Archive for March, 2012

The More Things Change…The More they Stay the Same!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on March 30, 2012 by playthell
 The outraged family and friends of Trayvon

Reflections on the Trayvon Martin Murder

Listening to the conversation that has followed in the wake of revelations about the murder of Trayvon Martin – an unarmed 17 year old Afro-American boy going happily about his business who was stalked by a racist white Latino bully named George Zimmerman, who shot him down like a wild beast then claimed self-defense and white male State Attorney let this killer walk – I am reminded of a day during the summer of 1960, when I had a serious talk with my Granddad that caused me to leave Florida for good.

I had just completed my freshman year at Florida A&M University where I had participated in the student sit-ins that began that spring.   Once I became active I could no longer accept the status quo again, because I could see that collective struggle was the way to freedom.  But, like most people I knew in the ancient city of St. Augustine, I was not a saint like Dr. Martin Luther King.

Hence back then, as now, my inclination was to put a cracker in the cemetery if they put their hands on me.  You could say I had a homicidal disposition and a grave yard mind…I was on a freedom high and ready to die!  As small town southerners we belonged to a hunting culture; everybody was armed, and guns were readily available.

My grandfather George Benjamin was a pious church deacon, yet he kept a 20 gage shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot mounted on the wall just above a sign professing his faith in Jesus Christ!  Grandpapa didn’t take no mess!  Like his friends, he was an Old Testament Christian who believed in an eye for an eye!

We lived in a state of constant tension with the white community.  They were in charge as a community, but individual whites understood that there were lines they were not to cross, and they did so at their peril on this hot August day, Grand Dad stepped to me and said: “Boy I think it’s time for you to go on up north.  Cause if you stay around this town either you gonna kill one of these peckerwood crackers or one of them is gonna kill you.  Either way it goes down you bout to git this whole family in a war with these rednecks….cause whatever they do to you they do to all of us!”

It was good advice, because relations between the races were very tense…just like now.  My generation had reached a consensus that we would not submit to the white supremacist racial caste system any longer, although the system of separate and unequal treatment for Afro-Americans had the force of law.  I heeded grand-dad’s advice and soon left town and joined the Airforce.  This was three years before Dr. King came to town and lead some of the most dangerous demonstrations of his career.

The local crackers, led by local Redneck terrorist “Hoss” Manucy, were mean and prone to violence; and Dr. King told Jet Magazine he had never seen so many Negroes with guns!  It was a hard sell to convince them to put down their guns and follow him in a passive resistance campaign.  He never convinced me!

He didn’t convince my neighbor Reverend Goldy Eubanks either. A truly righteous and fearless fundamentalist preacher, Goldy and his sons shot it out with the Klan and offed a couple of them.  They were tried for murder by the state of Florida, and only the lawyerly brilliance of William S. Kunstler, who swooped down from New York to defend them,  had saved their lives!

While I now concede that Dr. King’s non-violent campaigns was the right strategy to change government policy, and the Maoist strategy of armed revolution we advocated in the Revolutionary Action Movement and the Black Panther Party of Oakland, was wrong; a half century later I still believe that anybody who steps to me with violent intentions is tired of living and I’m going to try my best to take them out of their misery!

Witnessing the way the state of Florida allowed Piggy Zimmerman to walk after murdering a black child in cold blood then covering it up, and the mounting attempt to even justify Zimmerman’s homicidal attack by painting Trayvon as the aggressor, if I were living in Florida today I would be strapped and practicing my fast draw in the mirror!

The New Black Militia is armed and actively searching for Zimmerman and his picture is all over the internet.   Since the depraved child killer is in hiding like the punkass  low down dirty rat that he is, the militia men intend to conduct a search, ferret him out, and make a citizen’s arrest since the police won’t do it.  They consider him armed and dangerous…as all black folks should, and they intend to act accordingly.

The militia men have declared their intention to bring Zimmerman in dead or alive!   Although a chorus of voices is denouncing their decision: I wish them well.  White policemen have been getting away with murdering unarmed black men all over this nation….including here in New York City repeatedly.  Now we are to stand by while private white citizens are getting away with murdering our children?  Those who think this are flirting with disaster!

My black friends in Florida are armed to the teeth….one classmate told me he won’t go to the bathroom without his Glock!  They intend to stand their ground, and there is no Martin Luther King around to cool them down…a white racist shot him years ago.  So it’s on: Anything can happen!  If you are planning to vacation in Florida don’t do it….unless you are some sort of freak who gets off hanging out in free fire zones.

Black Militia Men on Zimmerman’s Case  


They want Piggy Zimmerman ”Dead or alive!!


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 30 2012

The GOP and the Art of Destruction

Posted in Guest Commentators with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2012 by playthell

   The Grand Obstructionists Party’s Presidential Choice?

 The Grand Old Party has become the sick man of American politics.  The Republican Party has been a formidable political force in American politics since the middle of the 19th century.  It fought the expansion of slavery and served as a catalyst for the abolition of slavery.  It promoted American industrialization and was in part responsible for the dynamism of American mass production and scientific innovation.  But from the latter part of the 20th century, the GOP has become a force thwarting American progress.

 The Grand Old Party in the latter part of the twentieth century opposed the civil rights movement and opportunistically, rode the wave of the white backlash movement.  It remained an uncritical advocate of oligopolistic capitalism and stumbled into the 21st century failing to understand the revolutionary changes of globalization.

