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On January 10, 2021, four days following Trump’s attempted coup, Gerald Horne stated that “class-based reforms must be combined with a fierce crackdown on the violators of the law on January 6.” Horne discusses the historical background and the lead-up to this event with Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news.


Paul Jay

Hi, I’m Paul Jay. Welcome to theAnalysis.news podcast. Please don’t forget the donate button at the top of the web page.

I wrote a piece titled The Real Coup on January 6, saying that Mitch McConnell set a trap for [Donald] Trump. Knowing that Trump would incite his adoring crowd to storm the Capitol building, the Sergeant at Arms, who controls the Capitol Police, was nominated by the majority leader, that means McConnell, and serves the Senate, and as the majority leader who speaks for the Senate, with weeks to prepare, did not follow the most basic security protocol and set up a security perimeter around the building. This has to be a decision to not follow procedure, not just incompetence.

The internet was full of plans to storm the building amongst the far-right groups. Steve Bannon had said the war starts on November 3. How do you not call in overwhelming policing to make sure the building is protected? If it wasn’t McConnell directly, then the Sergeant at Arms made a deliberate decision not to follow protocol, but McConnell had to be informed of it. It was far too a political decision to be left up to what’s called the Executive of the Senate, who’s in charge of many, many things. It’s actually quite a powerful position. He doesn’t just guard some doors.

Of course, I don’t have any hard evidence of such a conspiracy, but surely there’s at least enough evidence that a full inquiry must be held, and not just by the Senate itself. Why would McConnell do this? Because Trump was clearly going mad. He contributed to the GOP losing two seats in Georgia. He was threatening not to leave office. There are even reports that he was trying to get the military to intervene on his behalf. The elites didn’t want this chaos. They didn’t want this maniac destroying their investors’ paradise, as Mark Blyth calls it. It took only a few hours for the American Manufacturers Association to call for Trump to be removed by the 25th Amendment.

Now McConnell, [Mike] Pence, and Graham, after years of enabling and encouraging Trump, can go down as the men who stood up to him. Trump had outlived his usefulness, and this became a way to bury him. By no means is this the end of the racist and fascist movement Trump helped galvanize. It wasn’t something new that Trump did. He picked up from where Ronald Reagan left off, and the Republican leadership will find a new standard-bearer soon enough.

I’ve received some mail saying, how could I accuse the Republicans of deliberately allowing the fascists to attack the hallowed grounds of Congress? Excuse me. This is the hallowed grounds of lobbyists. If you’ve ever been there, all you see are senators and House members, with a few exceptions, meeting with lobbyists. This is a place that’s been bought and sold. Remember, these are also the same Republican leaders that are the ones that deliberately created the fabrication about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that led to a war that killed over a million people. They live on lies and deception, and this wasn’t much of a stretch.

Now, joining us to discuss all this is Gerald Horne. Gerald holds the John J. and Rebecca Moore’s Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. He is the author of many books, most recently The Bittersweet Science: Racism, Racketeering and the Political Economy of Boxing, and of course, his very famous The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America. Thanks very much for joining us, Gerald.

Gerald Horne

Thank you for inviting me.

Paul Jay

So, first of all, what’s your take on how all this went down? Then we can talk more about the significance of it all.

Gerald Horne

Well, Business Insider, on January 8, 2021, has an article based on sources in the European Union. Sources that corroborate with the United States in terms of security suggest that what took place in Washington on January 6 was not a failure of security; it was a failure of a coup d’etat. In that regard, let me point folks to the striking op-ed piece that appeared in the Washington Post on January 4, 2021, by all surviving former Pentagon Chiefs, led by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, somehow warning the U.S. military not to get involved in domestic politics.

The next day, the Financial Times in London had an editorial asking, what do Cheney and Rumsfeld know that the rest of us do not know? Suggesting that this was a very strange op-ed to write. At this particular moment, although I think we might have gotten a hint of the answer on January 6, 2021, with the storming of the Capitol.

