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Sunday, July 21, 2024


Dear Source,
I read the letter in your Open Forum by Ms. Janet Trapani (See preceding letter, "Sekou on terrorism drifted into same old blame.") I appreciate her interest in my views on U.S. foreign policy. At minimum, Ms. Trapani considers my views well written and important — otherwise, she would not have written her comments. Clearly, she disagrees with me, and in any democratic society, everyone has the right to his/her opinion. However, everyone including Ms. Trapani does not have a right to his/her "facts."
I made no "allusions" in the article. Obviously, Ms. Trapani is deficient in her reading comprehension skills. Everything is written clearly for you to read, agree or disagree. The "facts" are out there. The literature on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and Central Asia is very extensive. Except for the neo-conservative elements of the U.S. political system, just about everyone knows that Sept. 11, 2001, is tied to U.S. foreign policy in the above-noted areas. No one questions that except the extremely uninformed.
Curiously, I noticed Ms. Trapani compared me to Julian Bond. Is this the Julian Bond of the NAACP? Somehow, indirectly, she tied me to Louis Farrakhan. Is this the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam? I am flattered by the comparisons. With these ridiculous innuendos, I question if Ms. Trapani ever lived in the Virgin Islands. Everyone in the Virgin Islands knows my political views on just about every topic.
I have only a well-earned and verifiable Ph.D. in political science. My views are not necessarily correct, but they are well grounded in literature that exists and the collective experiences of Africans/African-Americans and African-Caribbean people. I do not hide my political orientation, and I am very proud of my African heritage. I respect Ms. Trapani's Puerto Rican heritage and the rich culture of every human on this planet. But I demand respect for my heritage at the same time. Is this communism? Anti-Americanism? Anti-white sentiment? How does my love for my heritage translate to anti-anything? Something is grossly wrong with Ms. Trapani's understanding of humanity.
I must add that the Virgin Islands people nourished me when I was in my hour of need. The people sent me to school from first grade to the Ph.D. Today, they demand that I remain an honest, intelligible voice, not one who cowers before bigots. You insult the people of the Virgin Islands when you incredibly link me to domestic U.S. personalities, and then describe one of them, Mr. Bond, as a demagogue and a divisive figure.
I challenge Ms. Trapani, or anyone for that matter, to find one divisive comment, incendiary rhetoric, or racist statement I have made in my lifetime.
For the record, I must inform Ms. Trapani and readers of the Source of my expertise. I earned a Ph.D. in political science; I did not get it due to affirmative action or any preferential treatment based on "race." Except for my veteran status, which also was honorably earned, I have received no special treatment for my schooling in the territory or on the mainland.
I must tell you some facts. Every political science and international relations student who sought a Ph.D. at an accredited U.S. university during the 1980s-1990s had to study communism, fascism and democracy. If you attended a middle- to an upper-tier university, you rapidly had to read, comprehend and analyze the closing chapter of the Cold War, roughly 1979-1989.
I began graduate school at the University of Delaware in the fall 1989 semester. Students in political science and international relations literally observed the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Most of our texts were obsolete due to the rapid changes of the period. In fact, there was a rush toward examining "totalitarian regime transition" in 1989-1992. All students had to read the literature on the transition to "democratic stabilization."
One subject was hot: What led to the Soviet implosion? The answers varied, but everyone agreed that the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan in 1979-1988 led to its collapse. Ms. Trapani does not have to believe me. I recommend that she read the seminal works of Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. Two good Brzezinski texts are "Power and Principle" and "The Grand Chessboard." It was well known that the U.S. government supported Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan to dislodge the Soviet-leftist Afghan Alliance. Everyone who wanted to earn a Ph.D. in political science and international relations had to learn this historic fact. It was openly stated, written, and boasted. Afghanistan was the Soviet Vietnam. This is a fact!
The U.S. supported Islamic fundamentalists in Central Asia as a strategy to undermine Communists in the Soviet Union. This strategy worked, and now there is no Soviet Union, only Islamic fundamentalists. How is this examination of concrete reality showing "sympathy" with anyone?
Ms. Trapani's comments are convoluted because she threw an anti-leftist innuendo by classifying Congresswoman Barbara Lee as an "avowed Communist." What does that have to do with the price of cheese in China? Congresswoman Lee's vote against a rush to war is heroic and principled. She only wanted the facts first. Isn't this the role of congressmen/women? Don't they ask the tough questions and demand restraint based on principles? History will absolve her.
Ms. Trapani asked if I "support this type of thinking?" Actually, I support thinking in the first place and not a knee-jerk reaction to tragedy. I was annoyed by the loaded terms that can only be considered the right-wing garbage of the last years of the Cold War.
Obviously, she does not read much about the Caribbean. The comment about a "puppet regime in Grenada" is absurd. I can only hope she is referring to the New Jewel Movement (1979-1983). This so-called puppet regime was removed 20 years ago, and I do not know how anyone can logically link the present decision for restraint against suspects in Afghanistan in 2001 to a collapsed leftist regime in Grenada in 1983. What kind of thinking is this?
I recommend that Ms. Trapani avoid drifting when she reads. There is no "blame" diatribe in the Op-ed piece. I read, write and speak English quite well. Within this territory, I am among the handful who is well trained in U.S. foreign policy. I write from my perspective, but I respect concrete facts. It is disturbing when another islander, someone who claims to be "raised very much a Virgin Islander," writes a letter that is laden with lies, innuendos and nonsense. This islander took one year to engage in dialogue, and she picked an election period. This is suspicious.
Our elders say, in Creole, "When you dig a pit, dig two, one for me, and one for you." I welcome frank debate, discussion and dialogue, but please get your facts straight. Otherwise, dig two pits — I will walk out of mine. I am not sure about you.
Malik Sekou
St. Thomas

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