I knew Barack Obama, before he was Barack Obama." That seemed to imply that after Obama started to getting notoriety he became too big for his britches. But what Tavis fails to understand is, Barack Obama has always Barack Obama - that's how he became president. National prominence didn't bring Obama stature; Obama's stature is restoring world prominence to the nation. Tavis needs to recognize that fact, as well as the fact that he and Obama are in two entirely different classes, both intellectually and substantively.

Tavis fails to understand that Barack Obama is one of the greatest men in the history, while he is simply another talk show host that comes a dime a dozen. Thus, Tavis is making a damn fool of himself by even trying to compete with the president. He comes off looking like a '52 Chevy racing his engine at a brand new Bentley, and he's getting a similar response.

One would think that a man who has stumbled upon the kind of success that Tavis Smiley has enjoyed would have gained a little wisdom along the way. But it seems that instead of wisdom, all Tavis has gained is a tremendous ego, and a mind-clouding delusion of grandeur - a delusion that's rapidly turning him into a national joke.

Tavis has come to personify the proverbial crab in a barrel, desperately trying to reach beyond his grasp.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Day America Outlawed Democracy


The Day America Outlawed Democracy

The time is past due for America to start connecting the dots regarding our political establishment. It has become increasingly clear that we've reached a political crisis in this country, but contrary to what we're being led to believe, the major division in this country is no longer between liberals and conservatives, but rather, the American people and those we've elected to represent us.

Due to our political indifference, we've allowed the political establishment in this country to lavish upon themselves so many rewards, prerogatives, and political perks that they can no longer identify with the people they're suppose to represent. They've become a class within themselves. Where they were once considered the trusted employees of the American people, they've now become a part of a new American aristocracy. Thus, they now identify much more closely with the rich and powerful - or those they're supposed to be protecting us from - than they do the constituency they're supposed to represent.

So liberals and conservatives alike need to open their eyes. We need to recognize that we're now facing a common foe that has morphed into something that has become a threat to us all. We must also realize that it is essential that we set our respective differences aside - at least temporarily - just long enough to address this common enemy to our way of life.

While liberals and conservatives may disagree on their respective philosophy of governance, we must never confuse that philosophical disagreement with the belief that liberals are any less loyal as Americans, or that conservatives are any less sincere in their desire to make America a better place for us all. As different as the two groups are, in the final analysis, both liberals and conservatives want the very same thing - what is in the best interest of the American people. But that can no longer be said of our political establishment. Their current behavior has clearly demonstrated that their top priority entails feathering their own nests by protecting their true constituents - big business.

They were better able to hide that alliance in the past, but the current geo-economic circumstance has forced them into the open. Thus, the political establishment is now forced to betray their true attitude toward the American people - an "ignorant worker class," with a moral obligation to sacrifice both our families (in war), and wealth (in bailouts), for the personal comfort of the upper class.

That accounts for why the Wall Street bailout sailed through congress like a hot knife through butter, with only perfunctory grumbling from congress for effect, while healthcare reform, the jobs bill, legislation to enhance veterans benefits, and any other legislation aimed at helping the average American has been met with fierce resistance.

It's no accident that the only Obama effort that's being supported by the GOP is his initiative to go to war. The "party of no" eagerly says yes to that, regardless to the cost of (lower and middle class) lives and treasure; nor is it an accident that they completely ignore the fact that even after the useless waste of life and treasure, a victory means that Al Qaeda will simply move on to a different location. They don't have a problem with any of that, because war enriches their constituency, the military/industrial complex.

Neither is it an accident that the rule of law is simply being ignored regarding Bush and Cheney's war crimes, in spite of the fact that it makes America less safe, or the fact that it led directly to the economic hardship currently being suffered by the America people. They don't have a problem with because the political establishment is a class within itself, and it protects its own. That's the one area of agreement that truly seems to be bipartisan.

The reason for that, as I've mentioned in earlier columns, is the new world order is not only geopolitical, but economic in nature. "When the United States had a thriving industrial economy one class complimented the other. Labor was well paid and given the security of knowing that they had a job for life, so they had the confidence to purchased goods that the corporations produced. That allowed the companies that sold the goods to prosper to the benefit of the investor class." But now that U.S. corporations have to compete globally with countries that are paying their workers pennies per day, the American middle class has become a prohibitively expensive liability to America's ability to compete around the world. So now the U.S. government - both Republicans and Democrats - is in the process of addressing that issue by downgrading the standard of living of the American middle class.

The idea of relegating the American people to second class status isn't a new strain of thinking in American politics; it's been around since this nation's founding. It's just that after being shot down during the constitutional convention in lieu of a more egalitarian form of government, previous adherents of this philosophy had the good sense to be more discreet in their efforts.

As I've pointed out before, Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the fiscal conservative philosophy, said the following:

"All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and wellborn, the other the mass of the people.... The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and as they cannot receive any advantage by a change, they therefore will ever maintain good government." (Debates of the Federalist Convention May 14-September 17, 1787).

So the fact is, the reason that the political establishment is so willing to throw America under the bus is that the new world order has made it politically expedient to embrace Hamilton's philosophy that lower and middle class Americans shouldn't have a right to self-government in the first place. But since it would be problematic to try to formally take that right away through a constitutional amendment, it's being taken away through legislative procedure and rulings through the Supreme Court.

That's what has led to the current disaffection by both liberals and conservatives toward government. The American people can sense their rights slipping away, but they have yet to come to terms with what is actually going on. They have yet to realize that congressional gridlock is a convenient way of denying them their rights. They have also yet to recognize that the majority in the senate is allowing the minority to abuse of the filibuster procedure because both parties are in collusion. The Republican filibuster provides cover for the Democratic majority for failing to enact, or greatly watering down, legislation being demanded by the people, but neither party wants to enact.

Then on January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court delivered the final blow against the people. In order to insure against any repeat of the 2008 election where the people mounted a grassroots effort over the internet to usurp the power of corporations through campaign funding, the Supreme Court passed what is essentially the modern version of Plessy v. Ferguson, taking away the rights of the people by ruling that the American people and corporations are "separate but equal."

That ruling should serve as a red flag for both liberals and conservatives alike. In 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson was used to undermine the rights of Black people in this country. Now, the current ruling, Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee, is being used to undermine the rights of the middle class.

The ruling stands as a perfect metaphor for Jim Crow. But this time it ushers in an era of a diminished American middle class, and the jackboots of the new world order, as it formally arrives at our front door.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

Sphere: Related Content