Now, this leaves a number of open and nagging questions. First of all, with regard to the U.S. ruling elite, the 1%. They have had a very useful model for themselves whereby non-elite Euro Americans, for the most part, 70% in Georgia, 90% in Mississippi/Alabama vote for the GOP and in return, the GOP shows up in Washington and pushes tax cuts for the wealthy and other giveaways. The non-elites have not done as well, shall we say, through a burst of an understatement. A possible result was the storming of the Capitol.

It seems to me that the elite may be trapped, that National Association of Manufacturer statement notwithstanding because they are now relying upon a base that is unstable as nitroglycerine. With regard to the non-elites, it seems to me that they will be very difficult to assuage because I’m not convinced that class-based remedies will be enough to buy them off, so to speak. I’m not sure if a Green New Deal, higher minimum wage, or Medicare for all will be enough. Unless you can say, it’s for whites only because, let’s be clear, the storming of the Capitol was mostly executed by white supremacists carrying Confederate flags in the Capitol, by Proud Boys, Boogaloo Boys, three percenters and all the rest. I’m not so sure if they are social Democrats in disguise just waiting for social democratic programs.

Internationally, it seems to me that there is a bigger danger for the U.S. elite. Even before January 6, 2021, the European Union had brokered an investment deal with the People’s Republic of China over the objections not only of Trump but Biden.

What we have to realize is that part of the fallout from Brexit, the British exit from the European Union, is that Washington’s main agent and the higher councils of Brussels, the European Union, have been removed, thereby strengthening French political leadership in the European Union. France, as you know, over the decades, has been an imperialist power that, from time to time, has been able to buck U.S. domination and hegemony. Mr. [Emmanual] Macron, the President, speaks of strategic autonomy of the European Union, and it’s apparent that the European Union sees no reason why it should continue to play the pips to the United States, Gladys Knight.

From their point of view, they should engage in arbitrage between Washington and Beijing, for example. Suppose the European Union does not sign up for this new Cold War that has been launched by Trump and has enormous support in the United States of America throughout all classes and sectors, virtually. In that case, it’s going to be very difficult for Japan to sign on and for India to sign on. The bottom line might be that this is further impetus for the People’s Republic of China, which, by the way, has suffered about 4,000 fatalities as a result of the coronavirus, which was the total for one day in the United States of America just a day or two ago. The Chinese economy is slated to grow by 8% to 9% this year. We can only hope that the United States economy will begin to recover by the summer. So this event of January 6, 2021, may very well prove to be a hinge moment not only in the history of the United States but of the world.

Paul Jay

Well, let’s talk about the domestic side first, and then let’s talk about the international consequences of all this. I think the people that stormed Capitol Hill are not going to not storm Capitol Hill because they get Medicare for all. Although, some of them might need it after because the possibility of that being a COVID super-spreader event, I think, is enormous. Thousands and thousands of people were not wearing masks and were all over each other. Including the threat from the COVID point of view, staff and other people inside the buildings and so on. So Medicare for all actually might help some of these people quite a bit, but I don’t think it’s going to change their minds anyway because that kind of fanaticism is into religiosity at the extremes.

Of the 74 million, 75 million people that voted for Trump, a lot of them aren’t that. I specifically think what’s important, if the Democrats were to actually pass meaningful reforms that deal with inequality, a large section, and I don’t know what the numbers are, but it’s significant, of those people who voted for[Barrack] Obama in ’08, I think that’s the stratum that might actually respond if their life actually gets better and maybe even a little broader than that.

Most of the people I’ve talked to who voted for Trump, and I’ve talked to lots of them, they’re just completely cynical about the entire process. We once interviewed this guy at a diner outside Baltimore, and he said, I know Trump is a liar. I know he’s a fraud. I know he’s a scam. I know he’s this, and I know he’s that. The guy says I’m voting for him anyway. What does that tell you about what I think about the other guys? Meaningful change where people’s lives get better economically, I think, will affect a significant portion. I’m not saying it’s going to stop them from having racial prejudices and having all kinds of remnants of the most horrible culture of systemic racist ideology. They may still think that, but they’re going to support people to make their life better. Except for, I don’t know, maybe that 20-25% that are so solidly extremist, racist, and fascist. Nothing will change their minds, but a significant number could. I don’t know if you want to jump on that or if you want to jump on something else. Go ahead if you want.

