Noam Chomsky says Ronald Reagan Criminalized Black Life

Steve KinsmanStarred Page By Steve Kinsman, 12th Dec 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/226eqduo/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Noam Chomsky, in an interview, has argued that blacks, who were first brought to America as slaves in 1619, have lived very few of those 400 years as free human beings.

Slavery by any other name is still slavery

There are many pundits on the right who argue today that in the United States we are now living in a "post-racial" society. Whether that is blind ignorance or just wishful thinking is debatable, but it sure ain't the truth.

Laura Flanders of GRIT-TV has interviewed Noam Chomsky, the noted linguist and social critic, regarding the conditions black people live under within American society. Chomsky, whose brilliant mind allows him to see deep beneath the surface of things to expose root causes, contends that race relations in the United States have advanced very little since the end of the Civil War.

The "Age of Neo-Slavery"

Chomsky cited historical evidence to show how deeply racism is embedded in the veins of white America. "This is a very racist society," said Chomsky. "It's pretty shocking. What's happened to African-Americans in the last 30 years is what Douglas Blackman describes in 'Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.' describes the late nineteenth century."

Blackmon, in his book, calls it the "Age of Neo-Slavery," when newly freed slaves discovered they had become entangled in a judicial and legal system built on involuntary servitude. Blacks were being routinely sold after being convicted of petty crimes like vagrancy or changing employers without permission.

Chomsky said "The constitutional amendments that were supposed to free African-American slaves did something for about ten years, then there was a North-South compact that granted the former slave-owning states the right to do whatever they wanted. And what they did was criminalize black life, and that created a kind of slave force. It threw mostly black males into jail, where they became a perfect labor force, much better than slaves."

Blacks in servitude until World War II

"If you're a slave owner, you have to pay for - you have to keep your 'capital' alive. But if the state does it for you, that's terrific. No strikes, no disobedience, the perfect labor force." Chomsky explained. "A lot of the American Industrial Revolution in the late 19th, early 20th century was based on that. It pretty much lasted until World war II."

Chomsky said that "After that, African-Americans had about two decades in which they had a shot at entering American society. A black worker could get a job in an auto plant, as the unions were still functioning, and he could buy a small house and send his kid to college. But by the 1970s and 1980s it's going back to the criminalization of black life."

Ronald Reagan - An Extreme Racist?

Chomsky calls America's War on Drugs a racist war, and of course he is right. In many jurisdictions, blacks are arrested at a rate six to ten times higher than whites for low-level drug offenses like marijuana possession. Close to fifty percent of the people in jails, prisons and penitentiaries are people of color, yet blacks make up only about 12 percent of the population.

"Ronald Reagan was an extreme racist - though he denied it - but the whole drug war is designed, from policing to eventual release from prison, to make it impossible for black men, and increasingly women, to be part of American society," Chomsky pointed out. "In fact, if you look at American history, the first slaves came over in 1619, and that's half a millennium. There have only been three or four decades in which African-Americans have had a limited degree of freedom..."

"They have been re-criminalized and turned into a labor force - that's prison labor," said Chomsky. He concluded: "This is American history. To break out of that is no small trick."

I have long admired Chomsky. Despite being constantly vilified and demeaned in the mainstream media, where he is persona-non-grata on every network news and talk show as a result of his speaking truth to power, he stands on principle and walks the high road of integrity, never failing to tell us exactly how things are. May he live to be a hundred. We need him.

Links: The War on Marijuana in Black and White
Their Last Words

Preview image from alternet.org
Comparison chart by democraticundergound.com
Last two photos from wikimedia commons

Tags

African Americans, African-American Life, Blacks, Criminalizing Blacks, Noam Chomsky, Racial Justice, Racism, Ronald Reagan, Slavery, Steve Kinsman

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
I live in California with my wife Carol, where I have been practicing professional astrology for 35 years. I write articles on astrology, but I enjoy writing on a variety of other subjects as well..

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Comments

author avatar Shamarie
13th Dec 2014 (#)

Great article, Steve! I enjoyed reading this. It is amazing how so many Americans considered President Reagan one of the greatest presidents ever. Strangely, we're still living in the Reagan Era!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
13th Dec 2014 (#)

Saint Ronnie, the right wing calls him. Thanks for commenting Shamarie. I appreciate it.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
13th Dec 2014 (#)

I am a big follower of you Steve, great posts and interesting as well with a lot of content and message in them!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
13th Dec 2014 (#)

Thank you Fern. I really appreciate that.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
14th Dec 2014 (#)

Prejudice is too ingrained in us everywhere - tough to overcome, thanks Steve for this highlight. Only few can view humanity as one - siva

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
14th Dec 2014 (#)

We all need to view humanity as one. Thank you Siva.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
15th Dec 2014 (#)

great piece again Steve...yes it would be so wonderful if viewing humanity as one could be...but it aint going to happen here...

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
15th Dec 2014 (#)

Not for a long, long time...But someday...

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author avatar Retired
24th Dec 2014 (#)

The criminal justice system is sorely in need of reform. We are certainly moving backwards in race relations and ironically the first African American president has been more of a curse than a blessing for African Americans. This is because it has allowed the return of overt racism while allowing people to claim that having a black president is proof we are in a post-racial society and that white Americans are not racists.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
24th Dec 2014 (#)

You're right on the mark with those observations Henry. Thank you.

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author avatar Claudia J. Rodriguez
12th Jan 2015 (#)

Insightful, honest and on point. I do, however, disagree that our president has allowed people to claim we are a post-racial society because he is black. His blackness has shown how deep racism runs. Point of fact, the Republican Congress vowed to block every bill he proposed, and they have done just that.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
15th Jan 2015 (#)

Indeed they have. Thanks for commenting Claudia.

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