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News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
U.S. favorability needs to go lower: Kaepernick, nationhood, and rethinking the intersection of New Afrikan and Palestinian struggles
September 6, 2016
If one just goes by Pew Research Center and U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts data and leaves aside margin of error, at most only ten percent (10.4%) of U.S. people, who racially/ethnically aren’t “white alone” and “non-Hispanic or Latino,” would agree they had a “very” unfavorable view of the United States.(1) The Pew surveys cover adults and that could lead to underestimation, but if one considers the percentage of 18+ U.$. people who aren’t “non-Hispanic” “white alone” (100 - 64.9 = 35.1, this writer’s analysis using 2015 Current Population Survey data), the maximum “very unfavorable” percentage of such non-white adults only goes up to 11.4%.
That is assuming the whites only have a favorable or somewhat unfavorable view of their country. But, as Hillary Clinton keeps mentioning, Donald Trump’s campaign slogan suggests Trump supporters think “America” isn’t already “great.”
Because probably many “conservative,” “liberal” and “moderate” whites also had a very unfavorable view of the United $tates related to the presidential race or primaries for example, the percentage of members of various non-white groups with a very unfavorable view is likely significantly less than 11%. The homeless, imprisoned and people without any phone might have lower favorable ratings and higher unfavorable percentages for the united $tates. It is possible for anyone outside prison/jail who knows what’s available to have a functioning bare-bones cell phone in the united $tates for less than $10 a month, though.
What is not a matter of guesswork is that Barack Obama had a job approval rating at/over 80% among Gallup “black” u.$. respondents (adults contacted by landline and cellular telephone) for 97.5% of nearly 400 weeks, at/over 81% for 100% of the last 50 weeks ending September 4, and at/over 85% for 92% of those weeks. It seems probable to this writer that the rating will hit 92% again before Election Day in the united $tates.
Protests related to the state/vigilante murders of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, Meagan Hockaday, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile, the shooting of Abdi Mohamed, the Charleston church massacre, the lynching of James Craig Anderson, and other incidents this writer checked for, seemed to have little immediate effect or no lasting effect on, or little or no spurious negative correlation with, Obama’s “black” Gallup job approval rating. And in some cases Obama’s average weekly approval among “black” respondents surveyed actually increased discernibly in the months after. The role of perpetual racism victim and narcissistic careerist Obama has been to derail and assimilate the struggle.
Children and other under-18 young people matter. And they have particular experiences of oppression, some of which are beyond the scope of this article. But even people who were in primary school almost eight years ago have had all that time to grow older and then take Obama’s approval ratings down a point. It’s not clear that happened, not enough to put a big dent in Obama’s overall approval ratings. Although, there is tracking survey evidence of divergence between older and younger New Afrikans.(2) Maybe if more New Afrikans who are 18-29 answered the phone, took calls from unknown numbers, or had more minutes to spend responding to a survey, some percentages would be higher or lower. Alternatively, younger New Afrikans’ lower approval was offset by many older New Afrikans.
All of that is to say if 49ers Amerikan football quarterback Colin Kaepernick wants to sit or take a knee during the AmeriKKKan “national” anthem, Kaepernick doesn’t need a reason. None at all. It’s not that New Afrikans are particularly patriotic overall, but there’s no reason to view the united $tates or its leadership so positively. The reactionaries calling Kaepernick an “oreo,” for sitting/kneeling, wearing cop-pig socks and having a white parent, have got it all wrong. The 100% “black” or “brown” people enthusiastically worshiping the amerikan flag or president are the real oreos/coconuts. Whatever Kaepernick thinks, the visual example of eir action is good.
Maybe standing just wastes calories. High school athletes shouldn’t be punished for sitting during the national anthem.
As for injured veterans, it seems there will always be a need for civil affairs and PSYOP people, HUMINT collectors and others in the field who aren’t robots, for cultural reasons. But with artificial intelligence, robotics and medical advances, it seems the issue of casualties is increasingly moot. U.$. patriotism increasingly does not involve amerikans’ family/friends dying for country, but rather supporting wars that are too easy to start and carry out. Nobody should respect u.$. military personnel except maybe World War II veterans in contexts of favoring the Soviet Union or China over Germany/Japan. But nobody should respect amerikan civilians either. Global contempt for amerika – the country, its leadership, and its people, including police, soldiers, spies, and “ordinary” amerikans – is healthy for the world. The issue of potential particular disrespect for veterans isn’t as relevant to those who don’t have delusional ideas about amerikan civilians, the DOJ/FBI, the CIA, or the State Department, as many Democrats and phony leftists do.
