Saturday, August 12, 2006


I try to Avoid addressing the same issue in consecutive columns–that’s my only defense against my natural tendency to be tedious and predictable. But this past weekend a young man, let’s call him Rob, came up to me and said, "Brother, I got to give you props–you really stuck it to those damn Jews last week." As soon as the words came out of his mouth, I knew I was going to have to clarify my message by revisiting the issue of Zionism. I didn’t have the time, at that moment, to stand there in front of the store and explain to the young man that my article wasn’t against Jews, but on the other hand, I wanted to make sure that he understood the distinction between hating a philosophy, and hating a people. So I asked the young brother to be sure to pickup this week’s paper, because this article was going to be written especially, and specifically, for him. So Rob, as promised, good brother–and I sincerely hope, just this once, that God gives me the skill to make my point:
Rob, while my last article had to do with a segment of Judaism, it wasn’t intended as a diatribe against Jews. I’m not against Jews. I’m not against any group of people, because as I see it, it would be a pity to go through the pain and suffering that we’ve experience here in America and not come out with at least some measure of wisdom. One would think that we would have learned through the blood, sweat, and tears that we’ve shed that trying to paint any group of people with the same broad brush, whether it’s to say that they’re all good, or they’re all bad, is not only the height of stupidity, but is the very mindset that has caused Black people so much misery here in America. How can I claim to detest racism, only to turn around an embrace that very same ignorant philosophy?
No, I’m not against Jews, I’m against the injustice of Zionism–a philosophy which dictates that one group of people are entitled to the land of another by virtue of their religious beliefs alone. But while I argue passionately that Zionism is a gross and unjust philosophy, I always keep in mind that all Jews are not Zionists. In fact, some Jews are more adamantly opposed to Zionism--at least, as currently practiced--than non-Jews.
It’s important to recognize that fact, because efficient thought requires that we always recognize subtle distinctions. While knowledge is power, knowledge can only yield its power when combined with the wisdom of truth. Evident of that is the fact that one of the most prolific problems that we have in this vast world filled with knowledge, is our tendency to circumvent that knowledge through thinking with our brain stems. Instead using our higher cognitive abilities and taking the time to be precise in our thinking, we find it easier to lob preconceived generalizations at every problem--and more often than not, those generalizations cater to the very darkest side of our nature. Look at what we’re doing with our knowledge in the Middle East. Instead of using that knowledge to enhance the quality of life for all of humanity, we’re using it to spread death and destruction around the entire world.
So we’ve got to learn to stop thinking in terms of Black and White, Jew and Gentile, or whether a person is Gay or Straight. As long as we think in those terms and continue to antagonize one another, we sabotage every opportunity to form coalitions to fight for our common good. That’s why people like Bush and Cheney thrive in a hostile environment. They love keeping us ignorant, because ignorance keeps us divided, and that very division allows them to step in and conquer all of our hopes and dreams as a people. It is a must, therefore, that we develop the wisdom to understand that there are only two kinds of people in this world–good people, and bad people.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Black people forget their history and engage in a rousing chorus of Kumbayah, that would be fool hearty. But it behooves Black people to not only understand, but remember, that while malevolent White men did indeed place us in chains, it was malevolent Black men who made us available to be shackled. We must also recognize that we commit a gross injustice by forgetting the sacrifice, and the families, of the thousands of White men of good character who gave their lives to unlock those shackles.
So while we witness the horror and atrocities that the state of Israel is committing against the Palestinian and Lebanese people, and we lean toward condemning all Jews, we must keep in mind men like Joel Elias Spingarn, also a Jew, and a prominent literary figure of his time. He not only gave great support to the Harlem Renaissance, but helped W.E.B. DuBois to establish the NAACP as a driving force for change in America. Spingarn also established the Spingarn Medal in 1913-- and to this day, it’s awarded annually for Excellence in African American Achievement. So as we’re formulating our opinions about Jews, we should remember this man, and his contribution to the African American people as Chairman of the Board of the NAACP from 1913 until his death in 1939. We should also consider that during that period the NAACP board was predominantly Jewish–W.E.B. DuBois was the only Black man on the Board of Directors. In fact, the NAACP didn’t elect its first Black president until 1975. Think about that.
But it’s become less than politically correct to bring up issues such as these–probably because many of us are afraid of becoming associated with Black opportunist, turncoats, and White apologists like Clarence Thomas, Alan Keyes, Larry Elder, and the like. But it’s important that we keep these facts in mind and pass them down as part of our history. Facts such as these represent valuable knowledge to our youth. It’s a source of knowledge to young people that says, as the three misguided Black men mentioned above clearly demonstrate, everybody that looks like you is not your brother, and conversely, everybody that doesn’t look like you is not the enemy.
That’s an invaluable lesson, not only for Black people, but for all of America, because we will never truly overcome until all people of good faith come together as a coalition–and that will never happen, until we begin to recognize that true brotherhood is not of the skin, but of the soul.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006




Pure, objective, and unadulterated truth is not nearly as complicated, or elusive, as we try to make it seem in this country. But since truth doesn’t lend itself to being Black, White, Jew, or Gentile, when the truth comes up less than a perfect fit to our carefully constructed comfort zone, we tend to beat, distort, and convolute it into a more comfortable fit. But in the process, we do ourselves a gross injustice, because no matter how you distort it, truth will always prevail in the end. That is the source of most of our problems in this world--we all seek to distort the truth in a way that is most palatable to our special interest. And this problem is magnified by the fact that our writers, political pundits, and politicians have a natural tendency to seek applause and self-interest over truth. But if we’re indeed dependent on the truth to set us free, let us not doom ourselves to a life of death, carnage, and intellectual bondage by living a lie.

Thus, the information that I’m providing below is the verifiable truth regarding the struggle in the Middle East. I felt it was important to present it here, for a second time, because too many of our young people are being wooed by the slick commercials our government is running regarding the military. But young people, take it from an old Marine, it’s all a lie. They’re not showing you pictures of yourself lying in 130 degree heat, thousands of miles from home, bleeding to death from the stub that use to be your leg, or looking at your foot in a bloody boot twenty-five yards away from where the rest of you lay dying. They’re being criminally remiss in not showing you that side of military life.

Don’t get the impression that I’m a pacifist, or hate the military, however–I’m not. There is a time when war is justified, but this ain’t it. You know it’s time to go to war when you’re prepared to see your own love one become it’s first casualty—although, Bush and Cheney will never arrived at that point. They think death in war is for the little people. So be all you can be, but don’t be a fool. You won’t be fighting for your country, you’ll be fighting for Exxon’s collusion with Israel to rob the people of the Middle East, and gouge the American taxpayer.

The truth is, the dispute over Israel is nothing less than "The Manifest Destiny" being re-enacted. When the Europeans came to America and began to strip the indigenous people of their land, they justified their unholy atrocities by declaring that it was God’s will that they settle, and bring his word to this "uncivilized land"–it was their manifest destiny. So in true civilized Christian fashion, they began to spread the Holy word of God through the hot muzzle of a Gatlin gun. It was a brutally unconscionable and gruesome event, but what could these good Christians do—after all, it was God’s will that they slaughter those "Godless savages." That is the exact same scenario that is currently taking place in the Middle East today. It began with the "creation" of the state of Israel in 1948, and the campaign continues as I speak—but this time, it’s called Zionism.

In 1882, while Jews were being massacred throughout Russia, Leo Pinsker, the founder of the Zionist movement, published a small booklet entitled "Auto-emancipation". It pointed out that Jews would never find equality in Russia, so it was necessary for world Jewry to establish their own homeland. At first he didn’t care where it was located—in fact, the area encompassing Zaire, Africa was even considered. But later, Pinsker recognized that in order to get Jews to immigrate in numbers large enough to establish a homeland, he needed a location that would inspired the Jewish soul, and no location in the world would suit that purpose like Palestine, the land of Zion–the land that God had promised the Jews. The fact that there were indigenous people already living in Palestine never even crossed his mind.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Zionism as follows:

"Zionism: An organized movement of world Jewry that arose in Europe in the late 19th century with the aim of reconstituting a Jewish state in Palestine. Modern Zionism is concerned with the development and support of the state of Israel."