The GOP morphed into an extremely destructive force at the beginning of the twenty-first century.  This destructive propensity is apparent both in foreign policy and domestic policy. The invasion of Iraq in March, 2003 was a manifestation of this destructive propensity.  A band of neo-conservatives seized control of America’s national security apparatus in the early days of the Bush administration and became convinced that America’s military superiority could be used to force the rest of the world to accept America’s dictat.  The invasion of Iraq was selected to demonstrate America’s military superiority.

The neo-conservatives manufactured the threat that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and worked the country into a frenzy that led to the invasion of Iraq.  The presumption was that the war would be of short duration.  American arm forces would pulverize Baghdad from air, sea and land, decimate Hussein’s forces and speedily impose a pro-American democratic regime in Iraq.

According to Paul Wolfowitz, one of the leading neo-conservative thinkers of this muscular invasive foreign policy, prognosticated not only would the war be of short duration, but that the cost would be picked up by the export of Iraqi oil.

 Paul Wolfowitz: Architect of Bush’s Iraq Policy
 What the Devil looks like in the 21st Century

The American invasion lasted eight years and cost American taxpayers approximately $1 trillion.  Not only was their loss in financial resources but over 4,000 lives were lost, 30,000 returned physically damaged by the war effort and another incalculable number damaged psychologically.  The last American combat troops were withdrawn in December of 2011.

Iraq is still engaged in a religious struggle that pits Shites against Sunni and Kurds trying to maintain autonomy from the central government.  All signs are that the Shites who are presently in control of the central government will continue to milk America of its resources while concomitantly drifting into a religious kinship with the theocrats in Iran who themselves are Islamic Shites.

Ayatollah Khomeini: Leader of Islamic Revolution in Iran

The Iraq Invasion expanded his influence

The Iraqi debacle led to the discrediting of the neo-conservative national security adventurers but that propensity for destruction, having been disarmed, has been replaced by domestic neo-conservative neophytes that have been the architects of the decline of the American economy.

The abandonment of New Deal liberalism and the de-regulation of the economy ushered in an age of inequality.  A racketeering form of capitalism surfaced in the 1990s which has destroyed the living standards of the American working class at the same time creating a new class of billionaires.

The financial sector of the economy now gobbles up over 40% of gross domestic product and has used financial gimmicks to generate mega-profits. In September, 2008 Wall Street collapsed like a house of cards.  The economy is slowly trying to extricate itself from the neo-conservative architects of sub-prime mortgages, bundling of mortgages, derivatives and over-leveraging of risky investments.  The collusion between Wall Street and conservative politicians has left the American economy with a mountain of debt.  America’s accumulated debt is $16 trillion.

Whereas the neo-conservatives in the foreign policy arena have been discredited, the neo-conservatives on the domestic front still have some credibility. The American electorate is still uncertain about the appropriate domestic policy to pursue. The nature of contemporary American capitalism is being debated in the presidential Republican primary.

Members of the GOP even moreso than the Democrats have slovenly romanticized capitalism.  The free market is embraced as the solution to every societal problem.  The documentary concocted by Newt Gingrich’s Super PAC, “When Romney comes to Town” should have triggered a debate about the changing nature of capitalism.  Instead it has forced the Republican establishment to circle the wagons in an un-examined defense of capitalism.

The capitalism of the middle nineteenth century when small scale production predominated differed from the capitalism of late 19th century and early 20th century America when mass production became the order of the day.  As capitalist production has morphed in a multi-national platform and with the advent of globalization, the dynamics and dialectics of the system have had a profound impact on the fortunes of a formerly secure white working class.

Sociologist William Julius Wilson
 Author of: When Work Disappears

William Julius Wilson, the Harvard Sociologist in the 1980s, wrote about the de-industrialization of America and the impact that these economic changes were having on American life.  As we stumbled into the latter part of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, capitalism developed new forms of accumulation that were separate and apart from industrial production.  As the Gingrich documentary on Romney highlights public equity firms discovered new ways of accumulating massive profits.

Companies were bought, the exploitation of workers was accelerated, debt was accrued, benefits eliminated, and companies sold to new owners at astronomical profits.   It was a form of blitzkrieg capitalism that destroys everything in its wake.  The lives of workers were ruined and communities were left in an immiserated state.  The discussion of the Gingrich documentary over what Governor Rick Perry called “vulture capitalism” revealed the inability of the neo-conservative movement to understand the variegated nature of American capitalism.

The GOP’s continued romanticization of capitalist enterprise will thwart the development of the appropriate policy to save capitalism from itself.  In a democratic society, the change will not come from Wall Street barons or the ailing GOP but from those imperiled by the new twist in the system.

The recent findings of the Pew Research Center that the white working class has begun to understand the saliency of class and recognize that their salvation lies in electing politicians who can protect their class interest is a ray of hope that we can stop the domestic propensity for destroying people’s lives.


By: Dr. Basil Wilson

Queens, New York

March 17, 2012

Beware the Ides of March

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on March 16, 2012 by playthell


Barack Droppin Science in Maryland

Obama Exposes Republican Duplicity on Gas Prices

Henceforth the Ides of March shall be known not only as the day Julius Cesar was assassinated but also the day President Obama launched a devastating assault on Republican lies about the cause of rising gas prices.  I don’t know if the selection of this date was given much forethought, but the Ides of March was a great festival day for Mars, the Roman God of war!

And the President went to war with charlatans in the Grand Obstructionist Party, like “Newt the Poot,” who claim that if it were not for the president’s anti-American energy policies we could be enjoying unlimited gas at $2.50 a gallon.  As with so much of what the Republican candidates for president have to say, Newt’s claim – which has been echoed by all the candidates – is hostile to the facts.

