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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: October, 2007
Oct 27, 2007
Planning to Fail col. writ. 10/18/07 It's hard to look at American society today, and not see how everything seems to be a plan for failure. One would be hard-pressed to find a society which seems to see education as little more than a business, which only the well-to-do can begin to afford. There are a plethora of loans, even some provided by the feds, but fewer and fewer grants. When students are lucky enough to find loans, they are saddled with red oceans of debt, some to the tune of over $100,000; the costs, not just of admissions, tuition, books and fees; but of housing, clothing, transport, food, and entertainment for 4 years --more, if one seeks a professional, or graduate degree! How is it that education is fast becoming a pipe dream for millions of young people in the U.S., and is free just 90 miles away from American soil? In Cuba, education is free from kindergarten to college. Indeed, just recently a score of Americans (and hundreds of other nationalities) graduated from Medical School there, with full doctoral degrees. Unlike their fellow students to the North, these men and women earned their degrees with no crippling debts! Their whole education -- 6 years of med school -- was free, courtesy of Cuban generosity. How can a tiny, relatively poor island nation do so well, with such meager resources, and the richest nation on Earth -- the wealthiest empire since Rome -- can't manage to do as well? It isn't that the U.S. can't do so; it's that it doesn't want to -- or feel the need to. If there's a shortage of doctors (or any other professionals here), they'll just outsource the gigs to another country, or revise immigration rules to import talent. That Cuba does this, in the face of its own dire economic straits, imposed by the U.S. through the Embargo, for generations -- borders on the miraculous. And that's the kicker; one sees students as a cash cow to fuel the banking and education industries; the other sees human knowledge as the property of all humanity, and not a gain to the storehouse of human resources. When students emerged from Cuba's med schools, their medical degrees in hand, they were only given one small kind of debt -- to use their skills to help the poor amongst us. Boy -- what an idea! (c) '07 maj
Oct 27, 2007
!Wars Without End -- Again! {speech writ. 10/14/07} (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal Ona Move! LLJA! Thanx for your invitation for me to speak to you today! For millions of people (I among them) the Nov. 2006 elections marked a major turning point in U.S. politics -- or so we thought. The elections had one, single motivation: to end the Iraq war. Well, the elections changed majorities in Congress. But did it change U.S. policy? Nope. Before the numbers of votes could all be counted, you heard the backtracking: "we must be cautious"; "if we leave now, there'd be chaos", etc., etc. Now, Democrats say openly that no significant troop withdrawal can come before 2012- 5 more years! And then, don't you think you'll hear an additional 5 or 10 years? War isn't a Democratic or Republican project - it is a corporate one, where both corporate parties play the game laid down by their sponsors and contributors. Here we see the convergence between neo liberals and neo conservatives, who join in their service to corporate power. Their 'fight' (if it can be called that) is over who can represent their bosses best (and, by this, I don't mean voters!) But, people, working through popular movements, can change how politicians think, speak, and even act. If you put your trust in the same politicians, you'll achieve the same result - disappointment, frustration and yes -- betrayal. What kind of democracy is it if you vote for peace, only to get more war? But the answer isn't less protests -- it's more protests! To finally bring peace, the People must bring it! Thank you! Ona Move!
Oct 21, 2007
The Law That Promotes Punishment (Instead of Education) [col. writ. 10/21/07] (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal It's been 5 years since the No Child Left Behind law was put into place, and around the nation, it has left wreckage in its wake. That's because, like many such laws pushed by the paranoid right wind, what a law is called has little (or nothing) to do with what a law does. Calling it No Child Left Behind gave it the benign imagery of caring for children and their futures. It's like the so-called Patriot Act -- an act, to be sure, but one so patently unconstitutional in its evisceration of the 4th Amendment (and other constitutional provisions) that no true patriot could ever support it. While the imagery of a catchy title might've helped in it's selling, the lesser known side of the law is now about to kick in -- and it threatens to transform public schools into private businesses, transfer them into charter schools, allow state takeovers -- or close them. This law is of a piece from the right's central array of evils -- an attack on the very idea of public education, and a fixation with privatizing everything. Who will suffer more from these transformations? School staffs, or children? For No Child Left Behind was but another example of business uber alles, and the poor be damned. Can the same states that made boot camps into squalid hellholes of torture for children, somehow make schools pristine halls of learning? Indeed, in many states, the 'business' of boot camping children has been tried, and while it has made money, it has been the epicenter of abuse, mistreatment, and actually, state-subsidized child abuse. So much for the business model. The law was both a punishment for the poor, and a cold, calculating recognition that some children have no real place in the post-industrial society being built, and thus, were to be left behind. Uneducated, left to the tender mercies of the streets, to stew in a hopeless funk, or to feed the cavernous maw of prison...how left behind can you get? According to a recent report in the New York Times, Florida faces the closing of 441 schools; Baltimore has 9 schools on the failure list; in New York State, 77 schools face so-called restructuring; and in California, over 1,000 schools have been designated chronic failures.