Thus, Zionism, by definition and design, is a doctrine dedicated to the taking of Palestine–and on May 14, 1948, European Jews did just that. Between 1944 and 1948, due to their experience with the Nazi’s, Eastern European Jews wanted to get off the European continent by any means necessary, so various Zionist organizations created the Bariha (escape) Organization that helped close to 200,000 Jews to leave Europe and settle in Palestine. Prior to that time, in July of 1922, the League of Nations (the progenitor of the United Nations) gave Great Britain a mandate to protect the people of Palestine, but on November 29, 1947 when the U. N. General Assembly passed a resolution to partition off Palestine between the Arabs and Jews, Great Britain announced that it was terminating its mandate. The end of the British mandate was to go into effect on May 15, 1948, but on May 14, 1948 the Zionists declared the creation of Israel, a Jewish state.

But in order for the new State of Israel to have any legitimacy, it had to be recognized by the United States. The U.S. State Department was less than enthusiastic about creating a Jewish state in Palestine, but shortly after President Truman took office, European Zionist, Chaim Weizmann, convinced the president that it was only just that the survivors of the holocaust would be given their own homeland. Truman agreed, and recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, and all hell’s been breaking loose every since.

The Israeli-American alliance was a match made in Hell from the very outset–they don’t even trust each other. One of the largest units in the CIA is dedicated to the prevention of Israeli spying on the United States, and one of the biggest spy scandals in U.S. history involved an Israeli spy name Jonathan Pollard, an American of Jewish descent, born in Galveston, Texas. But in spite of that, Israel receives more U.S. foreign aid than any other country in the world, and we’ve made them one of the most formidable military forces in the world. The reason for that?--oil. Israel stands as an extension of the United States in the Middle East, within easy striking distance of Middle Eastern oil fields. So what we have in the Middle East is an unholy quid pro quo–The United States will help the Israelis steal Arab land, and the Israelis will help the United States steal the oil beneath the land.

So the Israeli claim that their slaughter of the Arab people is simply an attempt to defend themselves is nothing but a farce. Granted, when someone invades your home you do have a right to retaliate against them, but Europeans have about as much right to call Israel their home as I’d have of tearing off a part of China simply because I converted to Buddhism.

Far be it from me, however, to say who’s a Jew and who’s not, but I think we can all agree that European Jews are not the same Jews that were spoken of in the Bible. But, of course, you’re not suppose to even whisper such sentiments here in America. To say that European Jews don’t belong in Israel, or to speak out on any atrocity that the State of Israel might commit, is considered anti-Semitic in this country. But even that’s a farce. There’s a big difference between being anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist. To be anti-Semitic is to be against a people, while being anti-Zionist is to be against a philosophy. After all, all Jews are not Zionist. But there’s another issue here as well. How can you be anti-Semitic towards Europeans? They aren’t even Semites.

The situation above describes exactly why we’re in Iraq today. Thus, all of the killing in the Middle East is about European hubris, injustice, and greed. The entire justification for Europeans being in the Middle East at all, is based on a lie— and that includes Europeans by way of America. How can you go into your neighbor’s home and kill his family, then call him the aggressor? And now they’re talking about invading Iran! It’s all about racism and greed. Think about it-- as bad as the Germans and Russians treated the Jews over the years, you’d think the Jews would have been given part of one of those countries. If they’d done that, European Jews wouldn’t have even had to leave home. But White folks don’t play that–no matter how much they hate each other.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006




We must all stand-up and be counted and never forget the lessons of history, because much too soon the lessons of man’s inhumanity begins to fade, causing us to revisit the horrors of the past. Much too soon we tend forget the necessity of remaining vigilant over a government with a natural tendency towards corruption. And too soon we forget the horrors of trusting government to do the right thing–it never does. We forget too soon the concentration camps, and the stripping of human civil rights. And much too soon we’ve forgotten the torture and humiliation of innocent people, whose only crime was that of being the wrong race, creed, or color.

Yes, we forget the rampant slaughter of innocent men, women, and children much too soon. And we forget the mass hysteria, the fear of speaking out, and of people being imprisoned without redress, much too soon. We also forget the boots, those ominous boots, which were the last sounds that people heard before being brutally ripped from the lives of those they love, much too soon. Yes, young people, we forget the horror, much too soon.

While these atrocities took place long before your time, it is nevertheless incumbent upon you to make these memories an ever-present part of your collective consciousness, because your parents and grandparents had to pay a bitter price to regain simple freedoms that they had long taken for granted. They had to pay in blood for allowing their government to spin out of control. They paid a bitter price for allowing themselves to be led rather than taking the lead; for allowing themselves to be controlled by hatred rather than compassion, and for allowing themselves to be loyal to men, rather than their sense of justice. An obscure writer of the period wrote the following:

"This stately old vessel limped weakly towards port as the rolling storm began. Voracious vermin gnawed at its rotting hull, destroying it from within. Colors that once flew proud and strong in exotic and distant lands, now flutter shamefully, tattered and worn, indicting the greed of shameless men. With cheers of fading greatness, true patriots were scorned; while demagogues were lifted aloft, and our ship of state was mourned."

So it is up to you, young people, to insure that it never happens again. We must never forget the horrors. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Bush-- today these names live in infamy, but remember, during their time, each of these men were looked upon as heroes by many. So remain vigilant, young people, because, though try we must, injustice, infamy, and greed can never be relegated to centuries past.

And with that, let us recite The Pledge:

I pledge allegiance not to a flag, but to a united state of justice;
And to this republic, for which justice stands,
As a monument to human dignity,
And an unwavering compassion for man.


Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006




I’ve mentioned in previous columns that Bush’s so-called “War on Terror” was nothing more than a sham designed to give him carte blanche to circumvent the United States Constitution. His true goal was to manipulate the law, and the American people, in order to keep himself and other Republicans in office and holding key positions in government. That not only gave him the opportunity to redistribute the wealth and enrich his cronies, but gave him the added benefit of ravaging the United States treasury and allowing the Republican Party to achieve their primary goal--a goal that they’ve been unable to achieve legislatively for over sixty years—the abolishment of the New Deal, by making it impossible to fund its social programs.

But in their short sightedness and greed, it seems that the Bush administration has allowed the chickens to come home to roost. In the Middle East, the situation in Iraq is rapidly degenerating into civil war, and the entire region threatens to become destabilized. Iran is hell-bent on developing nuclear armaments as it, along with Lebanon and Syria, have all but declared a formal state of war against Israel. In Asia, North Korea is thumbing its nose at America as it tests missiles with a capability of possibly reaching U.S. Cites. And here in America, after bringing up 9/11 in every speech and every opportunity for the past five years, the administration has abolished the very unit in the CIA whose sole purpose was to seek out Osama Bin Laden, while at the same time, illegally spying on American citizens here at home.

In addition, a former CIA operative, along with a former ambassador, has brought an unprecedented law suite against the Vice President of the United States and others, alleging that they leaked classified information during a time of war for political gain. Further, gas prices are soaring, expected to reach four dollars a gallon within the next three months, and illegal aliens are demonstrating in the streets by the millions, demanding “their right” to live in illegal comfort, while American citizens foot the bill and honor our responsibility to reward the flaunting of our laws. And while all of this is taking place, the Republican led congress is twiddling its thumbs and wallowing with impunity, in the sweet lap of corruption.

But the American people are finally beginning to realize that while our jobs are being shipped abroad, our citizens are unable to afford the cost of healthcare, and Bush claims that Social Security is going broke, the administration has spent $435 billion fighting the wrong war--and of that $435 billion, 9.5 billion is unaccounted for, while the Pentagon indicates that Halliburton (the company that was formerly headed by Vice President Cheney), overcharged the American people $1.4 billion. As a direct result, the Army has cancelled Halliburton’s multibillion dollar government contracts.

The American people are also beginning to recognize that what’s even more unconscionable than allowing Bush to rape our treasury is what we’ve allowed him to do to our young people and their families. To date, 2,540 young people have been killed in Iraq, and over 18,786 have been wounded. And of the wounded, 20 % have sustained serious brain or spinal cord injuries, so their lives, and the lives of their families, will never be the same. But the most telling figure in the number of dead and wound in Iraq is the fact that not one of the victims is the child of either a congressman, senator, or any member of the Bush administration (Don’t these people also have a responsibility to “defend our freedom”?).

So now the American people are up in arms. But it’s hard to feel sorry for America, because the American people have been arrogant, self-serving, and lazy minded. When we thought the war was just going to be an excursion into Iraq and only causing death and discomfort to the Iraqi people, we didn’t care. So instead of standing firm and vigilant in protection of our rights and the rights of others, we continued to party and abdicate our responsibility, assuming our way of life was assured. And instead of thinking, and acting for ourselves, we sat back and allowed others to think, act, and vote for us—assuming that those elected on our behalf would be competent, and have our best interest at heart.

