The War vs. Us All

Andy Rooney left “60 Minutes” this past Sunday. The nation is in need of a seasoned journalist to provide a weekly dose of context.

What an opportune time to free award winning journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, the most famous death row inmate in the world.

Abu-Jamal symbolizes the struggle of the under served in this country. His voice is representative of the changing demographics of the US and his wide range of knowledge provides much needed forethought to policy decisions we often overlook.

Abu-Jamal was a member of the Philadelphia Black Panthers and a radio journalist who became the President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.

In 1981 he was convicted (by a jury of not of his peers and a well known racist judge) of the murder of a Philadelphia police officer and sentenced to death.

His death sentence was vacated and remanded for a new hearing in 2008. This decision was upheld in April of this year.

After watching the lynching of Troy Davis play out on live television, the fight to end the death penalty has become as urgent as ever. Freeing Abu-Jamal and giving him the opportunity to share his knowledge with the American public would be symbolic of the US beginning to make amends with its racism. It would be a defiant gesture against the death penalty as well as a rare vindication of a black person wronged by the criminal justice system.

As the US gets more diverse and the incarceration rate expands, Abu-Jamal provides a face that the public can relate to.

He was stripped of his human rights not so coincidentally after establishing himself as a prominent activist. His questionable murder case is eerily similar to ones faced by other Panthers including Huey P. Newton and Assata Shakur. All claimed they were shot by police officers and survived, only to be charged with the murder of another officer at the scene.

Many Americans have been affected in some way by the injustice of the prison industrial complex and would be more receptive to Abu-Jamal than people of the past that were conned by COINTELPRO influences in the media.

Instead of dismissing him, these people might appreciate the knowledge he’s been sharing from behind bars.

Although he’s been locked up for nearly three decades, Abu-Jamal has released weekly podcasts providing wisdom and incite on American politics, social movements and influential figures in society. He combines an activist spirit with several libraries worth of knowledge (everything from Nietzsche to Fanon to old English plays).

Abu-Jamal’s ability to synthesize current events and add context from the past serves to both provide forethought and make academia engaging.

His uncanny ability to predict the outcome of government initiatives and policies shows the importance of extensive reading and critical thinking.

For example, on “The War vs. Us All” Abu-Jamal expresses his thoughts on the War in Iraq:

“It is ultimately a War on us all. That’s because the billions and billions that are being spent on this War–the cost of tanks, rocketry, bullets and yes even salaries for the 125,000 plus troops–is money that will never be spent on education, on healthcare, on the reconstruction of crumbling public housing or to train and place the millions of workers who have lost manufacturing jobs in the past three years alone. The War in Iraq is in reality a war against the nations’ workers and the poor, who are getting less and less, while the big Defense industries are making a killing literally.”

With drones in six countries in Africa and the Middle East and so many people out of work here, it’s hard to say he got it wrong.

The American public has an obsession with celebrities so who better to speak to it than a celebrity of the global struggle against imperialism? Abu-Jamal has seen it all and has already proven he can inspire many despite being held in the most repressive conditions.

In a country that loves symbolism, nothing would be more fitting than freeing a black political prisoner and letting him convince the public not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

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One Response to “The War vs. Us All”

  1. Bruce, keep it coming brother. Would love to know your thoughts on the Occupy Movement, as I’m sure you’re typing this very second. Thanks for keeping it real.

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