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Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Early Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida, a gunman identified as Omar Mateen burst into the Pulse nightclub, known as a center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. He opened fire on the crowd of several hundred, killing at least 49 people and wounding another 53. At this point, according to Reuters, the Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility.
This outrage, at a site which many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people see as a sanctuary, is extremely vicious—and horribly painful to contemplate. Ordinary people have been gunned down, murdered, apparently simply because of the way they live and love.
Such a depraved act is utterly unacceptable, something that humanity should be—and could be—far beyond. Yet while humanity should be far beyond this, the hatred for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is deeply rooted throughout this entire capitalist-imperialist society. And yes, deeply rooted in American society. Bullying, ostracism from families and communities, beatings, insults and all manner of hate crimes against LGBT people typify life in this society. As a result, suicide among LGBT youth is epidemic. This oppression is so deeply knit into the fabric of society that the so-called holy texts of Christianity, Islam and Judaism call for death to gay people, and most of the religious institutions today constantly line up against any measure calling for any kinds of rights or dignity for LGBT people. Indeed, the last two months have witnessed massive hysteria whipped up from right-wing Christian fundamentalist politicians against transgender people using bathrooms. In complex ways, this insane hatred forms part of the "social glue" and perverse morality that knits together whole sections of this capitalist-imperialist society.
But this particular attack in Orlando has as of this posting reportedly been claimed by the Islamic fundamentalist group Islamic State. If this is true—and it would be consistent with what they profess and what they have actually done—this is yet one more reason why the vicious ideology of Islamic fundamentalist jihadism must be thoroughly and unequivocally opposed and resisted. As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has stated, there is in fact nothing "radical" and nothing at all even remotely progressive about this ideology. Its role in the world in attracting angry people to its banners to carry out vicious and misguided acts only reinforces the oppressive relations of the world, and actually strengthens U.S. (and western) imperialism, as people feel driven to choose between two oppressive alternatives.
Both U.S. imperialism and jihadism must be opposed, with no quarter given to either by anyone who hungers for justice and human emancipation. This means standing with LGBT people against this attack AND it means opposing what will very likely be proposals to heighten the very repressive powers that defend this social system, or to demonize and repress Muslim people as a whole, or to step up U.S. military aggression in the Middle East.
Listen to audio of the Message, recorded by members of the Revolution Club
The whole deadly dynamic where Islamic fundamentalist jihadism and imperialism (which grinds up the lives and mutilates the spirits of millions in the name of its "freedoms") present themselves as the only poles in society must be ended. Revolutionary communism alone truly provides a viable and comprehensive alternative, capable of channeling both people's anger and their aspirations to something better, into the only project that actually CAN emancipate humanity.
This pole must be strengthened now, throughout this society and throughout the world. The obstacle that stands in the way of human liberation and indeed reinforces and fosters every backward and oppressive social relation—the system of capitalism-imperialism—needs to be removed at the soonest possible time so we can go to work on actually transforming all this as part of a radically different and radically more free world, one in which—to paraphrase Bob Avakian—all exploitative and oppressive relations, and all destructive antagonistic relations between people have been overcome and transcended. This is what we are doing right now and urge you to be part of.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, The New Communism. In addition to excerpts already posted on revcom.us, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both revcom.us and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. An updated pre-publication PDF of this major work—now including the appendices—is available here.
This excerpt comes from the section titled "I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science."
Here we get to materialism versus idealism. First of all, there is the question: what is materialism? Materialism has everything to do with and flows from the scientific method and approach. Materialism means that you approach, and seek to understand, the world as it, in fact, objectively exists. It means that you understand that there is a material reality and that all of reality, all of existence, is made up of material reality and nothing else. Engels, who along with Marx, was the founder of the communist movement, made the point, a very important point, that there are, in basic terms, two fundamental and two fundamentally opposed schools of philosophy: one is idealism and the other is materialism.
Now, we have to understand these terms not as they’re often used by people in everyday language, but in a scientific way. A lot of times people use idealism in a positive way: so-and-so is very idealistic, they have high ideals, meaning they have a lot of principles and they’re not narrow-minded or selfish or whatever. But in the philosophical sense, idealism, the school of idealism, means that you think that reality is an extension of ideas—that’s why it’s called idealism, you think reality is an extension of ideas—ideas in the mind of individuals. For example: “Maybe this doesn’t exist for you, but it exists for me.” We hear this kind of thing all the time, this relativism: “Well, that may be your truth, but my truth says something different. God may not exist for you, but God definitely exists for me.” No! If god exists at all, then god exists for everybody. See, that’s the thing we have to recognize. Either there’s a god or there’s not. God is not the kind of thing that can just exist in one person’s mind—unless it’s your own personal god that you just made up, and then that’s easy to deal with. But the idealist school of thought in philosophy says that the reality that we perceive is an extension of ideas—either different individuals’ ideas or the ideas of one great mind, which is another way of saying what? God. So, naturally, you can’t test those ideas against reality, because their basis exists within the mind of either some supposed god or of individual human beings. And this is completely out of line with reality—the idea that there are multiple realities depending on each individual’s, or some supposed god’s, thinking or feelings or ideas or whatever—it’s completely out of keeping with the actual reality. (Ooh, there’s that scary concept again, objective reality, actual reality. We’re on the verge of totalitarianism now!)
Engels also made the point that one of the ways we know this, that material reality actually exists, is that we can interact with it—not only learn about it, but change it. And when we change it, it changes the same way for everybody. Different people may respond to how it changes in different ways, or have different feelings or thoughts about it, but it changes objectively. So that’s the philosophical school of materialism, as Engels pointed out. The school of materialism, as opposed to idealism, says that the material world objectively exists independently of any individual, or any supposed god, and their ideas and thinking. And that, in fact, individuals and their thinking is a process of material reality itself—people’s brains, nervous systems, and so on—this is what goes into thought. Now, it’s true, we don’t understand everything about how this works, although more is constantly being learned, and at the same time there is struggle over how to interpret what’s being learned in many cases. But we do know that the human nervous system and brain are actual material reality that undergoes actual material processes, and that’s what thoughts are constituted of. And those thoughts in turn are ultimately, and in a fundamental sense, a reflection of objective reality, a reflection in the minds of the thinking person. These ideas may be a correct or an incorrect, an accurate or an inaccurate, reflection of reality, but that’s what they ultimately are, some reflection of reality. So that’s a fundamental dividing line, between materialism and idealism.
Now it’s true that, for example, in art, in culture, often things will be presented which are different than actual material reality. And that’s a good thing. You wouldn’t want to see art that only, always and simply, reflected reality back to you just exactly the way it is. You want it presented in different ways, including many ways that are not in keeping with how reality actually is, which can inspire and challenge and provoke you to think, including about actual reality. So there is that role in art. But that art, that culture, is still a reflection of material reality in the final analysis. That’s the raw material—the actual reality out there is the raw material out of which art is built, even if it deliberately distorts and skews it in order to present things in a different way. So we’re back again to this fundamental dividing line between a materialist understanding and an idealist mis-understanding of how things actually are.
What we mean by materialism, as one of the two opposing schools in philosophy, is different once again than the way this is often used in everyday life—for example, how preachers sometimes use this term, or how it is often used in popular language— meaning something like consumerism: “That person’s very materialist,” meaning they want to go out and grab a bunch of consumer goods, they’re continually consumed with shopping, buying more video games, or shoes, or whatever. Or, sometimes materialism is used by religious people and others to refer to people who are very narrow and grubby: they’re philistine—they don’t think about big things, they’re very “materialist” in the sense of wanting to just deal with the narrowest scope of things, and don’t have much use for big philosophical questions, or questions of “spirituality,” and so on. But, in the scientific sense, in terms of the two basic schools of philosophy, materialism means that you recognize that material reality objectively exists, that everything that actually exists is made up of material reality, in many different forms, and that this includes the minds of people and their thoughts.
Now, once again, people sometimes say things like: “Well, maybe the world objectively exists, but we can’t actually know it as it objectively exists, we can only know it as we perceive it, or as we construct it in our minds, out of our perceptions.” Engels pointed out the prominent philosopher Immanuel Kant was an example of that. But without going into all that right now, the point is, as Engels made clear, that even people who argue in that way are still in the philosophical camp of idealism, because if you say we can’t really know anything about reality outside of how we perceive it, or how we construct it in our minds, then in effect you’re saying that the only material reality there is, or the only material reality you can be certain of, is the material reality you perceive and how you perceive it, or “construct” it. All that falls into the philosophical school of idealism that says that reality exists in the minds of people, or in the mind of one great god, and then everything else is an extension of that. So, once again, this is a fundamental dividing line in how you approach understanding the world and therefore your ability to change it. It may sound like we’re talking about obscure theoretical abstractions, but everybody here, I’m sure, in talking to people, runs into this kind of thinking—the idealist way of thinking—in all different kinds of forms. You get it in very sophisticated theses sometimes—or sometimes not very sophisticated feces—from some of these academics. And you get it in very down-on-the-ground everyday terms from “regular people.” Again, “That may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” Or, “How can we really say what’s true?” Or, “God may not exist for you, but I know God exists for me—without God I couldn’t have done this, I couldn’t have done that, I couldn’t have gotten off drugs, so God exists for me, anyway.” I’ve even had people tell me: “Well, you may not believe in God, but I believe God sent you here to do this.”
We hear this kind of thing in all different kinds of forms all the time. And it’s very important that we approach things correctly in how we deal with this and how we struggle over this with people. I mean, you’re not going to go to the masses of people and say, “Now, listen, you have to understand there are two basic schools of philosophy—Engels pointed out...” “What the fuck are you talking about?!” No, you have to break this down for people—it’s not that you should water it down, but you have to break it down, you have to make this accessible to people. At the same time, you have to remain firmly grounded in the basics here. Otherwise, you’re going to lose your bearings, you’re not going to be able to struggle in a good way with people, because people will set all kinds of terms on which they want to discuss and struggle with you about things, and you have to recast the terms back to what they actually are, or else you get lost and run around in a circle. I think everybody has experienced this at one time or another.
So that’s materialism as opposed to idealism, two basic schools of philosophy: one in accord, in correspondence, with how things actually are, and one completely out of line (upside down, if you will) in terms of how things actually are.
We don’t just talk about materialism, however, and this is an important point. The science, the scientific method and approach, is dialectical materialism. Why? Because reality is not static. As we’ve seen, and as I’ve been referring to, reality is constantly in the process of change. Reality is made up of contradiction—and we’ll get into that. Dialectics is a word of Greek origin that means dealing with conflict, or opposing things, or contradiction. It means recognizing and dealing with contradiction and the struggle between things in contradiction. Reality is made up of things that, as an expression of contradiction, are constantly moving and changing in one form or another: sometimes it’s a relatively minor change, and then sometimes there’s a big leap in how things change from one thing to another. There are all kinds of simple as well as more complex ways in which this happens. An example of a simple way is that you boil water and it heats up and eventually becomes steam. But (this is an important point too): it’s not just water, water, water—and then, whoomp, all of a sudden, it’s steam. It’s undergoing relatively minor changes and then it makes a leap to become something else. This goes on in all kinds of ways in reality. So, if you just have a materialist approach, you’re going to end up being very determinist, that is, you’re going to bow down to material reality as it is and not see the possibility for change, or at least not major change, because you’ve only done half the work, so to speak. You’ve seen and recognized that the actual material reality out there is what exists, and all that exists is material reality, and what is true is what corresponds to that material reality. But you haven’t recognized the contradiction, the motion and the change, so all you can see at any given time is what is—you see the possibilities of what can be as determined and confined by what already is—and then you’re a slave to that, you bow down to that, you limit yourself to that, because you don’t see the contradictions, not only those contradictions which are more apparent but the deeper contradictions that are really driving things and driving changes, and that hold the potential for change, even as they also pose obstacles to that. That’s the struggle we have to wage—to grasp the basis for change, and to bring about change on the basis of the contradictions within material reality, and in particular the deeper, fundamental and driving contradictions.
