Sour Thoughts for Dog Days

Sour Thoughts for Dog Days


Let’s start with Cynthia McKinney. Don’t you think that if Arab-American or African-American groups targeted an incumbent white, liberal, maybe Jewish, congressperson, and shipped in money by the truckload to oust the incumbent, the rafters would shake with bellows of outrage?

Yet when a torrent of money from out-of-state Jewish organizations smashed Earl Hilliard, the first elected black Representative in Alabama since Reconstruction, you could have heard a mouse cough. Hilliard had made the fatal error of calling for some measure of evenhandedness in the Middle East. So he was targeted by AIPAC and the others. Down he went, defeated in the Democratic primary by Artur Davis, a black lawyer who obediently sang for his supper on the topic of Israel.

At that particular moment the liberal watchdogs were barking furiously in an entirely different direction. Ed McGaa, a Green candidate, has had the effrontery to run in Minnesota for Paul Wellstone’s Senate seat. Such an uproar! Howls of fury from Marc Cooper and Harold Meyerson lashing McGaa for his presumption. Even a pompous open letter from Steve Cobble hassling the Minnesota Greens for endangering St. Paul. Any of these guys think of writing to Artur Davis, telling him to back off, or to denounce him as a cat’s-paw of groups backing Sharon’s terror against Palestinians? You bet they did.

Then it was McKinney’s turn. A terrific liberal black Congresswoman. Like Hilliard, she wasn’t cowed by the Israel-right-or-wrong lobby and called for real debate on the Middle East. And she called for a real examination of the lead-up to 9/11. So the sky has fallen in on her. Torrents of American Jewish money shower her opponent, a black woman judge called Denise Majette. Buckets of shit are poured over McKinney’s head in the Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Here’s how it’s been working. McKinney sees what happened to Hilliard, and that American Jewish money is pumping up Majette’s challenge. So she goes to Arab-American groups to try to raise money to fight back. This allows Tom Edsall to attack her in the Post as being in receipt of money from pro-terror Muslims. Lots of nasty-looking Arab/Muslim names fill Edsall’s stories.

Now just suppose someone looked at names in the pro-Israel groups funding Majette, who by mid-August had raised twice as much money as McKinney. Aren’t they supporting the terror that has US-made F-16s bombing kids in Gaza? What’s the game here? It’s a reiteration of the message delivered to politicians down the years, as when Senator Charles Percy and others went down: Put your head over the parapet on the topic of Israel/Palestine, and we’ll blow it off. And when blacks denounce the role of outside Jewish money in the onslaughts on Hilliard and McKinney, there’ll be an avalanche of hysterical columns about the menace of black anti-Semitism. Just you wait. It’s a closed system.

Next sour thought: Yes, Katha, you did raise a little stink re McKinney, in overly decorous but still commendable terms right here in The Nation. Which reminds me, here’s what I wrote to a fellow angered over a piece by Ellen Johnson we’d run in CounterPunch, criticizing you for saying Dennis Kucinich’s position against abortion rendered him ineligible as the progressives’ future champion:

“Hi Matt, I’m forwarding yr note to Ellen, but allow me to say that I think your reaction is too hasty. Ellen raised some very serious points about the monoptic way NOW and leading feminists address the abortion issue. I think it is right to emphasize that we should battle for social conditions where abortion ceases to be regarded by many progressives as a prime indicator of freedom and liberation for women.

“Surely you cannot regard the killing of fetuses as somehow an intrinsically ‘good thing.’ The real friends of abortion are the Malthusians who want to rid the world as much as possible of the ‘over-breeding’ and disruptive poor, particularly minorities….

“More generally, I think liberal women’s groups gave Clinton the pass on savage assaults on the poor because the Clintons unrelentingly preached commitment to abortion…. we ran the piece because we think it’s high time to get beyond bunker liberalism, where progressives huddle in the foxhole, holding on to ‘choice’ as their bottom-line issue, with a sideline in telling black teen moms that they are socially irresponsible. Best, Alex Cockburn”

More sourness: The ILWU? That’s the West Coast longshoremen. Their contract expired on July 1. The contract is being extended on a daily basis. The employers are playing tough, well aware that the Bush high command has told ILWU leaders that Bush will not hesitate to invoke Taft-Hartley, bring in troops if necessary and destroy the ILWU as a bargaining agent for the whole West Coast. Tom Ridge, calling in his capacity as chief of Homeland Security, has done some heavy breathing in the ear of ILWU leaders about the inadvisability of a strike at this time.

The ILWU’s coastwide contract was won in the 1934 strike, along with the hiring hall, which replaced the old shape-up system, in which the boss could keep out organizers and anyone else. These are bedrock issues, for which strikers fought and died that year in San Francisco and Seattle. The West Coast longshoremen stand as a beacon of what union organizing can do. Of course, the Bush White House yearns to destroy it, maybe using the War on Terror as pretext. If ever there was a time for solidarity, this is it.

Final sour thought, on Paul Krugman. Krugman? He has just conceded that maybe neoliberal policies haven’t worked too well in Latin America. Look it up. It’s in his New York Times column for August 9, “The Lost Continent.” He spent 184 words on the matter. “Why hasn’t reform worked as promised? That’s a difficult and disturbing question.”

Gee Paul, since you constitute the entirety of the Democratic Party’s opposition to Bush, I know you’re busy as hell. But since your crowd supervised a good deal of the economic destruction of Latin America, and your economic faction offered the basic rationales for that devastation, I sure hope you return to the problem. Maybe you won’t be so snooty about opponents of “free trade.” Maybe you’ll even have a quiet word with Tom Friedman.

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