Thursday, February 11, 2016

Who Were the Black Panthers?

We owe it to Beyonce. During the Super Bowl half time show Mrs. Jay Z provoked a national conversation on a 1960s insurgent, revolutionary group called the Black Panthers.

Nowadays, the Panthers are seen as politically correct warriors for social justice, so their actions have been romanticized beyond recognition.

Writing in Front Page Magazine, John Perazzo reminds us of the truth about the Black Panthers (via Maggie's Farm):

Portraying law-enforcement officers as the indisputably racist agents of a racist nation, the Panthers regularly tried to defy and provoke police—“pigs,” as they contemptuously called them—by appearing in public places carrying loaded firearms. On May 2, 1967, for instance, more than two-dozen Panthers brandishing guns famously walked into a meeting of the California State Assembly to protest a proposed piece of legislation. Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver acknowledged years later (in 1986): “We [Panthers] would go out and ambush cops, but if we got caught we would blame it on them and claim innocence.”

Of course, ambushing the police wasn't the only thing the Panthers knew how to do. They also perfected the fine arts of dealing drugs, pimping prostitutes, extorting money, stealing property, beating people senseless, and on at least a dozen occasions, committing homicide. In 1969 alone, Panther members were arrested 348 times for murder, armed robbery, rape, and burglary. How often did they commit these and other serious crimes without getting arrested? That's anybody's guess.

Of course, the Panthers hated capitalism and America. They wanted to foment a Communist revolution… so that America could become more like Mao’s China:

Because the Panthers hated America, they naturally detested capitalism and revered Communism. David Hilliard, for one, lauded the many graces of “Marxism-Leninism.” Eldridge Cleaver once wrote that “if you look around the world, you will see that the only countries which have liberated themselves and managed to withstand the tide of counter-revolution are precisely those countries that have strongly Marxist-Leninist parties.” The Panthers made Mao Zedong's iconic Red Book required reading for all their members, and sold copies of it to students at UC Berkeley to raise funds for the purchase of shotguns. And for guidance in how to establish revolutionary socialism in the United States, the Panthers studied the works of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, and Frantz Fanon.

It’s certainly a good thing to recall the truth about the Black Panthers.


Ares Olympus said...

John Perazzo: Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver acknowledged years later (in 1986): “We [Panthers] would go out and ambush cops, but if we got caught we would blame it on them and claim innocence.”

It is enlightening when you have such explicit confessions, so we can condemn the sin, but not the sinner. I think that's what confessions are about, right?
While in prison (1968), he wrote a number of philosophical and political essays, first published in Ramparts magazine and then in book form as Soul on Ice. In the essays, Cleaver traces his own development from a "supermasculine menial" to a radical black liberationist, and his essays became highly influential in the black power movement.

In the most controversial part of the book, Cleaver acknowledges committing acts of rape, stating that he initially raped black women in the ghetto "for practice" and then embarked on the serial rape of white women. He described these crimes as politically inspired, motivated by a genuine conviction that the rape of white women was "an insurrectionary act". When he began writing Soul on Ice, he unequivocally renounced rape and all his previous reasoning about it.

"[W]hen I considered myself ready enough, I crossed the tracks and sought out white prey. I did this consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically -- though looking back I see that I was in a frantic, wild and completely abandoned frame of mind. Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man's law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women...I felt I was getting revenge. From the site of the act of rape, consternation spread outwardly in concentric circles. I wanted to send waves of consternation throughout the white race."

Resentment and rage and youthful hormones are certainly a toxic mix in any race or culture.

But does make for a nice Christian redemption story...
In the early 1980s, Cleaver became disillusioned with what he saw as the commercial nature of evangelical Christianity and examined alternatives, including Sun Myung Moon's campus ministry organization CARP, and Mormonism.

Cleaver was then later baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) on December 11, 1983, periodically attended regular services, lectured by invitation at LDS gatherings, and was a member of the church in good standing at the time of his death in 1998.
By the 1980s, Cleaver had become a conservative Republican. He appeared at various Republican events and spoke at a California Republican State Central Committee meeting regarding his political transformation. In 1984, he ran for election to the Berkeley City Council but lost. Undaunted, he promoted his candidacy in the Republican Party primary for the 1986 Senate race but was again defeated.
or not?
In 1988, Cleaver was placed on probation for burglary and was briefly jailed later in the year after testing positive for cocaine. He entered drug rehabilitation for a stated crack cocaine addiction two years later, but was arrested for possession by Oakland and Berkeley Police in 1992 and 1994. Shortly after his final arrest, he moved to Southern California, falling into poor health.

It's surprising he made it to age 62. So he made himself a sociopathic superman to fight the good fight against oppressive culture, but was corrupted in the end like all the rest, by the white man's drugs.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. Here's the 1986 interview and quote

REASON: Did the Panthers try to provoke violence? Was that part of the strategy?

Cleaver: Sure it was part of the strategy. It was using the theories of revolutionary violence. A lot of people don't like to give us credit, but in America you had some of the best-educated revolutionaries in the world—even better-educated than some successful revolutionaries in other countries.

We studied the experiences of these other countries and we knew the theories of guerrilla warfare and Marxism and Leninism and people's war, and we definitely were not sitting back waiting for the authorities to attack us.

We used to lie about it, because the information was a weapon also.

We would go out and ambush cops, but if we got caught we would blame it on them and claim innocence. I did that personally in the case I was involved in.

REASON: The Bobby Hutton case?

Cleaver: Yes. We went after the cops that night, but when we got caught we said they came after us. We always did that. When you talk about the legacy of the '60s, that's one legacy. That's what I try to address, because it helped to distort the image of the police, but I've come to the point where I realize that our police department is necessary.


sestamibi said...

Surprised you wrote this without reference to David Horowitz, who has discussed his relationship (and disillusionment) with the Panthers quite extensively:

Ironic, also that a team called The Panthers, often described in upscale circles as the "blackest team in the NFL", played uncharacteristically badly in the Super Bowl last Sunday and didn't take their loss well at all.