So we have to be dialectical materialists. We have to look for, and work to understand, things as they actually are, and as they are moving and changing. And it takes work. I’m going to give some examples of that as we go along. It takes work. You have to work. If you want to make a revolution, you have to work, OK? If it were easy, if we could just fall into it, then that would have happened a long time ago, because there are plenty of horrors in the world, there is plenty of reason for people to want a different world. But there are also all kinds of things pulling on them in other ways, all kinds of contradictions that they’re caught up in. So you have to work, you have to dig for the deeper contradictions. Yes, you should recognize the ones that are right on the surface, but you have to dig for the deeper ones, the underlying ones, the driving ones. And this is in accord with reality. It’s not that it’s better not to be determinist—“Let’s be dialectical because that way we won’t be slavish to objective conditions, it’s much better that way and we’ll feel better.” No. This is the way reality actually is. It actually objectively exists, and truth does, in fact, mean that your ideas, if they are true, are in correspondence with objective reality, as it is, but also as it’s full of contradiction and is moving and changing. And only if you get these two elements and you correctly synthesize them, and you’re actually understanding particular aspects of reality but also understanding this in its relation to the larger context—only if you do that can you have a consistently and thoroughly correct approach to reality. Of course, that doesn’t mean you understand everything at any given time, or that you understand what you do understand perfectly, necessarily. But this is the only method and approach for actually getting at reality as it actually is—and as, in fact, it is moving and changing.
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights
Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation
The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—
Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity
Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution
One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Part IV. The Leadership We Need
The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion
Selected List of Works Cited
About the Author
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
The Stanford Rape Outrage
June 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bob Avakian, "A world of rape and sexual assault"
A clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, given in 2003 in the United States.
Learn more about Bob Avakian here
Bob Avakian has said that the frequency of rape in this society would be reason enough for revolution, even if all its other towering crimes and injustices did not exist. A deep look at the recent rape case at Stanford underlines that—and why a revolution is needed to solve it.
On January 18, 2015 a young woman’s life was shattered. Her evening began with a lighthearted family dinner and a last-minute decision to accompany her sister to a party, but it ended with her strapped to a gurney, with bruises and debris covering her body and the inside of her vagina. She had been viciously raped on the ground, behind a dumpster, outside a Stanford frat party, while she was unconscious.
Brock Turner, 20-year-old Stanford student, was charged. Turner’s lawyer dragged in all kinds of slanders and irrelevant accusations against the victim. He put her through hell on the witness stand. Blaming her for drinking, for being sexually active, for how she was dressed, and more. As if somehow that would excuse Turner’s violent violation of her.
Despite all this, the evidence was overwhelming and the jury convicted him on three felonies.
Then the judge stepped in. He said jail time would “have a severe impact” on the rapist. So, instead of potentially 14 years in prison, he gave Turner a mere six months in jail.
The message sent by the court is that rape is “not that serious.” This is outrageous and wrong.
But that is not all. This case is an X-ray of the whole culture of promoting and excusing violence and degradation against women. It is a concentration of the urgent need for the most radical and thoroughgoing revolution in the history of humanity.
In a display of tremendous courage, the young woman read a letter aloud to the court that detailed her experience. She brought alive how the damage inflicted by rape does not end when the physical act is over. It unfurls over a woman’s lifetime, radiates out to those around her, and hangs in the air as a violation against all women everywhere.
She explained: “I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
The trauma infiltrated every aspect of her life: “I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most.”
With piercing clarity, and without a hint of revenge, she demolished the excuses of her rapist and his defenders. No, alcohol is not an excuse for rape. No, sexual promiscuity (where someone willingly has sex with many people) has nothing to do with rape (where someone is forced to have sex against their will). No, it is not OK that she was asked irrelevant and re-traumatizing questions on the witness stand. She posed, “If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.”
Her letter is 13 pages long and everyone should read it. In its entirety. Out loud. In classrooms. In church groups. In families. On sports teams. On air.
Her pain must be seen. Her battle against despair must be supported. Her courage must be multiplied.
Even after this harrowing letter, Judge Persky gave Brock a mere slap on the wrist. In effect, he signaled a green-light to rapists everywhere.
Outrageously, Persky is not an exception. Rather, he concentrates this society’s whole putrid rape culture. In the U.S., as in all “modern” capitalist states, rape is only “wink-wink illegal.” In other words, rape is formally against the law, but for all intents and purposes—especially for the powerful and their enforcers—rape is a protected activity.
Face it: Until outrage erupted over this case, Stanford had never expelled a single student for rape. Thousands and thousands of rape kits sit unprocessed for years in police precincts across the country. Less than two percent of rapes reported to police result in convictions and jail time. It was legal in all 50 states for a man to rape his wife until the 1970s. Only in 1993 did the last state make it illegal. In the U.S. military one in three women is raped or sexually assaulted, but if she reports her rape, she is 12 times more likely to be retaliated against than to ever see her rapist convicted.
Why? Because rape serves a major function under this system. It terrorizes all women, keeps them fearful and constantly reminded of “their place.” It is a violent means of enforcing the many twisted “perks” and privileges promised to men, to make them feel they have a stake at least in some part of this system. This is objectively true, even as some men themselves may not like—and even be sickened by—this particular form of oppression.
This violent terror and degradation of women is a cornerstone, a major glue, of every modern capitalist society—including the U.S. And right now, it is being rapidly and aggressively escalated. It’s fueled by men who are furious that women have entered campuses, corporate board rooms, and sports—arenas that used to be male-only bastions of unchallenged domination. It is also fueled by the simmering anger of other men who face growing economic insecurity and the breakdown of the traditional male-dominated family; men hungry to reassert their control and take out their rage against women.
It’s the mainstreaming of rape porn. It’s the music that derides women as “bitches” and “hos.” It’s the Bible scriptures that celebrate rape as a reward of war. It’s the “guy culture” promoted by coaches and gym teachers, in board rooms and military battalions. It is the way boys and men who don’t participate are bullied, called “fags,” and often sexually violated themselves. It is the culture of strip clubs and “escorts” that pervades Wall Street and Silicon Valley. It is the shaming and threats and virtual-mobs of men who hound women on social media. It’s the words of Brock’s father, dismissing his son’s act of rape as merely “20 minutes of action.”
Bob Avakian (BA), Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, once wrote, “Recently I heard a startling statistic: one out of every four women in the U.S. will be the victim of a sexual assault during her lifetime. One out of four!, and the number is expected to rise to one out of three. Right there, even if this ‘way of life’ did not produce any of the other seemingly endless outrages and genuinely monstrous crimes—all the way to world war—that it does produce, even if what stands behind the statistic were the only thing seriously wrong with this system, that alone would be enough to rise up against it and not stop until it had been overthrown and something better put in its place.”
It is essential that people fiercely resist this whole culture of rape and violence and degradation against women. What this young woman did in refusing to just take the howling injustice of the sentence, what two Swedish graduate students did by physically stopping this rape as it was underway—this is what many, many more people must do.
No more joking about, excusing, or belittling rape. No more shaming and blaming rape victims. No more asking, “What was she wearing?” or suggesting that “She asked for it.” No more getting off on porn that sexualizes women’s degradation and torture. No more treating women like punching bags, like sex objects, or like mere breeders of children.
The Revolution Clubs have it right: “We fight for a world where ALL the chains are broken. Women, men, and differently gendered people are equals and comrades. We do not tolerate physically or verbally abusing women or treating them as sexual objects, nor do we tolerate insults or ‘jokes’ about people’s gender or sexual orientation.”
It’s time to start living this way now. And this must be linked to bringing about the kind of total revolution that can uproot and abolish rape once and for all. The system must be overthrown. It must be replaced with a radically new, revolutionary state power.
With revolution, the courts and media will no longer re-victimize women through victim-blaming questions about what they were wearing or their sexual history. Schools will teach equality, mutual respect, and consent in sexual relations. Sports will be radically re-ordered. Under socialism, it will be the norm—not a rare and refreshing exception spurred by mass outrage—for the media to give backing to voices like this young woman’s who speak out against rape. People will be encouraged to break out of the patriarchal family. And more.
All this will radically cut down the incidence of rape and the way in which this terror serves to damage and confine women. And the new society will foster in many more men the aspiration to be emancipators of ALL humanity, not petty tyrants over women.
But this is just the beginning. Bob Avakian has qualitatively advanced the understanding that unless and until all vestiges of male-domination and patriarchy have been completely wiped out, this oppression will become the basis for dragging all of society back to today’s ugly divisions into masters and slaves. So, the orientation of revolutionaries will be to continue to unleash the fury and impatience of women and others to put an end to all attitudes, family structures, notions of “manhood” and gender, and religious traditions that reinforce patriarchy and women’s oppression. To do this even—and in some ways, especially—when this is disruptive to society and its institutions.
This is not a dream. It is possible. But you are needed right now.
Through decades of work and struggle, Bob Avakian has developed the thoroughly scientific approach, the strategy, and the concrete vision for the new society. He has developed the most radical and liberating approach to women in human history: Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution. Plunge into this!
At the same time, BA is actively leading a movement for an actual revolution in the U.S., theoretically and practically. Spread this newspaper/website (revcom.us). Join with the Revolution Clubs. How many more women will be battered and violated, shattered and shamed before you throw in with everything you’ve got?
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
The Stanford Rape Case
June 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors Note: The following harrowing and courageous "victim impact" statement was read in court by the woman who was assaulted and raped by ex-Stanford student Brock Turner. It has been released widely and revcom.us is reposting it here. As Sunsara Taylor said in "The Stanford Rape Outrage: Reason Enough to Make Revolution": "Her letter is 13 pages long and everyone should read it. In its entirety. Out loud. In classrooms. In church groups. In families. On sports teams. On air. Her pain must be seen. Her battle against despair must be supported. Her courage must be multiplied."
Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.
You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.
On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends.
Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.
The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party.
When I was finally allowed to use the rest room, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.
Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.
I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened.
My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.
After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.
On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.
My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark colour from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.
My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.
I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.
I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone.
After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.
One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair dishevelled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognise.
This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.
It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.
The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.
The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a line-up, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know.
He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.
Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.
I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful lawyer, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.
I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.
When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His lawyer constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.
Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his lawyer saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right?
This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:
How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside?
Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What colour was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.
I was pommeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.
And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.
So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.
He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.
According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.
Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.
Your lawyer has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place.
Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?
You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out.
I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.
On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?
To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.
My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your lawyer say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that.
To listen to your lawyer attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.
He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.
You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologise, we will both move on and get better. Then I read your statement.
If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook-up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.
You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.
Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal.
Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.
You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.
I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.
You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.
Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenceless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.
You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my lawyer and his way of approaching the case.
Your lawyer is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your lawyer say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.
You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”
Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognise consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.
Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first power point slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.
Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.
A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken.
Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrolment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.
See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.
My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you.
The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.
I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.
I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.
You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak.
You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.
You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.
When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.
You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.
Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.
Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.
My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public.
He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.
I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time-out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity”. By definition rape is not the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.
The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.
As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.
The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first-time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be?
The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.
The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.
What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologised for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.
He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.
To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me.
Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.
Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.
And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Earlier this year, revcom.us posted a quote from Bob Avakian on fundamentalist Islamic Jihad (see below). A number of prisoners have written to us with their thoughts about and responses to this quote. Their comments reflect different viewpoints and perspectives. The views expressed here are the views of the writers and not revcom.us/Revolution newspaper. We greatly appreciate receiving these letters and encourage prisoners and others to keep sending us correspondence.
BA is absolutely correct in saying that oppression which replaces oppression is itself oppression:
Oppression is not what the world needs. People have an inherent right to freedom. Freedom to express oneself to the fullest. Freedom to help and support one another to the utmost. Freedom to grow, to learn, to change. The world is constantly changing, and we must be in tune with that change in order that the best outcome might be achieved. Dated and inferior ways of thinking must be replaced by an egalitarian spirit, that all may have what they need in order to live a life of fulfillment and contentment. Greed is never satiated. Denying people the opportunity of a decent life only robs one of their own decency.
It is time to awaken.
It is time for revolution.
—a prisoner in Massachusetts
For those who are desperately looking for a way out of this nightmare of a system of capitalism-imperialism—specially those who have historically been the most oppressed by said system, blacks and other minorities, women, etc. who are seen and treated as lesser human, things to be exploited, or as mere breeders. For those who claim or even consider that the answer to escaping said nightmare is fundamentalist Islamic Jihad, then I want to say that you are being misled. Because as BA said “...it is not a radical alternative to this system and its monstrous crimes—it is itself another form of enslavement, oppression, and atrocity, against women and the masses of people overall.”
The only way to escape this nightmare of a system of capitalism-imperialism, without entering another nightmare in different form, is to get into the movement for Revolution; with the final aim of a communist world, free of all forms of oppression. A good starting point is to read Revolution and BA’s works. I invite you to walk through that path together.
