It was the summer of 1958. I was on my way to the school of engineering of the University of Illinois, at Urbana, as a graduate student. I had set foot for the first time on American soil only a few weeks earlier, and I decided to visit a (second generation) Greek-American relative and his family in Detroit. I was invited to stay with them for a few weeks. They had the kindness, on their own, to get me a job with a topographic firm for the few weeks that I was to stay with them.
The crew I worked with consisted of four persons. The leader of the crew drove the car we used to move from site to site. He was a family man in his late thirties or early forties mostly silent, with a peculiarly "macho" humor ("Japanese women have it crosswise"). He had served in Japan in the US occupation forces. Next to him sat a young guy, in his early twenties, serious, kind, and struggling to get an engineering education at a technical school or something at a level bellow College. In the back, next to me, sat a tall young man who could easily pass for a double of George Bush (father). He did not manifest any particularly interesting intellect or culture. The only physical difference to Bush was that his hair was almost reddish.
As we drove around in the greater Detroit area, the Bush look-alike whenever we happened to pass by a black worker or even a black pedestrian would mutter to himself, almost in a monologue: "Look at that suntan!" Probably he thought that he could impress his audience with the brilliance of his remark. My thoughts at those moments: "Why this, rather insignificant human, has so great a contempt for another human, unknown to him, because his skin is black?" Of course, I was aware that the same remark was possibly uttered by thousands of men (especially men) all over the US. One such "suntan" case was printed indelibly in my mind when we passed by a construction site and there was a very black laborer working with his hands, using a shovel. The white man, sitting next to me, was gracious enough to confer a suntan color on the very black laborer. Exactly half a century has gone by, yet the figure of the black man is still vivid in my mind.
The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, "visiting Moscow on Thursday [Nov. 6, ’08], amicably called the first African-American president-elect in United States history ‘young, handsome and suntanned’. Mr. Berlusconi made the remark while meeting President Dimitri A. Medvedev of Russia… The journalist Curzio Malteze wrote in the center-left La Republica… Mr. Berlusconi… contributed ‘a miserable, vulgar and racist remark, for which he didn’t even have the courage to take responsibility or the dignity to apologize’ "… [The NY Times, Nov. 8]. To this criticism by the journalist, Mr. Berlusconi answered: "If you want to get a degree in idiocy, I won’t stop you…I say whatever I think."
There are two matters here that need to be discussed: First, the racism of the white man, and second, what is a "leader".
"Do most white people treat black people as if they are inferior? The answer is an angry: Yes!" [My ZNet "Commentary" of may 6, ’08]. This does not refer only to US whites. In my country, Greece, at midnight of October 21, 1999 "[t]hree shots came from a handgun held by a 23-year-old white male in military fatigues named Pandelis Kazakos, a Greek, working as a security guard at the state-owned broadcasting network. There were three shots. The three bullets hit the back of a 34-year-old black male, Abdul Tsimoti, a Nigerian immigrant." [My ZNet "Commentary" of July 2, ’01]. The young Greek shot five more men that day. He, also, had shot three men two days earlier. That is, he shot nine humans, in total. Of them eight were Africans or Asians and one was white because the killer thought he was an Albanian immigrant. Two of them died on the spot, two were paralyzed for life, one lost an eye and has a bullet lodged in his head, one had his liver damaged and the rest had lighter injuries. The young Greek, in military fatigues, was sentenced to 2 life terms for the two murders and to 25 years for the 7 attempted murders.
In Italy, not many weeks ago, in September of 2008, six black men from Ghana, Liberia, and Togo were killed near Naples. Two other men were injured in the shooting. They say that the white men that did the killing were members of the Mafia.
What kind of humans are the men, the white men, who commit such acts? Any person that has served in the military [especially if drafted] knows that he or she can spot easily the assholes who are apt to do what the above Greek monster did. They are the ones that are disciplined, patriotic, religious, eager to follow orders, cowardly ass-lickers of the commanding officer, and violent. This ass-licking goes all the way up the entire hierarchy to the buttocks of the occasional Rumsfeld. Any [honest] US soldier now serving in Iraq or Afghanistan can spot and identify the killers and the torturers in his or her unit.
