We often hear that “ends don’t justify the means”. You know who tells this to us and wants us to keep repeating? Those who already are fine with the existing “ends” and don’t want them changed, those who have a stake in the current system and are not in any way, shape or form, interested in a different set of “ends”.
We’re told that we must play by the rules and work through and within the system and within the framework and set of established laws. What gets forgotten is that those rules, framework, laws and procedures have been devised, designed and written to prevent a change in the power structure or the economic system. The economic system at work is conditioned on and depends on who holds the power. The laws and rules are written by the powerful and for the powerful. He who holds power gets to dictate what the rules are and as long as they get to decide that, they also make sure change will never happen by following those rules.
There’s nothing divine or sacrosanct about laws or rules. They’re written by people in position of power and are meant to meet their interests and to keep them in power. Following those rules may be considered fair and playing by the rules, but fair to whom and whose rules and to whose advantage?
The ruling class holds not only the physical power through the police, the military, the spy agencies and courts, it also holds the channels for controlling people’s minds through the mass media which it owns and controls, as well as through education. Therefore, they get to tell us what is and is not acceptable or legitimate or legal. Slavery, for example, was at one time legal. So was burning witches alive and child labor. And it was illegal for women and minorities to vote. I think it was Dr. King who said: Hitler’s actions were legal, whereas Gandhi’s were not.
And there’s more. While those in power preach to us that we must be deferential to and use the accepted means for achieving social justice and refrain from using “all means necessary”, that’s precisely what they do. The fact is: all the talk of legality and respecting laws and playing fair and by accepted and legitimate means and rules is only for us, the people, not for them. Their attitude is and has always been: “by all means necessary”. They disregard the Constitution, the Bill Of Rights and International laws, including signed conventions, diplomatic protocols and rules, not to mention basic human decency and morality, when those rules and laws don’t serve their needs. The world is and operates very much on the basis of “by all means necessary”, as well as “ends” at the expense of the “means”. Only, when it comes to people fighting for much needed change and social justice, we are told we must play by the rules and within their framework.
Some progressive liberals aptly tell us what’s wrong with the current system, from racism to wars, from imperialist plunder of the underdeveloped and poor countries to huge corporations deciding the outcome of elections, from banks ruining the economy to oil and gas companies destroying the environment, from wiping out the middle class and driving them into poverty to taking people’s civil rights away and turning the society into a police state and more. But, most of them stop short of mentioning what the solution or alternative is, or worse, suggest a fallacious solution. And that brings me to the key difference between liberals and the real left. We can misunderstand or not understand everything else, but, If there is one thing that we absolutely must understand is this: holding stats power is the key. It is the only way real, meaningful and fundamental change will be possible. Without taking state power, we can talk about all the social and economic injustices and we can even protest and get beaten and jailed, while following the laws, and none of that will matter. As I said, those who hold the power get to dictate their priorities, their interests and even their worldview, philosophy and culture, including who’s our friend and who our foe and what is legal or fair and what’s not and who goes to jail and who doesn’t.
Without having the power, well, you’re powerless: you cannot make Monsanto stop doing what they do for profit; you cannot stop telephone companies from merging and limiting your choices; you cannot force Walmart to treat its employees fairly; you cannot make insurance companies treat the sick with more humanity and care; you cannot force the government to stop listening to lobbyists and start listening to people, or to stop spying on citizens, or from conducting drone attacks against foreign villagers; you cannot stop the military from punishing Bradley Manning, or going to war for corporations or keeping innocent men in Guantanamo; and you cannot have a more fair distribution of wealth. To accomplish these and many others, we need to have the power behind us. You can’t even protest effectively, without it.
Power does not mean the Constitution. That’s just a piece of paper without the state power. Nor does it mean reason, logic or making a good argument in court. Holding state power means you control the police, the military, the CIA, the NSA, the courts, the Congress, all three branches of the government, and of course, the media, instead of the current capitalist rulers and that requires taking on the power and taking all levers of power from them. It happens when you have defeated the ruling class and wrenched power out of their hands and are now in control of the state with all its branches and organs, putting it to work in the service of a new set of priorities, goals and interests, and a newly empowered people whose interests, needs and priorities are fundamentally different from those previously in power. There is a name for toppling the power structure and taking state power to serve the vast majority, instead of a minority of super wealthy: it’s called revolution.
