On Obama’s Refusal to Acknowledge Michael Jackson

By Saswat Pattanayak

Obama’s constant denial to acknowledge racial tensions in the United States has refused him an ability to officially respect Michael Jackson’s demise. Michael- the most famous black man and the most popular black entertainer in the world history passed away. And only the fans must do all the mourning. The fans must keep Michael’s memories alive. The United States system has apparently no obligation to commemorate the occasion. President Obama has refused to issue a written statement to mourn the passing of Michael even as world over, millions of people are heartbroken.

As a perpetuator of the liberal Zionist media spin, President Obama relegated his press secretary Gibbs, a thoroughly disgusting communicator considering his role of responsibility, to convey the musings to the media. And how did Gibbs respond to a series of sincere questions about why the White House would not release a written statement? He laughed and said to the press: “You know, I think I did a good job”.

He implied celebrating a national hero is not the job of the President. The president is apparently busy. He is too busy to join the huge majority of the earth to respect the most celebrated black man. After all, he is in constant denial about the significance of the black freedom struggle in the United States. A freedom struggle that continues to this day. A freedom struggle which was being waged by even the most “successful” artist of color.

President Obama acknowledges there is an economic crisis. He is trying his best to help the Wall Street magnets reclaim their power corridors. He is making sure that the corporate banking conglomerates get the “bailout” money needed to re-strengthen their stature. But he refuses to acknowledge that the economic crisis does not affect everyone equally. He refuses to acknowledge that in the United States, the society has been unequal along the racial divides. The corporate CEOs’ luxury vacations out of frustrations at economic stagnation should not be confused with the thousands of black educated men and women who have been unjustly abandoned from their workplaces.

Unlike Obama’s election rhetoric which denies racial inequalities in America, the fact is, there is a Black America and there is a White America. This is something which Michael Jackson painfully realized and publicly acknowledged. The way in which the White America creative industry overwhelms the Black American artistic endeavors was properly articulated by Michael: “All the form of popular music from Jazz to Hip-Hop, to Bebop, to Soul – all these are forms of black music…you talk about different dances from Catwalk, to Jitterbug, to Charleston, to Break dancing – all these are forms of black dancing. We (black artists) are the real pioneers who started these. These things are very important but if you go to the bookstore down the corner, you will not see one black person on the cover, you’ll see Elvis Presley, you’ll see the Rolling Stones.” Michael challenged the legacy of white musical legends such as Elvis and Beatles. He said, “Otis Blackwell was a prolific phenomenal writer who wrote some of the greatest Elvis Presley songs. And this was a black man, but he died penniless. I met his daughter and I’m so honored. It was the same level as meeting the Queen of England.”

Is it because Michael Jackson was vocal, nondiplomatic and accurate in his depiction of the racial divides in the American entertainment industry which irked President Obama? Or was it because Obama has simply no faith in the American judiciary system which despite having caused enough damages to Michael during his life, despite subjecting him to inhumane police brutality, clearly declared him innocent of each and every allegations brought forth against him. Michael was almost bankrupt and he could not even buy the judiciary system like many politicians simply raise funds to become political candidates. Michael was too private when it came to meeting the press so he could not influence the mass media unlike many politicians who simply use the force of empty rhetoric and press relations to declare untested popularity. Where did Michael fault so much as to not deserve a national statement upon his death?

President Obama never hesitated to offer a written statement for Omar Bongo – an infamously corrupt politician of Gabon – when he died, just two weeks before Jackson’s demise! Obama’s written statement said: “I am saddened to learn of the death of President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon. President Bongo played a key role in developing and shaping the strong bilateral relationship that exists between Gabon and the United States today. President Bongo consistently emphasized the importance of seeking compromise and striving for peace, and made protecting Gabon’s natural treasures a priority. His work in conservation in his country and his commitment to conflict resolution across the continent are an important part of his legacy and will be remembered with respect. On behalf of the United States government, I offer my condolences to his family and to the people of Gabon.”

Clearly President Obama has no elementary knowledge of the cold war history, else he would never make such a statement praising Bongo! Unless of course he has only consumed the noncritical liberal press that makes hero of anyone who praises interventionistic tactics of the United States. Bongo, right on! Michael Jackson, hell no!

Obama has never failed to issue official statements just to denounce the decision of a magazine to honor Louis Farrakhan. “I strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.”

The White House released official statement from the President regarding shooting at DC’s Holocaust Museum, which left one security guard dead: “I am shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world.”

To such statements – be it in honor of Bongo or the Holocaust Museum, or in opposition to honoring Farrakhan, there need not be any controversy. As a human being, Obama is entitled to honor or dishonor them. But when it comes to Michael Jackson, whose contributions to the world of music is unlike any other, and which is duly acknowledged by everyone – and whose death was mourned by world leaders from Nelsn Mandela to Hugo Chavez, what did Obama have to lose?

More importantly, what has United States got to lose if we officially show respect to MJ – the most well known and acknowledged man of color. Will we never commemorate his death with a national week of mourning? Will we never celebrate his birthday officially? Will we never remember that black artistry must be celebrated above all else? It is true we have not duly acknowledged many great black artists in the past. The question is shall we continue this trend?

United States machinery has appropriated the gains from Michael’s “We Are The World” to help America put a human face on its cold war strategies. In America’s war against drugs, Michael has been used as the most influential and positive role model. To implement humanitarian causes that secured politicians such as Al Gore Nobel Prizes and Bill Clinton immortality, Michael’s legacy was used to the max. And most notably, in the past, all American Presidents have issued official statements mourning great artists. Here are just a few:

Jimmy Carter’s written Statement by the President on the Death of Elvis Presley on August 17, 1977

“Elvis Presley’s death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique and irreplaceable. More than 20 years ago, he burst upon the scene with an impact that was unprecedented and will probably never be equaled. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense, and he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness, and good humor of his country.”

