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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts

Living in the Shadow of Rome

Long version: mp3, 3.65 MBs, 4:42
Short version: mp3, 2.60 MBs, 3:13

[Col. Recorded 5/7/03]

"The relative equality of Americans before 1776 has been overwhelmed by a thousand forms of physical, mental, and economic differentiation, so that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest is now greater than at any time since Imperial plutocratic Rome."
-- Will & Ariel Durant, *The Lessons of History* (1968)

Who among us chose Empire?

Of the millions of Americans who were actually allowed to cast their vote, who among that number actually voted in favor of a foreign policy that required armed Americans to fashion another nation in America's image?

Who, among that admittedly limited number, voted to make the Americans the Makers of Princes in lands where most people speak a language unknown to the vast majority of Americans?

In the earliest days of the American republic, when a tight, nervous knot of men (for they were *all* men) met in Philadelphia in the late 1770s, they had before them two examples that drew their admiration, and emerged as models of what form of government this new nation would adopt: Rome and Britain. For two of the delegates, Messrs. James Madison of Virginia and John Dickinson of Delaware, these two
examples were most attractive. Madison wanted a Roman-style Senate, but with popular elections. Dickinson wanted a Senate more like the British House of Lords, elected, not by the people, but by state legislatures. Dickinson won, and it was over a century before the people would be allowed to vote for their 'representatives' (so much
for 'democracy', huh?).

The point is that two examples loomed large in the American mind at the very beginning: *both were global empires*.

Why didn't Americans look to ancient (or even native-born, i.e., 'Indian') democracies? They didn't want democracy; they wanted to build a state that protected their wealth and privilege, but *seemed* to be democratic. That's why it took until 1912 for Americans to vote for 'their representatives', with the 7th Amendment. *That's why today, in the year 2003, there is not a constitutional right to vote.* If you doubt this, remember the 'election' of 2000, when *Bush v. Gore* was decided. If you recall there were perhaps tens of thousands of people who were disenfranchised from voting. The courts have been largely silent on this grave usurpation. That's because they know there is no direct constitutional right to vote; it is a state right, 'protected' by state statutes, state courts and state constitutions. The Supreme Court decided *Bush v. Gore*, not based on the constitutional rights of the citizen to vote, but on 'Equal
Protection' under the 13th and 14th Amendments! How deliciously ironic that the Constitutional Amendment which was designed to protect the constitutional rights of Black Americans, newly 'freed' from 244 years of bondage, would be instead the tool used to usurp their 'right' to vote in Florida, and justified the judicial usurpation of the political process, to install the bottom half of the Bush Dynasty!

We are, all of us, subject to the autocratic whims of any Imperial state, that seeks to jettison every semblance of any constitutional protection that is promised by the Bill of Rights. We live in a judicial-military-media dictatorship, which, like its predecessors in
England and Rome, professes to speak for 'the People', while protecting and enriching the class that placed it on the throne.

In ancient Rome, the Senate and the Emperors kept Rome engaged in endless wars on the frontier, to keep the Army away from ideas of seizing control of the lush, wealthy City. For ancient Romans, anyone who wasn't Roman was seen as a 'barbarian.' The current term of art is 'terrorist.' The U.S. Empire bombs thousands, doesn't bother to count the dead, and yet lashes out at retail bombers as
'terrorists.' The media, enjoying the spoils of Empire (good ratings) joins the fun by praising the wisdom and goodness of the Emperor and his troops.

Those who question this martial wisdom are denounced as traitors and run from their businesses or professions. Yet, we are assured, this is a War to bring Democracy to 'Other People.'

America is drunk on the wine of Empire, and like Rome, cannot see the precipice that looms before it; the pride that cometh before the fall.

Check out Mumia's NEW book:
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life of African and African-American People" at

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.