That brings me to the second point: if you understand the necessity of taking state power, then, you must also understand that those in power will never give up their power, voluntarily. That means, and hear is that second point: a revolution, in reality, is nothing but war between two classes of people, those who have the power and those who want it. There is no better or softer or nicer way. The reason again is simply the fact that those in power will not give it up without a fight. It’s as simple as that. And just as in war where the advancing troops go all the way to the centers of power and occupy government buildings, military installations, TV outlets, police stations and command and control centers and remove politicians and other key people from office, so it is in revolution.
There is a reason why this simple reality seems so foreign and hard to grasp or looks harsh or extreme to so many people. That’s how we’ve been trained to think: that we must make our voices heard only through the system, that we must voice our grievances through elections, that we must respect the rule of law to effect change, that we must not put ends above means and must stay within the means prescribed to us by those in power. The reason is that real change can’t occur within those rules since they deliberately have been made to preclude any possibility of real change.
There is reason why holding state power or taking power is never mentioned as the game changer. There is reason why classes and class conflict or war is never or hardly ever mentioned. There is reason why, on the contrary, we’re told we’re one big happy family, that we’re all in the same boat, that we’re all Americans, that “there’s just one America” (Obama) with one mission and interest. They don’t want us to know the truth about class war and rich and poor, powerful and powerless, haves and have-nots. The truth is, however, that most Americans have more in common with Africans and Asians and others in far away villages throughout the world than they do with the Rockefellers of this country. That’s a truth we’re not supposed to know or think about.
So, if it is a war for state power between different classes of people with different priorities and objectives, it means the working class must defeat the capitalist class, in order to effect real change. This is not being dogmatic or extreme or inviting violence. This is the simple and unadulterated, unsweetened, unprocessed and organic truth – with no sugar, preservatives or artificial color added. Before you accuse me of being extreme or “old school Marxist” or 1910’s type revolutionary, tell me which part of what I’m saying is wrong.
Go unseat the CEO of Goldman Sachs or Monsanto. Good luck changing Exxon-Mobile or Walmart priorities (you could, if you were a majority shareholder). Tell the president to stop aiding Israel in its genocide against Palestinians. Make the military close the 700 military bases and have the money spent on education, healthcare and to combat rampant poverty. Have workers make living wages and have a say in their working conditions; reverse the dangerous degradation of the environment; eliminate unemployment, homelessness and poverty; reverse policies of war, etc, etc, and do all that with the power structure in place, no revolution and no taking of state power and no need for war on the ruling class. So, tell me I’m wrong.
Besides the issue of acknowledging class war and the need for taking state power through a not-so-peaceful revolution, the other point of contrast between liberals and real left is the former’s assumption that the policies of the capitalist class are nothing but mistakes. A mistake is when you send a text message to the wrong person and go “oops”. Strategizing, planning, preparing and going to war is not a mistake. It’s calculated, deliberate and with specific purpose and objectives, some of them very long term. The attack on Iraq had been contemplated, if not planned, long before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nor is going after leakers and whistle blowers, or signing the NDAA into law, or monitoring people’s phone conversations, chats and emails, or dividing people based on race, gender, religion or ethnicity, or for that matter, massive incarceration of minority youth, etc. A new way of dividing people to allow attacking their social safety nets is between seniors and the young.
We must understand that the ruling class of super wealthy is not stupid or naive and knows exactly what they’re doing. It’s a classic liberal tenet to underestimate them or to assume they have good intentions, with wrong or mistaken policies. They want to spread democracy, we’re told, but they do it the wrong way (if wiping out entire villages can be called “wrong way”). Show them the right way dear liberals. Or, even worse, they fall into the racism trap and proclaim that the Middle Eastern people aren’t ready for democracy. The Iranian people had an elected Prime Minister whom the CIA toppled in 1953. To these liberals, the US government is doing good around the world, but, sometimes makes errors of judgement. Such crimes of tremendous magnitude as overthrowing an elected government with its consequent loss of many lives and ruining others’ and causing irreparable damage to the country is considered an error. So is waging war for reasons that turn out to be false. But, a 20 year old private’s exposing government massacres of innocent people is not an error to be forgiven, but a serious crime punishable by life in prison, if not execution. How liberals can claim being for liberty and still defend such travesty by their supposedly liberal president is beyond me.
When they do acknowledge imperialism, they detach it from the economic system that gives rise to it in the first place and think of it as the policy of this or that individual politician or party (usually attributed only to Republicans), rather than the class in power setting policy within the economic system and its requirements, and for its own benefit. Using this line of reasoning, many falsely believe that Republicans are necessarily more inclined to wage war than Democrats, not realizing that what determines issues of war and peace is the Empire and its economic and political requirements and constraints and the class the Empire serves, not the individual president. Such decisions are made based on long term goals of the class and with input from the military, the CIA, the NSA and others who maintain continuity from administration to administration. The military industrial complex is much bigger and its requirements much more important to ruling class than an individual president.
