Archive for July, 2012

The Puppet: Mitt Romney Recites Neo-Con Lines in Israel

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On Israel, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on July 31, 2012 by playthell

  What is Mitt Promising BB?

 On Rattling Swords and Waving the Bloody Shirt

AfterlisteningtoMitt Romney’s speech in Israel, where he practically pledged to invade Iran if elected President; I thought “here we go again!”  The last thing the American people need is another fuzzy headed businessman in the Oval Office who thinks the answer to our protracted economic crisis is to give more money to the very rich and regulate the private sector less.  A President so clueless about foreign affairs, his view of the world can be completely molded by policy wonks with an agenda.  That’s exactly what we had in George W. Bush.

Lest we forget, the result was a series of disasters.  Among these was the failure to heed repeated warnings from US intelligence operatives that Islamic Jihadists were planning a devastating terrorist attack on the US homeland, because misguided ideologues were still fighting a cold war against a nation that no longer existed.

This resulted in the most successful assault on American soil by a foreign force since the War of 1812.  And the ill-conceived wars of choice that we are still fighting almost 12 years later –three times the length of World War II.  The Bush economic policy was also disastrous and resulted in the near collapse of the world financial system; resulting in the loss of 40% of Middle Class wealth and 67% of Afro-American wealth. And millions of Americans are still facing foreclosure on their homes, while Mitt proposes an enhanced version of Bushonomics.

Whatever one believes about who the good and bad guys are in the Middle East, the question that must be asked with the utmost urgency is: Can this nation afford another major war? The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been estimated to cost out at around four trillion dollars by Nobel Prize winning economist ……of Columbia University.  And a war with Iran would make those wars look like a dress rehearsal.

It is instructive to note that the American society of Civil Engineers has estimated that we could have completely rebuilt the infrastructure of our nation for half that expenditure – an investment that would have boosted our present economy, employed a multitude of workers, and laid the basis for a new economy suited to 21st century realities.

Hence those like Mitt Romney, who argue that it is a false dichotomy to say we can’t engage in war and nation building in the Mid-East and rebuild our nation at the same time, are wrong.  Yet, driven by an unfaltering opportunism, a self-righteous sense of “American Exceptionalism,” and scripted by neo-con fanatics like John Bolton – who helped convince the Bushmen to attack Iraq in a war of choice – Mitt Romney has committed America to a war with Iran in his hysterical Jerusalem Speech.

Mitt even has put the choice of whether this nation will attack Iran in the hands of his old business buddy Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister.  This should outrage all patriotic Americans who believe that our president should put American interests first; and a war with Iran is not in our national interests!

Despite the fact that Mitt was speaking in Israel, it was a speech designed to win the Jewish, and especially the Christian Evangelical vote, back home.  Since Jews are only 4% of the electorate, and only around 7% of American Jews say that US policy toward Israel is a deciding factor in how they vote, plus President Obama won 80% of the Jewish vote; Mitt must motivate the Evangelicals or he’s doomed to defeat at the polls.

That’s why Mitt’s message was aimed at millions of Evangelical Christian fanatics, whose support of Israel is based on their “End Time” theology.  And many of these people are already skeptical of Mitt’s Mormon beliefs. So, like the soulless charlatan that he is, Mitt gave BB the right to take our nation to war; which would fulfill the fantasies of the Christian Right masquerading as biblical prophecy.  Such an unprincipled, dangerous, opportunist should never be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office; let alone become the commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces!

 A Fraud at the Wailing Wall

 I bet he’s counting votes back home

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 Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 31; 2012

Is this the Worst Congress Ever?

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2012 by playthell

The Weeper of the House

 On The Quintessential Do Nothing Congress!

As the economic crisis lingers on and threatens to get worse, the US Congress looks more and more like Jack the Bear: makin tracks bit getting nowhere.  There is no better illustration of this than yesterday’s  legislative deliberations in both houses.  The Senate, which has a Democratic majority, was finally able to pass a tax bill without Republican opposition; but it was meaningless because the Constitution requires all revenue bills to originate in the House.