Coupled with a sharp intellect, an abundant array of facts, and excellent lawyerly skill in presenting the evidence for his case, President Obama devastated a Republican narrative based on lies, half-truths, and transparent sophistry.  Displaying his abundant charm and streetwise panache, the president ridiculed Newt Gingrich’s three point plan to get gas down to $2.50 a gallon in record time. He asked “Why not $2.40? Why not “2.10?   He pointed out that America has become less dependent on foreign oil under his presidency than under George Bush, and that domestic oil drilling has dramatically increased since he took office.

Then he drove a spike through the heart of his detractors by pointing out that all proven US oil reserves comes to only three percent of the world’s production and we consume 20%.  Hence there is no way to end our dependence on foreign oil except to come up with alternative sources; such as solar, wind and biofuels.

He ruthlessly mocked the Republican candidates who have made fun of his attempts to wean Americans off our petroleum Jones.  “A lot of folks who are running for a certain office, who shall go unnamed,” he said with that IDGAF smile,  then surmised If they were alive when Columbus was setting out on his voyage of discovery that changed the world: “They would have been members of the Flat Earth Society” and opposed him!

President Obama contemptuously dismissed the pretenders from the Grand Obstructionist Party as shameless opportunist, who were “trying to ride the political wave of the moment….It’s been the same script for 30 years,” said the President.  Speaking to an audience of students and professors, the president’s performance was a thing of beauty, like a shark at sea.

The President painted a poignant portrait of an alternative energy future for America and dissed the chain of fools running for the nomination of the Grand obstructionist Party.   He left no doubt who had the keys to the future.  Hence like Caesar, the bogus Republican claims about reducing gas prices also died an ignoble death on the Ides of March.


Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New york

The Ides of March


Game Change: A True Story

Posted in Cultural Matters, Film Criticism, Movie Reviews, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on March 14, 2012 by playthell
Ed Harris and Julianne Moore as McCain and Palin

How The Grand Obstructionist Party Created a Monster

To make a great movie requires an excellent script, creative and imaginative direction, great sets and costumes, background music that enhance the moving images on the screen, and splendid actors in virtuoso performances.  Game Change, the HBO movie about the John McCain/Sarah Palin 2008 presidential campaign, has all of this and more.

This impressive film converts a great work of reportage by two crack reporters, Mark Halpern and John Heileman, into a movie that captures the essential details of a complex historical event that changed the character of American politics.

The poll results from Mississippi which show 52% of Republicans believe the President is a Muslim, and Sean Hannity’s chatter about Barack’s relationship with Derrick Bell, a black Harvard law professor, is a replay of what Sarah Palin did with Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers. This is a continuing legacy of the Alaskan barbarian’s incendiary rhetoric.

What Republican election strategist demonstrated with the Palin con was that it is possible to convince large groups of people to vote against their own interest if you tell them lies over and over again through media outlets that they trust. And that has become the modus operandi of all the Republican candidates for President.

With great performances from veteran actors Ed Harris as John McCain, Julianne Moor as Sarah Palin and Woody Harreleson as senior campaign advisor John Schmidt, this movie provides an inside view of how a modern Presidential campaign is put together.

It becomes obvious early on that what they are about is the merger of art and political science that few in the electorate understand.  Yet they are so skillfully persuaded to make specific political choices they are even convinced that the choices they are making is a result of conclusions they have arrived at on their own.  Hidden persuaders indeed.

We see how the pollsters act as weathervanes constantly briefing the candidates on which way the   political winds are blowing; the experts who brief candidates on the wide array of facts that they have to convince the voters they are on top of; the coaches who prepare the candidates for televised debates; the wardrobe and make-up people who prepare them to face the camera’s on the campaign trail; the ad-men  and women who generate the slogans and political commercials, and the grand strategists who advise the candidate on the overall design of the campaign.

The most amazing revelation of this film however, is the way Sarah Palin was selected based on a laundry list of characteristics designed to appeal to a far right, racist, scandalously ignorant Republican base that John McCain – a filthy rich son and grandson of Navy Admirals who couldn’t remember how many mansions he owned – just couldn’t appeal to.

The teleplay goes on to show how they cynically continued to groom and promote her as someone who was capable of being President long after they knew she was a dunce with no clue about how the world works….and quite possibly an instable mental case!

It was one of the most scandalous and rekless acts in American political history.   This choice exposed John McCain as a wishy-washy power hungry opportunist who was willing to risk the fate on this nation for a chance to become Commander-In-Chief and one up his father and grandfather in the chain of command.  He knew that Tim Pawlenty or Joe Lieberman – a Jewish Democrat – would be better choices because they were capable of being President; which is a fundamental requirement for a Vice President.

It was the classic Faustian Bargain.  They created a monster whose sole contribution to American political culture is to make ignorance and bigotry fashionable, and the malicious folly Palin unleashed may well devour the Republican Party’s soul and insure defeat in the coming elections.

While McCain and Palin says they refuse to see the movie, yet hasten to denounce it as a biased trumped up account; some of those who made it happen like McCain’s Senior Advisor Steve Schmidt, played by Harreleson, and Nichole Wallace who was tasked with preparing Sarah before she bombed with Katie Couric, played by Sarah Paulson, have come forth and said the movie is not only accurate in all important details but they now regret their role in this dangerous farce.

They both are now ashamed of the role they played in creating the out of control political monster that is Sarah Palin,  and  they cringe at the memory that they tried to place her a heartbeat from the most powerful office in the world!  As we see in this film, come election day, Nichole Wallace couldn’t bring herself to vote for the ticket she had worked so hard to elect.