Gerald Horne

Sure. Once again, in the United States of America, we would be remiss if we would not look at this through a racial lens. With regard to these folks who stormed the Capitol, we should take notice of the fact that they were overwhelmingly melanin deficient, as they say, in some quarters. The base for Trump is of a similar character. The question that needs to be posed is for that sector of the working class which turns to the Right, well, it’s not like the black community is doing so well. Why don’t they turn to the Right, for example? They continue to vote against the Right, nine to one. That was the lesson of the election in Georgia the day before January 6, whereby the black community, which is 30% of the State’s population. An overwhelming majority of the Democratic Party coalition turned out in record numbers even compared to past elections to help put into office the first black senator and by the way, the first Jewish senator as well, and then more on that anon. I don’t think that we should necessarily assume that class-based measures once again will be enough to persuade those members of the working class who voted for Mr. Trump.

Although, I agree wholeheartedly 1000% that these measures should be promoted and pursued aggressively: Medicare for all, Green New Deal, raising the minimum wage, moratorium on evictions and all the rest. At the same time, I think that strategically, going forward, one of the other points we must emphasize is a fierce crackdown on the violators of the law on January 6, 2021. Not only because they violated the law, but also, I think, it will introduce further strains into the Republican Party coalition, just like the strains you see erupting today between those Republicans who, even after the storming of the Capitol, voted to decertify the Electoral College results and those Republicans who voted to certify the Electoral College results. Then it takes these dangerous elements off the streets, which I think might be useful to the ongoing health of people like myself, for example. It’s a deterrence because the inauguration is coming up. 

There are other key dates that are coming up. We keep hearing these stories about how many of these forces have not left Washington, DC, and how bombs have been discovered in Washington, DC. We all saw the pictures of the noose that they built on the grounds of the Capitol. We all know that in terms of right-wing literature, The Turner Diaries, for example, part of that fictionalized story involves, I’m afraid to say, the lynching of various legislators. We all know that as we speak in Lansing, Michigan, there are militia members under detention who had a hair-brained scheme. At least, I hope it was a hair-brained scheme to enter the Capitol building of the State of Michigan to take legislators as hostages, to blow up the building in a made-for-television exercise and then execute many of the legislators. Of course, they had a plan to execute Gretchen Whitmer, the Governor of Michigan, who, of course, had been baited by Mr. Trump repeatedly because of her lockdown measures. Gretchen Whitmer also happens to be Jewish, and there hangs a tale because I don’t think that we should downplay the anti-semitism of these ultra-righteous forces, these pro-Nazi forces.

Once again, Jon Ossoff, the first Jewish Senator elected from the State of Georgia, who, coincidentally, was elected the day before the storming of the Capitol. This comes approximately 105 years after the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish entrepreneur in Georgia, which was a turning point, a hinge moment in terms of the civil rights movement, because it induces more Jewish Americans to enter with full force the civil rights movement, the anti-Jim Crow movement, joining the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], contributing to the NAACP, etc.

So, once again, I think that we should realize in the United States that a deep hole has been dug for ourselves, or, perhaps, we should say we have dug a deep hole for ourselves. With the McCarthy period, in particular, which led to a weakening of progressive labor and a weakening of class-based organizations, it created an ideological vacuum that then was filled with the kind of right-wing populism that Donald J. Trump exemplifies. As we speak on the horizon, there does not appear to be any glimmering of a rising of a new left-wing labor movement.

In that regard, let me point to some of the other pitfalls we’ll have to navigate going forward. Bernie Sanders expressed public sentiment in favor of being appointed Secretary of Labor. Now, I assumed that Mr. Biden understandably and justifiably is trying to construct the most diverse cabinet in history, he says. I assume that if Bernie didn’t get that post, it would be because he felt he had to give it to Julie Su, the Asian American woman from California, for example. Instead, he gives it to Marty Walsh, the Mayor of Boston, a traditional labor hack before he became mayor, for example, and tied to some of the most corrupt unions in the United States of America: in the building trades, in the labor unions and international union; a union which is known to have mob ties. That particular union endorsed him in a full forward measure. That was not reassuring, quite frankly, with regard to the Biden regime being able to revive the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which could be very aggressive in terms of attacking the coronavirus and meat plants where it has cut a prodigious swath, particularly through immigrant workers.

