Tom Hayden recently wrote an article imploring people to support President Obama. Someone wrote to Rocky, forwarding the Hayden article, urging Rocky to give up the fight. Imagine there not being a voice like Rocky's at this moment in our nation's history! Here is Rocky's response (sender's name removed):
Dear ______ -
I read Tom Hayden's piece several days ago and think it is so beneath him -- particularly the "white liberal-left" and "white blindness" racist condescensions. There are, of course, many in the Black community who are justifiably appalled at Obama's performance (or lack thereof). See here and here. If Hayden wants to make this about race, perhaps he should focus on the fact that, after four years of Obama, far more Blacks are living in poverty and four times as many Black women in the U.S. are dying in connection with pregnancy and childbirth than White women.
Hayden never would have written such an apologist piece for an imperial militarist and corporatist regime in the '60s or '70s. Can you imagine such a piece by him then, gushingly endorsing Nixon because of his overtures to China, his signing of the Clean Air Act, and his establishment of the EPA?
Amazingly, he writes as if he is clueless about Obama's miserable performance regarding climate change and energy -- and the fact that tuition rates have skyrocketed under his administration. He worries in the first paragraph of his piece about what Romney would or wouldn't do regarding these issues -- as if Obama hasn't made it all far worse.
And doesn't it occur to Hayden that the reason so many Americans are misinformed is because our President is such a lousy leader/communicator? (Why else would "only six percent of Americans believe[ ] the stimulus had created any jobs"?)
We could have had a single-payer Medicare-for-all health care system had Obama stood up against the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Even with the vast majority of the American people favoring single-payer at the time, our President wouldn't even let it see the light of day -- then rapidly and cowardly abandoned a public option.
I've described my "strategic" thinking to you before. You know full well that I am campaigning to help encourage and inspire a broad-based people's movement -- the only way we'll ever achieve real social, economic, and environmental justice in this nation. You apparently think it healthy for everyone just to shut up and be polite in the face of the Obama administration outrages. Amazing for someone who writes and teaches about the virtues of citizen engagement. Truly amazing.
Apparently you just don't want to face your utter complicity in the outrages of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. You would like to see everyone just get in line and be quiet about illegal wars of aggression, the abandonment of the rule of law, the shredding of due process and habeas corpus, the abysmal health care system that causes the deaths of thousands of poor and middle class people (particularly people of color) every week, and the caving in to Wall St. campaign contributors at the vast expense of most people in the U.S. (and abroad).
Would you have imagined four years ago that you would be a cheerleader for a president who brags about his personal participation in deciding who will be killed in several nations, knowing that hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women, and children will be killed too? And does it ever occur to you why so many so-called "terrorists" despise the U.S. and want to strike out against us? Or that we're creating more enemies and instilling more hatred and hostility toward the U.S. as a result of our disregard of so many nations' sovereignty and as we kill and maim people throughout the Muslim world with such reckless abandon? (I wrote this before the recent killings of the U.S. Ambassador and three other diplomats in Libya and the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo -- further evidence of the hatred we have generated by our international belligerence.)
Would you ever have imagined you would so enthusiastically support a president who orders that U.S. citizens be assassinated? (So far, at least three U.S. citizens have been killed by drones -- one of whom was a 16 year-old boy.) Would you have imagined you would support a president who asked for, and signed into law, the authority to kidnap people anywhere (including U.S. citizens) and have them imprisoned up to the rest of their lives, without charges, trial, legal assistance, or the right of habeas corpus? (Imagine what you'd be doing and writing were that same president a Republican. The crass partisanship, instead of principle, that causes so many Democrats to blindly support this president is morally astounding.)
Damn straight I'm angry -- and disgusted. Please read Ionesco's Rhinoceros, an allegory about the rise of fascism in Europe. Whenever you write lately, I hear you "harumphing" and can imagine that horn growing from your forehead. In a decade, you can be really proud of your refusal to stand up in opposition to the march toward authoritarianism, the capitulation of our government to Wall Street, and the gross violations of civil and human rights.
It's just amazing how "pragmatists" like you are selling out so conveniently, as our Constitution is being shredded and as our nation continues to cause so much misery in the lives of millions of people around the world. And as the administration persecutes and prosecutes those who inform us about government crimes and other misdeeds, while allowing the criminals to go free.
Please feel free to distribute this as you see fit. (I'll do the same.) As I mentioned to you when you were in SLC, I'd love to debate you any time and any place about all of this. You and others need to be shaken into understanding what your blind obsequiousness is doing to our nation and world.
Hayden and you are so optimistic about what you can push Obama to do during the next four years. (It all reminds me of abused spouse syndrome.) Where have all of you been during the past four years to push Obama to bring war criminals to justice? To bring those who have illegally spied on U.S. citizens to justice? (It's worth noting that you supported Obama four years ago after he lied to us as a U.S. Senator and voted to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies that had committed federal felonies by providing the Bush administration with confidential information about their customers.) To end the drone killings of innocent people? To break up the too-big-to-fail banks and regulate Wall St. to protect the American people (and millions of others throughout the world) from another financial melt-down? To combat, rather than exacerbate, climate change? To end the disastrous "war on drugs"? To reduce, rather than continue to increase, the world-record incarceration rate, particularly of people of color? To provide decent health care to all Americans? To end poverty, rather than sit back and support a president who never speaks of it and who has "led" this nation while the poverty rate has increased to 1965 levels (and while our child-poverty rate is the worst in the industrialized world, except for Romania)? Are you aware of his pitiful record on presidential pardons? Or the fact that maternal and infant mortality rates are almost the worst in the developed world? Are you aware that he perpetuated yet another big lie in his embarrassingly sycophantic speech to AIPAC about Ahmadinejad supposedly saying (he never did say it) that Israel should be wiped off the map?
Obama's not a statesman, nor is he a "leader". He is a prostitute for the rich and powerful -- and has betrayed, with tragic results, the sacred trust placed in him by the American people. The greatest problem we face is that too many, like you, seem to have no line you will draw. Are no crimes too great, is there no undermining of the rule of law too egregious, for you to refrain from saying "No more"?
Best wishes, Rocky