Alas, the House was tied up all day in a heated debate about a typographical  error in a bill, although everybody conceded it was an error.  If Harry Truman could win a second term running against a “do-nothing” Republican Congress in the 1940’s, running against the present Congress should be a walk in the park for President Obama.

After all, the Congress Truman ran against passed 90 bills, the present Congress has passed only 100 bills since the 2010 election!  It is hard to recall a Congress as unpopular as 112th Congress.  In fact, it is hard to find a dreaded public event that was more detested.

For instance, Democratic Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado has compiled a chart which shows that this Congress is the most unpopular in history!  With a shameful 5% public approval rate congress is more unpopular than British Petroleum was during the worse days of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  It is more unpopular than Sugar Willie Clinton, after we learned that White House intern Monica Lewinsky was polishing his knob in the Oval Office.  It is more unpopular than Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal; less popular than the banks during the recent crash; less popular than the IRS and President Chavez of Venezuela. This Congress is even more unpopular than Communism!

Although the average American may be mad at the Congress in general; it is the Republicans who are the stumbling block preventing the Democrats from going about the people’s business they were elected to address.  And the crux of the problem is located in the Tea Party controlled House Of Representatives, who confuse compromise with capitulation. Yet our two party system and three fold division of governmental power is designed for comprise…it cannot work otherwise!

Thus the Republicans have well earned the title GOP: “Grand Obstructionists Party!”   The fact that the American public does not understand the distinction between the roles the two parties are  playing in our politics is an indictment of the major American media.  Overrun by verbose airheads, the profit driven corporate owned broadcast media sounds like a tower of Babel to the average voter; it often confuses more than it enlightens.

The highly respected Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Orenstein – who have  just completed the most thorough study to date on how the Congress operates titled “It’s Even Worse Than it Looks” – have called the media “unindicted co-conspirators – in confusing the reasons for the present dysfunction in the US Congress.

Instead of clarifying who done what, the general lot of media commentators make it appear that both parties are equally to blame for the protracted fiasco that has paralyzed the 112th Congress.  There is no ambiguity in the minds of Mann and Orenstein who the guilty party is.  Like all good investigators they just follow the evidence.

Although Thomas Mann and Norm Orenstein are funded by think tanks with disparate ideological orientations – the liberal Brookings Institution and the conservative American Enterprise Institute – they both agree that the gridlock in Congress is due to the actions of intransigent right-wing Republican ideologues that are committed to insuring the failure of the Obama presidency.  And they show how the GOP is willing to damage the public interests to do it…like the way they forced the US to a near default and caused the nation’s credit rating to go down for the first time in our history.

Norm Orenstein says this is the most dysfunctional Congress that he has witnessed in the 40 years that he has been studying them.  And he views the fact that so many Americans are unsure which party to blame as the crux of our problem –an observation that echoes Tom Jefferson’s warning about the dangers of an ignorant electorate.

In such circumstances voters often decide to just throw the majority party out – and since the Democrats control the Senate and the White House they are in danger of getting the axe even though the Republicans are the guilty party.  Hence as bad as things are now: They could get far worse!

GOP Congressman Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan
 

Social Darwinist Leaders of the Republican Obstructionists

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 30, 2012

Miss Ann’s Dancing Horse Lures Mitt to London

Posted in Cultural Matters, Playthell on politics with tags , , on July 27, 2012 by playthell
Annie and her horse

 “Mitt The Twit” is a bust in London!

Stiff as Herman Munster, plastic as Barbie’s Ken, Mitt Romney has been described as “insincere” and “apparently devoid of charm” in the British press.  It is hard to take a man seriously who comes across the oceans to see the Olympic games but swears that he will not watch his wife’s incredible dancing horse perform in the Dressage.

As is usually the case when he is allowed to speak freely; Mitt’s mouth got him in trouble.  Since his remarks suggest that he is either a bad husband or a bad liar, Mitt is dammed if he does and doesn’t.  One witty British wag called him “a big pile of Mitt!”