Now we find ourselves on our knees, at the mercy of a corrupt administration, and scampering around trying to scrape up enough gas money to get to work—at least, those of us lucky enough to have a job. And now, this once proud nation that was once respected and envied as the leader of the free world, is the laughing stock of the world, and facing challenges that we may not have the resources to address.

So, has America learned its lesson? We’ll see in the November election.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.
Author of
A Message From The Hood

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006




It’s scary how easily the American people can be manipulated to the point that they find the death of entire families a hoot; How we can sit in front of the tv set with chilli dogs and fries and cheer on the death of others like we’re watching the Super Bowl. And it’s a tribute to psychosis how America can unleash mass destruction in "an attempt to prevent mass destruction," in the name of God.

Can’t you see that many of "those Towel-Heads" are children just like your own? You didn’t really think the U.S. could unleash destruction like we saw and not kill children did you? Rumsfeld said, "Well, [shit] happens." But shit doesn’t just happen--you allowed it to happen. You made it happen. You cheered it on! Consider that as the children bleed and you're admiring the beauty of "Shock and Awe."

Think about your own children as "collateral damage." Think about them screaming in horror while you're helplessly watching their limbs being blown off. Think about them desperately reaching out to you for comfort as life slowly drains from their tiny bodies. Think about foreign boots kicking down your front door, and strangers walking through your home systematically killing every man, woman and child. Imagine the last sight you ever see on this Earth is of your loving child with her brains spilling from her tiny little head. Think about that picture, America--then ask yourself, who's really the terrorist?

Where has America gone? Who’s left to standup for justice and humanity? You say, God Bless America? You'd have to be a fool to think God is gonna bless America after what we’ve done--for choosing Standard Oil over Justice, and Exxon over God himself. In God we trust? How dare you blame this atrocity on God! It is in Bush you trust:

You trust Bush that God has entrusted you to blow off Iraqi arms and wrap them around you to enable them to embrace your benevolence. And you trust Bush that you must lovingly pluck out Iraqi eyes to enable them to see the wisdom of viewing the world through your own. And you trust Bush that in the name of all that is good you must slaughter their children in a desperate attempt to provide them with a better future. You also trust Bush that you must rape their land and steal their wealth in order to allow them to choose the government of their choosing-- (so long as they choose the government that Bush chooses for them to choose). And you trust Bush that you do all this in the name of American charity.

You also trust Bush that God will bless America--but this Ain’t America. America is the land of the free, and home of the brave, the land of just souls who freed their slaves. No, this is not America, this is Bushland–the land of small pox infected blankets; the land of public lynchings and church–place bombings; the land of imprisoned Japanese-Americans, and corporate murderers.

Yeah, God Bless Bushland! The land of the free and home of the slave; the land of My Lai, and Calley’s mass grave. And you trust that God will bless Bushland?

Well, trust this–You are blind, my friend.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr

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Thursday, July 06, 2006



sweet patriot, square of jaw,  
and demeanor of great command,
you fearlessly stand
in defense of America,
and the savior of all God’s chosen men.
Anointed by God as his personal envoy
to all men, corrupt and blind,
and charged with the
swift and brutal destruction
of all heathens of other kind.

You stand vigilant against all our enemies,
both foreign and imagined within;
You vigorously guard against all that is evil,
and all that you see as sin.
You define God’s needs and precious values,
in the most unambiguous tones,
and never once have you erred on behalf of truth,
to reveal “God’s values” are indeed your own.

You lead our troops in fearless glory,
challenging Death to “Bring it on!”
Never thrusting your sword on the field of battle,
you fearlessly lead the charge by phone.

sweet patriot, square of jaw,
and demeanor of great command,
how selfless your will to guard America,
while hating the pillars upon which it stands.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006




If your house was on fire, would you allow your child to perish in order to save his Birth Certificate? Of course not—only a fool would do that. But that’s exactly what a majority of our foolish congress was advocating in their proposed “Flag Burning” amendment to the Constitution. If they would have gotten their way, they would have corrupted our Constitution by taking away our right to free expression. They wanted to strip us of yet another right, in order to protect a piece of cloth whose only value is as a symbol of the very right that they wanted to take away. In other words, they wanted to sacrifice the child in order to protect its Birth Certificate—a mere affirmation, of the very life that they would have allowed to perish.

At best, that represents convoluted thinking, but it’s the kind of thinking that this conservative administration, and its rubber-stamp congress, must get the American people to embrace in order to advance its malevolent agenda. They specialize in appealing to our emotions. That’s the way that conservative Republicans circumvent our common sense, and get Americans to vote against their own best interest. It’s a tried and true marketing ploy: Never mind that that shiny new Escalade costs as much as a house, and only gets 2 miles to the gallon, just show the owner driving down the street, with his neighbors looking on in envy, and America will beat a path to your door. So, the very success of these people is dependant on America’s ignorance.

That’s the source of most of our problems here in America—politicians that appeal to the worse in our nature, and an electorate that has become so blind that we don’t even recognize when we’re being manipulated like fools. It’s gotten so bad that every time I see a politician looking solemnly into the camera, and spewing his disingenuous nonsense, it makes me want to throw up.

We currently have elderly people in this country who have to choose between eating and buying the drugs that they have to have to sustain they’re lives. We have people who have to pay a day and a half’s wages just to buy enough gas to get them to work for a week. We’re involved in a senseless war with no end in the foreseeable future, that’s draining our economy and killing both American and Iraqi children. We’re sustaining a budget deficit, and the exhaustion of our military, that threatens our ability to defend our shores. And most frightening all, we have a president who seems to have absolutely no understanding of limits, or an appreciation of the United States Constitution, and yet, our congress is hard at work, wasting time, debating the burning of a piece of cloth.

Senate Majority Leader Frist, again, looking solemnly into the camera, indicated that one of the reasons that the flag burning amendment should be passed was that it was unconscionable that people would be burning the very symbol that our troops are dying for in Iraq. That is pure, unadulterated, nonsense. First, our troops are not dying in Iraq for the flag--our troops are dying because they entered the military in the hope of finding a better life, then an irresponsible president saw fit to send them to a place that they never should have gone, to fight in a war that never should have taken place. That’s why they're dying. And even those who did go into the military to fight for the “American cause”, they’re not fighting for the flag, they’re fighting for what the flag represents—American ideals—those very same ideals that this administration is corrupting.

For once, let us look at this moment with clarity. The Republican majority in congress doesn’t give a damn about the burning of the American flag—what they wanted was to ignite a constitutional debate across this country that would have been in full gear and raging just in time for the November elections. That way, the debate would have stirred the emotions of their mindless, conservative base, and also served as a distraction that would prevent the American people from thinking about the Republican corruption in congress, and their corporate giveaways that has ravaged our treasury, and the lies that they told that’s causing our children to die in Iraq so that Bush, Cheney, and their cronies can add zeros to their bank accounts. That, is what the flag burning amendment is truly about.

No, they don’t care about the burning of the American flag, and neither do they care about the ideals that our flag represents—if they did, you wouldn’t have to wonder whether they’re listening to your conversations, with your ailing, and medication deprived mother.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006




As I watch the war in Iraq and survey man’s inhumanity to man, an ironic reality reaches out to me.  That is, every drop of blood being spilled in Iraq is being spilled in the name of God—the very same God.  And what’s even more ironic is that both sides have so-called “men of God” praying that God help them to kill the sons and daughters of the people on the other side. Do they really believe that a loving God is going to help one of his children kill another?  I don’t think so. So their prayers shouldn’t be “God, please help our troops to persevere”, but rather, “God, please help our leaders to see past their ignorance and greed.”  That, is the only prayer that will help our troops.

