Monthly Archives: May 2008


May 29, 2008, 3:29 PM

Clinton’s Latest Claim: She’s The Most “Fiscally Responsible” Candidate

From CBS News’ Fernando Suarez:

HURON, S.D. — On her last day of campaigning in South Dakota, Hillary Clinton told a group of supporters huddled inside a ballroom that South Dakotans should pick her on Tuesday because of her economic experience. “If you will vote for me next Tuesday, you are voting for the most fiscally responsible candidate in this race on either side of the aisle,” Clinton said, a blatant jab at both Barack Obama and John McCain. Clinton was referring to her practice of offering explanations on how she will pay for all of the programs she has laid out, including her very expensive universal health care plan.

“We need a president who will put us back on the path to fiscal responsibility,” she said. “I am the only candidate running who has told you specifically how I will pay for everything I propose because I want you to hold me accountable.”

There are a couple of problems with this claim, though. First, her campaign is approximately $20 million in debt, even after she loaned over $11 million of her own money to the cause. Several vendors and suppliers have come forward to say they are owed money by the campaign, and her former chief strategist, Mark Penn, is owed $5 million for his services before he parted ways with Clinton.

Second, Clinton received more than five times the number of earmarks than any other senator, according Taxpayers for Common Sense. Their report also found that Clinton is responsible for receiving over $2 billion in earmarks from 2002 to 2006, which is more than either Barack Obama or John McCain.

The report set off controversy when it was revealed that Clinton, and the senior senator from New York, Charles Schumer, supported a $1 million earmark for a Woodstock museum. McCain knocked the project during a Republican debate last year, calling Woodstock a “cultural and pharmaceutical event.” He added that he didn’t attend Woodstock because he was “tied up at the time,” a reference to his day as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.


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In this June 1, 2007 file photo, Rev. Michael Pfleger, left, of Saint Sabina Catholic Church is seen with Rev. Jesse Jackson during a news conference at Rainbow/Push Coalition headquarters in Chicago. Pfleger apologized Thursday, May 29, 2008, for the sermon given Sunday at Trinity United Church of Christ, during which he said Clinton cried in January because she felt “entitled” to the Democratic nomination and that a “black man is stealing my show.” (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File) (AP PHOTO)



Barack Obama again distanced himself Thursday from a controversial sermon given at his Chicago church, saying he was “deeply disappointed” to hear a priest mock Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tears just before the New Hampshire primary.

Obama supporter the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Chicago activist, also apologized Thursday for the sermon given last Sunday, during which he said Clinton cried in January because she felt “entitled” to the Democratic nomination and that a “black man is stealing my show.”

In a video circulating on the Internet, Pfleger said the former first lady expected to win the nomination before Obama’s sudden popularity.

“She just always thought that, ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white.’ … And then, out of nowhere, came ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama.” And she said, ‘Oh damn, where did you come from? I’m white. I’m entitled. There’s a black man stealing my show,”‘ Pfleger said at Trinity United Church of Christ.

He then went on to parody Clinton, sobbing and wiping his face with a handkerchief.

“She wasn’t the only one crying,” he said. “There was a whole lot of white people crying.”

Obama won the Iowa caucuses, the opening contest of the nominating season, in January. Days later, Clinton’s eyes brimmed with tears and her voice broke as she talked with voters in New Hampshire on the eve of the primary, which she won.

In his statement, Obama said he was “deeply disappointed” by Pfleger’s comments.

“As I have traveled this country, I’ve been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that that unites us,” he said. “That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause.”

Clinton’s campaign denounced Pfleger’s sermon Thursday night.

“Divisive and hateful language like that is totally counterproductive in our efforts to bring our party together and have no place at the pulpit or in our politics,” the campaign said in a statement. “We are disappointed that Senator Obama didn’t specifically reject Father’s Pfleger’s despicable comments about Senator Clinton, and assume he will do so.”

Pfleger, the white pastor of the predominantly black Saint Sabina Roman Catholic Church on the city’s Southwest side, said Thursday he regretted his choice of words.

“These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama’s life and message and I am deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them,” Pfleger said.

Pfleger’s statements were met with rounds of applause and in some cases standing ovations from the congregation.

In March, Pfleger invited Obama’s embattled former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to speak at an event at Saint Sabina, embracing Wright in the church.

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I went over to brownfemipower’s site to pay her a visit today. While scrolling down her list of posts, I came upon the following:  “Prince Among Slaves”, . Brownfemipower had questioned why were there no documentaries on brave African women who resisted slavery?I commented in my response the following:

“So–I agree it was a really important documentary–I just would like to see some documentaries about african women as well.”

I agree with you Brownfemipower.

When many people think of black people they often visualize black men, not black women. Same goes for the word woman—black women are not envisioned.

All the Blacks Are Men, All the Women Are White……………

………….but, many of Us (Black Women) Are STILL BRAVE.

