Friday, November 17, 2006

Excuse My Technical Difficulties

But for about a week, I have been wracking my puny brain trying to figure out why only my 3 most recent posts - and none of the left side of my blog - were showing. I could see them only by clicking through what was visible and getting lucky. After days of my hair falling out, and just as I was about to fire off a nasty letter to Blogger, I decided to check the "Help Community" and lo and behold, Blogger was spared.

I forgot to close two "span=fullpost" tags in 2 separate posts.

Note to self: Remain Calm. All is Well.

This is the type of stuff that explains why I need to stick to law - no way can I ever get a handle on the type of attention to minute detail that HTML coding seem sto require, let alone memorizing all The Rules. Heck, I had to do a google search to even make the accents properly in this morning's post about thee French election.

For those who were looking for articles or wondering why I have written only 3 posts on the blog that anyone can find, my apologies. They are back now. =) I really need to try and find cash to pay the youngest Sulky Teen to help me with this stuff. I'm totally, utterly clueless.

But at least my favorite new associates found out at 6:00:001 today (the nanosecond that their repeated F5 didn't just say "Results will be available in X minutes") that they passed the CA Bar! Go you two!! (You know who you are.)

More Below!

Reason #623 Why Knee-Jerk American "Feminists" Don't Get It

Ségolène Royal

To be fair to my sisters, in this case it's really most Americans don't get it, period, regardless of gender.

The results of yesterday's Socialist Party balloting in France, where Ségolène Royal took 60% of the party vote as their presidential candidate, seem to contain two lessons that Americans can take to the bank about world politics today. Especially about feminism on the political world stage.

Lesson #1: Don't be afraid to run, and run hard, on populist ideas. Royal won her party's nomination on an unabashedly populist/grassroots platform that would make a 1960's radical proud, at a time when France is confronting enormous strife as a result of tensions within its diverse population and there is enormous cultural pressure to "crack down" on the diverse youth. Guaranteed Health Care. Subsidies. Affordable Housing. Virtual town halls and Citizen Juries. Ideas all of which have been described by her political opponents as "naive", "too liberal", "inexperienced".

Ideas which, apparently, got her more than 60% of her party's vote despite what some suggest are really fairly middle-of-the-road political views -- some even conservative -- when you scratch her surface.

And at least for now, it is predicted that Royal will run neck-and-neck in next year's general Presidental elections in France with that conservative powerhouse and rhetorical juggeranut, Nicolas Sarkozy. If I was Mme. Royal, I'd have only two words for Mr. Sarkozy in light of yesterday's balloting:

Bring It.

Lesson #2: If a woman gains power in part through her appearance and femininity, it's not necessarily evidence of the return of the patriarchy.

That lesson could definitely be learned by the hardcore American "feminists" running around talking about politics and insisting that their way is the only way to true feminist power in the world. I know this morning that at least a few must be struggling to wrap their brains around how it is possible that this type of female politician - who purposefully recreated herself from what was described as "geeky" into unabashedly feminine, public-bikini-strutting mother of four kids who in 25 years hasn't felt it necessary to marry their father, the head of her political party (someone who in delightful irony might well be her political rival someday) - appears now poised to join Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Angela Merkel, Michelle Bachelet and even Wu Yi in furtherance of what appears to be increasing world momentum to turn the reins of state over to not just women, but non-mainstream, visually-feminine women. Women who made it on their own with no political coattails to ride on (from both the left and the right in their respective countries, as their political landscape doesn't line up neatly with American notions of politics. Few people, for example, would readily associate the words "feminist" or "progressive" with Chancellor Merkel, although you'd be hard-pressed to consider both Presidents Johnson-Sirleaf and Bachelet as anything but.)

(In pitiful contrast, here in America we still have feminists claiming to be politically-savvy wasting precious time hand-wringing over whether someone they don't even know uses the word "bitch-slap" or whinging that the sex-positive arm of Third Wave Feminism or the religious/faith-based arm of the much-heraleded Fourth Wave of Feminism are somehow "dangerous" to women or "anti-feminist".)

