The Wrong Guys For the Right Reason?

The return of J&A's excellent adventure?

Even tragedies can present opportunities and the killing of Trayvon Martin is no exception.  The mainstream media took their sweet time in discovering what Black bloggers and media was already reporting, but now they have made this the biggest story in America.

It’s been great for ratings.  And it’s been great for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as well.  Instead of trying to bite off Occupy Wall Street or some other topic in the news, the two former unofficial presidents of Black America are back on their favorite beat, marching, demonstrating and protesting and all in the name of Trayvon Martin.

I have a colleague whom I used to work with at a newspaper and we get together to shoot the breeze. His problem with Jackson and Sharpton are their claims that they are “Black leaders.”

That sets my friend all the way off.  Who made THEM “Black leaders?” Did you vote for them? I know I didn’t! Where’s MY ballot?

There is something to that. Why are Jackson and Sharpton considered Black leaders? Why do Black folks even need leaders?  Who are the leaders of Latinos? Who speaks for lesbians? Who’s the great leader of Asians? Who’s the greatest White leader? Or does even posing the question seem ludicrous to even ask?

The last great Black leaders were Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.  They became leaders the hard way.  They earned it and they were killed for being leaders.  You could not find two more different men with different approaches than Martin and Malcolm.  Jackson and Sharpton on their best day couldn’t touch them on their worst. Neither one of them are worthy heirs of King’s mantle of civil rights advocacy.  Neither one of them are as bold and willing to face White supremacy the way Malcolm X did.

What keeps J&A on the front pages is the passionate hatred they provoke from right-wing critics.  Jesse and Al are considered by the Right as race hustlers who stir up trouble, shakedown businesses, show up wherever there’s a controversy and a camera and are generally unscrupulous, unprincipled, con men.  Some of this criticism is both verifiable and irrefutable.

Any honest critique of Jackson and Sharpton must take in account their pros and cons.

Once giants walked among us.

Positives: protecting civil rights, keeping a spirit of activism alive, bringing attention to issues and stories that would go unnoticed and unaddressed otherwise, ticking off the right-wing something fierce.

Negatives: attention whores, lack of identified achievable goals, unwilling to get off the stage so younger leaders can emerge, egotistical, poor tacticians, dubious personal conduct,

The biggest negative is neither Jackson or Sharpton will confront and criticize Democrats and liberals when they come up short or sell out the interests of African-Americans.  A true Black leader has to be willing to be bipartisan in their criticism.  Jackson has mildly criticized Obama and Sharpton flaunts his connections to the White House. Can you imagine J&A publicly and vocally breaking with a Democratic president the way Martin Luther King, Jr., broke with Lyndon Johnson over the Viet Nam war and poverty in America?  With Jackson and Sharpton beholden to the Democrats, they can’t be truly independent.

Martin and Malcolm may have created the template for Al and Jesse, but what sets them heads and shoulders above Sharpton and Jackson is they never craved the spotlight.  King was a reluctant convert to political activism and X transformed himself from a small-time hustler, pimp, and convict to the most powerful and charismatic spokesman for Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam until he broke with him.

Neither Martin or Malcolm were wealthy or sought the spotlight the way their would-be successors have.  You can’t fault them for finding a way to turn a buck off of being a political gadfly, but it leaves them open to charges that they are chasing publicity and dollars, not justice.

I was too young to march with Martin Luther King or listen to Malcolm X, but their authenticity was above reproach. . They were the real deal and they both got taken out for it. Al and Jesse? I think they believe what they say, but I don’t need “leaders” any more and I don’t want to be “led.”

Obama has proven you can be a leader through obtaining political legitimacy.  Jackson and Sharpton both mounted presidential bids, but they never seemed fully committed.  If conservatives really want to make J&A relics of a previous time, they need to stop trying to demonize the pair  That gets them nowhere and only makes Jackson and Sharpton even more beloved, and why not?  Pissing off the Right has a considerable upside.

Conservatives could neutralize J&A, but what it would take is something they have shown little interest in.   Make Dr. King’s dream a reality and they’re both out of business.

That would require the Right to give up their fear and loathing of uppity Black men.  But since conservatives like the Koch brothers like their Negroes docile and childlike (Where’s my mint julep, Herman Cain?) and hate to be reminded racism still exists that seems unlikely.