I also did a post on PBS’s broadcast of this film, but, you know, and I know that this program has significance in the Muslim angle of this African prince’s religion. Fine. Especially what you picked upon, I picked upon as well:

“It even pointed out that some of his inroads that he made in getting himself free and his family free were due to racist ideas of western politicians that a muslim must be *arab* (and thus light skinned/more like white people), and thus it was ‘wrong’ to enslave them.”

But, damn, black women are a part of the black race too.

Black women get left out so much a person would think that black men gave birth to the black race.

Even during the time of the enactment of the 15TH Amendment, black women felt that if they stepped aside for black men to receive the vote, that black men in going through that door, would take black women along with them. Sadly, after slavery was abolished, some black men took up the same barbaric mistreatment of black women that white men had done to black women during slavery—black men beating and abusing their black wives. Some black men felt that (due to internalizing racism, coupled with sexism) that THEY had just as much right to beat and hurt their wives just as the slave master did.

When people think of the lynchings of black people, the first image that comes into many people’s mind is that of a black man hanging from a rope attached to a tree. Yes, many, many black men were lynched——-but so too were black women——-and many of those black women were gang-raped BEFORE they were lynched!

Black women have contributed so much but for those who are ignorant of black American history, many people think that black women have done NOTHING in this country’s history. I am sure you know that if one goes to my site, you will find MUCH that black women have done that I have posted on.

But, since this is a country that worships maleness, endeavors of women—especially black women—are always pushed to the margins under the rug. As for the resistance to slavery before and during slavery, no one listened to or cared for the feelings of enslaved black women. Even in many slave narratives written by abolitionist to stir up anger against slavery, many abolitionists looked to BLACK MEN SLAVES as the TRUE representative of ALL enslaved black people. As a result of that, the voices of millions of enslaved black women (before 1808, and after 1808) were lost to history.

The first novel written by an enslaved black woman:

“The Bondwoman’s Narrative” by Hannah Crafts, written circa 1850s.

Her novel was not “discovered” until 2001, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Slaves who escaped from slavery were not ALL men, no matter what many people wish to believe. True, the proportion of women slaves escaping (especially those with children) was small, but, black women were not weak-willed, cringing cowards who did not take it upon themselves to flee to freedom. It bore silent testimony to the INDOMITABLE SPIRIT of those who rejected the cruelty of slavery. Afterall, they were women, and millions of them had children whether those children were the black male slave’s—or the slave master’s—and those black women who could run with their children——ran:

-”Pleasants, a slave mother, took her four children—Billey, Catey, Joe and James—when she set out. The record does not show whether the four naked slaves were her children when they were captured and put in the Surry County, Virginia jail. It does show, however, that Pleasant’s owner did not want nor claim her or the children and that while in jail she gave birth to another child. Perhaps as punishment, Pleasant was forced to languish in jail for a year with the children and baby.”

-”In 1826, Lazette, or Elizabeth, a South Carolina slave avoided being jailed, but her owner seemed not to be worried. She would not get far, he said in the Charleston Mercury—-with a six-month-old baby.”

-”Pregnant women also ran away. Twenty-one-year-old Lucille, a Louisiana woman who set out in 1833, was in “an advanced stage of pregnancy”. “The captains of vessels are requested not to give her shelter”, the New Orleans widow who owned her threatened, “under the pain provided by law”to punish the captains.

[”Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation” by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger.]

Black women on slave ships threw themselves overboard rather than suffer longer from inhumane degradations and debaucheries from white male slavers; black women on slave ships refused to eat the filth that was considered food by the slave ship monsters; black women fought back against white rapists on slave ships as best they could; black AFRICAN women were not the silent weak spineless many people wish to paint them as.



They refused to be ENSLAVED just as much as the African men refused.

They would be NO ONE’S slave.

But, since much of black history, especially of the Middle Passage and during slavery, and after slavery, was written by BOTH white AND black men, only now are many people after all these centuries and decades FINALLY learning of the beautiful history of black women—–black women who have been silenced for so long—–black women who will no longer be silenced anymore.

“Also–I was thinking about this as I was getting ready for work–I remember watching an hour-long documentary on nat turner’s rebellion. WHich is astounding to me, because nobody knows anything about nat turners rebellion!!! the whole show was basically based on a few clips found in newspapers and some slave rebellions that had happened at different times–they took all this and speculated–this is what could have happened. Again, not that it isn’t interesting and necessary, it is—but I think that when it hasn’t even been documented all of what DID happen, why is it already moving into what COULD have happened?”

And that people do not know of Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser—and ESPECIALLY Denmark Vesey—-is unconscionable and pathetic.

I would say that if they do not know of those men, most notably Vesey, then, there is no way they could ever know of William Pencil, George Wilson, OR Peter Desverney.

Black women did not take enslavement lying down. They fought with black men—and if need be, they fought by themselves. But, black women today have to continue to speak up for black women along with those (like yourself, Brownfemipower) who speak up for us. They must continue to unearth all the buried history of black women—a proud history that includes both black men as well.

