Archive for the My Struggle On the Left! Category

An Open Letter to a Young “Progressive” Friend

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, Playthell on politics with tags , on July 25, 2017 by playthell

Challenging the History Department at U-Mass 1969


On the “Wall of Heroes” in Philly Circa 2008

Honorees on the Wall include Mao Tse Tung, Dr. King and Malcolm X

Yo Richie!

I find your response to my critical comments on some of the political stances taken by the political trend among young people who define themselves as “Progressives” to be compassionate and well meaning, but misguided.  While I admire your stamina and commitment to helping them become politically educated and channel their activism in more productive ways, I have no patience or sympathy for their pouting, arrogance and often appalling ignorance of realpolitique.  Hence, rather than being careful and solicitous of their delicate feelings, while nudging them toward a correct understanding of our political realities, I say: They need to grow that fuck up in HURRY!!!

I don’t feel either the NEED OR THE DESIRE to coddle them! I was confronting evil red neck crackers in Florida with bloody murder on their minds when I was 17 years old!!! Most of these people have NEVER been in a racially hostile situation with their life on the line!!!! They who have won no battles have neither the intellectual gravitas nor moral standing to SIT IN JUDGEMENT ON MY GENERATION!!!

Rather it is we who have the right – earned by the actual role we played in advancing black people at home and abroad through disciplined dedicated struggle, sacrifice of career paths, and even our lives – to critique them! To ask what have they done after we handed the baton off to them??? How far have they advanced it???? These are fair questions, and people who have spent half a century in the struggle creating the opportunities they now take for granted have a right to ask!

They act like they are pissed off because we didn’t make ALL THEIR DREAMS COME TRUE…the same kind of self-absorbed, silly, muddled headed, asshole ideas that led them to sit at home and allow the Tea Party to elect 66 members to the Congress and take over the Congressional agenda, halting the visionary program of President Obama in its tracks. I bet most of these pompous ignoramuses can’t even describe either President Obama’s great, historic achievements or his visionary, humane, plans for the future.

Their silly childlike belief that Bernie Sanders has the answers to the problems that confront this nation and can actually WIN a presidential election billing himself as a “Democratic Socialist” would be hilarious if it were not so tragic!   I think there are sound reasons to believe Bernie Sanders would have been beaten far worse than Hillary in the campaign against Trump.

Alas, Bernie is a gentleman and a principled politician who prefers an intellectual approach to discussing complex problems, rather than bombast and hyperbole. Yet the untutored mob that voted for Trump obviously prefers the latter: and Donnie Dimwit is the master of hype and bombast!! If you think the label “Crooked Hillary” was effective, even coming from a mobbed-up megalomaniac crook who had been sued for screwing customers and clients 3,500 times, what do you think would have happened when Trump, a compulsive liar and reckless verbal arsonist, started calling Sanders “OLD COMMUNIST, ATHEIST, BERNIE”?

Imagine Bernie trying to explain the difference between “Communism” and “Socialism” along with his unorthodox position on religion –
i.e. “a non-practicing Jew” – to the pugnacious, anti-Semitic, untutored mob that elected Trump!!!!! Furthermore, Bernie’s ideas about economic policy are as inept as Trump’s: Both are like generals preparing to fight the last war, rather than the coming war. The ideological differences – Left vs. right – constitutes at best a DISTINCTION WITHOUT A DIFFERNCE!!!!

I would love to debate ANY of these politically disabled people that you refer to as “Progressives.” These useful idiots that help to elect Trump!!! Such an encounter could have several positive outcomes. First it would reveal that they have their heads so far up their pompous asses they can’t tell their rectum from a hole in the ground….and those who listen to the debate will get a GREAT EDUCATION IN THE ART AND SCIENCE OF POLITICS!!!!!! WHICH ABOVE ALL ELSE THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE!!!


Watch Playthell’s Extended Coommentary
“Why I Oppossed the Iraq War”

Playthell Talks with Dr. Fulani

On Politics and the Inviability of Third Parties


In Defense of Black Women

Watch Playthell Take on Scheharazade Ali



Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
July 25, 2017




An Open Letter to Rock Hermon Hackshaw  

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, Playthell on politics with tags , on May 20, 2015 by playthell


 On Drones, Detentions, Jihadists, Race and Obama!!!!

Yo Rock!  I should like to address your last statement first.  You write: Let me repeat what I started off with: Playthell has taken a stance “that suggests Obnama is above critique”. THAT’S ALL I FUCKING SAID (until now). I stand by that statement. Sometimes we are too protective of those we love. I think one should tell loved ones when their breath stinks. West and Smiley are to be afforded their right to critique our first mulatto president.” My response is: I have written over 300 essays on Barack Obama and they are all on the Commentaries, but this conversation is critiquing Cornel West’s criticism of Obama.  So you point is not only irrelevant but UNTRUE.

If you were a SERIOUS critic you would carefully search through my commentaries and critique the ones where you think I am wrong. But you are obviously too intellectually lazy to do that; you want me to lead you to specific commentaries which you say DON’T EXIST!!!   Well don’t hold your breath because I have no intention of encouraging you in your intellectual slovenliness!!!!!

Anyone who has followed my work over the last thirty years on WBAI, Village Voice, my OP-ED columns in the New York Daily News, my features in The London Guardian and Sunday Times of London, my book on Dr. Dubois, etc knows that I CRITICIZE EVERYBODY!!!!!   So you have NO IDEA what you are talking about.  When it comes to assessing people who exercise power over our fates I am an honest referee.

However you fairly discredit yourself with me when you say America’s first “Mulatto President.”  What tha fuck is that supposed to mean???  Are you aware that Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington were mulattos?  Are you also aware that some of our greatest freedom fighters were MORE THAN ON HALF WHITE???????

Adam Clayton Powell and Walter White were Octoroons and Thurgood Marshall was a quadroon indistinguishable from whites!!!!   Our greatest scholar Dr. WEB Dubois was a quadroon and our great historian Rayford Logan, who wrote the tragic story of the collapse of Reconstruction after the Civil War “The Betrayal of the Negro” couldn’t find ANY TRACE of African blood in his family tree!!!!   You remind me of the 19th century Black Nationalist intellectual/activist/African Reemptionist Alexander Crummel who used to refer to Frederick Douglass as “That Mulatto Showman.”  Your comment is equally absurd!

Barack is the same complexion as MUHAMMAD ALI, ELIJAH MUHAMMAD, MALCOLM X AND MY MOTHER!!!  So fuck off with this kind of silly ass shit!!!   Don’t ever step to me with some dumb stuff like this because it will make me lose RESPECT FOR YOU!!!!!!    Being black in American is not a mater of color alone but a state of mind, a consciousness that comes from what Dr. Dubois call “life behind the veil,” it is identifying with a legacy of struggle against white supremacy.  Tell me Rock, who do you think embodies that tradition best, Barack Obama or Clarence Thomas, Dr Ben Carson, Herman Cain and Dr. Alan Keyes??? I believe if these Sambos were mixed blood they wouldn’t identify with us at all, but Barack CHOSE to be black.

  Barack and Ali: Two HeavyWeight Champs!
Ali and Barack
Is this Black enough for yo ass?

I say this because American race relations had changed so much by the time Barack came out of Harvard at the top of his class he could have easily passed himself off simply as an American of biracial lineage  like the great classical pianist Andre Watts has done – especially since his father was NOT Afro-American, and lived very comfortably among white Americans today.  But HE CHOSE TO BE WITH US INSTEAD…AND ENTHUSIASTICALLY SO!!!

Piano Virtuosso Andre Watts

Andre Watts

The son of an AfroAmerican Father and Hungarian mother

I for one am very happy to have in in our ranks and couldn’t be happier if he were as black as Jack Johnson!!!   Do you now recognize how fuckin stupid you sound to me???  I’d bet my bottom dollar that you probably are MORE MIXED BLOOD THAN OBAMA!!!!!  Millions of Afro-Americans are mixtures of European, American Indian and African.  Most often the African blood is the smallest percentage!  Because I know much more about our history than you my views are based on much more substantial ground.

My views on Obama’s blackness are based on the following.  The stories of him given by the black project dwellers in Chicago; he courted and won a fabulous brilliant black American wife who hails from the Afro-American working class who says she fell in love with him when she witnessed him speaking to a group of folks in the projects; the fact that he spent TWENTY YEARS SITTING AT HE FEET OF REVEREND WRIGHT which nearly cost him the presidency – and his comprehensive knowledge of Afro-American history and culture.  THAT’S PLENTY BLACK ENOUGH FOR ME AND THERE IS NOBODY BLACKER THAN ME!!!!!!!!!

Do you think the fact that you were born black gives you some leg up on Barack?  Well it doesn’t with me…I just named a list of highly educated Afro-Americans who appear to be as black as their African ancestors were when they steep off the boat onto American soil….and these Mofos are straight up traitors!!!! If they So get the fuck outta here with this color struck 19th century bullshit!!!!!

Who is “blacker” in the tradition?
Seattle Sea Hawks barack shakes hads with Sherman
Barack Welcoming Much Maligned Richard Sherman
Or deep dark Republican adversary Herman “Sugar” Cain
Mackin on Michelle Bachman ….an evil righwing bitch!
Drones and Detentions are the Right Tactics against the Jihadists

As regards President Obama’s tactics in fighting the global Jihad you proclaim: “I still support Obama: always have. My main critique has to do with his “drones” program, whereby thousands of innocent third-world people have been killed. The second has to do with the “rendition” program wherein thousands have been detained and denied their freedoms and human rights without due process and with flimsy (at best) evidence; the rest I will keep to myself until his term is over. I have deliberately chosen not to attack BO too much, given what he has been up against from Day One with these repugnicans.”

First, you sound as silly to me with the “due process” arguments as the cluless idiots that complained because Osama bin Laden was not read his Miranda rights before they shot his evil ass!  So you want to see these people released because they didn’t get “due Process; just like the did Calph Ibrahim, the leader of ISIS, whom US forces oncehad in custody but released? And as regards holding off on constructive criticism of  President Obama, well that’s where you and I differ.  I am interested in what is the best policy for addressing specific problems without regard to the personalities making the policy.  Hence if I think the President is wrong on policy questions I regard it as my solemn duty as a citizen/journalist to point that out and criticize those policies for the sake of our country NO MATTER WHAT THE REPUBLICANS SAY!!!!   Indeed, you are far more GUILTY of the things that you accuse me of!!!

Now let us consider your criticism of Barack’s tactics in fighting the Jihadists, I have a few questions Rock.  Your answers will tell us all we need to know about how you formulate your position on the use of drones. Your failure to provide a serious analysis will tell us even more!  Do you believe that we are in a global war with Islamic Jihadists who spend their days and nights trying to devise a way of inflicting another attack on the US that will make 9-11 look like child’s play? Do you believe that their ultimate objective is to explode a nuclear device or high radiation “dirty bomb?”

Do you believe that this is a world-wide movement and if the US stops using drones human soldiers will have to do the job?  Do you know that compared to the number of innocent civilians who were killed from “collateral damage” during armed assaults by soldiers on “search and destroy” missions render the number of such persons killed by drones STATISTICALLY ISIGNIFICANT??????

Do you know that there are 15 suitcase size nuclear bombs missing from the Russian arsenal and no one knows where they are? Do you have ANY IDEA what is required to protect a country this size where peopel can freely come and go as they like? Do you know know that the Jihadists who flew the lanes on 9/11 trained right here in the USA? Have you any idea how many terrorist “sleeper cells” are operative in the US today?

Are you aware that there are vocal and influential forces on the left and right who are so obsessed with their petty privacy that they are making in more difficult to detect these cells? Do you believe that if the Jihadist succeed in establishing ISIS they will not use it as a base to conduct Terrotists attacks all over the world…especially the US?  Are you aware that they have state as much?

What do you know of their ideology and objectives? Do you know that if the Jihadist wanted to attack New York with a nuclear weapon they don’t have to land it on the docks; they can explode it aboard a ship in the harbor and level all five boroughs of NYC?  DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS MEANS THAT THE BOMB MUST BE STOPPED AT THE POINT OF DEPARTURE???

Do you have ANY idea what kind of intelligence assets the US government must have in order to prevent this from happening? Are you aware that American covert actions based on electronically gathered  intelligence have foiled scores of terrorist plots that the general public never hears about because it would expose intelligence gathering methods?

Have you ANY IDEA what that requires Rock? If you don’t know the answers to these problems, which require decisions upon which the fate of our nation rests, then you are a verbose ignoramus….and should STFU!!!!!! IT’S WAR DOG!!!!! I am prepared to prevent the Jihadists from realizing their goals BY ANY MEANS NECISSARY!!!!!!! HOW ABOUT YOU?????

It ought to be obvious by now that I regard your comments as the acme of absurdities, a glowing example of Facebook jibberish masquerading as serious thought. As a young man I served in the US Strategic Air Command, I served on a nuclear armed base whose mission was the nuclear destruction of the Soviet Union.  That experience made a radical leftist out of me, but since I had a Top Secret Security Clearance and my unit was tasked with stopping Russian Saboteurs, I learned a LOT about security matters.

Alas, as far as I can see you have NO EXPERIENCE with such matters, and appear to know as much about the subject as a MULE KNOWS ABOUT PLAYING THE PIANO!!!   Fortunately, in America anybody can frely express their opinions, but not all opinions carry equal weight…and yours is exceedingly lightweight on these questions.

Thus I anxiously await your answers to these questions Rock and I will promptly post them on the Commentaries and respond.  However I believe you are all blow and no go; I don’t believe that you have the balls to attempt a serious reply to this intellectual assault!  Now put up or SHUT UP!


The Struggle for Enlightenment Continues
Playthell G. Benjamin aka Publius Africanus
Harlem, New york
May 20th, 2015

Is Corny Crazy of Just a Phony?

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, On Dr. Cornell West with tags , , , on July 26, 2013 by playthell

Barack and CornyThe fury of unrequited love?

 Corny West’s MSNBC Attack is Sour Grapes

 “Deep down in his soul I think he really does feel a fire, but he can’t allow that fire to in any way spill over toward the White House. Why? Because he’s still too tied, he’s too uncritical, he’s too deferential, he’s too subservient as it were and as long as that’s in place we’re going to find ourselves unable to tell the fundamental truth,” Corny West speaking about the Reverend Al Sharpton, to his sidekick Tavis Silly.

In the latest revelation of Dr. Corny West we are told that Rev. Al Sharpton, host of the increasingly popular and critically important nightly MSNBC television show “Politics Nation,” is but an obsequious slave on “the Obama plantation.” Like those two mischievous trickster crows Heckle and Jeckle, Tavis asks Corny a question regarding the Trayvon Martian murder, “What’s your sense of how the media, and not just Fox News but beyond that, your read as you’ve been watching this, how the media handled this case?” To wit Corny, the consummate media whore, tells his partner in crime: ““I think that it’s been decrepit though, brother. I mean, you get a focus on some of the upper middle class folk. I mean, what I call the ‘rent-a-negro’ phenomenon on MSNBC.” 

I guess when you are a lower upper-class cultural icon that can command $40.000 a speech to spout incoherent jibber jabber to adoring albeit clueless white audiences, and live in suites ensconced in posh hotels – as he did during his Harvard years when he dwelled in the Four Seasons– it is fairly easy to be contemptuous of “upper middle class folk.”

Yet like most supreme egotist Dr. Corny ignores the warning: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”  For he is the ultimate “Rent A Negro!”  What does this guy take us for?  Does he really believe that anyone who has watched him kiss Newt Gingrich’s ass on television – affectionately referring to him as “Brother Newt” – don’t know that he has long ago sold his soul…that Faustian bargains are routine transactions to him?  Is Corny so drunk on the wine of hubris that he thinks his true intentions are invisible to us; that we don’t know he would run over his mother with a semi-trailer if it would gain him the spot on MSNBC now occupied by Reverend Al?

 Can no one rid us of this vicious, duplicitous, bushy headed, gapped tooth, forked tongue, motor mouth philosophe?    Jamaicans have a folk expression that pegs him just right: “The bwai mout run like sick batty.”  In other words: Corny is spouting shit!  Of all the important things in the world to write about, I find myself compelled to write yet another essay addressing the vicious folly of Corny: A man driven mad by vanity and envy.

I can think of no one who has fallen so dramatically in my estimation.  Once I had nothing but love and respect for this guy and more than once sang praises unto his name….but that was before I discovered he was an intellectual fraud, an amoral megalomaniac whose allegiances are dictated by expedience and thus would stoop to anything to gain and maintain an audience and the perks they provide – from public adulation to increasing his coin.

Although I hold no credentials as a behavioral scientist, I am a serious observer of human character, especially public figures who aspire to the role of leadership, and I have gained some understanding of what drives them from both literature and life. Alas Dr. West seems addicted to the intoxications of celebrity, and his ravenous outsized ego fuels the delusion that he is so wise and good he is compelled to act as moral arbiter of the nation. That’s the most charitable explanation I can conjure for his bizarre behavior.  An alternative view is that he is just an egomaniac and bullshit artist.