Liberals separate the system from its leadership which comes from their thinking that the system is completely blind to, unaware of or unsuspecting of who will next implement their class policies. To them, the system is open for anyone to come along and, if he or she so chooses, change the policies, completely. Someone might be able to do that, but not without a revolution. What they also fail to see is that both parties, despite their differences, represent the same class of billionaires, bankers and giant corporations. This keeps them busy fighting for the “lesser of two evils”, rather than towards building a grassroots movement to challenge the class represented by both parties. That’s why liberals can’t explain why more corporations and their CEO’s gave to Obama than his opponents – in both elections.
The next point that distinguishes liberals from the real left has to do with the understanding of democracy. Liberals separate democracy from the real society where there are different classes of people with different interests, and think of it as an abstract concept detached from the realities of class war and state power. The fact is democracy, as proclaimed and written on paper, means nothing, in and of itself. Democracy without the actual means for achieving social justice means nothing. In other words, democracy must be backed by actions, not just words.
We’re told we live in democracy, but we can’t get working people’s representatives elected – at least not enough to make a difference. Achieving social justice requires, not just democracy in name or on paper, but the means for ensuring what it’s really meant for: rule of the majority which is deliberately and decidedly denied from working people who are the majority. Achieving real democracy for and by the people will require having the state power behind you. And that, as I said, requires defeating the ruling class and taking state power. Only then will democracy have teeth and hence be real rather than on paper. On paper, Snowden should be able expose government misdeeds and at the very least, to take refuge in any country that’s willing to accept him. In reality, they won’t let him. On paper, Bolivia’s presidential jet can land in any nation for refueling. On paper, US citizens must not be spied on without a cause and the president can’t order Citizens executed. On paper corporations are supposed to pay taxes and workers can form unions. These and many other policies, such as wars, corporate welfare, lax environmental rules, minimal or non taxation of corporations, union busting, Fed’s monitory policies, etc., are for the long term interests of the capitalist class, which is the minority, and are made regardless of which of their two parties is given the office. Real democracy requires the majority being in power and setting policy for the interests of the majority. So, you see, not only social and economic justice is predicated on toppling the rulers from power, but also democracy.
I’m not suggesting that all liberals are misled or mistaken in their views. I don’t believe in a loose interpretation of “mistakes”. Belief systems are rarely the result of cognitive or logical errors. They usually stem from one’s own class affiliation and allegiance. The class one mostly identifies with is usually the result of one’s class origins. It’s hard for a white person living in an affluent neighborhood to break with her class and identify with the black young man growing up in the ghetto or the Hispanic woman making her hotel bed, and welcome a movement driven by such individuals.
It’s amazing the excuses one can come up with for not lending support to a working class movement when you’re not one of them or don’t identify with them. These liberals may go as far as supporting people’s demand for higher pay or healthcare and may proudly vote for a black man and consider that out of the care and compassion they feel for the underprivileged, but if people try to bring down the government by resorting to armed struggle, then all bets are off. That’s where they draw their line. And they will tell you that unlawful things are indefensible and “ends don’t justify the means”. That’s because the revolution of the poor scares them and what better place to hide than liberalism with its pseudo-intellectual rejection of revolution and revolutionary tendencies and defense of the rule of capital. With conservatives, at least, there is no pretense and no confusion.
But, even liberalism has its own place and useful function within the system. While the right aggressively pushes for more take backs and more austerity and more unbridled unregulated anything goes capitalism, liberalism, which lately has been hard to distinguish from the hard right, lends its voice of relative moderation which acts to save the system from its own excesses. Liberals talk a good talk for the working class, but ideologically and functionally, they’re for preserving the exploitative and unjust capitalist system which causes wars and poverty and which without that voice of moderation has a tendency to quickly dig its own grave. In fact, one can say that the call for moderation by liberals is first and foremost meant to prevent the collapse of the system. The Koch Brothers are rather the exception to the rule and the majority of billionaires don’t agree or even like them since they tend to expose the system at its crudest and as it really is. That’s why more billionaires gave to Obama campaign than his Republican opponents, notwithstanding the fact that it’s very hard to call the likes of Obama liberal, anymore. But, he is after all, “the lesser evil”, to middle class liberals, as well as most billionaires.