Another chimed in on Mitt’s speculation that the British public might not be behind the Olympic Games with the retort: “If not, it’s because they are too depressed by the kind of economic policies Mr. Romney is advocating for Americans.”  And when Mitt expressed doubts about the ability of the private security company, hired by the organizers of the games, to properly police the Olympics, a British commentator pointed out that the problem resulted from British organizers following his example.  Instead of employing good government police professionals they hired some security guards from Bangladesh at cut rate prices.

Thus far The Mittster has gone over like a lead balloon with the British press and public.  He has become a figure of ridicule for the press, public and even the political elite that he wanted so desperately to impress.  The Prime Minister reminded Mitt in a televised public statement that they were presenting the Olympic games in London, one of the world’s busiest cities, and of course it’s easy to hold the Olympics games “in the middle of nowhere!”  I’m feeling him on this; any New Yorker who has visited Utah knows this is a fairly accurate description of the place.

But of all the embarrassing questions raised about Mitt’s knowledge, character and sincerity during his London sojourn, none is more awkward than publicly announcing that he will not watch his wife’s horse perform – even though he is part owner and it is a great honor to have a horse performing in the Olympics.  I am puzzled by his attitude.

As a life-long equestrian I regard dressage riders as artists on par with classical pianist, given their mastery of complex technique and acute sensitivity to nuance, or great ballet dancers by virtue  their sensitivity to equilibrium, rhythm and grace.  In order to make it into the top ranks of performers in this sport one must gain total control over a Thorobred horse, one of the most magbificent and spirited beast the Gods ever blew the breath of life into.  It is an amazing feat of man/ beast collaboration that’s wonderful to watch. So either Mitt is the actually the stiff boring philistine doophus he appears to be, or this is just another attempt to hoodwink the public by disguising who he really is.

I think this guy is at heart a salesman, and he is arrogant enough to believe he can fool all the people all the time.  Hence spurning his wife’s beautiful prancing horse is but a transparent attempt to shed his Richie Rich persona, to pretend he’s down with Joe Sixpack and share their disdain for the follies of the bourgeoisie.

Mitt might fool the British….and Americans who know nothing of horses.  But those of us are into horses know that you can tell a person’s class status and Anglophillic proclivities by whether they ride English or Western style.  The former is the style of the European upper class, the latter is the style of the working cowboys on American ranches.

Hence the dressage is an art designed to entertain the European aristocracy; the genuinely American horse show, which puts fine horses and skilled riders on display, is the rodeo.  It’s as fast and exciting as Barack’s game of basketball, and both are American inventions.

Mitt Knows this, and like his fluent command of French, he is hiding his appreciation for the fine art dressage because it’s politically incorrect with the ignorant, provincial, right-wing yahoos he claims to represent!  But this fumbling attempt at deception  makes him look like a lying charlatan to thoughtful people.  It is no Wonder The Sun, a London tabloid, dubbed him “Mitt theTwit!  “Oh what a tangled web we weave/when at first we learn to deceive.”

The Dressage: A Thing of Beauty!

Horse and Rider become one in body and Spirit

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Playthell George Benjamin

Life Long Equestrian

Harlem, New York

July 27, 2012

The World According to Mitt

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on July 25, 2012 by playthell
 Yet another pugnacious Republican draft dodger

 The Danger Zone is Everywhere!

After listening to Mitt Romney’s speech before the veterans of Foriegn Wars at South Carolina’s Citadel, a military academy, I thought: “Tt’s de ja vous all over again.”  Once more the Republicans are attempting to win a presidential election by playing on the paranoia and misguided patriotism of the American public; conjuring up enemies abroad and manufacturing war hysteria at home.

Mitt Romney is beginning to look more and more like a reincarnation of George Bush, but without the former President’s compassion or military experience.  The thing that unites Romney and Bush, and distinguishes them from all other Presidents should Romney win, is that they would be the only occupants of the Oval Office with MBA’s from Harvard.

