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Former Black Panther leader harshly criticizes Bush, war

At a speech Thursday night, Elaine Brown, the first woman to lead the Black Panther Party, questioned the validity of the war on terrorism, and suggested that the United States would be better served by addressing what she saw as internal inequities and an oppressive imperial system.

Brown spoke to an enthusiastic audience of over 200 people in Page Auditorium Thursday night.

"Exactly what happened, and whose war is this, anyway?" Brown demanded. "I'm telling you, as a black person, this is not my war....Yesterday, you didn't even want to have a dialogue; now you want me off waving a flag?"

She offered a scathing indictment of what she called "the Bush s---," especially the allocation of $40 billion for defense and $15 billion to bail out airlines after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Instead, Brown suggested that more money be spent on education. She said the importance of teachers in our society is second only to doctors and they should be paid accordingly. Brown said increased spending is a far better solution than school vouchers, which she dismissed as "a bizarre, stupid program."

Brown spoke briefly about the formation and the goals of the Black Panther Party, which she said was targeted by the FBI as a domestic terrorist organization. She compared those spy tactics to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in late October.

She also sharply criticized a number of well-known Americans from Bush to Oprah Winfrey, whom she called "America's Mammy."

Brown, however, reserved her harshest words for politicians. She called Bush "stupid" and a "cokehead," and claimed "Laura Bush killed her ex-fiance," a comment that she did not elaborate on further.

Nor did Brown spare black leaders her wrath. She said Secretary of State Colin Powell was unqualified and dangerous, and had an equally harsh opinion of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

"Condoleezza Rice? Oh, she's really crazy," Brown said.

When asked by a student about the prevalence of fascism in the United States, she responded unequivocally. "I think global fascism is in place," she said. "The interests of this government are solely those of the big corporations. I don't know any other definition of fascism."

The audience responded to Brown's biting opinions about such a wide range of social and political topics with two standing ovations, at the beginning and the end of her speech. The audience also frequently interrupted her with applause and laughter.

Brown, who lives in Atlanta, has been a social and political activist for decades. She has written two books, including one that is in development as a series for HBO. She also serves on the boards of the Huey P. Newton Foundation and Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice.

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