Op-Ed: The Mis-Education of Henry Louis Gates, Jr

Op-Ed: The Mis-Education of Henry Louis Gates, Jr

By Abdul Arif Muhammad, Esq.

In an April 23, 2010 Op-Ed piece for The New York Times entitled “Ending the Slavery Blame-Game,” Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. argues that a moral, historic, political and economic equivalency exists between the culpability and responsibility of some Africans who participated in the transatlantic slave trade with the nations of Europe and the American colonies .  This article perverts history and violates what Dr. W.E.B. DuBois called “scientific truth.”  The article was intellectually disingenuous from the stand point of history and scholarship.  

Carter G Woodson

The article is a perfect example of the “educated Negro” who has been taught to find his “proper place” at the back door, as stated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in his book, The Mis-Education of the Negro.  Professor Gates demonstrates through this article that he has accepted his proper place at the back door, showing he is in the category of an “educated Negro” that has, in fact, been mis-educated.  It is not surprising then that when Professor Gates was mishandled by white policemen in Massachusetts, he felt it necessary to inform the police that he was a Harvard professor.  This is the mind of black inferiority masquerading as an “educated Negro” who has in fact forgotten who he is in the mind of White America.

 Sadly, the “educated Negro” state of mind has been a historic problem in the struggle of the masses of Black people for true liberation because there has always been a segment within the black community who are the buffers and apologists for the evil of White America against its black citizens.   This phenomenon has been discussed in several scholarly works including The Black Bourgeoisie, by Dr. E. Franklin Frazier; The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, by Dr. Harold Cruse; The Souls of Black Folks, by Dr. W.E.B. DuBois and of course,  The Mis-Education of the Negro, by Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Professor Gates’ arguments are far below the standard of what one should expect from the Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.  Dr. DuBois was the first Black man to receive a Ph.D degree from Harvard University in 1895.  The irony of Professor Gates’ article is that Dr. DuBois’ doctoral dissertation was entitled, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to The United States of America, 1638-1870.  It was first published in 1896 as one of the Harvard historical studies.  This study properly placed the culpability and responsibility for slavery on Europe and the American colonies.  Whatever the role some Africans may have played, Dr. DuBois did not seem to view it as requiring research and scholarly attribution.

Henry Louis Gates

Professor Gate‘s claim that the idea of reparations is “compensation for our ancestor’s unpaid labor and bondage,” clearly shows the extent of his mis-education.  Reparations is a cry for justice borne from the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, over three centuries of chattel slavery where our ancestors according to Dr. DuBois were “worked to death,” and the injustices suffered by the masses of black people even down to this present day.  The issue of reparations is not solely based upon compensation because money alone will not solve the 400 year destruction of an entire people, who were robbed of the knowledge of themselves, the knowledge of their heritage, robbed of their names, language, and religion.  The cumulative effect of slavery was that Black people were destroyed in their ability to think and do for themselves.

 Reparations have to be determined based upon the extent of the injury inflicted, and the cost must be calculated to actually repair the damage done from slavery, Jim Crow segregation, lynching, raping of women, destruction of the institution of the black family, assassination of black leaders, shortened life expectancy from disease, poor health care, drug abuse, gang violence, black on black homicide, police brutality, racial profiling and mob attacks.  Professor Gates’ view that the call for reparations may be symbolic and impractical is profoundly egregious and shows his profound lack of understanding of the scientific truth of black suffering during slavery and since emancipation.    

Kwame Nkrumah

Professor Gates’ claims that Africans played a “significant role” in the slave trade and that it was “lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike” is astounding.  His view that equal culpability for the slave trade and slavery “should truly belong to white people and black people on both sides of the Atlantic” is a historic perversion of the worst kind.   Professor Gates obviously did not consider how Africa was devastated by slave trade from the 1500s to the 1800s; then, how she was systematically underdeveloped by European colonization from 1885 through the Second World War (1947).  It was not until Ghana, the first independent African nation, was established in 1957 by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, that Africa began her journey to repair over five centuries of European rape and pillage of her human and material resources.  Africa remains in that struggle today.  An excellent source for scholarship on this point is the book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Dr. Walter Rodney

 The co-conspirators, conceivers, planners, architects and designers of the transatlantic slave trade were the European nations.  The American colonies and the colonized West Indies sustained and nurtured the slave trade due to the wealth it generated.  This wealth fueled the industrial revolution in Europe and America, and ultimately made the United States a world power.  Where is the evidence of historical records to prove otherwise?  Another excellent source of scholarship on this point is the book, Capitalism and Slavery by Dr. Eric Williams.  Africans did not know the mind of the European nations in planning the destruction of a people.  Africans did not know that the Church sadly issued “papal bulls” from the pope sanctioning slavery of Africans because they were heathens, and needed to be civilized and Christianized.  Africans were not aware of the peculiar institution of chattel slavery and its destructive effects that evolved over centuries in the American colonies.  It is ludicrous to infer that visits to Europe by some Africans gave them knowledge of the holocaust of slavery.

