On October 8, 2008 Amiri Baraka joined us on my then radio show for a rousing debate around his support of Barack Obama.  The conversation also included long-time activist and close friend of Baraka Tom Porter and Rosa Clemente the then vice-presidential running mate of Cynthia McKinney nominees of the Green Party.

And from Harlem Fightback we offer below both the initial statement Baraka wrote condemning those of us who would not support Obama and the 2011 poem Baraka would later write condemning Obama’s bombing of Libya:

What A Difference A Day Made!

Amiri Baraka writes new poem critical of Obama after the bombing of Libya; also posted below is Baraka’s writing from 2008 where he attacked those on the Left who refused to support Obama.

The New Invasion Of Africa

Amiri Baraka 3/21/2011

So it wd be this way
That they wd get a negro
To bomb his own home
To join with the actual colonial
Powers, Britain, France, add Poison Hillary
With Israeli and Saudi to make certain
That revolution in Africa must have a stopper
So call in the white people who long tasted our blood
They would be the copper, overthrow Libya
With some bullshit humanitarian scam
With the negro yapping to make it seem right (far right)
But that’s how Africa got enslaved by the white
A negro selling his own folk, delivering us to slavery
In the middle of the night. When will you learn poet
And remember it so you know it
Imperialism can look like anything
Can be quiet and intelligent and even have
A pretty wife. But in the end, it is insatiable
And if it needs to, it will take your life.


The Parade of Anti-Obama Rascals

By Amiri Baraka 6/21/08

We certainly know the animals of the right, the US Reich, the Foxes and Klan in Civilian clothes, e.g., O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh &c and certainly a coon or two Tavis & Andy, some people even came up with the slogan Strangle Rangel. Happily w/the departure of Bonnie & Clyde more of these Negro retainers will replace their ” HillJig” buttons with the shit eating grin of exposed Toms as they try to ease painlessly into at least the margin of the masses who support Obama .

But I’m talking about another substantial pimple of so disant, dare I say, intellectuals & self advertised radicals who are quite audible & wordy in opposition to Obama. You might say, ‘but how is that, since now there is only the prisoner of war, McCain , whose proves every time he opens his mouth that he is still a prisoner of the Viet Nam war’ that Obama faces. McCain’s major campaign plank is that Americans need to keep dying in Iraq and our tax monies need to keep being fed to Halliburton and the other oilies and cronies. McCain also holds that we continue the Bush type savaging of the US constitution by denying habeas corpus and the legal rights of prisoners in Guantanamo. Keep it open as a Bush-Cheney concentration camp. McCain also wants to maintain the widespread hatred of the US by the world, as well as making Bush’ giveaway Tax cuts for the super rich permanent.

Here’s a charming character who on returning from Viet nam soon dumped his lst wife who had been severely crippled in an automobile accident, to run off with, among others, a beer brewery heiress who cd support his political barn storming. Here’s a man, who for all the media clap about him being “an independent” is the spiritual follower of the man whose seat he sits in as Senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater.

I mention all this because it is criminal for these people claiming to be radical or intellectual to oppose or refuse to support Obama. I hope we don’t have to hear about “the lesser of two evils” from people whose foolish mirror worship wd have us elect the worst of two evils.

For those who claim radical by supporting McKinney or, brain forbid, the Nadir of fake liberalism, we shoud have little sympathy. As much as I have admired Cynthia McKinney, to pose her candidacy as an alternative to Obama is at best empty idealism, at worst nearly as dangerous as when the Nader used the same windy egotism to help elect Bush.

The people who are supporting McKinney must know that that is an empty gesture. But too often such people are so pocked with self congratulatory idealism, that they care little or understand little about politics (i.e.
the gaining maintaining and use of power) but want only to pronounce , to themselves mostly, how progressive or
radical or even revolutionary they are.

Faced with the obvious that McKinney cannot actually do anything by running but put out lines a solid left bloc shd put out anyway, their pre-joinder is that Obama will be running as a candidate of an imperialist party, or Imperialism will not let Obama do anything different or progressive…that he will do the same things any democrat
would do and that the Democrats are using Obama to draw young people to the Democratic party. Also that there is a sector of the bourgeoisie supports Obama to put a new face on the US as alternative to the Devil face Bush has projected as the American image.

Some of these things I agree with, but before qualifying that let me say that no amount of solipsistic fist pounding about “radical principles” will change this society as much as the election of Barack Obama will as president of the US. Not to understand this is to have few clues about the history of this country, its people, or the history of the Black struggle in the US. It is also to be completely at odds with the masses of the Afro-American people, let us say with the masses of black and colored people internationally. How people who claim to lead the people but who time after time tail them so badly must be understood. It is because they confuse elitism with class consciousness.