From Shakespeare, to Robert Penn Warren, to Chinua Achebe we are provided powerful portraits of the havoc created by the duplicity of men driven by vanity, avarice, envy, malice and blind ambition.  Having met these characters in the fictions and dramas of these masterful painters of human life and character, I recognize them when I encounter them in real life and understand the roles they are playing.  If Shakespeare was right and “all the world is a stage and we are but players upon it,” the question of this historical moment  is what role is Corny West playing?  Is he fool or villain?  Ignoramus or charlatan?

Well, based on the clearly observable facts – Harvard man, Doctor of Philosophy, learned theologian, author of several published texts, Professor at great universities, highly compensated public orator – it is safe to say he is neither an ignoramus or a fool: Which leaves the charlatan and villain.   This conclusion does not require  the wisdom of a Sigmund Freud, it is a matter of simple deduction – although I would love to know what Dr. Freud would make of this verbose pretender to the role of national moral scold.  A self-reverential town crier who is false to his profession, false in his stated objectives, and hopelessly confused in his historically appointed role.

Either Corny does not know who the enemy of progress and justice is; or he is a traitor to the people for whom he vainly claims to speak, people who continue to be denied both.  Nobody in a position of power in the US is trying harder to change their predicament than President Obama!  And one of his staunchest allies in this fight is MSNBC!  As Harold Cruse noted a half century ago, in the geopolitical circumstances of the US, mass media is more powerful than the military in the struggle to influence mass political behavior.

Even a cursory glance at the media landscape will easily demonstrate the towering importance of MSNBC, whose role is indispensable to achieving the liberal left agenda.  They are the first line of defense against the aggressions of the rabid right.  And it is an understatement to say that they understand their role in the fight against the Tea Party Right, far better than does Phony Corny.   This is demonstrated by the high quality of the information and analysis they put out compared to the hysterical confused gibberish we routinely get from Corny West.

The worst show on MSNBC, Morning Joe, provides a superior political education to anything we are likely to hear from Dr. West.  Yet he refuses to play the critical role he is best suited for, leading an assault on the blasphemous theology of the so-called “Christian Right,”  those impassioned bible thumpers who have made Jesus Christ the God of the greedy who trample on the needy; the God of billionaires rather than the meek that Jesus Christ said shall inherit the earth.  If this is not blasphemy then such a thing has never existed in the world.

However most of the broadcast day on MSNBC is spent attacking and debunking the political expression of the Christian Right’s theology.  And their efforts are nothing less than heroic.  I can envision no other media venue where one can get the kind of information that equips American citizens to make intelligent political decisions in defense of the progressive agenda for the working classes and oppressed minorities than the nightly line-up on MSNBC.

Beginning with Chris Matthews, a feisty New-Deal democrat who constantly preaches the virtues of large scale government projects which will alleviate mass unemployment by rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.  This is the only means by which the President can immediately address the jobless recovery; it is the classic cure for the ravages of economic depression prescribed by Dr. John Maynard Keynes, the prescient British economist whose brilliant mathematical formulations and policy recommendations rescued the world economy from the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

However this time we are dealing with a new phenomenon which was not much in evidence during the Depression of the 1930’s, what Keynes called “technological unemployment” and contemporary economist call structural unemployment. He predicted that this category of the unemployed would grow in the future.   Well now we are living that future and most commentators on the unemployment problem don’t understand this phenomenon; that’s why they mistakenly blame President Obama.   However he has proposed policies to deal with the crisis of structural unemployment but they are constantly blocked by the Republican mad men that control the House. (See: Can President Obama Cure the Unemployment Crisis? On this blog

Chris Matthews is followed by a succession of left of center hosts that are even more uncompromising defenders of the liberal legacy, rooted in the achievements of the New Deal entitlements of the 1930’s and their extension in the landmark Civil Rights legislation and Great Society programs of the 1960’s.  Al Sharpton is a direct descendant of the Civil Rights leadership of the 60’s, groomed as he was by the legendary Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton, Powell Jr., and the great charismatic revivalism of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, an activist Baptist Preacher and close comrade of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Under the tutelage of these two masters of the game, Sharpton learned how to play politics from the inside and the outside: how to be a “tree shaker and a jelly maker” in the coinage of the Revered Jackson.  The former being a guy who shakes thing s up through direct action, and the latter helps translate those demonstrations  into legislation.

I believe that Corny’s attack on Reverend Sharpton in particular is motivated by a transparent envy that arises from the fact that Corny is an intellectual snob who believes his Ivy League education and professorships better qualifies him for such a high profile position of media advocacy.  This must be especially galling for this brazen egotist since they are both on the same side of the fence so to speak.  After all, the things that Dr. Advocates is barely distinguishable from the things Sharpton has been fighting for his entire adult life.

Yet in the eyes of the pompous Dr. West – who wouldn’t even consider spending a year or two at a historically Black university, despite a personal plea from the distinguished Afro-American journalist George Curry, when Harvard kicked his butt to the curb with good wishes on his budding hip hop career – Reverend Al is just a Jack Leg unlettered preacher who has somehow usurped a position that rightly belongs to him.  I advance this view only as a suspicion, a theory of what motivates the behavior of the enigmatic Dr. West.

However, as in many other matters Corny is sadly deluded.  Al Sharpton is far more effective in the role of television advocate/interviewer than Corny would be.  The reasons why this is so are obvious: Al has mastered the art of the sound bite, which is essence of good television commentary, he is a longtime public advocate, and like the “old time black preachers” celebrated in James Weldon Johnson’s epic poems God’s Trombones, he has all the devices of eloquence at his command.

Reverend Al is followed in the line-up by Chris Hayes, a wonkish young journalist who gleefully assaults the most preposterous assertions of right/wing Republicans who have made a cottage industry of lying on President Obama.  He is the newest member of the team, having replaced Big Ed, who moved his popular show to the weekends. Hayes is a well-informed and thoughtful advocate for the liberal left agenda whose erudition is matched by his passion.   He is an excellent comrade in arms for anyone in the fight for progressive policies that address the plight of the working poor, middle class and full equality for everyone without regard to race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Dr. Rachel Maddow is a veritable fount of factual information.  She has a crack research staff and every show is like a graduate seminar in public affairs.  She is a powerful advocate for all the aforementioned issues and groups and is also the most powerful voice in the media regarding women’s issues and the struggles of the LBGT community.

She is a marvelous motor-mouth who can spew out weighty information at a machine gun pace, dropping science at the speed of thought while bewitching her audience with a devilish smile and infectious charm.  There is no more able soldier in the struggle to defend liberal left values from the persistent attacks of the malicious ideologues on the right than Doc.

The Final Word from Laurence O’Donnell completes the lineup at ten O’clock, and the entire cycle begins again minus Al Sharpton’s “Politics Nation.”  I must admit that I often wonder why this is the case, because when I miss the 6 o-clock broadcast I wish Sharpton was in the rotation so I could see the program later. Suffice it to say that in my view O’Donnell is the most interesting of all the television talking heads….and he may well be the smartest.  A Harvard trained lawyer and writer, O’Donnell has also served as a congressional staffer.

Hence he brings an inside perspective to his analysis of the machinations in Congress that helps us to better understand how the political sausage is made.  He is openly contemptuous of white racist arguments and does not suffer fools gladly.  With an easy charm to match his easy erudition and wicked wit, Laurence O’Donnell is the kind of intellectual warrior I want to go to war with!  The MSNBC lineup is a great way to end your day.  There you will find an intellectual balm to heal the plague of ignorance that has infested the country and threatens paralyze the body politic and inflict lasting wounds on ourselves.

Despite Corny’s badmouthing this is the reality at MSNBC, and I invite anyone to challenge that assessment.  I challenge Dr. West to address the question as to which network represents the greatest danger to Afro-Americans: MSNBC or Fox?   And if he agrees with me – as he must – that it is FOX hands down, not even close, I’d like the learned Doctor to explain why he is not attacking FOX: whassup wit dat Corny?  Now is not the time for shuckin and jiving Dog.

As I write MSNBC is having a series of discussions dissecting the multiple machinations of the Republican right to defund the Affordable Care Act, ass laws to stop Afro-Americans, Hispanics, et al from voting, nullify women’s reproductive rights,  kill the Senate immigration bill, block important judicial appointments, examining the explanation of a juror in the Zimmerman case as to why she felt forced to vote for acquittal when in her heart she was convinced he was getting away with murder, etc.  These people are doing the Lord’s work; they are a righteous crew, so why can’t our theologian recognize this?

We are in the heat of battle; the Supreme Court just gutted the Voting Rights Act and further crippled already hobbling Affirmative Action programs.  The courts in Sanford Florida so interpreted the law the jurors felt forced to release a wanna-be redneck who hunted down and killed an unarmed black child – effectively declaring open season on black males in Florida – and this is all the evil work of Republicans.

The major advocates for these nefarious political forces is the FOX network; they are practically celebrating the release of the murderer, George Zimmerman, who told Sean Hannity that he felt killing Trayvon Martian was “God’s Will.”  Why isn’t Dr. West, a learned Professor of religion, critiquing a Christian belief system that would lead to such a conclusion?  Why is he not arguing that the slaughter of Trayvon is not God’s will but the work of the devil?

An even more pressing question is why is Dr. West aiming his guns at Reverend Sharpton and MSNBC, rather than Bill O ’Riley and FOX. A vulgar overbearing, megalomaniac and sexual harasser O’ Riley called everybody that protested the “not guilty” verdict in the Zimmerman case “a race hustler.” And he had the unmitigated gall to lecture the black community on our moral failings, demanding that we shut up about white racism and clean up our messy house.  But the Sacramento motor mouth hasn’t said squat to these brazenly racist white boys.  Rush Limbaugh has been going crazy spouting insulting racist drivel!

Nobody has pushed back on these verbal assaults from the racial arsonists on FOX like the commentators on MSNBC; even Joe Scarborough, a Florida Republican, has offered more potent critiques than Dr. West.  The question is why; what accounts for this strange state of affairs?   It is so bizarre the elements themselves seem out of kilter.  Dr. West is behaving like a sheriff who rides into a town recently ravaged by cold blooded bandits…and orders his men to shoot the wounded!

Corny’s assault on MSNBC and Reverend Sharpton is a purposeful if puzzling act; far too clever and calculating to be mere happenstance or the work of a fool.  As a witness to it all, observing the foibles and folly of this celebrated theologian, I cannot escape the feeling that we are witnessing not the incompetent bumbling of a hapless fool, although it often seems so, but the calculated deceptions of shameless charlatan and soulless villain.   Driven by blind ambition fueled by envy, he might look and talk crazy…. But there is a method to Corny’s madness.

Is this Jigaboo Crazy or What?


 He sure do look and talk crazy…but he just envious and evil!


 Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 26, 2013

Open Letters to A Black Obama Basher

Posted in My Struggle On the Left! with tags , on July 7, 2013 by playthell
At WBAI Jpeg
Droppin Science live on the Great Issues

An Open Invitation to Discuss President Obama

 Greetings and Salutations Dr. Johnson

During the breaks on my radio show I am bombarded with excerpts of your passionate assessments of Barack Obama’s presidency.  The affect they have on me is a jarring sensation much like that described by a musician friend with perfect pitch when he hears a singer singing off key.  For instance your description of President Obama as “a right of center” Democrat has that effect; it assaults my sense of intellectual integrity much as an out of tune singer savages a melody; it is such a gross mischaracterization of the President’s position IT CANNOT BE HARMONIZED WITH THE EVIDENCE!   Hence it is becoming painful to remain silent as I am forced listen to your impassioned preachment every week.

Furthermore, I believe your charge that the President has failed in a “moral” mission that you say he assumed – although it sounds to me like you assigned him the role – or your suggestion that this moral mission should take precedence over the political imperatives of his office, is dissonant nonsense.  It suggests that your understanding of the paramount duties of the Presidency and the complexities of the problems President Obama is confronted with –which are made infinitely more complicated by a recalcitrant, rejectionist, obstructionist, Republican opposition whose actions border on treason – leaves much to be desired….to put it kindly.

Some of my listeners who are also avid readers of my commentaries have asked why I allow your critical comments on President Obama to go unchallenged.  It is the same question I have been asked by young scholars who read the book on Dubois, in which Stanley Crouch and myself presented interpretations of the life, work and legacy of the great black scholar.  They wonder how I allowed Stanley to write certain things without opposition.

In that case I had no choice.   Motivated by a justified fear of public chastisement and exposure as an intellectual lightweight, Crouch craftily clutched his essay – which was about one fifth the length of mine – close to his vest and I never saw it until the book was published.  Fortunately I do have an opportunity to respond to your position on Truthworks Radio.

Hence I have decided to critique your views on the President, and I would love it if you would participate.  It is my conviction that intellectuals who take themselves seriously – as opposed to opportunistic charlatans and self-important poseurs – should be willing to defend the positions they take publicly.  The things I wrote I meant…hence I will show up anywhere and represent!

First I’d like you to refer me to a program where you elaborate on your views of President Obama, as well as anything you have written on him.  I have written several hundred essays and am selecting a group of them for a book.  The problem is that the book is already 500 pages yet I still feel that there are other essays that should be included…and I keep on writing them.  I sometimes feel like John Coltrane, who when asked by Miles Davis why he always played such long solos, replied “I can’t figure out how to end them.”  To wit Miles replied “why don’t you just try taking the damned horn outta yo mouth?”  Alas I have decided that I will just have to get up and walk away from my computer.

As you might imagine, I don’t believe that there are many people who have observed this president more closely or insightfully than I have.  Thus I readily see the flaws in many of the opinions that are presented about him and how he has handled his job.  It saddens me to confess my disappointment at the sloppy thinking, careless analysis, and blacker than thou silliness that have passed for serious critiques postulated by some black intellectuals. I not only think this pompous pretentious prattle is irresponsible but dangerous.

After listening to your radio comments I decided to read back over the private exchange we had about this president on Facebook a while ago.  I found your arguments weak then and upon review they appear even more spurious now.  Furthermore – based on the excerpts I heard –   I find your present radio declarations to be intellectually indefensible.

If you believe your analysis will stand up under a rigorous critique then I am inviting you to come on the show and defend them with me and Dr. Wilson.  It will be the kind of fact driven collegial discourse that we normally undertake, and you will be provided the opportunity to present your views at length. My intention in producing Commentaries on the Times Radio is to engage in extended discussion of the commentaries that I or Basil writes on the great issues of the day.  Since we are compulsive pedagogues ever looking for opportunities to teach important lessons, this is our way of providing audio documents that are readily available and can be widely employed to politically educate activist who want to bring about change in America and elsewhere.

This is especially true when I write about mass transformative movements.  I approach these movements as a class of phenomenon whose organization and dynamics follow similar patterns of development no matter when or where they appear in the world.  You have simply to read my essays on the upheavals during the so-called “Arab Spring” and Occupy Wall Street movements to see what I mean.

Hence I find that just as my generation of radical Afro-American activists were informed by the writings of foreign theorists such as Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman, Mao Tse Tung, Kwame Nkrumah, Franz Fanon, George Padmore, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, CLR James, Amilcar Cabral, et al, young people from South Africa to Indonesia and Australia write and tell me how much they have learned from my writings.

And for those who seek a broader understanding regarding the role of cultural matters I include criticism of the arts, and the occasional sports essay because as the ever insightful Trinidadian polymath CLR James has taught us: popular sports mirror the character and values of a society.   I am well aware that we are working in a world-wide medium of communication that no other generation has had the benefit of –which is why we should be careful what we put into cyberspace – and I intend to make the most of it. For a deeper understanding of my longtime interests in international issues see “Why I Opposed the Iraq War from the Beginning” –which is a news video on YouTube.

I anxiously await whatever material – written or spoken – you can refer us to that will clarify your views on the President.  That way we can avoid taking your comments out of context and thus misrepresenting your arguments.  In the absence of your participation however our critique of the assertions that you make during the breaks on our show will serve as the basis for a critique of your views…which will go on in any case. In the mean time I can recommend several essays by myself and Dr. Wilson where you can get a capsulized version of our views.

The Struggle for Enlightenment Continues
Playthell G. Benjamin



 Doctor…Heal Thyself!

Dr. Matthew Johnson
Dr. Johnson Pontificating On Truthworks Network

 An Open Letter to a Self-Righteous, Confused Obama Basher

“I think that if you feel so inclined you should probably listen to more of my shows on issues related to Obama than a snippet someone else harvested for advertisement. You may find them more balanced than you suspect. But if not, please understand that time spent on a show with you is for me time spent far more productively elsewhere. God Bless you my atheistic friend. And keep struggling for enlightenment.”

Dr. Matthew Johnson’s response to Playthell’s  Invitation to a debate on President Obama.


 My Dear Reverend Dr. Johnson

I too am a very busy man and do not have the time or inclination to sift through your many shows and endure hours of impassioned pious preachments in order to cull the answers to a few specific questions about politics. You evidently consider your time far more valuable than mine…For I would never make such an unreasonable request of you.  If you asked me for my opinions on the President – foreign or domestic policy – I could easily refer you to WELL THOUGHT OUT WRITTEN ESSAYS or SPECIFIC CONVERSATIONS – it is interesting that you cannot, or will not, do the same.  And I take your attitude as a dis.