John Lennon was remembered after his death by both President Carter and incoming President Reagan through written statements.

Frank Sinatra’s death was mourned by Bill Clinton through a detailed written statement to the press:
“Hillary and I were deeply saddened to hear of the death of a musical legend and an American icon, Frank Sinatra. Early in his long career, fans dubbed him ‘The Voice.’ And that was the first thing America noticed about Frank Sinatra: that miraculous voice, strong and subtle, wisecracking and wistful, streetwise but defiantly sweet. In time he became so much more. Sinatra was a spellbinding performer, on stage or on screen, in musicals, comedies and dramas. He built one of the world’s most important record companies. He won countless awards, from the Grammy — nine times — to the Academy Award, to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And he dedicated himself to humanitarian causes. When I became president, I had never met Frank Sinatra, although I was an enormous admirer of his. I had the opportunity after I became president to get to know him a little, to have dinner with him, to appreciate on a personal level what fans around the world, including me, appreciated from afar. Frank Sinatra will be missed profoundly by millions around the world. But his music and movies will ensure that ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ is never forgotten. Today, I think every American would have to smile and say he really did do it his way. Hillary and I would like to offer our condolences to Frank’s wife, Barbara, and to his children, Nancy, Frank Jr., and Tina. Our hearts are with them today.”

What has stopped President Obama and the US administration from honoring Michael Jackson, who has emerged even greater in his death?


Whose Fourth of July?

By Saswat Pattanayak

Even as President Obama leads the nation into the biggest fireworks show in American history to celebrate the day, the Fourth of July is a stark reminder of American inequalities, not independence.

The independence movement of American republic was not aimed at securing liberty to the inhabitants. American independence from the British Empire was not attained for the indigenous peoples, the black population or for the women. It was an independence that certainly had created a radical series of documents but the departure from the tradition of overlooking the plights of the oppressed has never been done either through inspiration or through implementation. American Constitution to this day of 2009 still does not strive to provide life of equality towards the minorities – the various minorities that actually comprise the majority in this country. And the reasons for celebrations are scant.

Reasons for celebration of July 4th would be uphold the American monopolization of militarist endeavors that has collaborated with their partners in crimes such as India and Israel. It would be to support the interventionist policies of the United States in the affairs of sovereign nations around the world with an aim to subjugate them to corporate blackmailings or annihilations. It would be identical with loftily championing the neocolonial mindset to divide the people along lines of nationalities in the garb of patriotism. What is worse, to declare human beings as “illegal” simply because they are struggling to be granted a citizenship status, often in duress from their own lands being under occupation. They remain “aliens” even while their labor is expropriated for cheap to the huge benefit of the capitalistic society.

And reasons for celebration of July 4th as declared by President Obama is in such a contrast to the reasons for not celebrating it by the great Frederick Douglass, that one cannot help but reject as vehemently the White House statement and embrace the abolitionist’s with as much enthusiasm.

President Obama: “Today, we are called to remember not only the day our country was born – we are also called to remember the indomitable spirit of the first American citizens who made that day possible. We are called to remember how unlikely it was that our American experiment would succeed at all; that a small band of patriots would declare independence from a powerful empire; and that they would form, in the new world, what the old world had never known – a government of, by, and for the people. That unyielding spirit is what defines us as Americans. It is what led generations of pioneers to blaze a westward trail. It is what led my grandparents’ generation to persevere in the face of a Depression and triumph in the face of tyranny. It is what led generations of American workers to build an industrial economy unrivalled around the world.”

Great Frederick Douglass: “Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the American nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America!….. Fourth of July is a day that reveals to the enslaved, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour. ……Americans! your republican politics, not less than your republican religion, are flagrantly inconsistent. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen…….You glory in your refinement and your universal education; yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation-a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty.”

The emotions of Frederick Douglass expressed well more than a century and half ago is still so relevant that it makes a mockery of the American capitalism which is being advanced by the likes of Barack Obama.
Often it is the most oppressed in the nation who can express the biggest truth to its people. The enslaved of the America today have only increased in number, proportion and perpetuity. The biggest economic sector of the United States today in 2009 is unorganized. It comprises exploited nannies, nurses, office assistants, graduate students and millions of non-unionized workers in virtually every field of seasonal employment.

In the largest industrialized nation of the day, manual labor forces exist in abundance that is underpaid and inhumanely treated. Minimum hourly wages and annual poverty rates are abominably low at any level. Prostitution and drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and uncritical education, disparities in healthcare and education system divided along economic lines, police brutality and intelligence infiltration are constant reminders that the independence movement is being carried out on an everyday basis – each time a Sean Bell is murdered or a Mumia is tried in court.

Discriminations at workplaces are so rampant that basic human rights are courtroom dramas every passing day. Largest population of undertrial prisoners in the world suffer in American prisons. Prison-industrial complex continues to exploit slave-labor inside the jails. Constant drug and human trafficking and lack of gun control leads crisis to resurface in such ghastly manner that would trivialize all allegations of foreign terrorism conspiracies. The militarist intervention of the United States into sovereign lands that do not subscribe to White House orders have continued with the Cold War fervor. Innocent civilians world over are targeted and eliminated by American and their allies NATO forces in the pretext of human freedom that is denied to the homeless and uninsured sick people of America right in her community neighborhoods.

Fourth of July is a very significant day in American history. But not so much as a day of independence, as it is a day of critical self-reflection and privilege recognition. A day of acknowledging the deplorable militarization and despicable human rights records of the most vicious empire on the Earth: United States of America.