Black Madness Under Obama: African Americans More Pro-NSA, Anti-Snowden Than Whites and Hispanics
by Glen Ford
In yet another example of African American moral and political deterioration in the Age of Obama, a new Pew Research poll shows Blacks are more in favor of NSA spying on Americans than are whites or Hispanics. Moreover, the data indicate that Blacks are probably more likely to favor prosecution of Edward Snowden for his NSA spying revelations, than are other ethnic groups.
Back in September, polling history was made when Black Americans were more in favor of air strikes against Syria than whites and Hispanics – the first time, ever, that African Americans were ranked as the most bellicose major ethnicity in the United States.
Something ugly has happened to Black America since 2008, eroding – if not reversing – the progressive Black historical consensus on issues of peace, civil liberties and social justice that has prevailed since pollsters began soliciting Black opinion. One must conclude that, either Black progressivism was a much shallower political current than previously believed, or that the presence of a Black president has been such a shock to Black consciousness, so profoundly disorienting, that it has grievously distorted collective Black perceptions of reality. The African American worldview has been mangled beyond imagining.
Back in June of last year, when MSNBC’s Black plantation hands Melissa Harris-Perry and Joy-Ann Reid were calling for Edward Snowden’s head on a platter, and Black South Carolina congressman James Clyburn was telling people that Snowden’s NSA revelations were nothing more than “an effort to embarrass the president,” 60 percent of Blacks and an equal proportion of Hispanics approved of “the government’s collection of telephone and Internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts.” Only 44 percent of whites wanted the NSA’s metadata collections to continue. Pew Research pollsters asked the same questions after President Obama’s speech on NSA spying, last Friday. The survey showed that NSA’s stock had fallen considerably over the past six months, but Blacks remain more NSA spy-friendly than whites and Hispanics. Forty-three percent of African Americans still approve of the agency’s telephone and internet data collection, compared to 39 percent of whites and 40 percent of Hispanics, while majorities of whites (55 percent) and Hispanics (52 percent) opposed Obama on spying. Only 49 percent of Blacks would break with administration policy. In conventional political terms, African Americans – who are subjected to hyper-surveillance like no other group in the U.S. – are most heavily represented on the far Right on this issue, steadfast with “their” president.
“Blacks are prepared to sacrifice their own civil liberties in order [to] safeguard the prestige of the icon in the White House.”
Democrats are substantially more likely than Republicans to favor criminal prosecution of Edward Snowden, according to the Pew poll. Sixty-two percent of Democrats, versus 54 percent of Republicans, want to throw the book at Snowden. African Americans make up one quarter of the Democratic Party. The data indicate that Black zeal to protect Obama contributed significantly to the Democrats’ lynch-mob mentality.
The polls show that the “Obscene 14” Black lawmakers that voted to shield the NSA’s meta-data trolling from congressional defunding, in July, represented the majority of Black opinion at the time (60 percent). Put another way, Black majorities appear prepared to take even the most right-wing positions if they perceive it to be in defense of the First Black President. (The House effort to curtail the NSA’s telephone and internet data-gathering failed by only 7 votes.)
Forty percent of Blacks told a Washington Post/ABC poll, in late August and early September, that they supported President Obama’s threatened airstrikes on Syria. Although majorities of Blacks (56 percent), whites (58 percent) and Hispanics (63 percent) opposed Obama’s air war, African Americans were the most supportive of war – the first time that has ever happened. Given that Blacks were far more pro-peace than either whites or Hispanics in the pre-Obama era, the conclusion is inescapable: substantial proportions of Black Americans are now more concerned with defending Obama than with preventing the death of thousands of innocents abroad, at U.S. hands. In siding with the NSA’s spies, Blacks have shown they are prepared to sacrifice their own civil liberties in order to safeguard the prestige of the icon in the White House.
If an individual exhibited such lifelong personality and values reversals, her relatives and friends would immediately suspect an emotional breakdown, and seek professional help. Caregivers would try to identify the cause of the mental collapse, and find ways to avoid further harm.
Actually, a diagnosis of collective African American mental illness, brought on by the sudden and unexpected advent of a nominally Black president, is the kindest analysis available. The alternative diagnosis is that Black folks were always closet reactionaries, who were just waiting for the emergence of a Black chief executive to show their true colors.
I’ll go with sudden onslaught of collective mental illness. The second theory is even crazier than the first.