Knowledge of black history is not just knowledge of black men.

It is knowledge of BLACK WOMEN as well.

In Praise of Black Women:

-the Candaces of Kush
-Makeda, Queen of Sheba
-Daurama, Mother of the Hausa Kingdoms
-Yennenga, Mother of the Mossi people
-Ana de Sousa, Nzinga—-the queen who resisted Portuguese conquest

Until the lioness learns to write, history will continue to be written by the hunter.

So, I shall begin.





• Elizabeth Key, whose mother was a slave and father was a white planter, sued for her freedom, claiming her father’s free status and her baptism as grounds — and the courts upheld her claim


• Virginia House of Burgesses passed a law that a child’s status followed the mother’s, if the mother was not white, contrary to English common law in which the father’s status determined the child’s


• Maryland passed a law under which free white women would lose their freedom if they married a black slave, and under which the children of white women and black men became slaves


• Virginia legislature declared that free black women were to be taxed, but not white women servants or other white women, or black men; that “negro women, though permitted to enjoy their freedom” could not have the rights of “the English.”



Besson 29.  By refusing to accept slavery like dumb animals, by regularly raising their voices, women in their way, forced their presence on the consciousness of many: this was the thin end of the wedge in undermining the system of slavery.  For once the slave is seen or heard, as a human being, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify his or her existence as a chattel: 

The iconic example of the enslaved woman who refused to remain silent is Anastasia, black slave and martyr from Brazil.  Her story is told in In Praise of Black Women 2.  Anastasia was possessed by the goddess Yemenja, queen of the deep water and mother of all gods, the very same one the whites called the Virgin Mary.  The message from the goddess through Anastasia was for the slaves to flee and set up a land of welcome for the gods of Africa.  Those who were unable to leave due to age, infirmity or the weight of their chains were to from then on look the white man in the eyes as if they were creatures just like him.  They tried to silence her by placing an iron mask over her face but Yemenja kept speaking through her eyes, and those words were even deeper and more moving than the words spoken by her mouth.   Imprisonment and a spiked iron collar eventually led to her death but even in death she continues to speak as she is revered as a saint.  Black women in Brazil in particular address their most common and powerful prayer to her: Anastasia, holy Anastasia, You who were borne by Yemenja, our mother; Give us the strength to struggle each day So we may never become slaves; So that, like you, we may be rebellious creatures.  May it be so.  Amen.