Therefore it is impossible for me to take you seriously as a critic of the president.  Thus far in my exchanges with you about Barack Obama, I find your arguments to be lightweight and unworthy of a serious black intellectual when discussing the first African-American to rise to the most powerful office in the world!!!

Hence I shall proceed to write a critique of your views based on the private conversation we had in our first kerfuffle over the President, since the text is still there – and combine it with the claims you make in the excerpts aired on my show – that will be quite enough to paint a picture of your argument, which has so many flaws I could write a book.   Since you seem confirmed in your folly, and thus beyond instruction, I shall leave the veil of political ignorance firmly over your eyes where I found it and simply use you as a foil, a teaching prop, to address a larger audience.

But I must say that I find your response disappointing.  What exactly do you stand for as an intellectual Dr. Johnson? What do you value?  Based on your attitude here it is certainly not honest critical discourse with other serious Afro-Americans trying to think through these thorny issues that could well determine the life’s chances of the working class in general, and future generations of minorities in the US.  Since only a fool could fail to recognize the importance of these critical issues, or the need to seriously discuss them in a public forum, I can only conclude that you think it a waste of time because you find me and Dr. Wilson unworthy partners in such a dialogue.  The refusenik posture you have assumed puzzles me.

Perhaps your attitude is the inevitable result of preaching to people all the time who believe your words represent some kind of divine wisdom and therefore never question anything you say. It is fairly easy to see how one who envisions himself as a Shepherd ordained by God to lead his flock to salvation could develop the kind of arrogant imperious attitude that causes you to think any questioning of your views is somehow an affront.

This is, I suppose, the price of the ticket; but your attitude strikes me as self-important, pompous and ultimately absurd.   I strongly suspect that it is a thin veil to mask what is in essence intellectual cowardice…because you are smart enough to know that you cannot defend your silly and unfair criticism of this President against the rigorous examination Dr. Wilson and myself will subject to!  As for me, I have no doubt that your argument would crash and burn rather easily.

However I was prepared to be gentle with your instruction, to treat you as a learned, earnest, albeit misguided junior colleague.  But your condescending dismissive attitude has aroused the intellectual thug in me.  In that regard you should know that the great novelist essayist Ishmael Reed has dubbed me “a peerless literary street fighter” and Professor Mike Thelwell, Novelist/essayist/ Professor of comparative Literature, has accused me of having “a curious affection for back alley intellectual muggings!” Alas, since I have failed to appeal to your pride in private I shall commence to peel yo hide in public!

Most surprising in our last conversation was my discovery that you have the unmitigated gall to laud your blackness over President Obama, bragging about your grandmother having been “black” and a descendent of slaves and Obama’s being white and “a racist.”  A fact that to me suggest absolutely nothing about the content of your character – HERMAN CAIN AND CLARENCE THOMAS’ GRANDMOTHERS WERE BLACK TOO!!!!!!  And judging by your complexion – which is about the same as Obama’s with straighter hair, with no trace of West African ancestry that I can discern – their grandmothers were a lot blacker than yours!  Do you see how silly that sounds?

When you said it I was shocked that a man of your learning could advance such a simple minded argument; I regard it as characteristic of the lightweight prattle advanced by black critics of President Obama in general.  It is in the same category as the silly comments of Dr. Boyce Watkins, a failed academic who now anoints himself “The People’s Scholar,” who constantly refers to the President as “Bi-Racial,” in an attempt to suggest that racial purity should be a definitive factor in our evaluation of this President.  It is an attitude that reminds me of Bishop Alexander Crummel – another pompous black clergyman with a degree in philosophy – who constantly referred to Frederick Douglas as: “That mulatto showman!”  These are ideas that properly belong to the 19th century….it is now 2013 Dr. Johnson!!!!!

Herman “Suga” Cane
Is he black enough for you Doc?
Barack Obama
*Apr 21 - 00:05*
He’s Black Enough for Reverend Al!
And Black Enough for Michelle
And black enough for me…and I’m Soul Brother #1

It should be obvious that I find you silly Negro intellectuals’ petty pigment politics pretty much beneath contempt!   If you were not equating racial purity with political reliability what do you mean by reference to your “black” grandmother in this context? Are you implying that because your grandmother was “black” she was free of color prejudice?  Well, I say just like the things you’re libel to read in the bible: IT AIN’T NECISSARILY SO!!!!

If she was a light skinned Afro-American she might have been as “racist” toward dark skinned African type Afro-Americans as Barack Obama’s grandmother…if not worse!  Surely you know enough about Afro-American history and literature to know that.  If not just read the writings of Charles Chestnut – The House Behind the Cedars, The Marrow of Tradition, The Bride of His Youth, etc – Or Wallace Thurmond’s “The Blacker The Berry,” or Nella Larson’s “There is Confusion,” the writings of sociologist E. Franklin Frazier and Nathan Hare and many other texts I could cite.

Some mixed blood blacks were worse than whites in their hatred of black skin!  You have but to look at Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Cape Verde, Louisiana, or any southern city where Mulatto offspring from slave masters and their dark concubines formed a privileged class in the Afro-American community – See Professor Richard C. Wades’ “Slavery In The Cities.”

They were very proud of their light skin and were as contemptuous of dark skinned people as the most racist whites.  Dr. DuBois pegged them just right when he called them “an aristocracy based upon bastardry.”  You have but to read the descriptions of what is was like at Howard in the late 19th century, written by the brilliant ebony complexioned scholar Edward Wilmont Blyden, when black and mulatto professors ate at different tables in the dining hall –see Dr. Hollis Lynch, “Edward Wilmont Blyden: Pan-Negro Patriot.” 

Blyden had such a hard time with light skinned Afro-Americans that he said when he died he wanted his tombstone to read “Here Lies Edward W. Blyden: Pan-Negro Patriot and he Hated Mulattos!”   I can even remember the famous “blow hair” and “brown bag” parties at Howard.  So if we are to be suspect of Barack because of his grandmother, what about all of the light skinned blacks whose grandmother’s also hated dark skinned black people?

In Fact….Light Skin Only Parties Still Go On!

Light skinned Party Poster

Wonder what their “black” grandmother’s taught them?

This kind of argument about the President’s race would be surprising to hear from a member of the untutored mob – unlettered ignoramuses – but it is utterly shocking coming from a cultivated Negro who is obviously mixed blood and holding “a terminal degree” as you were quick to remind me.  Should you have difficulty remembering your silly statements, which I am certain by now you would rather forget, I will publish the Private Message transcripts.  You can run but you can’t hide!


From all accounts, Barack’s African father had a far easier time of it with his white in-laws than Ward Connely’s dark skinned daddy had with his grandmother!  Remember Ward?  The brainwashed washed light skinned suckass nigger who led the fight that successfully ended all Affirmative Action programs in the California university system which has dramatically reduced the number of black students matriculating on campus?  The man was a puzzle to me; I just couldn’t understand what would drive an Afro-American to spearhead such an effort in league with whites who were transparent racist!

Then a cousin of Ward’s came forth and provided the key to solving the puzzle.  He said that their grandmother was very light skinned and hated dark skinned Afro-Americans.  He told how she had destroyed the marriage between her light skinned daughter and Ward’s dark skinned father, and then she never ceased telling Ward lies about his good for nothing black daddy.  He says that she cultivated a hatred and contempt for black people in general.  And his fight against educational opportunities for Afro-American youths was the result of all that ingrained hate!

So should us dark skinned blacks be suspicious of what light-skinned blacks grandmother’s taught them?  Surely by now you see how simple minded your comment is.  Please do not misunderstand me Dr. Johnson this is not to suggest that dark skinned confers any special virtue; that one is more likely to act in the best interest of Afro-Americans the blacker they are.

Four of the biggest ass kissing black traitors – that are confused with Uncle Tom, who is a paragon of virtue compared to these soulless blaggards – are melanin rich: Clarence Thomas, Herman Cane, Dr. Allen Keyes and Tim Scott.  I once wrote an essay on Armstrong Williams, another ebony complexioned charlatan, titled “Little Black Sambo of the Right,” just as I wrote an essay on Tim Scott’s appointment to the Republican Senate seat formerly held by that right-wing mad dog Jim Demint, titled “Sambo goes to the Senate.”  Hence my real point in discussing this question of color is to demonstrate its irrelevance in politics!!!!!

Ward Connelly and wife

Ward Connerly and wife

Well…we see that Ward sought the approval of his Grandmother

Uncle Justice Thomas!

Clarence Thomas II

He he black enouh for you Doc? Color is irrelevant to quislings

So, as far as I am concerned such commentary on Obama’s racial heritage of the sort that you misguided confused black intellectuals are engaging in, is at best superficial and at worse dangerous to the interests of black Americans.   Some of our most effective leaders were mulattos just like Barack: Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington for instance.

Many Afro-Americans are more than half white, including some of our greatest heroes – Walter White, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Ralph Bunche, Dr. Rayford Logan, Dr. Charles Drew, Thurgood Marshall, et al.  I am quite frankly astonished at the low intellectual level of much of the criticism aimed at this President by some Afro-Americans with advanced degrees…even terminal degrees.

All this suggest that the new black intelligentsia is as confused about their historically appointed role as those Harold Cruse wrote about in his masterpiece “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual” almost 50 years ago!  Have you ever read this canonical text in black critical thought Dr. Johnson?  If so, I can detect no evidence that you learned anything from it…and since you don’t impress me as being a dullard, I shall assume you have not read it: but you need to.

Well whatever your black grandmother taught you she certainly didn’t teach you to respect your elders….which is a direct African inheritance and a very deeply held value in the black community that I grew up in. I am 71 years old and I have been in this struggle for over 50 years – probably before you learned how to pee straight.  You will be fortunate indeed if you make a contribution to the advancement of Afro-Americans that will equal mine in your lifetime.

And despite the fact that you found it necessary to refer to my atheism, I am more than willing to compare my service to the black community with yours any day…serving the least of us just as Jesus Christ commanded; and it was not dependent on my being financially compensated by a congregation.   Like Catholic Priest and Bhuddist Monks I was prepared to endure poverty to carry out my work. And that has not changed.  You cavalierly dismiss Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer in the Chicago projects, but the people he worked with, teaching them how to organize and fight for their rights, spoke of him as if he were a saint!

It just like the kind of generous heartfelt praise I heard from Afro-Americans in the Mississippi Delta – the cousins of those blacks in the Chicago projects – when they spoke of the great Bob Moses from SNCC.  It was their testimony that initially attracted me to Barack.  Hence I never questioned his blackness, nor his concern for the black poor, because he had already been vetted by the real deal!

If you have any imagination at all Dr. Johnson, you might conjure how absolutely irrelevant and ridiculous the questions about Barack’s blackness sounds to me when it emanates from bald headed buffoons like Boyce Watkins; or tragic/comic philosophers like Cornel West, who is so confused about his proper role he reminds me of the man who couldn’t tell his rectum from a hole in the ground; or pompous preachers like yourself!  You got a graduate education in Chicago Reverend Johnson, may I ask how much time you spent working in the projects after you obtained your “terminal degree?”

I would also like to know if you are aware of the testimony of these people in Chicago.  I wrote about them at the time, so I remember it well.  And given that you question President Obama’s commitment to poor black folks I am compelled to ask if you are aware of his legislative record in the Illinois state Legislature.

Well I am, and you certainly don’t talk like you are, but you ought to be acquainted with this record before concluding that he is not primarily concerned with addressing the problems of working people and the poor. You are a scholar and therefore if you were motivated by a serious concern about the President’s values, rather than just throwing mindless verbal spitballs – researching his record is basic stuff.

However if you consult my essay “Civilization or Savagery?” – Which is the text of a speech I presented in defense of President Obama’s presidency at a “Great Debate,” here in New York – sponsored by the Committee against Media Offensive to African People – you will find a listing of all the legislation authored or Co-Sponsored by Barack Obama during his days in the Illinois legislature and the US Senate.  This body of work is distinguished by a profound concern for the least of us….and it is brilliantly reflected in the policies he has fought for as President, but he has been restrained by a racist reactionary Republican House.

It is fair to say that many of the opportunities that you now enjoy – like the right to vote and go wherever you want down there in Georgia and be served – is due to the activities of people like me, activists of my generation.  Barack Obama followed it their footsteps.  Yet you think that to have a discussion with me and Dr. Basil Wilson – another elder with a distinguished history of activism and intellectual service – is a waste of time?

As I noted earlier, your response strikes me as the comment of someone who is either stupid or an intellectual coward.  And since you are obviously not stupid, the only plausible explanation is cowardice.  You may attempt to disguise it as aloofness or disdain for my challenge, but I see you clearly for what you are: a political junior flip who knows that you will be in way over your head should you attempt to argue that pious anti-Obama piffle I hear you spouting on my show!!!!

Thus, quite to the contrary, I would argue that spending two hours in a serious discourse with me and Dr. Wilson would be far from a waste of time: It would provide you with the kind of advanced political education that would restrain you from spouting some of the nonsense that you so often mistake for wisdom.   In fact it is fair to say that much of your argument against Barack Obama is pure bullshit; which the imminent moral philosopher and Princeton Professor Harry G. Franks argues is more dangerous to the truth than an outright lie in his book titled “Bullshit.”

In our first discussion of the President you were so anxious to find some reason to try and discredit him you even attempted to dismiss him as a constitutional scholar, although he had been president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review and taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago, where you received your graduate education. Your argument was so ridiculous I felt embarrassment for you…but it didn’t keep me from candidly dismissing it as foolishness.

I could hardly believe it when you said:

I do not privilege Obama’s understanding of the constitution over mine. He is a lawyer I am a trained hermeneutician. I have a terminal degree. He has a JD and not much experience practicing law or community organizing. So that question is moot.” 

When I reminded you of Barack’s credentials as a scholar of constitutional law you wrote:

“There is a difference between the history of constitutional decisions and interpretations and correct interpretations. You can’t at all be serious in thinking that an educated Black man would really trust the history of white interpretation of the constitution to somehow be synonymous with correct interpretation. Perhaps it is time we revisit Woodson’s Miseducation of the Negro, I think it may be instructive in this instance.”

After explaining that Dr. Woodson’s book was the most often cited, albiet  seldom read and even less understood, book in black letters, I pointed out that it has little relevance for our time and none for the argument we are engaged in, I replied thusly:

“The point of this statement escapes me. The first thing that puzzles me is that you state the obvious as if it were a profound revelation. I am further confused by the implication that white Constitutional Law Professors are incapable of rendering fair and accurate lessons about the role of racism in shaping both the constitution itself and the interpretation of the Constitution. Surely you cannot be saying anything as silly as that: SINCE VIRTUALLY ALL OF YOUR TEACHERS IN GRAD SCHOOL WERE WHITE!!!!!!!!!!!!  Yet you trust them to interpret the bible.”

It gets more confusing when we apply your arguments to President Obama.  Are you suggesting that the President has only had racist white tutors? Do you believe that he is not aware of the rich body of critical writings on the role of race in the interpretation of constitutional Law? Are you arguing that studying Constitutional Law with professors like Derrick Bell, Charles Ogeltree and Lawrence Tribe is insufficient training in the history of US Constitutional Law to critique the influence of race in deciding Constitutional issues in American history? If you are arguing that you are dramatically demonstrating your ignorance of the subject, and if not: what are you saying?” I can hardly wait for your answer, because the argument you have presented here is about as DEEP AS A DRY CREEK BED! “

You also attribute feelings to President Obama for which you have absolutely no evidence.  For instance you wrote: “His folk were not slaves in this country.  I was raised by my grandmother too. My grandmother was Black his was white and racist and he is still trying to win their approval. And that makes him dangerous.”  I believe what is dangerous is for black intellectuals to engage in this kind of divisive, self-destructive drivel and attempt to pass it off as serious analysis.

In truth, this kind of blacker than thou talk is nothing more than some “crab-in-the-barrel nigger mess” as my black grandmother would say!    So what if you are a descendent of slaves?  You were not a slave and therefore don’t know any more about the experience than anybody else who picks up a book and reads about it.  There are beaucoup white scholars who know far more about the experience than you; really Doc, how silly can you be?

Since you have never had President Obama on the couch in a clinical setting, on what are you basing your conclusion that he is “still trying to win their approval,” and that this fact “makes him dangerous?”  When I look at the choices that President Obama has made in his life, I see just the opposite.  Barack Obama chose to identify with Afro-Americans, to become a part of our culture and community.  His commitment to this choice is abundantly clear.  One wonders what you are looking at; you remind me of the man who went around with his nose turned up claiming everybody stinks, when in reality he was smelling his top lip.

For most of American history the individual had no choice in the matter of deciding racial identity, but by the time Barack graduated Harvard Law School the racial situation was fluid enough where an eloquent brilliant bi-racial light-skinned Harvard trained lawyer could marry a white woman and loose himself in the white upper classes.

Instead Barack married a strong brilliant black woman, joined a militant Afrocentric church whose pastor is a great preacher of the social gospel, worked with poor black folks in Chicago, celebrated the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, chose personal heroes like Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela, and grooved to the funky beats of R&B and hip hop.  And his spirit swings to the sounds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane.  That ain’t black enough for you Dog?