—a prisoner in California
What does American capitalism, Zionism and Islamic Jihad have in common? The short answer: DEVASTATION! Outside of the fact that both Zionism and Islamic Jihad can both point to American capitalism as reasons in part to their existence, all three (3) are in the business of destroying any and all forms of resistance and opposition to its philosophy of the way it believes the world should function. American capitalism, Zionism and Islamic Jihad are all predicated on the devastation of Humanity! All three (3) programs can have no alternative result.
American capitalism created the school to prison pipeline that has kidnapped, caged, and held captive millions of us trapped in the clutches of its mechanism of Destruction. Islamic Jihad and its fundamentalist radical interpretation of the Koran created a system of belief that thinks their god is cool with them throwing acid in a girl's face or shooting her or killing her simply because she does not want to be illiterate. Zionism in its ridiculous zeal to bring to life some version of a supposed holy land given to them by their god created a policy to remove by any measure they deemed right which mostly is by killing and bombing an entire people from their homes and land.
—a prisoner in California
Point One: I entirely agree with the statement that science and truth get distorted and twisted, reduced to what is useful in the mad drive for profit. I would say that organized religion plays a larger role, though for many of the same reasons others attempt to suppress progress. It is in their best interest to keep the people ignorant and superstitious, lost to the many realities only scientific advance can present. Of course fundamentalist Islamic jihadists fear the unfettered search for truth, for if the people were to open their eyes the money, power and influence the world’s top religions enjoy would quickly disappear... Fundamentalist Islamic Jihad is not the answer to any of the matter issues at the heart of this system because it is only another facet of this system. Until there is a real and revolutionary change, radical thinking and systematic replacement, oppression will always remain a mainstay of any governance that replaces another.
—a prisoner in Indiana
Being the product of an Islamic household and a part and parcel of a quasi-Islamic organization..., I had a lot to think about concerning this topic. I had to wrestle with everything I had previously been taught to find Truth. The following is how I understand BA’s declaration. It is true; this amerikkkan system of capitalism-imperialism continues to oppress, suppress, and depress Black, Asiatic, and less affluent peoples throughout the world. It is also true that fundamentalist Islamic Jihad cannot, by definition, serve as an emancipating revolution. This is because Islam is by its own self-identification a religion.
To fully overstand that last sentence and why “religeon” is relevant, one must appreciate religeon’s Truth: the prefix “re” means to “do again”. “Ligeon” is from the latin “ligeo” or “ligare” which means to “Bind, Tie Up, or Hold Back”. This does not coincide with what an actual revolution is. In fact, it is in direct opposition to revolution. It is a reactionary method to re-distribute power to those whom it was taken from that does not erase class lines through the manifestation of true Equality, but instead does nothing more than move from one caste system to another with even more demands for obedience to a powerful institution whose head can be neither seen, nor touched.
—a prisoner in Wisconsin
In response to your subject-matter: Fundamentalist Islamic jihadism, I agree 100% with the Chairman; Islamic Jihad is just another form of brutal oppression cloaked under the robe of religious nonsense.
Many times I try to figure out the reason for its gravitational pull on the minds of so many people (worldwide) and, try as I might, the logics of it always seem to evade me—where’s the sense in it? What’s the appeal? I got some insight into this, via your article, where it mentioned about “reactionary hunger,” this is 100% accurate; this brand of Islam is a reactionary line, put forth as the answer to western capitalist/imperialist aggression.
Like BA said, humanity needs science to get a clear understanding of how society functions. A scientific approach is also needed to get an insight into who sets the social order that dictates the social relations, which causes so many billions to live out a despicable form of existence. As a matter of fact, Fundamentalist Islamic Jihad allows the fascist imperialist monster-machine to—in response to their lunatic violence—ratchet-up on its suppression of people’s basic rights. These are instigated under the guise of fighting terrorism. The people’s own ignorance is used against them, and so they give their fundamental freedoms in promise of “so-called” security, which consistently falls short on curbing terrorist violence—which is as unpredictable as the wind. It was Adolf Hitler who said, “What good fortune for those in power that people don’t think!” I can loop this statement to cover various contexts: 1) In BAsics 4:1, it says: “Oppressed people who are unable or unwilling to confront reality as it actually is, are condemned to remain enslaved and oppressed.” By subscribing to whatever brand of religion, people are consequently steered away from the much-needed scientific approach to life—which would unearth truth and unleash the strategy of Realism; Realism, according to BA, is the disposition to face facts and deal with them practically. The fact is: terrorism isn’t limited to just terror cells, there’s also terrorist States/Countries. If people take an unbiased look, they will be able to identify these States/Countries. This is an example of the scientific approach.
—a prisoner in Florida
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Right now the trial of Caesar Goodson is going on in Baltimore. Goodson is one of the cops accused in connection with the murder of Freddie Gray and the ONLY one on trial for murder. One of them has already walked, and another has had a mistrial. And from every indication, the system is greasing the wheels for Goodson to go free. Some basic points:
1. What the police did to Freddie Gray was MURDER, plain and simple. He was healthy enough to run from the cops when they encountered him, but he was near death after they beat him down and subjected him to their “rough ride.” He had done nothing and there was no cause whatsoever to go after him, except for the fact that he wanted to get out of the way of some cops on the prowl. A week later he died from the injuries their torture inflicted on him. All six of those cops were involved in his murder. If they are not punished for this murder, this is saying that Freddie Gray’s life did not matter.
2. What is going on here makes clear once again that those who rule this country, and their system, have never regarded Black people as anything but objects of exploitation who must be kept in their place. And now, today, when their system can no longer make profit by exploiting the masses of Black youth the way they used to, they regard the lives of Black youth as worthless. Poisoned with lead paint at an early age, miseducated in rotten schools, forced to hustle on the streets in an inner city with no real jobs, then killed by the pigs—this was the course of Freddie Gray’s life, as it is for millions of others.
Listen to audio of the Message, recorded by members of the Revolution Club
3. The only solution to this problem is an ACTUAL revolution—one that overthrows this system and replaces it with a totally different and far better one. The Revolutionary Communist Party is organizing right now for that revolution. And we have the strategy and leadership in Bob Avakian that can make that real. As Bob Avakian said, “There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.”
4. A crucial part of organizing for this revolution is people refusing to accept outrages like the system letting the cops who murdered Freddie Gray go free. Accepting outrages like this amounts to letting the system beat us down till we’re completely broken. All kinds of people are saying now that they embrace the legacy of Muhammad Ali. What was inspiring about Ali was that at one point he put it on the line to resist the injustice being inflicted on Black people. That injustice continues today, and we must put it on the line to resist it. We must make clear that the system cannot just get away with letting the police who murdered Freddie Gray walk. The days when they can get away with that must be gone and can be gone.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
A Call to Take the Revolution to the Political Conventions:
June 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This July, in Cleveland and Philadelphia, the two main political parties will officially nominate their candidates. In Cleveland, for four days beginning July 18, Donald Trump, cheered on by his mob of racist baboons, fascist jackasses, and shit-eating Republican hacks, will strut around and whip up the backward and the confused against immigrants, Black people, women, Muslims, and anyone else who doesn't fit his perverted vision of "American greatness."
And in Philadelphia, just a week later, Hillary Clinton—flanked by her "diverse" crew of big-time exploiters and dominators, wannabes, and double-dealing, double-talking Democratic hustlers—will try to lure and lull those who can't stomach Trump to line up behind her "inclusive" banner as... a serial war criminal and proven aider and abettor of the mass imprisonment of Black youth!
Listen to audio of the Message, recorded by members of the Revolution Club
And all this will kick off yet more months of America's longest-running and truly sickest reality TV show.
No. No way this goes down unopposed, without the movement for revolution setting different terms on the source of the problem, the real solution, and how to fight for it being set in the streets.
The Revolution Club will be going to both cities, raising a banner of real liberation from this madness, and projecting the leader—Bob Avakian—who's shown the way out. We will be there joining with others to fight the power and to bring out the truth... we will be there modeling a different, revolutionary way and organizing people into this revolution... we will be preparing the terrain, the people, and the vanguard for the time when millions can actually be led to bring this whole thing down. We will be there serious as hell—and we're gonna have fun doing it.
Most of all, in everything, we will be projecting the only REAL alternative to the madness and the only REAL way out of it: OVERTHROW, DON'T VOTE FOR, THIS SYSTEM!
And we want you to be there with us.
And if you can't make it—or even if you can—be part of donating and raising the badly needed funds to publicize it, to get people there, to bring tons of literature and films and get them out, and to make it all happen, either by giving to the Club in your area or giving to RCP Publications to support our coverage and distribution of literature at the conventions. People have been suckered into giving tens of millions of dollars to these fraudulent campaigns—yes, we're talking about Bernie Sanders—and if you who are reading this actually want a genuine alternative out there, you need to be giving, and raising, money for this.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On June 2, Hillary Clinton stationed herself in San Diego—home to one of the world’s largest naval fleets and to a huge community of retired U.S. military. Three days after Memorial Day—the day America celebrates its wars of conquest and plunder, past and present, and glorifies those who fought in them—Clinton made the case that she, not Donald Trump, should be commander-in-chief of the U.S. empire and its unparalleled weapons of mass destruction.
The audience in the room were 250 handpicked, mostly military personnel—killers and ex-killers for empire. But beyond the crowd and the venue, and all that symbolism, the speech was addressed to two audiences: the public at large and, even more important, the ruling class.
First and foremost, Clinton’s speech was addressed to those who actually decide the terms of what goes on in elections, especially presidential elections. The people Bob Avakian has accurately identified as “that small part of ‘the American people’ which dominates the economy and therefore the politics, the media and in general the means of molding public opinion, and every other sphere of social life: the capitalist-imperialist ruling class and its political and literary representatives.” (See “THE REAL ‘AMERICAN IDOL’: ELECTIONS AS AUDITIONS—Whose Consent Really Counts and How Decisions Are Actually Made,” by Bob Avakian at revcom.us.)
In that article, Bob Avakian breaks down the relationship between presidential candidates “auditioning” for the public at large and auditioning for the ruling class. What is that relationship? One part of getting the approval of those who actually call the shots is proving you can get over with the general public. But more important, candidates for president have to prove they can get over with a message that serves the interests of that capitalist-imperialist ruling class.
In that light, Hillary Clinton made the case that she, not Trump, is the most ruthless, cold-blooded, calculating, and serious candidate to manage a global empire that sits atop a world of sweatshops and slums. And she is the best one to orchestrate a whole gamut of global violence to maintain that empire especially at a time of crisis.
And she did this in slickly crafted terms that were designed to align people who are not part of the ruling class—in this country (and even beyond)—to identify not with the interests of humanity, but with the interests of a ruling class that exploits and oppresses the vast majority of humanity.
Clinton made a big deal out of her experience as secretary of state, and her diplomatic skills. She insisted that she, not a lunatic loudmouth like Trump, would be more effective in making sure “Moscow and Beijing” would not be able to match “our alliances around the world.” Clinton declared, “America’s network of allies is part of what makes us exceptional. And our allies deliver for us every day.”
But what are those alliances around the world? And what do they “deliver every day” for the U.S. rulers?
In every corner of the globe, “America’s network of allies” is made up of blood-soaked and brutal regimes. In the Middle East, the “alliance” starts with Israel, a country built on ever-escalating genocide against the Palestinians. A country that twice in the last 10 years has carried out horrific, one-sided slaughters of thousands of people in the Gaza section of Palestine with U.S. support. Clinton has distinguished herself from Obama (and Trump) as being much more pro-Israel.
And when Clinton insists she has a track record of building these alliances, she’s telling the truth.
During Clinton’s reign as secretary of state, the U.S. moved the brutally repressive regime in Myanmar (Burma) into closer alignment with the U.S. “network of allies.” Myanmar shares a long border with China and the U.S.’ rulers saw it as a key link in encircling and isolating China. Today Myanmar is universally condemned by human rights groups for brutal ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority, escalating sex trafficking, massive forced and child labor, widespread torture, systematic gang rape by the military, and pervasive terror against dissidents. Clinton called the emerging U.S. alliance with the Myanmar regime a model of “the unique role the United States can and should play in the world as a champion of dignity and democracy,” and “America at our best” (from Hard Choices: A Memoir, by Hillary Clinton).
