Ajamu Baraka

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Person.png Ajamu Baraka WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(activist, journalist)
S1AjamuBaraka.jpg
Born1953
NationalityUSA
Alma materUniversity of South Florida, Clark Atlanta University
Member ofAmerican Herald Tribune
Interests • human rights
• black liberation
• racism
US cultural and political critic. Called Obama "moral disaster" and one of "the worst things that has happened to African-American people".

Ajamu Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a former Green Party nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 2016 election, and has strongly criticized US foreign policy.

Early Life

Baraka was born in 1953 and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Upon discharge, he moved to the southern United States, where he became involved in anti-segregation activism.

Baraka received his BA in international studies and political science from the University of South Florida, Tampa in 1982 and his MA and PhD in political science from Clark Atlanta University in 1987. Baraka has said the work of W.E.B. Du Bois was important in the formation of his black internationalist worldview, and he attended Clark Atlanta, where Du Bois had taught. Baraka became involved in the Central America solidarity movement, organizing delegations to Nicaragua in support of the Nicaraguan Revolution. He then became an Amnesty International volunteer, eventually moving up to the board of the organization.

Career

From 2004 to 2011, Baraka served as the founding executive director of the US Human Rights Network, a national network that grew to over 300 U.S.-based organizations and 1500 individual members. He is currently an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.[1]

Baraka has served on the boards of several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Africa Action.

As the Southern Regional Director of Amnesty International USA Baraka was instrumental in developing the organization’s 1998 campaign to expose human rights violations in the United States.[2] Additionally, Baraka directed Amnesty’s National Program to Abolish the Death Penalty and was involved in most of their major death penalty cases.

Baraka has taught political science at the university level and is currently an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and a writer for Counterpunch.

Foreign policy

Israel

Baraka has been a vehement critic of Israel. In October 2014, Baraka traveled to the Palestinian territories as part of an 18-member "African Heritage delegation" organized by the Interfaith Peace-Builders group. The delegation issued six "findings and demands" and urged the Congressional Black Caucus to place pressure on Israel.[3] The group specifically called the expansion of Israeli settlements "ethnic cleansing and 21st century colonialism"; called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel; accused Israel of apartheid; and praised the "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" (B.D.S.) movement as "an essential tool in the struggle for Palestinian liberation."[4]

After the visit, Baraka wrote that "a negotiated, relatively 'peaceful' resolution of the conflict is impossible" because "the Israeli state has no interest in a negotiated settlement with Palestinians."[5] He accused Israel of carrying out what he termed a "brutal occupation and illegal theft of Palestinian land," adding:

 During my activist life I have traveled to many of the countries that Western colonial/capitalist leaders characterized as despotic totalitarian states – the old Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba before 1989 – but in none of those states did I witness the systematic mechanism of population control and scientific repression that I witness in "democratic" Israel. The security walls, towers, checkpoints, and armed settlers created an aura of insecurity and impending assault on one's dignity at any time. I left that space wondering how anyone with a modicum of humanity and any sense of morality could reconcile living in that environment from the spoils of Palestinian dispossession and degradation and how any nation could support the Israeli political project.[6]

Baraka also questioned news stories about the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, which Israel blamed on Hamas members and which led to Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip against Hamas. One month after the kidnappings, which he called a "false flag operation," Baraka indicated in an interview his belief that "the kids were supposed to be kidnapped but they weren't supposed to be murdered. That was an accident. But nevertheless it gave Israel the pretext that they were setting up for, and that was the opportunity to basically attack Hamas in order to destroy the unity government."[7]

In March 2015, Baraka condemned Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments on the day of the 2015 Israeli elections. Netanyahu had warned supporters in a video posted to his Facebook page that his government was in danger because "Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls."[8] Baraka called Netanyahu's words a "racist rant" that exposed "the brutal and immoral reality of the Israeli colonial project" and the "illusion" of a two-state solution.[9]

Syria and Iraq

Speaking in 2014 on U.S. involvement in Iraq, Baraka characterized U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East over the previous 20 years as "disastrous" and said that "what has occurred in Iraq was predictable."[10]

