For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free.
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be! -
“Let America be America again” Langston Hughes.
I am delighted already to say to President Obama ‘well done’ He has made a significant mark right away; the idea of America straddling the world and lecturing others about freedom and democracy was always an obscene farce, one of the greatest sayings of all time sums up why; “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” America’s blatant dishonesty in terms of human rights has allowed it’s enemies, me included in this matter to pour scorn on them for their lies, hypocrisy and double standards. Obama has moved to close the Guantanamo hell hole where prisoners have been held for over 6 years without charge or trial; they have also been tortured by such techniques as ‘water boarding’ which simulates drowning and sleep deprivation among other things.
Bush’s method of imprisoning these captives was also criminal, in Pakistan e.g. A bounty of $5,000 was put on the heads of terrorists; Pakistani criminal gangs then abducted people; tortured them and filmed their confessions before handing them over to American forces complete with the “video evidence” they were then Guantanamo bound, this allowed Bush and his high command to show how tough they were being on terrorism, the court in the Hague awaits but will they ever appear there? Rendition flights are also to stop and various secret prisons around the world to close, as well as talks to begin with Iran and both sides of the Middle East conflict. Here’s the big question; do you feel safer in a world where Obama is President or one under Bush?
As far as American domestic politics are concerned I can’t emphasize enough how significant the inclusion of Pete Seeger was at the inauguration concert. Over the past some 60 years or so people like Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, and groups like ‘The Weavers’ and characters like Big Bill Broonzy, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Don McLean and many more including artists like Harry Belafonte, Will Geer, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Brando, Ali, Jack Lemon raised their heads above the parapet, I’m selecting these names at random, many more ordinary Americans did the same. They were vilified and in some cases were blacklisted and some careers and lives were ruined because they spoke out against the exploitation of the ordinary people.
Obama’s people are not gullible; they know that millions of Americans have always agreed with a lot of the sentiments that these brave people stood for, the beliefs that they held dear, that final song at the concert ‘This Land is your Land’ was very significant indeed. It shouted at the back of the retreating discredited placeman Bush ‘free at last’ A line from Guthrie’s song sums up that moment and the last couple of days far better than I ever could – “A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting, this land belongs to you and me” maybe we can live in hope again.
I have sat down several times over the past couple of days and thought about my own involvement over 45 years; the causes, the demonstrations, the boycotts, the rallies, above all the people who marched beside me. Some are now gone and I think of how much they would have loved to see President Obama. We have seen many ups and downs and we have come through some terrible times but, today I feel fine; and I congratulate everyone who has helped progressive causes everywhere no matter who you are, savour the moment. The election of Obama whether he proves to be a good bad or indifferent president is right up there with the end of the Vietnam war and the end of Apartheid, people on the left should take everything they can from this and when we face big problems in the future and huge odds remember the new slogan which has been ringing around the world.
“YES WE CAN”