FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

No ‘Je Suis Charleston’?

by

Where are the international marches of solidarity with African Americans? The statements from world leaders condemning the terrorist attack and calling on U.S. Authorities to crack down on the white nationalist terror networks developing in the U.S.? Where are the marches in white communities condemning racism and standing with black people? Why no ‘Je Suis Charleston’?

The fact that these questions are not being raised by most people speaks to the adroit way in which the propagandists of the U.S. state, with the corporate media in lockstep, successfully domesticated and depoliticized the murderous attack in Charleston, South Carolina.

First, President Obama, as the government’s chief propagandist, defined Dylann Roof, the white nationalist assailant, as a pathological, hateful loner who had easy access to guns. The words “terrorist” never crossed his lips or the lips of any other officials of the national government.

Then, the state and corporate media followed-up this framing with a fascinating slight-of-hand stunt: instead of focusing on the domestic security threat posed by violent, racist right-wing extremists groups in the country, the old trope of gun control – along with a new twist, removing the Confederate flag – became the new focus! The implication was that by removing the Confederate battle flag – a symbol of white supremacy and the defense of slavery – from public buildings (no one bothered to explain why, if this was the rationale for removing the Confederate flag, there would not be a discussion around the need to reject the national flag also), that would somehow move the country towards racial reconciliation, much like electing a black president was supposed to do.

The effectiveness of this propaganda effort paid off just a few days after the attack. The domestic and international press gave full coverage to the spate of “terrorist” attacks that took place in three different counties but missing from that coverage was any connection and mention of the terror attack in Charleston.

However, it was at the funeral of Rev Pinckney, the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church murdered by Dylann Roof, where the concluding act of the governments’ obscene efforts to co-opt and deflect the pain of the attack played to a world-wide audience. President Obama turned in one of his best performances of a life-time of performances for white supremacy. His eulogy was a masterful example of his special talent to embody an instrumentalist “blackness” while delivering up that blackness to the white supremacist, U.S. settler project. In his eulogy, he couched his narrative of “American exceptionalism” in the language of Christian religiosity that was indistinguishable from the proclamations of the religious right that sees the U.S. as a state bestowed with the grace of their God.

Obama sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and lulled into a stupefying silence black voices that should have demanded answers as to why the Charleston attack was not considered a terrorist attack, even though it fit the definition of domestic terrorism, or why the Obama Administration collaborated with suppressing the 2009 report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which identified violent white supremacist groups as a threat to national security more lethal than the threat from Islamic ‘fundamentalists’.

Because of this threat and the depraved indifference to black life by the U.S. government, international attention and solidarity is critical for African Americans. Yet, by quickly deploying the Obama weapon – aligning the government with the victims of the attack but defining the attack as a domestic criminal act – the political space for international solidarity with the plight of African Americans was significantly reduced, at least in relationship to the Charleston attack.

There is another element of this story that compelled the Administration to get out in front of this issue. Obama needed to draw attention away from the fact that his Administration caved under the pressure from the “respectable” racist right-wingers in Congress who criticized the DHS report in 2009.

John Boehner, the leader of the House of Representatives, characterized the report as “Offensive and unacceptable.” According to Boehner, the Obama Administration should not be condemning “American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.”

Instead of defending Secretary Napolitano and the report issued by her Department, or taking the opportunity provided by the report to educate the public on this internal threat, Obama threw Napolitano under the bus and the DHS pulled the report from its website. The unit responsible for monitoring white supremacist organizations and movements was dismantled, and the threat of white supremacist violence becoming the victim of Washington politics.

This is the mindset and the politics of this Administration and the political culture in the U.S., where the differential value placed on black life allows black life to be reduced to an instrumental calculation when considering issues of international public relations and domestic politics.

The result?

For all intents and purposes, the tragedy in Charleston is over, closed out on a song written by a captain on a slave ship in 1779 and sung over 200 years later by a black man still in the service of white supremacy.

Ajamu Baraka is interviewed in Episode 3 of CounterPunch Radio, available for free here.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine. 

CounterPunch Magazine


bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
August 18, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jamarl L. Thomas
Free Speech is Free Speech, Precisely for the Speech You Don’t Like
Kary Love
The Fourth Branch
Graham Peebles
Climate Change Demands an End to Excess and Greed
Olivia Alperstein
Racists Look Emboldened. They’re Actually Terrified.
José-Antonio Orosco
What Did Dr. King Mean by Love?
Rob Okun
The Poison of White Supremacist Masculinity
Cesar Chelala
What Trump Can Learn From Ants
Ryan Summers
Breitbart, the Alt-Right and Charlottesville
Louis Proyect
Digital Dystopias
Charles R. Larson
Review: Lawrence P. Jackson’s “Chester B. Himes”
August 17, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Story of Charlottesville Was Written in Blood in the Ukraine
Tim Messer Messer-Kruse
Right But Wrong: Trump’s Defense of Confederate Symbols and Its Threat to Color-Blind Liberalism
George Barbarie
Barbarian Left
Ramzy Baroud
Al-Araqeeb Village: Palestinian Bedouins Refuse to Surrender 116 Times
Jerome L. Schulman, M.D.
The State of Trump’s Brain
John W. Whitehead
Chaos in Charlottesville: No One Gave Peace a Chance, Including the Police
Michael J. Sainato
Monuments to Treason
Rob Seimetz
When Illusion Turns to Delusion 
Thomas Knapp
@YesYoureRacist Crowdsources Social Preferencing
Binoy Kampmark
Breaking the Seal: Child Abuse and the Confessional
Ann Garrison – KJ Noh
Locked and Loaded: War With North Korea Cannot be Contained But Must Be Prevented
David Macaray
Union Elections
Susan Block
The Fire and Fury of the Tiki Torches
August 16, 2017
John Eskow
Among the Racists
John Wight
Charlottesville: Outrage, Hypocrisy & Obama’s Betrayal
Michael Hudson
Putting an End to the Rent Economy
Ralph Nader
The 16 Year War in Afghanistan: Headlines Tell the Story
Mateo Pimentel
Our Fight Against Fascism 
Robert Fantina
Trump and Charlottesville
Ted Rall
If You Fire a Fascist, You’re a Fascist
Joe Ware
Does Game of Thrones Contain a Stark Warning About Climate Change?
Ezra Kronfeld
The Global Controversiality of Surrogacy
Jesse Jackson
After Charlottesville
Michael J. Sainato
The Racism at Charlottesville is a Symptom of a Nation Built on White Supremacy
Franklin Lamb
Israel’s 6th War on Lebanon: What Price Will Hezbollah Pay?
Ana Portnoy
The Tragedy of the Missing C: The (Colonial) Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
August 15, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Fascism Here We Come: the Rise of the Reactionary Right and the Collapse of “The Left”
Paul Gottinger
Despite Media’s Claims, North Korea Can’t Strike Continental US
John Davis
Holocausts R Us
Rev. William Alberts
Religion: a Source of Solidarity or Division?
Ellen Isaacs
Racism and Capitalism: the Barriers to Decent Health Care
Bill Quigley
Social Justice Quiz 2017: Children – Ten Questions
David Swanson
Top 10 Misconceptions About Charlottesville
Michael J. Sainato
‘Bernie Bros’ and ‘Alt-Left’ Are Propaganda Terms Meant to Disempower
Jon Rawski
A Dangerous Nuclear Ignorance 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail