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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 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
Sep 1, 2007
For Kenneth Foster: No More Death Row [col. writ. 9/1/07] (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal To the state of Texas that sought to extinguish his life, his name is Kenneth Foster; to many of his friends and supporters, his name is Haramia KiNasser, an eloquent and outspoken activist. By whatever name that he may be known, he is now a past denizen of Texas Death Row, for, by a governor's order of commutation, he is on Death Row no more. That he was ever on Death Row at all is due more to a quirk of Texas law, than anything else. For the judge, the defense and the DA agree that Foster hurt no one; he shot no one; he killed no one; nor did he rob anyone. He was a driver in a car full of guys, just rolling around one night, when, all of a sudden, one of them (unbeknownst to Kenneth) steps out, robs a guy, shoots him and kills him. In Texas, under what's called the Law of Parties, Foster's presence near a crime was enough; even though he didn't commit a crime, didn't participate in it, nor profited from it, he was convicted, and sent to Death Row. If that were not enough, when he still had less than a month to live the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) banned the man from receiving or reading a book on sports! The book, titled What's My Name Fool?: Sports and Resistance in the U.S., penned by sportswriter, Dave Zirin (pronounced like 'siren'), was banned from Texas Death Row because, in the words of the Aug. 9th, 2007 memo from the TDC publication review committee, "It contains material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve the breakdown of prisons through offender disruption such as strikes or riots."' Wow. I never thought sports was so powerful. The author, sent the notice by Foster, was, understandably quite shocked. He checked out the objectionable pages, and was even more amazed. The pages cited by the TDC dealt with baseball icon, Jackie Robinson, and heavyweight boxing champ, Jack Johnson. Both dealt with their resistance to white repression; one, about 1/2 a century ago; the other, perhaps 80 years ago. Yeah. That'll start riots in prisons all over the country! For Kenneth Foster, at least, his Death Row days are behind him. Unfortunately, he's now doing a life bit in Texas gulags. His dozen years on Death Row politicized him, and gave him an historical perspective that he did not possess when he first arrived there. Thanks to supporters across the country, his last day of life wasn't August 30th, as the warrant decreed. Now, the struggle for his freedom begins. (c) '07 maj *Source: Zirin, Dave, "In Texas, books are a danger to death row", Houston Chronicle, Sun., Aug. 28, 2007, p. E5.
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