When the Egyptian people poured into the streets in millions in opposition to President Muhammad Morsi and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood, three weeks ago, and the military responded by deposing the President and cracking down on his party officials and followers and closing and banning their TV station, some understandably and rightly reacted by condemning what was clearly a military coup against an elected government. But, a first reaction is often premature and insufficient for understanding a dynamic and fluid situation such as in Egypt where different social forces with disparate interests and objectives are vying for influence and power within the society. What’s needed is an analysis based on the social and political “facts on the ground” and the push and pull of these contradictory forces taking place.
As I wrote in my last piece right after the coup: “If we were to summarize the latest events in Egypt in one sentence, it would be that the revolution continues”. The coup was obviously and unquestionably in reaction to the people coming out en mass and even more forcefully and in greater numbers than before to show their opposition to the government of Morsi.
With that single and deciding act, they demonstrated that they were not done with their revolution and showed their unmistakable resolve to continue it. To what point or degree or what specific objectives, it’s not clear and I’m not sure it’s clear even to those whose glorious demonstration could be seen from space. What was clear is their resounding rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood as the answer to or resolution of their revolution. They knew what they got was not what they made a revolution for.
This is not unique to Egypt. Revolutions often take many trials and turns and sometimes they continue for years, at times, taking a step back, and other times leaping forward, sometimes taking a more wait and see attitude towards what’s offered to them and sometimes a militant, reinvigorated and roaring response that shakes the foundations of the system.
If we view Morsi’s scorecard for the past year, we see that basically the only change was the Islamization of the government and not much else. Economically, the nation remained in the jaws of imperialism and their imposed neoliberal policies with the poverty and misery it always entails. The government failed to even address the joblessness and poverty, as if it wasn’t even its issue. Instead, it continued the corruption of the previous government, filling the pockets of the ruling class which remained intact. What had changed was the latter’s representative, and as far as they were concerned, nothing else. What’s more, he tried to grab power for himself and his party every opportunity he got. Late last year, he tried to ram such power grab into the law. He also moved to stifle the voice of his opponents, decidedly moving towards the kind of dictatorship people had revolted against.
If Morsi and his government were to be the substitute for Hosni Mubarak, it could and would be arranged, without much fuss. In fact, when it became clear, three years ago, that Mubarak had to go, the regime, in consultation with Washington, offered his Vice President as the replacement. It was only after people’s rejection of any member of the Mubarak regime that the military took over and called for a new constitution and elections. It was during that period when after frequent flights to Cairo by the Obama Administration and Pentagon generals and their meeting with the ruling military that the latter announced that they would maintain a veto power over any civilian government that would come out victorious in the elections. That’s because both Washington which represents the US ruling class and the Egyptian military which is paid, armed and supported by Washington, were unsure as to the outcome of the elections and the ramifications it could have for the Empire and their plans for the region, including but not limited to Israel. But, when they realized that Morsi was not interested in any meaningful economic and political changes and was only interested in giving the regime a more Islamic facade – as in painting a house green instead of blue -Washington’s and military’s fears subsided and they acquiesced to a MB government.
Now, it must be emphasized that, as I said before, the overthrow of the MB government was not the military’s idea. Their continuation of the previous regime’s economic policies and even their moves for power grab and against democracy and against their opponents was not a problem for the military. The continuation of the revolution, especially with even more rigor and force than before, was. The coup was simultaneously out of fear of the masses on the streets that if left alone could possibly overthrow the rule of Washington’s allies, as well as, an opportunistic move to try a more secular regime with the same old neoliberal economic policies and alliance with imperialism, as before. With this act, the military tried to prevent the forward move of the revolution, while pretending to be on people’s side and planning to sell them another pro-imperialist capitalist government in order to maintain the status quo.
As I said before, this is rather typical in the course of revolutions. After the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979, first, his so-called “Prime Minister” was offered as the substitute. Then, a more moderate representative of imperialism was tried, followed by yet another with a little more nationalistic character, as opposed to the Shah who was a clear and unabashed puppet of Washington, as was Mubarak.