Barack is a serious student of Afro-American history and culture, and his love and respect for Afro-Americans and our traditions is transparent. (See: “A Love Supreme: Chilly B. Raps to His Peeps)   I’m glad he chose to be one of us; he is everything I want to see in a young black man, or any man, entrusted to exercise great power.  He is brilliant, thoughtful, compassionate, humane, visionary, eloquent of speech and elegant of style and manners, strong, sensitive, funny, fearless, unpretentious and hip!   He is also a great husband and father; something the black community is in dire need of.  I see no downside to him at all.

As a manhood role model for black youths, Obama is a priceless gift from the ancestors: I can’t imagine a better example than the one he is setting.  So you and other muddle-headed, envious black intellectuals may agonize over the President not being black enough and try to use that complaint to heap hate on him Dr. Johnson, but for me it is the classic fool’s errand.  I wouldn’t trade one Barack for an army of melanin rich charlatans and quislings such as Clarence Thomas, Alan West, Alan Keyes, et al.  or his any of his black intellectual bashers….bar none. So there!

But I am giving you fair warning: Just as you have done unto President Obama, I shall do unto you by critically analyzing your political positions– what goes around comes around: Judge not that ye be judged!   However I shall show far greater regard for the facts than you have displayed in your attacks on the President; I won’t make the mistake of judging a politician by the standards of a saint!  At one point you said President Obama has neither the “character or the courage” to qualify as a Messiah.  But my question is who does?  In any case, as I have told you before, I consider  ALL TALK of messiahs to be just so much hocus pocus.

As is my fashion I shall approach this task in the even handed manner cited in the letter nominating me for the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary – which is in the bio section on my blog.  I will symbolically render unto God that which is God’s and unto Caesar that which is Caesars’….and even give the Devil his due.

And yes I shall continue to struggle for enlightenment, just as I was doing before you started coming out of the yard by yourself – and I shall do so with or without your assistance!  I will also take these exchanges as an opportunity to demonstrate why you shouldn’t get cheeky with your learned elders; you could talk yoself up on a good ass whippin boy!   Now answer this missive if you dare.  Alas, since I don’t believe in Gods of any sort I cannot in good conscience return your blessing…although I certainly wish you well.




Playthell G. Benjamin

The village of Haarlem

Reflections on the Black Obama Haters!

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on June 10, 2013 by playthell

Barack being fortified with the laying on of hands. 

The Rock on Which he Stands

Barack Must keep Playing Past the Noise

The best thing President Obama has done from a political perspective – which is to say decisions that would help him and other Democrats get elected and then get his legislative agenda passed through both houses of Congress – was to pay the black leftist and nationalist factions no mind!  Having cut my political teeth in those ideological enclaves, I would never have believed that I would one day come to view them as a menace to black progress.  Yet I am convinced that had Barack attended Tavis Smile’s black gabfest, where all sorts of reckless rhetoric was thrown about, and allowed Cornell West to define his administration’s legislative priorities, while adopting the Black Agenda rhetoric of Glenn Ford, he would have never been President and the Republicans would have been able to take over both Houses of Congress!!

What would America have looked like had that happened?   Well John McCain would have been President for the last four years, and there is the possibility that the Republicans would have fucked things up so badly a Democrat would have won the last election.  But it would have been too late to stop the Republicans from adding two more right wing zealots to the Supreme Court, and stacking the Federal Courts around the country with same.  And it would be too late to stop a President McCain from bombing Iran and escalating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a futile effort to win the elusive victory that escaped him in Vietnam. (search John McCain on this blog.)

We might also be in a war on the Korean Peninsula, all of which would add another couple of trillion to our war debt – and we could already have completely rebuilt the nation’s infrastructure with half of what we squandered on the Iraq and Afghan wars.  The economy would be in shambles, because there would have been no 800 billion stimulus, the auto industry would have disappeared and McCain’s self-correcting “free market” fiddle faddle would have made the Bush depression deeper – alas chances are we would be in a second “Great Depression” that would be worse than the first one.  And all those now yapping about how the President bailed out the bankers – which was actually done by Bush but Obama would have been forced to do it too – while not addressing black poverty instead, would be singing a different tune.  They would be crying about the collapse of the financial system and how it took everybody they know down with it.

Since McCain would not be a “food stamp President” like Barack Obama, there would be millions more added to the ranks of those Americans who are literally locked in a Darwinian struggle for food, because there is an acute shortage of jobs at a living wage.  The tax code would encourage investment overseas, including those “job creators” who have created ten million jobs overseas while the unemployment rate soars here at home.  And while millions of American workers suffer from structural unemployment these patently unpatriotic acts would be accompanied by super patriotic rhetoric of the sort we hear from the likes of Mitt Romney and Darrell Issa.

Of course there would be no Affordable Health Care Act, no Lilly Ledbetter Act, the social safety net constructed under New Deal and Great Society legislation would be completely shredded, and any form of Affirmative –Action would now be illegal, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  And the way that reactionary racist grease ball Antonin Scalia feels about the Voting Rights Act, which he has called “a racial entitlement,” would be more widely shared by other Judges on the High Court.  And thus the protections afforded minorities against the efforts of white Republicans to scrap the law and rig elections would have succeeded for all intents and purposes.

There would have been no 20 billion dollar fund from British Petroleum to clean up the Gulf oil spill and compensate the businesses that were hurt due to the spill – some of which were Afro-American owned. In fact the Republican Congressman who now heads the committee tasked with oversight of the oil industry apologized to BP and called President Obama’s demand that they set up the recovery fund a display of “Chicago gangster” tactics.  The historically black colleges would be 100 million poorer, and some would be out of business altogether. Plus the banks would still be making millions off unnecessary fees from student loans,  If the Republicans had been in office the last four years, with their aversion to government spending, investment in the scientific community would be a trickle of what it was under President Obama.

Cornel West and Sidekick Tavis Silly
 Cornel West and Tavis Smilie
Heckle and Jeckle: Cackling Mischievous Crows

However listening to the President’s harshest critics you would not know that any of these achievements took place; some of historic proportions, especially the Lilly Ledbetter Act, Affordable Care Act, the Economic Recovery Act, and the Dodd –Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. All of these monumental achievements are denounced by the President’s detractors on the right and ignored by his critics on the left – once more revealing themselves to be undeclared allies.  Yet this legislation saved the nation from economic ruin, provided health care options for many people who had none and made it illegal for Wall Street bankers to engage in the kinds of practices that led to the crash.

But our verbose Dr. Cornel West, a grandstanding spotlight hog and shameless opportunist, who has set himself up as Barack Obama’s grand inquisitor and moral scold, calls the President a tool of the Plutocrats and Wall Street Bankers.  Since much of what Dr. West has to say regarding politics is little more than mindless prattle and meaningless moralizing, it bears little resemblance to reality.  The fact is that his bad political judgment is clouded by a gargantuan ego, pompous pretentions to piety, plus a tendency toward wishful thinking; all of which renders him irrelevant in the search for effective policy options to effectively deal with the mind boggling problems that confront President Obama.

It never ceases to amaze me how easily the President’s critics forget the disastrous situation he inherited, with multiple crises at home and abroad confronting him upon entering the Oval Office.  And here I am referring to those critics on the left who consider themselves politically progressive, because the right is engaged in subterfuge with no regard for the truth; they are pledged to deny this President any victories even if it means telling the most outrageous lies and manufacturing scandals.

Alas, it is well known that the leaders of the Grand Obstructionist Party, in and out of office, pledged to oppose any policy President Obama proposed.  In fact they met clandestinely in a Washington hotel room the night of his inauguration and took something akin to a blood oath to wreck Obama’s presidency by constant obstruction and thus make him a one term President.

Fancy Nancy and the Chi Town Kid

Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi

 A Dynamic and Effective Duo

However all these seasoned political pros made a serious mistake: they underestimated their opponent worse than Sonny Liston underestimated Muhammad Ali. Barack won reelection and they Republicans are still recovering from the shock.  They are clearly in a state of panic.  They equally missed their mark in assessing Nancy Pelosi, who will surely be remembered in history as one of the most effective Speakers to ever run the House Of Representatives.  This smart savvy lady from Frisco, in league with the Chi-Town Kid, made a great team and passed historic legislation.

Passing Landmark Legislation….
Barack Pelosi_Obama 
…….And Making history

While there is an embarrassment of riches from which to choose the Wall Street regulation regime is an excellent example of their legacy.  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Obama is the strictest legislation regulating Wall Street in American history.  It ends the kind of reckless speculation and assumption of risks that led to the financial collapse under Bush, when there was hardly any regulation at all and trillions of dollars in American wealth disappeared, throwing millions of Americans out of work.  And there would have been millions more without a massive government bailout.

Dodd-Frank also offers protections to consumers who are victimized by ruthless mortgage bankers and sleazy lenders who charge exorbitant interests for short term loans.  These are critically important developments for the American people, especially Afro-Americans, but the House refuses to fund the agencies that are tasked with enforcing the new regulations, making them the disloyal opposition.   For they have betrayed the trust of the American people by refusing to fund programs acted into law their elected representatives passed in a majority vote.

Alas the great work Of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi on behalf of the American people was halted when the Grand Obstructionist Party took back the House just two years later; little of importance has been passed in the House since. I wrote a commentary titled “Triumph of the Untutored Mob,” which argues that this election proved Thomas Jefferson was right when he warned that “an ignorant electorate would elect and return the worse people to power.”

It was an act of self- immolation to turn the House of Representatives over to a Republican Party with right-wing zealots, who called themselves “Tea Party Patriots,” setting the legislative agenda. Yet millions of Americans voted to sabotage their government by sending 66 people to Congress who had publicly declared their hatred for government and vowed to dismantle it; now they expect their party to govern the affairs of the vast and complex nation effectively.  It is madness.

When the Republicans wrecked the economy with policies that resulted in the crash of 1929 that brought on the Great Depression, it took them over 40 years before gain control of the House again, but two years after the Bush crash they put a Republican Party in charge of the people’s house who were even more incompetent and reckless than the bums who just wrecked the country.  Yet we hear little about this from the cabal of anti-Obama whiners, several of whom sport fancy academic titles but when we actually peruse their writings in search of serious policy proposals instructing us on the route the President should take in order to realize their hopes and dreams, like Mother Hubbard we find the cupboard is bare.  They are all blow and no go!

I could call them out by name but you know who they are….and they do too!  I just don’t want to give them any more publicity; that’s what they live for.  Some of them don’t really care what you say about them so long as you get their names right.  Hence I shall refer to them collectively as the Crazy Coon Platoon; it is the most accurate name I could conjure up for a group of clueless blacks on the left and right who have accused President Obama of everything from promoting sodomy and child murder to destroying the Auto-industry.

Some even denounced the President’s commencement speech to the young men at Morehouse College, a speech which contained time honored themes that has contained the bedrock values of Afro-American culture that I grew up hearing and that black colleges have always stressed.  One of the most boisterous critics of the Morehouse speech, that baldheaded buffon /failed academic Boyce Watkins, thinks its cute to cotunuously refer to the President as “bi-racial” in an attempt to question his blackness.

Well, Herman Caine is black as  midnight in a coal mine and he is what the old folks in Florida used to call “a ass kissin white folks nigger.”  What a silly thing to make an issue of, especially since Boyce looks like his ancestry may well lay in China with his pie face and big Bhudda head. But this crowd, inspite of their blacker than thou posture, have spent their academic careers in white colleges – you couldn’t get them to teach at a black college for love nor money!

Crazy Corny West even called the President a war criminal!  This charge leaves no doubt that the Doctor of Philosophy is a verbose hysteric who appears to know nothing about warfare and the requirements of national security when confronted with an enemy like the Islamic Jihadists: who are transnational fanatics that believe they are carrying out the will of God and do not recognize the rules of war as laid out by the Geneva Conventions.

The Jihadists have repeatedly demonstrated that they care nothing about civilian lives whether Muslim or Christian. In fact they consider their main enemy to be those Muslims with whom they have theological differences, as the 1800 year old conflict between the Sunni and Shiite factions will testify.  While Dr. West decries the regrettable loss of civilian lives as a result of the deployment of drones in the fight against the Islamic Jihadists, he does not offer what he would consider a more efficient and humane way of going about fighting this shadowy and ruthless enemy who spend their every waking hour plotting a more spectacular attack on the US – which is to say us – than the 911 disaster.

Their ultimate objective is to set off a nuclear weapon or at least a high radiation “dirty bomb” in New York City…or some other heavily populated American metropolis.  It is President Obama’s job to see to it that that don’t succeed, an objective that cannot be achieved by moral persuasion!  War has always been an ugly business; those who have experience it first-hand say “war is hell!”  And those who are knowledgeable about its history knows it is by nature a bloody and inhumane enterprise in which atrocities are common fare and for which civilians have little stomach.  Yet when a nation comes under attack the civilians do not hesitate to turn to the soldier for salvation.

That’s why all able bodied civilians should be subjected to a military draft.  For if everyone is required to bear the burdens of war it would accomplish two things: Every family would have to sacrifice their loved ones and would therefore be reluctant to go to war, and we would all be forced to confront the reality of war; instead of the sanitized version the public is getting now.  In the meantime those who are whining about the civilian casualties resulting from drone warfare should spend some time watching the Military Channel on cable television.  There they can see actual films of combat going back to the First World War in the early years of the 20th century.

In World War II fifty million people were killed – most were not soldiers.  Do Cornel West and the rest of the moral scolds who now call President Obama a “war criminal” include all the presidents of the past who have been tasked with waging war in defense of this nation?  There are war crimes to be sure, but to simply say that any actions in which civilians are killed, when that was clearly not the intention, constitutes a war crime?

By any objective measure, drone warfare is the least destructive method of fighting an enemy who hides among the civilian populace. It is certainly less destructive than deploying ground forces, and it cost far less in American blood and treasure. Yet even after I heard a spokesman for Iraq and Afghan war veterans tell Corny West this he keeps on saying (Look under the section titled “On Dr. Cornel West on this blog for a discussion of the incident)

It is precisely because war is the ultimate horror show that it’s details are kept secret – along with the fact that it is wise to keep your operational strategies out of the purview of your enemies.  Hence those who consider Sergeant Bradley Manning – who turned over 700,000, classified American military documents to Wikileaks to be posted on the internet – a hero are at best confused on the issue.

To be sure, some of the information contained in those documents constitutes indisputable evidence of war crimes, and one could sympathize with the crisis of conscience experienced by Private Manning.  But he should have been selective in the documents he chose to expose for public scrutiny.  Indiscriminately dumping hundreds of thousands of secret documents entrusted to his care could imperil the military mission and for that he must, and will, be severely punished.  Furthermore, Bradley Manning is a very confused guy who was undergoing a protracted personal crisis that had but little to do with is military experience.  For a discussion see my review of the recently released documentary “We steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks.”

No military organization can function successfully if any of its members along the chain of command can feel free to leak classified documents to the press.  That’s why the Attorney General tapped into the phone messages and e-mails of certain journalists that had written about covert actions which thwarted a terrorist action that would have blown up civilian airliner.  And despite the anguished self-righteous cries of my colleagues in the press: He was right!  And he should stand his ground on this question; turning the tables on the press by putting the question this way: What is of greater importance, the national security of the US or the right of the press to publish secret military documents?

Exposing ongoing covert actions can put the lives of brave Americans who routinely risk everything in the service of this nation in even greater risk.  And when one considers the fact that the reporters motives are often no more exalted than getting a scoop on his competition and gaining notoriety for themselves, the aura of nobility evaporates and the claim of heroism is tarnished.

The question for the American people is what is more important: preventing another Jihadist attack on an American city that rivals or surpasses that on 9-11, or the prerogative of the press to publish anything they want any time they want?  To publish or not to publish: that is the paramount question facing the American people and the fate of the nation might well hang in the balance.

It is instructive that the arguments of Wikileaks’ champions, and those who view Sergeant Manning as a hero who should be hailed not jailed, lack this kind of nuanced analysis of the complex issues surrounding their actions.  What we get instead is an endless stream of self-righteous prattle in which everything is painted is stark black and white Manichean dualities between good and evil.  But, alas, the world is far more complicated than that and the matter of war and peace is rife with contradictions.

In the world of instant mass communications those contradictions are laid bare when secret military documents are made public.  And when you have a reckless political opposition like the contemporary Republican Party, whose motivations rise no higher than to embarrass the President and Attorney General for partisan advantage, it can hamper their efforts to maintaining national security. The hearings now being conducted by that repeat criminal offender Darrell Issa’s Government Oversight Committee is a case in point.

Here the representatives of the Grand Obstructionists Party, unable to win at the polls despite their political dirty tricks that attempted to limit voting opportunities for Democrats, are abusing their Congressional authority to nullify the dramatic Democratic victory in the last presidential election. Nothing demonstrates their hypocrisy more than the hearings around the attack on the American embassy at Benghazi, when it is they who voted to cut $300 million from the budget for embassy security.

The investigation into the Internal Revenue Service that threatens to ruin the careers of civil servants who were just doing their jobs and the ongoing attempts to discredit the Attorney General – who is a saint compared to Nixon’s AG John Mitchell, who was convicted of committing crimes in office – are equally hypocritical.  Not to mention the fact that Republicans blame Barack for not knowing what an IRS office in the mid-west is doing in trying to enforce a complicated law, when a group of Naval and Marine officers – including the notorious colonel Ollie North – ran an illegal operation designed to subvert the Boland Act from the White house basement but accepts President Ronald Reagan’s explanation that he knew nothing of it!

