Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Killing Osama Bin Laden Doesn't Free the American Black Prison Population

Opinion, first posted at the Francis L. Holland Blog.

I had hoped that people in the US and elsewhere would quickly forget about Bin Laden and refocus on 15% unemployment among Black American adults, and the one million of us in jails and prisons, but that refocusing doesn't seem to be happening. President Obama and the "intelligence" agencies now have an endless supply of Osama Bin Laden mementos and goodies with which to regale the media and the public, and the story will be dragged out like the equally inconsequential death of Princess Diana.

A comment by TheEvilOne prompts me to address the Bin Laden case again, only with respect to its political lessons and implications in the United States.  

What strikes me is that, if indeed Bin Laden was killed, Obama had a pretty good idea of what country he was in.  Readers may remember that when Senators Clinton and Obama were running for Democratic nomination, Obama successfully avoided being called "anti-war" by promising to attack targets in PAKISTAN to 'get the terrorists," with or without Pakistan's permission.  Hillary Clinton said Obama's plan was immature and illegal, but Obama stuck to his drones and won the nomination.

Today, if anything that the CIA operatives are telling us on the news is true, Osama Bin Laden was, in fact, in PAKISTAN. Had it been known during the Democratic nomination primaries that Bin Laden was in Pakistan and Pakistan was refusing to cooperate with Bin Laden's capture, then both Clinton and Obama would have been compelled to talk tough about going into Pakistan.  Obama promised to do it and kept his promise, while Clinton promised NOT to do it and lost the nomination to Obama.

How was Obama so fortunate as to promise to effectively invade the very country where Bin Laden was hiding? It makes Obama seem pretty smart in retrospect, but in an irrelevant sort of way, from the perspective of Black Americans and their homes in foreclosure, or already living out of their cars.

Of course, Obama has been invading foreign oil-producing countries at the average rate of one per year (Pakistan and then Libya), so we can expect him to invade six more oil-producing countries by the end of his second term. None of it will help Black people in the United States one bit.

Black people are far more afraid of their local police and the all-white juries than they are of anyone in the Middle East or Africa, and with good reason:  "TheEvilOne" pointed to the following article, entitled, "The Failed Drug War Has Created a Human Rights Nightmare," with strikingly similar facts and metaphors, like the fact that Obama-Land is not the "Promised Land," which is still out of reach, in large measure because white America targeted Black America for imprisonment and the loss of many of the rights of citizenship:
We declared a war known as the War on Drugs. The war has driven the quintupling of our prison population in a few short decades. The vast majority of the startling increase in incarceration in America is traceable to the arrest and imprisonment of poor people of color for non-violent, drug-related offenses. Families have been torn apart, young lives shattered, as parents grieve the loss of loved ones to the system, often hiding their grief under a cloak of shame. Politicians claim that the enemy in this war in is a thing -- "drugs" -- not a group of people, but the facts prove otherwise.

African Americans have been admitted to prison on drug charges at a rate up to 57 times higher than whites. In some states, 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison have been African American. The rate of Latino imprisonment has been staggering as well. Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers are white, three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenses have been black and Latino.
In my opinion, one million Blacks in US jails and prisons is a far more important statistic than 3,000 killed at Ground Zero. "Ground Zero" for Black people is the state prisons in the fifty states, and the felony convictions:
Millions of people in the United States, primarily poor people of color, are denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement: the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, and the right to be free from discrimination in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits. They have been branded "criminals" and "felons" and now find themselves relegated to a permanent, second-class status for the rest of their lives.
We feel as if we are under siege, because we are under siege.  Every Black kid knows it and every Black parent and adult has fought it, but we are a minority--marginalized, repressed and imprisoned.