Once again, I’m all for all of these progressive measures, but at the same time, I don’t think that we should downplay the obstacles that we will be facing in terms of accomplishing them.

Paul Jay

Yeah, I think it’s this very strange moment, in a sense, because of what happened on January 6 and the disarray of the Republican Party. It’s going to be more difficult for them to be as obstructionist as they might have been in the Senate, which in theory frees the hand for more progressive measures.

Although it’s very interesting, I watch a lot of Fox these days. Before the Georgia election, many of the pundits on Fox were saying secretly they thought Biden was hoping the Republicans would win Georgia because at least he’d have an excuse not to have to do the progressive things that people are pushing him to do. It’s this very freaky moment. It’s the existential threat of climate change that they seem to understand the threat, but they certainly don’t seem to want to go where they need to go, they being the Biden administration, to actually deal with it. The stock market after Biden won and after they won Georgia reached new historic highs. It didn’t go down because the Democrats controlled the Senate. There was always this thought, oh, the Republicans could mitigate the Democrats if the Republicans held the Senate. That’s what Wall Street wanted. Except after they won Georgia, the stock markets went up anyway.

So the one thing that maybe is a positive in this story is that because the Democrats lost seats at the House, the clout of the progressives in the House is a little stronger than it might have been otherwise. Whether to the extent they can use it, we’ll have to see. Our conversations always end up with is there going to be a people’s movement outside of the party that’s going to create enough storm? And you don’t have to walk into Congress, but maybe you do need to surround it with a million people. There needs to be a mass mobilization to force through some of the kinds of measures that we’re talking about. It’s not just about inequality; it’s about the existence of human society, both in terms of climate, nuclear weapons, and I was going to say the next pandemic, but this one’s far from over.

Going back to the events of January 6, one of the things I’m struck by is— I made a little reference to this in the intro. The hallowed house, the people’s house, the place of democracy and all this. Anyone that knows what goes on in there knows it’s rife with corruption. It’s not every member, but most. Whether it’s the military-industrial complex or whether it’s finance, it’s the house of lobbying and the media and everybody making such a thing about what happened there, the threat to democracy.

There’s no insurrection without the military. If Trump was trying to get the military involved, which I don’t doubt that he probably was given the kind of crazy phone calls and that letter you referred to from the former Secretaries of Defense, there must have been something going on there. Maybe that helped spur my theory that McConnell, Graham, and Pence realize now they have the time to bail on this guy. He’s so gone over the edge.

The term of insurrection of these people who just broke into the buildings, to me, it’s such an exaggeration. It’s all for, on the Democrat side, partisan political advantage. Finally, they got Trump. They couldn’t get them on Ukraine. They couldn’t get them on Russia. Well, finally they got him. As I say, for the leaders of the Republican Party who have been groveling at this guy’s feet, bending over their backsides to this guy for four years, finally get some revenge and get control back of the Republican Party, at least for now. I don’t know. What do you think?

Gerald Horne

Well, first of all, I think it would be worthwhile to pursue an impeachment measure that would lead to the consequence of Mr. Trump being disqualified from running for public office again, particularly since we suspect that he’s gearing up already for 2024. I’m not sure if Trump wannabes, one of these: Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, or even Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have the chops or the muscle to emulate the one, Donald J. Trump. I think that would be a good strategic move to pursue.

Secondly, to touch on another important base, I agree with the consensus that even Joseph R. Biden has articulated that the Black Lives Matter movement people would have been treated differently in the Capitol. As others have said, certainly left-wing protesters, and anti-war protesters would be treated differently. The problem is that even the radicals in the United States don’t seem to realize that that’s not some sort of coincidence; that’s a feature, not a bug of the system. 