The problem is, man has become so arrogant and self-centered that he’s used his religion to re-create God in the image of man, rather than in the reverse.  I learned that early in life, and for primarily that reason, I chose to worship God in my own way. So generally, I make it a point to keep man out of my religion.  What I believe is between me and God--but just this once, I’m going to make an exception.
I was raised to be a devote Christian, and I’m very proud to say that I still have many Christian values.  But as early as I can remember, I had a problem with my religion, because I was raised to be “God fearing”, rather than God loving.  I was taught to believe that God was a stern taskmaster, poised to chastise me severely for any transgression. But now I see him as a friend and a mentor--one who walks with me through life, and takes a father’s pride in revealing to me the wonders of his creation.  I also see him as a friend with a highly developed sense of humor—after all, he did create humor, didn’t he?  So I imagine him in Heaven saying, “Come here y’all.  You want to trip?  Check this out.”  Then he put me and my late wife together—a love affair between oil and water.  And when she passed, he said, “Well, you know she’s a real handful, but she should be all right—I called in both Johnnie Cochran and the Pope.”  Then I said, “But Lord, she’s not a Catholic.  She likes T.D. Jakes.”  And he responded, “Don’t push it, Homeboy—you’re gonna need a little help yourself.”
But when I was a kid I didn’t have that type of relationship with God, where I felt free to speak my mind.  I was so scared of God that I thought everything I did was a sin, and I was convinced that I was going to be condemned to Hell for all eternity.  I’d be walking around bumping into trees while I was praying for forgiveness over some “unpure” thought that I might have had toward one of my female schoolmates.  And if that was bad, going to church was agony, because I just couldn’t keep my eyes off the beautiful bodies of those pretty Black women sitting in the pews next to me. I felt that God had no tolerance for human nature.  So finally, I said a prayer, asking God to free me from this burden, and he did.  But he was much wiser than I.  He didn’t free me from loving the sight of a beautiful woman—unlike man, he didn’t see that as a burden (Thank you, Lord).  He freed me from the burden of worrying about it.  And while he was at it, he decided to make me truly free, by freeing me from the folly of buying into the belief that man could save my soul, rendering me completely immune to the game that George Bush is running on many conservative Christians across this land.

He helped me to understand that man has lost sight of the true meaning of religion.  And that man is so intent on controlling the minds of other men, that he dwells on the dogma of religion, rather than its essence--how we treat our fellow man.  He taught me that while the Bible, the Koran, and all of the other religious texts are a monument to his existence, he doesn’t need an intermediary—he speaks to every man, woman, and child directly. When he created man he provided his word as part of the package. One only needs to listen, to hear the voice of God, loud and clear.  I don’t need any text to tell me not to steal, or not to kill, or not to covet my neighbor’s wife.  Whenever I’ve leaned towards any of those transgressions—and I have—all I had to do was listen to my heart to hear his words: “Eric, what you’re about to do is not right.”  He also helped me to understand that pursuing what is right simply to save my own soul was, in itself, an ugly act of selfishness. I was missing the point—I should pursue what is right, simply because it is right.  In that way, I don’t have to wait to get to Heaven--I bring Heaven to me.  
These are the things that the Christian Right has lost sight of.  They’re not interested in promoting the word of God, they’re only interest is controlling our minds--and the only way that they can do that, is by forcing us to embrace their values.  Why shouldn’t gays be allowed to get married?  The Christian Right would say, because it violates the rules--but whose rules?  A newly released scientific study indicates that homosexuality is biological in nature, rather than simply behavioral.  So if God made gays to love one another, what right do a handful of flawed men have to make rules for either those who are gay, or, for God?  And the irony is, those very same men who are such sticklers for “the rules” when it comes to love, have absolutely no problem with, and indeed promote, the slaughter of thousands of men, women, and children in Iraq; and their progenitors were thumping that very same Bible that they themselves thump today, as they chained, beat, and lynched thousands of innocent Black people, and all but wiped out every true American across this land.  Now, that’s the kind of behavior that needs to be prevented with some kind of rule, but somehow, they missed that part of the Gospel.
So, whenever you hear Bush or one of his cohorts start talking about God, you can just standby, because they’re about to either charge you an arm and a leg for admission into Heaven, or ask you to help them kill somebody—and the horrible thing about that is, there are millions of people across this land who have been brainwashed into believing that these people are acting in the name of God.  Therefore, when any of these demagogues come to you and ask are you a believer, don’t be confused—they’re not asking you if you believe in God, they’re asking you if you believe in what they are telling you about God.  And in my case, the answer is always, absolutely not!
Now, I realize I sound very cynical here, but don’t get me wrong, I recognize there are many Godly people still left in this world. But you can never mistake the truly Godly, because they’re never mean-spirited, they’re always humble, and they won’t just preach you a sermon, they’ll live you one, as well.

Eric L. Wattree

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006




On September 12, 2001, one day after Nine-Eleven, French writer, Jean-Marie Colombani said, “Today, we are all Americans.”  When he uttered those simple and endearing words, he seemed to speak for the entire world.  At no time in history had the United States seemed so loved and embraced by the people of this planet.  If Bush would have had the intelligence, common sense, or simple statesmanship to take advantage of that sentiment, not only would tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children be alive today, but, twenty-five hundred American families would still be enjoying the warm smiles of their now deceased loved ones. But instead, now less than five years later, a Pew poll has just been released that surveyed 17,000 people in 15 countries that cites the United States as the world’s biggest threat to world peace.  

That’s a sentiment that places you and your loved ones, indeed, the entire world, in serious danger. Now, due to the greed, ineptness, and colossal stupidity of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, as my fingers tremble against this keyboard, Iran is hard at work developing its nuclear capability.  And any day now, North Korea is about to test a missile with the capability of reaching American cities.  These are both countries filled with people who would consider it an act of glory to blowup this entire planet for what they believe.

This would be a grave situation under any circumstances, but what makes it particularly so in this case is that while we are rapidly moving toward another Cuban Missile Crisis, this time, instead of having the sound judgment and powerful intellect of a John Kennedy at the helm, we’re being led by a man who commands absolutely no respect in the world community, and has never confronted a problem that he didn’t make worse.  And further, his options are few—he’s stretched our military to the point of exhaustion in his pointless war in Iraq, and he’s allowed the nation’s treasury to be ravaged by his friends, cronies, and fellow war profiteers.  So now that we really need these resources, the cupboard is bare. Thus, the only options left to him is to either go to the United Nations with his hat in hand, or to bomb these countries—and he has serious obstacles to overcome with either option.

The problem with going to the U.N. Security Council has to do with the arrogance in which he dealt with the U.N. during the run up to the war in Iraq.  During that time he dealt with member countries of the Security Council, friend and foe alike, as though they were insignificant. So now, recognizing the weakness of the United State’s position, many of those same countries would love to see Bush, at least for a time, just twist in the wind.  But the problem with that is, as his “Bring it on” statement demonstrates, Bush is both intellectually shallow and emotionally immature, therefore, unpredictable.  Trying to figure out what Bush might do at any given moment is like trying to mount a chess strategy against an opponent who doesn’t know how to play chess—you can’t anticipate him, because his thinking is erratic.

China is also a wild card.  North Korea is a part of China’s sphere of influence, so bombing North Korea would be a slap in China’s face. It would be the same as if China decided to bomb England—the United States couldn’t allow that to happen.  Another thing that makes China a wild card is that China may feel that they will never see the United States this vulnerable, and with such inept leadership again, so now’s the time to assert itself.

This “War on Terror” was a foolhardy pursuit from its very conception.  It was never meant to either make America more safe, pursue Osama Bin Laden, or to wipeout terrorism—it was meant to justify Bush’s plan to place America in a perpetual, and never ending, state of war. That allowed Bush the freedom to corrupt the Constitution, circumvent the Bill of Rights, invade sovereign nations with impunity, and to pursue any policy that would keep Republicans in power, and enrich war profiteers like Halliburton, Bechtel, and their subcontractors.  After all, you cannot wage war against a frame of mind.

A war on terror is like a war on ignorance—as long as you have people, it can never be wiped out.  Bush was depending on that, and America followed blindly.  Now we must all pay the price of his corruption, since Gross Negligence is also a crime.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.


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Tuesday, June 13, 2006




I often here our people talking about "keeping it real."  If we were really serious about that many of our problems would be solved.  But just like many of our other sayings, the statement reflects much more style than substance. Truly keeping it real entails taking a hard and objective look at ourselves, but many of us find that much too painful-and others find it, much too inconvenient. You see, one of the first issues we must confront in keeping it real involves facing up to the contradiction that while many of us claim that "We're Black and we're proud", we still tend to look to the White man for our well being. The fact is, many of us relate to the White man like we’re children and he’s our daddy.  Now, that’s real.  Are we ready to face up to that?  I don’t think so.

I've heard, for example, brothers say things like, "I was always good in school--and I could have made it, but that White man 'wouldn't let me'."  Now, let's take that statement and look at it from the perspective of the street.  If I took that very same statement and replaced the words "White man" with the name "Willie”, it clearly demonstrates what a weak argument and pitiful admission that really is:  “I could have made it, but Willie wouldn’t let me.” Brother, please!  if you're a real man, and truly proud, you're not going to allow another man to prevent you from making it, or feeding your family.  But I'll never get that brother to accept that, because that lie helps to sustain him--it helps him to justify his failure in life.  So that’s his story and he’s sticking to it—keeping things real notwithstanding.