It is the role of serious intellectuals to point these contradictions out; especially Black Intellectuals who have set themselves up as President Obama’s inquisitors.  The recent revelations about the massive domestic surveillance program conducted by the National Security Agency, which again raises the question about the requirements of national security vs. individual privacy in protecting Americans against terrorist attacks. But they are curiously silent on these critical but controversial matters.

Instead, what we get is a bunch of meaningless noise that more closely resembles a collective temper tantrum than a serious analytical discourse. Perhaps the reason they are hollering so loud and saying such crazy things is because nobody is paying them any mind….thank the lord. In spite of their boisterous and incessant caterwauling during the last election, Afro-Americans still voted for President Obama over 90%!  The haters must be quite a frustrated lot after witnessing all of their efforts come to naught despite big help from right-wing white racists.  The question is who did the black haters vote for?   Inquiring minds want to know.

They Can’t Touch This!
Barack after victory!!!!
The GOAT: Greatest of All Times!!!! 


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

June 8, 2013

Tavis and West Expose True Motives

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, On Dr. Cornell West, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on March 5, 2013 by playthell
                   Cornel West and Tavis Smilie Heckle and Jeckle: Two Trickster Crows

 Truth Crushed to Earth….Will Rise Again!

When I was a boy in Florida the old folks would say “Truth cometh in the morning.”  Well that was never truer than on this Saturday morning, as I awoke to the snarky voices of Tavis Smilie and Dr. Cornell West chattering away on my radio.  I had fallen asleep listening to the soulful blues infested voice of the late great Dinah Washington singing the Duke Ellington/ Juan Tizol tune “Caravan,” and awoke to a hear the dissonant sound of a sarcastic soliloquy fashioned in the fevered brain of Dr. Longhair, and pouring from his pie hole in a lava like flow of putrid bile.  He was joyfully engaging in his favorite sport: Obama bashing.

First, the fuzzy headed professor contemptuously ridiculed the President’s negotiating skills, trashing him for not being able to get the “Public Option” passed instead of congratulating him on the massive overhaul of the medical delivery system that he did manage to finess through Congress with consummate political skill.  This achievement is a major reason why a panel of presidential historians has already selected him as one of the top ten American Presidents.

Yet it was the Affordable Health Care Act – along with the president’s achievements in preventing the collapse of the world economy and ending the Depression at home; his diplomatic triumphs in signing a nuclear arms agreement with Russia that helped insure the survival of life on this planet in a very real way; plus ending two wars, etc – that prompted me to rate him even higher on the scale in the pantheon of American presidents. (See: The Real Barack Obama vs. The Reagan Myth” on this blog)

However what I personally find most galling about Cornel West’s criticism of President Obama is his smug assumption of moral and intellectual superiority.  Part of this of course can be attributed to the smug pretentions of academics that hold PhD’s from prestigious universities – a feeling that is enhanced if they hold professorships at such universities – but I remain at a lost to discover the source from whence the professor’s feeling of moral superiority over the President arises.

With the diligence of Diogenes in search of an honest man, I  perused the history of both men and found nothing in my interrogation of professor West’s record that would provide evidence to support his arrogant assumption of moral superiority over President Obama.  In Cornel West I see a talented intellectual who is well educated in his fields of religion and philosophy, and a gifted orator whose notoriety as a public intellectual is do more to his silver tongue and public relations skills that his intellectual gravitas.   He is a highbrow rapper who, like Little Wayne, has made a fortune playing to the cheap seats.

Conversely, Barack Obama is one of those rare special altruistic personalities who decide to spend their life in public service early on; addressing problems that will enhance the quality of life for their fellow citizens, and they purposely make choices about the type of education they will pursue guided by what they think they will need to become change agents through participation in the political process.

That’s why Barack chose the law, Constitutional law, because he thought it would best equip him to become an agent of change.  That’s also why his fellow Harvard man Dr. WEB DuBois chose the study of history, sociology and economics over a career as a philosopher, and was indifferent to the importuning of Harvard’s George Santayana, perhaps America’s most influential philosopher, to become his protégé – an opportunity West would have leaped at.

Dubois saw that those disciplines would better arm him in the fight to uplift his oppressed people.  And his educational choices led him to become one of the greatest Americans of the last century, and his ideas, scholarship and activism contributed mightily to the advancement of black people here and in Africa.  These are very special people; men like Barack and DuBois.  Indeed, Barack Obama has shown a consistent commitment to changing the plight of the poor and powerless throughout his adult life.

First there was his decision to take a job as a community organizer in the dangerous poverty pockets of Chicago – the people Harvard sociologist William J. Wilson calls “The Truly Disadvantaged” in his revelatory text by the same name.  Then we have Barack Obama’s legislative record in the Illinois State Assembly, and his record in the US Senate.  All of these records unambiguously demonstrate a consistent record concern for the least among us – the poor and the powerless. If you would like to examine President Obama’s legislative record in historical context, see the list at the end of my essay “Civilization or Savagery” on this blog.

Alas, Professor West and his doppelganger Tavis Silly inflicted a conversation on the audience about the looming budget sequester that was so lightweight it would be an act of generosity to call it simple-minded prattle.  Maybe it’s because these guys are in such demand they don’t have time to thoughtfully reflect on these complex issues…or maybe they are shameless charlatans and vulgar careerist who have entered into a Faustian bargain with Mammon and they will say or do anything that will help them achieve their true goal: making money.   I tend toward the former assumption; although it is clear that these guys are scrupulous about getting paid…and as much as possible. After all Cornel gets $30, 000 for a speech.

I see no record of self-less service and sacrifice on the part of West.  From all appearances he is doing just fine on Cloud Nine, spouting dangerous sophistry masquerading as political wisdom, while abdicating his proper role as intellectual  point man in the fight against the Religious Right; whose theology fuels much of the ideology of the contemporary Republican Party.  Instead he attacks what he thinks are President Obama’s moral failings; he even called the President a “war criminal” the other day- while simultaneously calling racist reactionary rednecks like Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich his “Dear Brothers.”

Transparent opportunist that he is, when Dr. West and sidekick Tavis Silly invited Paul Wykoff, Vietnam war combat veteran and head of an organization of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, on the show to discuss the plight of veterans, they quickly tried to enlist the old soldier and political progressive into their persistent attack on the President and turn the conversation into a referendum against his leadership and policies.

Paul Reickoff

Paul-Rieckhoff - Iraq and Afghanistsn vets

 Spokesman for Iraq and Afghanictan Combat Veterans 

As West droned on in his annoying voice about the “Dronification of War,”using it to  continue his attack on President Obama, the conversation took an unfortunate for Dr. West and sidekick, exposing them for the lightweight blabbermouths that they are.     Rykoff first explained what it was like fighting on the front lines, since he is an ex-infantryman who saw combat.  He shocked them when he not only refused to denounce the use of drones – since he knows it will save American soldiers from risking life and limb to do the same job these robots do.

But the real kick in the head was when Wykoff said that President Obama was a very elightened leader on questions of war and peace.  He explained that the president had a sophisticated understanding of the technological options open to him as commander-In-Chief and were deploying them Solomonic wisdom .  He went on to say that more importantly President Obama has always pursued non-military options and prefers diplomacy to bombs because unlike many other people in Washington he understands that you cannot impose democracy in a country with bombs and bullets.

To hear Mr. Rykoff  tell it, President Obama is just about as enlightened and humane a leader as one could hope for in matters of war and peace.  Needless to say, I was on the edge of my seat with my ears cocked like a hound dog in anxious anticipation of the learned Dr. West’s response.  Would he acknowledge the possibility that he might have been wrong when he recently labeled the president a war criminal?   My wait proved to be in vain, as vain as Cornel West’s ego, for he  quickly changed the subject without comment.

West fared no better in trying to elicit Wykoff’s aid in painting an ominous portrait of the Africa Command’s mission on the African continent.   Wykoff saw nothing sinister in it, and only questioned whether we should be spending more money on developments at home.  After all, he was on the show to discuss the desperate plight of those who have bravely fought America’s foreign wars but are struggling at home.

I shall soon have more to say about what I think of drone warfare, and the Africa command.  But suffice it to say that in my view Dr. West’s position on drone warfare is neither intelligent nor morally superior to the Presidents; as he evidently thinks it is.  The more I hear from Cornel West the less convinced I am that he is a man of integrity, whose concern the poor and oppressed trumps his need for ego-gratification and the material rewards that accompany celebrity and intellectual notoriety in America.

Some of my colleagues have decided that he and Tavis are simply pimping off the misery of black people, the poor, the unemployed, and the economically distressed working and middle classes.  Since I once held Dr. West in high regard I don’t want to believe that he is that cold blooded.  I think Professor Bushy Bead is motivated by a combination of age old human failings of biblical proportions: Envy, Avarice, Ambition and revenge.  And these vices are fueled by combustible resentments of unrequited love.

If I had the ear of the President I would put a bug in his ear and hip him to how to handle this poot-butt professor; but since I don’t I’m forced to make a public plea: Please show this guy some love!  I would also tell him to consider President Lyndon Johnson’s strategy for handling that dangerous demagogue J. Edgar Hoover, who as head of the FBI, and thus had the capacity to create all kinds of problems for the President during a critical period of American history, when he was trying to do great things.

When Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked Johnson in exasperation, “Why don’t you just fire Hoover?”  To wit that wily old political player Lyndon Johnson responded: “Cause I’d rather have hoover inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in!”

Unrequited love is a Dangerous Thing
Cornel and Barack 
It leads to irrational destructive actions



Playthell George Benjamin
Harlem New York
March 5, 2013 

Yo Poot-Butt Poets: Step Off!

Posted in Cultural Matters, My Struggle On the Left! with tags , , , on November 24, 2012 by playthell
At Dr. J’s Country Club: The “Step Off Poot Butt!” Stare

Playin the Dozens with Leroi and Marvin

Although, like Pontius Pilate, I publicly washed my hands of one Marvin X of Oakland, a recovering left coast crack head and shameless sophist with an alter-ego bearing the curious name of “Plato Negro;” a pompous wag who confuses mindless mumbo jumbo with profound wisdom, alas I have been dragged back into an ethnic kerfuffle of the sort they love to wallow in but I eschew.  As those who read me regularly well know, I write about all the great issues of our time, and I’m interested in the whole world.

Yet I have spent a half century chronicling the triumphs and studying the problems of the black world.  Indeed I was a co-founder of the first free standing, degree granting, Black Studies Department in history – the W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Mass, Amherst.  I also spent quite a few years as an activist trying to solve those problems, beginning with the explosion of the black student movement in the south during the spring of 1960.  Since then my life story would make a spectacular read even by the standards of a romance novel.

Hence when an obnoxious churl steps to me and challenges my story, accusing me of fabricating my personal narrative, the small part of it that he pretends to know, I am forced to respond at least once more.    Curiously, I hardly knew who Marvin X was a few weeks ago; I know him mainly through mutual friends in the Bay Area.

However we had a clash over President Obama, when he wrote some dumbass shit on my wall dissing the Pres.  So I yoked the chump and challenged him to debate me on the issues he had with Barack.   But he punked out!!!   When he started talking shit out of school I stepped to him and publicly chastised his silly ass!

The reader can follow the progress of the discussion because they are all in my Facebook Notes, and the last essay is posted here on the Commentaries.  And I shall soon publish them in my forthcoming book “The Crisis of Black Leftist and Nationalist Intellectuals.” After reading his response to my questions about his specific policy differences with President Obama, and his suggestions for politically achievable policy options, I decided that Marvin’s brain is so fried from a decade of sucking the crack pipe he is incapable of formulating an intellectually rigorous argument.  Hence I just wanted to be rid of this nuisance.

But Marin X seems to have become obsessed with proving that my story is untrue….well, good luck with that dog.  Frankly I find it amusing, because I don’t give a fuck about his story….not even his bizarre adventures wandering around the Bay area whacked out on crack!  I just don’t find him interesting or relevant to anything I care about. And the only reason I am talking about him is because the chup keeps getting up in my face.

I stumbled into this protracted dust-up with Malevolent Marv because he took issue with some things I said in defense of President Obama while smacking around one of his intellectual heroes, Glenn Ford. Then he got huffy about some of the science I dropped on his silly ass about the founding of the Black Panther Party of Oakland.  He didn’t know shit about it and yet he fancies himself an authority on the history of the Black Panther Party.

So he has been running around telling lies on me, saying I am claiming to have founded the BPP of Oakland, when I have claimed no such thing.  What I said was that the Oakland Party was founded by a cadre of the Revolutionary Action Movement / RAM named Kenny Freeman – whom I knew as Mamadou Dia. Freeman was a sociology teacher at Merritt Jr. College, and recruited Bobby Seales and Huey Newton who were students there.

Marvin #10
A Glutton for Punishment?

I interviewed Bobby for an award winning cover story in Emerge Magazine titled “Radical Changes: Sixties Militants, Where are they Now?” in which bobby verifies my version of events.  I think I have a copy of the magazine in my files so I shall scan the article and post it on my Facebook page within the week. I also said that I was a co-founder of RAM with Max Stanford/Dr. Muhammad Ahmed in Philly.  AND I STAND BY THAT!!!!!!!

Now the hapless Marvin has interrogated his bosom buddy, the venerable Newark poet Leroi Jones/aka Amiri Baraka about me, and the over-the-hill fabulator bad mouthed me alas.  I am not surprised by this, and yhall won’t be either…once you read what I have written about him over the years.  Marvin said that Little Leroy told him that I was a self-confessed army intelligence agent, and our intrepid Oakland investigator and self-confessed crack head wants to know if I was in military intelligence before or after the founding of RAM.

Well first of all, little Leroi got it wrong.  I was never in the army at all.  I was in the Strategic Air Command, where Leroi was a bombardier, trained to drop nuclear bombs on innocent populations. I was in combat defense with the 91st Strato-Bomber Wing stationed on the DEW (Distance Early Warning) Line stretching from the Canadian border to Tule Greenland.  My unit’s job was to protect America’s nuclear arsenal – including the B-52 bombers that Leroi was flying on, programmed to commit a monstrous crime against innocent civilians – from Russian saboteurs or their American agents.

Since I went in the service to get away from the brewing race war in my home town of St. Augustine Florida, upon my grandfather’s advice, I chose the air-force because I figured I would have no chance of ending up in a combat situation.  But, alas, I ended up in the only unit in the Command that was trained for ground fighting.  It was an intense experience for a teenager who came of age during the cold war and had participated in atomic attack drills in school.

I didn’t question anything my military teachers told us about the evils and dangers of Communism, and I was committed to our mission.  We were called “SAC Trained Killers,” and I was trained in the use of a variety of weapons, as well as how to kill people quickly and efficiently with my bare hands. And I am more dangerous with a knife than most thugs are with a gun!  Although I am seventy now, I’m still a rock and “once a SAC Trained Killer…always a SAC Trained Killer!

However once I attended classes on the destructive capacity of the weapons we were protecting, and considered the implications of my base’s mission, I was troubled by it and began to openly question our mission.  I once even asked the chaplain how he could teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ yet bless our mission.  These kinds of questions got me in trouble and eventually a Convenience of The Government Discharge under Honorable Conditions.

It is interesting that Little Leroi, who was charged with dropping these bombs on helpless civilians, did his whole stint…didn’t seem to bother him none.  This probably explains his ruthlessness and lack of a conscience in some of the things he has done since. Ironically, I actually became a radical while serving in the military.

Stationed out in the Great Plains, I witnessed the plight of Native Americans, and I saw first-hand the horrors of their condition.  And when I put that together with my experience in Florida, and the mission of my SAC base, I saw  just how evil the white man could be.  That’s what set me on the road to participating in the founding of RAM, when Max Stanford presented me with his blueprint for building a revolutionary movement!    And by the way, I was the one with actual military training.

So the answer to your question Marvin is yes I was a SAC Trained Killer before the founding of RAM.  Now since we are talking about things people said, I have a question for you Marvin.  Somebody told me that during the decade that you were on your “long journey into night” as you describe it, when you were strung out on crack, you used to hang out in the all  night porn theaters in San Francisco sucking dicks to get money for crack!

Everybody who knows anything about the subject knows that crack heads will do anything to get it. And I wondered how you financed a crack habit for a decade.  Conventional wisdom has it that if you will suck on the glass pipe you will suck on the skin pipe.  So my question for you Marvin is was you sucking dicks before or after you got strung out: Was you a dick head before you became a crack head?  Jes askin….ain’t no skin off my teeth.


As for our Newark poet, Little Leroi,  he was a beatnik poet, living with his white wife in the milky white prescints of Greenwich Village – where the great militant writer Richard Wright had been constantly insulted and driven out of the country just a few years earlier – so he don’t know shit about the founding of RAM…he hadn’t been “blackified” yet.

Since I have decided to dismiss Marvin X, and waste no more time intellectually sparring with him because he is a dullard and a bore, I must resist the temptation to engage him in his foolish rantings and waste even more time that I am squandering now.  But to those who read Barakas’ comments to him,  I ask that you consider the source.  You see Amiri Baraka and I have a history.  I have flogged his ass repeatedly in print over the years for his myriad follies and foibles.