That’s because I don’t think that they adequately understand the history of this country. The fact that settler colonialism is a term that’s generally absent from their vocabularies in the settler-colonial society. It would be as if, in pre-1994 South Africa, the term racism was absent from the vocabulary of folks in South Africa. Then that brings me back to the ideological weaknesses of the United States, which afflicts and affects all sectors, I think of the NAACP, which by all measures should be a kind of broad church with many pews like the African National Congress aspired to be at one time where you would find both communists and capitalists. Of course, the NAACP, like most organizations, including the ACLU, went through a purge during the McCarthy era, has yet to apologize for this purge, has yet to make amends for this purge, and of course, has not had a word to say about the fact that the great Paul Robson, the leading actor and activist of his generation, was basically skewered by the NAACP and certainly the progeny of Paul Robson have been treated likewise.

How are we going to dig ourselves out of this deep hole when you have an organization that purports to represent the black community, which votes most heavily against the Right, and tends to be apprehensive and nervous and afraid about confronting this anti-left psychosis which afflicts the United States of America?

Now, this also means that in terms of the measures that need to be pursued, for example, move the money. As certain activists have pointed out, the United States spends $740 billion a year on, quote, ‘defense’, unquote, but yet was not able to defend the Capitol building. I mean, something is wrong here. It reminds me of the domestic slogan of ‘Defund the Police’. That is to say, you take money away from the police and put it into social workers, for example, because you don’t need a man or a woman with a gun to write traffic tickets, or to file accident reports, or to respond to noise complaints. Likewise, you don’t need to give the military-industrial complex $740 billion, particularly when it creates these ancillary problems of sending the flower of youth overseas to settle political disputes through the barrel of a gun in Afghanistan and Iraq and then come back and as they attended to do, join the Three Percenters, the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Boys, and once again engage in that blowback and try to settle political disputes domestically through the barrel of a gun. This is clearly a case of chickens coming home to roost.

With regard to Fox News, in terms of their misdirection, with regard to saying that Biden was secretly hoping that the Democrats would not control the Senate, but these are some of the same people who are telling us that it was not the alt-right, so-called, who stormed the Capitol; it’s actually Antifa. These were actually left-wingers in a total false flag operation who invaded the Capitol and trashed the Capitol, et cetera, even though there is tons of visual and photographic evidence to the contrary. 

This brings us back to the Democrats. I know that many people are optimistic, and I don’t want to rain on their parade, but at the same time, you still have Democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has a D after his name, but for many purposes, could just as well have an R after his name. Given the arcane rules of the U.S. Senate, which somehow mandates you need 60 votes to pass measures as opposed to 50 plus one, it’s still going to be an uphill climb and tough sledding post-January 20th, not only because of what I’ve just articulated in the last moment but also because of these ideological weaknesses that I’ve tried to outline and sketch.

Paul Jay

There are a few litmus tests for the Biden administration that we could talk about both domestically and internationally, about whether or not they’re going to do anything, even a little bit in a progressive direction. Let me give one that just pops to mind from what you were talking about with the police. In Baltimore, the DOJ under Obama did an investigation of the Baltimore police force after the murder of Freddie Gray and the protests. Their report, in terms of what happened, was pretty good, I thought. In several places, the report said that the constitutional rights of citizens of Baltimore were violated every single day by the Baltimore police force. They used that phrasing, the constitutional rights were violated every single day. They reminded me that we once had a meeting down there after some whistleblowing, and people were talking about the rise of a police state. Eddie Conway stood up and said, I’m glad you guys are finally getting it, but we’ve been living in this for decades in Baltimore. I think a litmus test for the Biden administration, and I’m not a fan of this slogan, ‘Defund the Police’. I think it just scares people for no reason. I think community control of police is better, but I got another one. Purge the police. Purge the police of racists. Purge them of fascists. Fire them. Obviously, put people, cops that are shooting black men and Latinos and others, put them in jail, of course. The culture within the police departments needs to be purged. The DOJ would have the power to do something like that. The will is another story altogether. What are some litmus tests that you might want to say we will judge this administration by?