In a 2014 interview on Kevin Barrett’s Truth Jihad Radio, Baraka stated his belief that the U.S. had a part in creating the "boogeyman" of ISIS "to basically garner significant public support for an argument that says that this monster, these evil forces—that, by the way, we helped to create—we are the only ones that can go in and slay this monster."[11] Baraka has also asserted that the atrocities of the Syrian Civil War are being "fomented by a demented and dying U.S. empire, with the assistance of the royalist monarchies of the Middle East and the gangster states of NATO."[12] In the interview, he suggested that control of natural resources, such as the proposed Qatar-Turkey and Iran-Iraq-Syria natural gas pipelines, is one of the underlying reasons for U.S. and Turkish interests in the region:

 These are not just geopolitical fights based on principle, but these fights are based on real material realities, real material advantages. So you look at the routes of these various pipelines that are being proposed and actually built to bring natural gas from Central Asia to the European markets. Turkey felt that it was in their interest to make sure that they can influence the best deal possible that will allow them to be positioned to take full advantage of these pipelines. That's one of the reasons many people argue that Syria had to go: that when there were proposals to run these natural gas pipelines from Iran through Iraq and through Syria, that it was a direct threat to some of the ambitions that Erdogan has for Turkey.[13]

Baraka rejected the U.S. government's position that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the 2014 Syrian presidential election are illegitimate.[14] In a 2014 article, he wrote that the idea of Assad's illegitimacy had been "carefully cultivated by Western state propagandists and dutifully disseminated by their auxiliaries in the corporate media."[15] He further argued that the election was proof that Syrians have "not surrendered their national sovereignty to the geostrategic interests of the U.S. and its colonial allies in Europe and Israel," and accused the U.S. of hypocrisy for supporting elections in Ukraine but not Syria.[16] In the same article, he characterised Syria's opposition as "Salafi-Wahhabi fundamentalists who reject representative democracy and support the imposition of sharia law in Syria".[17]

In 2019 Baraka travelled to Syria to participate in the Third International Trade Union Forum, presided over by President Assad.[18]

Ukraine

Baraka characterized the 2014 overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych as a "U.S.-supported coup" that contained "racist neo-Nazi elements."[19] After the 2014 Odessa massacre, which resulted in the deaths of 42 pro-Russian and six pro-Ukrainian protestors, Baraka wrote that he was "outraged by the murder of people defending their rights to self-determination at the hands of U.S.-supported thugs in Odessa."[20] He has also suggested that the victory of Petro Poroshenko in the 2014 Ukrainian presidential election was illegitimate, questioning "what makes the election in Ukraine legitimate when half of the country boycotts the vote and the national army violently attacks its own citizens in Eastern Ukraine who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the coup-makers in Kiev".[21]

Two days after the event, Baraka expressed his suspicions that the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine was a "false flag" operation, saying: "Someone wrote about three weeks ago that we should expect a major false flag operation in eastern Ukraine that's going to be then blamed on the Russians. And that's exactly what has happened. They're trying to say in the Western press that the Ukrainian government does not have access to that kind of weaponry, when it's clear that they do."[22][23] He criticized Western media coverage of the event for "undermining anything coming from Russia Today. That's where you see the story being advanced that there is a possibility that this story is a little more complicated than people realize."[24]

Baraka also claimed that observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe were "sent in basically as spies who showed up on the scene to quote-unquote 'monitor'."[25]

Nigeria

Baraka has criticized calls for Western military action against the jihadist rebel group Boko Haram, arguing that "a purely military response will only exacerbate an insurgency whose roots lie in the complex socio-historical conditions and internal contradictions of Northeast Nigeria."[26] In May 2014, a month after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from the northern Nigerian town of Chibok, he expressed skepticism about the official version of events and the number of victims, saying that "even if there was a kidnapping, there's some people who are suggesting that the numbers are in fact inflated."[27] Baraka also stated that while he was "outraged" by the kidnapping, he was also suspicious of U.S. humanitarian concerns in the region: "U.S. policymakers don't give a damn about the schoolgirls in Nigeria because their real objective is to use the threat of Boko Haram in the northern part of the country to justify the real goal of occupying the oil fields in the south and to block the Chinese in Nigeria."[28]