Hillary Clinton’s State Department played a key role in legitimizing the 2009 military coup that overthrew an elected government in Honduras that was too close to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela to suit U.S. interests. In the aftermath of the coup, dissidents and union organizers were beaten, threatened, jailed, and killed. Restrictions on “development” that serves U.S. capitalism-imperialism were torn down. In 2009, Honduran sweatshops were the third-largest exporter of clothes and textiles to the U.S. market, employing over 100,000 workers, mostly women, who made less than $45 a week. Clinton upheld her support for the coup as recently as April 13 of this year on the show Democracy Now!
Israel... Myanmar... Honduras... all examples of “allies” who are “delivering every day” for the U.S. empire. And Hillary Clinton can justifiably take credit for a key role in forging those alliances.
As for the “diplomacy” Hillary Clinton promotes as a sane alternative to Trump’s lunacy, it is a diplomacy of mass murder. Bill Clinton’s former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, spelled it out when she said “the price was worth it” to kill 500,000 children in Iraq through sanctions that prevented the country from getting food and medicine—when that served the interests of the U.S. empire. And Hillary Clinton bragged about her own role in imposing and enforcing sanctions against Iran—which hit most harshly, by design, at the most marginalized and poor people in that country.
But let’s be clear. Hillary Clinton is not just selling herself as someone who can forge alliances with brutal oppressors, or as someone with a track record of killing innocent civilians with “diplomatic” sanctions. She is, and sells herself as, a proven, repeat war criminal.
Hillary Clinton played a singular role in pushing for the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya that effectively overthrew the regime of Muammar Gaddafi that had been a thorn in the side of the U.S. and the West. The result: Libya is in utter shambles, torn apart by reactionary warlords and a breeding ground for ISIS. Some 400,000 Libyans have fled their homes since the U.S. and its NATO allies overthrew Gaddafi. When Hillary Clinton got news that Gaddafi was dead, she ghoulishly laughed and gloated, “We came, we saw, he died”—invoking the imperial words of Julius Caesar, who is reported to have celebrated a victory over a rival by saying “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
This is not an aberration. In an extensive survey of Hillary Clinton’s record, an article in the New York Times Magazine told you what to expect if Hillary Clinton is the next president: “For all their bluster about bombing the Islamic State into oblivion, neither Donald J. Trump nor Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has demonstrated anywhere near the appetite for military engagement abroad that Clinton has.” [our emphasis]” (“How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk,” April 21, 2016)
In her June 2 speech, Hillary Clinton—almost in passing—objected to Trump demonizing Muslims and Mexicans.
But did Clinton point to the reality that Trump has it totally upside down? That the U.S. conquered half of Mexico in large part to advance slavery, and much of what is left of Mexico has been turned into sweatshops, corporate farms, and massive slums by U.S.-based capitalism? Did she even talk about what a human rights horror it would be to round up millions of people, tear them from their children, and deport them? Did she go after Trump for attacks on Muslims that evoke ominous comparisons to Hitler’s rhetoric about the Jews?
No. She complained that Trump’s rhetoric “alienates the very countries we need.” In other words, Trump’s problem is not that racist, fascist venom is obscene and intolerable. The problem, we are being told to think, is all that gets in the way of enlisting reactionary countries and forces to fight, kill, and die to advance the agenda of the U.S. empire—in largely Muslim areas of the world and in Mexico, where the government plays an indispensable role serving and enforcing the interests of the U.S.
Clinton was selling herself to the rulers. And at the same time, she was also working a mind-fuck on people who are appalled by Trump’s attacks on immigrants and Muslims—getting them to think in terms of what’s good for the U.S. empire, and not to start from the interests of humanity.
In a key sound bite in her speech—something that got a lot of mainstream media play—Hillary Clinton railed against Donald Trump for not being responsible enough to possess the codes that would start a nuclear war.
Hold on. Hit the pause button here. Think about how this system and its operatives get you to think. Clinton is posing that the question is which representative of the U.S. ruling class should have those codes.
The real question is: Why the hell should any representative of the U.S. ruling class be able, at the push of a button, to condemn millions to nuclear destruction and perhaps set off a nuclear war that would endanger humanity!
OK, give Hillary Clinton her due. She is a cold-blooded, warmongering proven war criminal for the U.S. empire. But that’s NOT OUR EMPIRE. That’s an empire that enslaves child laborers in cocoa plantations in Africa, burns women sweatshop workers alive in Bangladesh, and poisons Mexican farmworkers on farms run by U.S. agribusinesses.
And people need to STOP THINKING LIKE AMERICANS AND START THINKING ABOUT HUMANITY.
When Hillary Clinton, or any representative of the U.S. ruling class starts talking about “our” security and “our” interests... the response of anyone with sense enough to understand what that means and enough of a moral backbone to stick to principle needs to be: “Who are you calling ‘WE,’ motherfucker?!” This is not our empire. YOUR interests are NOT OUR interests. Malcolm X was right: We are not Americans, we got sense enough to know it. And we stand with humanity, not the war criminals who rule this country.
The terms of this election—posing a “choice” between a lunatic fascist and a proven, repeat war-criminal-and-proud-of-it—underline how critical it is that people NOT buy into the system’s whole election hustle. And how urgent it is to be organizing, now, for revolution—to bring this monstrous system down at the earliest possible time.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Hillary Clinton does NOT "represent" women. She represents—and has represented for decades—a class of ruthless exploiters, environmental despoilers, and mass murdering oppressors. And her anointment as the Democratic nominee for president is not "an historic advance for women." It merely serves to make the half of humanity oppressed under this system confine their aspirations to rising within (and leaving intact) that system of oppression, and not doing away with it.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
American Crime is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.
The Crime: Mass murder of millions; carpet bombing an entire country into rubble; use of chemical weapons against civilians; repeatedly threatening use of nuclear weapons; wholesale rape of women.
From a series of U.S. Army photos depicting the summary execution of 1,800 South Korean political prisoners over three days in July 1950 carried out by the U.S.-installed puppet Syngman Rhee.
In June 1950 the U.S. orchestrated a United Nations invasion of Korea. Of the 342,000 invading troops, 90 percent were American, and the entire force was under U.S. command. The U.S. and its allied war criminals killed millions of Koreans in three years of open warfare—estimates range from three to five million. The dead were overwhelmingly civilians.
Mass murder of civilians was systematic, and it was explicit U.S. policy. In the opening days of the war, U.S. bombers and troops carried out a massacre near the village of No Gun Ri in southern Korea. More than 250 people were murdered, most of them women, children, and the elderly. The U.S. Army commander told his troops that all civilians “are to be considered as enemy and action taken accordingly.” One witness said that an American captain said to his soldiers in No Gun Ri, “the hell with all those people. Let’s get rid of all of them.”
A representative of the No Gun Ri Victims’ Organization described what happened: “We were ordered by U.S. army, ‘Everybody, come together! We will escort you to the safe place.’ Following the order, we, local villagers, walked the road in the dark night, leading ox-carts, with children on our backs. About noon of next day, July 26, when our refugees’ march arrived at Nogun-ri area, 5-6 GIs blocked our way. They brought all the people and ox-carts onto parallel railroad tracks. After fully investigating all of us, they spoke to someone by radio. We Korean refugees didn’t know why. There we took a rest for a while.
“About that time, two U.S. airplanes flew over us. At that moment the GIs disappeared, something black fell down on us and exploded among the refugees. It was like a storm, with clouds of dust and pieces of rock bursting into the sky. The bloody pieces of bodies and oxen were all around. The rest of people alive ran into the tunnel under the railroad trestle.”
U.S. forces set up machine guns on both sides of the tunnel, and mowed people down when smoke bombs forced them to try to escape into the open. Literally hundreds of massacres like this were perpetrated by U.S. forces, and possibly thousands more by its South Korean allies, under U.S. direction. The U.S. did not even acknowledge the murders at No Gun Ri until 2001! Even then it refused to apologize for the atrocities its troops committed, and tried to cover up official documents that showed its commanders were ordered to “shoot” and “fire on” civilians.
All Korea was in utter devastation by the end of the war. In the North, every building over one story was destroyed. In mile after mile of charred landscape, only chimneys and rubble remained. Bruce Cumings, a history professor at the University of Chicago, reported in his book The Korean War that the U.S. dropped over half a million tons of bombs and thousands of tons of napalm—jellied gasoline that sticks to the skin and burns at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—on Korea. This was more than the bombs dropped in the entire Pacific theater in World War 2.
About 30 percent of North Korea’s population died in this bombing. If an equivalent percentage of the U.S. population at that time had died, the population would have been reduced by over 45 million people. Cumings also reported, “Rapes were extremely common. Koreans in the South will still say that that was one of the worst things of the war (was how) many American soldiers were raping Korean women.”
Korea was devastated by the end of the war. Millions were killed and in the North, every building over one story was destroyed. Here, in September 1950, early in the war, U.S. Marines take prisoners from one bombed village. (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense/U.S. Marine Corps/S. Sgt. John Babyak, Jr.)
The Criminals: U.S. president Harry Truman, who ordered the invasion of Korea and strong-armed the United Nations into approving what it called a “police action” and sending of troops from 16 countries and other forms of support from five countries. U.S. Army Generals Douglas MacArthur and Matthew Ridgway, and U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay—commanders of the U.S./UN forces who oversaw the genocidal land and air campaigns in Korea, and all of whom threatened to use nuclear weapons to attack neighboring China, which was then a revolutionary socialist country under the leadership of Mao Zedong.
Aiding and Abetting: Major U.S. media outlets, which systematically and repeatedly portrayed Koreans as subhumans who deserved death. Typical was Pulitzer Prize winner Hanson Baldwin, military correspondent for the New York Times, who Cumings said described “North Koreans as locusts, like Nazis, like vermin...”
The Criminal Past: The U.S. emerged from World War 2 as the victorious imperialist power. At the end of that war the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan, massacring hundreds of thousands of civilians. The Japanese imperialists had dominated Korea, but when Japanese authority in Korea collapsed, the country was divided between a zone occupied by the Soviet Union in the North and the U.S. in the South.
This was supposed to be a temporary division pending countrywide elections to establish a unified regime. But reunification elections never happened. Fearing that elections would put nationalist or communist resistance forces allied with the Soviet Union and China in power, the U.S. built up a separate regime in South Korea. This made the division of the country a “fact on the ground.” The U.S. installed Syngman Rhee, a brutal puppet of the U.S., in power. Rhee imposed intense repression, mass arrests, and massacres of nationalists, radicals, communists, and others. The U.S. imperialists regarded the southern half of Korea and its puppet regime there as a major element in their plans to contain and perhaps wage war against the Soviet Union, and also as a step toward surrounding and threatening the People’s Republic of China, founded in 1949 after nearly 30 years of revolutionary warfare.
The Alibi: The U.S. claimed North Korea instigated the war by invading South Korea. In fact, Korea had been one country for hundreds of years. A year-long series of incursions into the North and provocations by the flunky South Korean government preceded the war. As war appeared imminent, Rhee murdered 100,000 people, both those accused as having leftist sympathies as well as other civilians. The Rhee regime also forced 300,000 peasants whose loyalties it questioned to join a state-sponsored “National Guidance League. In summer 1950, North Korean troops quickly began advancing into the South.
Truman expressed “concern” with “communist aggression and expansion” in Korea. In a major statement on June 27, 1950, he claimed that “communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations and will now use armed invasion and war.” In fact, the U.S.—which already had warships from its Sixth Fleet circling the region thousands of miles from North America, and tens of thousands of ground troops on bases throughout the East Asia region, including Korea and Japan—began its massive military buildup and within a few months launched an invasion.
The Actual Motive: The Korean War was a murderous move by the U.S. to consolidate its imperialist domination of South Korea, to seize control of the North, and to move against communist and nationalist forces in Asia. The U.S. wanted to keep the Soviet Union at bay and to surround and contain the Peoples Republic of China, as key elements of its overall strategic goal of dominating the Pacific and East Asia. The U.S. was not able to accomplish all those objectives in the Korean War.
Repeat Offenders: After the war, the U.S. moved to build up South Korea as a political, economic, and military base from which it could face off against China and the Soviet Union, and impose its interests in the region. In 1975 it installed nuclear-tipped weapons in South Korea. It has maintained a large military presence in Korea for seven decades. It has repeatedly staged provocative acts aimed at North Korea, and literally ringed that country with its military forces. For decades, there were encampments of thousands of women forced into prostitution, built and maintained by the U.S. military and the South Korean government. The U.S. continues to threaten North Korea, including with nuclear weapons, while portraying North Korea as the “aggressor.”