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Part Sevenlumumba01
by Milton Allimadi
The same racist propaganda that prepared European and American public opinion for the divvying up of Africa in the late Nineteenth Century, reemerged with a vengeance as African nations won nominal independence in the mid-Twentieth Century. Western media paved the way for the assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba and the subsequent rise of puppet regimes in service of old colonial and newer American “interests.”  Africans that tried to resist neocolonialism in the 1960s were “a rabble of dazed, ignorant savages,” according to Time magazine. Three decades later, the New York Times Magazine published a celebratory article titled, “Colonialism’s Back – And Not A Moment too Soon.”
The Hearts of Darkness: How European Writers Created the Racist Image of Africa
lumumba04Part Seven
by Milton Allimadi
Mr. Allimadi is CEO and Publisher of The Black Star News, based in New York City. He has graciously given BAR permission to serialize his work.
Time Magazine Denigrates Congo Nationalism
Time magazine was once the mouth-piece for Western domination of Africa, serving as apologist for the British in Kenya during the Mau-Mau uprising, and later in the Congo when Patrice Lumumba was agitating for independence, and later when he was fighting for his life.
One memorable Time magazine article was published on December 4th, 1964, when the Simba guerrillas were defeated by a mercenary army backing the Belgian stooge, Moise Tshombe, who led the secessionist Katanga province. Time magazine’s cover carried the photograph of Paul E. Carlson, a 36-year-old American doctor, who had volunteered to work in the Congo and had reportedly been murdered by the Simba. He had been killed along with 26 other whites in Stanleyville (now Kisangani), in the north.
“Lumumba was demonized by Western media as a pro-Soviet Communist leader.”
The Congo at that time was torn by chaotic civil war following Lumumba’s murder, with at least four rival administrations in place. Belgian mining and business interests, determined to continue their colonial exploitation of the Congo’s resources, had backed Tshombe and other secessionists amenable to their business interests. Tshombe, in turn, had declared himself prime minister of mineral-rich Katanga. He was favored by the Belgian mining companies and backed Western occupation of the Congo, so he became a darling of the Western media.
Lumumba, the elected leader of the central government and a nationalist, was demonized by Western media as a pro-Soviet Communist leader. This paved the way for the military intervention of Colonel Joseph Desire Mobuttu (later Mobuttu Sese Seko) and Lumumba’s eventual murder with backing from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Belgian government.
The United States assisted Belgium when it mounted a paratroop mission to “rescue” 1,300 Europeans reportedly trapped in Stanleyville as a result of the fighting reported by Time magazine.  After the paratroopers landed on the outskirts of the city, the Simba rounded up 250 whites, Time reported.  Also foreshadowing the use of radio to incite violence, as occurred in Rwanda 30 years later, Radio Stanleyville broadcast a simple message, “Ciyuga! Ciyuga! (Kill them all),” according to Time, and the targets were presumably meant to be whites.
The message was from a “major Babu,” described by Time as a “deaf-mute ex-boxer addicted to hemp.” The article added, “Babu’s order could not have been a scream, but in its strangled, inarticulate, ferocity must have expressed the blood lust of the Simbas.”
According to the article, all but 60 of the whites were rescued by the paratroop operation. Twenty-five of the dead were identified as Belgians, along with two Americans, including Dr. Carlson – the others were not accounted for.
Perhaps recognizing that it needed to explain why one American’s death commanded so much attention in the publication, while an entire country was aflame and disintegrating, Time magazine explained it this way: “A single life, or even a hundred may not appear to mean much in the grim reckoning of Africa. The tribes butchered each other for centuries before the white man arrived and in colonial days when white soldiers killed countless, nameless Africans. Dr. Carlson’s murder, along with the massacre of another hundred whites and thousands of Blacks, had a special tragic meaning.”
Time magazine: ‘The rebels were, after all, for the most part, only a rabble of dazed, ignorant savages.'”
Why was this? “Carlson symbolized all the white men – and there are many – who want nothing from Africa but a chance to help,” the article stated. “He was no saint and no deliberate martyr. He was a highly skilled physician and who, out of a strong Christian faith and a sense of common humanity, had gone to the Congo to treat the sick.” Then came the punch line that the magazine had wanted to deliver all along: “His death did more than prove that Black African civilization – with its trappings of half a hundred sovereignties, governments and U.N. delegations — is largely a pretense. The rebels were, after all, for the most part, only a rabble of dazed, ignorant savages, used and abused by semi-sophisticated leaders.”
When Tshombe’s brutal mercenaries, led by major Mike Hoare, described by Time as “a starchy South African,” committed atrocities when they retook Stanleyville, the magazine glossed over their violence. “They were not above searching bodies for cash or blowing a few safes in the Stanleyville banks,” the article stated. “But a great many of them are fighting for Tshombe’s government out of conviction. Certainly, the ‘mercenaries’ are no more mercenary – and far less brutal – than the African soldiers on either side of the Congolese civil war.”
The article added, “Tshombe’s tough Katangese gendarmes hunted down Simbas. Black residents of Stanleyville took to wearing white headbands to show their allegiance to the Leopoldville government, but that did not always work, and many a headband was soon stained red.”
The article also accused every African of “insanity” because African presidents had backed the Simba “without even a hint of condemnation for their bestialities.” It continued, “Virtually all these nations echoed the cynical Communist line in denouncing the parachute rescue as ‘imperialist aggression.’  When this happened, the sane part of the world could only wonder whether Black Africa can be taken seriously at all, or whether, for the foreseeable future, it is beyond the reach of reason.”