We are going to have to learn to live with Sharpton and Jackson, warts and all.  Reservations aside, Trayvon Martin needs champions to find justice for him and while they are no Martin or Malcolm, this is the right cause even if they are the wrong men.

The right men for the right cause?

Up Against the Wall Street

I wanted to say something about the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I admire the activism and the energy being exhibited by people whom are fed up with being part of the many who don’t benefit while a select few make out like bandits.  There’s plenty in America to make it a better place for everyone.  But there are those who are greedy and have no intentions of giving up anything they have so others can have something.

When the mainstream news media isn’t ignoring the demonstrators, it’s ridiculing and sneering at them as being too White, too liberal, too motley and too unfocused.  What do these over-privileged, pampered and spoiled hippie liberal brats and ragged Socialists want anyway? is the message coming from CNN, Fox News and others.

It seems to me those that are pissing all over the Wall Street protests the most are the same ones rushing to defend the Tea Party raising hell.

Apparently its fine to challenge the status quo when it’s the right-wing doing the challenging. Not so much when it’s coming from the left though.   Double standards and situational ethics are fun to watch. The stench of rank hypocrisy does get to be a bit much though.

Why is there so much criticism levied at the protestors for lacking specific demands?  I don’t remember Fox News bitching about this when it was the Tea Party raising hell.  What did they want?  Take back our country?  From who?    What makes you think it only belonged to you in the first place?

You are not rich.
You do not get bailed out.
You do not own politicians.
There are no tax loopholes created especially for you.
You may work hard for what you have and you may hate to associate yourself with dirty liberal hippies, but guess what?

You are the 99%!

It’s amazing how many of yesterday’s radicals are today’s conservatives. I suppose they had to come from somewhere. If they had started off as conservatives and ended up even more conservative look how much evolving they would have missed out on since 1968.

When the Tea Party raised seven different kinds of hell at the town hall meetings of some scared Congresscritters, they were derided as loudmouthed bullies, kooks and worse. I know because I was one of those deriding them.

I could not disagree more with the Tea Party’s principles. However, I support their right to organize and raise seven different kinds of hell because it got results. If anything the Left has watched and learned.

Wall Street is not going to crumble and fall because of these protests. Capitalism isn’t going to crumble and fall because of these protests.  So what the hell are so many in the media and elsewhere so worried about? At some point the protests will pass and we all get back to our football games and the new fall television seasons. Maybe some talent deprived pop tart will get out of a car without her underwear on and we can have a good old scandal to amuse us for a while. Maybe somebody famous will die and that can distract us for a weekend or so.

And maybe we can let the bankers and the brokers and the dealers and hustlers and smart guys get back to business of nickel and diming the rest of us when they aren’t robbing us blind with billion dollar bailouts to get them out the messes they made for themselves.

If what’s happening on Wall Street is just street theater by a handful of malcontents, posers, anarchists and spoiled rich brats, what is there to be afraid of? One might think the charade might not simply collapse, but blow away by one stiff breeze out of sheer weightlessness.

It seems the rich and powerful don’t like being reminded just how well things are working out for them when compared to everyone else.

Every movement starts with a few dissatisfied souls. It’s only from them reminding the rest of us how dissatisfied we should be too that anything ever changes around here.

Dissent is not only the highest form of patriotism, it’s as American as the flag and mom’s apple pie. Faced with a broken system where no one is held accountable and nothing seems to work for the people, you can hardly blame the occupy Wall Street groups for finally saying, “Enough! No more!”

This isn’t about covering Obama’s ass for his failures and coziness to Wall Street. It’s about a general sentiment of “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” types and all politicians are being held equally accountable for the state of the economy.

If you want the rulebook changed you go to the guys who paid off the officials and gave them their jobs in the first place.

I have no idea why Americans cheer on protests in Middle East countries against elitist oligarchs over there and sneer at them as being smelly hippies here.

Maybe it’s simply easier to dismiss them as malcontents than concerned citizens who give a good goddamn about the raw deal everyone but the bankers and brokers got with their Wall Street bail out while everyone else just takes the assault and bleeds out quietly.

It’s a terrific story. I just wish the corporate media cared about covering it as much as they do about some fucking English twit getting married.