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Think of it:
Think of the many different peoples who lived on the land that is now called America, numbering in the millions and millions... think how their lands were stolen and their cultures were attacked and think how—in all too many cases—whole peoples were totally wiped out, with those who remained (if any did) put into open-air concentration camps called reservations—and not just for a few years, but for hundreds of years, generation after generation after generation... right down to today...
Think of the people stolen from Africa—12 million in all!—kidnapped and put in chains to work as slaves, with one-third of them dying in the voyage over the Atlantic or in the first year here, and think then of entire generations being chained down, whipped, lynched, raped... with their names and cultures stolen from them... regarded and treated as less than human, with children sold away from their parents and adults sold away from their loved ones... and again not just for a few years, but for hundreds of years, generation after generation after generation... and then, even after the destruction of slavery through the Civil War, another 150 years of lynching, Jim Crow, last-hired-first-fired, murder by police and mass incarceration...
Think of the great wealth accumulated from this stolen land and labor through those generations, concentrated into the hands of a few, and then made the basis for the construction of a horrendous killing machine that went all over the world, from Asia to Africa, from Latin America to the Middle East, carrying out wars that slaughtered millions and millions and millions, grinding up and mutilating cultures, ruling over whole nations and peoples with dictators that they installed... and once again, not just for a few years, but for scores and scores of years, generation after generation... and not just in the past, but right down to today, with vast parts of the world turned into sweatshops for these monsters and other parts left to rot...
The bones and flesh of those hundreds of millions through the generations form the foundation of the material wealth that is the basis for the "American dream"— the lie that this is somehow a "great country," one which offers the promise of a better world and a "more perfect union" to those who live here, and which should be the ideal of those who don't. And still today, as these imperialists dominate and pollute and plunder, new generations in the hundreds of millions and more all over the planet find themselves drained of their lifeblood and their very lives to produce yet more wealth, to maintain and reproduce all the chains of horror. The military power produced on the basis of that cruelly amassed wealth continues to be wielded today all over the world by this government, in the service of defending that blood-soaked plunder and amassing even more of it.
And now we have the presidential candidates vying to be "commander in chief" of it all—competing to be able to rain down slaughter and/or enforce misery on people all over the planet—with hundreds of millions here in the homeland told that the most important thing we can do is to decide which one of these criminals gets their shot to run the whole ugly thing.
Unless and until people are led, as Bob Avakian recently put it, "to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this," unless and until they come to grips with this, the real history of this country, the real basis of the "land of opportunity" and the "democratic system" that its rulers so endlessly brag about and its culture so hypocritically, disgustingly and self-blindingly celebrates—there can be no "real and lasting change for the better."
The series "American Crime" lays bare that "actual history" and that "role in the world up to today." Our aim is not to get those who read it to continue making their way in the world as they have been, but now with a conscience laden with the real knowledge of what this country has done. No. The purpose, rather, is to morally compel and intellectually drive you to do the rest of the very important work called for by BA in the rest of that brief but essential statement:
...to dig seriously and scientifically into how this system of capitalism-imperialism actually works, and what this actually causes in the world.
...to look deeply into the solution to all this.
Only on that basis can there be genuine hope for a better world.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 9, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
*especially the ones who want to defend the U.S.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
From A World to Win News Service
June 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
June 6, 2016. A World to Win News Service. By Robert Borba. On 23 June, Britain will vote on whether to “Remain” in the European Union or “Leave” it. Regardless of the side, this referendum is a reactionary trap.
On the one side are those who argue that the best way to control Britain’s borders, keep out “hordes of immigrants,” unleash the power of Britain’s corporations, defeat the country’s enemies and project British power globally is to leave the EU. On the other side are those who argue that the best way to control Britain’s borders, keep out “hordes of immigrants,” unleash the power of Britain’s corporations, defeat the country’s enemies and project British power globally is to stay in the EU. The central issue being put to the people is quite simply how best to advance Britain’s imperial interests. Supporting either side in this debate is not neutral: it only makes people complicit with British imperialism and the horrendous crimes it will continue to carry out, at home, in the Middle East, in Africa and worldwide—whether as part of the EU or not.
The Remain campaign is led by British Prime Minister Cameron alongside Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and has support from the heads of Britain’s key allies—U.S. President Obama, German Chancellor Merkel, France’s Hollande—and from the IMF, the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development] giant firms like Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs. It is hard to imagine a group more in opposition to the interests of the British people. But the heads of the Leave campaign are neck and neck: it has won support from Donald Trump and Russia’s Putin and is led by top Tories including former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is seeking to use the campaign to become Prime Minister, and the right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP).
Cameron first pledged to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2013, in an effort to deal with serious divisions in the British ruling class and in particular the Tory Party, which was then heading up the government. Even so, at the time this must have seemed like a safe move—few then imagined anything other than a continuation of the status quo. Now, in a context of intensified global tension, including rivalry between Russia and the U.S., infighting within the EU, and the rise of resurgent nationalism throughout Europe and the West, the outcome is far from certain.
Initially, the “Brexiteers” argued that freed from the “red tape” of “unelected” EU bureaucrats, Britain would prosper. These claims have been hit by a barrage of studies appearing several times a week arguing that the UK could not leave the framework of the EU single market without some economic damage, at least in the short term.
While refusing to concede this point, the Leave forces have sought to shift the terms of the debate. As UKIP leader Nigel Farage put it, “It’s not the economy, stupid! It’s sovereignty.” By this Farage is appealing to deep feelings seething among millions that they have been cast aside and marginalized by the way the world is working today and to aim that discontent away from its actual source. The Brexiteers’ evoke the hardships being suffered by broad sections of British society, the stagnation or decline of real wages, the slashing of benefits, the deterioration of public services like transport and health care, and they use all this to play on the sense of entitlement that has been deeply embedded in British society through generations of privileged life under the Empire and continuing today, and direct all that anger and frustration at those supposedly “beneath them,” in particular immigrants and Muslims. Prominent Tory David Davis for instance denounces the EU as a “job transformation machine—shifting jobs from British citizens into the hands of immigrants coming from the EU” (Sunday Times, May 28, 2016), mainly East Europeans from Romania, Bulgaria and Poland.
But who was really responsible for the hollowing out of Britain’s manufacturing industry in the last generation, destroying tens of thousands of jobs and driving down wages? It was not Romanian baristas who moved the shipbuilding industry from the docks of Newcastle and the northeast to Asia in the search for greater profits. And who was responsible for the dire shortages of affordable housing that are leading to spiralling homelessness throughout Britain’s cities—was it Polish labourers, who work long hours in the dirtiest, most menial sections of the construction industry? Or was it the result of concerted government policy to dismantle the welfare state and sell off public housing, as initiated by PM Thatcher and continued under Tory and Labour alike—combined with the speculative activity of giant property developers and bankers who, while having benefited from huge government bail-outs in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, finance housing overwhelmingly in luxury sectors beyond the means of all but the global and British elite?
It is this same class of capitalists that has presided over years of imperialist globalization with the rising inequality that has accompanied it in Britain and throughout the world. Less than 1 percent of the population has secured the same amount of increased wealth in the last 10 years (26 percent) as the entire bottom 50 percent, leaving levels of inequality unseen in generations—a process, it should not be forgotten, that took place under both Labour and Tory governments.
This targeting of immigrants as the cause of the masses’ hardships is echoed in a more elegant form by Cameron and the Remain campaign, who promise constantly to “get control of Britain’s borders”. This message amounts to outright deception about the cause of the suffering endured by millions, and it goes hand in hand with an openly reactionary nationalist morality. The immigrant-bashers care not a farthing for the reasons why millions of immigrants are fleeing their home countries or what happens to them.
With their vision blocked by patriotic blinkers, people are trained not to see the blindingly obvious: that one of the main forces responsible for driving people out of their homes from Afghanistan to Africa is British imperialism itself, in complicity and sometimes rivalry with other imperialist powers. Just stroll through the streets of the immigrant communities of East London and look at the faces of the carers, the dustmen, the minicab drivers—Afghanis, Somalis, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians, Iranians, Syrians. These are the faces that reflect centuries of Empire, with every face telling a story of invasion, occupation and plunder, from the concentration camps and torture that Britain inflicted on Kenyans during the so-called Mau-Mau rebellion, to its resolute backing of apartheid in South Africa (with British PM Thatcher denouncing Mandela as a “terrorist”)—the list goes on, page after page.
People deprived of histories, the migrants are then treated by both sides as nothing but a source of benefit to Britain and the British people: how much do they take away from (Leave) or add to (Remain) your own well-being? Gone is any consideration of the lives and conditions of the migrants themselves. To take just one example: during the last week of May as news emerged that 1,000 human beings lost their lives in a desperate effort to cross the Mediterranean, this was not mentioned a single time in an hour-long BBC panel debate on the EU featuring Tories plus former Labour head Ed Milliband and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, even though the discussion focused overwhelmingly on immigration.
The mental straitjacket of this campaign is training people to narrow their vision to their own situation—”how does this affect me,” “us Brits?”—as if British lives were somehow worth more than those of Syrians fleeing war, or Ethiopians or Somalis abject poverty and chaos. But they are not! As Bob Avakian, chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (revcom.us) put it, “Internationalism—the whole world comes first!” This is the only morality worthy of anyone who wants a better world.
The vicious targeting of immigrants on the part of both campaigns is aimed not just at “pulling up the drawbridge” and tightening control on immigration, but also at intimidating and cowing the millions of immigrants already here. The core values of British-ness are being forcefully reasserted—much as Euro chauvinist values are in numerous other imperialist countries. Echoing the American fascist presidential candidate Donald Trump’s populist call to “Make America great again,” UK politicians call for putting the “Great” back in “Great Britain”—which can only mean intensified horror for millions around the world who have suffered at the hands of British domination, militarily and economically, and millions at home too.
Britain’s overall position in the world is left unchallenged by both sides, and Europe is treated as being much like a local community group. “We will,” argues Labour head Corbyn, “be stronger as a country if we cooperate with our neighbours to face them together.” (labourforbritain.org.uk)
But the EU is not some benign neighbourhood association. To the extent that it works together for a common good, it is for the benefit of the capitalist classes in the 28 European countries who, whatever the inequality and rivalry between them, enjoy being on the dominant side of the division of the world into oppressed and oppressor countries. Everything about Europe, from museums that are largely collections of colonial plunder, to its leading businesses and its culture, is stamped with the history of centuries of the slave trade, colonial oppression and wars for empire. Europe is not a geographic fact that can be “redefined,” as many European self-defined leftists maintain, it’s a historical reality that has to be dealt with through revolution and overthrown.
As a recent statement by the Revolutionary Communist Manifesto Group on the migrant crisis argued, “The political power in every European state rests upon and protects a whole socio-economic system of exploitation whose tentacles reach throughout the world. Globalization has only made this exploitation more pervasive, more brutal and more disruptive of the existing social fabric. Every government of these states is required to enforce and facilitate this process.... Belief in the possibility of a welcoming, inclusive but still imperialist Europe is worse than just an illusion. It hides the present and past reality of what Western capitalist democracy and its value system perpetuates on the world; it cannot possibly be implemented regardless of who is elected; and it is incapable of standing up to the reactionary attacks from either the howling fascist forces or the Islamists who pretend to offer an alternative moral and social order in opposition to the decadence and misery dished out by the West.” Just look at how Tsipras and Syriza have been converted from social-democratic critics into brutal enforcers of Fortress Europe!
There are many people who are disgusted at both sides of this debate. In an article entitled, “The politicians supporting Brexit are all dreadful, as are the politicians against it”, the comedian Frankie Boyle argues that “both campaigns have been thoroughly racist” and questions whether the British people are “the hideous bigots each of these campaigns has assumed them to be.” (Guardian, June 1) Another commentator, Gary Younge, laments that: “In the absence of a broader challenge to the neoliberal order, simply voting yes or no is tantamount to choosing a ditch to die in.” But Younge then reluctantly chooses his ditch. Enough of this! “Choosing our ditch” is not neutral—people need to put an end to this “lesser evil” logic, to lowering their sights to “the politics of the possible”, to limiting their vision to seemingly palpable results within the existing capitalist framework: this invariably winds up in reconciliation with horrors.
