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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: 2008
May 29, 2008
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May 22, 2008
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May 17, 2008
[col. writ. 5/17/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal As the presidential race inches toward November, it brings with it all kinds of detritus, flushed from the hidden psyche of millions. Politicians are used to representing the hopes of others: they're just as used to dashing those hopes against the hard walls of reality. For millions of women, the first real chance of a female president has excited their hopes, some pending for generations. For millions of Black men and women, the first real chance of a Black president had excited their hopes, some deeply held for nearly a century. For most people, however, politics is the art of unrequited hope, for politicians promise the moon, and deliver star dust. There is, after all, a reason why millions of Americans are so cynical about politics, for they've learned that cynicism from the bitter well of experience. But consider these voices drawn from those we call the white working class; middle-aged Al and Evelyn Landsberg; he, a lifelong Republican who recently switched political parties, and was quoted as telling a Washington Post reporter recently that Sen. Hillary R. Clinton (D.-N.Y.) would get his vote, although she wasn't great. Clinton was, however, a good deal better than her opponent, "you know, uh Embowa. He'd take this country right down the tubes." His wife, Evelyn, cited data she gleaned from emails, saying, "From what I can tell, if he (Embowa?} becomes president he will refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and we will leave Iraq unprepared." She added, "I'm not going to sit at home and let that happen."* It's amazing to think that, several generations ago, millions of Blacks were denied the right to vote through bogus literacy tests, while millions of ignorant whites voted unhindered, by virtue of birthright. Politics is often seen and interpreted as, well, 'the will of the people.' It is often described in lofty judicial decisions and thick political science texts as democracy in action--the People choosing their Government, and ultimately, the American 'way of life.' Yet, how much is simply unbridled ignorance? How much is simply blind racial hatred? How much is just plain silliness? And how much has this been force fed by the corporate media, which can almost beat a dead horse back to life? If the role of the media is merely to reinforce and buttress our collective ignorance, what can democracy mean? When ratings become the end-all, be-all of the corporate media, how can it be anything but a mad dash to a mass echo chamber, where ignorance is multiplied into mega ignorance, and wars become inevitable through rumor? --(c) '08 maj [*Source: Saslow, Eli, "Not Just Talking About Change: The Democrats have registered more than a million new voters in the last seven primary states, "Wash. Post, May 5-11, 2008 [Nat'l Wkly. Ed.], p.16]
May 15, 2008
[col. writ. 5/15/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal As America limps toward the November elections, fatigued by the exertions of war, numb to the lofty promises of politicians, in dread of the economic dragons growling on the horizon, the role of Congress could not be more irrelevant. That's one of the reasons that GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R. Ariz.) has called for a change in congressional tradition, to one which allows the President to answer questions before the body. It reminded me of the March 25, 2008 vote in the British House of Commons, where members of Parliament debated whether to open an official inquiry into the reasons for starting the war. Not surprisingly, the vote lost, largely along Party lines, as the ruling Labour members voted to protect their party, which sponsored and spearheaded the Iraq War, and avoided a formal inquiry. Most, but not all. A dozen Labour backbenchers bolted party ranks to express their support for an inquiry, in terms rarely heard on this side of the Atlantic. And even though the inquiry vote failed by some 50 votes, it marked a period of questioning of the sort that should actually precede wars, not follow them. Robert Marshall-Andrews, a Labour member of parliament (MP) from Medway, brought up the infamous Downing Street memo, which told uncomfortable truths about the then coming war. Marshall-Andrews announced: "The first is what was revealed in the Downing street memo of July 2002, reported by The Sunday (London) Times in an unusual contribution to the debate. It was recorded that at that meeting in Downing street in July 2002 Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of secret intelligence or 'C', as he was known, had reported from America to the War Cabinet,....that: 'There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.'" According to the then Foreign Secretary, "Bush has made up his mind to take military action.... But the case was thin." Ultimately, of course, it