Cross-posted by Gary Fouse
Amir Abdel Malik Ali at UCI, 12-1-09
Today, as a follow-up to last week's demonstrations on UC campuses over tuition hikes, the Muslim Student Union brought in their favorite speaker, that noted economics expert, radical Oakland-based Amir Abdel Malik Ali. Actually, he couldn't be any worse than our Secretary of the Treasury, Tim "Turbo Tax" Geithner or the President's closest economic advisor Larry "where's the 1.8 billion?" Summers. Anyway, as a result, I had the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with Ali as we debated a point in his speech that had nothing to do with economics. It was about drugs.
Ali spoke for almost an hour. As I have noted before, he is an excellent speaker, full of fire and passion, but he lacks a lesson plan. He speaks without notes and has very little organization. Today was a prime example as he started off on the economic situation in America and wandered off into a multitude of areas. If there was a basic theme, it was that the "corrupt rich" have destroyed the economy, and that the students and other groups need to get active. We heard about a lot of problems today, but the only "solution" that I heard was that the students and other groups should "shut it down". Shut what down? Well, I guess he meant the establishment, possibly the university, I don't really know. It was a typical anti-establishment speech. (Israel was not discussed and Islam only briefly.)
Not knowing what Malik was going to say, I had a couple of questions in mind. Had he mentioned Ft Hood, I might have asked him to speak more on that subject. At one point, he invoked the name of H. Rap Brown-as he has done before-without mentioning that Brown is serving life in prison for the murder of a police officer. I was going to point that out, but I had done that on a previous occasion.
But it was when he began talking about the old canard that the government (and CIA) had sent drugs into the inner city to get people hooked that I had my topic. (Being a retired DEA agent, I took that personally.) When the speech finished, it was 1 pm, and the mikes had to be turned off as the MSU's allotted time at the flagpoles had expired. So I went over to Ali directly as I had once before. As expected his followers formed around us to listen in. Ali, as always, was low key and polite.
We're in the middle somewhere.
I directed his attention to his comments about the government bringing drugs into the inner city. I asked what he thought about DEA, at which point, he began that "DEA is a corrupt organization....". At this point, I cut in and told him that I was a retired DEA agent with 25 years of service. I also explained to him that DEA was not a corrupt organization with the exception of a few bad apples. I also explained that I had worked in various inner cities during my career trying to rid those communities of drugs. I told him that the story of the government deliberately bringing drugs into the inner city was a canard that was being told by Maxine Waters and "other yahoos", and that it was "BS". I also reminded him of the danger that DEA agents faced in trying to rid ALL communities of drugs. That was my message.
Ali and your humble blogger
Ali responded to my saying that 99.9% of DEA agents were honest by referring to me as the 1% of agents who were honest. He recommended a book to me, whose name I don't recall, written by someone who told of collaborating with government officials in drug trafficking. Ali maintained his central position that our problems are mostly due to the "corrupt rich" and the government/establishment. (He corrected me when I asked him why he was so against rich people by reminding me that he said, "corrupt rich".)
At one point, the topic came back to the issue of the crack cocaine epidemic in past years, which Ali had blamed on the government/CIA. When I remarked that it was blacks rather than whites who actually produced crack (from powder cocaine), some in the audience laughed derisively, apparently taking it as some sort of a racist statement. (Ali didn't take it that way because he knows it's true.) A few moments later, he started talking about "white bankers", "white entrepreneurs" (or something like that), and I called him on that use of "white". Of course, the students didn't find anything wrong with that and made no reaction.
I don't want to leave the impression that I somehow had the upper hand over Ali. That would not be fair or accurate. He gives as good as he takes and debates in a calm and civilized manner. When he talks of government corruption, he has a point though I believe that our concepts of corruption in government are for different reasons. To me, I think Ali's biggest weakness is that he holds such negative ideas about the basic foundations of America (my opinion). He also seems to buy into a lot of conspiracy theories. Ali and I have gone head to head about 5 times now. This time, it was good to argue about something other than that depressing issue in the Middle East.