 Professor Gates writes that slavery is one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization.  On this point he is absolutely correct.  Slavery was a crime against humanity and an entire people.   America has a very narrow window to escape the consequences of her deeds; unfortunately she has not yet shown she has the spiritual, moral or political will to repair the damage.   If there was a criminal prosecution Europe and her American co-conspirators would be charged with crimes against humanity for the murder and slaughter of untold millions of African people.  At best, those Africans who delivered their own brethren into the hands of their oppressors could be charged with the lesser criminal offense of being an accessory before the fact of false imprisonment.  In other words they were complicit in an aspect of an entirely different crime from the greater crime of Europe and her American co-conspirators.

 But the real point here is why is Professor Gates attempting to blunt and reduce the culpability of Europe and America in the horror of slavery?  He seems to have developed a pattern of this behavior.  On July 20, 1992 Professor Gates published an Op-Ed article in the New York Times to rebut the Nation of Islam’s book The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Vol. 1.  In this article Professor Gates attempts to minimize the role of Jewish merchants, traders, financiers and slave owners in slavery.  Can we fully comprehend the contradiction and hypocrisy of describing the behavior of the perpetrator of the crime as minimal, yet the victim played a “significant role” in the crime?  It is bewildering.  Is Professor Gates proving that he is a hired “educated Negro” by the rich and powerful to be an apologist against the legitimate cries for justice by a suffering people?

Finally, Professor Gates’ claim that President Obama’s genetic heritage of African and American parentage makes him “uniquely positioned to solve the reparations debate.” This statement does a tremendous disservice to President Obama.  The question of reparations is largely a legislative issue that is the responsibility of the Congress to address.  Should there ever be a Reparations Bill passed by Congress, only then would President Obama play the crucial role of signing the Bill into law.  Moreover, no one person, even our President, can be the sole arbiter and reconciler on the issue of 400 years of black suffering.  He could play a significant role in the discussion but the advancement of the issue of reparations is the responsibility of the more than 40 million black people who are the descendants of slaves.

 I conclude by offering to Professor Gates the words of Dr. W.E.B. DuBois regarding the culpability of England and America for slavery, found in Sec. 96 Lessons For Americans in The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to The United States of America, 1638-1870.. 

“It was the plain duty of the colonies to crush the trade and the system in its infancy: they preferred to enrich themselves on its profits. It was the plain duty of a Revolution based upon “Liberty” to take steps toward the abolition of slavery: it preferred promises to straightforward action. It was the plain duty of the Constitutional Convention, in founding a new nation, to compromise with a threatening social evil only in case its settlement would thereby be postponed to a more favorable time: this was not the case in the slavery and the slave-trade compromises … and yet with this real, existent, growing evil before their eyes, a bargain largely of dollars and cents was allowed to open the highway that led straight to the Civil War… 

It behooves the United States, therefore, in the interest both of scientific truth and of future social reform, carefully to study such chapters of her history as that of the suppression of the slave-trade. The most obvious question which this study suggests is : How far in a State can a recognized moral wrong safely be compromised? And although this chapter of history can give us no definite answer suited to the ever-varying aspects of political life, yet it would seem to warn any nation from allowing, through carelessness and moral cowardice, any social evil to grow. No persons would have seen the Civil War with more surprise and horror than the Revolutionists of 1776; yet from the small and apparently dying institution of their day arose the walled and castled Slave-Power. From this we may conclude that it behooves nations as well as men to do things at the very moment when they ought to be done.”

