February 1, 2023
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ColumnsClassy Politics

Kamala Harris, hypocrisy and the black professional class

In a Good Morning America interview, Kamala Harris said the following statement: “Thinking about [our national security] in a way that we understand that we must be smart, we must understand the power that we have, the strength that we have. That is about military power, it is about diplomatic power, it is about the power that we have in terms of what has been — until recently — our moral authority in the world.”

To even be able to say such a thing with a straight face tells me that she is either a liar, or she is ignorant of this country’s foreign policy history. The entire 20th century is riddled with examples of U.S. involvement in foreign regime change. Honduras, Kuwait, Mexico, Russia, South Korea,  China, the Philippines, Egypt, Italy, Syria, Iran, Guatemala, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Grenada, Cuba, Brazil, Vietnam, Bolivia, Chile, Afghanistan, Poland, El Salvador, Nicaragua twice, Haiti twice, Laos twice, Greece twice, the Dominican Republic three times, Panama three times, Indonesia three times and Iraq four times were all victims of U.S. involvement in the 20th century alone. What “moral authority” until recently?

America does not need another black face wearing a white mask. We had that for eight years with Barack Obama. In fact, the allure of the ‘successful’ black professional is a double failure. First, rather than acting as a leadership class, there is an active disdain for ‘lower’ black people among the black elite. Second, the greater failure is that the black professional class will never achieve real acknowledgement from the white elite. To quote E. Franklin Frazier in his groundbreaking case study of the black professional, “Black Bourgeoisie,” “Through delusions of wealth and power they have sought identification with the white America which continues to reject them. But these delusions leave them frustrated because they are unable to escape from the emptiness and futility of their existence.” What better example than the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. An embodiment of the meritocratic myth, Obama was Columbia and Harvard educated — the perfect example that any black person could achieve success if they merely tried hard enough. Not only is this is reasoning faulty, but this still wasn’t good enough. Take away his skin color, and he has essentially the same pedigree and politics of any center-right bureaucrat. Yet, to the Republican base and politicians alike, there was one only word to fit his qualifications: n—–. What else could the ‘birther’ movement mean?

America does not need another hawkish liberal who espouses progressive lip service yet advocates regressive policy. To separate economics from social equity is ignorant at best and dishonest at worst. The reality is this — individual liberty, the ability for individuals to cultivate themselves to the highest possible degree, is absolutely contingent upon economic factors. To quote Friedrich Engels, “ … Mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.” In other words, people cannot develop themselves to their highest possible capabilities unless their economic and social necessities are met. Ignorance, squalor and poverty are not the result of individual defects but rather systemic conditions which produce such things. There is no reason why — in the richest, most powerful state in the history of the human species — there ought to be homeless people, starving people and people without health care. Any candidate who doesn’t acknowledge these systemic issues is bound to fail.

Luckily, Harris has addressed these issues, if only in a reformist attitude. If you ask me, the unprecedented issues we face in terms of wealth disparity, impending ecological catastrophe along with the very real threat of a new global conflict are problems that demand radical confrontation, and that is something I don’t believe an incrementalist like Kamala Harris is willing to do. Plus she is a cop.