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News :: Human Rights
New Radio-essays by Mumia Abu-Jamal
by Mumia Abu-Jamal
Email: icffmaj (nospam) aol.com
05 Jan 2007
Here are several new radio essays by black death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, including this first one about the new US Congress. Abu-Jamal's case it at a critical juncture with oral arguments expected any month. After these, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether or not to grant Mumia a new trial.
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Here are several new radio essays by black death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, including this first one about the new US Congress. Abu-Jamal's case it at a critical juncture with oral arguments expected any month. After these, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether or not to grant Mumia a new trial. For background on the current situation, check out a recent Global IMC feature article:
And also a recent series on Abu-Jamal by Philadelphia photo-journalist Hans Bennett (with links to numerous other new articles):
To listen to Mumia's radio-essays, link to Prison Radio at:
For other information about Mumia's case, link to:
www.mumia.org or www.freemumia.com
OTHER PEOPLE'S CONGRESS
[Col. Writ. 12/14/06] Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
It actually may be too early to tell, but are you getting the vibe that Congress is going to betray you -- again?
The Congress -- both the House and the Senate -- are seen as honest and trustworthy by an astonishingly low 14-and-16%, respectively, by most Americans according to a recent poll. The converse of this, of course, is that 84-86% of most Americans don't trust their Congress.
A term like that just ended at least partially explains that gap; for Congress routinely sells its collective soul to the lobbyists and corporate powers-that-be.
Only these wealthy forces could explain the actions and inactions of Congress in its most recent term; complete servility to the military-industrial-complex; the bankruptcy bill; their unbridled hostility to a minimum wage -- you name it.
If you could afford their services -- cool; if you were a regular Joe (or Joanna), working-class, or -- heavens forfend! -- poor -- forget it.
The Congress, in violation of the Constitution, ceded its power to the President, and the executive has made a complete mess of every power it was granted.
The mid-term elections, thought by many to have been a partial remedy of this disaster, was predicated upon the wide public will to get out of Iraq.
The new congress was not yet in their seats, and already there are whispers in the air of sending *more* troops to Iraq!
The march towards betrayal of the public will may have already begun.
As journalist Richard Swift explained in his book, *The No-Nonsense Guide to Democracy* (Toronto, Ontario: New Internationalist Publ, Ltd./Between the Lines, 2002), today's political parties strive to actually be less and less *representative*:
"Such parties run the ideological spectrum from Right to Left (although here differences between them are certainly narrowing). ... Such parties have loose ideological commitments and use a vaguely populist rhetoric (often of the Left) while campaigning. They typically contain a number of powerful factions and interest groups each of which stakes a claim on policy and economic awards once the party is in power ...
"Under most present circumstances these 'representatives' are only answerable to us in a very general sense. Once they have been elected any number of factors may weigh more heavily for them than the wishes of their constituents; their own views, Party discipline, personal ambition *or the influence of powerful lobbies*. Voters by-and-large do not get to hold them accountable until the next general election. In the meantime they form a virtual dictatorship -- particularly if they are part of a majority government." [pp. 102-3]
For millions of people, especially those who voted for Democrats, there is the expectation that this new class (or new majority) would headline an Iraq withdrawal.
Now, it looks less so.
As the new congressional majority forms, lobbyists are bellying up to the bar to make new and lucrative deals -- and with money comes influence.
Americans may learn that, in politics, faces may change, and parties may swap -- but the same game goes on.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
CHAVEZ RISES -- PINOCHET SUCCUMBS
[Col. Writ. 12/10/06] Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
With news of the passing of the aged former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, signals the end of an era in Latin America. The brutal dictatorship in Chile, marked by the rise of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and the fall of President Salvador Allende, came on another Sept. 11th, 1973. For on that date, the coup against Allende struck, by the rabid betrayal of the military, led by a man appointed by Allende his minister of defense -- Pinochet.
