“The poor will always be with us…” Matthew 26:11
There are one group of people that Americans hate more than foreign terrorists. The poor within their own borders. They would rather send millions of dollars, as well as their armed forces, to assist and relieve the sufferings of the poor and disenfranchised in distant lands, than to help the poor on their own soil. Americans are not alone in this. The poor, wherever they are, incite the hatred and disdain of their fellow citizens, particularly their government. They are usually blamed and scapegoated for everything from economic downturns to epidemics of disease. They have always been the fodder for wars, cuts in government spending and dubious medical experiments. They are not only exploited for their manual labour, their bodies are also marketed as sex slaves and organ farms for the perverted rich, and their neighbourhoods tourist destinations for the curious advantaged.
The real source of this hatred though lies in the fact that for the elite, the poor are a constant warning that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”… fish rots from the head down. They are the beacon which illuminates the darkness of whatever “noble lie” social harmony is built upon. They are the kindle that a spark for revolution will ignite to burn away the illusion of political stability. There is also an intense societal fear and loathing for those who advocate for these hated poor and direct the beacon to expose the architects and beneficiaries of these sacred falsehoods.
“When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the President can easily bailed out the banks and capitalists, but has done nothing to help the poor, they call me an “uncle tom”.
I have always been a fan of Travis Smiley. I have recently developed a great amount of respect and admiration for Cornel West. I may not always agree with their positions, but there is no doubt that they are principled and honest (Black) men who have a sincere love for Black people, and are committed to the cause of the poor, the exploited and the disenfranchised. Regardless of this… actually because of this… I knew they would become pariahs within the African-American community, particularly with the Negro intellectuals and celebrities, when they announced that they were going on a 2 week, 16 city tour to bring attention to the plight of the poor and President Obama’s lack of any policy, initiative or plan to address their situation… especially the African-American poor, who have been hit the hardest by the housing crisis, unemployment and recession (here).
“If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding…” Zora Neale Hurston
I have hence read all sorts of articles questioning their motives, demonizing and vilifying them, as well as calling them all sorts of names, because they took a stance for the poor by demanding that Barack Obama, the President of the United States, the most powerful (Black) man in the world, do something substantial for them, instead of offering empty rhetoric, the noble lie that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. These are the same poor black people who blindly and emotionally supported his bid to the White House, believing that he was their promised messiah, the embodiment of the change they could believe in. (I always mused that if your boat has holes and is filling with water, wouldn’t a rising tide make it sink faster).
Although America is always quick to profess to the world their noble lie that it’s the “land of free speech”, there has always been consequences to bear when one exercises that right and criticizes the government, especially the President. The blacklash against Smiley and West by the African-American community reminds me of the reaction to the Dixie Chicks by their fellow Texans, as well as political conservatives, when they criticized George W. Bush, during a concert in England, 9 days before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003: “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” The backlash was intense and fierce. They were ostracized, lost fans, had concerts cancelled, received hate mail and death threats. I highly recommend their documentary of that period: “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing“. In the same manner, President Obama’s supporters would rather “Smiley and West: Shut Up and Coon”.
I have also read a few well balanced articles, not necessarily supporting Smiley and West, but supporting the cause of their Poverty Tour, as well as questioning the failure of President Obama to get up, stand up and fight for the human rights of the poor of his nation. I for one cannot speak to what is truly in their heart, but history has shown time and again that when the elites and their self-serving minions are fighting with all their might to kill (discredit) the messenger(s), the foundation of the message is built upon truth… and those in power will do whatever it takes, will stop at nothing, to perpetuate the sanctity of their noble lie.
“The pursuit of truth attracts critics”