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Dark Forces


It seems that, incredibly, the U.S. armed forces feel that they do not have enough young blacks in their ranks.

And so we see that the army has launched a street marketing campaign, including driving a big yellow tricked-out Hummer around at events where young blacks gather and launching a separate promotional tour co-sponsored by hip-hop magazine The Source.

Considering that blacks are already over-represented in the army, we find it interesting that the organization feels it needs to launch a special marketing campaign targeted just for us.

Then again, using performances by hip-hop artists like The Nappy Roots to distract minority youth makes a lot of sense when you consider that colored folks who are clued-in to what the armed forces are currently involved in may not like what they are seeing. For example:

Just like your own neighborhood!

They might take offense at assertions that what’s currently going on in Baghdad is comparable to life in the places where blacks are disproportionately likely to live. In the summer you had General Ricardo Sanchez suggesting that the crime rate in Baghdad was "no worse than in any American city." Then you had Fox "News" Channel’s Fred Barnes on Monday night saying that judging the status of Iraq by recent events in Baghdad was like judging the United States by the South Bronx.

THE INTELLIGENCE SQUAD, headquartered in New York, just so happens to have roots in the South Bronx. We also have many contacts in many different American cities. And we can confidently state that widespread broad-daylight carjackings, women afraid to walk outside their homes for fear of rape, suicide car bombings, destruction of electrical substations, and rocket attacks against hotels do not represent the current state of affairs in any American city, not even in the South Bronx.

And Barnes should be informed that the South Bronx, unlike Baghdad, is not the capital city of its country, and does not contain 20% of its country’s population.

See where your tax dollars are going!

They might not be too psyched to see tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars going to build Iraqi bridges and schools while the bridges and schools in their own home towns continue to decay, and the U.S. President fails to fully fund his own "Leave No Child Behind" Act.

Especially when four billion of the five billion dollars given to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority so far has managed to just disappear without a trace.

Especially when the money seems to pass on a direct line from the U.S. treasury to Dick Cheney’s friends at Halliburton.

Especially when the U.S. seems determined to award bridge-building contracts to U.S. firms for $50 million when Iraqis themselves would be willing to complete such contracts for $300,000.

You oughtta be in pictures

They might wonder how much their country would appreciate the sacrifices they may be called on to make after seeing differences in the treatment received by Jessica Lynch and Shoshana Johnson after they returned home from their respective ordeals as POW’s in Iraq.

The travails of young, white, blond Private Lynch were hyped off the charts by someone (neither the Pentagon nor the media will take credit), to the point where we were told she had been stabbed and had emptied her pistol trying to ward off her attackers. None of this was true. She was injured in a car accident.

On the other hand, Specialist Johnson, an African-American, had actually been shot in both legs by real assailants – a fact relatively few folks were made aware of.

Lynch came home to a parade covered live by all the national cable news networks.

No live-on-TV parade for Johnson.

Lynch, who is single with no children, will be receiving an 80% disability benefit from the military.

Johnson, who has a child, will be getting 30%.

Lynch, who claimed to have amnesia, and couldn’t remember much of her ordeal, nevertheless had no trouble finding a publisher willing to give her a $1 million book deal to tell her story. The broadcast networks fell all over themselves to get an exclusive interview; Viacom offered her a program on MTV in exchange for a CBS News exclusive (Viacom owns both networks). NBC is making a TV movie about the rescue.

Johnson, we think, was interviewed by her hometown newspaper.

Checking the Want Ads

And so, it is a good thing from the military’s perspective to promote services in the armed forces using flashy cars and hip-hop music. Anything that anesthetizes the minds of black youth to the painful experiences that could be awaiting them is just, well, good marketing.

The New York based Intelligence Squad provides news and political coverage from a black perspective.

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