Upon the tragic fall of Allende, Pinochet plunged Chile into an ocean of blood. Tens of thousands of Chilean activists, trade unionists, teachers, peasants, were tortured, incarcerated, or killed. Over 200,000 people fled the country in terror.
All during his reign of blood (for decades!), he enjoyed the financial and political support of the U.S., and others in the West.
Just days ago, we've seen the reelection of Hugo Chavez, the former Army officer who attempted a coup against the corrupt, and venal Venezuelan government. His coup failed, and he was imprisoned. But among the Venezuelan masses, they admired his courage, and longed for a change from the crushing poverty to which they had become accustomed. The recent landslide win of Chavez marks a national referendum on his recent remarks before the United Nations. While the U.S. media railed against his words (where he hilariously told the UN General Assembly about the odor of sulfur that remained at the rostrum after the appearance of US President George W. Bush) the election returns show that a wide majority of Venezuelans found no fault with his remarks. The popularity of Chavez and what he calls the Bolivarian Revolution, shows a new phase in Latin American politics. It shows the rise of political forces that openly embrace the needs and interests of the poor. The passing of Pinochet, and the tactics of state terror (on behalf of the wealthy, landed classes) seems to be on the wane in a region that was once rife with such examples.
A new book by leftist writer and editor, Tariq Ali, illustrates the social forces that brought Chavez into power, and also the reasons why he's been returned to the Miraflores (or presidential palace). Ali's newest work, *Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope* (New York: Verso, 2006) is a brilliant bit of current history and Latin America studies, written by a man who has a keen eye for turning points in a nation's life.
On the day of the US-backed coup against Chavez (April 11, 2002), Ali describes a delicious discussion between soldiers outside the palace:
"So when, exactly a year before it invaded Iraq, the United States green-lighted the coup in Venezuela, the oligarchs were openly thrilled. A former President of the Chamber of Commerce, dilapidated even by Venezuelan standards, was dressed up as a presidential stooge. A few tame Generals then ordered the arrest of Hugo Chavez and he was taken to a military base. So far, so bad. As the news spread, anger grew in the barrios that surround Caracas and the poor decided to march to the presidential palace, the Miraflores. Simultaneously another, equally significant event was taking place in the palace. With the Western media ready and waiting to introduce the bent president to the world as the saviour of Venezuelan democracy (the New York Times had defended the coup as enhancing democracy) a general came out of the palace and spoke to the military band. He informed them that a new president was about to emerge, and that they should play the national anthem as per usual. The soldiers questioned his orders. Angered by the disobedience, the General turned to the young bugler, an eighteen-year-old soldier, and instructed him to blow the bugle when he saw the new president. 'Excuse me, General, but which president do you speak of? We know of only one. Hugo Chavez.' A furious General told the bugler to obey orders. At this point the bugler handed his instrument to the General and said: "You seem to be very keen on playing the bugle. Here it is. You play it.'" [p. 10]
Now, that's democracy!
The combination of those two social forces, the rank-and-file military, and the poor (who were on the march) led to the fall of the US-backed coup, and still supports the Bolivarian Revolution.
There is a fresh wind blowing from the South.
It smells like revolution.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
[Sources: Nieto, Clara, *Masters of War: Latin America and U.S. Aggression (From the Cuban Revolution Through the Clinton Years)*, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003); and Ali's *Pirates of the Caribbean* (Verso: 2006).]
THE URGE TO SURGE
[Col. Writ. 12/24/06] Copyright '06 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Within days the Bush regime is expected to announce its so-called "new strategy" in Iraq -- the most talked-about plan being a surge in U.S. forces in Iraq.
By 'surge' is meant the significant increase in troop size in that beleaguered country, a plan meant to address the obvious failures in Iraq.
In light of the rumored 'surge', one wonders, what does it take for the administration to listen to the voices of the People?
In February and March, 2003, the U.S. and much of the world spoke, with millions marching in the streets of cities the globe over, against the scourge of war.