Finally her sense of patriotism got the best of her and she couldn’t pull the lever and help inflict the Alaskan Barbarian on the country she loves.  And the hard nose shark, Steve Schmidt, who began the campaign convinced that winning was everything….has confessed in an interiew on MSNBC that sometimes it is in the national interests that your candidate lose!  This is movie making at its best.

Woody Harrelson and Julianne Moore
 Prepping Dumb Dora


Playthell G, Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 14, 2012

Barack Apologizes to the Afghans

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , on March 13, 2012 by playthell
Outraged Afghans Grieving their Murdered Kinsmen

On American Exceptionalism and War Crimes

The slaughter of sixteen innocent Afghan men, women and children in their homes by an American soldier is but the latest atrocity committed against innocents in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As I pointed out at the beginning of these conflicts, back when the Bushmen were preparing to invade Iraq, the nature of foreign occupying forces tasked with suppressing indigenous insurrections is certain to result in war crimes.  It is in the nature of the conflict; the elements come together in such a way as to insure that war crimes will result.

Just imagine the following scenario.   An armed Arab force occupies your town; most do not speak English; they know nothing of our culture, history, or religious beliefs – except that it is the enemy of their beliefs.  Imagine these people blocking off streets and arresting your family and friends without the safeguards provided by our Constitution. They sexually violate women and men, bomb sections of the city trying to kill insurgents while slaughtering scores of innocents: people at weddings, baby showers, just going about their business.

This is the situation our young people in the military have been thrust into.  Since they are widely hated by the Afghan people, who neither understand nor agree with US objectives in their country, many support the resistance forces against the American invaders who might not have supported them otherwise.  Indeed US actions are the best recruitment materials the Taliban and other Jihadists could wish for.  Yet most Americans remain clueless on these questions.

.If it had not been so tragic it would have been amusing to watch MSNBC the hard hitting newsman and talk show host Chris Matthews scratching his head, and asking with a ring of indignation, why there was so much outrage about the recent burning of Korans.  It shows how little even highly educated American journalists/pundits understand about Islamic culture….especially in the remote country of Afghanistan.

Hence for the soldier on the ground who is hopelessly confused about his mission, and cannot distinguish between ordinary civilians and armed insurgents, everybody begins to look like the enemy.  And since the insurgents used the tactics of surprise attack and remote controlled explosive devices, our soldier’s nerves are as tense as hair triggers.  In such a scenario the miracle is that we have not seen even more atrocities.

The soldier who committed this atrocity is a 38 year old Sargent who is married with three children.  He had already done three tours of duty in Iraq and was then employed to Afghanistan!  The reason he has served this outrageous number of combat at tours is because the Republicans who started these wars were too cowardly to reinstitute the draft.

They knew that drafting college students and children of the elite would have revived an Anti-war movement on the scale of the movement that stopped the Vietnam war.  From all appearances the soldier cracked under the stress of multiple combat deployments, and the real criminals are those who constantly ordered him on those hellish missions.

It ought to be clear that the war in Afghanistan is magnifying the danger to our national security.  The recent incidents such as pissing on the bodies of dead Afghan soldiers; burning the Korans, and now this wanton slaughter of innocents in their homes, including children, plus the Republican policy of no apologies for war crimes or assaults upon the culture, religion and family honor of Afghans has placed any possibility of victory beyond the pale.

Offering apologies is the least that President Obama should do as an act of contrition to the Afghan people and reduce the danger to our troops!  American Exceptionalism cannot include immunity from war crimes There is no sane choice but to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible and refrain from starting yet another war in the Muslim world…which the Republicans are itching to do!

 Mission Impossible?

                       Fuck Afghanistan: Bring them Home!!!!!!!
Playthell Benjamin
Harlem, New York
March 13, 2012

Pan-Africanism: Reality or Myth?

Posted in Cultural Matters, My Struggle On the Left!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , on March 10, 2012 by playthell

   Do you know this Man?

 A Note to Pan-African Revolutionaries

One of the things that interest me most is the persistence of certain ideas in Afro-American thought.  They are transmuted and refashioned to suit the particulars of the era, but some fundamental concepts persists none-the-less.   One of these ideas is Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism, which has been called different things at different periods of our history.  One of the fundamental things that distinguish human beings from other animals over whom we rule is the gift of language, learning, and the ability to construct a narrative i.e. tell a story.Human beings are the creatures of stories, they shape our perception of who we are and what our place is in the universe.  There are two kinds of stories: fictional or imaginative stories, and the narratives of professional historians which are based on the scientific method, i.e. verifiable evidence!!

Hence I have a suggestion for all Afro-Americans and others from the black Atlantic diaspora who fancy themselves grand Pan-African theorists, seeking to solve the complex problems of the vast African world:  You should seriously study the history of Pan-African thought and movements!  Then you will discover that the problems you are contemplating and the efforts of Afro-Americans in solving those problems have been a subject of discussion since the 18th century!  You will also discover that many Afro-American Nationalists who are concerned  about Africa’s problems today are more confused than the activists in the 19th century.  I am referring to people like Edward Wilmont Blyden, Alexander Crummell, Martin Delany, Robert Campbell, Henry McNeal Turner, et al.