Anyone who doesn't realize that Royal's life choices and willingness to play on her gender as a reason to elect her or even as a factor to be considered affirmatively would be FATAL to any American female politician is in steep denial where American misogyny is concerned. Just compare Ms. Royal and her rhetoric to that of any of the women *our* country is willing to tolerate -- I've yet to see acceptance -- having some modicum of power. Nancy Pelosi couldn't wake anyone up with a frying pan and a drum; we know she has a husband but all we ever see is her grandchildren - she's permitted to be nothing other than a matron. Hillary Clinton is a devout Methodist mother who installed a kitchen in the White House to feed her family breakfast, is in church every Sunday and other than a dye job has never indicated any nod to feminine vanity; and the single biggest beef against her in "heartland" continues to be has always been that she had the audacity and the nerve while Big Dawg was president to actually have -- and SPEAK -- her own mind about *his* job. Not to mention that other than the African-American women, you'd be hard pressed to find any serious female politician in America who does not feel compelled to be seen everday only in the most unglamous, ungendered haircut, the most unflattering make-up job and severe, sexless, boring-ass clothes imaginable. Dianne Feinstein? (Oh Lord, where do I start?) And Laura Bush, our first lady? Two words:

Stepford Wife.

All one has to do is remember the reaction when Cynthia McKinney, one of the most consistently anti-war leftists -- and an unapologetic womanist -- this country has ever seen, abandoned "the uniform" for more feminine clothing and one of our people's natural -- and quite popular -- do's:

Even on the left, this was brought up as evidence that she was "a ghetto slut" unfit for public office. Feminists in this country certainly didn't stand up all that hard for Cynthia when she was being run out on a rail either in 2002 or 2006 by men who by comparison politically were Old Guard conservative, perhaps because Cynthia McKinney never made sexism the sole explanation of what was happening to her politically (which IME usually pisses off white knee-jerk feminists, who seem to never grok the idea of intersectionality and why feminism cannot take an "only sexism all the time" or "sexism as the worst of oppressions" approach to global women's liberation because that approach nullifies the life-experience of the majority of the world's women: women of color.)

Finally, while senator Barbara Boxer tries to push the envelope from time to time in terms of her appearance, her politics are already considered "too radical" by most folks it's hard to know whether it makes any difference in her case.

My point in all this is that women who are politically involved here in America, especially our traditional feminist movements -- are still trying to play politics -- the "man's game" -- using men's rules, instead of our own. We dress like them. Our rhetoric sounds like them. And our issues are still articulated with reference to "them" (the abortion debate continues to be waged with the subliminal message that women are victims, always, if they are pregnant when they don't want to me, about as disempowering as you can get IMO). Unlike women all over the world that do not worry about the niceties of language or "professional dress" or sounding like men.

I think watching how far that type of female politician abroad has risen in terms of politcal power - even in countries that we know still have really serious problems with institutional patriarchy and misogyny -- is a possible road-map for success here in America where women and politics are concerned. It's food for thought, anyway.

I am not a denizen of French politics but will definitely be keeping my eye on Mme. Royal and this particular contest. Because any woman running for political office that dismisses her detractors by reminding the Male Old Guard that "“I hear that Gazelles run faster than elephants” is indeed All Woman, and All That.

(One caveat: I do hope she rethinks her opposition to same sex marriages, the one thing that disappointed me as I spent this morning learning more about her after reading the Times. Any woman that has bucked the system by playing the system can surely see that these types of arbitrary discriminations have no place in a genuinely populist society.)

More Below!

Friday, November 10, 2006

RIP, Ed Bradley

There aren't many of our TV news icons left, now. When I say "our", I mean those pioneering Black Journalists who for decades carried the water of being "the only", knowing the special responsibility to "represent" that fell to each of them that often felt as much a tiring burden as it was a uniquely rewarding duty. Max Robinson, founder of the National Association of Black Journalists, fierce advocate for our people in journalism and brother to the equally fierce advocate Randall Robinson is gone. Faith Fancher, the quiet yet equally insistent face of San Francisco journalistic sisterhood, is gone. Carl T. Rowan, the man on the radio whose mellifluous voice I heard day after day speaking truth to power and whose words he was never afraid to have in the Amsterdam News even as he was walking the halls of power in Washington DC -- and who I will always revere for calling the truth about Ronald Reagan being a racist -- gone.

Now God has called home their foil, their balance, the face of African-American news journalism known the world over: Ed Bradley. Called him home at the young age of 65.