And of course, the brother is well practiced in his fantasy.  He would argue that there's a difference between the White man and Willie--Willie is just one individual, while the White man controls the system. But that's also a fallacious argument, since if the White man was indeed standing there guarding the gates of success, and intent on holding Black people back,  places like Beverly Hills, Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights, and many other prosperous locations wouldn't be filled with so many Black people--they'd all be there on the block making excuses, right there with my good brother.  Now, that's real.

Now, don't get me wrong, I recognize the legitimacy of the brother's contention that some White folks have made it a point to put obstacles in place that make it, at the very least,  exceedingly difficult for Black people to move forward in this society, but it is up to us to develop the capacity to navigate those obstacles--and as a result, we'll become a much stronger people in the process.

All physical, spiritual, and intellectual growth is directly proportionate to the obstacles that we have to overcome.  If it hadn't been for the fact that we had a desire to get from point "A" to point "B", we never would have learned to walk as babies-and as a direct result, our legs would have become useless. And if it hadn't been for the obstacle of not being able to communicate our needs, we never would have learned to talk--in which case, our vocal cords would have atrophied.  Even involuntary growth, the size of our bodies, is in direct response to nature's anticipation of obstacles that we'd have to overcome. Use it, or loose it--that is a fundamental law of nature.  It is for that very reason, therefore, that I have a problem with many of our self-appointed Black spokespeople attributing all of our problems to the White man. These people are sending the wrong message to our youth.  

As Black people, we've got to understand that if we are the ones who are affected by a problem, it is our problem to resolve, and no one else's.  Then once the problem has been resolved, we're rewarded with wisdom, growth, and pride.  But on the other hand, when we look to others to resolve our problems for us, we open ourselves up to manipulation, a lack of respect (from inside and outside of the culture), and we receive very little satisfaction in the end---the Affirmative Action Program is a case in point.  Many of us swore by Affirmative Action--we saw it as a panacea. But the clarity of hindsight demonstrates that it did much more to us than for us.  

During the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties we held the moral high ground.  Our ability to stick together and demand our rights, along with the eloquence in which Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and many other Black poets, scholars, and musicians managed to articulate our position, captured the imagination of the entire world.  Many White folks who had never stood up for anything in their lives saw fit to march, write books, and even write their representatives on behalf of Black people.  Some White folks were so caught-up in the movement that they even tried to get their hair to kink-up or wore braids so they could look like us. But what we didn't stop to notice at the time, was that Richard Nixon was watching all of this as well--and it was he who signed Affirmative Action into law.

If we would have stopped celebrating long enough to think, someone might have said, whoa!  Wait a minute-when was the last time Richard Nixon wanted to do anything to benefit Black people?  It's a pity that someone didn't, because I'm sure that when Nixon signed that Bill, he had tongue firmly in cheek.  I can hear him now--"Ok, these White fools want to march and demand rights for these Black people, let's see how they feel when Blacks start taking their jobs, and bumping their kids out of the universities."  At the same time we began to loose the moral high ground.  White people began to say, wait a minute, they don't seem to be all that big on Civil Rights when it comes to their getting preferential treatment--they ain't no better than we are.  That's when the movement began to unravel.  

We allowed Richard Nixon to out maneuver us, and we've been paying for it every since. If it weren’t for the anger generated against Black people as a direct result of Affirmative Action, Ronald Reagan, nor either Bush would have ever been elected to office.  It was a gross waste of political capital, and the only ones to benefit from it were upwardly mobile Blacks, who probably would have been successful anyway, and White women.

If we'd been thinking at the time, we would have insisted that Affirmative Action be based on economic need rather than race. We would have also modified our cultural mindset to reward Black youth on the acquisition of knowledge and the pursuit of excellence rather than on how hearty they could party.  If we'd done that, we wouldn't have lost a generation of Black youth when Reagan flooded our streets with crack cocaine to support his war in Nicaragua during the eighties.  And as a result of that, we wouldn't have spawned a generation of the fools, raised by the fools, during the nineties. Now, out of the 4,852 freshman admitted into UCLA for the coming year, only 96 are Black--and 20 of those were recruited as athletes. That's a damn shame, and a clear indictment against the Black community.

Now, that's keeping it real.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.


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Saturday, June 03, 2006


Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

On March 31, 2006 the great Jackie McLean quietly slipped into the annals of American history. Born on May 17, 1932, Jackie was destined to become one of the greatest innovators on the alto saxophone, and in jazz, that the world has ever known. He was a direct musical descendant of the illustrious Charles “Yardbird” Parker, Bebopper-in-chief. In fact, Bird was there to witness his young protégé’s first recording date with yet another jazz giant, Miles Dewey Davis. Jackie, at the tender age of 19, was quite nervous during that session, but Bird took the time to give him the same advice that he’d given Miles in his youth, “Just calm down and do what you do.” Well, just like Miles before him, Jackie did calm down, and a new era in jazz had begun.
History will someday look back upon all these men with at least as much reverence as we now look upon Beethoven, Mozart and the like. But while these men stand as towering monuments to the creative genius within our culture, the death of Jackie McLean passed without so much as a whimper within the Black community. There was no urgency in the Black community to hand down the legacy of this great musician to our now culturally deprived younger generation. But fortunately, jazz is also a part of American culture, so ironically, it was primarily the White community that both recognized and noted the significance of Jackie’s death. So allow me to take a moment to swallow my pride and say . . . Thank God for the White man!
Failure to acknowledge the best in ourselves is a serious problem within the Black community, and I attribute it directly to our failure to assess the impact of integration on Black culture. During the civil rights movement we became so caught up with trying to fit into the larger society that we lost ourselves in the process. And while we were busy running away from our identity, White scholars were furiously setting up Ph.D. Programs at universities all over the world studying every facet of the very cultural geniuses that we began to ignore. We’ve become so intent on chasing the frivolous, that we’re oblivious to everything of real value within our culture.
There’s an old saying that rings particularly true in our current condition--“Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.” Well, We’ve got it. There was a time when we had our values in tact, solid communities, and knew who we were as a people, but we had one glaring weakness--we yearned to live large like White folks. True, we didn’t have much, but what we did have was rich in culture. Now many of us have achieved the dream of living large, but at what cost—our values have been destroyed, we have no sense of community, and we’re now getting over by imitating the world’s imitation of who we use to be. At the same time, White kids, and kids of other nationalities are sitting in universities and music conservatories around the world learning more about the music of Bird, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, and Black culture in general, than most Black people will ever know.
Now, this is not an indictment against the White man, after all, it’s not his fault that we don’t have the insight to recognize and pass down our own cultural legacy--in fact, we owe him a debt of gratitude, because it now falls on him to preserve for posterity that which is best in us. The fact is, we’re fortunate he’s around, but it’s a damn shame that we have to rely on someone else to do what we should be doing for ourselves.
Yes, many of us now have more and are living better than we’ve ever lived before, but again, at what price? Ask yourself, where are the Charlie Parkers, and Miles Davis’, and Marvin Gays of today? Where is the next Aretha, or Al Green? The fact is, they no longer exist, because we no longer exist—at least, as we once were. We’ve lost that urge to say, I’m going to study these scales, chords, and progressions, and demonstrate to the world that I can be one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. Now, instead of seeking excellence, we settle for the dollar, and instead of making records that will speak to eternity, we're scratchin’ them and saying “yo, yo, yo.” We no longer have the time to learn, because “we’ve got to keep it real”— which is to say, ignorant. And we no longer seek to express the essence of who we are as a people, because we no longer know who we are as a people. At the rate and direction that we're going, before long Black people are going to have the unique distinction of being the only culture in the history of mankind who are going to be incapable of performing the very art that we created.  If we want to hear true jazz we're going to have to leave the community and go have others play it for us.

