Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
little matter will move a party, but it must be something great
that moves a nation." Thomas Paine, *Rights of Man*
The name Tom
Paine may be known here in America, but it is not revered.
If he is seen as a so-called 'founding father', he is a forgotten
one, who gets few accolades, when one compares him to his contemporaries,
like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or Ben Franklin.
The faces of
these men emblazon U.S. currency, and there are universities, hospitals
and other institutions that proudly bear their names.
There is a state
and, of course, the nation's capital, that bears Washington's name.
If one looks at the counties of this nation's 50 states, at least
30 states have a Washington County; 25 counties boast a Jefferson
County; and Franklin brings up the rear with 20 counties named after
the Philadelphia scientist.
the powerful pamphleteer who wrote the best-selling *Common Sense*,
and *Rights of Man*, writings which stirred the hearts of American
colonials against Britain, gets nothing (while Oklahoma has a 'Payne'
County, its spelling suggests it has little to do with the revolutionary).
Paine was a
poor man, who, in his 37th year, was a failure at business, and
marriage. When his pamphlet, *Common Sense* took off, selling about
120,000 copies in the Colonies, he found his niche in life. It is
from his writings, that the words 'Declaration of Independence'
were first found in print, and this English-born scribe coined the
phrase, "United States of America."
He went to France
shortly after the American Revolution, to join in the anti-royal
struggle there, later writing to Washington, "A share in two
revolutions is living to some purpose."
200 years since his death, his words, his brilliance, his clear
prose and true radicalism is little known.
I have found
his works in right-wing and libertarian book catalogs; yet few leftists
quote him, far fewer seem to study him, and few pore through his
works (outside of occasional graduate courses).
He, as a man
among the poor, wrote and spoke about the boiling, burning issues
of the day; he opposed slavery; he opposed capital punishment; he
opposed kings and much of organized religion with equal vigor. During
the French Revolution, he spoke out against the execution of Louis
XVI, and earned himself a date with the guillotine. By chance, he
survived, until the cold lawyer, Robespierre was beheaded, and in
the euphoria of that event Paine, and other political prisoners,
were freed. He never forgave his fellow American rebels, Washington,
nor Governor Morris (then U.S. representative to Paris), for not
lifting a finger to help him during his wait for the guillotine.
He would write a bitter *Letter to Washington* (1796) where he accused
him of treachery and incompetence:
to you, Sir, treacherous in private friendship (for so you have
been to me, and that in the day of danger) and hypocrite in public
life, the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate
or an impostor; whether you have abandoned good principles, or
whether you ever had any.
a believer in international revolution, an opponent of slavery,
anti-death penalty, and advocate for the poor, Thomas Paine embodied
some of the most humanistic movements of his time.
be the 'forgotten founding father', but a model of radical, and
even revolutionary activism for millions of folks today.
it really doesn't matter if there are no counties named after him,
or universities. It would mean much if his radical vision lived
in the minds and hearts of young people, in America and beyond.
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
information and to order We Want Freedom, visit:
Check out Mumia's
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life
of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com
The Power of Truth
is Final Free Mumia!
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - AND
OFFER YOUR SERVICES!
Send our brotha
some LOVE and LIGHT at:
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370
WE WHO BELIEVE
IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!
© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.