What many such people do not understand is the utterly reactionary role that these elections are playing in the society in general, regardless of which side is favored. This referendum is training people intensively in viewing elections in capitalist society as a tool of popular sovereignty and an avenue for changing the world, whereas what they do in reality is cover the rule of a class of exploitative capitalists in the garb of democracy. Whichever side wins, the reactionary crimes of British imperialism will be touted as “the will of the people.” But as Avakian has stressed, “So long as human society is divided into different classes of people, there is, and there can be, no such thing as a ‘free election,’ in the sense that no group in society has a greater influence than others on elections and in general on political decision-making. In a world of this kind, one group in society—fundamentally representing a ruling class of one kind or another—will always have greater influence than the rest of the people.”
People are being hammered with the idea that this is the “most important election in their lifetime” and that their vote can change the country’s fate in big ways. But what this election will not change is Britain’s fundamental position in the global imperialist food chain. Membership in NATO is not being put to the vote, nor its membership of the UN Security Council, nor its occupation of the northern part of Ireland, and so on. Britain’s position as part of the European defence structure and in particular its “special relationship” with the US in the plunder and exploitation of large parts of the world by Britain’s giant multinationals and banks, its armed enforcement of this, and its continuing ravaging of people’s lives at home too—all this will carry on inside or outside the EU.
What this election will do is reinforce illusions that parliamentary democracy represents the people’s will and tendencies to not see beyond the possibilities offered by that framework. At a time crying out for an internationalist and revolutionary perspective that targets the whole system, the arguments of “leftists” supporting both the Remainers (former Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis, Slavoj Zizek) and the Exiters (Social Workers Party, UK) would deceive those who long for an end to the nightmares wrought by Europe and Britain in the world, and tie their hopes to the long discredited imperialist parties as they jockey for parliamentary position.
Whether from the narrower perspective of self-interest (what’s in it for me as a Brit) or from the more “leftist” perspective of what’s in it for “the British working class”, what both of these campaigns represent is intensive training of people to view their relationship to the world through the lens of the interests of British imperialism and confining their struggle to what is achievable within the bourgeois democratic framework. And although it is not hard to see why many would bridle against all the racist bile pouring out of the Leave side, in a world where Europe stands at the top of the imperialist food chain, “broadening” that to a “European perspective” is not progress.
The unravelling of the mainstream political centre throughout Europe and the U.S. and the increasing polarization of society poses serious dangers. But these same explosive conditions also bring real opportunities to carve out a different type of future. There is indeed an urgent need for millions to come together to tackle the huge problems facing people in Britain and around the world—but not from the perspective of “us Brits” or “us Europeans” but rather from an internationalist perspective that starts from the needs of oppressed humanity—and this means putting the Union Jack in a museum where it belongs. We need neither nostalgia for the broken promises of an increasingly bankrupt European social democracy nor tailing pathetically after dreams of lost empire! We need to look beyond the horizons of the present system and begin to construct a movement that not only fights to beat back the reactionary onslaught but can also lead towards the only real solution, communist revolution.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
People talk about their admiration for Muhammad Ali and profess to embrace his legacy. I have a serious question and challenge to put to them, and especially the prominent Black people among them: Are you ready to stand and act for principle as he did? Muhammad Ali put himself on the line to stand up against the oppression this system was bringing down on Black people. When the powers that be told him he had to join their army and be part of the military machine being unleashed to drown the liberation struggle of the Vietnamese people in blood, Ali responded in bold and clear terms:
“No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here.”
This stand cost him the heavyweight boxing championship of the world and millions of dollars. And it put him at risk of being jailed for years, but he stood firm and refused to back down. This is what was most inspiring about Muhammad Ali: his willingness to put it all on the line to oppose terrible wrongs.
Today, the same system continues to inflict savage oppression: horrific numbers of particularly Black and Latino people, including many youth and even young children, brutalized and murdered by vicious police. How many videos must you see of people gunned down or beaten, tased or choked to death by the police, responding only with weak sympathy for the victims, and begging the system for justice someday? How long will you stand aside while the system backs up their killer cops again and again, seldom putting any of them on trial—and in the few cases where cops have been tried, virtually never convicting any of them, or at most giving them a slap on the wrist? “Justifiable homicide”? No. Ali said then, and we must say now: “This is the day when such evils must come to an end.”
Ali, in a short poem, said: "Me, Whee!" With props to his exuberance, I am going to take a liberty with his rhyme to say: Yes: You, me, WE know this horrific police brutality and murder is still going down. Are you/are we going to stand up and say unequivocally that these and other horrors perpetrated by this system must stop? ARE YOU/ARE WE GOING TO PUT IT ON THE LINE TO FIGHT TO STOP THESE CRIMES AGAINST THE PEOPLE? I’ve been doing this for a long time and will continue to so. Are you ready to join this fight? The time is now. THIS IS THE LEGACY THAT MUST NOT ONLY BE SPOKEN OF, BUT ACTED ON.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On June 1, the U.S. Department of in-Justice (DOJ) announced that no charges would be brought against the police who murdered Jamar Clark in Minneapolis on November 15, 2015. This despite the fact that many witnesses say police handcuffed Jamar, knocked him to the ground, and then shot him in the head.
Yet AGAIN the Feds couldn’t find any violations of the constitutional rights of a Black man murdered by police. And as they do over and over, the DOJ announced, “We would have had to show that they specifically intended to commit a crime.”
The DOJ report says that if it were the case that Clark was handcuffed, that would establish a basis for charges against the police who killed him. But according to their own report, “Approximately half of the civilian eyewitnesses interviewed by the FBI reported having seen handcuffs on Clark (and other witnesses believed, based on Clark’s body positioning, that he was handcuffed).” But even beyond the fact that so many witnesses say Clark was handcuffed, why does a person have to be handcuffed while being murdered for a murder to be a murder?
Over and over, police murder someone, and local prosecutors rule it “justified.” And if there is outrage, the DOJ steps in. But then what?
The DOJ did bring charges in the case of Walter Scott, a Black man shot eight times in the back while running from a cop in South Carolina. But this is the exception that proves the rule. The cop who murdered Walter Scott concocted a story claiming Scott had fought him and grabbed his taser, but video emerged that showed the cop planting the taser next to Scott’s body. Scott’s family’s lawyer commented about the DOJ charges against the cop: “This never happens.” And he cited examples where no charges were brought by the DOJ—like in the cases of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. Trayvon was murdered by an openly racist vigilante, George Zimmerman, but the DOJ found no basis to bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
We don’t need federal cover-ups! They’re part of the problem! We need to STOP police murder, and overthrow the system that perpetrates and perpetuates it.
Minneapolis, March 30, after it was announced that the pigs who killed Jamar Clark would not be charged. Photo: Fibonacci Blue
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
For over 15 years the Exide Technologies battery recycling plant, just five miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles in the industrial town of Vernon, knowingly released highly toxic lead, arsenic, and other poisonous chemicals into the soil, the water, and atmosphere.
Protesters call Exide Technologies serial polluters, June 1. Photo: Larry Buhl
Left: Abandoned supersacks in storage area at Exide. Right: A battery inside a piece of abandoned equipment. Photos: EPA
This endangered tens of thousands of people in the surrounding Latino communities and made many people seriously ill. A 25-year-old man who addressed a meeting with the state Department of Toxic Substances Control looked fragile, with a curved spine, hunched shoulders, and gangly arms. He was suffering from cancer, rotting teeth, and lead-related health problems—and was considered so ill that the Make-a-Wish Foundation (a charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses) had sent him on a trip to Hawai’i. Another example was a 42-year-old mother with her 10-year-old son, 25-year-old daughter, and her brother—suffering from asthma, skin cancer, and learning disabilities.
And it’s not just a few cases. In 2012, blood tests from nearly 12,000 children under the age of six showed those within a mile of the plant were 50 percent more likely to have elevated lead levels than those farther away. And all but three of the 100 homes in Boyle Heights and Maywood that have been tested for lead have levels above allowable limits.
One angry resident called it a “toxic holocaust.”
To make it worse, during the entire period, these crimes were known not only by Exide but by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) the agency supposedly responsible for preventing just such crimes!
And finally, on top of all that, once this came to light, the government agreed NOT TO PUNISH Exide in return for them admitting their crimes!
Yes, that’s right. No punishment! In a settlement signed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Exide Technologies admitted publicly in March 2015 that it knowingly committed this toxic contamination over and over, for years. At the same time, the permanent closure of the plant was announced. In return, no criminal charges were brought against them!
Think about that. What has Exide admitted to? The illegal storage of hazardous waste; the illegal disposal of hazardous waste; the illegal shipment of hazardous waste in leaking trailers; and the illegal transportation of hazardous waste to an unpermitted facility. Exide admits that it committed each of these crimes “a significant number of times over the past two decades, in violation of federal law. Each incident could be charged as a felony violation.” A rough estimate is that their crimes are the equivalent of committing four major felonies a day for most of two decades! (Department of Justice press release, March 12, 2015)
Just to cite a few of the crimes committed: lead and acid leaks; an overflowing pond containing toxic sludge; lead dust that had rained down onto nearby soil, streets, and businesses; leaking trailers storing lead-acid battery waste; hazardous levels of lead on a street outside the plant and in the parking lot; and and doors on trailers containing hazardous-waste plastic chips were open, with puddles of water underneath.
Try to imagine what would happen if someone whose child needed medicine for lead poisoning were to commit armed robbery against Exide just once. Do you think they would walk free for just admitting their crime? No! They would be lucky to ever see daylight again, if they weren’t murdered by some pig in the first place. And yet their crime would surely be more “defensible” then the horrors knowingly and callously perpetrated by Exide.
by Bob Avakian
3-part excerpt from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About.
More about Bob Avakian here
Let’s step back here. Exide Technologies is one of the world’s largest producers of car and truck batteries, with close to $2 billion in assets. At the same time, it operates in a highly competitive industry, and faces stiff competition from their primary rival, Johnson Controls. And they do this in a system where the capitalist who does not fight to crush his rivals will almost certainly one day be crushed by them.
At their website, the company brags that “Exide’s recycling efforts support our commitment to environmental sustainability around the world.” In fact, Exide recycles to maximize their profits in rivalry with other capitalists doing the same thing.
Lead is the main raw material in batteries, and Exide recycles to recover the lead from their customers’ spent batteries to use again. Before the Exide's Vernon plant was shut down, they recycled 20,000 to 40,000 batteries every day. In the dog-eat-dog, expand-or-die universe of capitalism, this enables them to lower the costs of production and thereby lower the price of each battery they put on the market.
The dynamics created by the uncontrolled, anarchistic competition between capitalists determines the way this system operates. The demands of that competition set the framework for the “rules” that capitalist enterprises have to adhere to and operate within. Within this capitalist system, where did—and where could—these human and environmental “costs” fit in to the way Exide was running its Vernon plant? Nowhere. Such costs are treated by competing capitalist enterprises as “externalities”—collateral damage—somebody else’s problem.
You would think that it would be rational to NOT recycle in a way that destroyed the health of whole communities. But then you would not be thinking like a capitalist, and you would be driven under by the rules of the system.
This gets to why the owners of Exide were allowed to walk free after committing such crimes. The underlying dynamics of the economic system ultimately sets the terms and limits of the rulers who oversee it. The capitalist state first and foremost operates, and can only operate, within and in the service of the capitalist-imperialist system.
In this case the oversight agency, DTSC, year after year allowed Exide to operate with a temporary permit while the crimes being committed at the Vernon plant mounted up. When they assessed fines or required repairs to be made, they made sure not to fundamentally threaten Exide’s competitiveness. When the extent of the crimes being committed came to light, it forced a federal investigation and the shutting down of the plant, lest the masses become too aroused and the legitimacy of the system too exposed. But the settlement itself made it clear that in the eyes of the system, while Exide would finally have to shut down the plant, those who owned it and controlled it had committed no crime—at least not a crime that would be punished.
* * *
This problem has a global dimension as well, and “getting tough” on polluters within the U.S. won’t do shit to solve it. In fact, although beyond the scope of this article, it should come as no surprise that there is an international dimension to these extremely toxic operations. As political pressure within the U.S. has led the government to put stricter standards on lead pollution, there has been a rise in the transport of batteries for recycling to Mexico and other countries where standards are low, conditions of work far more dangerous, and enforcement even more lax. The New York Times reported that since 2007, the percentage of used batteries sent to Mexico from the U.S. has increased from six percent to 20 percent. In turn, the transport of lead from Mexico to China tripled in the three years up to 2011.