As a direct result of this horrible situation, we no longer have heroes, or a story to tell. But here’s a story about when we did have heroes, and how the excellence of one such hero managed to capture the imagination of an impressionable Black child:
When Jackie McLean first appeared on the scene he swung it like nobody else;
He stood all alone, with that bittersweet tone, owing nobody, only himself.
With his furious attack he could take you back to the beauty of Yardbird’s song,
but that solemn moan made it all his own, as burning passion flowed
lush from his horn. Hearing “Love and Hate” made Jazz my fate, joyous anguish
dripped blue from his song. He both smiled and cried and dug deep-down inside,
until the innocence of my childhood was gone.
He took me to a place that had no face, I was so young when I heard his sweet call,
but he parted the fog and in no time at all, a child of bebop sprung fully enthralled.
As I heard this new sound, and embraced the profound, childish eyes now saw as a man; I stood totally perplexed, but I couldn’t step back, from the hunger of my mind to expand.
I saw Charlie and Lester, and a smiling young Dexter, as I peered into Jackie’s sweet horn; it was a place that I knew, though I’d never been to, but a place that I now call my home.

Rest well, Jackie
Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)

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

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Saturday, May 27, 2006


Eric L. Wattree

I feel compelled to reiterate a theme that I addressed in an earlier article where I emphasized that education is the key to improving our condition in the Black community.  I realize that I’m at risk of sounding like Willie One-Note, but I see the need for education in the Black community as a refrain that needs to be played over and over again, because all of our problems can be boiled down to that one simple point.  The fact is, God made birds to fly, fish to swim, and man to think.  If a bird refuses to fly, or a fish refuses to swim, they’re not going to survive very long.  The same is true of man—if a man, or a community of men, refuses to think, they cannot remain viable in this society.

Education will teach us right off the bat that the only rights that we have in this world are the rights that we can take and then defend.  Now, I don’t mean “take” in a military sense—that would be a recipe for disaster.  When I say “take”, I mean using our collective intellect to obtain.  Because it has become clear that we can’t out scream the White man, we don’t have the electronic resources. And it makes absolutely no sense to try to appeal to his compassion, because he doesn’t have any--and what’s going on in Iraq shows that we certainly can’t match him when it comes to brutality. But Martin demonstrated without a doubt that if we marshal our collective intellectual resources, we can out think this man.  We are a highly creative people—we’ve simply got to develop the gift that God gave us, as our essential means of survival.

God didn’t create anything in this world and leave it defenseless.  He gave the chameleon the ability to change colors and blend in with its environment, to make itself virtually invisible. He gave the skunk a funk that’s so powerful that nothing wants to get close enough to eat it. And some fish can blow themselves up so large that they can’t be swallowed.  He did the same with man.  He placed man on Earth as a naked ape—he wasn’t as strong as the elephant, or as ferocious as the lion, and couldn’t fly like the eagle, so God gave him a brain. It didn’t seem like much, at the time, but the human mind has allowed man to create machines that can now crush any elephant, slaughter any lion, and soar well beyond the eagle’s domain.

He’s done the same thing for Black people. He’s given us a highly developed sense of creativity, which, by definition, is a primary indicator of intellectual development.  But our problem is, we only utilize God’s gift for our entertainment, rather than using it to soar like the eagle, and step beyond the domain of ordinary men.

It’s amazing to me how the Black man fails to recognize his powerful gift of creative intellect—we’ve already seen it in action. The hill that Martin had to climb to reach the mountaintop, and see over the heads of common men, was much steeper than the molehill we have to climb today.  Yet, he managed to dredge up a strength and power from his soul that was so profound that it served to lift the rest of mankind to a higher level of humanity. That was not only a testament to one Black man(s ability to pull himself up from the dust of his humble beginnings, but also, a testament to the capacity of his people to meet the test of greatness.

Similarly, I’m also amazed that whenever I hear a discussion on Black pride, someone always seems to brings up the issue of Egypt, and whether or not Cleopatra was Black. All that's academic. We don't have to go back to antiquity to find a source of pride. All we have to do is study the life and times of our parents, our grandparents, and that generation of Black people born between the turn of the century and WWII. In less than a hundred years our people have gone from being the defenseless and nameless victims of public lynchings, to becoming people like Colon Powell, who was responsible for the defense of all of America and the entire western world. In less than a hundred years, the Black people of that generation went from housekeepers and flunkies, to the boardrooms of multinational corporations. And in less than a hundred years, we’ve gone from playing washboards and tin cans on the side of the road, to becoming the greatest musicians the world has ever known.

As a musician, I think about that time a lot—when White folks use to laugh and simply tolerated as “quaint” those “simple” brothers with their washboards and tin cans on the side of the road.  They weren’t seen as a threat, because they were deprived of going to the prestigious music conservatories that White musicians had access to. But today, America is defined by the legacy of those very same musicians.  Every time anyone turns on a radio anywhere in the world, they should have to pay royalties to Bird, Miles, Coltrane, Quincy Jones, Marvin Gaye, and the myriad of other Black musicians that have carried on our legacy.  Yeah, they laughed at us in the beginning, just like they’re laughing at us now; but now, you can get a  Ph.D. in just about any university in the world for just trying to figure out what Bird was doing—and fifty years after his death, they still can’t get it right.  That is the power of creativity, and that is our legacy as a people.

So, we’ve got to start taking ourselves much more seriously—because we are a powerful people, with an exceptional intellect.  But we’ve got to develop it, and refine it, and extend it to the whole of human knowledge.  And we’ve got to stop taking ourselves for granted, and expecting one voice to speak for millions.  We must seek to educate ourselves, so that millions can speak with one voice:

Neither scholar nor the head of state,
The most common of men seems to be my fate;
A life blistered with struggle and constant need,
But as my legacy to man I bequeath my seed.
More fertile, more sturdy, these ones than I,
This withered old vine left fallow and dry;
The nectar of their roots lie dormant still,
But through their fruit I(ll be revealed.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree


The Hispanic community may have done itself a gross disservice last week. The huge demonstrations that turned out against proposed immigration reform in the U.S. Congress might well have done more to bolster alarmist arguments against Hispanic immigration than any words the alarmists could have possibly come up with on their own.    

That old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words never rang more true than during this past week. Prior to last week’s demonstrations alarmist constantly bombarded the American people with facts and figures in a desperate attempt to portray just how serious the problem of undocumented workers coming into this country each year had become. But they had a problem—the facts and figures were abstract. While the American people heard the facts and figures, they simply could not visualize what those facts and figures represented. But the mass display of humanity that flooded the streets and cities across this country last week brought the message home loud and clear--We have a serious problem.

I can only imagine how the alarmists and racists in this country are going to use those images to instill fear in the average American. When I turned on the television and saw the half million people protesting in the street on such short notice it even scared me, a progressive who tends to be sympathetic to the cause of the underdog.  Those images brought an important message home to me—we’ve had our heads in the sand for far too long.  This is an issue that must be addressed immediately, and in a firm and aggressive manner.

Last week’s images have shocked America into drawing lines in the sand—but lines that are convoluted and with the strangest of bedfellows on both sides. Unfortunately, I don’t think that bodes well for the undocumented worker. In spite of the seriousness of this matter, this entire controversy is rapidly degenerating into an exercise in what America does best—catering to self-interest.

On the one hand you have the advocates of undocumented workers who argue that these are people who only take jobs that other Americans don’t want.  They contend that they’re a people who have been exploited by American business for years, and have contributed greatly to the United States economy for very little or no reward.  They also argue that to criminalize illegal status would turn hard working and productive people into felons, and to require that they return to their country of origin would disrupt families and be unjust to their children, who, in many cases, are American citizens. The proponents of this position are Hispanic politicians who are both, responding to their constituency, and, the potential political advantage of gaining 9 million new Hispanic voters. Their partner in this position are conservative business interests who want to exploit the opportunity for cheap labor.

On the other side you have those who contend that during this time when America is under the threat of terrorism we must have control over our borders. They also take the position that the large number of undocumented workers are taking jobs from American citizens, and that they’re also placing a tremendous strain on our education, healthcare, and welfare systems. Lined up on this side are progressives who are concerned with the impact that the large number of undocumented workers are having on unions and the earning power of the average American, but standing along side them are the racists and xenophobes who are just hostile to Hispanic immigration period—and therein lies the problem for many progressives.

Nevertheless, and while I sincerely regret finding myself in the same camp with racists and xenophobes, I have to recognize that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Thus, when I weigh the relative merit of the two arguments it seems that the latter holds more weight. Every country must protect its borders—if it doesn’t, the word “country” is meaningless. And while it is true that the undocumented worker has been exploited, they placed themselves in that position when they decided to immigrate here illegally.  If they’d turn out in their own countries in the numbers that they did here in the United States they just might have been able to gain concessions in their countries of origin. 