Critique of public individuals

Bill Clinton

In June 2016, Baraka criticized the family of Muhammad Ali for inviting Bill Clinton to deliver the boxer's eulogy.[29]

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

In February 2016, Baraka criticized Beyoncé's performance of her song "Formation" at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, which featured backup dancers dressed as Black Panthers, claiming that it was a "commodified caricature of black opposition."Baraka derided the performance as "mindless entertainment"[30] and "a depoliticized spectacle by gyrating, light-skinned booty-short-clad sisters." Baraka claimed that the "white male capitalist patriarchy" was responsible for selecting Beyoncé to perform and would not have allowed "anything subversive or even remotely oppositional to the interests of the capitalist oligarchy" on stage.[31]

Barack Obama

Baraka referred to President Barack Obama as an "Uncle Tom president" after Obama condemned the 2014 riots and violence in Ferguson, Missouri that occurred in the wake of the police killing of Michael Brown.[32] Defending his use of the term, Baraka later said that he was speaking to a "specialized audience" and was attempting to "shock people into a more critical look at this individual."[33] Baraka has also argued that Obama has shown "obsequious deference to white power,"[34] and that Obama and Loretta Lynch are members of the "black petit-bourgeoisie who have become the living embodiments of the partial success of the state's attempt to colonize the consciousness of Africans/black people."[35]

In an October 2016 interview with The Detroit News, Baraka described Obama as a "moral disaster" and one of "the worst things that has happened to African-American people".[36]

Bernie Sanders

Baraka referred to the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders as "media-driven pseudo-opposition"[37] and "an ideological prop… of the logic and interests of the capitalist-imperialist settler state."[38] In a September 2015 article, Baraka condemned Sanders' foreign policy and his support for continuing Obama's program of drone strikes in Yemen, claiming that "the world that a President Sanders promises" would be one with "continued war crimes from the sky with drone strikes and Saudi-led terror in support of the Western imperial project."[39] Baraka argued that support for Sanders represents "a tacit commitment to Eurocentrism and the assumptions of normalized white supremacy" due to what he perceived as "indifference" to the lives lost during the drone campaign in Yemen.

Cornel West

In September 2015, Baraka criticized Cornel West for supporting Bernie Sanders, saying that West was "sheep-dogging for the Democrats" by "drawing voters into the corrupt Democratic party".[40] West later endorsed Jill Stein after Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton.[41][42]

2016 U.S. vice presidential campaign

On August 1, 2016, Green Party presumptive presidential nominee Jill Stein announced that Baraka would be her running mate.[43] Stein and Baraka were formally nominated by delegates at the 2016 Green National Convention on August 6, 2016.[44] In his acceptance speech, Baraka said that he joined the Green Party effort to "build a multinational movement here in this country based on the needs and the aspirations of working people".[45]

The Stein/Baraka ticket received over 1% of the national popular vote from 1,457,218 voters in the 2016 election.


 

A Document by Ajamu Baraka

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:Syria Peace Conference: Obama’s Orwellian Subterfugearticle21 January 20142011 Syrian InsurgencyThe US/Western Orwellian inversion of morality and meaning in the relentless pursuit of Middle-Eastern policy objectives
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References