As mentioned in previous ZNet Commentaries, in any given population roughly 1/3 of the total are persons who call themselves "conservative". They are patriotic, religious, think greed is a biblical virtue, love the police and the military, approve of violence, etc. They are the "Good Germans" of Hitler, the "Good Americans" of W. Bush, the "Good Israelis" of Ariel Sharon, etc. They elect the Bushes and the Cheneys. Actually they constitute the foundation that the US elite or the lowbrow dictators of the world rest on to carry out their benevolent deeds. It is out of this group of the 1/3 of the population that the white killers in military fatigues come from. They are the good Christians that become employees [mercenaries] of Blackwater. During his trial the Greek white male wore a huge, 2.5 inches high, Christian cross with the body of Christ, sculptured in three dimensions, hanging on the cross.
To understand the extend to which racism, the contempt for a dark-skinned human, can attain, one should read passages as the following: "The [black] man had attempted to cut his own throat and had succeeded in ‘dividing only the external jugular vein’…[the doctor] stitched up the wound… The following night the man made a second attempt… He tore out the sutures and cut his throat on the other side… The young doctor ordered a ‘diligent search’…for the instrument he had used to cut his throat. The sailors found nothing… [the doctor] concluded that he had ripped open his throat with his own fingernails… Netting, a fencelike assemblage of ropes, would be stretched by the crew around the ship to prevent slaves from jumping overboard," to commit suicide. The passages are from the book "The Slave Ship: A Human History", by Marcus Rediker, professor of history at the University of Pittsburg. [Viking, 2007].
So, is it not possible for a white person to get rid of the racism instilled in him or her in his childhood by the family, by the school, by the church, by the state, etc? Of course it is possible. However, he or she has to use the only powerful tool that a human has. His or her mind. But the mind should be used in a moral and honest way to successfully remove the scum inserted by the above factors. [And, of course, "moral" does not refer to the Christian morality of the above Greek in "military fatigues"].
Since last Monday [Nov.10], all over Europe, and many parts of the world, in the news-stands, in the bookstores, etc there is displayed the German magazine "Der Spiegel" [The Mirror!]. On the cover, above Obama’s picture, in profile, one reads:
WAS ER WILL – WAS ER (NICHT) KANN"
WHAT HE WILLS – WHAT HE CAN (NOT)]
Let us try to understand what the "Der Spiegel" title is attempting to convey:
Is there such a person that one can call a "world-president"? That is, is it logical to accept that a single person [even with a gang of half a dozen advisers] should decide for the life [or death] of the rest of humans? Larry King [live], of CNN, a few hours after the circulation of "Der Spiegel" pontificated that "the fate of the world is tied to that one man"; Obama! No need to analyze the matter any further. It is reasonable to think that only a person that has direct access to God, as George W. Bush has, can be a "world-president".
However, let us suppose that there is such a person. And let us suppose that Zeus, the father of Gods [the Judeo-Christian included], is busy chasing virgins, or cows, or whatever, and leaves the rule of the planet to Obama.
So, let us take the next step down the "Der Spiegel" title: "What he wills" [Was er will]. Again, let us suppose that Obama and his wife are moral persons and wish to help the world and wish to put an end in the pain on earth. That is, they wish to stop the US supervised killings in Haiti, they wish to relieve the unbelievable pain of the Palestinian people, they wish to stop the killing of children and women in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Somalia, in Syria and in other non publicized parts of the world that the murderous CIA-Pentagon complex is carrying out on the orders of the Bush-Cheney gang. That they wish to stop filling the US prisons with the male descendents of the slaves that professor Rediker describes in his book, etc, etc. That they wish to do these things. That they wish to bring to justice the worst war criminals since the 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: W. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, "ConDolcezza" Rice, et al, as Vincent Bugliosi, the LA County District Attorney, has documented in his Book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder". That they, as world-president and as world-first lady, wish to order honest application of the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], so that hundreds of thousands of humans all over the world can learn the names of the torturers, the local politicians, the military, the policemen, etc that have been tormenting and murdering people since 1947, in the name of the American people.