And at this point, the US body politic has been taken too far in this present election campaign to easily dissolve this heavy challenge to its historic race & class exclusivity. The positive aspect of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and commitment to work in the Obama campaign has certainly shredded some of the gender exclusivity as well, so that there is in reality a prospect that some substantive change can be made. Obama is the democratic nominee. Only repeats of the outright election theft of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 can put McCain in the white house. In 2 weeks, since the Democratic Party primaries ended, McCain’s poll numbers have dropped from a dead heat w/Obama to trailing by 18 points.

It is up to revolutionaries and progressives and radicals of all stripes to make it difficult for another larceny in November. We should agitate for serious disruption across this country and internationally if such a criminal attempt to steal the US presidency is mounted.

For the so called left and would be radicals (and some grinning idiots who say they don’t even care about politics) the McKinney gambit is to label oneself “Quixote of the loyal opposition” to pipsqueak a hiss of disproval at the rulers while being an enabler of the same. Neither McCain nor McKinney will help us. Only Obama offers some actual help.

Even the dumbest things Obama has said re: Cuba and the soft shoe for Israel must be seen as the cost of realpolitik, that is he is not running for president of the NAACP and not to understand that those are the stances that must be taken in the present political context, even though we hold out to support what he said about initiating talks with the Cubans, the Palestinians . After years of Washington stupidity and slavish support for the Miami Gusanos and Israeli imperialism, there is in Obama’s raising of talks with the US Bourgeois enemies something that must be understood as the potential path for new initiative. It is the duty of a left progressive radical bloc to be loud and regular in our demands for the changes Obama has alluded to in his campaign. We must take up these issues and push collectively, as a Bloc, or he will be pushed inexorably to the right.

Some people were grousing about the father’s day address and the stance he took lecturing Black men to actually become fathers not just disappearing sexual partners. But can anyone who actually lives in the hood, and has raised children there really claim that what Obama said is somehow an “insult to half a race”. We need to take up that idea of making Black men stand up and embrace fatherhood (a lifetime gig) as men and quit winking at the vanished baby makers that litter our community with fatherless children. This is where a great deal of the raw material comes from for the gangs that imperil our communities.

As I answered one irate e-mailer who was pissed off at Obama for leveling that challenge, a Negro man killed my only sister, a Negro man killed my youngest daughter.
I can’t give no mealy mouth slack about that, we need to Stand Up!

Obama has addressed the Israeli lobby and the Gusano (anti Cuba) lobby. But where is the Black left and general progressive, radical and revolutionary lobby? That is the real job we need to address. We must bring something to the table. It is time for the left to really make some kind of Left Bloc to support Obama. I was at the Black Left meeting in North Carolina and had to argue with a group of folks who want to be revolutionary as heck with a Reconstruction Party supporting Cynthia McKinney. Though there was some good discussion, nothing concrete has been offered especially around the Obama campaign.

There were even a few badly disguised nationalists, posing as part of the left who think such posturing somehow more revolutionary than getting Obama into the oval office and dealing with getting him there and the rocking and rolling that will go on in this country whether he makes it or not. We ought to be putting together a left bloc document that can be circulated as soon and as widely as possible and in Denver and depending on the circumstances, beyond. Using this as a means of drawing the excited masses to the left.

We always knew that the Obama campaign had the potential to do this. And the closer we get to the convention and then the election even more excitement will be generated. We shd not let our role be to stand on the sidelines and mumble how hip weare, we can’t be so hip we let this cross roads of US history pass us by and possibly even let the lobotomized Robocop of right wing Republicanism serve us up more Bush’ it.

I am sending this document right after I finish writing it to the Black Radical Congress who is meeting in St. Louis this weekend. I would hope it could be circulated.

Amiri Baraka 6/21/08


  1. For the record Mr Porter admitted his vote in 2008 for Obama was a ‘disappointment’, & this yr made it plain he would NOT vote for Billary, even at the risk of the Trumpocalypse.

