The Ukraine project is a dangerous scam perpetrated on the people of this country. Yet no member of the Congressional Black Caucus has attempted to speak truthfully about this ongoing disaster.You know, and it’s going to deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance as well as food, water, medicines, shelter, and other aid to Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s war, and provide aid to those seeking refuge in other countries from Ukraine. It’s also going to help schools and hospitals open. It’s going to allow pensions and social support to be paid to the Ukrainian people so they have something — something in their pocket.” Joe Biden press conference April 28, 2022
It is fascinating to read Joe Biden’s words from last year as he made the case for sending billions of dollars to help Ukrainians. Actually most of that money went to the military industrial complex, but it would be a bad look to plead for Raytheon, McDonnell-Douglas, and Lockheed. The humanitarian pitch made more sense politically, but not by much. Don’t people in the U.S. need funding for schools and hospitals? There are thousands of unhoused people living on the street, in parks, and under bridges in Washington DC. Biden doesn’t have to go far to find people in need of shelter. As for water, he might want to visit Flint, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi. Very few Americans get pensions anymore, and the proliferation of low wage work and crushing austerity mean that millions of people need money in their pockets but don’t have it.
There are plenty of Black politicians, one even became president, but in the age of corporate control of the Democratic Party, office holders are by definition the least likely to speak up for working people. Black politics are a means of declaring that Black people have a right to make demands about the issues impacting them, and to make Blackness the focus of their political organizing. When Black politics still existed, there were people in office who represented their constituents by giving voice to their grievances and by making some effort to help them, if only for appearance’s sake. Now they don’t even go through the motions.
For more than a year, the Biden administration has been using Ukraine to target Russia and the end result has been a protracted war. The latest imperialist effort blew up in the faces of the Biden team as they failed to “turn the ruble to rubble” or get Vladimir Putin out of office. The war has taken thousands of lives, decimated NATO weapons stockpiles, created inflation around the world, and cost the people of this country some $113 billion. In the days of old, at least one member of the CBC would have spoken up regarding this expenditure of public money for nefarious purposes while millions of people in this country are struggling.
In the absence of Black politics we get silence or even active support of the fanatics who endanger the entire world. The main CBC cheerleader was Gregory Meeks, who served as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee when Democrats were in the majority. “Putin wins if he can divide us. He would love to divide some of our NATO allies, some of our EU allies and Ukrainians – divide us on this issue. [That] – would be a victory for him. So we can’t allow that to happen.”
Who are “our” allies? If he meant NATO member nations, they have nothing to do with Meeks’ working class constituents who didn’t get their Child Tax Credit renewed or who still haven’t seen any student loan debt relief. In fact, the huge sums of money allocated to defense contractors is the cause of their woes. A neoliberal, imperialist state isn’t going to help both the war makers and the people too. To do so would be antithetical to its mission of serving the oligarchy and keeping the people financially insecure.
Meeks was the leading voice behind the Russian Malign Influence Act, which would have subjected African nations to more U.S. interference and established a modern day COINTELPRO that would have put the entire African diaspora under surveillance.
The CBC is a Democratic Party tool that is used to give an illusion of Black political power. The members get good jobs that they keep for years and in exchange they say what people want to hear at opportune moments while simultaneously acting as errand girls and boys for the Democratic Party wing of the ruling class. CBC member Hakeem Jeffries is the House Minority Leader but he is a member of the Democratic Party leadership precisely because he toes the party line.
Of course they ask no questions or make any demands regarding the Ukraine political scam. Some of them have even turned into embarrassing shadows of their former selves. When Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to congress in December 2022 he was greeted by attention seeking members eager to shake his hand. Two of those were Sheila Jackson Lee and Barbara Lee of the CBC. They were clad in blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, while hoping to be in view of cameras as they shook the hand of a man who sacrificed his people for the sake of U.S. imperialism. To put it bluntly, Ukrainians are dying in a war that he could have stopped if he had the courage to defy Biden’s fantasy foreign policy. Barbara Lee is remembered for providing the sole vote in opposition to the war against Afghanistan. Now she is just another political hack.<
The late John Conyers proposed a ban on funding to Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov battalion but his successors in the CBC have silenced themselves regarding far right and white supremacist influence in Ukraine. White Lives Matter marches are held there and George Floyd’s killer, Derek Chauvin, is celebrated. But mums the word for the craven CBC.
Black politics died an ignominious death and every crisis reveals the rot. The Ukraine project isn’t going as Biden planned but with an acquiescent party and media to protect him most people won’t even know when the jig is finally up. The CBC will wait for their marching orders and do whatever they are told. The corruption will go on as planned.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly at Black Agenda Report and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents. Her work can also be found at patreon.com/margaretkimberley and on Twitter @freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.com.