Baraka and I were once on the same side, black revolutionary nationalist/Marxist.  But over the years we have had a parting of the ways. We even had some of the same fiends, like the brilliant Philadelphia poet/critic/essayist/dramatist Larry Neal,and Max Stanford aka Dr. Muhammad Ahmed, with whom I co-founded the first branch of the Revolutionary Action Movement /RAM in Philly.

Larry was one of my best friends in Philly before he ever met Baraka, and although Little Leroi piggybacked off of Larry’s broad knowlege of literature and critical gravitas as co-editor of the seminal anthology of the literary component of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s, he is taking the bows and Larry is practically forgotten

Leroi has shamelessy hogged the spotlight.  He even came to Larry’s memorial service and talked mostly about his own importance.  That’s not just my opinion; it was a subject of much derisive comment from those in attendance.  But Larry was every bit as good a poet as Leroi, and came to a revolutionary position on black culture before him.

Larry was teaching Literature at Drexel University in Philly before he moved to New York and hoked up with Leroi, and he died of a massive heart attack while lecturing to his class at Yale.  His importanc in the development of the Black Arts Movement was second to no one – except perhaps the Braithwaite brothers and Max Roach, who set a lot of the forces in motion that became the Black Arts Movement. (See, On Amiri Baraka: Thought Policeman.)

However Larry and Leroy had become estranged and were barely speaking when Larry danced and joined the ancestors.  I know this because we remained good friends until the end and lived around the corner from each other.  And we talked all the time.  He had become turned off by Leroi’s egotism, dogmatism, and refusal to admit that he had led a lot of people astray with wrong headed ideas that he had abandoned.

Baraka and I had a dramatic parting of the ways for similar reasons.  Our first dustup came when I published a complex essay on the proper relationship between politics and art, inspired by Baraka’s petty and vicious attacks on Spike Lee when he was making his great bio-pic of Malcolm X.  Although he tried to camouflage his true intentions in the high flown rhetoric of leftist “revolutionaries,” it was readily apparent to me that the mad poet was fueled by the basest of motives: egomania and envy!

In his fevered megalomaniacal mind he felt that somehow he was the one who should be chronicling Malcolm’s story.  He, the great Imamu, should spin this narrative for posterity.  And thus he called Spike Lee everything but a child of God – impugning his motives and traducing his character!  When I could bear no more of his abominable bullying – opportunistically flaunting his history in the movement to try and discredit Spike, although nobody had prevented him from writing his own book or play in tribute to Malcolm –  I took up my pen and chastised the pompous scoundrel!

The title of the essay is “Bearing the Cross: Spike Lee and the Malcolm X. Movie Mess,” It was first published as a cover story in Emerge, a nationally distributed hard news magazine published by Afro-Americans.  The features editor at the New York Daily News liked the essay so much they bought the reprint rights and published it on the cover of their Sunday Magazine.  So this was a widely read piece…and I whipped little Leroy like a runaway slave!

A couple of years later we ended up on a panel at a writer’s workshop during the International Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, which I chaired.  Baraka made such a complete ass of himself at the conference that I thought Ishmael Reed was gonna smack him. Avery Brooks had to make a special speech defending the purpose of the conference from Baraka’s incendiary attacks on everybody as “compradore intellectuals,” while declaring that only he was a true “revolutionary artist.”

As Chairman of the Panel

I had to put Little Leroi in check!

 I had to fire his ass up from my position as chairman of the panel and put him in check.  Little Leroi was such a pain in the ass that his wife felt the need to apologize to the conference for his behavior.  I was an Editorial Page columnist at the New York Daily News at the time and upon my return to the Big Apple I wrote a column about the conference in which I whipped his head again in print for millions to read!  The column was titled “Artist Should Obey Inner Voices…Not Politics.”  It is posted on this blog.

The position I took in this essay was what Little Leroi was referring to in his speech at the Georgetown Conference, where he misrepresented my position on the relationship between art and politics.  And it inspired the essay “On Amiri Baraka: Thought Policeman,” on this blog.  The Daily News column is directly below this essay, just scroll down.  After you read them you will know why Little Leroy will jump at any chance to throw stink on my name.

Finally, let me say without fear of contradiction, that in truth I have led a remarkably honorable life in a nation that rewards thieves, hustlers and whores – just look at Mitt Romney and his crowd – and it has cost me dearly in terms of wealth and status.  I have repeatedly spoken truth to power, and only beat up on those who deserve it.  I have defended the defenseless and gave a powerful voice to the voiceless.  I did what I wanted to do and I have no regrets.

I have made many wonderful friends…and some enemies too.  But no matter…as my uncle Jimmy said: “A man who never makes any enemies is a man who don’t stand for nothing!”  Well I have stood for many things…and I have made some enemies.  But like we use to say down south: “My name is Buck and I don’t give a fuck!!!!”

However I make no claim to perfection…only the Lord is perfect, but I declare without hesitation: The worse that can be honestly said of me is that I beguiled and enjoyed the favors of women who were forbidden to me by the laws and strictures of church and state. And that this roguish behavior has driven wounded cuckolds to wish me harm, a couple shot at me and others refuse no opportunity to throw mud upon my good name.

Alas, their hostility is justified because I was guilty.  All I can say in my behalf is that the women thought I was fine, and I found them irresistible….and I could not prove stronger than David Samson and Solomon! But beyond these transgressions, weaknesses of the flesh, I have been like Caesers wife: pure as the driven snow.

Unless you want to hold the fact that I used to piss in the lemonade when I worked in the kitchen of a restaurant that served “whites only” as a teenager in apartheid Florida. But if you think it would have been appropriate for Jews to put poison in the food of Nazi’s then you are subjecting me to a double standard.  Nazi’s got their ideas about race from the US, and based their discriminatory laws against Jews on the Jim Crow legal system of the American South that I was living under at the time.  Beyond these transgressions any charges brought against my character and conduct is baseless lies!

Since I don’t remember ever taking a girl from Little Leroy, I can only speculate that his hostility derives from the fact that I have repeatedly whipped his head and ass in print…and he has never had the balls to respond to my substantive critiques of his silly wrong-headed ideas, so he resorts to misrepresentations of my views and personal attacks.

Alas, that marvelous man of letters and peerless wit Ishmael Reed warned me that these leftist ideologues can’t defend their positions against my intellectual assaults, so they will resort to character assassination. More prophetic words have rarely been spoken.  In the present case the antagonists are two poot-butt poets – Fatty Jackmon aka Marvin X, and Little Leroi aka Imamu Amiri Baraka.

Fatty J is a recovering Crack head who is in constant danger of slipping back on the pipe – as they say “once a crack head always a crack head” – and his arguments show definite symptoms of scrambled brain syndrome.  Like the old folks down home used to say “Dat boys understandin is bad.”  While I have no knowledge that Little Leroi has abused drugs, he suffers from handicaps that are just as debilitating in terms of being able to see the world clearly and think straight: A Napoleonic Complex and a Messiah Complex.  The former is fueled by the fact that he is a runt, and the latter by a tragic overestimation of his importance as a political thinker.

 Not content to be A good poet…

 Leroi Jones insist on being a bad political Theorist

 As poets their verse runs from mediocre to great.  While I have never read anything by Marvin #10 that made me go “Wow!” Amiri Baraka has written some great poetry, he is an original and important voice among American poets.  And in the first essay the reader will see that I have given this mad poet his due, as is my habit.   I especially like his Jazz poems.  Not that long ago I was on a program with him at the Iridium, a famous Jazz club in Manhattan.

We had both been invited to participate in a tribute to the great saxophonist Jackie McClean, who had lately danced and joined the ancestors, by his son, Renee Mclean, a virtuoso saxophonist in his own right.  I told him about the latest spanking I had laid on him in the essay “Amiri Baraka: Thought Policeman” and challenged him to come on WBAI and debate me, or otherwise respond in writing about my views on politics and art.  He has never said a mumbling word.  And although his non-response was cowardly…it was wise.  Being brain damaged Marvin #10 is obviously not smart enough to just go away and shut the fuck up!

As far as I can see, both of these poot-butt poets are completely out of their element when they dabble in political analysis – a complex science for which versifiers are ill suited – or historical reconstruction, a task for which they are perhaps even less suited given their tendency to fabulate.  Hence for their own safety they should stick to writing poetry and leave these other matters to those of us who have paid their dues by laboring in the archives of ancient prudence.

And most of all, unless they get off on being publicly flagellated by being exposed as fools and charlatans before a candid public, they should leave me tha fuck alone!   Read my two essays on Leroi Jones – if he doesn’t like that name blame his parents not me – and you will see why he has no kind words for me….BUT HE HAS NEVER HAD THE BALLS TO RESPOND MY ASSAULTS INTELLECTUALLY!!!!!!

There is something about me Marvin that you obviously don’t understand.  In trying to figure out just how to explain it to you succinctly, I decided I would just quote Ralph Ellison’s remark to the critic Addison Gayle, who was all up in Ellison’s face talkin smack: “I’m a street boy, I’m mean, and I’ve got a very dirty mouth!”

Yo Poot-Butt Poets!

Get tha fuck outta my face yo!!!!


Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
November 23, 2o12

Some Final Advice for Marvin X

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


RAM Comrades: Playthell, John Bracy, Muhammad Ahmed, Askia

Recovering Crack heads shouldn’t Rewrite History!

Yo Marvin, when I posted my critique on the misguided, silly and dangerous blather of Glen Ford – who said it didn’t matter if Afro-Americans voted in the Presidential election – I received a note from the great writer Ishmael Reed.  He warned me that since none of the people that I am critiquing on the left could prevail in a debate with me, they would resort to personal attacks.  Now I see what he means.

You say that I was never a member of the Revolutionary Action Movement aka RAM?  You say you talked to former RAM members and they don’t know me?  Well either you are lying or they are lying.  But you should know better than to lie about things that are a matter of historical fact, and can be easily verified as such.  As a former history professor I sure as hell do!

But then Marvin, since the only things I know about you, or what you believe, is based on the things you have written about yourself and my encounter with you on FB, enriched by things I have heard from people who do know you well in the Bay area.  Early on I was forced to conclude you are a hapless fool stuck on stupid.  And everything you do confirms that conclusion.

For instance, when you wrote that mindless drivel on my page about “Negroes,” I recognized that you untended it as an insult…since the politically correct term is “black.”  But that’s such an asinine move I just decided to play past it.  But then you wouldn’t take no for an answer, you had to keep on pushing.  I have decided that you are suffering from what the psychologist call “projection,” which is a process by which one projects one’s own vices and shortcomings onto others.

In this case it is all too clear.  You are the one with the alter-ego named “Plato Negro,” who spouts pompous prattle that you evidently mistake for wisdom.  However the more I listen to what you have to say I find myself thinking of Queen Mother Moore’s definition of the term Negro – “No, Nay, Never Grow!” – she would say.  Hence it is the perfect term for you; since you are an intellectual anachronism, a poot-butt philosopher stuck in the past who never grows!

Maybe you are actually dumb enough to try and rewrite history while the actors in those events are still around. Perhaps that’s what smoking crack does to the human brain; since I have far better sense than to crack up I really don’t know.  But I did win the first annual Tom Focade Award for honesty and accuracy in drug reporting, presented by High Times Magazine, for my columns and feature stories on drug addiction and anti-drug laws in my in the Village Voice, and the Editorial Page of the “New York Daily News.”

I concentrated a lot on crack addiction becausecrack headsand crack dealers were wreaking havoc in black community at the time.  In my view both are enemies of the black community!  And by the way, I was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary, in 1995.

The nominating letter is on this blog, and anybody can read it – see: Playthell’s bio- A Thumbnail Sketch.  It is easy to see that thequalities enumerated in the nominating letter are clearly present in the commentaries on this blog, of which there are nearly 500, ranging from 800 to 80, 000 words!  And do note the fact that this is my second nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, the first was for political feature writing. That nominating letter is also on display.

The picture above was taken at a conference held at the University of Massachusetts about two years ago.  It was a program hosted by the WEB DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies, of which I was a founder.  The four men in the picture were discussing the founding of RAM, the Emergence of the Black Arts Movement, and the creation of Black Studies.  And we were speaking from personal experience because we were principal actors in those historic developments.

From left to right they are Playthell Benjamin, John Bracey, Max Stanford / Dr. Muhammad Ahmed, and the great poet Askia Muhammad.  Between the men in this picture are the founders of RAM, Black Studies and the Black Arts Movement. Max Stanford and I co-founded RAM in Philadelphia in 1962, John Bracey was a RAM cadre in Chicago, who became a professor of history, and Askia Muhammad was a leading force in the Black Arts movement, as well as a RAM cadre.

I presented some lectures at the University of Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, and I talked about the development of the armed black “revolutionary” movement of the 1960’s.  There were several people in the audience who were there at the founding of RAM.  One of them was Walt Palmer, who not only was a witness to it all, but was instrumental in putting together legal representation for RAM cadres arrested for trying to poison the Philadelphia police, a dramatic development at the time.

Walt is a towering figure in Philadelphia.  He knows who was who and where all the political bodies are buried.  He is a remarkable man whose career includes radical activist, pioneering medical researcher, lawyer, writer, and a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, and he recently ran the 100 meter sprint in the senior division of the Penn Relays at 73 years old!

At present he has designed and founded one of the best charter schools in the country.  He is a lucid and reliable witness…and there are others in Philly who attended my lectures and remember well who done what!   If you want to set the record straight about my involvement in the founding of RAM I will send you Walt’s number by private message and you can interview him.

I can also provide numbers for others who were there at the beginning!  You claim to be an intellectual so do your job chump!  But I doubt that you will pursue this because you are not really interested in the truth.  Ish pegged you clowns just right!  You are not smart enough   to win the debate with me. This is demonstrated by the fact that you are going through all of these changes to avoid answering the damn questions I put to you about how you intend to make this “revolution” you prattle on about ad- nauseum.  Instead, you attempt to attack my character and deny my personal history.

That’s really some low life punk-ass shit Marvin, especially since my story can be easily verified.   For instance, Walt Palmer has a “Wall of Heroes” in the multi-million dollar building that houses his “Learning and Leadership Charter School.  It is very impressive, with life size oil paintings of great freedom fighters from the 20th Century.  Walt gave me a tour of the Hall recently, and as I was perusing the handsome portraits of Kwame Nkrumah, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mao, and then….I suddenly came upon a striking portrait of yours truly!

Walt Palmer by Wall of Heroes

 Philly Activist, Educator / Griot 50+ years in Struggle!

 It was quite a surprise; I thought the artist really captured the real me.  Of course I photographed it, so you can check it out for yourself Dog.  But I hear that you will be visiting Philly, so you can call Walt and check it out.  You say you talked to people in Philly who don’t know me…you don’t say?

Playthell on the Wall of Heroes

Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Listen fool, I left Philadelphia in 1969, to go help build the first free standing, degree granting, Black Studies Department in the world: The WEB DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies, at U-Mass Amherst.  This turned out to be quite an achievement, as we persuaded the University to purchase and preserve the voluminous papers of Dr. DuBois, publishing several volumes of them under the distinguished Marxist scholar Dr. Herbert Aptheker, who was Dr. DuBois’ chosen executor of his papers.

I had rejected the idea of an armed revolution in America for some very complex reasons, when I went to Amherst.  That was 43 years ago Dog, and it was 50 years ago that Max and I founded RAM!   But when I quit the “revolutionary” movement I became a professor, and Max took longer to reach a similar conclusion, after spending time in prison for “revolutionary” activities.

He is now a professor too, right there at Temple University – as is Dr. Anthony Montiero, who also spent time in jail for “revolutionary” acts.   Hence it seems that Ram cadres were not only way ahead of the BPP of Oakland in political development….but we evidently had far better character too.  The book below was recently published by the Palmer Foundation; it istitled “Unveiling 150 Philadelphia Iconic Figures from 1950-2002.”  When you interview Walt Palmer ask him to sell you one: Me, Max and Tony are all there!

It’s on the Record
Prominent Philadelphians of the last half century

So what if people you talked to don’t know me.  There are plenty who do, and they were the ones who were around at the time.  I know fuckin well that Dr. Ahmed didn’t tell you no shit like that; so don’t lie on him Dog.  Because everything I am saying can be verified by neutral sources.  What they will tell you is that I was the one with the big following in Philly, because I was presenting black history lectures on the radio; plus I was a highly skilled orator who could move a crowd.  Max was the theoretician who had read widely in the works of Mao, but he was a boring speaker then and now, and he had no following.

So max conceived the organizational structure and was the chief theoretician, but I attracted the crowds from which the cadre was recruited with my black history lectures, which increasingly centered around the history of our struggle for liberation.  We made an effective team, and when I began speaking around the country through the OIC network, whose centers were located in the black ghettoes all over the country, I was by far the most effective national recruiter for RAM.  These were the years between 1962 and 1969, when I left the movement and became a professor.