I remember when Ed Bradley came to 60 Minutes to replace Dan Rather, having already been the first Black White House correspondent and therefore already All That. I remember the fro, thinking how Soul Train it looked next to Mr. Middle Americas, Morley Safer and Mike Wallace. I remember folks not taking to him much at first - after all, Rather's shoes as the "in-depth story man" were pretty big and nobody expected a successor to make their own mark in the spot. Yet Ed Bradley - smooth as silk even as he was a piercing interviewer - did so, and did so quickly. And I became a weekly 60 Minutes addict, for many years, just to watch him. I never had a desire to be a journalist, but if I had wanted that, I would have wanted to be just like him. Piercing. Mellow. Able to get his subjects to open up and talk: Can anyone say that there was *ever* a more informative, HUMAN, interview than his with Timothy McVeigh as he sat on death row for the Oklahoma city bombing? A more revering, pride-filling interview than with the now-disabled Greatest, Muhammed Ali? Was there any other reporter who could have shielded Michael Jackson from looking like a complete clown as he whinged like a 2 year old about being manhandled when arrested for alleged child molestation? Can anyone ever doubt that he earned all 20 of his Emmys for television journalism?

No, they can't.

I did not have an opportunity to see one of Ed Bradley's last stories - with most of those involved in the Duke Rape Scandal. But, apparently, it was that interview that made clear to the world not that Ed Bradley still had the right stuff as an interviewer -- nobody doubted that he did -- but that he was gravely ill. I wish I had heard. I wish I had known. I would have liked to curl up, one last Sunday, to see him. To see that hard-hitting, yet always quiet, back-and-forth, his earring remaining a giant "Fuck You" to conservative imagery. You can tell the type of reach and power he had with viewers by things like the fact that I learned of Bradley's passing because my immigrant Aussie husband - who has not watched a Sunday news program in the 3 years that he has been in the United States -- sent me the news article from The Australian.

You see, he too knew Ed Bradley. From all the way on the other side of the world, even though he's white and therefore almost certainly did not see Ed Bradley as anything more than a great reporter, since he knew nothing about what it meant to be a Black journalist in America at the time that Ed Bradley was making -- and keeping -- his mark. That makes perfect sense - Ed Bradley, earring-wearing, stylin' and profilin' hard hitting journalist, just had it going on like that. He was great at what he did, and did for all of us while being great. He carried the water, and never spilled a drop as far as any of us could see.

His close friend -- and another one of my Black Journalism heroines - Charlayne Hunter-Gault probably summed it up best yesterday:

I think people might want to characterize him as a trailblazer for black journalists. . .I think he’d be proud of that. But I think Ed was a trailblazer for good journalism. Period.

He sure was.

Rest in peace, Ed Bradley. I will miss your Sundays.

More Below!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Damn, How Embarassing

I told them so.

I told them, I told them, I told them. I haven't been in the party machine for 2 decades here in California, but when I first started hearing the rumors early last year, I dug out that dusty rolodex and I called. I called and called. Begged. Pleaded.

Anybody but Angelides.

Our fucking state and national Democratic Party simply Did. Not. Listen. To me or any of the many other voices who knew the sad truth, however unfair it was.

Their hard heads (which they should have known often leads to a soft electoral ass) are the reason I am still stuck with Arnold Schwarzenneger as my Governor.

What IS it with this state and actors for prominent political office? First California laid the stinkbomb of Re-Ron on the nation, and you see how badly that turned out. Now this. (Don't even think Schwarzennger won't run for the whole ball of wax as soon as they can sucker enough people into amending the Constitution......)

Anyone with an inch of sense -- or any prior exposure to Phil Angelides prior to his nomination for Governor -- KNEW that he could not possibly beat Schwarzenneger, no matter how bad the Governator's approval ratings were (and they were hell of bad, dropping to under 40% less than a year ago.) Angelides has all the charisma and political heartbeat of an algae eater. Steadfast party loyalty has never been a good reason for nominating someone to run for political office, particularly when you know that the opponent is both chameleon-like and charismatic. Yet it was clear that this was the ONLY reason that we put up a doormat like Angelides at the top of our state ticket. Yes, his politics were "the right politics". But what good does that do you, when you can't SELL them because you are incapable of a sales job at the personality level?