Finally, anyone who knows anything about Africa will attest, no Western writer ever departs from a visit to Congo without invoking that racist novel, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. “Stanleyville, the ‘Inner Station’ of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, stands at the very center of the continent,” the Time magazine article stated, obligingly. “As Conrad wrote of the journey upriver to Stanleyville, ‘It was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rotted on earth and the big trees were kings. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. You thought yourself bewitched and cut off forever from everything you had known once – somewhere – far away – in another existence perhaps.’ So it must have seemed to the soldiers who last week made the voyage to the Inner Station.” One can almost envision the Time writer flipping feverishly through Conrad’s novel to lift a suitable section for his article.
“Tshombe was praised effusively by the writer as the antithesis of the savage African.”
Tshombe, on the other hand, was praised effusively by the writer as themoise_tshombe antithesis of the savage African because he pursued a “patient formula” and recognized that white men “will hold as many positions as possible for as long as it takes to mold an effective army and administration.” For that reason, Tshombe was “beyond the pale of his peers in other African nations.”
Thankfully for the rest of the world, concluded the article, “Africans respect a winner and so Tshombe banked on his firm stand against the rebels in Stanleyville. If he succeeds, the Congo could become a watershed in the history of emerging Africa. For five years, African politicians have indiscriminately whip lashed the Western world with such airy phrases as ‘African personality’ and ‘African socialism.’ Tshombe – that rarest of Africans who seems to have no complexes about being black – recognizes the brutal side of the African personality, and the phony side of African socialism.”
Africa’s Coming Anarchy & Doom
Responding to the spread of civil conflict in Africa during the 1980s and the early 1990s major Western publications including The New York Times intensified their tribalization of Africa. Finally, the series of disastrous wars in Africa had paved the way for frustrated racists to openly express themselves again.
An article by Alan Cowell – the same Cowell the Zimbabweans had denied permission to cover their country while based in South Africa – was published in The New York Times Magazine under the headline “Mobuttu’s Zaire: Magic and Decay,” on April 5, 1992. The article began with the author informing readers about his adventures with “new friends” through La Cite which he described as a “reptilian slum” in Kinshasa where the “music throbbed with primal energy.”
“All the worn truths about modern Africa,” Cowell explained, “it’s myriad tribes and fake boundaries, its recourse to tyranny; the absence of hope or accountability – seem to tumble together in the streets of Kinshasa, the hot moist capital.”
“The bush has grown over the Belgian-built roads so that no one can even find them,” he continued, without noting that Belgium was more notorious for chopping off the hands of Congolese rather than building the country. “There is no single highway or railroad connecting north and south. The best route to the interior is by a river ferry laden with whores and traders dabbling in parrots and monkeys and booze and dope. Somewhere out there are Pygmies and rebels, diamond smugglers and jungle.”
mobutu1 “There are many others like him,” Cowell wrote, of Mobuttu, without focusing on the fact that this kleptomaniac and Patrice Lumumba‘s assassin was created and sustained by the United States. “In Zambia, before his fall in 1991, President Kenneth Kaunda devised ‘one-party participatory democracy’ and decreed that the country’s currency bear his portrait, as a symbol of national unity. In Guinea, President Ahmed Sekou Toure‘s image likewise adorned the national currency, which was called the Syli (pronounced silly) – a frivolous sideshow to a bloody despotic rule.”
Cowell’s portrayal of Zaire was not any different from Homer Bigart’s contemptuous representation of the Congo and Nigeria more than 30 years earlier. “Julius K. Nyerere in Tanzania became the Teacher, although the lessons were only in how to run an economy to the ground. Kamuzu Hastings Banda in Malawi – the conqueror – waved a fly whisk. At festivals, he had big-bottomed women dance around his diminutive figure so that all the spectators could see was the fly-whisk – the wand of power – held magically, quiveringly, irrepressibly aloft.”
“The author lamented that British colonial rule in Africa had ended prematurely.”
Western writers cannot resist the temptation of dumping on Pygmies whenever they write about the Congo. In his article, Cowell recalled that many years earlier, in 1977, he had gone in search of Pygmies when he learned that Mobuttu employed a crack military unit to help fight rebels. “When later in the campaign, in the town of Kasaji, I found a man of no great stature clad in government uniform, carrying a bow and poisoned arrow,” Cowell wrote, “I felt obliged to ask him: Are you a Pygmy? ‘No,’ he replied, politely but firmly and with wry dignity. ‘I am a small Zairian.'”
On April 18th, 1993 The New York Times Magazine published an article under the pernicious headline, “Colonialism’s Back – And Not A Moment too Soon.” The article, by Paul Johnson, praised the intervention by the United States and the United Nations to try and restore order in Somalia, a mission initially supported by many Somalis and other Africans. Might not this intervention serve as a model for other operations in African countries facing similar political collapse, the writer wondered? The author lamented that British colonial rule in Africa had ended prematurely.
It never occurred to Johnson to argue that preparation for self-rule had never been part of the agenda in all the years of colonial misrule. After dominating the Congo for more than a century, Belgium managed to produce only a half-dozen college graduates to take over a country of millions when they left the vast territory. In almost four centuries of contact with Mozambique and Angola, the Portuguese were unable to produce educated Africans. Now, suddenly, these countries were to be blamed for their political, economic and social malaise after 30 years of self-rule, following more than a century of ruin in some cases? “There is a moral issue here,” Johnson insisted, in his article. “The civilized world has a mission to go out to these desperate places and govern.”
When editors believe there is a vigorous organized constituency, they often solicit an opposing opinion when they publish controversial, pernicious, or outright racist viewpoints. By 1993, with several African countries engulfed in conflict, with images of starvation, death and destruction flashed all over the world, editors felt no need to offer counter-balancing arguments.  After all, Africa was simply reverting to its natural state – barbarism.
The Times’ magazine article paved the way for the publication of similar articles. “The Coming Anarchy,” by Robert D. Kaplan, the most apocalyptic of them all, was published by The Atlantic Monthly magazine in its March 1994 issue, and years later, it was published as a book.