The Iranian revolution which was against imperialism, especially of the US, as well as against US imposed dictatorship, was finally successful in overthrowing the pro-imperialist regime of large capitalists who had squeezed not only workers, but also the local and smaller bourgeoisie. The revolution was led and later completely taken over by those sectors of the middle and owner classes that were associated with the small businesses and shop owners – the so-called “bazaris” – who were deeply religious who went on to impose their own brand of anti-democratic, anti-women and religious dictatorship. In the case of Egypt, people already rejected the most powerful Islamist party which unlike in Iran, did not even represent a real change of regime with new alliances and sphere of power. Not only the pro-imperialist military and bourgeoisie remained intact, so did the pro-imperialist economic and political policies in their entirety which was what imperialism had hoped for. They didn’t mind painting the house green at all. That’s why they had no problem with the Morsi government and even expressed an initial dismay or at least concern about the coup, in order to sound democratic, if nothing else. They too realized that the military had no other choice and did the right thing, especially since it was a popular move by a military that remains their best hope for continuing to impose their dictated policies over the country, and soon dropped their disingenuous and demagogic complaints. They also realized that they still have a chance with the likes of ElBaradei.
So, what’s happening now, is that people are being offered a third choice which is not going to be very different from the first two and that’s because the ruling class and their protectorate military which answers to Washington are remaining in control. The neoliberal policies dictated by Washington and the World Bank and IMF will continue to keep the people impoverished and funnel the nation’s wealth into the coffers of world imperialism and their domestic wealthy allies. And consequently, as a natural requirement, there will be no room or tolerance for democracy, as workers will still have to be suppressed and critics silenced. It remains to be seen if the revolution will find its legitimate, strong, unwavering and dedicated leadership that could lead the revolution to achieve true democracy, independence and social justice. But, for now, the revolution continues. We’re about to witness Act III.
The Internet genius and pioneer, Aaron Swartz, who wrote the program for RSS and helped develop Reddit, was another computer savvy talented young American who like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, believed there was a need for change in this country. He founded Demand Progress and co-founded Progressive Change Campaign Committee and worked closely with WikiLeaks. As a result, he, as with others like him, didn’t escape the attention and ire of the government. He was harassed for over two years, starting in 2009, by FBI, the Department of Justice and then by state prosecutors who finally filed charges against him that carried a sentence of 30 years in prison, for nothing but hacking into a Web site. He fought to reduce the charges, but the prosecutors would not budge. Finally, he was found dead on January 11, 2013, at his apartment in Brooklyn, NY, at the age of 26. His death was announced as suicide. WikiLeaks tweeted about Swartz’ death: “The brilliant Aaron Swartz (@aaronsw), long time WikiLeaks friend, age 26, is dead after two years of harrassment by US prosecutors.”
Why does the US Government fear such young, smart and capable individuals? Why does the ruling class insist on taking them away from us, in any way they can? The answer is: information. These individuals who witness and understand government misdeeds, and either through their job and position or their know how, have the ability to reveal to the population government atrocities, crimes and secret programs, present a clear and present danger to them. The class of super wealthy that has created an empire, headquartered in Washington, has amassed an incredible military power and dominates over much of the world, making itself obscenely rich at the expense of billions of people – both Americans and others overseas – can continue its rule unchallenged only through secrecy and deception of its population, who keep getting poorer, while technology and productivity keeps rising and don’t understand why. They don’t understand why there have to be so many wars, why their government has to spend so much on the military, why their social programs, social safety nets and education must be cut and healthcare must cost so much, and why they have to give up their bill of rights. They’re told the wars and elimination of their civil rights are for their safety, that their sons and daughters must be sent to fight wars overseas so we don’t have to fight them here. They’re told they’re helping other nations by taking democracy to them, even if it means killing them and wiping off entire villages. They’re told the banks do nothing wrong, there is nothing wrong with what oil and gas companies are doing, that Monsanto makes safe produce, that insurance companies need to raise their premiums, and that they need to cut our education, close clinics, cut our social programs and school lunch because we can’t afford them, all the while they keep getting richer. And they all seem so happy whenever we see them on TV. They seem so detached from the hardship people are going through. Something doesn’t seem right.
These smart young Americans are trying to tell us what’s wrong with the picture. What Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and Aaron Swartz did or tried to do to varying degrees, was expose the government’s lies and by doing that, they tried to bring people one step closer to understanding the truth about the class of blood sucking parasites and one step closer to changing all that. How the government of the rich who rule through their two-party system reacts to such individuals is very telling: one is held in military prison, probably for the rest of his life, one is trying to find home in another country to avoid life in prison, and the other is dead.