W.E.B. DuBois

Dr. DuBois who over a span of seven decades as academic, scholar, sociologist, author, editor, civil rights activist and Pan-Africanist  was truly an educated black man. As the Director of the institute at Harvard which bears his name it is my hope that this may provide some future guidance to Professor Gates that he might escape the syndrome of the “educated Negro” who has been Mis-Educated.

 original story: http://jessemuhammad.blogs.finalcall.com/2010/04/op-ed-mis-education-of-henry-louis.html

 (Abdul Arif Muhammad is an attorney, historian, researcher, writer, lecturer and former Editor-in-Chief of The Final Call newspaper. He is currently developing a series of essays entitled “A More Perfect Union.” Contact him at arifmuhammad@armatlaw.com)

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Matt Taibbi Goes In on Goldman Sachs The Guys Who Wrecked the Economy

Taibbi: The Lunatics Who Made a Religion Out of Greed and Wrecked the Economy

The SEC’s lawsuit against Goldman Sachs is a chance to prevent greed without limits.

Original article: Alternet: Goldman Sachs

April 26, 2010  |  By Matt Taibbi
So Goldman Sachs, the world’s greatest and smuggest investment bank, has been sued for fraud by the American Securities and Exchange Commission. Legally, the case hangs on a technicality.

Morally, however, the Goldman Sachs case may turn into a final referendum on the greed-is-good ethos that conquered America sometime in the 80s – and in the years since has aped other horrifying American trends such as boybands and reality shows in spreading across the western world like a venereal disease.

When Britain and other countries were engulfed in the flood of defaults and derivative losses that emerged from the collapse of the American housing bubble two years ago, few people understood that the crash had its roots in the lunatic greed-centered objectivist religion, fostered back in the 50s and 60s by ponderous emigre novelist Ayn Rand.

While, outside of America, Russian-born Rand is probably best known for being the unfunniest person western civilisation has seen since maybe Goebbels or Jack the Ripper (63 out of 100 colobus monkeys recently forced to read Atlas Shrugged in a laboratory setting died of boredom-induced aneurysms), in America Rand is upheld as an intellectual giant of limitless wisdom. Here in the States, her ideas are roundly worshipped even by people who’ve never read her books or even heard of her. The rightwing “Tea Party” movement is just one example of an entire demographic that has been inspired to mass protest by Rand without even knowing it.

Last summer I wrote a brutally negative article about Goldman Sachs for Rolling Stone magazine (I called the bank a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”) that unexpectedly sparked a heated national debate. On one side of the debate were people like me, who believed that Goldman is little better than a criminal enterprise that earns its billions by bilking the market, the government, and even its own clients in a bewildering variety of complex financial scams.

On the other side of the debate were the people who argued Goldman wasn’t guilty of anything except being “too smart” and really, really good at making money. This side of the argument was based almost entirely on the Randian belief system, under which the leaders of Goldman Sachs appear not as the cheap swindlers they look like to me, but idealized heroes, the saviors of society.

In the Randian ethos, called objectivism, the only real morality is self-interest, and society is divided into groups who are efficiently self-interested (ie, the rich) and the “parasites” and “moochers” who wish to take their earnings through taxes, which are an unjust use of force in Randian politics. Rand believed government had virtually no natural role in society. She conceded that police were necessary, but was such a fervent believer in laissez-faire capitalism she refused to accept any need for economic regulation – which is a fancy way of

Rand’s fingerprints are all over the recent Goldman story. The case in question involves a hedge fund financier, John Paulson, who went to Goldman with the idea of a synthetic derivative package pegged to risky American mortgages, for use in betting against the mortgage market. Paulson would short the package, called Abacus, and Goldman would then sell the deal to suckers who would be told it was a good bet for a long investment. The SEC’s contention is that Goldman committed a crime – a “failure to disclose” – when they failed to tell the suckers about the role played by the vulture betting against them on the other side of the deal.

Alan Greenspan

Now, the instruments in question in this deal – collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps – fall into the category of derivatives, which are virtually unregulated in the US thanks in large part to the effort of gremlinish former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who as a young man was close to Rand and remained a staunch Randian his whole life. In the late 90s, Greenspan lobbied hard for the passage of a law that came to be called the Commodity Futures Modernisation Act of 2000, a monster of a bill that among other things deregulated the sort of interest-rate swaps Goldman used in its now-infamous dealings with Greece.

Both the Paulson deal and the Greece deal were examples of Goldman making millions by bending over their own business partners. In the Paulson deal the suckers were European banks such as ABN-Amro and IKB, which were never told that the stuff Goldman was cheerfully selling to them was, in effect, designed to implode; in the Greece deal, Goldman hilariously used exotic swaps to help the country mask its financial problems, then turned right around and bet against the country by shorting Greece’s debt.