These men referred to themselves as “Pan-Negro Patriots,” and all of them actually went to Africa and checked the situation out first hand.  Some stayed there for years working to “redeem” Africa!  They were the intellectual and spiritual fathers of Marcus Garvey – which is why Garvey built his movement in New York and not Kingston where blacks were the majority but had no tradition of Black Nationalism.   Afro-American can claim a tradition that goes back to the 18th century!   However it is important to note that Garvey only “talked a good game,” he never actually settled in Africa like the 19th century Black Nationalists.

There is something else that you should know about the Pan-Negro “African Redemptionists:” They were all Christian Ministers except Martin Delany and Robert Campbell, who were men of science – a medical doctor and a chemist.  This is of critical importance, because contemporary Black Nationalists are mostly hostile to the black protestant church – preferring Islam, indigenous African religions or even atheism – yet it is the womb in which black nationalism was conceived and nurtured!

By the way, Delany went to Harvard and Campbell was a Jamaican who actually explored the west coast of Africa in 1859, before Garvey was born!!!!!  They produced the first scientific analysis of the physical environment of the West Coast of Africa from whence our immediate ancestors came.

Two weeks ago I delivered a speech at a distinguished church here in Harlem of the AME Zion denomination.  The title of my speech was “The Heroic Role of the Afro-American preacher in the Pan-African Liberation Struggle.”  It was videotaped and will soon be on Youtube.

The minister of the church, Reverend Deforest Raphael,  is an exemplar of the learned clergy represented by the men I have named here – in fact their Bishop, Alexander Walters, was a founding member of the Pan-African movement at the turn of the 20th century.  He was a co-organizer of the first Pan-African Conference in 1900 along with Dr. Dubois and the Trinidadians Henry Sylvester Williams and Dr. Alcindor – a barrister and medical doctor.

AME Zion Bishop Alexander Walters

A Father of Pan Africanism

Anyone who would like to understand the distinctions between these 19th and early twentieth century Afro-Americans that became African Redemptionist, and those of the second half of the 20th century who are the ideological fathers of contemporary “Pan-Africanists,” can do a quick study by reading my essay “In The Tradition” which is the “Afterword” to “Ready for Revolution.”  the autobiography of Kwame Toure aka Stokely Carmichael,

This is the single most important first-hand account of the Pan-African revolution that I am aware of.   Toure is the best example that we have of the true Pan-African Redemptionist tradition among the black activists in the last half century.  You will also learn some valuable lessons about the distinctions between the 19th and late twentieth century Pan-African revolutionaries in my essay “On the Burden of History,”  which can be read at  For a first-hand account of the most serious effort by new world blacks to contribute directly to the success of the Pan African Revolution read “The Rise and Fall of a Proper Negro” by Leslie Alexander Lacy.

AME Bishop Henry McNeal Turner

A father of the black liberation movement in South Africa

 However if you care to fathom – i.e. get deep – read the works of Dr. Wilson Jeremiah Moses, especially “Classical Black Nationalism” and “On the Wings of Ethiopia.”  Also read “Edward Wilmont Blyden: Pan-Negro Patriot,” by Dr. Hollis Lynch, and Martin Delany by Dr. Cyril Griffith.  You should also read Black Zion, which is a collection of letters written by the first Afro-American pioneers to settle in West Africa – the founders of Liberia.  You should also read the essay “Ideology In Black: Africans, Afro-Americans and Afro-West Indians, in Harold Cruses’ masterwork “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual.” 

George Padmore’s historic masterpiece “Pan-Africanism or Communism” and CLR James’ “History of Pan-African Revolution” are also must reads in order to understand Pan Africanism as a 20th century political movement.  To these texts must be added “Pan-Africanism” by Colin Legum and “Black Revolutionary,” a biography of George Padmore by Dr. J. R. Hooker.  Of course, I could go on.  However in order to even think about seriously developing a “theoretical approach” addressing the global position of black people, and hasten the modernization process in Africa – which is, after all, the root of Africa’s problems  – one must be familiar with the wisdom these narratives provide.

Otherwise one will end up with mysticism and wishful thinking posing as “theory,” fostering a mythical vision of Africa rather than deal with the bewildering complexity of the real African predicament.  The first thing such serious study will reveal is the folly inherent in the idea that Black Americans can any influence in determining what happens in African politics today.

The fact is that the best thing black Americans can do for Africa is increase our influence on the direction of American foreign policy….specially in the areas of aid and trade!  THIS BEGINS WITH THE RE-ELECTION OF PRESIDENT OBAMA AND RETURNING BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS TO THE DEMOCRATS!!!!!!  All else is folly, much of it dangerously misguided!!!   Failure to address these imperatives – which are both contemporary and ancestral – Afro-American Pan-Africanists will surely end up like “Jack the Bear,” making tracks but getting nowhere!!!!!

Dr. WEB DuBois:

Father of 20th century Pan-African Liberation Movement

Published in 1903: almost 14 years before Garvy Came to the US 
Marcus Mosiah Garvey: Black  Nationalist Leader

A Jamaican visionary who was a late comer to black Nationalism in US


* The Cover Photo is of Alexander Crummell, Anglican Priest, pioneering Black natonalist intellectual, and African Redemptionist. A man whose contibution to the advancement of the movement to reconstruct Africa was so profound that Dr. Dubois wrote an essay on him in his timeless masterpiece, “The Souls of Black Folk,” in which he said he wanted to bow before him when they met!

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 10, 2012

Barack Genuflects Before APAC

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2012 by playthell

Barack Pledged to support Bibi in An Attack on Iran

 Is it De Ja Vu Again?  Notes on the Road to War

I have never witnessed a more blatant example of the arrogance of power than the Israeli/American ultimatum to Iran.  Driven by the imperatives of domestic politics in both countries, the terms of this ultimatum were stated in no uncertain terms by President Obama in his speech before the powerful Jewish organization, APAC….and it was a de-facto declaration of war.  “When the chips are down I have Israel’s back!” declared the president.