The Bush regime ignored them. No -- "ignored" isn't right. President Bush belittled the protests as 'a focus group.' As journalism professor Robert Jensen notes in his book, *The Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity* (San Francisco: City Lights Publ., 2004) Bush's response to the "single largest public political demonstration in history", was unbelievable:
"When asked a few days later about the size of the protest, he said: 'First of all, you know, size of protest, it's like deciding, well, I'm going to decide policy based on a focus group. The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security -- in this case, the security of the people.'
"A focus group? Perhaps the leader of the free world was not aware that a focus group is a small number of people who are brought together (and typically paid) to evaluate a concept or product. Focus groups are primarily a tool of businesses, which use them to figure out how to sell things more effectively. Politicians also occasionally use them, for the same purpose. That's a bit different from a coordinated gathering of millions of people who took to the streets because they felt passionately about an issue of life and death. As is so often the case, Bush's comment demonstrated his ignorance and condescension, the narrowness of his intellect and his lack of respect for the people he allegedly serves." [pp. xi-xii]
Decades ago, during the height of the Vietnam War, presidents and their military advisors extended the hostilities long after it was abundantly clear that the conflict could not be won.
President Lyndon B. Johnson escalated it, but could not bring himself to rein it in, for fear that history would judge him one who 'lost' Vietnam.
His successor, Richard M. Nixon further escalated the conflict, by ordering bombing of neighboring countries. Some historians now say that the escalation and continuation of the Vietnam war cost some 20,000 Americans lives; the numbers of Vietnamese, and other southeast Asians are unknown to us.
The point is, the war and its needless carnage was extended for years, at a horrific cost: to save U.S. face.
It seems that this not-so-distant history is repeating itself.
In a few weeks, we shall hear what "the Decider" has decided. You can bet that it will conflict with the will of most Americans. What kind of democracy is this?
Demonstrations don't matter. Elections don't matter. Study groups don't matter.
No matter what most Americans think -- it doesn't matter.
Nothing matters -- but what the decider decides.
There's a word for that -- and it sure ain't democracy!
Americans have seemingly settled for a dictatorship of one -- in fact, a dictatorship of disaster.
Like good little sheep, they plan to silently acquiesce as more of their young people are slain on an altar slick with oil.
This isn't patriotism. It's the very essence of subservience.
There's another word for it.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
WHEN WAR CRIMES AIN'T CRIMES
[Col. Writ. 12/16/06] Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
In the last few years, we've all seen nothing but mass violations of virtually every international human rights treaty.
Torture, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, violence against civilians, orders to ignore the Geneva Conventions .... The list goes on and on.
How has the American government dealt with this state of affairs?
It has virtually ignored it.
There have been a handful of military prosecutions against relatively low level people, but there is a steel ceiling, above which the prosecutors dare not go.
That's because the violations of international law go to the highest levels of the U.S. government.
Writer Lila Rajiva argues, in her remarkable *The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media* (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2005), that the tortures at Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad shows something deep and ugly in the American state:
"The Prometheans of today acknowledge no limits except of their own imagining, and at least for now the world that they find themselves in allows them the self-indulgence of that imagining. With such absolute power comes absolute corruption, only not the corruption that the law easily unmasks, the simple corruption of bribery and chicanery. The occupation of Iraq displays ample evidence of that as well, but the deeper corruption that rote the institutions of America today is one legitimated by law, whose presence is revealed not in the courthouse but in the solitary recesses of prison cells hidden from the light. Torture is the insignia of this corrupt power. Torture is the deadly proof of the metastasizing cancer of American empire." [p. 186]
Rajiva tells us many of the stories from Iraq that have been largely whitewashed from the safe coverage that the corporate media airs. She tells us the many cases where Iraqi women were raped by Americans, and subjected to public humiliations.