After the Boston Marathon bombings, the FBI began interviewing others of Chechen background who might have known the Tsarnaev brothers to see if anyone else was involved with the bombings. One of the people they interrogated – for five times – was a 27 year old resident of Orlando, Florida, named Ibragim Todashev who knew Tamarlan Tsarnaev from the time he lived in Boston where they both practiced mixed martial arts in the same gym. During the fifth and last interrogation at his apartment, unarmed Todashev was shot seven times, one in the back of his head. After the incident, first, FBI agents said Todashev had a knife, but, then, two of the agents said, no, he didn’t. Then, they said he had a blade and then took that back. Then, they said, he lunged at one of the agents with a stick or a broom and was shot by the agent in self-defense. Then, they said no, he threw a chair at an agent. In any case, none of those conflicting accounts, which each time was refuted and changed, explains shooting him seven times, one of them at the back of his head, as if to make sure he was dead.
The State’s Coroner’s office has long concluded its autopsy of the body, but, has been asked by FBI to not announce their findings as to the cause, manner and circumstances of his murder, and are therefore not announcing their findings.
Normally, when an FBI agent shoots and kills someone, if they have nothing to hide, the agency announces the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident within 24 hours. But, after several conflicting accounts, and months after the killing, there is still no report by the agency as to what exactly happened on that day in the Orlando apartment when several heavily armed agents interrogated the unarmed Todashev.
The FBI says, before his death, Todashev had agreed to confess to being involved in the murder of three men on September 11, 2011, who were all brutally killed in a Waltham, Massachusetts apartment, a crime that remains unsolved. According to FBI, the other person involved with that triple murder was Tamarlan Tsarnaev who was implicated in Boston Marathon bombings and killed during a shoot out with police. The agency has not offered any evidence or explanation for its claim that the killers of those three Massachusetts men were Tamarlan Tsarnaev and Ibragim Todashev, both of whom are now dead.
No one knows who did those killings in 2011, but, we do know that the FBI agents executed Todashev and repeatedly lied about it and have prevented the Coroner’s office from reporting its finding about the murder. We also know a murderous gang of lawless gangster thugs who shoot and kill people with impunity. That gang of murderers is called the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Sometimes, an event happens that reveals more about a society than you can ever learn from books or university classes. The trial of George Zimmerman brought to fore – again – the reality of racism, and dangled it in front of our eyes, like stinky ugly slime, such that no one could deny its ugly existence; and if anyone was too blind to see or pretended not to see it, its stench was strong enough to suffocate him out of his wits. Sadly, there are still people who continue to close their eyes and nose and claim not to see or smell this American gift to humanity, which is too toxic to even dump it into the sewer. This dirt must only be burned in an inferno bigger than the one that, in the aftermath of the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King in 1992, burned 3000 buildings to ground.
The way I see it, there was no real and serious trial of Zimmerman who decided a 17 year old black teenager in a hoodie “was up to no good” and made sure he wasn’t one of those “punks” who “always get away” and proceeded to follow and ended up killing him. There was no real trial, only the pretense of a trial by a racist court within a racist “criminal justice system”, by a bunch of racists who conducted a show and sent Trayvon’s distressed and agonizing parents home.
This so-called bogus “trial” was nothing but a loud and naked show of racism. By unjustly, disingenuously and deliberately pretending that the case was not related to racism, the court itself became and operated as a racist institution. The judge who forbid even the mention of “racial profiling” during the trial would never herself have to fear for her child getting killed because of the color of his skin. So, to her, instructing the jury to disregard race who were all too happy to comply was devoid of real life experience and emotion and was academic and inconsequential. That was the judge. What about the so-called “special prosecutor” in the case, Angela Corey? She refused to file charges against Zimmerman for 7 weeks and filed the charges only after massive nationwide protests put pressure on her department and forced her hand. And after the verdict was announced, she said: “we brought out the truth”, and that the case had nothing to do with race, basically, defending the outcome. Well, that’s easy for her to say. I never heard of white police conducting racial profiling on white people like her or her children. So, when she says the case had nothing to do with race, she means racism is not an issue for her because she and her family are not affected by it. I would have never guessed it!!
Now, get this: this same prosecutor who takes that attitude about this case, filed, in 2010, maximum possible charges, without hesitation, and pushed to the best of her ability and to the extent the law allowed, for prosecution of a black mother of three, Marissa Alexander, who shot a warning shot without even hitting or injuring him, at her abusive husband who repeatedly beat her, sending her to hospital. As the result of her overcharging, Marissa is serving a 20 year sentence for just firing a shot into the air! And you think the system works? Only a hateful, racist and cruel person would be okay with such huge injustice and huge discrepancy between these two cases. If this is the prosecutor, what do you expect of the defense lawyer who has the audacity to say that had Zimmerman been black, he wouldn’t even have been charged! Oh, I get it. So, the system is biased against the white people. Don’t you wonder what universe he lives in? In the universe of lying racist bastards where facts and statistics don’t mean anything, that’s what. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a white liberal friend recently who said I’m being racist myself – against the whites – when I say racism is a one-way street and one sided and that so-called “reverse racism” is just a bunch of crap.