“Kaplan wrote that people in West Africa no longer resembled human beings.”
Kaplan’s gloomy Malthusian observations and doomsday prognoses were similar to those found in Richard Burton‘s Wandering In West Africa (1862), a book he happily consulted, and quoted from. “Disease, overpopulation, unprovoked crime, scarcity of resources, refugee migrations, the increased erosion of nation-states and international borders,” Kaplan warned, “are now most tellingly demonstrated through a West African prism.” Things became so bad that people in West Africa no longer resembled human beings, he emphasized.
Wherever he traveled in a taxi, Kaplan wrote, young men, with “restless scanning eyes” surrounded him. “They were like loose molecules in a very unstable social fluid, a fluid that was clearly on the verge of igniting.”  In order to protect himself against the diseases, the author complained that he had spent $500 in inoculations. Even then, he was not sure whether this precaution was sufficient since mutation in malaria and AIDS made Africa more dangerous today than in 1862 when Burton traveled there before antibiotics were available. 
As Burton had observed in the 19th Century, and as Kaplan repeated in 1994, the health conditions in Africa were “deadly,” “a golgotha,” “a jehanum.”
The Rwanda war, beginning with the 1990 invasion by Uganda-backed Tutsi insurgents, and the subsequent genocide four years later, offered the best case study of stereotypical Western reporting on Africa. The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) insurgents, many of whom were soldiers in the Ugandan national army, cultivated and exploited the sympathy of gullible, or culpable, Western reporters, years before the 1994 genocide. 
One of the earliest apologias that romanticized the RPF insurgents, “Rwanda’s Aristocratic Guerrillas,” by Alex Shoumatoff, appeared in The New York Times Magazine on Dec. 13th, 1992. As already demonstrated in a previous essay, historically, Western writers portrayed Africans with “European” features relative to those with emphatic “negroid” features more sympathetically. In the Rwanda conflict the Tutsis, with their leaner frames and narrower facial features relative to the Hutus’ became “honorary” whites.
Shoumatoff traveled to Uganda where the RPF had its headquarters and had been met at Entebbe airport by RPF officials who led him to areas inside Rwanda that they controlled. Shoumatoff comfortably resorted to the 18th Century travel writers’ style, contrasting the “noble” Africans (Tutsis in this case) with the “true negroes” (the Hutus). He wrote that the Tutsis were “refined” with “European” features, while the Hutus were “stocky” and “broad nosed.” Once the article was placed in this context who do you imagine the majority of white readers all over the world wanted to prevail in this conflict?
“In the late 19th Century,” Shoumatoff continued, describing the Tutsis, “early ethnologists were fascinated by these ‘languidly haughty’ pastoral aristocrats whose high foreheads, aquiline noses and thin lips seemed more Caucasian than Negroid, and they classed them as ‘false negroes.’ In a popular theory of the day, the Tutsis were thought to be highly civilized people, the race of fallen Europeans, whose existence in Central Africa had been rumored for centuries.” He added: “They are not a race or a tribe, as often described, but a population, a stratum, a mystical, warrior-priest elite, like the Druids in Celtic society.” As for the Hutus, they were far from resembling warrior priests; they were the “short, stocky local Bantu agriculturalist.”
The New York Times was irresponsible and had no justification for publishing such racist nonsense, particularly when the editors knew that Shoumatoff was married to a Tutsi woman who was a second cousin to an RPF spokesperson. Shoumatoff may have as well been an RPF press agent posing as an independent journalist; he employed all the ugly words that have historically been used to denigrate and dehumanize Africans for centuries. Shamefully, he was aided and abetted by one of the world’s most influential and powerful media companies.
Shoumatoff published a second article in another major American magazine, The New Yorker, on June 20th, 1992. On that occasion, he wrote about how he reflected upon the difference in physical features between Tutsis and Hutus while he was in Burundi that year.
While traveling in a taxi in Bujumbura, the capital, he turned around and “checked out the ethnic mix” of the passengers, he recalled. “There were three obvious Tutsis. Tall, slender, with high foreheads, prominent cheekbones, and narrow features,” Shoumatoff wrote. “They were a different physical type from the five passengers who were short and stocky and had the flat noses and thick lips typical of Hutus.”
“Shoumatoff employed all the ugly words that have historically been used to denigrate and dehumanize Africans for centuries.”
The Hutus were thoroughly and effectively demonized by Shoumatoff, and many subsequent writers covering the conflict followed this racist theme. Suddenly there was no need for Shoumatoff to explain a critical point to his readers: How would the RPF, essentially a Tutsi insurgency, govern effectively, were they to seize power in Rwanda where Hutus made up 85 percent of the population? Shoumatoff had reduced the conflict to simplistic terms that uninformed readers in the West could relate to; a contest between the “beautiful” versus the “ugly.” So many Western writers, following a similar simplistic theme, ignored the critical role that Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni‘s militarism and expansionism played in the conflict, with his training and arming of the RPF.
Shoumatoff had simply resurrected the Western writers’ tendency to venerate “European” looking Africans, which has been employed for centuries, including in Aphra Behn’s 17th century novel, Oroonoko, The Royal Slave. In the more recent era, three decades before Shoumatoff’s articles about the Tutsis, the notorious Elspeth Huxley used similar linguistic skills while glorifying Tutsis in her reports from Africa. “Their small, narrow heads perched on top of slim and spindly bodies,” Huxley wrote, in a report in The New York Times on February 23rd, 1964, “remind one of some of Henry Moore’s sculptures.” She went on to compare the original Tutsi conquest of Hutus in the 16th Century to the Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England.
Next week, Part Eight: Why Africans Are Not Tribesmen
Part One in BAR’s January 24 issue
Part Two in the January 31 issue.
Part Three in the February 7 issue.
Part Four in the February 14 issue.
Part Five in the February 21 issue.
Part Six in the February 28 issue.
The Hearts of Darkness: How European Writers Created the Racist image of Africa
Published by The Black Star Publishing Co.
P.O. Box 64, New York, N.Y., 10025
To order copies call (212) 481-7745