Judging by the economic performance of the first Chief Executive with this coveted degree, there is cause for alarm. Bill Clinton, who presided over our last economic boom, has called Mitt’s economic plan nothing but a reincarnation of the Bush plan…”but this time on steroids.”  That’s scary enough, but Mitt’s vision of foreign policy, and related issues of war and peace, is terrifying.

Like Bush, Mitt knows little of the world beyond the business world.  Yes he was governor of Massachusetts for four years, like Bush was governor of Texas, but most of what he understands about foreign affairs has to do with global markets; mainly where to ship the jobs of American workers in order to provide the greatest returns for his investors.

Hence maximizing profits, not matters of morality and compassion, guided Mitt’s decisions.  And he left a trail of wrecked lives and mutilated companies – which he says are killers too –  in his wake.   But  if Mitt brings the same ruthless amoral approach to foreign policy, maintaining a tally sheet of wins and losses with global domination as the ultimate objective, we can be sure there will be constant wars and rumors of wars.

Already Mitt has shown a willingness to pick fights all over the world: Iran, Venezuela, China, and Russia; who he says is our number one geo-political threat.  So reckless is Mitt’s rhetoric that the venerable Colin Powell has publicly chastised Mitt and said his party’s presumptive presidential candidate is wrong on Russia.

Powell’s  incredulous facial expression and blasé body language suggested that the former Secretary of State believe Mitt’s view of the world should be classified under “Nutsy Coo Coo!” Especially since Mitt’s most influential advisors were routinely dismissed as “The Fuckin Crazies” during the Administration of George I, when Colin Powell was the American Othello.

The former General’s outspoken dissent suggest that the protracted war between the Realpolitique crowd, represented by people like Brent Scowcroft, Richard Luger, Colin Powell, George H.W. Bush, et al, and the Neo-Con’s represented by Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton, is flaring up again.  Judging from Romney’s paranoid vision and bellicose rhetoric it is fair to assume the Neo-Cons have the candidate’s ear.  That explains why neither Brent Scowcroft nor Colin Powell has endorsed The Mittster.

This is yet another good reason for the rest of us to be worried about what a Mitt Romney presidency would mean for war and peace.  What we know for sure is that these two factions have been fighting to impose their vision of the world on American foreign policy since Operation Desert Storm. 

At the beginning of the rein of  George II  the Powell/Scowcroft Realpolitique faction was firmly in charge. But after the terrorist attack on 9/11 George II panicked and the “crazies,”  who were recruited from the Project for A New American Century,“ a Neo-Con think tank, by Dirty Dick Cheney,  took charge of US foreign policy.

These are the architects of policies that led to the invasion of Iraq, America’s greatest diplomatic blunder, and the bungling of the Afghanistan mission.  And while we are still fighting those wars almost 12 years later, Mitt wants to start others.  Hence although both Mitt and Barack both talk about the 21st Century being a new American century….it really scares me when Mitt says it.  Because I see danger zones everywhere!

 Stop the Madness! 

 Don’t Antgonize the Russians!

 *************

Playthell George Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 25, 2012 

Mitt Romney is a Dangerous Charlatan!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on July 25, 2012 by playthell
 A Man of the People?
 

Can Americans be Duped into Electing a Lying Charlatan?

If it were not more pathetic than funny Ann Romney’s television act would be a hoot!   She actually had the unmitigated gall to scold President Obama and indignantly declare that his criticism of her husband was beneath the dignity of his office.  One is almost at a loss for words as Miss Ann assumes her wounded spouse’s look at the same time that her husband is engaging in some of the sleaziest racist politics that we have witnessed in my lifetime.  And he is a world class liar to boot!

The first ad Mitt’s campaign produced about President Obama was a blatant lie; even he couldn’t deny it was a lie because the video tape evidence of the President’s actual speech was undeniable. They literally took lines form President Obama’s mouth, where he was quoting an adviser to John McCain, and edited the video to make it look like the president was stating his own position.