This is a system in which the demands of capital trump—and must trump—the health of the masses and the health of the environment itself. And here’s the bitter “punch line” to it all: even if these criminals had been found guilty, the system itself would have bred more crime like this and more criminals to do it. To get rid of the crime—to enable a world where production is carried out to meet people’s needs and the environment is cared for, here and around the world—revolution, and nothing short of revolution, is needed.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
Résumé Points for the New Head of U.S.-Run University in Vietnam
June 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On February 24, 1969, Lieutenant Bob Kerrey led a squad of Navy SEALs into the tiny Vietnamese village of Thanh Phong. Kerrey’s mission was to kill the mayor of Thanh Phong. That is itself a war crime—it is illegal to target noncombatants for assassination—but this was Standard Operating Procedure for the U.S. in Vietnam.
The U.S. was fighting to crush the Vietnamese National Liberation Front (NLF), which was widely supported by the people, and which had established working local governments, schools, etc. throughout much of Vietnam. In the eyes of the U.S. invaders, not only every official of that government, and every teacher in those schools, but every civilian living in those areas, was considered a “legitimate target.” As such, Thanh Phong was officially considered a “free-fire zone,” meaning that U.S. troops had authority to kill any living thing that moved.
Read the American Crime series here
According to the account of Gerhard Klann, a veteran member of Kerrey’s squad, and the very similar account of Pham Tri Lanh, a Vietnamese woman who survived the massacre, here is what happened on February 24:
The squad first came to an isolated hut with an older man, a woman and three young children. Kerrey and two other men took the old man away from the others, stabbed him and then slit his throat, nearly decapitating him. While they did this, others in the squad murdered the woman and three children with knives.
They marched 15 minutes further to a group of huts, rounded up the occupants—about 15 people, all women, children, or elderly people—and questioned them about the whereabouts of the mayor. There were no men in the village, no soldiers, no weapons. They learned nothing.
May 30, 2016
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Here is the New York Times report of what happened next:
[The squad] debated their options, Klann says, and finally decided to “kill them and get out of there.” Lanh, who had been checking to see that her children were safe, says she crept close enough to witness what happened next. Klann says that Kerrey gave the order and the team, standing between 6 and 10 feet away, started shooting—raking the group with automatic-weapons fire for about 30 seconds. They heard moans, Klann says, and began firing again, for another 30 seconds.
There was one final cry, from a baby. “The baby was the last one alive,” Klann says, fighting back tears. “There were blood and guts splattering everywhere.”
The pretext for this slaughter was that Kerrey was afraid that if he left any civilians alive, they would report the squad’s presence to the NLF, and then they would have to engage actual armed opponents instead of shooting unarmed women and children—this is the “heroism” of U.S. forces. But even this outrageous excuse is apparently a lie, since blasting away with their weapons for a full 60 seconds would surely have alerted any NLF soldiers in the area far more quickly than the civilians could have.
The U.S. was fighting to crush the Vietnamese National Liberation Front (NLF), which was widely supported by the people, and which had established working local governments, schools, etc. throughout much of Vietnam. In the eyes of the U.S. invaders, not only every official of that government, and every teacher in those schools, but every civilian living in those areas, was considered a “legitimate target.” As such, Thanh Phong was officially considered a “free-fire zone,” meaning that U.S. troops had authority to kill any living thing that moved. Above: Villagers massacred by U.S. Army troops at My Lai in Vietnam, March 16, 1968.
Something like this, a war crime this savage and premeditated, the merciless murder of even a crying baby—surely that would lead to the arrest and trial of the participants, and definitely the leader, Bob Kerrey, right?
No, that is not the American Way!
After this “mission” was over, Kerrey reported that his unit had engaged in a firefight with NLF soldiers and had killed 21 of them. He received a Bronze Star for his “heroism,” and later received the Congressional Medal of Honor for another mission. Kerrey used his status as a “war hero” to launch a political career, becoming governor and then senator from the state of Nebraska.
Only 30 years later, when Klann, unable to live with this crime any longer, publicly spilled his guts about what happened on CBS’s 60 Minutes and in the Times, did Kerrey finally admit that his squad had killed unarmed civilians, not soldiers. And even then, he continued to lie, claiming that he personally didn’t kill anyone, that the massacre was a response to his squad being fired on, that they had no idea that the people they were killing were civilians, and so on. He claimed that it was all a terrible “mistake,” and intimated that really, no one has suffered more than he has, “haunted” with the burden of having “accidentally” killed innocents.
And in truly classic American style, he even claimed that the fake guilt he was expressing “is what makes American leadership at its best so different and so vital in a world where evil still controls too many innocent lives,” and specifically that it made the U.S. morally superior to the Vietnamese!
In spite of this “moral superiority” displayed through many, many massacres such as this one, in spite of massive U.S. military power that killed well over three million Vietnamese, mostly civilians, the U.S. military got its ass righteously kicked in Vietnam and was finally sent running for their helicopters to escape being overrun by the NLF in 1975.
The world has changed. The Vietnamese revolution did not go forward to build a truly liberating society and instead it became a neo-colony, under the domination of now one, now another imperialist country. Meanwhile, capitalism was restored in China, and it has emerged as a major capitalist power in the region, threatening U.S. domination. And the U.S. has been pulling together an alliance of smaller countries in Asia to oppose China, including militarily, and has been working to bring Vietnam into this. (See “Obama Trip to Asia: The Bloody-Jawed Wolf Offers Peace and Prepares for War.”)
Because of the incredibly bloody history of U.S. crimes against Vietnam, this has involved a process of “reconciliation,” where the U.S. makes some vague gestures of “regret” for the past and offers up some minimal aid and so forth.
So in 2013, as part of cementing this new military alliance, the U.S. and the current Vietnamese government agreed on a plan for Fulbright University to be built in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon, which had been the capital of U.S.-occupied South Vietnam). Fulbright University offered the promise of world-class education in an impoverished Third World country; it was meant to be sugar on the bitter pill for the Vietnamese of “reconciling” with the big power that unleashed an ocean of suffering on them. Its development got $20 million in funding from Congress, and is “affiliated” with Harvard University and is being “coordinated” by the U.S. State Department; it was publicly opened by Obama during his recent trip to Vietnam.
And who did the Obama administration decide was the best person to run Fulbright University Vietnam? None other than Bob Kerrey, who Obama personally praised during his visit to Vietnam. Now Kerrey would have the opportunity to oversee the education of Vietnamese youth not so far from the place where he had once mercilessly slaughtered their parents, grandparents, and children who would never live to have families!
Think of what it means to the Vietnamese people to have such a person brought back to their country to hold an important position educating their children. Someone who committed these horrendous crimes, was never punished for them, lied about them for 30 years, blamed the victims for their own deaths, and who built a successful political career and accumulated wealth and prestige on the blood and bones left in the wake of his crimes.
It is an insult beyond imagination, a way of telling the Vietnamese people that in the eyes of the U.S., they are nothing, not even human, and that their feelings and dignity do not have to be taken into account in the slightest degree. It is like taking a woman who has been kidnapped and held for years and raped repeatedly, and telling her that her new professor is... her rapist, and that she better just shut up and learn to like it.
Making Kerrey the head of Fulbright University Vietnam is quite simply making his atrocity a permanent open wound in the hearts and souls of the Vietnamese people. And it has elicited an angry reaction from many Vietnamese, which has burst into the open in spite of the efforts of the current Vietnamese government to sell this outrage with talk of “reconciliation” and “forgiveness.” The following comments were written on Facebook and reported in the New York Times and other news outlets:
Yet even in the face of the anger, and the obvious truth of what these Vietnamese people are saying, the U.S. has so far held firm to Kerrey’s appointment, and even liberal columnists in the New York Times, while “acknowledging” the legitimacy of people’s anger, argue that Kerrey should stay on as part of his personal journey of “atonement” for what he did—in other words, fuck the emotional damage to the victims, the important thing is that American war criminals should be able to sleep soundly at night!
Besides being sick and twisted on an almost unbelievable level, this is also a very cynical power move by the U.S. This is Obama saying to the Vietnamese government, “Yes, we have an ‘alliance,’ and we will even throw you a few bones here and there, but don’t forget for a second that we are in charge, we are setting the terms and calling the shots. And we will prove it by insisting that you accept a notorious war criminal back into your country, not in chains and on trial, but in a place of honor and position of great authority.”
This is the world of imperialism, where horrific crimes against children are “qualifications” for running a university, and where the masters of this savagery flaunt their power in order to humiliate and discipline not only their enemies, but even their allies.
It is a world that humanity cannot tolerate, and which cannot tolerate humanity. It is a world that has to be overthrown, and remade.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
Contact: Steve Yip 646 703 1961
11 June 2016
June 11, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party, co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network with Dr. Cornel West, said today:
Baltimore police murdered Freddie Gray OVER A YEAR AGO. They came up on him for no reason and assaulted him. They bent him like a pretzel, to the point where his screams of pain were heard a block away. Then police threw Freddie Gray in a van and subjected him to the “rough ride” that has terrorized and tortured so many Black people in Baltimore. By the time they were through with him, Freddie Gray was near dead. He died a week later. Together, these police murdered Freddie Gray. They are ALL murderers and accessories to murder. Police saw him not as a human being but a Black man who they were licensed to torture and kill. This was a modern day lynching.
Over and over police in America kill Black and Brown people with impunity. What was different this time is that the youth of Baltimore rose up. Their uprising was followed by days of outrage and protest by people from all walks of life—especially students. The uprising and the aftermath forced the hand of the powers-that-be to bring charges against six police who murdered Freddie Gray.
But ever since, the wheels of injustice have worked to cover up what really happened, deny justice, and let the murdering police go free. They are letting the murderers walk on the installment plan. And media coverage has worked 24-7 to focus people’s attention on anything but the real issue: JUSTICE for Freddie Gray.
The first trial of the police who killed Freddie Gray ended in a mistrial. The second ended in an acquittal. Right now Goodson, the cop accused of ignoring Freddie Gray’s desperate demand for medical help, throwing him in the back of a police van, and subjecting him to a rough ride—at the end of which Freddie Gray was near death—is on trial for murder. This trial CANNOT be another whitewash. It CANNOT be another mockery of justice. What is needed to change things is for PEOPLE to take things into our own hands. We are making clear: there MUST be justice in this case. We are not asking, we are demanding:
Justice for Freddie Gray!
Convict the killer police and send them to jail!
The days when police can kill with impunity must be gone, and they can be gone.
Be there Monday! Stand tall!”
Carl Dix is available for interviews. Contact 646 703 1961
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
Updated June 29, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Revolution Clubs and the BA Everywhere campaign invite you to the kind of July 4 picnic you can really enjoy: a REALLY revolutionary one. There’ll be food, fun and friendship—plus ways to find out about the work and leadership of Bob Avakian, BA, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party... ways to get involved with the Revolution Club, which is working to spread revolution and communism, and fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution... and ways to get with BA Everywhere, which is working to raise big money to get the word on BA out all over.
And guess what? There won’t be a bloody American rag in sight—unless it’s being used to get the coals going!
If you are in—or if you can get to—New York, LA, Chicago or the San Francisco Bay Area, bring your friends and bring your family for a day of fun and celebration that is part of getting to a radically different and far better world.
New York City
Riverbank State Park, NYC
679 Riverside Drive at 145th Street
(#1 train to 145th, go into entrance of park to picnic area; last stop of M11 and Bx19 buses go directly into the park.)
People are encouraged to bring a dish, non-alcoholic drinks to share, or things to barbecue. Call 917-741-6716 or email email@example.com for more information and to let organizers know what you are bringing.
2-6 pm (Look for big red flag)
63rd St. Beach (63rd & Lake Shore Dr.)
Picnic. Bring a dessert or side dish to share if you can. Children welcome.
A program begins at 3:30 pm.
San Francisco Bay Area
San Pablo Park, Berkeley
2600 Park St. (between Russell and Ward)
Dockweiler Beach, Los Angeles
where Imperial Highway meets the beach (Imperial Highway & Vista del Mar).
Call 323 463-3500 for directions and more information.