These facts can be easily collaborated by both living witnesses, and the very accurate FBI Co-In-Tel-PRO documents.  If you really want to know my story chump: DO SOME FUCKIN RESEARCH!!!!!!  Beyond that you will have to await my memoir!  I don’t generally make a point of emphasizing my role in RAM, because unlike your experience in the Black Panther Party, I don’tdefine myself by it.  In fact, I consider it the folly of my youth…well intentioned folly, but folly no less!

Of course it does not surprise me that your approach to research is sloppy, because you have a history of undisciplined sloppy thinking.  This is very clear from the revelations you share in your book: “Wish I Could tell you the Truth.”  Well,  if there is more to your story I can’t wait to hear it.  However what you tell is damming evidence.  I ask the readers to consider the following passage, where you and Huey Newton are sitting in a Oakland crack house contemplating the “Revolution.”

“…it had been a long day’s journey into night but it was ending.  In 1989 I lost my comrade Huey Newton, killed by a young crack dealer in West Oakland.  I was happy to have one last conversation with Huey, even though it was in the crack house.  It was one of those rare times in the crack house when conversation was more important that smoking.”  Then Marvin recreates the voice of Huey, who asks

Huey:“Jackmon, what we gonna do about the present situation?

To wit Marvin replied:  “Well, it’s a pretty bad situation: the black army’s on crack – –the generals are on crack, man this is pitiful”

Huey replies: “We can come out of this, Man, we came out of slavery, see what I’m sayin?

Marvin: Yeah, we gonna come out of it or die…Being about five years for me, Huey, caused my family great pain and suffering.  I’m sure you did too.”

Huey: “Right”

Marvin X: “For what?  Some hot air…?”

Huey: “Ah, don’t beat yaself, Jackmon, enjoy yourself…On a lighter note, have you seen you- know- who- lately?

Marvin X: “You mean your buddy?”

Huey: “Naw, Jackmon, your buddy!”

Marvin X: “I don’t see Eldridge much anymore, not after our little escapade driving down the street with the Damned desk on top of the car.”

Huey: “Yeah, that was some funny shit, Jackmon, that shit made Jet magazine. “ 

Marvin X: Huey, on the real, think you and him will ever get together?”

Huey:  Not in my life time.”

Marvin X: “Why?”

Huey: “Too many people lost their lives behind Eldridge.  Just too much blood on the path between us, man, too much blood.  So even though I might want to get together with him, out of respect to the loved ones of those comrades who went down, I cannot deal with him, I will not deal with him.

Marvin X: Huey, fuck all that.  Arabs kill each other in the Middle East every day, but the next moment they are hugging and praying together in the Mosque.”

Huey: “We ain’t Arabs… “

Huey was right Marvin, yhall ain’t Arabs, because Arabs would have actually committed “Revolutionary Suicide” to destroy the enemy and make a statement…not sit around in a crack house conducting a pity party, crying about how yhall can’t fight because the “army” and “the general” is on crack!!!!!

I have nothing more to say to you Marvin, you are just a sad little fat guy, an intellectual mediorcity living in the past.  I shall let the readers reach their own conclusions.   Alas, this exchange has degenerated to the level of what the wise old folks in Florida, who were sober as judges, used to call “a damned nigger mess!”

Every move you make justifies my view of you as a pretentious, hapless, fool.  The proof of it is that you keep picking fights with your intellectual superior in public – anybody who doubts that you are my intellectual inferior should just read my broadly learned essays and compare them to the mindless prattle you write.  Maybe you just get off on public humiliation.  But I don’t want to play your jaded game anymore.  Find somebody else to whip you for your sins!

Henceforth I shall follow my grandfather’s advice: “Never argue with a fool in public, because the people looking on can’t tell who’s who!” You, on the other hand, would do well to understand that while Shakespeare was right, “All the world is a stage,” you are not writing the script!  Rather you should heed the warning of Mark Twain: “Tis far better to be thought a fool….than open yo mouth and remove all doubt!!!!!”

                                                                            Pootbutt Poet Marvin X
            The wisdom gained from 12 Years on CRACK!                
 Alas, Plato Negro I had to spank yo literary mentor too!

                  Chairing the Writers Panel with Sanchez and Baraka, Black Arts Festival


*** For my critique of Baraka read: ‘Amiri Baraka: Thought Policeman” on this blog.



 Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

November 10, 2012

A Good Cause but Bad Strategy

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, On Dr. Cornell West, Playthell on politics with tags , , on September 16, 2012 by playthell
 Smiley and West Putting Their Heads Together

 Notes on the Smiley West Poverty Tour

           Watching Cornel West and Tavis Smiley on Morning Joe earlier today, I found myself in agreement with their condemnation of growing poverty in the United States; the richest country in the world.  But I remain confused about their strategy for changing it.  A persistent theme in their argument is that nobody cares about the plight of the poor.

Well, I care a lot about the poor because I’m one of them!  Unlike West and Smilie; who are makin grand theft dough, livin large and” eatin high up on the hog” as the old folks in Florida would say.  Nobody wants to see the development of a movement that can effectively address the persistent curse of poverty more than I do.  But I don’t see how any movement that is not fundamentally political can hope to change the economic structure of this country.

In the United States real political change, the kind of change that’s capable of introducing sweeping economic policies which can reduce or eliminate poverty on the scale that they are decrying, can only be achieved through one of the major political parties.

A casual survey of past and present Republican economic policies will reveal that they are not concerned with eradicating poverty; they are, and have always been, the party of the Plutocrats. The Republican solution to the problem of widespread unemployment and mass poverty is to cut taxes and regulations on private business: Let the rich get richer and it will trickle down to the rest of us. That’s it.

The Democratic Party however has a long history of fighting poverty.  In fact, all of the most effective measures against poverty, including the social safety net that prevents millions of Americans from falling into destitution, comes from two massive programs initiated by the democrats: Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930’s and Lynden Johnson’s Great Society aka the “War On Poverty” of the 1960’s.”  And president Obama has continued that great Democratic tradition of proposing policies to address the problems of the poor.

Yet he has received constant criticism from Cornel and Tavis, who seemed reluctant to make a clear distinction between the Democrats and the Republicans, and rated President Obama only slightly higher that Mitt Romney regarding concern for the poor.  While West and Tavis base their assessment of the President’s concern for the poor on superficial things like monitoring his rhetoric.

They gleefully pointed out that the word “poverty’ was mentioned more times at the Republican convention than the Democratic convention – but they should be looking at the actual policies of the President instead.  If they had they would have seen what Time magazine reporter Michael Grunwald, who has been closely watching the results of President Obama’s policies, reports in his recently published book “The New New Deal.”

Aside from the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and the Affordable Health Care, there is the President’s Recovery Act, or Stimulus, the benefits of which Smiley and West seem as ignorant of as the Tea Party zealots.  But Grunwald tells us the Stimulus “includes the largest expansion of anti-poverty programs since the Great Society, lifting millions of Americans above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance.”  Aside from these impressive achievements, President Obama has proposed massive jobs bills that would put millions of the unemployed to work immediately, but the Republicans have blocked them.

By obscuring the sharp differences between the two parties, and the profound difference in the values and vision of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, they are confusing people – along with a sob squad of leftist intellectuals who are conducting a non-stup pity party insted of getting their ass in gear and worjing to defeat thet Republicans!

These persistent whiners are turning Many people  off rather than inspiring them to vote in the coming elections.  This is self-defeating approach.  Hence while Cornel West and Tavis Smiley are promoting a good cause…they have a bad strategy for success.

 A Force for Good…

…unwitting allies of the Tea Party?


 Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York


The Crisis of the Black Leftist Intellectual

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , , on September 10, 2012 by playthell
Dr. Anthony Montero: Clueless Marxist Ideologue

Reflections On the Pitfalls of Ideology

I have argued for some time now, that as we approach the outer limits of the right and left on the American political spectrum, the more they begin to resemble each other in their conclusions.  One need only look at the present political debate around President Obama to gauge the veracity of my claim.   Consider for instance the following statement:

Bill Clinton continued the farce in his nominating speech for Barack Obama. More than farce it is cynicism, coverup…The Dems are performing a fake populism and a fraudulent claim to protecting the economy, saving the nation from depression and defense of the working class…. This fraud must not only be criticized, it has to be rejected.”

I bet you think this is yet another slander of our President by rightwing Tea Party fanatics, who are more likely than not white racists.  But this passage was actually written by Dr. Anthony Monteiro, a black professor of sociology at Temple University, who considers himself a militant defender of Afro-American interests and the working class in general.

I have known Tony since he was an undergraduate student at Lincoln University and barely out of his teens.  Indeed, I was one of the people who inspired him to become a radical activist (see: An Open Letter to Dr. Anthony Monteiro.”) He showed great promise as an intellectual early on, and was totally committed to the Afro-American freedom movement, as was true of legions of students in the 1960’s, an era of militant struggle.  Although even then he was something of a mindless militant with a poor sense of judgment, and ended up participating in an ill-conceived act of leftist adventurism that sent him to prison.

Yet that can be chalked up to the impetuosity of an impassioned militant youth on a freedom high. The central question begged by the statement above – which is at best a clear sign of intellectual incompetence; at worse a symptom of mental derangement that renders him incapable of distinguishing fantasy from reality – is what happened?

How did Tony become a sad, deluded, bourgeois academic and de-facto ally of the Tea Party?  What drives him to serve the interests of the worst enemies of Afro-American aspirations, the Tea Party Patriots, by working to keep black Americans from voting for the reelection of President Obama?

The answer to this tragic enigma lies in Tony’s slavish devotion to a European ideology that has never managed to win the hearts and minds of the American people, especially its main targets: the white working class and Afro-Americans.  The fundamental problem is that this foreign ideology never fully addressed American realities.  Hence I agree with the great American writer John Dos Passos, in his chastisement of Michael Gold – editor of the Marxist Journal, New Masses, which was influential among early 20th century American radicals – over editorial policy.

I don’t think there should be anymore phrases, badges, opinions, banners, imported from Russia or anywhere else,” said Dos Passos.  “Ever since Columbus, imported systems have been the curse of this country. Why not develop our own?”

This is the crux of Professor Monteiro’s problem: he is attempting to analyze American politics through the eyes of a foreign ideology. Hence we shouldn’t be surprised that his pronouncements sound like unintelligible babble, unrelated to the realities that 95% of Afro-Americans, and has made him a figure of ridicule among many black intellectuals, and his ideas a dirty joke, among the black masses he pretends to represent.

Tony is a hardcore Marxist and would-be philosopher – if he could convince a philosophy department somewhere to give him a job spouting the Marxist prattle in which he is a true believer. The problem is that professional philosophers do not consider Marxism serious philosophy.  Professor Montiero is one of the last of the die-hard members of the American Communist Party who is still dealing with Post Traumatic Stress  from witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union; which to them represents the demise of the “worker’s paradise” – an idea history has proven a grand illusion.

Yet few understand the effect on the psyche of American communist when Boris Yeltsin, the leader of the Russian Communist Party, repudiated Communism as a false doctrine and scrapped the system. Professor Montero is like a committed Catholic who comes to Rome for Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square, seeking guidance from the Pope, backed by his College of Cardinals resplendent in their priestly costumes. But, alas, instead of performing the traditional homily, the Pope announces that God does not exist and Catholic teachings about the world are a myth!

Based upon his writings posted on Facebook these days, Professor Montero appears increasingly lost, frustrated, and drifting into madness the way true believers in Catholicism would respond to the Pope’s revelation.   He has become so irrational in his fanatical desire to prove his Russian mentors wrong, that anybody who does not share his communist delusions is automatically viewed as a traitor to the working class – a social formation that exists for him mainly as a theoretical abstraction.

Absent ideologically induced madness or severe delusion, how else can we explain the reasoning of a college Professor who writes the following jibberish?

“The Democratic party campaign is, if anything, even more cynical and false than Romney’s, because it portrays the Democratic incumbent as the defender of working people against Wall Street interests.. and the wealthy, when the truth is the direct opposite. Obama spearheaded the destruction of jobs and wages with the auto bailout, and helped launch the war on public education that has accounted for the largest single cut in jobs of the past three years: the wiping out of 600,000 jobs of teachers and support workers by state and local governments.”

When confronted with gobbledegook like this my grandmother used to say “That fellow’s understandin’ is bad.” Aside from the fact that these charges rival the worst anti-Obama propaganda emanating from the Tea Party – the extreme right of the Republican Party – it is a burlesque on scholarship.  Everybody who knows anything about this question knows that the reductions in state government jobs are the result of cuts made by the Republican governors of those states – or layoffs resulting from severe deficits due to the prolonged economic crisis.

Furthermore, the Republican controlled Congress has blocked all the President’s efforts at more federal assistance.  Why doesn’t Dr. Montero understand this?  All he has to do is read “It’s Worse Than it Looks,” the new study of the Congress by Dr. Norman Orenstein, the leading scholar on the US Congress.  Although Dr. Orenstien is a resident scholar at the rightwing American Enterprise Institute, he is able to maintain scholarly objectivity and follow the facts wherever they lead.

Alas, Professor Montero is obviously unable to free his mind from the grip of misguided Marxist dogma.  His confused and dishonest prattle exhibits the worst characteristics of the Romney campaign: telling lies that are easily disproved.  Yet it is one thing to hear these kinds of ridiculous charges from paid right wing propagandists, who are indifferent to the truth and bank on the ignorance of the electorate to get over; but from a black professor who expects to be taken seriously in the black community?

Tony is an embarrassment.  His argument is an obscene parody of a serious intellectual polemic; the academic equivalent of a coon show.  Especially since his hysterical claim is so easily disproven by just reading the rigorously detailed study of President Obama’s Stimulus plan: “The New New Deal” by Michael Grunwald.  This award winning Time Magazine reporter has been following the trail of the Stimulus money since the bill was signed into law.  And as of this writing he is the foremost authority on the subject.  Here are some of Mr. Grunwald’s conclusions about what President Obama has done for the American people.

“The stimulus has launched a transition to a clean-energy economy, doubled our renewable power, and financed unprecedented investments in energy efficiency, a smarter grid, electric cars, advanced biofuels, and green manufacturing. It is computerizing America’s pen-and-paper medical system. Its Race to the Top is the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It has put in place the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, the largest research investments ever, and the most extensive infrastructure investments since Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. It includes the largest expansion of antipoverty programs since the Great Society, lifting millions of Americans above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance. Like the first New Deal, Obama’s stimulus has created legacies that last: the world’s largest wind and solar projects, a new battery industry, a fledgling high-speed rail network, and the world’s highest-speed Internet network. “

This is real progress that will put this country on the path of economic recovery by creating a new economy – which is the only path to solving the critical problem of structural unemployment.  There is no Marxist solution to this problem.  Marx was a 19th century thinker who was living as an exile  in England after the failed “Young German” Democratic movement of 1848, which was brutally crushed by the Prussian army.

Like other talented “Forty Eighters” such as the great composer Richard Wagner, Marx was forced to flee Germany after their defeat and ended up in England. Hence Marx was witnessing the early stages of the Industrial Revolution in England when he was writing some of his major works, like the massive three volume tome Das Kapital.  But Marx was witnessing a very primitive form of capitalism that has very little in common with the advanced, post-industrial, cybernetic, finance capital system the exist in the contemporary USA.

Karl Marx: Father of Communism

Tony’s Messiah

But fanatical Marxists like Professor Monteiro evidently believe that Marx’s analysis is akin to Biblical revelation – not an analysis of the state of human society at the moment but an eternal truth.  An indication of how clueless self-righteous Marxists are can be seen in the comments of Grace Lee Boggs in an interview with the present writer.  The longtime wife of James Boggs, one of the most original thinkers about the place of workers in the American economy, Grace earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawyr at 23.  Now in her 90’s, she was a Marxist long before Tony was born.

And since she is a Chinese American from a well off New York family, that married an Afro-American factory worker/independent radical intellectual from rural Alabama, whom she met in Detroit during the great Depression, Grace Lee Boggs knows first-hand the struggles of real workers – not theoretical abstractions.  And since she was forced to take a secretary job at an auto plant because no university would hire her to teach western philosophy despite her impressive credentials, she personally experienced the horrors of racism.

James and Grace Lee Boggs

 Original Thinkers on the Left

I interviewed Grace when she was 92.  A longtime fan of the writings of her and James, I had taught two of James’ text when I was a history Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst – The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Worker’s Notebook, and Racism and the Class Struggle.” And I was reading “Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century,” which Grace and James had written together.  So I held her opinion in high regard.

Hence when she told me that she found it absurd that anyone could believe that Marxism held the answers to the problems we face in contemporary America I felt enormous relief. Her observation had confirmed my own conclusions.  Grace Lee explained that Marx, brilliant observer of human society that he was, could not imagine the problems that confront mankind today.

She said if anybody had told Karl Marx that the smokestacks which were a measure of human progress in his time, would imperil the existence of mankind as a result of air pollution he would have dismissed them as a fool…and anyone who told him that man could poison the oceans and make the sea level rise would not have fared any better.  But these observations should come as no surprise, because Marx was just a man not a prophet or Messiah, and thus his understanding of the world was limited by the state of human knowledge at the time.