When they were called out on it by news reporters they just sort of shrugged it off with the comment that this is how the game of politics is played today.  Now the Mittster is doing the same thing with the president’s thoughtful and accurate comments about the relationship between Individual success in business, and the public infrastructure that is provided by all American taxpayers which makes that success possible.

The Republicans say that President Obama cannot run on his record, yet they are running a campaign based on blatant lies; which means they know that they cannot win by telling the truth about it.  And evidently Mitt believes that he cannot win if the truth comes out about his finances and taxes.  There is no other way to explain why he is willing to take all the flak he is taking by refusing to release multi-year tax returns.

Everybody who is familiar with the subject knows that Americans who establish off shore corporations and keep secret bank accounts in the Cayman Islands are trying to hide income and avoid paying taxes.  That’s why it is rumored to be a favorite haven for laundering dirty drug money.

As I have said in a previous commentary, it remains to be seen which legal category Romney’s ’tax returns fall in: tax avoidance, which is legal, or tax evasion, which is a crime.  Both are immoral, and Mitt knows it.  That’s why he won’t release them and he’s counting on the ignorance, apathy and racism of the electorate to get him over.

A recent survey aired on CNN last Sunday showed that the topics being most discussed by Americans just now are vacation plans and dieting, with the candidates and coming election near the bottom of their concerns at 14% is disconcerting.

The hearty yelps of applause Mitt got from some members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars today, even though he is just another tough talking chicken hawk who was a draft dodger during the Vietnam war and partied in Paris as poor boys died on the battlefield, the Grand Obstructionist Party might just get away with banking on the backwardness of the electorate and succeed in electing a lying charlatan to the most powerful office in the world!

 The Draft Doger talkin smack before the Veterans of Foriegn wars

A Bullshit Artist Par Excellance!

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 24, 2012

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Will Mass Killing Spark Gun Controls?

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on July 23, 2012 by playthell
An increasingly familiar American Scene

Not Until politicians fear the people more than the NRA!

As a violence weary nation watched, the President began his homily quoting biblical scripture with such eloquence and quiet strength if reminded once again why these scriptures have so long endured.  It is poetry of such spiritual profundity that can heal the injured soul.  It was altogether fitting and proper that he should quote scripture because I can conjure no secular text that can offer up a healing balm that can match it.

It was an amazing grace that could even touch the soul of a wretch like me.  However after all the moving stories of selfless heroism,and moving remembrances, neither the President not the local officials made any mention of banning assault weapons from civilian use – an alarming testament to the outsized influence of the gun lobby.

The mass shooting of innocent movie goers in Colorado once again drives home the point that American Society’s fetish for guns is out of control and we are all diminished by this protracted reign of terror.   The latest slaughter of innocents highlights the fact that while gun violence does not happen all the time; it can happen anytime.  And although it does not happen everywhere…it can happen anywhere!  Alas it is of no matter that we could solve most of the problems with gun violence by passing much stricter gun laws, because the most powerful lobby in Washington is the National Rifle Association.

These gun lovers will not hear of any serious controls on gun ownership. With millions of members who are voters, and millions of dollars to oppose or back candidates of their choice, they have our politicians in both parties held hostage and it has rendered our government impotent on this vital issue of public safety and national security.

The gun nuts also have a strong ally in the newly emergent Tea Party, whose members have shown up at public forums brandishing guns and talking about “Second Amendment solutions” to political problems.  And the pro-gun lobby have allies in the paranoid nuts seated in the Congress, like Michelle Bachman, who announced that she wants her constituents “armed and dangerous.”  All these morally twisted  people are pledged to work against public officials who vote for gun controls.

Based on the mealy mouth prattle flowing from the pie holes of our elected officials – Mayor Bloomberg excepted – there will be no serious change in the laws governing gun ownership.  This paucity of intestinal fortitude – some would say an absence of Cahones in the male members – has been clear to everyone paying attention since Congresswoman Gabby Gifford was shot through the head at a public rally in Arizona. yet her House colleagues refused to take action to tighten federal gun control laws!