I don't know how many times I heard "it's his turn" as the excuse. Too many to count.

Well, it was and is a sucky excuse. The state party -- and the national one -- both should be utterly ashamed. We could have given California back to the Democratic Party on the political wave that washed through the country last night. Schwarzenneger was beatable. Easily so. His ass being handed to him in last year's special election fiasco was all the momentum that a candidate would have needed, if they actually knew how to campaign. But anyone who actually ever met and talked to Phil Angelides before could have told you - he doesn't. And didn't.

Which is why last night he was rolled at the polls. I don't know if there have ever been gubenatorial races here in California where the vote was more lopsided but Democratic Angelides losing by more than 15 points in our Blue State is down right embarassing at a level that makes a person want to go into the house, pull the black-out shades, and never come out. The entire thing was all over by 8:30, only 1/2 hour after the polls closed. I know that even Angelides, Mr. Boring, is embarassed. And he should be: obviously, his ego got in the way of his common sense, and he convinced himself that his unquestioning decades-long party machine loyalty was enough to guarantee him electoral success in California.

He learned last night the hard way that it was not.

But Angelides does not have as much to be ashamed about as the State and National Democratic Party machines do. Having shoved Angelides down our throat as the Democratic candidate, they then had an obligation to actually throw their weight behind him to help him win, knowing that it was an uphill climb despite Angelides' politics being "the right stuff." They didn't - they left him to the wolves. It was clear as mud that Angelides was a wonk, a steadfast soldier, and very smart. But it was also clear that he was NOT a politician who could mobilize and excite any but the most bookish voters. He needed the help of the party to win. He didn't get that. Which just goes to show you - loyalty ain't everything.

Are we sure, now, that we really wouldn't have been better off with Steve Westly?

More Below!

All Out of Political Capital

When George W. Bush was re-elected President in 2004 (assuming that you believe that he actually was honestly re-elected, something I've never become sanguine about where Ohio was concerned), he strutted around like a peacock, telling reporters glibly at his first post-election press conference that

Let me put it to you this way: I've earned capital in this campaign. Political capital. And now I intend to spend it.

So tell me, Mr. President:

How does it feel to be BROKE?

I think of Bush's rapid descent into political poverty much as I think about the fate most lottery winners face. One day the person finds themselves with a windfall, more money than they ever dreamed. And their dreams quickly control, and consume them. Moderation goes out the window, and self-control right after it.

Which is why so many of them go bust, rather quickly.

That's sort of the situation Emperor Bush finds himself in this morning. Only 2 years after he supposedly earned all that "political capital" winning a shady election that mobilized the left against a sitting president all across the country in record numbers, since we rightfully saw it as a "Vote or Die" moment where America's future was concerned, Bush is already politically bankrupt. You know that with certainty, when 40% of voters in a midterm election say that their votes are votes against the sitting President.

So he's skin. Tapped. Broke down busted broke. Left with a House of Representatives who clearly won't do his bidding. And only the dream of a miracle recount pull-out in Montana and Virginia to give him hope of keeping the Senate (which, of course, can't pass a bill without the House anyway.) And faced with the leadership of ALL FOUR BRANCHES OF HIS MILITARY telling their Commander in Chief "the hard, bruising truth" publicly on the eve of a national election that he'd better shape up, and ship out the megalomaniacal architect of his war policy in Iraq, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld. (Even as they left out the "or else" part.)

It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

I am not going to be giddy and delirious as most of the left wing undoubtedly is today, and claim that yesterday's shift of power in the House (and likely the Senate, with Democrats ahead in both Montana and Virginia in nailbiter races that have even me on pins and needles) is the result of some sort of progressive mandate. Sorry, but many of the Democrats elected yesterday come in at varying degrees of Republican Lite on the issues that are most important to me. Nor am I going to pretend that it was the glorious rise of anti-war sentiment at a moral level -- even as it is clear that at at the national pocketbook and human cost level, yesterday's results are inextricably entwined to national dismay about the Iraq War and its costs.

And I'm sorry, but how excited can progressives possibly be over Nancy Pelosi, Ms. "Impeachment is Off the Table", knowing that she cannot hold together the majority coalition she gained last night in 2008 if she alienates the states that sent Democratic centrists to the office to send a message, by voting Blue for the first time in many years?

