No More Thanksgiving: Glen Ford’s Challenge to America | Rare Techy
Of the traditional US holidays, Thanksgiving was my favorite. I can do without the over commercialization of Christmas with this cheesy music broadcast for weeks on end. Abolish the forced celebration of the New Year and the sloppy drunkards it creates; ditto for 4th of July militarismth. So, what’s not good about getting together with friends and family and sharing a home-cooked feast?
I don’t want to spoil the party, but before you carve the turkey, read Glen Ford’s opening essay. Black Agenda. His criticism of the holiday is that the mythology surrounding Thanksgiving justifies the genocide of our nation’s indigenous peoples and affirms white supremacy.
“The story of Thanksgiving,” Ford explains, “is the absolution of the Pilgrims, whose brutal quest for absolute power in the New World is made both religiously motivated and eminently human.” According to the myth, the Pilgrims are portrayed as victims of harsh weather and naivety rather than the Christian fascists they were.
Glen Ford and the Making of Black Journalism
Black Agenda the book was published posthumously after Ford died on July 28, 2021, aged 71. New York Times described Ford as “a constant scourge of the liberal establishment.”
African-American theologian Cornell West explained, “Glen Ford was the most brilliant, daring, and consistent writer and journalist of his generation in the black radical and independent tradition.”
“Red Diaper Baby”, Ford’s career began at the age of eleven from reading live news on the radio. His last name was shortened from Rutherford to Ford at the insistence of “The Godfather of Soul” James Brown when Ford began working as a reporter for his radio station in 1970. Later Ford created Black World Report, a nationally syndicated weekly newsmagazine on the radio.
Ford went on to television, print and online media. He worked for a national newspaper of the Communist Party USA and worked with the Black Panther Party in Jersey City. In 1977, he launched, produced and hosted the first nationally syndicated black news interview show on commercial television. American Black Forum.
After black commentator, which he founded in 2002, Ford established a website Black Agenda Report in 2006 with current editor Margaret Kimberly and the late Bruce Dixon. book, black agenda, is a collection of Ford essays published by OR Books, which describes itself as “a source of titles that challenge the status quo.”
In a 2019 speech at the People’s Forum, Ford explained the role of black left-wing journalism and its connection to mass movements: “While political magazines cannot themselves start political movements, they can bind the remnant. from past mass movements like ours in the 60s and 70s, with people who have never experienced a mass movement.
Engaged journalists like Ford, according to Margaret Kimberly’s book chairman, “speak for marginalized people who can’t speak for themselves and expose the privileged.”
A black class of delusion
Glen Ford was one of the main critics of “black faces in high places” who sell out the interests of their constituents for petty fame and privilege. These are people who have “historically been far more ashamed than outraged by the mass incarceration of black people.” An example is US Senator Corey Booker, whose career has been thwarted by Ford since Booker’s first run for mayor of Newark, NJ. Ford called such individuals “the black misguided class.”
Ford pulls no punches in his criticism. He described Obama’s presidency as “lonely days.” When much of liberal America was talking about a black man in the White House, Ford was a bold voice asking us to look beyond skin color to politics. Given the current uneasiness about the national mood in the wake of the Trump and now Biden presidencies, it’s hard to imagine a period when too much hope was a problem. But Ford was an anecdote to hopeful maniacs in the heady days after Mr. Obama moved into the White House.
Essays in the book include: “First Black Presidency Has Driven Many African-Americans Crazy” and “To Hell with Obama and His Van Joneses.” In “Why Barack Obama Is More Effective at Evil,” Ford explains that Obama has been more effective at doing evil than Bush, protecting the citadels of corporate power and advancing the imperial agenda. He has set both Wall Street and US imperial power on new and more aggressive tracks – just as he hired himself to do.
“The majority of black voters,” lamented Ford, “have aligned themselves with the right wing of the Democratic Party,” which he accuses of being “on the road to black destruction.” Furthermore, “both major parties in the US are a scourge on humanity.”
In an apt description of the recent 2022 US midterm elections, Ford commented: “Election seasons are reality-making festivals in which two corporate parties pretend to present different visions of national and global destiny. When they actually answer to the same master and have to follow the same general strategy.
Although it didn’t make it into the book, Ford wrote a prescient article about Ukraine in 2014, after the US-led coup there. His insightful essay on the geopolitics of the war in Ukraine was titled “US Prepares to Surrender Russia.”
Ford revealed the main imperial issues animating the conflict: US energy interests and economic power. He wrote: “Washington’s strategy is to permanently raise tensions to ‘new Cold War’ levels to justify sanctions against Russian energy exports, while exploiting America’s own natural gas ‘surplus’ as a reinforced weapon of global hegemony.”
Ford envisioned a proxy war in Ukraine aimed at cutting off Europe from Russia’s supply of cheap natural gas to buy the more expensive US product from across the Atlantic. But even Ford did not foresee the increasingly aggressive nature of US imperialism, which some analysts say literally blew up key gas pipelines from Russia to Western Europe.
Ford explained that the U.S. intent in bringing about this “new Cold War” is to “crush or at least seriously disrupt Russia.” More than eight years later, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “we want to see Russia weakened”.
Anticipating the movement for multilateralism and international independence from Washington, Ford described the emerging geopolitical dynamic as “an established Russia increasingly coordinated with China.”
The current US-dominated world order is based on military superspending and economic and financial control. In the same article, Ford predicted that the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) bloc “is the most likely place to develop alternatives to the hegemony of the dollar.” Fast forward to 2022 and Lula da Silva is on the campaign trail to become Brazil’s next president after all and is proposing SUR, a new Latin American currency to end dependence on the US dollar.
May Glen Ford rest in power
“Glen Ford is indispensable,” praised his fellow journalist and comrade Margaret Kimberly on the front page of the book, “not only because his writing was so incisive and so clear, but also because his politics were so distinctly left-wing…. He was a Marxist, and he brought that ideology to everything he did.