In the wake of Congresswoman Gifford’s shooting there were the usual platitudes, but no action was taken to tighten gun control laws.  The same pattern is developing around the present mass slaughter of innocents by a mad gunman in Aurora – a city ranked as the 9th safest city in the nation.  All the politicians are tongue tied on the question of gun controls; no matter what their political brand they too chicken shit to even point out the fact that there is no legitimate function for military assault rifles in the hands of a civilian.

What’s a Civilian doing with a Weapon Like This?

Designed with Mass Slaughter in Mind!

To argue that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to own such weapons is ludicrous!  The constitution was drafted in a different world, an 18th century world when the US was a brand new nation threatened by the established and much more powerful nations of Europe.  It was a time when a weak federal government could not protect us from armed foreign invaders, so citizen militias were an essential part of the nation’s defense.

Had the architects of the US Constitution ever dreamt that federal military might would evolve into the awesome force that it is, or that guns would development into the prolific killing machines that they have become, they would never have drawn the Second amendment so broadly that lawyers and constitutional scholars are still squabbling about its meaning over two centuries later!  And they certaind would not have given licence for an ordinary civilizatio to legally acquirw 6,000 rounds of amunition!

The Republicans are the party of the true gun nuts; many democrats would love to see much tighter gun controls, but they fear the wrath of the gun lobby that will surely target them and support a challenger for their seat.  Which is also why President Obama didn’t mention it tonight; I agree with that decision.  He must keep his eyes on the prize.

Because I can envision no greater disaster for the working class and all non-white minorities, as well as the possibility of our nation at peace with the world, than a Mitt Romney presidency. I agree with the African Philosopher and political leader Kwame Nkrumah: “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all else will be added thereunto.  Let Barack win a second term then we can demand that he take the lead in banning assault weapons; this may sound cold, but it is political reality. Politics is the art of the possible!

Hence for this moment in history we shall remain random victims of criminals and madmen with guns until the electorate has had enough and rises up to make their feelings well known at the ballot box.   In the mean time you have two options: Strap up, or rely on the police to protect you.

Although I favor strapping up, it would have been a worse disaster had members of the audience started shooting at the mad gunman in the darkened theater, as oneRepublican congressman has suggested.  It would have been a scene worthy of novelist Chester Himes, author of Blind Man with a Pistol, as the chaos would have grown infinitely worse with everybody firing wildly.   The tragic truth is: When the maniac opened fire the people in the theater had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: Just like the rest of us!

James Holmes: Mass Murderer!

Just Your average Boy Next Door

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 22, 2012

Not Even the Sky is the Limit!

Posted in Cultural Matters on July 20, 2012 by playthell

    Three Generations of Omega Men

 Omega Psi Phi Honors a Real Superstar

I have attended many unique cultural events at the Dwyer Center in Harlem.  For a writer seriously interested in the cultural scene…it is an oasis of high culture that displays black genius in a variety of projects.  Hence evenings at the Dwyer tend to be memorable affairs…Wednesday night was unforgettable.  Earlier in the day the last Space Shuttle was formally decommissioned and stationed in the Intrepid Museum, a decommissioned aircraft carrier anchored in the Hudson Bay.

This ceremony occasioned a visit from the Director of the National Space and Aeronautical Administration Charles Boldon:  a retired Major General in the Marine Corp, Astronaut and former commander of the Space Shuttle.  And while he was in the city General Bolten was feted in a separate ceremony in Harlem hosted by his Frat Brothers in Omega Psi Phi.

It was an impressive affair that should have been on C-Span and certainly BET.  In fact, several of the speakers referred to the lack of media coverage and lamented the fact that the media only seems interested in stories of crime and pathology when discussing black men in America.  I regard their absence as proof of what the great Harlem writer Albert Murray has long argued: “Whenever they are given a choice of a story of black heroism or pathology they inevitably choose the tale of pathology.”