Ordinary humans wish all the above evil acts to stop. Persons that do not wish this evil to stop inevitably will be judged as having the moral and cultural quality of the Bush family, of Cheney, of Rumsfeld, etc. Personally, I think that deep in them, Obama and his wife, feel in a similar way as any ordinary person.
Let us take the next [and final] step: "What he Can (Not)" [Was er (nicht) kann]. The conventional wisdom tells us that Obama and his wife cannot do all the above because they are indebted to the US corporate elite, that these elite have all the power, etc. But for a moment let us linger on the matter of that power. If our assumption that only 1/3 the US population are the "Good Americans", then the rest, the 2/3 of the population, that in varying degrees are honest, have integrity and morality have the real power. For example, they decided to elect as US President a black. The corporate money would not have managed to do that if non-"Good Americans" did not wish to elect the black. So, the seat of the power rests with the 2/3. This, actually, is a truism.
However, there is a problem. Do the 2/3 use this power? History answers that in general they do not. They are too busy making a living. Yet, if the elite [corporate or other] act in an unusually immoral and vile way, for example as the Bush family has being acting, then the 2/3 react. Some times they react violently. At other times they sent their "message" peacefully, through elections, by "levitating the Pentagon", by demonstrating, by organizing, through an authentic labor movement [e.g., as in Germany], etc. This time the non-"Good Americans" chose to sent the message through peaceful elections. Of course, history again teaches that the elite react. And they react, mostly, violently.
So, Obama and his wife, if they decide to ignore the debt, because of the money invested in them by the elite, and if they try to rid the earth of the evil of the US elite, then these elite will try to react. The conventional wisdom says that Obama and his wife "can not" ["nicht kann", in German] win.
On the basis of the above it is not Obama and his wife or the US elite who will decide what the outcome will be. It is the 2/3 that will decide, by using their power CONTINUOUSLY by means of their PARTICIPATION in the decision making.
This should start from this very moment. Obama chose Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. There is enough information available as to who Emanuel is. He is the son of a member of the Irgun [a murderous organization of Israel] and he approves of the use of violence. This is an insult to the men and women that elected Obama.
The cliche that "the children are not responsible for the acts of their parents" is a rather inexact interpretation of reality. Let us examine briefly the matter. Almost all of us have been raised in families. So, we know what the influence of the family can be on us. Is it reasonable to accept that a child raised by, let us say, Nazi war criminals has not been influenced by his parents? "Through a rare fortune there is a historical precedent of documenting the reactions of the relatives of an aggressor… This is the recording through their own words of the attitudes and the reactions of the children and the grandchildren of the Nazi war criminals." [ZNet Commentary of September 8, 2002]. This extraordinary record is found in the book "Schuldig geboren" ("Born Guilty") by Peter Sichrovsky [Kiepenheuer & Witsch,1987, Cologne]. The sad conclusion of the recording is that most of the children and the grandchildren were proud of their Nazi parents.
So, what does the fact that Emanuel’s father was a member of the Irgun mean? The answer that follows should be taken very SERIOUSLY by the reader, especially by the Jewish reader: During the occupation of Greece by the Nazis (1941-1944) my family gave shelter to a dozen of Greek-Jews. They survived the barbarity of the Nazis and they did not end up in the ovens of Himmler. Now, let us imagine that, through one of the usual Christian miracles, the same situation arises today, in 2008. Also, let us imagine that the members of my family, miraculously, are aware of all the barbarity that Israel has let loose against the Palestinians for the last half century. The question is: would the members of my family give shelter to a dozen of Israelis [not Jews anymore]? The answer sadly is: No!
If polls show that the majority of ordinary Americans do not approve of the barbarity of Israel against the Palestinians, it is reasonable to expect that in a situation, similar to the above, their answer would, also, be: No! Then, why did Obama choose Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff? It is now, this moment, that the 2/3 should demand respect for their wish by pressuring Obama.
The "Der Spiegel" article has in its text a few inserts (in large letters) for emphasis. Te first one reads: "Only in Israel, Georgia, and the Philippines (people) preferred McCane". The second one reads: "That Obama under pressure is at his best, promises good for the future".