It wasn’t just the fact that monetary contributions pored in from all over the nation to help Zimmerman get the best defense he could, or that the prosecution did a terribly poor job and agreed with the judge that the race issue should not be raised or that jurors were not screened thoroughly to make sure they weren’t racist. It was all of these and more. And it’s not even all about that one innocent child who got killed for no reason. The problem runs deep and wide. One of the jurors said in an interview after the trial that she would feel safe in a neighborhood where Zimmerman was in neighborhood watch. Of course, she would. The Zimmermans and the police of this nation don’t follow and shoot and kill white boys. When asked if she felt sorry for Trayvon, she said she felt sorry for both of them. I can imagine the pressure she must have felt by that question to also include Trayvon in her reply.
But, none of this is enough for some white folks, some of whom are self-proclaimed liberals! They’re upset that there are protests against Zimmerman’s acquittal. They tell us that when a white person is killed, white people don’t demonstrate, but when a black boy is killed blacks do. Frankly, the racist ignorance and stupidity of these people is mind boggling and I wouldn’t even know where to begin with them. This is one of those situations when I throw up my hands in exasperation and walk away wishing the next climate change induced hurricane would wash them away and into some remote island, so I can’t see them, hear them or read their posts on Facebook, which I had the misfortune to read from one of them – on my own wall, of all places – by a so-called liberal!
Let’s stop pretending. Alright? Anyone who now says that there was a trial and the jury spoke and the system worked is a racist and full of crap. Yes, the system worked alright. It worked as it was meant and designed to work. It worked to disenfranchise another black family. It worked to reaffirm the notion that the life of a black boy means nothing. It worked to put a dead teenager on trial and make him the villain, instead of his murderer. It worked to send the message to African Americans that they have no safety in a country where the NSA monitors all Americans’ private phone and Internet communications, which supposedly is done for their “safety”! It worked to remind them, much to their disappointment, that having a black president who ignores the plight of the people who put their hopes in him and shamelessly serves the interests of the white supremacist ruling class who put him into office to give their rule a popular face means nothing to them; and that only they, in large numbers on the streets, can grab the bull by its horns and change the course of this society, and put the Angela Corey’s of this nation out of jobs they never should have been in.
I’ve seen a few Facebook posts lately that lament the attention paid to the trial of Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, either because, in the minds of some, it’s a “diversion from the trial of Bradley Manning” or because it doesn’t deserve so much attention because “there are shootings and killings of young black men everyday” and therefore there is no reason why this particular killing should get so much attention.
First of all, no single injustice has precedence over others. They’re all important: the injustice done to Trayvon Martin due to a corrupt and racially biased criminal justice system, the injustice against whistle blowers Bradley Manning and Snowden, the collusion of the Obama Administration with the oil and gas companies that are polluting underground water for huge profits, or with bankers letting those who committed massive fraud and tanked the economy off the hook, or with Monsanto and others who poison our food, or having NSA collect in bulk all our communications and conversations, having police officers who shoot unarmed and innocent youth get away with murder, having politicians including the president who sell themselves to the highest bidder, drone bombings of villagers in several countries and killing innocent people, including children, holding innocent men in Guantanamo prison indefinitely and force feeding them using a tube shoved down their nose twice a day, waging unending wars for Empire and corporate profits and cutting people’s social programs that help the poor, attacking women’s rights and many others.
The fact is we live in a society where there are injustices, crimes, atrocities and wrongdoings committed everyday by those holding the levers of power, or by the system as a whole with its institutions, or by government agencies and officials from the president on down that increasingly control our lives and monitor our every move and punish those who dare reveal the truth, in order to prevent a people’s movement for real and systemic change.
All these injustices occur simultaneously and in parallel and they all deserve our attention, resistance and organizing around in order to fight back and try to stop. Furthermore, all these are interrelated and stem from a socioeconomic system that’s unjust, exploitative, oppressive and discriminatory at its core. Progressives and people of conscience who see and refuse to turn a blind eye on these injustices must raise, draw attention to and protest all of them, not because we think they all are necessarily equal in their impact on society or their egregiousness or level of injustice, but because they all are important in their own right, and, also because they all are expressions of the same rotten system that puts profits for a few greedy corporations before people and their needs, a system that has no interest in combatting and uprooting racism and other forms of discrimination because it benefits from dividing and thus disempowering people. Raising propel’s consciousness requires raising and fighting back against all these and other systemic injustices.