There has to be something to say about Kaepernick that isn’t something an amerikan president could say.(3) Many talk about youth activism, important “issues,” even institutional and structural racism and systems, amerika’s slavery and imperialist history, or just Republicans. One thing Obama won’t say is that New Afrikans (Blacks) exist as a distinct nation, the New Afrikan nation also/previously called the “Black nation.” Obama explicitly rejected that eight years ago with all of eir rhetoric about one nation and one country for everyone.
There has to be a minimum level of agreement in various contexts. It doesn’t mean everybody has to be a “socialist” or “revolutionary.” In the context of pro-Palestinian activism, the idea that Palestinians aren’t a nation (or that it doesn’t matter) is an argument of right-wing Israelis and fake communists who were never Leninist, let alone Maoist. Even some right-wing Zionists – and others supporting Israeli annexation of the rest of Palestine, from the “left” – acknowledge Palestinian nationhood even as they oppose independent statehood for Palestinians. The fact that Palestine is a nation shouldn’t be in dispute when the main controversies are over sovereignty issues or certain statehood proposals, not nationhood, Israel officially understood Palestinian nationhood two decades ago with the Oslo Accords, and a large majority of countries have already gone so far as to recognize the State of Palestine. Wars and fear of Arab, Muslim and Third World revolution contributed to that, but the fact of Palestinian nationhood isn’t controversial to various non-socialists and non-revolutionaries today.
There seems to be no New Afrikan state recognized by a majority of New Afrikans – though there are opportunists who see the united $nakes under Obama as advancing New Afrikan national interests – but the amount of understanding of New Afrikan nationhood should be similarly high. This should especially be the case where Palestinian struggles are compared to New Afrikan struggles in public international settings. It is important that those making shows of solidarity are clear about nationhood and not act like there haven’t been decades of struggle and conclusions drawn. Unfortunately, it is still rare to hear somebody clearly acknowledging both New Afrikan nationhood and Palestinian nationhood in the same context, and the failure to acknowledge one or the other, or both, undermines the struggles of both nations. Instead, there are statements suggesting socialism/liberation without states and diplomacy, articles implying integrationism and even u.$. patriotism still have progressive potential, allegations of Jewish dominance in amerika to justify certain approaches to I$rael and accommodation with whites in the united $tates, speeches supporting capitulation to “Greater Israel” or portraying New Afrikan movements as more advanced than Palestinians’, chauvinist anti-Arab/anti-Muslim trash suggesting Palestinians and the world need to wait for amerikans to make some promised progress, and conversations about apartheid and Israel rejecting concepts of occupation, independence, and Amerika’s prime culpability for the situation.
So-called leaders and people with PhDs showing up in others’ countries explicitly or practically denying Palestinian nationhood, while extolling some movement in the united $nakes, should consider themselves unwelcome. There are plenty of young people who acknowledge New Afrikan nationhood so age or newness cannot be an excuse either.
With some, denying Palestinian and New Afrikan nationhood seems to go hand in hand with rejecting any two-state solution that Obama isn’t working on, or which Obama is hampering. However, the question of nationhood is separate. To illustrate again in the Palestinian context, an opinion article on JPost.com (not a leftist site) discusses the alleged renewed interest in a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation, which the author suggests might be able to grow to include Israel.(4) (This is different from the so-called three-state solution.) The author notes the formula “in which first Palestine would achieve independence and then enter into a confederal arrangement with Jordan,” and later says, “Palestinians have to have sovereignty first, however, before they can decide to give up parts of it.”
That is an example of the kind of thinking that is possible in a mainstream Israeli newspaper, as reactionary as the paper is. It’s not that the Jerusalem Post is some kind of communist or revolutionary-nationalist publication. The problem with the united $tates is that it already exists from sea to sea as a single state (country with a powerful federal government) and geographically includes the vast majority of both Euro-Amerikans and New Afrikans. There is considerable ideological pressure against acknowledging New Afrikan nationhood with the right to self-determination and potential independent statehood. But the current arrangement doesn’t mean New Afrikans aren’t a nation.
One frequently hears about the possibility and desirability, or supposed already-existing reality, of a single “binational” state on Palestinian land without any comparable acknowledgment that New Afrika is a nation inside u.$. borders. Such language in the Israeli context should lead to some awareness of more than one nation inside u.$. borders – at least “nation within a nation,” which can be problematic. But as usual, in many cases, amerika is somehow exceptional.