Perhaps if more Americans read, saw or heard such accounts, they would not be mystified by the steady growing of the insurgency in Iraq, which is surely fueled, in part, by how Americans treated Iraqi men and women in prisons there.
The corporate US media has done more to misinform its public than to inform them. They keep Americans in the dark, while people all around the world know more about America than Americans.
In this context, we can continue the illusion that the US is 'doing good' in this new kind of colonialism of Arab lands. It is this mass disinformation campaign that allows political figures to float the mad idea of more troops in Iraq.
The somewhat tame Iraq Study Group report has come and gone, with supporters of the military-industrial-complex working their media assets to insure that their defense contractors keep getting paid.
Discussions over Geneva Conventions might as well be about treaties with space aliens, as arcane as they are to most of us. But the Geneva Conventions aren't rocket science. There are 4 of them. The first governs wounded and sick soldiers; the second relates to the treatment of war prisoners captured at sea; the third deals with treatment of prisoners of war; and the fourth governs how citizens should be treated in times of war. Under the articles of these conventions, people had express rights to fair, humane treatment, family visitation, and the right to be processed by "competent tribunal"[s]. As the flicks from Abu Ghraib showed, in living color, folks were treated like dogs. Geneva, though, to be 'quaint', didn't apply.
When it comes to the Empire, there is no higher law.
The Emperor has spoken: that is all that is needed to launch wars, torture, terrorize, bomb, imprison, kill, obliterate.
That kind of logic can only lead to more disaster.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
[Source: Rajiva, L., *The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media* (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2005).]
NO SAFE AGE
[Col. Writ. 12/3/06] Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
It's boy's night out, and a group of brothers are having a bachelor's party at a neighborhood club. One of them is particularly thrilled, because his marriage to the woman he loves is just hours away.
But he will never marry, because a pack of wild, undercover cops will execute him, and unleash a deadly rain of 50 bullets on he and his friends.
The crime? Cruising While Black ... Sean Bell, unarmed, was 23.
And the corporate media merely explains it may've been a case of "contagious" shooting -- one cop fires, two cops fire, three cops ... get the picture?
It's a kind of social illness, like alcoholism.
But neither Sean Bell, Trent Benefield, nor Joseph Guzman were armed. According to some reports, one of them *said* he was armed.
Like the madmen who launched a preemptive war on the unsubstantiated suspicion of weapons of mass destruction, undercover cops launched an urban preemptive war on unarmed young Black men, reportedly based on unsubstantiated suspicions. *50 shots*. Death, and serious injury.
No cellphones; no wallets; no threatening candy bars -- for such trifles are no longer deemed necessary.
In America, blackness is sufficient.
Even maleness isn't required, as shown by the recent shooting of an elderly woman who allegedly allowed a drug dealer to use her home. Katherine Johnston, having lived almost 9 decades, was shot to death while trying to defend her Atlanta home after it was attacked by undercover cops.
According to a neighborhood snitch, he never claimed her house was a drug site, despite police pressure to do so.
No significant quantities of drugs were found at the home.
What was *her* crime? Trying-to-survive-to-90-while-Black?
What's more dangerous -- drugs, or armed undercover cops kicking in doors allegedly on drug raids?
Police suspicion, it seems, is a weapon of urban war. Several years ago, writer Kristian Williams noted a case where a whole community was held under siege, because of police suspicion. In his remarkable 2003 book, *Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America* (Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press), Williams recounted an amazing story:
"The racial politics of police suspicion are well illustrated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation's 'Operation Ready-Rock.' In November 1990, forty-five state cops, including canine units and the paramilitary Special Response Team, lay siege to the 100 block of Graham Street, in a black neighborhood of Chapel Hill. Searching for crack cocaine, the cops sealed off the streets, patrolled with dogs, and ransacked a neighborhood pool hall. In terms of crime control, the mission was a flop. Although nearly 100 people were detained and searched, only 13 were arrested, and one of them convicted. Nevertheless, and despite a successful class action lawsuit, the cops defended their performance and no officers were disciplined.