Marx would be as lost in contemporary American society as the architects of the US Constitution.  This is no gratuitous comparison. I referenced the Founding Fathers of the American Republic because the fanatics on the right – a mirror image of the far left – invoke the US Constitution with the same reverence that Marxists hold for the dialectical materialist graffiti of Karl Marx.  But the truth is that neither of these 18th and 19th century documents can guide us through the complex problems we face without revision.

In his book, The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Workers Notebook, published in 1960, James Boggs had already begun to point out the inadequacy of Marxist theory to provide answers to what he saw as the central crisis facing the working class.  Boggs saw that the central problem for the working class in the future was not going to be “wage slavery,” but no wages at all due to dramatic technological changes in the production process.

The great British economist John Maynard Keynes, whose economic prescriptions rescued the world from the “Great Depression,” had hinted of this development when he predicted an increase in “technological unemployment” in the future. But neither of them imagined the phenomenon of globalization, which encourages manufacturers to abandon workers in the advanced western societies – who had successfully fought for good wages, the eight hour workday, paid vacations, a benefits package that includes health care and retirement income – in favor of workers in third world countries who willingly work under conditions that have been outlawed in the west.

And the investor class doesn’t care where commodities are manufactured so long as they get a high return on their money.  That’s why Mitt didn’t give a shit if the American auto-industry collapsed.  His business was relocating businesses overseas to enhance the profits of investors.  President Obama takes exactly the opposite view.  He has taken extraordinary measures to reverse this trend and return manufacturing to the US.  And he is right to view technological innovations that will produce new industries as the key to the revival of American manufacturing.

James Boggs predicted that the permanent unemployment of masses of workers, caused by radical unplanned changes in the structure of America’s economy, would change the antagonism between labor and capital and heighten conflict between the employed and unemployed!  That’s what we are seeing now with workers who support the plutocrats in the Republican party who want to destroy unions and reduce workers to industrial serfs.  There are no Marxist solutions to these problems, and even if there were all of our experience shows that you couldn’t sell it to the majority of Americans at this juncture in our history.


If we are wrong, and there is a Marxist solution, why doesn’t Professor Monteiro write a serious book that instructs us how to do it in policy terms?  The kind of detailed work Dr. William Julius Wilson has done in defense of the liberal welfare state. I have been hearing Communist talk about the revolution coming when the capitalism system fails for at least 50 years.  But we just witnessed the world capitalist system on the brink of collapse and the Communists hadn’t a clue what to do!

Since he fancies himself a political theoretician, why doesn’t Professor Monteiro tell us what his strategy is for getting his ideas through both houses of Congress?  Without such a plan he is just pissing in the wind!  Instead of this kind of detailed scholarship, which would be of real value to people in the actual struggle for a better society, all we get from Professor Monteiro is incoherent, overly emotional, nihilistic tirades on Facebook, which he attempts to substitute for substantive scholarship.

Since Tony is such an admirer of Dr. DuBois, whose legacy he is distorting due to his Communist biases, it would seem that he would at least try to follow his example of careful scholarship.  Not so!  In fact, based on his production, Tony seems to be intellectually lazy; not at all like Dr. DuBois, who was one of the most productive scholars of his time. And DuBois never enjoyed the support provided by a professorship at a major white university.  When Dr. Dubois produced his brilliant pioneering work “The Philadelphia Negro” under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, he was given the title of “Assistant Instructor” and paid a paltry salary.

Dr. WEB DuBois, Engaged Scholar

 A Great Activist Intellectual

Dr. DuBois was not allowed any contact with students and was forced to live in a cramped apartment in South Philly above a dive where violence often broke out as he was writing his masterpiece.  He also conducted his own interviews, convincing all classes of black folk to talk with him about their lives – even the criminal class.  And he was one of the best qualified men in the American academy.

In fact DuBois says that when he returned from Germany he was “educated within an inch of my life.”  Where is Tony’s update of “The Philadelphia Negro?”  This would be a valuable contribution, because the story of Philadelphia over the last forty years is a representative anecdote for the decline of urban America.

Dr. Monteiro is a sad mediocrity next to Dr. DuBois, who had  completed a Ph.D. at Harvard in history under Professor Albert Bushnell Hart – who practically invented the modern scientific documentary historical method – and also studied with Max Weber, “the Father of Sociology” in Germany.   But he had also completed all the requirements for the Ph.D. in Economics at the Kaiser Wilhelm University, including the defense of his dissertation written in German, and he was only 25!

And he did it in half the allotted time.  And most telling, while Dr. Montero pines to be accepted as a philosopher, Dr. George Santayana, Harvard Professor and one of the world’s leading philosophers, begged the young DuBois to become a philosopher, he even offered to personally mentor him, but Dubois turned him down!

The reason Dr. DuBois turned down an offer that Dr. Monteiro would exchange his balls for – if he had any – is because DuBois thought that sociology, history and economics were better weapons for an intellectual warrior committed to liberating and uplifting the race.  I think he was right, and it is as true today as it was then.

Based upon his nefarious activities in this critical election period, when the working class stands to lose every gain they have made since the passage of the Wagner Act and the New Deal, I can fathom no evidence that Professor Montero understands Dr. Santayana’s most famous axiom: Those who refuse to heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it’s mistakes.

If Dr. Monteiro had any clue about the implications of all that European political history any Marxist worth his salt is grounded in, he would recognize the folly of the role he is playing now.  For instance he would understand that the main reason why Hitler managed to get himself elected and bring the Nazi Party to power, in the most intellectually advanced nation in the world, was because of squabbling on the left between the Socialists and Communists, and divisions in the Jewish community between Nationalist/ Zionists, Socialists and Communists.  These divisions so fragmented the opposition that the Nazis came to power.  And we know what happened after that.

Although Marxists are fond of drawing broad generalizations about historical phenomena, because they suffer from the conceit that Marxism is a “science” that has figured out the “laws of history, ” although it has proven to be about as scientific as astrology, Tony doesn’t seem to recognize that the role he, and other misguided leftist intellectuals and revolutionary poseurs, are playing can help Mitt Romney win the Presidency and the Grand Obstructionist Party take over the government in the coming elections. If he does not consider such an event an unmitigated disaster he is not only a deluded fool, but a dangerous fool.

And just what is Dr. Monteiro’s beef with President Obama that has caused his brain to go on the Fritz and decide to cut the fool in public? As near as I can tell he is pissed off because Barack can’t wave a scepter, or a magic wand, and make all his leftist fantasies come true…and what is worse there is no evidence that Barack even wants to – or would if he could. Yet the things he expects of President Obama are totally unreasonable given the political realities of contemporary America.

He does not seem to understand that this is not his beloved Soviet Union, where the Chairman of the Communist Party and the Central Committee could dictate policy with no opposition. To expect a similar result from President Obama is a retreat into absurdity.  In this country we have a two party system and divided government.  And the two major parties are further divided now than they have been since the outbreak of Civil war.

What Tony and his fellow buffoons on the far left like the shadowy and cowardly Glen Ford of the so-called “Black Agenda Report,” the pugnacious albeit clueless Comrade Dix – Bob Avaikian’s black puppet – from the Revolutionary Communist Party, and the Cornel West /Tavis Smiley traveling minstrel show, fail to take into account is that the majority of Americans do not support the things they propose.

In fact, they voted in the right-wing Tea Party fanatics to block President Obama’s progressive agenda, only two years after the Republicans wrecked the economy!   They ran on a pledge to undo the Affordable Health Care Act, and they have blocked any attempt to pass the President’s massive job creation bills.

None of the President’s verbose black critics have anything to say about the actual political realities he must accommodate.  They are silly automatons, having a collective temper tantrum in public. Just like the fanatics on the right – their mirror opposite – they view compromise as synonymous with selling out.  Yet unless we change the Constitution of the United States and create a one party state like the Communist countries, anybody who becomes President of the USA must compromise with the opposing Party in order to govern.

That’s the way the US government works, and there is absolutely no evidence that any sizable number of American citizens want to change it; the present writer included.  Because when all is said and done power resides in the hands of the people; they may misuse and squander it…. but they have it! This means that anyone who is successful in American politics must work within this system.

The thing that impresses me most about the President’s leftist critics is that their views on what the President can do bears no relationship to political reality.  That’s why the Marxist left in the US has settled for the role of national debating society.  They play no actual role in the real political life of the United States today.  All of their glory days are in the past.  And Marxist intellectuals like Tony Monteiro are producing no substantial work to convince their fellow Americans that a Communist government would be superior to the participatory democracy we now enjoy – with all its flaws.

Not only has Tony and his Marxist comrades – like that verbose simpleton Glen Ford of the so called “Black Agenda Report, who is next in line for a public chastisement – not produced any substantive policy proposals that could pass both houses of Congress, which means they cannot be taken seriously, there is no evidence that he really even understands practical politics.  Indeed, Tony often talks like one of the semi-literate white racists in the Tea Party in his assaults on the President.  Consider the following statement.

“But the only real defense of the Obama Administration and his reelection is the lesser of two evils mantra.   However, the moment in history, rather than making the lesser of two evils logic necessary has made it obsolete and an obstacle to ideological clarity and struggle.”

Since I have already written on the consequences of this point of view twelve years ago, when the left played a critical role in electing George W. Bush, I shall simply refer the reader to that essay. (See: “On Choosing the Lesser Evil.”  Suffice it to say that anybody who argues such a thing is obviously a charlatan or a fool.  I am beginning to think Tony Montero is a bit of both. Hence I have concluded that it is a fool’s errand to expect any clarity to emerge from his reasoning.

Tony Monteiro’s views on foreign policy and collective bargaining with municipal governments are incoherent and border on a kind of ideological hysteria; a condition that has much in common with the religious fanaticism of the right. Indeed it is the same class of phenomenon: one secular one sacred. The professor’s pronouncements about President Obama’s foreign policy amount to little more than silly sloganeering.  But then, this is the guy who wept when the Russian people overthrew the Communist Party.

He is like the stranger in an old Ibo proverb that came to the funeral and cried louder than the bereaved family.  The wise Ibo Elders warned us to “beware” of such people. Tony adopted the same role when he defended the murderous tyrant Mummar Gadaffi against the righteous wrath of the Libyan people; offering this profound heart-felt observation: “At least Gadaffi showed the white man he ain’t no punk!”

To people in Tony’s demented state of mind, objective facts mean little if they don’t support his scatter brained theories about the world.  Hence he can post ridiculous and dangerous comments on Facebook about the President like the following.

his actual stance on the working class, including the auto workers and teachers (an anti-teachers union film was being shown at the convention and of course the convention is taking place in the most anti-union state in the nation) is more viciously anti-union than Reagan’s attack on the air traffic controllers.”

The fact that the auto-worker’s and teachers unions take the opposite position makes no difference to him.  My sister was an organizer for the National Education Association for years before she retired, and I live under the same roof with an International Representative of the United Auto-Workers.  When I read Tony’s statements to them their answer was short and to the point: “This nigger is crazy!”   

If the facts don’t fit his ideological dogma then he just ignores them.  As in other matters Professor Monteiro refuses to consider the political context in which the Democrats must make decisions.  His blanket denunciation of Mayor Rham Emanuel regarding the Chicago teachers strike that commenced this morning is a dramatic case in point.

Like all propagandists, as opposed to scholars, Tony is not interested in the complexities, contradictions and nuances of this labor dispute.  Hence he uses it in an opportunistic rather than a principled manner.  For instance, Chicago has a law that mandates the City balance their budget, and the day Mayor Emanuel took office the School board was facing a 700 million dollar deficit.  Parents anxious about their student’s children education and safety support increasing the school day by 90 minutes, but the teaacher’s union opposes it.

The Mayor tried to make a deal with the teachers union to give them half of the 4% raise they are requesting in exchange for the extended school day. This issue, health care payments, and teacher evaluations are the points on which the negotiations failed.  The Mayor did not want this strike and urged the teachers to remain in the negotiations.

Although I think teachers are getting a raw deal all over the country, and that encroachments on their professional standing and compensation package threatens to destroy a public education system that made America the leader of the world, this is a very complex matter and it will take our finest minds and coolest heads to salvage this vital American institution so that it can continue to attract our best and brightest college grads into the teaching profession.

The public is pissed with municipal workers in general, and teachers in particular, due to the constant attacks on the benefits that they receive, and in the case of teachers they are also angry that they get the summer off, while so many kids are failing.  This attitude is mistaken and unfair, but it is real and no politician can afford to ignore it if they intend to remain in office.  Consider this letter written by a citizen of Chicago in response to an AP story on the strike this morning:

“This is just another staged democrat union stunt, the democrats probably have 50 teams of lawyers, one for each states, just waiting for November, so they file suit in every state, democrat party is nothing but communism, get real people and vote the democrats out of office.”

These kind of crazy attacks are constantly leveled at the Democratic Party from the right, while the Communist and other leftist wags are calling them right wing tools of the plutocrats, neither charge is true.  And now Mitt Romney has weighed in on the dispute with a statement in support of the parents and villifing the union, which further confuses things as he attempts to use the strike against the President.

It is the role of serious intellectuals – especially black intellectuals – to clarify these complex issues for the untutored mob.  Alas, Professor Monteiro and his leftist comrades have failed miserably; they have added to the confusion and clarified nothing!  All that matters to these misguided, narrow minded ideologues is that their “revolutionary theory” be vindicated, even if they have to bend the facts to fit it.

Tony is willing to go down this dead end road even though we have the unimpeachable testimony of former Russian leader Andropov’s official ideologist, who has publicly testified that the refusal to accommodate their ideological predispositions to observable reality was the major cause of the collapse of the Russian Communist Party and the fall of the mighty Soviet Union!  This is a clear example of the old aphorism: “Convince a fool against his will…he remains a fool still.”  And if these anti-Obama Marxist zealots are not damned fools the Gods never blew breath in one.

I pity his students, whose young innocent minds are being corrupted by bullshit like this.  Perhaps Dr. Monteiro has two faces, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: one he shows to his classes and one when he shows his silly ass on Facebook.  In any case, if Professor Monteiro spouts the same bullshit in his classroom – and here I am employing the term in the sense that the eminent Princeton Philosopher, Dr. Harry G. Frank, defines it in his book “Bullshit” – then he should be dismissed from his faculty position by his colleagues. Not because he opposes President Obama, but for intellectual incompetence: Quackery!

I have long considered Tony Monteiro to be a “Sociologist” in name only.  That’s because after many years in the academy he has produced no serious sociological studies.  He appears to be living a life of pretense, whereas he imagines himself to be an important scholar absent a body of work that would justify such a claim.

Among my friends are serious scholars who have done, and are doing, very important consequential work; people like Bill Wilson and Alan Counter at Harvard; Bernie Anderson at Penn, Gerald Horne at the University of Houston, Bernard Bell at Penn State,  et al.  When compared to these scholars Tony looks like a verbose intellectual fraud.

He is also a bust as a “Revolutionary activist.”  At a time when we are faced with the most reactionary foe in our lifetime, people who have pledged to dismantle Obamacare and undo the New Deal, instead of organizing a summer seminar to teach his students how to organize to defeat the reactionaries who will destroy their dreams for the future, our revolutionary professor took his students off for an extended circle jerk called “Philosophy and Black Liberation.”

That’s all well and good at some other time: but not this summer; not this fire eating revolutionary who sits in judgment on the President with all the objectivity of a Catholic priest Judging a Jew during the Spanish Inquisition.  The sad truth is professor Monteiro has nothing to offer in terms of political analysis but confused dogma, which results in the disorientation of the listener and a paralysis of analysis.  This is just the opposite of a serviceable critique for a people in struggle.

Alas, Tony and his Marxist comrades offer no plan of action; yet We are facing an election where the working class stands to lose every gain we have won over the last century. In the Bush economic collapse black Americans lost 67% of all the wealth that we have accumulated since the end of slavery and Hispanic lost 61% of their collective wealth.  My sister lost $500, 000 which she had gained from a lifetime of work, saving and wise investment.  Mitt Romney could be worse than Bush, and black America cannot stand another Republican regime that will destroy the world economy and wipe us out everywhere in the world again.

To dissuade black people from voting to reelect President Obama, thus aiding in a Republican victory, is worse than irresponsibility.   It is an insult to our ancestors – especially the fighters like Harriet Tubman, DuBois, Mary McCloud Bethune, and Paul Robeson – people Tony and his ilk like to identify with.  It is also a betrayal of black people today. In fact it is harder to imagine a worse abomination than for black people who declare themselves the leaders of the black community to persuade Afro-Americans to take action’s that amount to cutting their own throats.

And we may legitimately ask: what kind of black man is this, who is so alienated from his people that he cannot take pride in our first family, or give our visionary humane president a high five?  Who instead smears Barack’s name with vicious lies then has the unmitigated gall to demand that we follow him?  It is a study in delusions of grandeur.

The best thing about Tony Monteiro’s odious ideas is that nobody pays them any mind except a lunatic fringe.  Hence the damage his nihilistic vision can do is limited…and that’s a very good thing!  I am writing about him only because he represents a dangerous nihilistic political tendency on the black left, and it seemed to me that he would make a great poster boy for it; the face of black leftist nihilism.  Ironically, Tony will probably get more play from this essay than he has ever gotten before…but he won’t particularly enjoy his new found celebrity.


Playthell Benjamin
Harlem, New York

September 10, 2012