    Our dear departed elder Amiri Baraka shows here that even those w have strokes of genius can be subject to FLAWED reasoning & even unwarranted abrasiveness. Baraka took multiple swipes at Nader in defense of Corp Neo-‘Liberal’ DLC Dim Gore, as if Gore’s [& the Billary Clintons’] track-record vis-a-vis Blacks, Hispanics & progressives was better than Nader’s [NOT!]. Baraka also regurgitated the lame claim that Nader cost Gore the 2000 election, even tho he admits that Bush Jr & Lil Bro Jeb HI-Jacked FL, & that Gore FAILED to even put up a ‘real’ fight over it [FYI: ALL so-called ‘liberal’ Dim senators in 2000 left the CBC members protest efforts re: the 2000 {s}’Election’ fiasco just ‘twisting in the wind’]. So why should we ‘go to the mattresses’ for Dims who refuse to even step-up to the plate for either their constituents NOR even themselves [Note: It took the GP Party’s Jill Stein to initiate a recount in Wis, Mich & Penn St, even tho Billary would have been the one to benefit- yet Billary & the Dims would rather blame Putin than known Repug Black & Brown voter suppression tactics {IE: cross-check’, closing polls early & setting up too few polls in Black & Brown areas, etc} & the SCOTUS Court’s gutting of the VRA, plus the anti-democratic Electoral College albatross- for her loss]. And in 2004 Bush’s fellow ‘Bones-Man’ [& distant cousin] John Kerry did NOT even go as far a Gore’s half-ass efforts, when the Bush-Cheney regime HI-Jacked that election for a 2nd time, in Ohio.
    – And of-course Bro Baraka failed to mention that Gore managed to lose both his own home state of TN & Slick-Willy Clinton’s state of AR- which had Gore won both or even either, FL would have been a moot point!!

    A lot of folks got swept-up in Obama-mania in 2008, including our late Bro Baraka. Unfortunately NONE of Bro Baraka’s stated ‘hopes’ re Obama came true. And apparently the reality of the ‘real’ Obama did NOT seem to really ‘hit’ Baraka till OBomber [at the urging of Killary {I Came, I Saw, He Died. Ha, ha, ha!! Yes!!} Clinton, along w Sam Power & Sue Rice] bombed Africa’s most prosperous country Libya into total CHAOS & RUIN!! In other-words folks like Bro Dr Ball, Sis Cynthia McKinney & Rosa Clemete’, & the folks @ BAR & Black is Back Coalition’s Omali Yesitali were right about Obama from the get-go, & Bro Baraka was WRONG! [Again Mr Porter was man enough to own up to his miscue re Obama]! And IMO it’s a bit ‘curious’ for Bro Baraka to diss Sis McKinney & Rosa.C they way he did, even tho he admitted that Sis McKinney backed his son’s Newark councilman bid. IMO No real so-called ‘radical’ can constantly keep urging & demanding folks to back Corp Neo-‘Liberal’ Dims- ala Obama, the Billary Clintons & Al Gore!!
    – IMO the best reason Bro Baraka gave for backing Obama was that over 90% of Blacks would indeed back him. Yet what did Blacks [& Browns too] get for their overwhelming support for Obama, twice? Practically NOTHING but ‘symbolism’!! Obama seem to relish the chance to issue public put-down ‘lectures’ belittling Blacks, even tho we were his most loyal constituents!! Obama even told Blacks he met w, that he was NOT their ‘Black Pres’ but the pres for everyone [else]. How many Killer-cops who’ve killed unarmed &/or non-violent / non-criminal Blacks [& Browns] have Obama & his 2 Black AG’s [Holder & Ms Lynch] charged & brought to trial, after they’re home jurisdiction refused to charge them- Absolute ZERO!!
    – Obama’s made far more ‘good-faith’ gestures to Repugs than he’s made to his own Black, Brown & progressive constituents [who Obama’s 1st chief of staff ‘Rahmbo’ dissed as ‘F*cking Retards’]. Speaking of Rahmbo, how’d he become Chicago’s 1st Jewish Mayor? Cause Chi-town’s ‘favorite son’ Obama urged Chicago’s Blacks to vote for Rahmbo over ex US [Black woman] senator Carol Mosley Braun, & then again a 2nd time vs Chuey Garcia, even tho many / most Chicago Blacks became quite fed-up w Mayor 1% Rahmbo & thus he was quite vulnerable the 2nd time around.

    IMO had Obama done even half of what Bro Baraka expected of him, there’s NO way Trump could have been elected POTUS!! It was Corp DLC Dims like Obama the Billary Clintons & Al Gore too, who paved the way for this Trumpocalypse!! This is what the L2E {non}’Strategy’ has wrought!! IMO to keep claiming that L2E Corp Dims are better than whacked Repugs, is like saying one would rather be ‘knifed in the back’ than ‘shot in the front’ cause one’s got better odds surviving being knifed vs being shot! Well how about ‘None of the Above’ as the really sane choice- I don’t wanna be knifed nor shot!!

  2. Great re-podcast, you had to hold your own as it was 2 against 1.But Jarod, we should keep in mind that Brother Baraka, my he rest in peace, was also a fevorus Clintonista.
    Lets never forget “We Came, We Saw, and he Died, Yuk, Yuk, Yuk!!!”–Hillary on Libya Assassination for Ghadaffi.

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