didn't matter. Who needs evidence, when you can make it up? M. P. Marshall-Andrews then spoke words that will never be heard in the U.S. Congress: "The real point of the debate, and of any inquiry that may be held, is not to learn lessons so that we do not make mistakes again. That is one reason, but I want an inquiry to be held into the Iraq war because I want those responsible to be brought to the book and to justice. If necessary, they should be brought to international justice, but I want us to be the ones who bring them to it." At this point, Conservative Party member, Humphrey Malins, of Woking, joined in: "I support the honorable and learned gentleman's argument with all the strength that I can muster, but may I remind him gently that some Opposition Members at the time took the view that he is expressing? I was one of those who resigned as a shadow Minister because of the illegal war. Does he agree that, when we look back at our parliamentary lives, we may well regard the decision to go to war with Iraq as the worst and most horrible decision that this Parliament has made?" Labourite Marshall-Andrews would heartily agree, and he would add: "Indeed, beside that decision, all our other achievements and deficiencies -- and there have been many of both--pale into insignificance. The circumstances and repercussions of what we did then have swept well past Iraq. As Tacitus noted, one victory can create a thousand enemies, and that is precisely what happened." These are some of just a few voices in the Parliament of the junior partner in the Iraq debacle. When should we expect such voices in the U.S. Congress? 2025? --(c) '08 maj {Source: Labour & Trade Union Review, (No. 187: May 2008), pp.4-5. [www.ltireview.com].]
May 5, 2008
The Politics of Denunciation Mumia Abu-Jamal [col. writ. 4/30/08] (c) '08 When was the last time that you saw a politician asked to denounce a religious leader with whom he or she was associated? For generations, we have seen a succession of presidents, from both political parties, under the wing of the Rev. Billy Graham. Historians have recently reported that Graham and his Oval Office acolytes have spoken in racist and xenophobic terms about both Blacks and Jews. The Rev. Graham recently was lionized as the personal spiritual advisor to presidents, in times of stress, pressure, war and peace. Neither he, nor his presidential prayer pals have ever been damned or denounced for profoundly racist speech in the palaces of the powerful. Now, as a Black man begins to climb the greased pole of American political power, he is asked to either defend or denounce a man whom he has known and admired for a generation. Barack Obama opted for the latter. He has all but jettisoned the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright from the close circle to the cold periphery of the political realm. Whence comes this demand for denunciation? If we are honest, it arises from the specter of white fear, that demand of Black people a higher standard than that of their own. For what reason has Jeremiah Wright been jettisoned - if not for his proud, open Blackness? Rev. Wright is an advocate of Black Liberation Theology - a school of Black religious thought that sees the hand of God in the liberation of Black people from bondage. White Americans are so used to hearing Blacks speak with quiet and pacific tones, that when a man expresses himself fully, as did Rev. Wright, they are, quite frankly, frightened. (What do they fear, that Blacks will dare remember?) Through the corporate media talking heads, they demanded that Obama "distance himself" from that scary, Black (uppity?) preacher - and do it fast. Yowza, boss. The politics of denunciation is, ultimately, the politics of betrayal. It asks - no - it demands that the candidate denounce those whom the White Nation opposes. If they don't, then they are presumed to be a supporter of that person, or ideology. Meanwhile, white conservative preachers can say virtually anything, and calls for denunciation are swallowed into silence. Former presidential candidate, and Republican supporter, Rev. Pat Robertson, called for the killing of a foreign head of state! (I speak here of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.) Did the White House denounce this prominent religious supporter? Not to my knowledge (in fact, it would be rather difficult, given the current regime's failed coup d'etat against him). But Barack, the son of a continental African, cannot be seen calling for Black Liberation; for he seeks not to become leader of the Black Nations, but the world's leading White Nation. Once again, Blacks, and their deep indigenous concerns, are pushed to the periphery. Their free expression ain't free, for there is a cost. When I saw his latest dis' of the Rev. Dr. Wright, I thought of a question posed in the Bible, in the words of Jesus of Nazareth speaking to his disciples (in Matthew 16:26): For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?... What would you do to get a job? --(c) '08 maj [Source: Holy Bible, St. Matthew (King James Version.]
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