Common sense tells you that this is not truly a "New Direction" for America, more likely a slight left turn. But that's s still great, of course, compared to the hard-right nightmare of the last six years.

What I am going to do is be very happy, nonetheless, that at least for two years, we won't see anymore midnight bills, bullshit grandstanding over unimportant issues (who cares if people gamble online?), Terri Schiavo grand theatre, any more Supreme Court stalking horses like Samuel Alito, or even the indignities of a ranking congressman forced to hold congressional hearings in a basement because he isn't allowed to reserve a regular hearing room by the opposition majority.

All that will be a relief, because I was bone tired of seeing Congress' behavior reflect our ongoing national descent into ignorance day after day, at the hands of the Republican majority in the House and Senate.

More Below!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Divine Justice for a Less than Divine Hypocrite

Author's Note: This piece was begun on 11/3, but only finished and published on 11/10 because work interrupted it. I don't know why it still shows a date of 11/3, given that, but hopefully the reader isn't disoriented because it now references Tuesday's election and the Democrats gaining control of Congress on 11/7. Blogger gets on my nerves. /sigh

OK this story from last week was just too good to pass up writing about; I'd hoped to do it last week when I first saw it during my lunch hour, but work conspired again. I don't normally do hit and run posts (maybe I'd get more blog traffic if I did?) so it's late. But I'm a lover of delicious irony, particularly when it is in the form of the brutal smackdown of one of our nation's false prophets, and wanted to enjoy this moment.

Amongst the many truths my late mama told me, one of them was this:

God Don't -- and I do mean -- DON'T like ugly. And He (or She) sure ain't stuck on pretty.

Many of us of honest faith have known that sooner or later, even more of the ugly hypocrisy that beats in the heart of most right-wing evangelicals in the public eye here in America would be forced out into the light of day.

Last Wednesday through Friday was the Day. (OK so God's calendar isn't ours. You already knew that, if you call yourself a Christian.)

Which is why the Right Reverend (aka Pastor) Tim Haggard in Colorado, head of the infamous National Association of Evangelicals, Mr. Fire and Brimstone evangelical embracing every anti-Christian position from rabid homophobia to rank sexism to disbelief in the clear signs of global warming, Mr. "I Talk to the President Once a Week" is feeling the delicious comeuppance that only the light of The Truth can shine.

The good reverend is both a closet case *and* a meth head.

(Oh wait - he insists that he didn't actually use the crank he feloniously had in his possession. I guess that's why Rev. Haggard was caught on tape calling up his masseuse, Mike Jones aka Haggard's 3-year monthly honey bunny huggie boy -- begging to buy some more?)

The Christian that I am will pray for him. And his tens of thousands of followers, starting with the posers in this picture:

Why am I reminded of Children of the Corn when I look at this picture? When was the last time church going person actually saw an *entire congregation* purportedly "in the rapture of prayer" all striking the exact same pose - a pose reminiscent not of the supplication and humility of prayer before the Almighty, but of zombies from Night of the Living Dead reaching for their latest human victim hands outstretched, soullessly in an open-handed pose of "gimme?"

(If you, like me, have been to church a million times and have not, it gives you some indication that the congregants of the New Life Church might be posers just like their fallen pastor.)

I admit that as the person who is not yet completely cured of her less-than-Christian weaknesses I'm still laughing my ass off. In another world, Pastor Tim would be facing the same sort of public stoning that Tessie Hutchinson in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery faced, his warmest and closest of friends and neighbors and intimate instantly turned deliverer, sacrifer, and murderous enforcer, all in the name of law and order. The wages of hypocrisy, from those who he enabled in being hypocrites and pretenders to the faith.

So, since at this moment I'm feeling terribly hypocritical because I am happy that Tim Haggard got his bitchslap from the Lord at long last, and since I do consider myself to be a woman of faith who should be above such meanness, all I can do do is pray:

Forgive me, Lord: I know not what I do, rolling on the floor laughing at the rhetorical public hanging that poor benigted Reverend Haggard -- and he *is* haggard, have you seen him, Lord? I don't know how anyone would have slept with that ugly man, gay or straight -- has coming from his own flock.

