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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays

Commentaries by the award-winning journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal
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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays
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Now displaying: September, 2007
Sep 29, 2007
[col. writ. 9/29/07] (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal Until several weeks ago, the name 'Jena' was doubtless unfamiliar to millions of people in the U.S., until the demonstrations around the case of the Jena 6 brought attention to the small Louisiana town. But, before the case occurred, the name became known to hundreds (if not thousands) of young Blacks, who came to know, quite intimately, that Jena was just another word for racism, rape, violence, and humiliation. After the ravages of Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and its surrounding areas, hundreds of imprisoned people were transported to the Jena Juvenile Justice Center, in Jena, Louisiana, a place that became their nightmare. The place was so medieval and tortuous in its treatment of young people, that it was severely criticized by a federal judge as a place where people were "treated as if they walked on all fours," before it was closed. According to published reports put out by the groups Human Rights Watch and the NAACP-Legal Defense Fund, people arriving at JJJC were beaten, brutalized, harassed, and subjected to racist taunts by staff members there. This was after it was reopened in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. They were denied things allegedly required by the Constitution, like grievance forms, calls to family, or pen and paper. They were treated like they were al-Qaeda, and this was Guantanamo -- this, in the country, and in many cases, the state of their births. The Human Rights Watch and NAACP-LDF have tried to interest state officials in a meaningful investigation, but this has led to little more than lip service. Although federal officials have reportedly announced their intention to investigate, it is equally doubtful that any real, serious investigation will emerge. As for the media (except for some segments of the Black press), Jena was little more than a 1 day, or at best, a 3-day story. Their coverage, such as it was, was little more than a platform to allow local Jenites to exclaim how they weren't racists, and that nooses are just 'pranks' used by youngins' to have a little fun. As ever, there has been little attempt to look backwards into recent history, and now that the last Jena 6 accused is out on bail, little looking to the future as well. How is it possible in the U.S. today, for people wearing KKK robes to always intone, "I'm not a racist?" When viewing or listening to locals there, it was almost impossible to not hear the echoes of 50 years ago, when civil rights actions began to stir the South, that 'the problem' was, once again, "outside agitators", like the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They were the problem, not 'our darkeys.' Only with the not-too-subtle death threats from Klan-related groups have we seen that the nooses from the so-called 'white tree', which sparked much of the Jena phenomenon, was far more than boys being boys. The Jena case didn't start with 6 young schoolboys. It won't end with them. The case stems from something deep and abiding in the American heart and soul. And it lives in every state of the union -not just in Louisiana. This shouldn't be the end of the movement; but the spark for more. --(c) '07 maj {Source: "First youth, then hurricane evacuees were tortured by Jena prison guards," San Francisco Bay View, Sept. 19, 2007, pp. 1,5,7,9. For more info: naacpldf.org or hrw.org
Sep 9, 2007
The 9-11 Moment [col. writ. 9/9/07] (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal It is true that 9-11 changed everything, but not quite the way that the Bush Regime intended. It changed how many in the world perceived the U.S., for sure, but the U.S. response to 9-11 has done more to change such perceptions. As the ashes began to cool from the embers of what was once the World Trade Center, allies and enemies alike expressed solidarity with the U.S., and shed tears of sympathy. What a difference six years makes. What was once solidarity has cooled to bitter toleration, and barely disguised anger. Remember the so-called "Coalition of the Willing?" It has dwindled in number and fervor. Politicians know enough to talk the talk, but precious few are willing to walk that walk. Even America's staunchest ally - England - has marched its troops out of the southern Iraqi city of Basra, under cover of darkness. In many of the countries where leaders signed up to join the U.S. crusade, their people have voted them out of office, and sent some leaders into political retirement. Such are the wages of democracy. At home, the war has deepened divisions not seen since the ravages of the Vietnam War. And the President? Not only are his numbers in the basement, but he's pulling his party into the cellar with him. His latest ploy, to buy time by pointing to the Gen. (David) Petraeus report, neatly juxtaposes the power relations between civilians and military. Civilian leaders, in a democracy, aren't supposed to do what military leaders says; the military is supposed to obey their civilian political leaders. But, since 9-11, the nation has fled so far, so fast, from any real semblance of democracy, that listening to the most profoundly undemocratic institution in the American republic seems almost normal. If the Bush regime has changed anything, it has changed this. A war begun in bad faith, cannot end well. From the day George W. Bush announced his "shock and awe" bombing runs over Baghdad, we have seen nothing but a long train of disasters. The Gen. Petraeus report may do quite a few things, but it won't change that. --(c) '07 maj
Sep 9, 2007
The Best? Federer [col. writ. 9/9/07] (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal Folks know that I'm a tennis fan, as evinced by my pieces on the magnificent Williams sisters, who have singularly transformed the game. But, in men's tennis, there's one name that equates to the best in the game: Swiss player Roger Federer. He played an outstanding game against 20-year old Serbian phenom, Novak Djokovic. Djokovic stunned the tennis world recently when he beat three of the top players of the game; Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer, just weeks before the U.S. Open. Federer would best the young Serb in straight sets, and by so doing, set a standard not seen since Big Bill Tilden won consecutive titles in the U.S. championships, back in the 1920's. In the first 2 sets, Federer actually came from behind to win. In the second set, Djokovic led him by 4 games to 1; only to see Federer utilize his serve to inch his way back by tying him and then dominating in the second tie break. Truly, Roger Federer is a Master of this game. With moves described as ballet-like, 11 aces, and a brutal return game, Federer outclassed a game young opponent by scores of 7-8, 7-6, and 6-4. In the world of sport, this 12-time grand slam champion is in a class of one. --(c) '07 maj
Sep 8, 2007
Massacre?' -- 'What Massacre?' -- Haditha [col. writ. 9/6/07] (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal The calendar has shed weeks and many months since the name, Haditha, stirred so many people in Iraq, the US, and around the world. Within days of its announcement came the horror of recognition; it reminded us all of the carnage of Vietnam's My Lai massacre, where women, babies, dogs and chickens shared the sleep of death in a tropical ditch. It differed from Vietnam only in its scope, and number, but, in every sense of which the word 'massacre' may be used, this was it. For here, in the Iraqi city of Haditha, women, children, old men and young, were swept away from life, by the automatic weapons fire of American guns, held in American hands; an apparent retaliation for an IED blast which killed an American soldier several hours earlier. Here, US soldiers entered Iraqi homes on free fire, unloading on anything moving, or not moving quickly enough. Well, the US military justice system has finished its work, and -- voila! -- except for a few letters of censure (the military form of reprimand) no one has been punished for the Haditha Massacre. Indeed, one might ask, albeit facetiously, 'What massacre?' For it seems that no US military rules of engagement were violated, and if US military judges are to be believed, no war crimes occurred. Of the dead Iraqi women and children? They were not victims of American killers in uniform; they were victims of the nebulous 'fog of war.' In war, stuff happens. Let's move on. One military prosecutor said he declined to punish the soldiers further because to do so would "harm unit morale." That's US justice, for all the world to see - the 'law' of the Occupier. If ever we engaged in the illusion that the puppets in government in Iraq were little more than U.S. stringed mannequins, their silence on Haditha is evidence enough. Dozens of Iraqi civilians were slain in their homes, under their beds, while holding their babies, unarmed, and the US Imperial Government issues its final ruling. 'No harm, no foul.' We are looking at something that will mark the world for a generation; it is the poisoning of Imperialism, which warps the mind and stains the soul with the semblance of superiority. 'Massacre?' 'What massacre?' Only some Arabs were killed. To the Empire, they don't count. (c) '07 maj
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