"When applying for a warrant to search every person and vehicle on the block, the police had assured the judge, 'there are no 'innocent' people at this place ... Only drug sellers and drug buyers are on the described premises.' But once the clamp-down was underway, they became more discriminating: Blacks were detained and searched, sometimes at gunpoint, while whites were permitted to leave the cordoned area." [p. 121]
How many of the armed maniacs who shot Johnston, Bell, Guzman or Benefield will ever see the inside of a cell? How many will reach the confines of Death Row?
We *know* the answer -- because we've seen this movie before ... Paid leave (which amounts to paid vacations), a whitewash of an investigation, and a 'they-were-doing-their-jobs' is all that ever happens.
It's a damned shame.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
[Mr. Jamal's recent book features a chapter on the
remarkable women who helped build and defend
the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal
MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY
AS POSSIBLE TO INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND
HELP CALL ATTENTION TO HIS CASE.
The campaign to kill Mumia is in full swing and we need you to
**please** contact as many publications and information outlets as
you possibly can to run Mumia's commentaries (on-line and
**especially off-line**)!! The only requirements are that you run
them *unedited*, with every word including copyright information
intact, and send a copy of the publication to Mumia and/or ICFFMAJ.
Keep updated by reading ACTION ALERTS!!
at http://www.mumia.org, http://www.onamove.com/ and their links.
To download Mp3's of Mumia's commentaries visit
http://www.prisonradio.org or http://www.fsrn.org
The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - icffmaj (at) aol.com
AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!
Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370
WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!
Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa
Subscribe: mumiacolumns-subscribe (at) topica.com
Subscribe ICFFMAJ email updates list by e-mailing
icffmaj (at) aol.com!
10 Things you Can Do to Help Free Mumia
1. Get involved. Join an army of activists. Call International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, P.O. Box 19709, Philadelphia, PA 19143, (Tel (215) 476-8812. Donate funds above. For a tax-deductible gift send a check to MAJ/Organizing c/o NBUF 40 Clinton St. Newark, NJ O7102. www.Mumia.org.
2. Contact Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Director Jeffrey A. Beard and ask that inhumane conditions, isolation, and torture of death-row inmates
be immediately addressed. (717) 975-4918 PA Dept of Corrections, 2520 Lisburn Road P.O. Box 598 Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
3. Call, write or fax Ed Rendell, Governor, to demand a new trial for Mumia: 225 Main Capitol Building Harrisburg, PA 17120, 717-787-2500 ph 717-783-1198 fax.
4. Organize a speaking engagement in your town or at a college with
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s lead attorney Robert R. Bryan (Bryanlawsf (at) aol.com), and Pam Africa of ICFFMAJ 215-476-8812.
5. Call your local community radio station and ask them to play Mumia's insightful commentaries, hear the commentaries at www.prisonradio.org. Help Mumia’s voice soar! Donate to Prison Radio. Mumia’s weekly radio essays reach over 100 radio stations worldwide. Every gift appreciated, a gift of $300 helps us reach new stations. PO Box 411074, SF, CA 94141. 415-648-4505.
6. Contribute to Mumia Abu-Jamal's Legal Defense Fund. Write a check to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation/Mumia. Make sure to write Mumia on the memo line,
and mail to: Friends of MAJ, 130 Morningside Drive, Suite 6C, NY, NY 10027.
7. Write to Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesburg, PA 15370.
8. Call 1-800-VISIT-PA to say you will only vacation in Pennsylvania when Mumia is granted a new trial, a moratorium on executions is enacted, and the MOVE
9 are free.
9. Buy his new book “We Want Freedom” (www.southendpress.org). Ask your
local bookstore to carry Mumia’s books.
10. Join your local Mumia organizing group, or start a new one. For more
information about the death penalty and the pennsylvania prison system contact www.prisonsociety.org
This work is in the public domain