Amerika is exceptional in opportunist ways even among many claiming to find the united $tates disagreeable as a country or society. There is a long history of disrespecting the amerikan flag in the united $tates that has nothing necessarily to do with nationalism of New Afrika or any other internal semi-colony, really opposing u.$. imperialism, or prioritizing the interests of the world’s oppressed majority. Standing during the national anthem as an easy form of patriotism at sports games isn’t too far from not feeling patriotic because you think you are just an individual and that there is something lowbrow or contemptible about patriotism in general including other countries’ patriotism. In other ways, it is possible to express or have a lack of patriotism and not be anti-amerikan, not oppose international exploitation by amerika of other countries, not support an alternative to the settler united $tates or u.$. dominance, and not support New Afrikan national self-determination.
That isn’t a statement about Kaepernick, but about how there are many with the most angry- or radical- sounding anti-racist rhetoric who refuse in 2016 to acknowledge the existence of the New Afrikan nation or deliberately spread confusion about that. Kaepernick doesn’t claim to be much more than a Christian millionaire football player with a great arm. Others claim to be full-time activists and yet get such an important question wrong. Part of it has to do with trying to elect Clinton in the two months remaining before November 8. Many use radical, academic or postmodernist language and raise issues and ideas just to take people back to the Democratic Party or u.$. leadership, which is why their emphases are on criticizing Republicans, Fox News, the “alt-right” now, flattering and talking about what 99% of amerikans supposedly have in common (but not as globally privileged people), and talking about amerikans as individuals with various identities except different national identities. This is often justified as if Euro-Amerikan and state violence against New Afrikans were something new, one that warranted a election/voting strategy. It isn’t new. “Historically, New Afrikans have always struggled with the problem of pigs killing our children within the streets.”(5)
There is also the matter of various phony leftists disdaining New Afrikan nationalism in its entirety, and supporting CIA/Pentagon armed struggle against Arab and Muslim countries, while spouting opportunist rhetoric about some future violent revolution of amerikans as a group. As usual, trying to lead whites or petty-bourgeois people who want to keep the land/wealth and have anti-Islam, anti-African and anti-Asian chauvinist tendencies, takes priority.
There is an economic bribery issue and almost all amerikans are exploited or petty-bourgeois, or higher, but that doesn’t mean New Afrika isn’t a nation. Ireland and Scotland have exploiter majorities, but they are nations. And their independence and unification movements could be useful to Palestine, for example, with membership in an EU-minus-Britain to be preferred to remaining with England and Wales.
Different organizations and people correctly note that the percentage of New Afrikans who are in prison or jail tonight is higher than the incarceration rate of literally every country in the world – a reflection both of amerika’s theft of wealth from other countries and Euro-Amerikan oppression of New Afrika. Various nations and capitalist countries with and without exploiter majorities have contradictions with the united $tates that aren’t going to be resolved through unification with Euro-Amerikan, or can and need to be steered and guided away from greater unity with that oppressor nation. Understanding how global inequality affects movements and struggles also means recognizing the importance of complex national and country-level struggle against the united $nakes in the current era. ◊
1. “U.S. image and leader favorability in surveys: some underlying economic realities,” 2016 September. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-09-05-news-American-favorability-differences.md
2. “Blacks’ approval of President Obama remains high,” 2014 December 15. http://www.gallup.com/poll/180176/blacks-approval-president-obama-remains-high.aspx
3. “Barack Obama: Kaepernick has right to protest over ‘real, legitimate issues’,” 2016 September 5. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/sep/05/barack-obama-colin-kaepernick-national-anthem-protest
“Press conference by President Obama after G20 summit,” 2016 September 5. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/05/press-conference-president-obama-after-g20-summit
4. “Encountering Peace: Palestine-Jordan confederation and peace,” 2016 August 31. http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Encountering-Peace-Palestine-Jordan-confederation-and-peace-466534
“Why confederation with Palestine is suddenly a hot issue in Amman,” 2016 May 31. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/palestine-jordan-confederation-abbas-dahlan-israel.html
“Palestine: economic ignorance underpinning preference for the one-state solution,” 2016 July. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-07-23-news-Palestine-one-state-solution.md
5. “What is your nationality?” 2016 August. https://www.prisoncensorship.info/article/what-is-your-nationality/