Or visit the author’s site:

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Supernova 2008D.jpg
SN 2008D, a Type Ib supernova, shown in X-ray (left) and visible light (right) at the far upper end of the galaxy. Captured by the NASA Swift-X-ray Telescope, on January 9, 2008.   NASA image.




Keplers supernova.jpg
Multiwavelength X-ray, infrared, and optical compilation image of Kepler’s Supernova Remnant, SN 1604. (Chandra X-ray Observatory)



Crab Nebula.jpg
The Crab Nebula is a pulsar wind nebula associated with the 1054 supernova.



SN 1994D in the NGC 4526 galaxy (bright spot on the lower left). Image by NASA, ESA, The Hubble Key Project Team, and The High-Z Supernova Search Team.


This composite image shows X-ray (blue) and optical (red) radiation from the Crab Nebula’s core region. A pulsar near the center is propelling particles to almost the speed of light. This neutron star is travelling at an estimated 375 km/s.  NASA/CXC/HST/ASU/J. Hester et al. image credit.




Supernova remnant N 63A lies within a clumpy region of gas and dust in the Large Magellanic Cloud. NASA image.



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Congo UN Abuse

U.N. Aid Workers Accused of Sex Crimes in Congo

Didier Bourguet, a U.N. official from France, is pictured here in one of the images found on his hard drive, which was obtained by ABC News. Also on the hard drive were thousands of photos of him having sex with hundreds of young girls.
(ABC News)
The report by Save the Children UK, based on field research in southern Sudan, Ivory Coast and Haiti, describes a litany of sexual crimes against children as young as 6.
It said some children were denied food aid unless they granted sexual favors; others were forced to have sex or to take part in child pornography; many more were subjected to improper touching or kissing.
“The report shows sexual abuse has been widely underreported because children are afraid to come forward,” Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children UK, told Associated Press Television News.
“A tiny proportion of peacekeepers and aid workers are abusing the children they were sent to protect. It ranges from sex for food to coerced sex. It’s despicable.”


Congo UN Abuse

U.N. Aid Workers Accused of Sex Crimes in Congo

Aimee Tsesi, of Bunia, holds her 5-month-old grandchild, Deiudonne. Seated directly behind is Tsesi’s 15-year-old deaf mute daughter, who gave birth to Deiudonne after being raped by a U.N. soldier from Uruguay.
(ABC News) 
At the U.N. headquarters, spokeswoman Michele Montas said Ban “is deeply concerned” by the report.
“We welcome this report. It’s fair, and I think it’s essentially accurate,” Montas said.
She noted the report states the United Nations has already undertaken steps designed to tackle the problem, from establishing conduct and discipline units in all U.N. missions to strengthening training for all categories of U.N. personnel. She said the United Nations also needs to strengthen its investigative capacity.
The study was based on research, confidential interviews and focus groups conducted last year. The charity emphasized it did not produce comprehensive statistics about the scale of abuse but did gather enough information to indicate the problem is severe.
The report said that more than half the children interviewed knew of cases of sexual abuse and that in many instances children knew of 10 or more such incidents carried out by aid workers or peacekeepers.
The Save the Children UK researchers, who met with 129 girls and 121 boys between the ages of 10 and 17, and also with a number of adults, found an “overwhelming” majority of the people interviewed would never report a case of abuse and had never heard of a case being reported.
Children carry buckets to collect water from a well in Port-au-Prince,Thursday, March 20, 2008.