Barack went on to say he was not interested in containing a nuclear armed Iran; his policy is to prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon.   He said all options are on the table; including the full range of our nation’s diplomatic, economic and military resources.  He also said “I will not hesitate to use force to defend American interests.”  Thus the die is cast, and the saber rattling is approaching the decibel level before Bush’s march of folly in Iraq.

On the face of it the demand that Iran cease its nuclear research and development is both hypocritical and an insult to their national dignity.  It ignores Iranian national security interests on the one hand, and tells them in no uncertain terms that they are a second rate nation who will not be allowed to exercise the privileges that the US and Israel consider their natural right as sovereign nations.  No matter what kind of self-righteous preachment or diplomatic mumbo jumbo the US and Israeli governments employ to make their case in the court of public opinion, this is what it boils down to.

It is the height of duplicity for the US and Israel to have a hissy fit about the possibility that the Iranians are building a nuclear weapon when Israel has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the Arabs and Iranians in a fortnight.  And what’s more, the Israelis are already waging a covert war against Iran with American assistance. Although they are rarely reported because they are secret, these are real acts of war nonetheless!

They have assassinated several Iranian nuclear scientists in daring James Bond type hits that everyone who pays attention to these matters knows could only have been pulled off by the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.   And the fact that it Furthermore, CBS Sixty Minutes recently did an in-depth report detailing how a brilliantly designed computer virus blew up an Iranian nuclear reactor.  The report featured an international group of distinguished computer scientists who specialize in cyber security, and they concluded the diabolical virus was almost certainly designed by US and Israeli intelligence agencies.

The urgent question for all Americans is whether a war with Iran will serve American interests.  This is an extremely complex question.  The consequences of such a war will have to be considered from the perspectives of foreign relations and domestic policy in order to grasp the full picture.  In terms of foreign relations the immediate consequences include several possibilities.

The most immediate consequence would be the disruption of the flow of oil and a dramatic rise in the price of gas and other petroleum based products.  This would arrest the progress of our economic recovery, which is already fragile and constructed on a shaky foundation.  Tranquility, not chaos, is what is needed in the Middle East.

The Iranians will surely resist, and they will be assisted by their well-armed Shite brethren in Iraq, whom the US put in power as a result of George II’s misbegotten military adventure there.  And they are armed with the latest American weaponry – thanks to US military assistance.  Furthermore Iran is reaching out to Islamic theocrats in an ecumenical manner, putting aside internal theological disputes in order to form a unified front against the “Great Satin” i.e. the USA, which has emerged as the foremost enemy of Islam.

Despite the efforts of those actually tasked with conducting US foreign policy to characterize American waged wars in Muslim countries political…the Jihadists insist that the US is at war with Islam!   And the leading Republican candidates for their party’s presidential nomination are doing their best to convince the moderates in the Muslim world that most Americans also believe they are in a war against Islam.

The Iranian Regime recently hosted a conference of militant Islamist, and Muslims of many stripes from all over the world were present.  There could be no greater catalyst for the rapid development of a new militant Pan-Islamic movement than a joint American/Israeli invasion of Iran.  The invasion would also imperil the stability of the remaining pro-American leaders in the region; who would be trapped between the Devil and the deep blue sea.

If they support the US they will be facing overthrow by the populace, and if they don’t support the US they will face the wrath of the US people and their representatives in Congress, who appropriate foreign aid.   And at the moment the Congress is in the hands of right-wing Republicans; impassioned Christian soldiers who act as if they are ready to wage war with the entire Islamic world at once.   Needless to say, it does not require a gift for prophecy to predict that this will be a real mess!

The Islamic world is in upheaval, old regimes are being overthrown and forces set in motion by an American/Israeli invasion will result in the fall of even more regimes.  No one can predict what new leadership structures or institutions of government will emerge from this turmoil.

Yet it is enough to know that there is a strong, organized, Islamic element among the rebels in each of these populist uprisings to recognize the danger they pose.  In every country the secular democratic forces fighting to modernize their nation, so they can compete in the 21st century, are already at a disadvantage.

The secular Democrats are promoting values that are highly prized only by the educated elite – many of whom have spent time living in western democracies – thus their core concepts are alien and poorly understood by the masses of their people.  I warned that the Islamist could seize control of the revolt in Egypt – while the cheerleaders in the west assured us the Muslim Brotherhood was passé and impotent and other Islamists without much influence – and it has come to pass.  I remembered something the other pundits seemed to forget.  The overthrow of the Iranian Shah was also engineered by secular intellectuals; but the theocrats quickly took control, executed many of the secularists, and established Sharia Law.

Alas, a cry for war is rising from much of the commentariat in commercial media.  It is manufacturing a pro-war hysteria among the public. People like Joe Scarborough who host MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” – a charming sophist whose claim to fame is that he looks like the old cowboy movie star John Wayne – are cheering the President’s militant stance, although he has been damming Barack for not pulling all American troops from Afghanistan.  Joe practically called for the dismissal of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because he said “Iran is a rational actor in international affairs.”

The General’s intention was to quell the crazy narrative spun by hysterical warmongers who are painting the Iranian leadership as madmen willing to commit national suicide by launching a nuclear attack against Israel.  There is absolutely no evidence to support such a conclusion; I believe the US is far more likely to commit national suicide over Israel than Iran committing suicide over the Palestinians!  The attempt to paint the Iranian regime as irrational and therefore a danger to US interests is a transparent move to politicize intelligence regarding the threat from Iran in order to justify a “preemptive attack.”