* By the year 2014, all of the schools located in California's poorest districts, some 6,063 schools, are expected to be on that list! No Child Left Behind was designed to fail, to deliver the coup de-grace to public education, and also to disable or destroy the hated teacher's unions. It was a law designed to fail, not to solve a pressing social problem. The question shouldn't be whether this new (and supposedly 'improved') Congress should tinker with the law. Congress should repeal it. (c) '07 maj {*Source: Schemo, Diana Jean, "Failing Schools Strain to Meet U.S. Standard," New York Times, Tues., Oct. 16, 2007, pp A1, A21.}
Oct 14, 2007
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Oct 11, 2007
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Oct 8, 2007
{col. writ. 10/7/07} (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal There are forces in this country and in this world that are expending energy to ensure war with Iran. That's right -- Iran. Many of those forces were the same ones that suckered the nation into Iraq, with media - megaphoned fear- mongering. Iran has become the feared bogeyman of the hour; the latest in the simplistic media projection of 'bad guy.' And, just as in Iraq, the media's demonization of the leader becomes reason to destroy, attack, bomb, and occupy a nation. "He's a bad guy!" "He's a ruthless dictator!" Doesn't this sound familiar? Famed scholar and linguist, Noam Chomsky, interviewed recently by radio host David Barsamian, gives a powerful example of the impact of media upon us. Chomps explained: Take a classic example, Germany. Under the Weimar Republic, Germany was the most civilized country in the world, the leader in the sciences and the arts. Within two or three years it had been turned into a country of raving maniacs by extensive propaganda--which, incidentally, was explicitly borrowed from Anglo-American commercial propaganda. And it worked. It frightened Germans. They thought they were defending themselves against the Jews, against the Bolsheviks. And you know what happened next. {Fr.: Barsamian, David, Targeting Iran (San Francisco, Ca.: Open Media/City Lights, 2007),p.47} And speaking of brutal, ruthless dictators, the U.S. backed Shah of Iran used his secret police, Savak, to drench the earth with blood and terror. But, to the U.S., he was cool. Has the nation learned nothing from the Iraq debacle? The U.S. Senate recently passed a non-binding resolution supporting the partition of Iraq. It makes a certain diabolical sense; the U.S. bombed it, invaded it, overthrew its government, and replaced it with puppets of their liking -- all this, not now being successful, why not shatter it into threes? This argument is now being made, not by rabid neo cons, but by so-called 'liberal' Democrats. Why? Because imperialism is a truly bipartisan American project. The newest target may well be Iran, despite the fact that if Iran is indeed more influential today, it's because of the U.S. invasion, occupation, and near destruction of Iraq. In sum, Iran was strengthened by Iraq's fall. The U.S. has a Middle East policy driven by fear and ignorance. It is reactive, emotional, and driven by faith --not reason. Those are dangerous forces to justify war, and unworthy of a nation that considers itself a superpower. Super in power, but petty in reasoning. --(c) '07 maj
Oct 6, 2007
{col. writ. 10/3/07} (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal The recent contract approval by the executive committee of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and General Motors (GM) marks a turning point in relations between labor and management. It may also mark the transition between unions as a representative of workers, and management as a representative for the owners. That's because, if the UAW members agree, the union will (at least partially ) administer almost $30 billion bucks in pension funds. If the general membership signs on, it lifts a $50 billion burden from the backs of GM managers, and places the lion's share of it on the back of the union. In one fell swoop, the union performs the function of GM management! For GM, this is a masterstroke; for the UAW, it may prove a trap, or the first step of the end of unions, or at least pensions as we know it. The trade union movement came of age by becoming the laborer's institution, and the de facto representative of its workers. In the earlier half of the 20th century, it was clear that labor and capital were antagonists, not allies, for each represented differing and conflicting interests. In other words, the union didn't do managements job, nor did the business manage the union. In his masterwork, Capital, Marx noted how workers are divided into functions and hierarchies that serve capitals interests. Marx wrote: Manufacture...develops a hierarchy of labour powers, to which there corresponds a scale of wages. If, on the one hand, the individual labourers are appropriated and annexed for life by a limited function; on the other hand, the various operations of the hierarchy are parceled out among the labourers according to both their natural and their acquired capabilities. (Moscow, 1958, p.349) Now, labor performs a manufacturing function -- the partial administration of pension funds. What happens when too many hands dip into the till? What happens when GM models don't sell as expected? What happens when the union becomes just another institution of management? --(c) '07 maj
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