As I sat watching this very impressive group of black men honor one of their own.  It is hard to imagine a more impressive choice.  General Bolden embodies the very best values of the “Talented Tenth,” the striving class called into existence by Dr. Dubois in 1903 that would set the standards to which all should strive in the Afro-American community.

He is the son of southern school teachers, a class that produced generations of outstanding citizens despite the hardships and restrictions of a racist apartheid police state based on the principle of white supremacy.  Charles Boldon was indoctrinated with the idea that education is the road forward in the world, and the narrative of his life is proof of the veracity of this approach.  As a graduate of the demanding Naval Academy, Bolden chose the Marine Corps as his branch of service and rose steadily to the top.

Throughout the evening they speakers stressed the importance of “manhood,” which they defined as hard work, disciplined study, and achievement against all odds.  In fact, they emphasized taking on the hard tasks, an ideal symbolized by General Bolden.  They young men in the audience, some of whom were recently initiated Omega men, proved to be achievers with their sights set on the distant star and are shooting for the top.  One young man was introduced to us as a budding aero-space engineer with a 4.0 academic average – straight A’s!  Another young man had just graduated from City College where he was the campus chapter of the Omega’s.

While some observers are surprised to find Afro-American fraternities on predominantly white college campuses, the first black Greek Letter organizations were founded on white college campuses.  They provided mutual support for black men in hostile racial environments.

Omega Psi Phi was the first Fraternity founded on a black campus when they established a chapter at Howard University on November 17, 1911.   Among the founding members was the faculty advisor Dr. Ernest Just, whose own life of achievement set the standard for Omega men. Dr. Just was one of the world’s greatest scientists.  A biologist, he became the world’s foremost authority on the reproductive process of marine mammals when he published his path breaking book “The Biology of the Cell Surface.”

Even living in racially segregated America, where the life’s chances of Afro-Americans were severely restricted by law and custom.  As Dr. Kenneth Manning, an Afro-American scholar who was Professor of the History of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells us in his biography of Dr. Just, “Black Apollo of Science,” despite his brilliance Dr. Just experienced the same racial insults and discrimination as all other black people in racist America.  However he refused to let that stop him from achieving the highest standard of excellence in science.

Dr. Just was the first black scientist to be invited to conduct research at the world renown marine biology laboratory at Wood’s Hole in Massachusetts.  Dr. S. Allen Counter, Professor of Neuro-Biology at Harvard and a Senior Research Fellow at the Korilynska Institute in Sweden, one of the world’s outstanding biologist, told me a story of how he learned of Dr. Just that is instructive.  He was sitting in a drawing room reading at Wood’s Hole late one night, when he started looking around the room at the portraits of great scientists who had conducted research there.  Suddenly he saw a handsome black man of regal bearing staring down at him.

Dr. Ernest Everett Just

A World Renowned Scientist 

Dr. Counter was shocked!  Who could this mysterious black man be?  He looked at the name on the Plaque and it said Dr. Ernest Everett Just; he had never heard of him.  As he researched his anonymous ancestor he discovered that Dr. Just was one of the best biological researchers of his age; and that he had done this work without the tremendous support that an institution like

Howard could offer: reduced teaching loads; paid sabbaticals; state of the art research laboratories; talented grad students to work on research on projects under his tutelage.  Yet in spite of these deprivations Dr. Just was the first American scientist from an American university to be appointed to teach a professorship at the Kaiser Welhiem University in Germany, which was generally regarded as the most did distinguished scientific university in the world!

These are the roots from which the Omega men grew.  And they have held to that standard ever since; they are committed to produce first class citizens and top shelf professionals.  The men of Omega Psi Phi would go on to become fixtures on black college campuses all over; a critical component of college life in whether the school was black or predominantly white.