I do have one request, though, Lord: Can you please send some of your justice love to that misogynist hypocrite who calls himself a pastor Mark Driscoll who calls himself a man of the cloth yet tried to pin Rev. Haggard's sick shit, from his hatred of his own gayness to his lying about getting his meth on, all on Haggard's wife "letting herself go? I don't know the woman, Lord, but from her pictures she still has it going on just fine. It's not her fault she married a gay man who wasn't man enough to admit that he was gay.......

And maybe send a little love to Emperor Bush too, who like his weekly phone buddy Rev. Haggard has an unexplained propensity for hanging out with gay prostitutes all while claiming that the perfectly normal homosexuality that you set forth in man and animal as part of your diverse plan for life was a sin?

Oh wait, you already sent a divine message to George W. Bush on Tuesday. I'm sorry. I forgot.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord.

(OK, OK, I'm a terrible person but not liar. Yes, yes, I know - I *do* know what I'm doing making mirth at his misery. I am a sinner. I confess. But it's still funny, and I have always believed that the Lord has always had a delicious sense of ironic humor, dispensing His unique form of justice. Praise God.)

More Below!

China Tries to Empower, Not Pity, the Motherland

Here in America, all that most ever seem to feel about Africa is pity. The pity for what is now decades of civil wars. Pity for Africa's starving children. Pity for the orphans left behind from the devastation of AIDS. Pity for genocide, now spreading its wickedness from Darfur to Chad, seemingly unnoticed. Pity for girls who undergo infibulation or "female circumcision", (both part of FGM, as it is now labeled here in the West) usually at the hands of their own mothers to preserve culture and tradition.

Pity for the savages, it almost feels like sometimes.

Much of what we pity is the result of sad, depressing and enraging things, indeed, and I would not argue that our sorrow should not be there. But the trouble with pity is that it solves absolutely nothing for Africa, when what Africa needs is action.

America and Americans are very short on action those where Africa is concerned, despite what should be the clear understanding that where the West is concerned, Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn rule" is directly applicable. After all, had neither Europe in the Scramble for Africa nor America in its Peculiar Institution systematically meddled in Africa beginning hundreds of years ago, who knows whether we'd have anything to pity about Africa at all. After all, there is plenty to confirm that Africa was a fount of great civilizations, great knowledge and great culture that should educate and inspire us all. Africa unquestioningly remains home to abundant natural resources, as well. But we don't see that, or talk about that, when we are talking about solutions for what one might argue is the slow, but sure, die-off of Africans in Africa.

Perhaps because we are blinded by pity.

China, however, rising at a stratospheric pace to fill America's increasingly tenuous role as the strategic and economic powerhouse of modern times, apparently is not constrained by the same type of paralyzing pity, aka guilty paternalism born from the hundreds-year old disease known as white supremacy. This may in part be because China was not a colonizer and rapist of Africa. Thus, it appears to see clearly what we here in the West cannot, given Europe and America's past exploitative and meddling relationship with the African continent:

The promise of possibility, through economic coalition with "the land of myth and miracles."

This picture, from today's article in the NY Times announcing this weekend's summit in Bejing between the leadership of China and the leadership of Africa, is lovely, although the juxtaposition of the Chinese police officer is symbolic at many levels:

While we have been handwringing and promising token handouts (international welfare, basically) to assuage our Western pity, China has been courting - courting a suitor it knows is just as worthy, in potentia even if not in present actuality. Building a relationship, quietly, while we in the West say "all the right things" and continue to do nothing, to the point where not too long ago I was convinced that the West had come up with a new means to recolonize the greatest source of natural resources on the planet - let all the Black people die off. Which is why this week, leaders of 48 out of the 53 nations in Africa -- including 80% of the heads of state -- are coming to China. To bargain. As equals.

Such an event is historic. It puts me in mind of one of the last times that a group of non-white nations came together as equals for a dialogue that did not include Europeans or Americans:

The Bandung Conference of 1955.

Almost no one has heard of the Bandung Conference. Except for nationalists, that is (I myself learned of it from Malcolm X's rhetorical masterpiece The Ballot or the Bullet? The promise of Bandung was lost, ultimately, because of European meddling, whether we're talking about American or Soviet, as the Cold War played out on the world stage and each superpower brokered against each other, using "third world countries" as their proxies. Ultimately, the compromise "Non-Aligned Nations" movement that emerged from Bandung as a way to stay out of the Cold War was itself split apart, the last straw being the 1979 Soviet invasion of Abecause of such alignment. And with that, the promise of economic and cultural coalition between non-European nations.

