Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
in Times of War
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I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put
its talons on any other land..." Mark Twain,
Vice-president Anti-imperialist League (1900)
If the recent
anti-Bush demo in London shows anything, it is that dissent is coming
back. If the President must behave so sheepishly in the cities of
ally, then the Iraq Adventure really isn't going well.
have been spirited demonstrations in the US since the start of armed
conflict, they have rarely reached the size and zest of the prewar
demos. It suggests
several things; a) most Americans felt funny about protesting after
the armed conflict began; and b) many felt demoralized when the
massive prewar demos didn't stop the government from going forward
Deep in the
American psyche is a nationalism that is expressed as obedience
to those in power. The State depends on this instinct, and draws
strength from it.
The great dissenters in US life often had to do so against popular
opinion. Also, they have been almost whited out of history, so that
we know little of their
Mark Twain was
one of the most popular writers in America, and his fiction is at
the heart of American literature. Yet, he was a staunch opponent
of US military adventures at the dawn of the 20th century, and proudly
opposed such militarism. Naturally, the
establishment questioned his patriotism. In one of his novels, *A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court*, Twain gave eloquent
voice to his brand of loyalty:
You see my kind
of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions
or its office holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial
thing, the eternal
thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal
to; institutions are
extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out,
become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body
from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for
rags, to worship rags, to die for rags that is loyalty to
unreason, it is pure animal; it belongs to monarchy, was invented
by monarchy; let
monarchy keep it. [fr. Howard Zinn, *Artists in Times of War* (NY:
7 Stories/Open Media, '03), p. 16]
Twain was a
prominent protester against the US war in the Philippines.
recognize the name of Helen Keller, and think of her as an exemplar
of the disabled. She too, was a proud antiwar activist, a feminist,
and a socialist.
The great Black
poet, Langston Hughes, used his artistic gifts to protest US militarism
abroad, and racism at home.
and thinkers whom we admire today, long after their passing, were
criticized by the State because they dissented from government policy.
They did not leave important issues like war, to the likes of politicians.
When we look
around us, we see candidates from the Democratic Party vying for
president, who sound like they are to the right of Bush! Several
of them (as Senators) surrendered their congressional war powers
to the president. Several voted for the $87 billion dollars to fund
the Iraq Occupation. They promise a more robust military presence
there. Few have dared to actually oppose the occupation. They are
in the trap of Bush's making. With the possible exception of Rev.
Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, few have announced their intention
to pull out of the Iraq debacle. Meanwhile, a recent classified
CIA document warns that the Iraqi resistance is growing
and deepening. According to published accounts, the populous Shiites
in the south are seriously contemplating joining the Sunnis in the
center, in guerrilla attacks against the Americans. This suggests
a level of nationwide resistance that the US has never seen in the
paraphrase the African-American Muslim imam, Jamil Al-Amin) is as
American as apple pie.
A needless war
continues to wage in Iraq; a war that never should have begun.
Dissent is growing.
2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Check out Mumia's
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life
of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.