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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: June, 2009
Jun 21, 2009
A Revolution Within A RevolutionAs the repression of the state comes down on those protesting against the recent elections, voices -- especially from the West -- are all but predicting the imminent fall of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They compare it to the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when forces arrayed against the dictatorial rule of the Shah, a key U.S. ally, brought down the House of Pahlavi. Is this the same as that? To answer that question requires far more than emotion. It requires study, insight and clear vision, qualities that seem sorely lacking in too much of the corporate media these days. Iranian scholar, Faridah Farhi, in her book, States and urban-based Revolutions: Iran and Nicaragua (Univ. of IL Press, 1990) found one factor was crucial in the success of a modern day agrarian society's revolutions: "....the incapacitation of administrative and military machineries" (.p8) Other elements at work in revolutionary situations are the existence of "intermediate classes" in society which find economic and traditional centers of Iranian life, the bazaars, the clergy existed, amassing wealth and social power, independent of -- and opposed to __ the state. These 90.000 clergy formed the core of Khomeini's revolt against the Shah, and therefore had the organizational and ideological wherewithal to steer the growing movement to their ends. They also had a powerful symbol in the Ayatollah Khomeini. There were other factors - popular mobilizations of the poor, for example -- but without many of the other factors, the chances of a revolution are limited, at best. The country's administrative and military machineries may be many things, but incapacitated they are not. When the Shah fled Iran, the military and administration was both isolated and deeply loathed by the people. When popular upsurges came, many joined the people's side. The major opposition figure of Khomeini, present in 1979, does not now exist (or isn't evident) in today's Iran. And it is quite unlikely that Mir Hossain Mousavi, who is being urged on by Westerners, will play that role. He was one of a very few found acceptable to run by the governing council, headed by Ayatollah A. Khamenei. This suggest he was, like Ahmadinejad, a veteran of the 1979 Revolution, and thus trusted by the clergy. If he learned anything from the Revolution, it was that there's little profit in betraying the revolution. So, unless things change drastically (and that is possible), this is not a revolutionary moment. Demonstrations, standing alone, do not a revolution make. They may be a harbinger of things to come, but as Dr. Huey P. Newton once said, they take "sterner stuff." --(c) 6/24/09 (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Jun 21, 2009
Stateless State of PalestineThe presidential election of Barack Obama has so electrified the world, that expectations have swept past reality into the realm of the silly. Some of this is surely driven by the corporate media, which no longer covers the news, but engages in what might be called 'pre-news', as it tends to predict what will (or may) happen, the better to not be scooped by competitors. And as news makes its hard turn to opinion, it sometimes builds up Obama as a world leader, in ways that are simply unreasonable. This was seen in the run-up to the Iranian presidential elections, where news coverage all but predicted the election of opposition candidate, Mir Hossein Moussavi, and the fall of the irascible Mahoud Ahmadinejad. The result predicted, talking heads opined about the global influence of Obama over the elections. (As for stolen elections, did millions of Americans take to the streets to protest the stolen elections here -- in 2000? Similarly, much news coverage centered on Obama's hard-line on the Israelis, as in his Cairo address when he called for a freeze in settlements. So slanted is U.S. policy towards Israel that a halt in construction in illegal settlements is seen as somehow 'hard-line.' For their part, Israeli right-wingers, many supporters of newly-elected president Binyamin Netanyahu, has postered Tel Aviv with images of Obama wearing an Arab headdress (known as a kaffiyeh), emblazoned with the words "Jew Hater", and "Anti-Semite" in English and Hebrew (an allusion to his Muslim name and family background) To "freeze" a situation that is fundamentally unjust, is to preserve the status quo--a state of affairs that leaves the Palestinian people in an unjust and untenable situation. On top of that, Netanyahu recently announced an essential rejection of Obama's 'freeze', and an alleged support of the establishment of a Palestinian state -albeit a demilitarized one, with foreign affairs to be overseen by Israel. This is a state only in the sense that the old South African Bantustans were independent territories (that is to say, not at all). The Palestinians have had their best lands seized and Swiss-cheesed by settlements, their parliament has been cast into prison, their water is rationed, and their homes have been bulldozed, all while western leaders crow about a 'peace process' that is, ultimately, a freeze in oppression. Meanwhile, Israel, not only the most powerful military in the region, but an undeclared nuclear-armed state, accepts the idea of a Palestinian state, but only if demilitarized -- and this is seen as progress! --(c) 6/15/09 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Jun 2, 2009
For the Black community of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, this is a time of quiet mourning. For it marks the unexpected passing of Dawud Akbar, a man who made his home there. Since leaving school in the early 1970's, Akbar built a life of service and caring in Pittsburgh, not just as a psychologist, but as a community organizer, teacher and mentor for many. Born January 6, 1949 in Harlem, New York, he witnessed the murder of his mother at the tender age of 8 years. When he went to college at Morehouse, in Atlanta, GA, he met and was deeply inspired by the renowned Black psychologist, Dr. Na'im Akbar, who so inspired him that he took the name Akbar, and converted to Islam. He earned a Masters degree at the University of Pittsburgh in 1973, and with his wife, Sama'iyah, built a life and family in his adopted city. He founded the Nzingha Institute, and helped to bring the Maafa ritual to hundreds of Pittsburgers annually. The local practice was a ceremony where the history of African captivity, transport and freedom struggles in the Americas was remembered and ritualized. Given the trauma of his childhood, he worked with young people to try to give them a sense of their place in the larger community. He wrote several books on social and familial health and harmony. He worked long and hard to serve the many needs of his community, and even three heart attacks didn't stop him. Recently, he suffered a debilitating cerebral hematoma. Dawud Albar was 60 years old. (c) '09 maj
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