This is the same path that led to war in Vietnam and Iraq, two nations that had also committed no offense against the US.   Yet we squandered massive amounts of American blood and treasure there, while maiming or killing millions of innocent bystanders.   Alas forces that lead to war have already been set in motion.

The momentum of events may well overwhelm President Obama’s resistance and we shall soon find ourselves in yet another major war with a Muslim country.   Indeed, if the Israeli’s decide to attack Iran, President Obama could find himself in the same predicament as Abe Lincoln when he reflected on the consequences of the Civil War and exclaimed: “Clearly I have not controlled events…but events have controlled me.”  It’s De Ja Vu all over again!


Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 9, 2012


“Later, Mi Amigo!”

Posted in Cultural Matters, Guest Commentators with tags , , , , on March 7, 2012 by playthell

Luis Reyes Rivera: Poet, Revolutionary, Seer 

By Herb Boyd

Louis Reyes Rivera.  No, this is not a household name, but in manyurban centers, particularly in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and the Harlems of the world, it rings with all the conviction and integrity of a highly respected griot. Rivera, who must have been in his middle sixties, died last Friday evening in Brooklyn after a brief illness, it has been reported.

The idea that this progressive poet, this “little giant,” of words had joined the ancestors set off a barrage of phone calls and emails. Among the first to get the word on the airwaves was WHCR-FM, the radio station at City College of New York, where noted commentator and host Daa’iya Sanusi devoted portions of her programming to celebrating Rivera’s life and legacy.

And that was propitious since it was at City College that Rivera gained notoriety for his radical politics and visionary leadership at the helm of hundreds of students protesting the college’s reluctance to deal with minority rights and curriculum. Rivera was a budding journalist during those turbulent times and soon established himself as a writer of considerable talent and a feel for the world’s oppressed, especially in the Black and Latino communities.

Representatives from those diverse and various communities began Commiserating with one another almost immediately upon hearing of Rivera’s unexpected departure.  Poet Ted Wilson of New Jersey was stunned for a moment to silence, still unable to accept that his longstanding comrade was no longer available to exchange salvos of salvation through their poems.

Renowned artist Danny Simmons alerted his colleagues and friends that a memorial service for Rivera was planned for March 8 in Brooklyn.  Bookstore owner Monroe Brown said that Rivera was conducting a lecture series at his True South Bookstore in Brooklyn two weeks ago.  “He was on the march, teaching his class about the missing pages of world history,” Brown related.

At the National Writers Union, a steering committee in which Rivera was a key component called an emergency meeting and set in motion a number of ways to remember their tireless member.  “He was intricately involved in so many activities that it will probably take a team of us to fulfill just half of what he was doing and what was on his agenda,” said Loretta Campbell.

“Always there is need for song,” Rivera wrote in one of his most memorable essays, Inside the River of Poetry. “And every human has a poem to write, a compulsion to contemplate out loud, an urge to dig out that ore of confusion locked up inside. But with the contradictions of privilege and caste, of class and gender distinctions regulating access, of those ever present distortions in textbooks with their one-sided measure of human worth, and with the culture of white man still serving as ultimate yardstick to what is acceptable as matter, not everyone is permitted to learn to read, much less to study poetry or hone the art and take the risk of putting one’s self on paper.”

That risk was never an obstacle for Rivera and the only thing missing from the quotation above is the sound of his voice reciting them, the melodious and edgy cadence that typified his delivery, the unblinking gaze from eyes shielded in part by ageless fedora, the colorful dashiki and the cane that came with the onslaught of ailments—this image gave his words added realness and urgency. “Later,” Rivera would tell his fellow workers at the NWU at theclose of a day and at the close of these words, “Later, mi amigo!”

Luis Rivera: Revolutionary Philosopher/Poet 
Passing on the Sacred Fire
In Battle til the End
Word sorcerer and Tireless Voice of the People
( Double Click to Hear Luis Rivera)
A commentary on the relationship of the transformative power of poetry
(Double Click to see Luis Perform)
“Bullet Cry” In Memory of Malcolm X’s Assassination.
Herb Boyd
Harlem New York
March 7, 2012

My How The Mighty Are Falling!

Posted in On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators with tags , , , , on March 6, 2012 by playthell
                      The Rotund Rushbo: Racist, Sexist, Verbal Arsonists

 An Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh

Yo Rush!

Now you have finally done it; you done really screwed up Dog!  It was bound to happen, because for all your verbosity you are basically a fool; an overpaid clown whom the Republicans use to attract the angry untutored white mob!  You are the bait to stir a feeding frenzy among little fish who are finding it harder to survive once the sharks have eaten.

What you don’t understand is that all the while they were exploiting your gift for bamboozling the hoi peloi, the Republican elite thought you a buffoon, a talented chimp, white trash with a gift for rousing the rabble.  Do you really believe that George Will, Charles Krauthammer, the late William F. Buckley Jr., Mitt the Stiff, or the Wall Street crowd look forward to spending a social evening with you Rush?  These people look upon you like toilet paper; useful, even indispensable in its place, but no one wants to keep it around after it’s been used!

Fortunately, your sponsors in the business of peddling commodities are amoral hucksters, concerned only about the bottom line because their standard of living depends upon it.  Hence they will kick yo butt to the curb faster than the Cisco Kid could draw his guns if major sponsors continue to desert you.  And the newly energized women’s movement is on the march to insure that more sponsors will stampede away from you.

