If one good thing has come out of Barack Obama’s ascension to the White House, it is that his rise has exposed the appalling backwardness of the black misleadership class – a petty and puny-minded cohort whose worldview is so narrow, it can accommodate only one issue: the political fortunes of the first black president.
Nothing else matters to these incredibly parochial political midgets – not issues of war and peace, nor the precarious state of planetary ecology, not even the economic well-being of the masses of black Americans. Certainly, not civil liberties. Only Obama.
Congressman James Clyburn is supposed to represent the interests of more than half a million South Carolinians, the majority of them black. One might expect a black congressman to have more than a passing interest in the Bill of Rights and protection of civil liberties. The revelation that Uncle Sam is building up a dossier on everyone with a telephone and a computer connection should at least be mildly upsetting to anyone that calls himself a black leader. But Congressman Clyburn has but one priority: to protect the image and legacy of Barack Obama.
Rather than thank whistleblower Edward Snowden for revealing the massive scope of government spying under Obama, Clyburn sees a conspiracy against the president. Otherwise, how could this 30-year-old white, high-school dropout get in a position to blow the whistle on the Obama administration? “I haven’t gotten to where I am in politics without relying on my gut,” said Clyburn. “And my gut tells me this is an effort to embarrass the president.”
“No doubt, white privilege did play a role.”
Clyburn’s gut isn’t a bit queasy about the dramatic expansion of the national security state, as long as Big Brother is black. What gives Clyburn angry bowels is the idea that a white guy with a GED had a secret security clearance. “Where did he get the intellectual capacity to be allowed access to all this data?” fumed Clyburn. The better question is, Where did Snowden get the moral courage to go up against rapidly growing fascism with a black face?
Julianne Malveaux is considered quite gifted, intellectually. She’s an economist, author, political commentator and former president of historically black Bennett College, in North Carolina. But she, too, seems more upset about young Snowden’s fat salary at a law firm in Hawaii, than about threats to everyone’s civil liberties.
Malveaux sounded like Clyburn’s echo. “I am still trying to figure out,” she said, “how a young white man with a GED was able to infiltrate both the respected firm Booz Allen and also the CIA, to earn a wage of more than $200,000 a year, and to know enough to whistle-blow.”
Snowden learned computers at a community college and got his security clearance while training to be a Green Beret. He left the military after breaking both legs, but kept his clearance – and the rest is history, right up there with Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers.
No doubt, white privilege did play a role in Snowden’s gaining access to Big Brother’s secrets. There have also been lots of times when white privilege was put to good use for the black liberation movement, and in the cause of peace. What makes certain black folks mad at Edward Snowden, is that he embarrassed their president – which, for the black misleadership class, is the greatest crime imaginable.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford