There are frequently flyers on the window of the grocery next door, on Nostrand and Jefferson: during the beginning of the NATO bombing campaign there were homemade US Out of Libya signs, which, ok, fair enough, but the heroic photo of Qaddafi gave one pause; in the run-up to the 2008 Zimbabwean elections there were campaign posters for Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, and decrying as imperialism the US sanctions against his government.
This particular black-nationalist insistence on the unbroken heroism of the postcolonial African revolutionaries turned dictators and enemies of the West reached something of a reductio ad absurdium the other night, with the appearance of Charles Barron, activist, former Black Panther, frequent candidate for higher office (with his own Freedom Party), and current City Councilman for East New York. The Brooklyn Ink recaps his address:
“Out there, they don’t know that Qaddafi was our brother.” He dismissed claims of Qaddafi’s brutality. “People say ‘Didn’t he kill all those people?’ I say, ‘I don’t know anything. The man was a freedom fighter.” He gestured to a poster of a young Qaddafi. “Can you imagine what this man had to go through?” He urged the crowd to rise up and organize. “You might as well get bold, black, and bad, and take care of business.” He asked them to chant “Long live Muammar Qaddafi,” four times, and exulted, “Long live African freedom,” before walking off the stage to rapturous applause.
With all due respect to Councilman Barron, “I don’t know anything” about the nationally televised executions and massacres of political prisoners is not a particularly compelling defense, though it is an illuminating one, in its way.