  1. ttp://www.ips-dc.org/authors/ajamu-baraka
  2. https://www.gp.org/ajamu_baraka%7Ctitle=Ajamu Baraka
  3. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/african-heritage-delegation-backs-global-resistance-israels-21st-century%7Cwebsite=Electronic Intifada|access-date=August 11, 2016|date=April 17, 2014}}
  4. http://www.ifpb.org/africanheritage/statement.html
  5. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/19/violence-and-resistance-in-palestine/
  6. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/19/violence-and-resistance-in-palestine/
  7. http://noliesradio.org/archives/85748 |title=Sander Hicks, Jim Fetzer, Ajamu Baraka — on Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad Radio |website=No Lies Radio |host=Kevin Barrett |date=July 19, 2014 |time=1:22:12
  8. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/benjamin-netanyahu-arab-voter-turnout-116142 |title=Netanyahu: 'Arab voters are coming out in droves'
  9. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/26/netanyahus-victory-is-an-even-bigger-victory-for-palestinian-solidarity-movement/ |last=Baraka|first=Ajamu
  10. http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/06/15/ajamu-baraka-discusses-american-involvement-in-iraq/
  11. https://web.archive.org/web/20160812003155/http://gawker.com/stein-campaign-says-running-mate-didn-t-realize-he-was-1785157203 quote=Baraka wrote: 'There has never been any question in mind about the genocidal madness of the Nazi Holocaust throughout Europe during the second world war. I abhor and reject any individual or group that fails to understand the tremendous suffering of Jewish people during that dark period.'
  12. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/04/the-syrian-elections/
  13. http://noliesradio.org/archives/90073 |title=Ajamu Baraka & Ibrahim Soudy on ISIS & 9/11 deceptions — on Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad Radio |website=No Lies Radio |host=Kevin Barrett |date=October 17, 2014 |time=10:00
  14. http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/210549/friends-dont-let-friends-vote-for-jill-stein Friends Don't Let Friends Vote for Jill Stein
  15. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/04/the-syrian-elections/
  16. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/04/the-syrian-elections/
  17. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/dereliction-duty-left-syrian-civil-war/
  18. https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2019/9/15/junket-journalism-in-the-shadow-of-genocide
  19. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/18/obamas-legacy-permanent-war-and-liberal-accommodation
  20. https://web.archive.org/web/20150921211307/http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/benghazi-boko-haram-why-i-support-benghazi-inquiry
  21. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/04/the-syrian-elections/
  22. http://noliesradio.org/archives/85748
  23. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/17/the-wild-beliefs-of-ajamu-baraka-jill-stein-s-green-party-running-mate.html
  24. http://noliesradio.org/archives/85748
  25. http://noliesradio.org/archives/85748 time=1:34:15
  26. https://web.archive.org/web/20151217234107/http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/01/30/our-girls-are-still-not-home-boko-haram-and-politics-death
  27. http://noliesradio.org/archives/82532
  28. https://web.archive.org/web/20150921211307/http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/benghazi-boko-haram-why-i-support-benghazi-inquiry
  29. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/jill-stein-2016-hillary-clinton-republicans-214146
  30. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/11/beyonce-and-the-politics-of-cultural-dominance/
  31. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/11/beyonce-and-the-politics-of-cultural-dominance/
  32. http://www.ajamubaraka.com/black-lives-dont-matter-in-racist-capitalist-america/
  33. https://mic.com/articles/151914/jill-stein-s-vp-doubles-down-on-calling-obama-uncle-tom-in-truly-wild-town-hall
  34. https://www.popularresistance.org/martin-luther-king-my-dream-is-not-obama/
  35. https://www.ajamubaraka.com/muhammad-ali-and-dylann-roof-contested-meanings-and-contested-lies
  36. http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2016/10/18/baraka-green-party-vice-president/92384566/
  37. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/11/beyonce-and-the-politics-of-cultural-dominance/
  38. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/16/the-yemen-tragedy-and-the-ongoing-crisis-of-the-left-in-the-united-states/
  39. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/16/the-yemen-tragedy-and-the-ongoing-crisis-of-the-left-in-the-united-states/
  40. http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/09/why-is-cornel-west-sheep-dogging-for-the-democrats-again/
  41. http://www.democracynow.org/2016/7/18/why_a_member_of_the_democratic
  42. http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/287829-sanders-ally-cornel-west-backs-green-candidate
  43. http://www.jill2016.com/jill_stein_selects_ajamu_baraka_as_running_mate
  44. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/green-party-presidential-ticket_us_57a64585e4b03ba680128f32
  45. http://www.democracynow.org/2016/8/8/a_new_day_another_way_green