Gerald Horne

Well, so far, not so good. I mean, I’m looking at these cabinet appointments, for example. I’ve already made reference to Marty Walsh, the incoming Secretary of Labor, assuming that he is confirmed. Although, that was not reassuring. The incoming Attorney General, Merrick Garland, that’s not reassuring. If you’re really concerned about criminal justice issues and this question of police, which is tearing this country apart, witnessed the controversies in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Ferguson, Missouri and all the rest, well, you would think that Mr. Biden would have wanted to make a statement thereby appointing someone other than Mr. Garland, particularly since he said after he was confirmed as the victor that he owes a debt of gratitude to the black community, which rescued his tattered campaign in South Carolina and put him back on his feet so that he could charge ahead to win the nomination.

Well, thus far, I don’t really see him repaying that historic debt. With regard to ‘Defund the Police’, well, it’s interesting. Paul Butler, who is a law professor at Georgetown and a specialist in criminal justice, he wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post after Mr. Obama had made a similar criticism of that slogan. Paul Butler pointed out that for years the progressive movement had a slogan of ‘Justice Reinvestment’ nobody had ever heard of. Then they came up with the ‘Defund the Police’, and now there is an outcry.

In any case, I think that it’s very curious that the Democratic Party in 2000 blamed the victory of George W. Bush on the Greens and Ralph Nader. In 2016, they blamed the defeat on Joe Stein. The message is that people with left-wing platforms and left-wing slogans should enter en masse the Democratic Party, which many of them did in 2020. Then afterwards, you have centrist Democrats complaining that left-wing slogans like the ‘Defund the Police’ contributed to down-ballot losses for the Democrats in the House in particular. The message is too left-wing people, you shouldn’t run independently. You shouldn’t raise your slogans within the Democratic Party. You should have become a centrist and shut up and sit down. I don’t think that that’s a reasonable approach, to put it mildly, and I don’t think it’s going to work, secondly.

Paul Jay

Yeah, I don’t disagree with that, but just on that particular slogan, not that I have any say on these things, but community control the police, I think, is a more important principle. Of course, the police budgets should be cut in half. It’s ridiculous, the militarization of the police. I’m for defunding the police. I just think it’s a shitty slogan. More important is community control. As I say, I like the slogan, ‘Purge the Police’.

Even in Baltimore, I would say the majority of the cops, and not just the black cops, they know who the racists and the fascists are. Honestly, most of the corruption, the real serious corruption of which there are endless amounts in Baltimore and cities across the country, it’s the same racist and fascists that are involved in most of the hardcore corruption. They seem to go well together.

Gerald Horne

The Brenten Center at New York University Law School has done report after report, basically substantiating the fact that you just articulated, which is that police departments from the Atlantic to the Pacific and out into Honolulu are infiltrated heavily by right-wing, ultra-righteous forces, which helps to explain and explicate the extreme levels of police terror. That leads to tragedies in Staten Island with Eric Garner, in Ferguson with Michael Brown, in Kenosha with Jacob Blake, the list is long, and the list is endless. 

It’s also, once again, to return to the international front now being debated at the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. In fact, we expect some sort of judgment of some sort within a few weeks, ideally during Black History Month of February 2021. The best-case scenario, and I’m not saying this is going to happen, but the best-case scenario would be that member states of the United Nations have a mandate per the Human Rights Council to impose sanctions on the United States government because of its uncivilized policies with regard to police misconduct and police terror, not unlike the sanctions that have been imposed upon Iran, Venezuela, Cuba. Once again, to bring this full circle, January 6, 2021, I dare say, will be a factor in the deliberations because even the President of Zimbabwe said in expressing a viewpoint that’s held widely throughout Africa, what gives the United States the right to pronounce on democracy and democratic rights after January 6, 2021? Hopefully, we’ll see the impact and import of that particular utterance in Geneva, Switzerland and the Human Rights Council within a few weeks.

Paul Jay

So before we end, let me just ask you about the significance of the Georgia Senate races.