Well, the Cold War is over now. So perhaps it's again time to get back to the lost work of Bandung. Certainly, Asian and African nations seem to think so, having reaffirmed the promise of Bandung at last year's 50th anniversary conclave. As did the Non-Aligned Movement, which met most recently in Havana just a couple of months ago. They even now have a news website.

I'm hopeful.

This is not to say that the Chinese have motives that are completely pure. Of course they are not - China's insatiable need for oil unquestioningly plays a role in its approach to Africa. Nor is it to say that the Chinese won't make money, creating new markets for its goods. Of course it will. A lot of it. And this is definitely not to say that the Chinese government's shit still doesn't stink to high heaven where human rights are concerned. Of course it does. Which is at least one reason why the picture of the Chinese policeman walking past the majesty of giraffes under the setting African savannah sun is symbolic. Africa has enough home grown dictators of its own and does not need China's help propping them up.

That being said, if what Africa needs to climb out of the genocidal malaise that most of its nations are in is not talk, but action, the Chinese are acting. When we here in America and elsewhere in the West have not (And when I say "we" I mean both Black Americans and non-; amongst the many shames that many African-Americans bear at the present time, our slave mentality and resultant rejection of our brothers and sisters in the motherland as our kin is close to the top of the list). Most importantly, the Chinese are acting in a way that gives something the West seems almost endemically incapable of offering to Black Africans, whether in the motherland or right here at home: respect As one African leader noted in today's NY Times article:

"They are not the first big foreign power to come to Africa, but they may be the first not to act as though they are some kind of patron or teacher or conqueror,” he added. “In that sense, there is a meeting of the minds."

This is the same philosophy, for different reasons, that China had towards Africa during the great uprisings that overthrew colonialism, when Chairman Mao Tse Tung was preaching solidarity with all African and Latin American nations then in revolutionary struggle, causing Western panties to get seriously in a bunch:

To achieve a lasting world peace, we must further develop our friendship and co-operation with the fraternal countries in the socialist camp and strengthen our solidarity with all peace-loving countries. We must endeavour to establish normal diplomatic relations, on the basis of mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and of equality and mutual benefit, with all countries willing to live together with us in peace. We must give active support to the national independence and liberation movement in countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as to the peace movement and to just struggles in all the countries of the world.

(From Mao's speech at the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, 1956).

In other words, for at least 50 years, when it comes to Africa, China has been nothing but consistent. 50 years ago, the West was successful in waving the "anti-communist" banner and breaking the relationships that were forged at Bandung and beyond. It's a case of "what might have been?"

While we cannot know what might have been if the promise of Bandung had been effectuated, we do know where things stand now.

Which is that Africa, and Africans, are dying. More and more each day. And that pity simply has not done anything to fix that.

So it's time for something else. So why not from a world power that has never offered pity, but has been consistent in offering coalition with Africa?

Especially since the bonus effect is that the West might well step up too: even if late, it's still enlightened self-interest for America to re-evaluate and repair its relationship with Africa (if it can drop the racist paternism part of the help equation, that is.) $5 says that we might actually see the Millenium Promise get some meaningful funding despite years of broken promises by Bush, once the White House gets past next week's midterm elections. After all, it's not like folks have not been watching China's conduct towards Africa for some time, albeit warily. Pundits left, right and center here in the west tend to focus more on the oil part of the equation than the non-European hegemonic part of the equation, but that's to be expected when they don't see those non-white nations they are scrutinizing as their equals to begin with. It is the latter that give the Chinese a leg up. Since they are not offering pity - they are offering possible solutions. Even in a time where indeed sorrow is rightfully felt about Africa, paralyzed pity is the least valuable thing we can offer the Motherland.

What she needs instead is equal bargaining power -- starting with the power of international standing in the world of trade - to heal the wounds that colonialism has made to Africa's economics, Africa's people, and Africa's potential for survival.

And if that is offered in good faith by China when it has not been by the West? Then perhaps we are merely picking up where we left off at Bandung, 50 years ago.

More Below!