The fleeing sponsors have more than doubled in two days.  It’s up to 28 now.  You have become toxic Rush.  The people who promote you, paid you grand theft dough, and generally assumed a lips to posterior stance when you are in the house, don’t really love you Rush.  Rumor has it they don’t even like you!

Most go about the job of promoting you like a circus performer who is forced to hold her nose and kiss a pig….because the show must go on.  Some are even ashamed to admit any connection with you in polite company.   You, in turn, are expected to earn your keep by serving up the rabble for Republicans at the polls and bring in the advertising dollars.

For years now you have exhibited an open hostility to the aspirations of women, who have only been seeking the full exercise of their rights as American citizens.  This latest episode is not the worst slander you have directed against women, you routinely refer to their organizations as “Femi-nazis.”

Til now you were able to mask your hostility toward women in general by disguising your misogyny as political rhetoric.   But when you viciously attacked Sandra Fluke, an innocent  law student, calling her a whore and slut because she defended President Obama’s health plan, which pays for contraceptives, you not only pissed women off across the political spectrum, but all the fathers of daughters…like me.

Hence while all of the gutless wonders and political chameleons who are contesting for the Republican presidential nomination have suddenly lost their voices, I would like to offer my unvarnished opinion of your scurrilous attack on Ms. Sandra Fluke, who shares a first name with my senior daughter – a truly pious churchwoman who works with teenage girls and understands the critical importance of contraceptives being readily available to them.

Hence when you called this admirable young lady a slut and a whore, I imagined that she was my daughter and spoke up for her in my mind.  Here is exactly what I said Dog: “Fuck you Rush!  Fat dope fiend motherfucker!!!!!!  Kiss our ass!!!!!   Whores turn tricks on their dates, they take the money and fake the passion.  Which is pretty much what you do on the radio Rush!”

“You make millions faking concern for the problems of poor plebes you don’t really give a shit about!  And since I can’t imagine any woman allowing you into her conjugal bed without being very well paid, I’d like to offer a suggestion.  If you want to see some real whores Rush,: you should look first in the mirror…and then in yo bed!”


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 6, 2012

On Sex, Hypocrisy and Catholicism

Posted in Cultural Matters with tags , , , on March 1, 2012 by playthell

            “Father” Marcel Guarnizo:   A Strangelovian Creep

No Sexual Advice from Catholics Please!

       I don’t know about yhall but I’ve had it with religious zealots preaching to the rest of us about sex!  In the Senate they attached an amendment to the highway bill to make it harder for women to acquire contraceptives. But after the democrats wisely forced the Republicans in the Senate to go on the record supporting this absurd amendment, it went down to resounding defeat earlier today.

In Virginia Evangelical Republican zealots were on the verge of passing a vaginal penetration law that would have require women to experience the humiliation of having their bodies violated by state sponsored penetration of their vaginal cavities in order to exercise a legal family planning option.

The FBI defines forcible penetration of a woman’s vagina as rape…hence if the Governor of Virginia, who wrote the bill, had signed it into law the women of Virginia ccould be legally raped by their government!  Only the vociferous opposition of outraged women prevented passage of this law.  Yet these are the same pious hypocrites who prattle on ad nauseum about how they hate government intrusion into the lives of American citizens.

 Now we learn that a Catholic priest in Maryland refused to conduct a funeral service for a parishioner, quit at the altar mind you, because he would not give communion to her lesbian daughter who lives “in sin” with another woman!  Ordinarily I have no sympathy for gay Catholics; like black Mormons I believe they get what they deserve…in fact they ask for it.

The Mormons have taught for over a century that black people are spawns of the devil, its basic to their theology, but now that it is no longer acceptable to say such things they claim to have experienced a change of heart.  And some black folk are joining up.

I don’t believe a word of it!  I’d drink muddy water and sleep in a hollow log before I’d ever join the Mormons, and I wouldn’t vote for a Mormon running for the local Dogcatcher’s gig!  Until they publicly and repeatedly denounce the theological basis for their racist beliefs I say a plague on their houses and their cattle!  I guess I’m just funny that way: I don’t like people who don’t like me.

The Catholic Church is militantly anti-Gay.  And they are standing on sound theological ground because the bible clearly says that homosexuality is an abomination.  Hence any grown person in their right mind who is gay, and willfully associates themselves with the Catholic Church, is a participant in their own oppression.

It is reasonable to ask: Are gay Catholics masochists?  If so, then their relationship with the dogmatic eunuchs who torture them is a dream match!   However the case of Barbara Johnson is different, she was the victim of a priest with particularly masochistic tendencies, while trying to carry out her 85 year old mother’s last rites.  Without which her soul cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.  In Catholic belief this is very serious business, if somebody flubs the liturgical routine on this one you could end up burning in the fires of hell for all eternity!

But “Father” Guarnizo was so outraged that Barbara lived with her girlfriend he refused to travel to the cemetery to deliver the final rites.  Given the record of Catholic priests’ sexual proclivities, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Padre calmed his passion by hurrying home to bugger the altar boy!  Which under the reign of the near sainted John Paul might have won him a job in the Vatican if caught in the act….as it did other pedophile priests!

Alas, after the insessacent and incendiary gay bashing of their preachment, the Catholic Diocese of Washington’s apology to Ms. Johnson and her family is at best hollow sophistry…. and at worse damnable duplicity: “Ye shall reap what ye sow!” sayeth the bible.


Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 1, 2012