As I witnessed this ceremony conducted by elegant black men of gravitas, several thoughts came to mind.  First and foremost I was stuck by the fact that General Boldon was a worthy heir and splendid exemplar of the tradition of Omega man begun by Dr. Just – like Just Charles Boldon is a for real superstar.

I reflected on how different the quality of life in the black community would be if these men, not the rich Hip-Hop thugs and vain young ballers, were the role models celebrated to our youths.  For these Omega men have a viable formula for success; it is inherent in the values they stress.

I also thought of how wrong we radicals were in our assessment of the value and purpose of black Greek Letter fraternities back in the day.   In the 1960’s black “revolutionaries” spurned these fraternities, dismissing them as nothing more than organizations that promoted parties and engaged in silly secret rituals that set them apart from the uninitiated like pretentious snobs.  We were out to change the world; hence fraternity life seemed like the epitome of bourgeois nonsense to us.  We were wrong!

Unlike white fraternities, in which active involvement generally ends after graduation, black fraternities are devoted to rendering service to the wider community and their members remain active for the rest of their lives.  One fraternity brother received a badge of honor marking his 60th year as an Omega Man.  Given the abundance of destructive role models that proliferate among young black males the work of fraternities is more valuable than ever; both as sources of mutual assistance and service organizations to the black community.

But in all that they do, keeping our grand traditions alive in the lives they lead; then passing them on to our youths, inspiring them to “jump at de sun,” as the great Florida writer Zora Neale Hurston’s unlettered mother instructed her, may be the most valuable of all.  They are wisely storing up treasures for the future, honoring an ancestral imperative to life our brethren as we rise.   This is a highly valued concept in Afro-American culture.  You can hear it in the highbrow poetry of Maya Angelou “And Still I Rise, and in the Rap anthem of Doug E. Fresh: “We Just Keep Rising to the Top!”

The celebration of Omega Man, Major General Bolton at the Dwyer Center in Harlem is the kind of event that the contemporary black community can’t get enough of.  Leslie White, the elegantly attired political operator universally known uptown as “The Mayor of Harlem,” pointed out: All of our young people should have witnessed this!”  I second that emotion.  But it is the job of responsible parenting to see to it that your kids know who people kike General Bolton is.

He is a marvelous role model from many perspectives; for he is a man of many virtues.   First among these is his astonishing humility and profound humanity. For a man of such grand accomplishments General Bolton, is very low key and down to earth – except when he is talking about space travel.  The remarks that touched me most profoundly were his description of how the earth looks from outer space, and the deep wisdom about the nature and fate of the Homo sapiens species.

General Bolden said from space the earth is one, a few areas of land mass on a planet covered with water. From this perspective it is easy to see that many is one species, and the conflicts sparked by differences in race, nation and class seem petty and self-destructive when we consider our uniqueness among the vastness of God’s creation.  After wining and dining on fine spirits and gourmet fare, I left happy as a clam; feeling lucky to be human, and feeling that not even the sky is the limit

                                           The General Recieves His Awards

More Precious than Gold
The General and His Lady

Everything came up Roses
The General and his Frat Brothers

Strong Men of Omega
Professor Jamal Joseph reads a Tribute

Eloquent Panegyrics for a praise worthy Subject
 Leslie White: The Unofficial Mayor Of Harlem

Lavishing Accolades on the General

Then he Presented a Plaque

Honoring General Boldon for his Service and his Example
The General Bolden Adressed The Crowd

His tales of outer space lifted us higher!

An Heir Apparent?

An Aerospace engineering student with a 4.0 GPA

Singing their Frat Song

Once more with feeling

The Festivities were Elivened

Wtth fine wine and scrumptous foods

Kudos for the Chefs

Cusine Spiced with Love

There was Song…..

And Dance….From IMPACT!

Elegance and Beauty

Graced the Evening

The Founders Greet and the General

A Mighty Three: Ademola, General Bolden, Cliff Frazier

The evening was a fitting Tribute

For an explorer of New Worlds

Playthell George Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 19, 2012

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