(Ariana Cubillos/AP Photo)
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The threat of retaliation, and the stigma attached to sex abuse, were powerful deterrents to coming forward, the report said.
Ann Buchanan, an Oxford University expert in statistical attempts to quantify rates of child abuse, said the topic is so taboo it is virtually impossible to come up with reliable numbers. But she said the new report provides a useful starting point.
“This will never be a statistical study,” she said. “We’d call it a pilot work exploring the start of an issue. All the research shows kids don’t make it up.”
Buchanan, who directs the Oxford Center for Research into Parenting and Children, said the biggest obstacle to accurate numerical studies of child sexual abuse is the reluctance of children to come forward and tell adults they have been taken advantage of.
“Sexual abuse is a hugely difficult, sensitive area and it’s not something that you can usually do surveys about because kids feel terrible shame and are afraid to say what’s happened to them,” she said. “Given what we know about underreporting of sex abuse, I would say this report is probably true. They’ve gone about it as sensitively as you can.”
Save the Children spokesman Dominic Nutt said U.N. peacekeepers are involved in many abuse cases because they are present throughout the world in such large numbers. But he praised the United Nations for improving its reporting and investigative procedures regarding sex abuse.
“We’re not singling out the U.N. In some ways they do a good job. It’s all peacekeepers and all aid workers, including Save the Children,” that are involved in sexual abuses, he said.
The report says several Save the Children workers were fired for having sex with 17-year-old girls in violation of agency guidelines.
In its report, Save the Children UK makes three key recommendations: establish a way for people to report abuse locally, create an international watchdog agency this year to deal with the problem, and set up a program to deal with the underlying causes of child abuse.
Tom Cargill, Africa program manager at the London think tank Chatham House, said there is no “magic bullet” that can solve the problem quickly.
“The governance of U.N. missions has always been a problem because soldiers from individual states are only beholden to those states,” he said. “So it’s difficult for the U.N. to pursue charges and difficult for the U.N. to investigate them.”
Associated Press writer Gregory Katz in London contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.




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Published: May 25, 2008
Every once in a while as a journalist you see a scene that grips you and will not let go, a scene that is at once so uplifting and so cruel it’s difficult to even convey in words. I saw such a scene last weekend at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland in Baltimore. It was actually a lottery, but no ordinary lottery. The winners didn’t win cash, but a ticket to a better life. The losers left with their hopes and lottery tickets crumpled.

The event was a lottery to choose the first 80 students who will attend a new public boarding school — the SEED School of Maryland — based in Baltimore. I went along because my wife is on the SEED Foundation board. The foundation opened its first school 10 years ago in Washington, D.C., as the nation’s first college-prep, public, urban boarding school. Baltimore is its second campus. The vast majority of students are African-American, drawn from the most disadvantaged and violent school districts.
SEED Maryland was admitting boys and girls beginning in sixth grade. They will live in a dormitory — insulated from the turmoil of their neighborhoods. In Washington, nearly all SEED graduates have gone on to four-year colleges, including Princeton and Georgetown.
Because its schools are financed by both private and public funds, SEED can offer this once-in-a-lifetime, small-class-size, prep-school education for free, but it can’t cherry-pick its students. It has to be open to anyone who applies. The problem is that too many people apply, so it has to choose them by public lottery. SEED Maryland got more than 300 applications for 80 places.
The families all crowded into the Notre Dame auditorium, clutching their lottery numbers like rosaries. On stage, there were two of those cages they use in church-sponsored bingo games. Each ping-pong ball bore the lottery number of a student applicant. One by one, a lottery volunteer would crank the bingo cage, a ping-pong ball would roll out, the number would be read and someone in the audience would shriek with joy, while everyone else slumped just a little bit lower. One fewer place left …
It was impossible to watch all those balls tumbling around inside the cage and not see them as the people in that room tumbling around inside, waiting to see who would be the lucky one to slide out and be blessed. No wonder a portrait of hope and anxiety was on every face.
“I am so hopeful about the school and just so overwhelmingly anxious about what happens to the students who don’t get in,” said Dawn Lewis, the head of the SEED Maryland school.
“During the six or seven months of recruiting, we heard all the stories of all the problems these kids are confronting in their schools, and each time [parents] would tell us, ‘This kind of school is the answer — the thing this child needs to be successful.’ When we were completing the applications, we received so many letters from guidance counselors and teachers and principals and even pastors saying, ‘Please, just exempt this kid from the lottery — because without this, there is no chance for this kid, there may not be another opportunity.’ ”
If you think that parents from the worst inner-city neighborhoods don’t aspire for something better for their kids, a lottery like this will dispel that illusion real fast.
Ms. Lewis said she’s seen people on crack walking their kids to school. “We had parents who came into our office who were clearly strung out,” she added. “They could not read or write, but they got themselves there and said, ‘I need help on this application’ for their son or daughter. Families do want the best for their children. If they have a chance, they don’t want their kids to inherit their problems. … These aspirations are so underserved.”
Ms. Lewis said that she and her colleagues would meet with parents begging to get their kids in, help them fill out the applications and then, after the parents left, go into their offices, shut the door and cry.
Tony Cherry’s son Noah, an 11-year-old from Baltimore County, was one of the lucky ones whose number got pulled. “His teacher said if he got picked they’re going to have a party for him,” said Mr. Cherry. “This is a good opportunity. It’s going to give him a chance. … Wish they could take all of them.”
Not everyone selected was in attendance, said Carol Beck, SEED’s director of new schools development. So, on Monday SEED notified those who had won. “We called one school counselor the next day and told her that so-and-so was chosen,” said Ms. Beck, “and she said: ‘Thank you. You have just saved this child’s life.’ ”
There are so many good reasons to finish our nation-building in Iraq and resume our nation-building in America, but none more than this: There’s something wrong when so much of an American child’s future is riding on the bounce of a ping-pong ball.

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