People’s attention to the Zimmerman trial was no conspiracy to divert attention from anything. Did the corporate media dramatize it to get higher ratings and more viewership and more profits? Sure, they did. Don’t they always? But, was that why people gathered in front of Sanford, Florida police department and the City Hall in the thousand to demand justice when the police refused to even arrest the killer? I think not. I think people know an injustice when they see it and they were right protesting it. Does the fact that the jury acquitted Zimmerman mean it was a fair and unbiased trial and therefore deserve no protest? I don’t think so. Acquitting suspects in racially motivated killings is nothing new. In fact, there is a long and ugly history of it in this country. This particular case, like so many others, was clearly one of racial profiling which wasn’t even admitted to be mentioned as a factor. As I mentioned in an earlier piece, it’s like discussing black holes without mentioning gravity.
Besides, what do you want to say to the thousands of people who poured into the streets nationwide in protest, after the verdict was announced? To go home because you’re diverting attention from the trial of Bradley Manning? Of course, we need to protest the unjust arrest, detention and trial of Bradley Manning who heroically and in the most noble and selfless manner exposed some of the most egregious, criminal and vile actions of the US government. And that’s why he’s been treated with so much hatred and spite by the Obama Administration, including keeping him naked in solitary confinement, including sleep deprivation and other forms of abuse which amounted to torture, and charging him with espionage that could send him to jail indefinitely. Yes, that injustice, most definitely needs our attention and protest. And so does the treatment of Edward Snowden. But, there is no contradiction between the attention afforded to the killing of an innocent black teenager which is emblematic of a nationwide and historical trend and that paid to the awful treatment of young whistle blowers. The change we want is not just to let whistle blowers speak the truth without fear of retribution, but one that also ends racial injustice, as well as gender-based discrimination, among others.
You’d think turning to social media to read news and opinions instead of the corporate media would be a good respite away from the likes of CNN, NBC, ABC and others whose business model is to brainwash the public for profit from advertisers who are guaranteed of the public’s continued loyalty thanks to a narrow minded, infantile and consumerist mindset created by the media which cuts people off from the outside world and real issues making perpetual buyers out of them. Yes, you’d think social media would be a welcome relief from that. But, we run into many of the products of such brainwashing there which at times can make you feel like there is no escape.
One constant reminder of such ignorance and delusional thinking frequently on display is the plethora of conspiracy theories rising fast like unwanted weed out of every nook and cranny and tripping you at every step. Is there an outrage about the verdict in Zimmerman trial? It’s a diversion from Snowden. You mentioned Snowden? That’s a diversion from Bradley Manning case which itself is a diversion from what’s happening in Egypt where there is no revolution, really. It’s all CIA photoshopping pictures of millions of people on the streets and showing us on TV. Why? Because they want us to forget about the drone attacks which presumably could also be all lies told us so we believe them when they tell us that they did actually land on the moon in 1969, which was all a lie diverting our attention from the aliens that landed in Mojave Desert which US scientists are experimenting on so one day they can fly back with them to their planet and leave us here to put up with these damn conspiracy theorists. Good grief!!! Enough already.
But, seriously, what these conspiracy theories do is belittle people’s struggles and spread or try to spread apathy and helplessness. The CIA is like God and controls everything and people have no power; so, don’t even try to fight back. Just stay victimized – not by real war crimes and atrocities that we could actually organize against and in so doing empower people and have a real effect, but by fantastic and imaginary ones that we can do nothing about. The end result of such conspiracy theories is not empowerment but disempowerment, not believing in change but in impossibility of change, not encouraging and instilling in people hope and the will for change but hopelessness and lack of will for change.
In this scenario, we are for ever damned to injustice and oppression which there is no escape from, so busy yourselves with conspiracy theories as an intellectual escape. And that’s the real diversion: diversion from struggle, diversion from organizing, activism and from resistance. And if you ask them what about the revolutions of the past years and decades? People did win big victories, didn’t they? They will say: no those were all manufactured and not real. No revolution ever was real. In fact, since humans started walking on two feet, there has never been any change. People have never been masters of their destiny and they never will be which begs the question: do we really exist or this is an imaginary universe?