Gerald Horne

It’s very significant, and I also think too much should not be made of it. What I mean is that the result in Georgia was a direct result of political economy. What I mean by that is the beginning of the 1970s, as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 began to assert itself and black Americans began to exercise the franchise where before they were not able to. You saw the election of the former Chief Aide to Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young, as both Congressman and Mayor. You saw the election of Maynard Jackson following Andrew Young. Andrew Young, in particular, you may recall, was a former United Nations Ambassador under Jimmy Carter before being sacked because of alleged untoward dealings with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He used those contacts as United Nations Ambassador to come back to his city, Atlanta, and help to attract international businesses to Atlanta. Turning it from a sleepy Capital into something of a metropolis, even a cosmopolitan metropolis. By some measures, the airport in Atlanta is the busiest airport on planet Earth. It happens to be named after Maynard Jackson, his black American successor as mayor. With the transformation of Atlanta, you saw the influx of more Asian Americans. You saw the influx of more Latinx folk as well. You saw more blacks returning from New York City and Boston to Atlanta, which transformed the city in terms of politics electorally, which means that it has to be distinguished from its neighbors, particularly South Carolina and Alabama, which have not had a similar transformation. Therefore it will be difficult to expect a similar electoral result in those particular states.

I would also be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the particular role of Stacey Abrams, the black woman who ran for Governor in 2018. She lost by 55,000 votes, charged justifiably that there was hanky panky that prevented her from winning. She then formed organizations that not only began to try to reform voting laws but also began to try to organize people, as opposed to the usual Democratic Party strategy, which is flip the airwaves, and give money to people on television stations by running these ads and radio stations, as opposed to registering people to vote, for example, and organizing caravans to vote. I should also mention the role of the sports teams in Atlanta, particularly the National Basketball Association, not only in Atlanta, the Atlanta Hawks but national. Of course, Grant Hill, the former Duke star and former Detroit Pistons and Phoenix SunStar, is a part-owner of the Atlantic Hawks team. Their arena was turned into a massive voting site on January 5, 2021, just like it was a massive voting site on November 3, 2020. So this is a very significant victory. 

There was a lot of mud that was being tossed at Raphael Warnock, the victorious Senator, first black Senator in Georgia. Of course, I would be remiss also if I failed to mention how, historically, black colleges and universities mobilized on his behalf, including his alma mater Morehouse College, also the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr., Mike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, et cetera, and as well his fraternity Omega Psi Phi, just like the fraternity of Kamala Harris at Howard University, aka Alpha Kappa Alpha, mobilized on her behalf and brought in other so-called black Greek organizations. This was a very important and significant victory. Once again, I’m not sure if it forms a template for similar victories throughout the south, not least in neighboring South Carolina and Alabama, but I do think it may have import for a similar sort of campaign in a State like Texas, which has some of the earmarks of Georgia in terms of having a diverse population, having international business, having a large Asian American population, certainly a large Mexican American population as well. Obviously, political activists need to study what happened in Georgia so that we can replicate it at least regionally.

Paul Jay

Just finally, about Georgia, what do you make of the way the Governor and particularly the Secretary of State stood up to Trump? I was sort of impressed, but I don’t know what the back story is there. I mean, I know the Secretary of State was involved, at least allegedly, in voter suppression during Stacey Abram’s run for Governor. He didn’t just stand up to Trump. He leaked that phone conversation, which did Trump some real damage.

Gerald Horne

I would like to know the backstory as well. Certainly, Brian Kemp, the Governor, is going to face a primary when he runs for re-election, presumably in 2022. I’m not sure he’ll be able to prevail. Once again, I think that part of the story of the United States that’s oftentimes neglected and January 6 to come full circle helps to exemplify, in a strange sort of way, it exemplifies a left-wing dictum, which is the people of the motive force of history. In this case, the United States of America, the people are not necessarily acting in a progressive fashion. That helps to explain part of the problem in confronting the Republican Party because a lot of the reactionary energy oftentimes is coming from the grassroots, and they’re pushing the leaders. I think that Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz were responding to the grassroots when they tried to desertify the victory of Joseph Biden. If I’m not mistaken, polls suggest that a good deal of the Republican base continues to feel that Mr. Trump was cheated out of the election and that there was fraud in the election. The good news there, because every cloud has a silver lining, is that they might have suppressed turnout on January 5, allowing for Raphael Warnock and Mr. Ossoff to triumph in these two senatorial races.

