Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Liberals and Hot Air America

What can be made of something like Air America? For those that do not know, Air America is the liberal answer to the right-wing dominated talk-radio world. Here in New York it airs on WLIB and has replaced programming that was geared to the Afro and Caribbean American community which had been a staple for years. Listeners from these communities, however, are crying foul! Instead of being able to listen to news, announcements, music and discussion of issues relevant to the Black community, whether Afro or Caribbean, we are treated to white liberals holding court. Only two of the hosts broadcasting during Air America’s allotted hours here in New York are black and they are stuck with white co-hosts. Why is it that in a city with a large population of people of color we get so little representation over the airwaves? This is not to say that Air America is not a better alternative to the right-wing crap, along with sports talk, that dominates radio. But surely, at least in the case of WLIB, there is programming that would better serve local communities than having the likes of Al Franken carry water for the Democratic Party. It appears that Air America will mostly play like a long ad devoted to trashing, no doubt deservedly so, the Republican Party while bringing up the rear of the cowardly and servile Democratic Party. Talk about blowback; now progressive folks have their own to deal with in the guise of Hot Air America. It is too bad liberals either can’t or won’t recall the words of Malcolm X 40 years ago when he spoke of the twin headed hydra that these bourgeois parties really are: ‘One comes along and stabs you in the back (The Republicans), the other one (The Democrats) comes along and pulls out the knife a wee bit and says they done something.’

Rather than recognizing the truth of Malcolm words, liberals, like Linus of the children’s cartoon Peanuts who forever is clinging to his blanket, cling to the Democratic Party. So then, what is Air America? Air America is Chock-Full O’ White liberals; served fresh every day. They say: listen to us because we give you a Rush without the bitter aftertaste. O’Reilly, you can Factor us in to your day and not worry about making stuff up. We guarantee you no one will dare get Howard Stern with us here at Chock-Full O’ White liberals . . . er we meant Air America. Yeah, we here are all just doubting Thomas Friedman or is that Thomas Friedman has no doubt about us. We’re all Americans by golly! Well, on a more serious note, not too long ago I reached the conclusion that, as bad as the neo-cons are, it is the liberals that have been the principle obstacle, before even getting to the neo-cons or right wingers, standing in the way of true progressives. I say “true” not in some dogmatic holier than thou sense. I say true in the sense that true progressives stand on simple principles such as ‘do onto others as one would have them do onto you” or Kant’s moral maxim that "Act on that maxim and that maxim only, which you can at the same time will to be a universal law of nature." Liberals in deed and in thought violate this simple maxim. Imagine that just this one slogan of U. S. liberals were taken to its logical conclusion. That slogan is the cry to “let’s take our country back!” Following Kant’s maxim it is easy to see that, should this cry be taken seriously and universally applied, after liberals finish taking back “their country,” Native Americans can then, and with all justification, say ‘now we want back our country.’ Likewise, African Americans can say we want back our freedom and full restitution made for taking us out of our country and stealing our labor. Surely liberals would not be square with that because their opposition to the status quo has evermore been cosmetic and thus concerned with appearances and tactics.

Ultimate aims, such as overturning the rotten capitalist order and embarking on the path toward an open and egalitarian society, is not what they are after. They just make it seem like it is. This is why Michael Moore proceeded to endorse the killer of the Balkans Wesley Clark (a tactical move, he claimed on WBAI’s Democracy Now!) and why an atypical liberal organization like can, without a sense of historical irony, wrap themselves in the flag, declare “anyone but Bush,” and support an open imperialist like presidential candidate John Kerry. This supposedly all in the name of defeating G. W. Bush. Never mind that his ostensible replacement is fellow Skull and Boner John Kerry who dutifully did his genocidal part in Vietnam and, more recently, when he voted for both the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. For liberals, the bizarre call to ‘take back our country’ and the chant of ‘anyone but Bush’ takes precedence over everything. Liberals also seem to miss the point that for many around the world, most recently Haiti and Iraq, the U. S. flag, as a symbol, is little different than the Nazi swastika. In many places where it has flown death and destruction on a mass scale have accompanied it. Indeed, in his book “Rogue State,” William Blum writes that Since World War II, the U.S. military has been involved in over 200 military operations that have resulted in a conservative estimate of between 10-17 million people killed.

As damning, and it is in this aspect that they have been the bane of radical/progressive movements, is that liberals have continually posed as being on the right side of history and so have been able to funnel change from below within the U. S. into a completely bankrupt electoral system. It is the Democratic Party that has been the vehicle of choice in this game of bait and switch. Once properly contained within the Democratic Party many a radical/progressive movement in the U. S. has languished there and finally disappeared. At key points throughout U. S. history even those movements that have been able to keep from being trapped by the blandishments of the liberals, such as the Black Panther Party, have been so hostiley met by the liberal establishment that it compromised their survival and left them totally, rather than partially, open to the worst depredations of the hidden fist, as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times put it, inside the glove of the state. Like fish, movements need a welcoming sea to swim and thrive in. Liberals have invariably either poisoned the sea or changed the water. The killing of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition at the behest of the Democratic Party in the late 80’s (with Jesse’s help no less!) comes to mind here.

To pose an analogy, if radical/progressive movements were a prizefighter, liberals would be the equivalent of a bought off corner purposely giving all the wrong advice while giving only superficial support to “their” fighter. Meanwhile, the opposing fighter, representing the neo-cons or right wingers, is winning practically every round handily. But is this not the point? Liberals primp and pose as a better alternative while all the while leaving untouched the fundamental structures of power that are at the root of the ills plaguing both U. S. society and the world. With friends like liberals we do not need enemies. It would be much wiser, for black people in particular, and the working class in general, to forget about the cheap wares proffered by liberals and their Democratic Party backers. We need to develop an independent political perspective along with a movement to express it that then seeks to go to the root of the problem which, for those who want me to name names, is the class and racial caste system embodied by the Capitalist order. As events in Argentina, and Venezuela in reaction to the abortive Coup, showed recently, when the people decide to take matters into their own hands, it does not matter whether this or that politician is in power. Whoever it is either has to respond to the will of the people or he or she will find him or herself out of office or, if need be, dead.

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