And the argument that they only take jobs that Americans don’t want is completely
fallacious.  Undocumented workers do much more than just pick grapes—they work as truck drivers, upholsterers, meat packers, chefs, bakers, printers, and many other relatively high paying jobs that Americans would love to have. And finally, all one has to do is go to any county agency, public school, or emergency room in Los Angeles to see the negative impact and strain that undocumented workers are placing on those systems—many teachers are being threatened with the loss of their jobs if they fail to become bilingual in a given period of time, and the phone systems of many government agencies will tell a caller to, “Press 1 if you want to speak in English.” Come on, now—this is the United States!  Why should I have to press 1 to speak the native language?

So how should we handle this problem?  First, we should find out who is here and where they work by issuing work permits, and the worker should have to return to his country of origin to obtain one.  This permit would also serve as an identification card that would allow him to register his children in school and obtain other public services.  In addition, any person involved in forging, or found to be in possession of a forged card would be charged with a felony. And finally, any business that hires a worker without a card should be fined $20,000 per violation.  I think that would be a pretty good start.

Finally, I want to point out that I was born in Los Angeles and grew up with Hispanic people, so I not only have a great love, but a tremendous respect for them--In fact, I’d like to see many of their cultural attributes reflected in my own people.  Because of that fact, it was important to me that I ask myself a simple question before I wrote this article: Would I take the same position if we were talking about African or Haitian immigrants?  The answer-- absolutely.  The reason for that is, I’ve come to the conclusion that while compassion for others is one of man’s highest virtues, cutting one’s own throat in pursuit of that virtue is simply foolish.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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While I was at ARCO the other day, paying homage to King George, I noticed this brother at the pump getting progressively more agitated as he watched the numbers reel by. The brother looked so distressed that I stood there hoping the pump would stop before he had a stroke. Then he looked up at me and said, “Damn man, these numbers are whirling by like a slot machine.”  I assumed he was talking about the price gauge, because watching the gas gauge creep along was like watching paint dry.  So I told him, we’d probably be better off if it was a slot machine. Then, we’d have a shot at hitting three cherries and getting a free tank of gas.  The brother laughed and then kind of lightened up.

But it’s not a joke what the Bush Administration is doing to the American people.  They have that bottom-line mentality, and the bottom line is wealth and power.  If they have to give our all to get it, then, so be it—we just have to bite the dust.  

I never thought we’d ever see the day when it would be more cost effective to pour Chavis Regal down my tank than gas, but that day is rapidly approaching—and it’s not just hitting us when we gas up, it’s affecting every area of our financial lives.  We’re going to be paying the price of fine Scotch for everything that has to be transported by truck, which means everything we buy, from baby wipes to toilet paper.

And this is not a result of poor planning, or by accident—on the contrary, it’s a well thought out plan. It’s no accident that they’re outsourcing our best paying jobs to other countries, or opening up the borders to a flood of cheap labor, or attempting to destroy our public school system through the use of vouchers. It’s called “The New World Order.”  It’s a plan to turn America, and the entire world, into a Third World economy, where there is no middle class, and everyone is at the mercy and whim of big business.

Take the school voucher system, for example.  It sounds good on the surface—they want to give the people money-- people that they’ve never cared about before-- “to insure that their kids get a quality education.”  But tell me, what are these people going to do when the public school system is destroyed, after the public has taken all its kids out of it for $1500 a year, then the private school system goes up to $5,000 a year?  I’ll tell you what their going to do—their going to sit at home, with their illiterate children, who have no chance of ever rising above the status of their parents.  The children will then have but two choices--they’ll either have to work for whatever peanuts big business is willing to throw their way, or join the military and become canon fodder in a perpetual state of war to enhance the fortunes of Dick Cheney and Haliburton.

The agenda is clear. While our love ones are being blown apart, Haliburton--the company that Vice President Cheney headed before coming into office, and is still being compensated by--is enjoying unprecedented profits, while providing our troops with contaminated water; and as our families are being scarred for life, the children of Bush’s chicken hawks are following in their parent’s footsteps--lying back in the lap of luxurious privilege, content to cheer the heroic "little people" from the lobby of exclusive tennis clubs. And then, when we attempt to end the bloodletting, and to get our children out of harms way, they tell us we’re un-American.
Well, it seems to me that anyone who buys into that nonsense is not only a non-thinking person, but in point of fact, an absolute idiot.  But then, that brings us right back to why they want to destroy our educational system, doesn't it?  Knowledge is power, but it’s become clear that in the past five years the American people have been brainwashed into believing that independent thought is an elitist concept.  So as we slowly sink into this cesspool of virtual slavery—or neo-slavery, as it were—allow me to be the first to welcome America, to the New World Order.

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I’d like to take a moment to give a little something back to a magnificent old swinger. Being from the old school, and born and raised in Los Angeles, jazz has always been a major force in my life. So when Chuck Niles, of radio station KKJZ left this Earth, it represented the eternal silence of yet another force that went into molding what I think of as me. In my mind, jazz, Chuck Niles, and who I am today are all a part of the same continuum. Rahsaan called us Eulipians--a brotherhood of writers, poets, musicians and uncommon drunks, who thrive on a riff, and passionately embrace the proposition that man’s thirst for knowledge will someday overwhelm his lust for stupidity.

I can't begin to describe the impact that this grand old cat has had on my life over the years. I first came across him when I was a kid listening to "The Knob"--Radio station KNOB. I’ve heard people talk about how tough KBCA was, and indeed it was a powerhouse of jazz, but nobody in the history of radio swung it like The Knob. They had people like Tommy B, Tollie Strode, Stevo, and of course, the ever swingin' Chuck Niles.

Man, those cats swung it 24‑7 like it was their last day on Earth, and every one of them had an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz. So there was never a lull in the music—Bird, Monk, Miles, Dexter Gordon, Jackie McLean, one after the other, all day, and all night long. I mean, these guys would be smokin’, and every time you thought they couldn't possibly get any tougher, they'd kick it up a notch. As a youngster, I couldn’t live without them, but even back then I understood the meaning of sacrifice--so I’d sleep on Tuesdays.

Chuck and his cohorts at The Knob not only provided me with a Ph.D. in the world of Jazz, but they also laid a foundation for a way of life that has served me quite well over the years. By the time I was 16 I had gained a wealth of knowledge into the beauty of what contributed directly to who I am. Jazz became a hook upon which I could hang other knowledge—both historic and political. I became curious about such things as what kind of political environment led to the development of a Charlie Parker or Thelonious Monk. That, in turn, led me to consider the realities of my own political environment.

Then later in life, during those moments when life became funky, I'd only have to consider my roots to know that I had what it took to carry on. The love of jazz and, the cultural message it related, taught me to take pride in my ability to deal with hardship. It also taught me to never have more respect for anyone else’s ability to think than I had for my own. It put a swagger in my outlook that has stood up to the most severe adversity, and a love and respect for knowledge, creativity, and achievement that has allowed me to truly overcome.

So these cats didn't just spin records, they were educators. They provided a foundation and a philosophy of life upon which many young cats like myself have based our entire lives. And at the same time, they also promoted a tradition that assured the viability of modern jazz—an unassailable tradition, that stands as a monument to the creative genius of Black people.

Chuck Niles, even though he had white skin, was as dedicated to that proposition as any Black man I've ever known, and he continued to stoke the flame right up to his final days, with a new generation of believers at KLON (now KKJZ) on the campus of Cal. State Long Beach (a listener supported station that’s always in dire need of our support).

Today we live in a world of hip hop, Nikes, and jogging suits. But Chuck represented a different world‑‑a world of bebop, Florsheims, and Brooks Brothers suits. His was a world of unspoken class, magnificent ladies, and shinny new Cadillacs glistening against the Moonlight; of Ray Brown's sweet bass struttin' down uncharted avenues of the blues; of Charlie Parker's bittersweet serenade to the angels; and of course, a passionate young Miles with his muted horn, sweetly brooding Stella By Starlight into a smoke filled night.

When I think of Chuck, I think of beautiful days and sweeter nights; a time when the promise of tomorrow was more tantalizing than the chilling passion of the night before. So the passing of this swingin' old warhorse also represents the passing of a magnificent era; an era reminiscent of an elegant lady--a lady that Chuck now, lovingly, escorts into the mist.

Support jazz, by supporting radio station KKJZ, 88.1 FM—one of the last stations in America, that truly speaks of you.