Paul Jay

Alright, well, thanks very much, Gerald.

Gerald Horne

Thank you.

Paul Jay

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“Gerald Horne is an American historian who currently holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston.”

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5 Comments

  1. Afdal, i see where you are coming from, as regards econ disparity being the main driver of racial politics.

    But are you stating that, racism, is not just a secondary driver, but almost non-existent in todays USA? thanks

  2. I really have a difficult time taking Horne seriously after I learned that he’s willing to falsify facts to support his theory that all of history and reality is some kind of inevitable race war. WSWS has a devastating critique of his 1776 book exposing this. I don’t find Horne’s typical explanation that things happen “because this is just how people are” to provide a useful framework for understanding the world. Adolph Reed would be a good guest to have on some time to push back on Horne’s race essentialism.

    Posting this here because it’s basically impossible to have an honest uncensored conversation on Youtube comments anymore.

    1. The good old class reductionist vs race “debate” that’s been all the rage in the US for ages huh. All the data I’ve seen indicates clearly that race, in particular the animus of self described whites against black people is basically at the core of every American social issue and indicative of voting patterns. Maybe now that the fed wants to go Volker 2.0 and crash the economy into the dirt to kill the budding labor movement we will see economics become a bigger factor again. I don’t think Horne is a race essentialist at all, I think that it’s a rather objective assessment of what the social situation in the US actually is. No matter how much I try I can never over-estimate just how fundamental white animus towards blacks is to basically every damn political and social issue. Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. In my opinion, Horne is one of the few recent guests who is actually worth indeed taking seriously. To me, his views seem counter to the tone and/or direction this project has taken as of late. To me, Horne is clearly a genius and a rather eloquent speaker. Not to toot my own horn, no pun intended, but not many people in this domain say/write things I haven’t already thought of on my own or seem as profound realizations. Listening to Horne is always like drinking from a fire hose. I find him to be hugely inspirational in that way. It’s never the sort of thoughtless so called conventional wisdom so many people elevated as thought leaders promote. Horne’s words are always hugely thought provoking and insightful.

      1. A debate that’s been raging for ages? On the contrary, “class reductionism” is a buzzword invented recently by identity politics peddlers who see their position threatened by the re-emergence of class discourse. In addition to his thought-provoking critique of race essentialists like Horne, the same Adolph Reed I mentioned in the previous post also has a biting criticism of “class reductionism” nonsense:
        https://newrepublic.com/article/154996/myth-class-reductionism

        The fight for racial justice has always been about economic inequality at its base, because racism is a construct that grows from that inequality. Confront an economic system that preys upon the smallest differences among individuals to pit them against one another and you take all the power out of racism. All of the major black liberation leaders of the ’50s through the ’70s understood this.

        To me, after learning that Horne is willing to distort history to support his shoddy theory (I’ll wait on a rebuttal to this, you can read more about it here: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/03/18/horn-m18.html), he just comes across as a charlatan that interviewers suffering from White Liberal Guilt are afraid to challenge because they feel like they need to be forever reminded how bad they are. It’s extremely telling that the only interviewers that I have ever seen push back on Horne’s garbage were non-white interviewers, to which he usually treats with a combination of indignation and condescension.

        And no, you don’t need to apologize if your theory makes anyone uncomfortable, as if the fact that it bothers some people is any sort of evidence for its legitimacy.

  3. Greg Palast regularly comments in his segment on KPFA Flashpoints Election Crimes Bulletin on the many hours of tape Brad Rathens”purger” has of Trump phone calls. Please don’t give any more cheery recitations about the propaganda sound clip from GA. They are milking that to cover up their ongoing behavior as they continue to diminish voting rights and ceaseless purging and challenging of voters. You could have another segment with Greg Palast coverage of the back story of Jan 6th and who knew what when to tie into your white nationalism Christian coverage. Love you regardless, nowhere to go for more substantive analysis. By the way, tell Gerald Horne thanks for being on so many great interviews between you and Katie Halper is a mini lecture series a genuine continuing education.

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