Now here’s the really weird thing. Confronted with the evidence of public outrage over these deals, the leaders of Goldman will often appear to be genuinely confused, scratching their heads and staring quizzically into the camera like they don’t know what you’re upset about. It’s not an act. There have been a lot of greedy financiers and banks in history, but what makes Goldman stand out is its truly bizarre cultist/religious belief in the rightness of what it does.

Lloyd Blankfein Feels Rippin' Off People-oops I mean making Money is 'Doing God's Work'

The point was driven home in England last year, when Goldman’s international adviser, sounding exactly like a character in Atlas Shrugged, told an audience at St Paul’s Cathedral that “The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest”. A few weeks later, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein told the Times that he was doing “God’s work”.

Even if he stands to make a buck at it, even your average used-car salesman won’t sell some working father a car with wobbly brakes, then buy life insurance policies on that customer and his kids. But this is done almost as a matter of routine in the financial services industry, where the attitude after the inevitable pileup would be that that family was dumb for getting into the car in the first place. Caveat emptor, dude!

People have to understand this Randian mindset is now ingrained in the American character. You have to live here to see it. There’s a hatred toward “moochers” and “parasites” – the Tea Party movement, which is mainly a bunch of pissed off suburban white people whining about minorities consuming social services, describes the battle as being between “water-carriers” and “water-drinkers”. And regulation of any kind is deeply resisted, even after a disaster as sweeping as the 2008 crash.

This debate is going to be crystallised in the Goldman case. Much of America is going to reflexively insist that Goldman’s only crime was being smarter and better at making money than IKB and ABN-Amro, and that the intrusive, meddling government (in the American narrative, always the bad guy!) should get off Goldman’s Armani-clad back. Another side is going to argue that Goldman winning this case would be a rebuke to the whole idea of civilisation – which, after all, is really just a collective decision by all of us not to screw each other over even when we can. It’s an important moment in the history of modern global capitalism: whether or not to move forward into a world of greed without limits.

original article: http://www.alternet.org/story/146611/taibbi%3A_the_lunatics_who_made_a_religion_out_of_greed_and_wrecked_the_economy__?page=entire

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Breakdown FM on All day Play radio Our Tribute to Guru of Gang Starr

Last week we lost an icon.. Keith Elam aka Guru. He was a friend who I’ve known for almost 20 years. He was more rthan just a rapper with nice flows or a unique voice. He was a cat with keen insight and sense of history. My fear is that Guru will be underrated until a future generation re-discovers his music and appreciates how far ahead of the curve he was.. The songs we played last week don’t even began to scratch the surface.. Enjoy

-Davey D- 

Click HERE to Download & Listen to Breakdown FM Guru Podcast




01-Funkdoobiest ‘Dedicated’

02-Guru ‘For You’

03-Guru w/ Omar ‘JazzStyle’

04-Gang Starr w/ Jodeci ‘Royalty’

05-Gang Starr ‘Alongwaytogo’

06-Gang Starr w/ Big Shug & Freddie Foxx ‘The Militia’

07-Gang Starr ‘Step Into the Arena’

08-Gang Starr ‘Mass Appeal’

09-Malcolm X ‘BVallot or the Bullet’

10-Gang Starr ‘Who Got Gunz’

11-Gang Starr ‘Mostly the Voice’

12-Guru ‘Sights of the City’

13-Guru w/ Styles P ‘Don Status’

14-Gang Starr ‘Speak Ya Clout’

15-Davey D Old School Mega Mix’

16-Raekwon ‘Ice Cream

17-Gang Starr ‘Riot Akt’

18-Gang Starr ‘Peace of Mine’

19-Gang Starr ‘FALA

20-Gang Starr ‘Blowin’ Up the Spot’

21-Gang Starr ‘Words I Manifest’

22-Gang Starr ‘Full Clip’

23-Gang Starr ‘Words from the Nutcracker’

24-Gang Starr ‘Code of the Streets’

25-Gang Starr w/ Tony Touch ‘The Piece Maker’

26-Guru, Marcy Gray w/ Mos Def ‘I Committed Murder’

27-Gang Starr ‘I Know My Steeze’

28-Gang Starr w/Kurupt, ‘Lady of Rage ‘I know My Steez’

29-Guru ‘Looking ‘Through Darkness’

30-Guru w/Vivian Green ‘Fine and Free’

31-Guru ‘Lost Souls’

32-Guru w/ Brownman ‘Universal Struggle’

33-Guru ‘Who’s There’

34-Gang Starr ‘Street Ministry’