Eric L. Wattree

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Last week I mentioned in passing that the shackles on our minds have proven to be much more resilient than those that chained us to this Earth.  That comment seems to have resonated with a number of people in the community, and I’ve been urged by several of you to pursue that line of thought, so I intend to do just that.  But I want to preface my remarks by pointing out that I’ve thought long and hard over how to approach these issues, because the Black community already have too many people, both Black and White, who are much too anxious to wag their fingers and lecture, ad nauseam, both, Black people and the world at large, about the shortcomings in our community.  In fact, one “Black man”, Larry Elder, has forged a lucrative career out of dragging his own people through the mud over national radio on a daily basis (an issue I’ll be addressing in a future column), so we don’t need that. But what we do need is an honest discussion on how we can live up to the potential that we’ve already demonstrated as a people. So I’ll attempt to initiate that discussion, in a constructive, rather than self-serving way.

In that regard, it seems to me that the very first thing we must come to terms with is to realize that as a people who are the product of a racist society, we are just as racist towards other Black people as any redneck White man. Without a concerted effort, that was unavoidable, because we’ve been indoctrinated by the very same environment that indoctrinated White folks.  Of course, our first reaction is to vehemently deny that assertion, but the way in which we relate to one another says it all.

Just look around you, and yet again, I mention Larry Elder—what that “brother” is involved in day after day, week after week, and year after year can’t be described in any other way than an exercise in self-hatred.  Now, consider our reaction to it—we’ve allowed this guy to drag us through the mud with absolute impunity. He says things about the Black community that no White man would be allowed to get away with, and that’s the very key to his success.  No other group of people on the face of this Earth would allow that.  If he’d been Jewish, or Mexican, or even Aborigine, and talked about those people the way he does Black people, he wouldn’t have lasted on the air past his second commercial. Thus, the very fact that he’s allowed to prosper at our expense, speaks volumes about what we think of ourselves--and the powers that be are listening.  After all, why should they stick their necks out to fight for a people that won’t even fight for themselves?

Now let us look at the issue of drive-byes and gang related violence.  The murder rate in the city of Compton alone has reached its highest level in 10 years.  The homicide rate was reported to be up by 72 per cent last year. If that fact is not ugly enough, there’s one fact that should give us pause—out of all of the brutality committed against Black people in Los Angeles County last year, not one perpetrator was reported to have been wearing a sheet.  Again, that stat speaks volumes.

But as ugly as the facts above are, they are far from our most tenacious shackle. All of the problems sited above, and all of the problems in our community as a whole, can be traced back to one fundamental flaw-- the attitude that many of us hold towards our Black women.  
Too many of our young brothers see the need to refer to our women as “bitches” and “whoes”, as though it’s a rite of passage into manhood.  The pride that they take in being perceived as playas and pimps demonstrates without a doubt that they think being a man is about denigrating Black women.  Again, this is the root to all of the problems pointed out above, because you cannot love yourself, are have any respect for your people, until you learn to cherish the very cradle of your culture.  No wonder we can’t get the respect that we feel we deserve from the world. As long as we go around calling our women “bitches” and “whoes”, by our own definition, we’re calling ourselves “sons of bitches”—then we wonder why the world won’t take us seriously. In contrast, the White man places his woman on a pedestal, because he knows how important she is to his own self-esteem.

The way White men view their women is graphically portrayed in the movie King Kong.  When they took that White woman ashore and the natives laid eyes on her blond hair, and blue eyes, they went totally berserk—I mean, into an absolute frenzy. In spite of the fact that the island was full of Black women, the natives were convinced that nothing in this world would appease this twenty-five foot gorilla like the opportunity to lay his hands on this White woman.  And it turns out they were right, because the minute King Kong laid his hands on that White Woman he forgot about all else. Thereafter, he fought forty foot snakes, numerous dinosaurs, and finally, the United States Air Force, just for the love of this one White woman, who wasn’t even as big as his thumb.    

That is the value that the White man places in his women, and if we are ever to shed our shackles, that is the value we must place in our own.  We must learn that once our women raise us from boys to men, we must cherish, and stand by those women, and help them to raise the next generation of strong men, and loving and determined women.  So I want to challenge my young brothers.  Take a minute to call the house you were raised in, and I’m willing to bet everything I own that you’re not gonna find one “bitch” or one “whoe.” What you’re gonna find is the love and determination that dragged you into what passes for manhood--and what remains, the very key to your survival.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.
Author of  “A Message From The Hood”
(213) 399-5171

I’d like to dedicate this article to my late wife,
Valdie Lavern Wattree
Baby, ‘Til death do us part—and beyond.

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Well, Bush and his Republican cronies have pulled the wool over our eyes once again. Yet again, they’ve convinced the American people that it’s in our best interest to make the simply rich, filthy rich, by giving them a 70 billion dollar tax cut. And let there be no doubt about it, as the children of poor and middle-class people die in Iraq for huge oil companies that are gouging their mothers and fathers at home with $3.50 a gallon gas, Bush has pushed through a tax cut designed specifically for the rich: If you make $30, 000 a year, you get $9; if you make $75, 000 a year, you get $100; but if you happen to be one of those fortunate few who pull down a million dollars a year, you get $42,000.

The American people must be out of its collective mind to allow these people to run a game on us like that. And what really gets next to me is, while the rich are getting this kind of kickback, I can’t even write off the interest on my credit cards - Ronald Reagan, that other gangster, took that from us. I’ve got to tell you - they say Bush is not all that bright, but he certainly knows how to stuff his pockets. This guy puts Iceberg Slim to shame. He never saw any problem that taking "mo money" from his whoes wouldn't fix.

Here’s the game they’re running: They’ve convinced America that if we give the rich enough money, they’ll use some of that money to create jobs for the poor and middle class. Now, I don’t claim to be an intellectual giant, and I haven’t spent more than 30 minutes studying Economics, but it doesn’t take a great mind to understand that demand fuels supply, not vice versa. If I made my living selling Gucci Bags, for example, I don’t care how much money you give me, I’m not going to produce any additional Gucci Bags if I'm being forced to sell them in a homeless shelter. It wouldn’t make sense, because no one has the money to purchase them. The only way that you’re going to get me to hire people to produce Gucci Bags is if you gave that money to the people in the shelter so they’d have the money to buy my merchandise.

Reagan ran the same game on us twenty years ago with his now infamous “Reaganomics” - or, the “Trickle Down Theory” as they called it at the time. Supply- Side Economics was a scheme hatch by U.S.C. economist Arthur Laffer and the Reagan crowd which was supposed to cut the deficit and balance the budget. The theory behind Reaganomics was ostensibly, if you cut taxes for business and people in the upper tax brackets, and then deregulated business of such nuisances as safety regulations and environmental safeguards, the beneficiaries would invest their savings into creating new jobs. In that way the money would eventually "trickle down" to the rest of us. In addition, the resulting broadened tax base would not only help to bring down the deficit, but also subsidize the tremendously high defense budget. When the plan was first floated, even George Bush Sr., Reagan's vice president to be, called it "voodoo economics."

Reaganomics, for the most part, sought to undo many of the safeguards put into place during the Roosevelt era and create a business environment similar to that which was in place during the Coolidge Administration. What actually took place, however, was even more like the Coolidge era than planed. Instead of taking the money and investing it into creating new jobs, the money was used in wild schemes and stock market speculation. One of those schemes, the leveraged buy out, involved buying up large companies with borrowed funds secured by the company's assets, then paying off the loan by selling off the assets of the purchased company. That practice destabilized our manufacturing base and cost the citizens of this country millions of jobs that we haven’t recovered from to this day. In addition, the bottom fell out of the stock market. On Monday, October 19, 1987 the Dow-Jones Average fell 508.32 points. It was the greatest one-day decline since 1914 - 15 years before the Great Depression.

And what about Ronald Reagan's promise to balance the budget and lower the deficit? By the time Reagan left office he was not only the most prolific spender of any president in the history of this nation, but he also added more to the deficit than all of the other presidents from George Washington to his own administration combined - but of course, now Bush makes Reagan look like a tightwad. And what does the Republican Party propose to do about that? One of the Republican proposals in their "contract with America" was a capitol gains tax cut - for the rich.

History is clear. Conservative Republicans don't mind spending money at all. They just don't want to spend money on those who need it - us. Remember, they're the party of Alexander Hamilton, one of this country's founding fathers who believed that only those who owned property should even be allowed to vote. He also said:

“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).

So I've found that a good rule of thumb is to not believe a word that comes out of either Bush or the GOP's collective mouth. As comfortable as I am in my heritage, if the GOP voted a resolution on the floor tomorrow assuring me that I was Black, I’d feel obliged to go and have my DNA tested.

Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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