Get with the Revolution Club HERE
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 14, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As court let out on Monday, June 13, 20 people held a press conference and speak-out at the Baltimore courthouse where Caesar Goodson—one of the cops who subjected Freddie Gray to a “rough ride” over a year ago—is on trial for murder. Goodson’s trial is the third of police involved in the murder of Freddie Gray. The first two trials ended without convictions. This event was a statement from people who will not let the IN-justice system cover up the truth or let the murdering police go free on the installment plan.
The main speakers were: Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network with Dr. Cornel West; Tawanda Jones, sister of Tyrone West, who was murdered by Baltimore police on July 18, 2013; and Rev. Carl David Olson, Minister, First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. A recorded message from Dr. Cornel West was played.
Other participants included Wayne AmonRa, outspoken voice in West Baltimore with a radio show on WOLB-FM; Rosemary, a retired nurse with years of experience with spinal cord injuries who has been monitoring the trial; Derek, who has protested every day of trial and Montrell, an outspoken victim of police brutality from East Baltimore; and Darlene Cain, whose son Dale Graham was shot and killed by Baltimore police in 2008.
The following are rush transcripts of three of the speakers and a statement that was read at the June 13 press conference and speak-out.
Look, it’s important that people are out here today while this cop—the one who administered the rough ride—is on trial. Because look, what happened to Freddie Gray was murder plain and simple. That’s all it was. That’s what it was—no other description. Freddie Gray was plenty healthy when he encountered those cops. After he encountered them, after they beat him down, after they threw him down bent like a pretzel, in that police van, after they gave him a rough ride, his spine was nearly broken. And those injuries led to his death. In the old days it would’ve been a racist white lynch mob doing a Black man like that. Well today, it’s police officers, individually or in groups, who do that, and who get away with it. And this has to stop!
Carl Dix (right), of the Revolutionary Communist Party, co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network with Dr. Cornel West; Tawanda Jones (center), sister of Tyrone West, who was murdered by Baltimore police on July 18, 2013; and Rev. Carl David Olson (left), Minister, First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.
And look, it ain’t just the cops. It’s the whole criminal in-justice system. The DAs who refuse to charge the cops. The courts who won’t convict them, while they continue to send Black people and Brown people into prison. That’s what we are up against. And it’s a statement from this system that Black life does not matter. Black life mattered when they could enslave Black people on the plantation and work them for nothing and they profit that way. Black life mattered when they could work us in the factories at the bottom-level jobs. They got nothing for these young Black people out here today. No jobs. A broke education system. What they got for them is cops, courts, prisons and early graves. And it ain’t a question of which individual cop of which individual DA. It’s a question of a system.
And look, I’m Carl Dix. I’ve been involved in the struggle for a long time. I’m also a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party. And I co-founded the Stop Mass Incarceration Network with Dr. Cornel West. But I’m gonna tell you where I’m coming from. And where I’m coming from is that this horror is built into the fabric of this capitalist-imperialist system. It’s how the system works. Unless and until we make revolution and get rid of this system these horrors are going to keep going on. We’re going to have poisoned water pumped into the homes of Black people in Flint, Michigan and other cities around the country. That’s what we gonna have and that’s what’s going on.
And look, we in the Revolutionary Communist Party are organizing right now for an actual revolution to get rid of this system at the soonest possible time and bring a totally different and far better system into being. We’ve got the leadership for this in terms of Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who has said the role of the police is not to serve and protect the people but to serve and protect the system that rules over the people.
And a crucial part of organizing this revolution is mobilizing people to stand up and refuse to accept horrors like killer cops getting away again and again and again. That’s a part of mobilizing and preparing for revolution.
I got one more thing I got to say. Because my man Mohammad Ali died last week. This man meant a whole lot to me. He refused to go into the army in 1967, because he said, I ain’t going to go fight no Vietnamese people, they’re not my enemy—my enemy is right here, my fight is right here. Couple of years after he did that, I got drafted into the army and they gave me orders to go to Vietnam. I said, ain’t no Black man got any good reason to go to Vietnam to kill Asian people for this system. And if I gotta fight, I gotta fight here. They threw me in jail for doing that, in the military penitentiary. But that’s what led me to becoming a revolutionary. So I really love Ali and I embrace his legacy from that point. But all these people went on TV—Bill Clinton, all these other people, talking about they love Ali, they embrace his legacy. Well I got a question for all of these people. If Ali put it all on the line to resist the injustices coming down on Black people then, and you embrace his legacy, what are you doing about the injustices being put down on Black people today? And if you ain’t doing nothing, take Muhammad Ali out of your mouth. You ain’t got no right to talk about that man. That’s what was inspiring about him. If you ain’t ready to do that, stop talking about Muhammad Ali and his legacy.
So look, I’m going to wind this down pretty quickly. These cops murdered Freddie Gray. This system is letting them go on the installment plan—one by one by one. That is unacceptable. It’s got to stop. And it’s really up to us to stand up and say it’s got to stop and act to stop it.
So basically, me and my family and my supporters, we’ve been fighting now for 1,055 days—1,055 days. And this Wednesday will be 151 weeks. Nobody’s family deserve to be fighting like this. Nobody. Because why? Because you all should protect us. We didn’t ask for this fight. But we was pulled in. My brother was brutally murdered on July the 18th, 2013. Beaten worse than Rodney King. Beaten worse than any animal. By 11 to 15 Baltimore city stinking animals. They brutally murdered my brother. And like my family always say, they killed the wrong man, but they truly got the right family. Y’all should’ve did your homework before y’all put your hands on my brother. I just literally got off the phone on my way riding here leaving from Brown’s Funeral Home. I’m tired of playing games with these people. I’m trying to get my brother’s body exhumed right now. Everybody playing this dog and pony show. All you all gonna know, the West family is not to be played with. So you all better throw some respect on my family now. I’m not playing with you all. Because the saddest part—those two animals, Nicholas David Chapman and officer Ruiz, they almost killed Abdul Salam 17 days before, with his baby in the back seat of the car, in that same neighborhood, two blocks over. Was anything done? Nothing! Not the fact that Abdul didn’t do everything. He did everything humanly possible to save my brother’s life without knowing he was saving another victim’s life. But his calls went on deaf ears. Nobody listened to him. And they let them save two killer cops, them animals. They let them animals back on the street to try and murder one of our men—to pull my brother out by his dreadlocks and start beating him, hollering out the “n” word on numerous times with witnesses. And the saddest part after he was beaten to death, pepper sprayed, tased, kicked, stomped, he was beaten to death. After he was laying there already dead faced down on the ground—face down. Nobody did nothing. The witnesses tried. They got threatened. And I love those witnesses because they stood their ground. They got threatened. “Get the F out or the same thing can happen to you.” But if that wasn’t enough, if that wasn’t devastating enough, that we didn’t get that one phone call. And when I think about the tragedy that happened to the people in Orlando, my heart goes out. Because I know how it feels, to have to wait for hours, wait 12 to 13 hours before you can say, that was my brother. We tried to identify my brother. We never got that phone call. We never got nothing. I saw my brother’s dead body on the news. And when we went to them, they still won’t let us see him. And if that wasn’t enough, they hid my brother’s body for five days. Why would you hide his body? And before we stopped at Brown’s funeral home, we told them not to put any embalming fluid in him, not to touch him, we want to see him. Because witnesses told my family, he was beat so bad we was gonna need a closed casket. You don’t know my family walking into Brown’s funeral home, down that hallway, to see a nightmare. And when I got there, what really messed my mind up, it looked like my brother’s face was reconstructed. They put a little smirk on his face. I knew something wasn’t right. And then it took them 154 days to tell my family some foolishness. But before the 154 days, a reporter from Morgan, she told my family that my brother died—she made a public speech, it wasn’t that she just talked to my family, she told my family and the world that my brother died of positional asphyxiation, which we know to be true. Some of the truth. And it took them 154 days, the medical examiner’s office, all of them, the whole damn system is guilty as hell. The medical examiner’s office, everybody. It’s a system that keep covering up. And the cover-up is worse than the murder. The bloody murder. The damn cover-up. They were gonna hell in and come back before they let the cover-up be revealed. But it’s snatching sheets off of you all, one by one. Trust me, all y’all going down. You all thought you could hand my family a check and send us on our way. Keep your hush money! Money can’t bring my brother back. It’s not about the income. It’s about the outcome. I want to make sure they don’t kill nobody else. That’s why I’m out here. That’s why I put my life on the line. Let’s not forget that same unit killed Anthony Anderson. Let’s not forget that all this happened before Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray should not be dead right now.... We got that States Attorney kicked out of office. We did that. We said bye-bye Greg Bernstein...So I’m telling you. We will never stop till these killer cops are in cell blocks, flat out.
I want to thank you all for being here today. I’m just here to stand with you. I want to tell you a little story. About a year and a half ago I went to a Black Lives Matter meeting and I did the great white liberal thing. I went and told some people, I want to be a good white ally in the struggle, and I was so pleased. And a sister walked up to me, got right in my face and said, I don’t want no white allies. I want freedom fighters who want to see the liberation of the whole of humanity. And I said, sign me up for that.
I gotta say Brother Dix, you said it all. It feels like, pulling this case apart, piece by piece, and then trying to examine just one little piece at a time, and coming up with a thing that says, oh, everything is bright and shiny in America and nobody is guilty of no shit. There’s a man who’s dead who shouldn’t be dead. And so you can’t tell me everything is bright and shiny. This is part of a story that says, “This is the land of the free and the home of the brave.” This is a story that is a lie. The truth is that this country has been built on oppression from day one. This country has been built on thievery, stealing people’s land, genocide, annihilating people, and slavery. A war going on between Europe and Africa, and who wins? America wins, by the deportation of millions. I am so angry at the way we claim innocence in this country... we call ourselves “Number one.” And I gotta say: It’s all a lie. Until there are cops in jail, it’s all a lie. And even if just one cop gets sent to jail, we have to say that there was complicity among forces, that his back was not broken in one moment in a rough ride. He was manhandled from the start. He appealed for help. And it was denied him. He was examined by people and they pushed him back in and shut the door and kept driving on the way when they should have gone immediately to the hospital. This is a criminal event, and I think it’s a criminal conspiracy. And this system does not know how to give us the truth. This system is built to protect the lie. And I’m just so glad that you are here. I hope that we can find the ways to build because it’s exactly true: The system is guilty. The system is guilty. And until we replace the system, we will not know justice. Thank you.
I stand in deep solidarity with my dear brother Carl Dix and all of those who focus on the precious life of brother Freddie Gray. His life demands justice. His death demands justice. But real justice. Full-scale accountability of police who abuse, maim and murder.
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
June 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Wednesday morning, June 15, 8 people with the Revolution Club were illegally arrested in front of the Los Angeles Criminal Courthouse. They were bringing the Message from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party that begins: “The Revolutionary Communist Party IS ORGANIZING NOW TO OVERTHROW THIS SYSTEM AT THE SOONEST POSSIBLE TIME. Preparing to lead an actual revolution to bring about a radically new and better society: the New Socialist Republic in North America.”
Members of the Revolution Club were marching in formation, distributing this message and exposing the reality of what goes on in the meat grinder of the Criminal Courthouse, which is itself criminal and part of enforcing a criminal system. After an hour, the LA County Sheriffs arbitrarily decided to stop this completely legal gathering and arrested all those marching. They were given no warning and had broken no laws.
While members of the Revolution Club were under arrest, the LA Sheriffs threatened and attempted to intimidate them. When one of the Sheriffs was called out for threatening one of the revolutionaries, he said: “I'm looking out for me because 'white lives matter' here.” These are the same Sheriffs whose vicious and bloody brutality against people held in their jails and people who visit them has been exposed over the last several years.
The revolutionaries were charged with a misdemeanor, “picketing near a courthouse to obstruct justice.” Given the amount of INjustice that goes on in that courthouse, this charge is a bitter irony. They weren't obstructing anything but were making known there is a force that is serious about bringing into being a whole different world through revolution—which they had every right to do. This is a serious charge with up to 180 days in jail.
Because of the crimes and outrages committed every day in their halls of power, this courthouse has been the site of innumerable protests, and the Revolution Club had every right to be there. What the LA authorities found intolerable was the message of revolution and the challenge to their illegitimate authority.
This cannot be allowed to stand.
This message of revolution needs to reach into every corner of society, including to all those who are ground up through the system's courthouses every day and given no future under this system.
Demand that these illegal charges against the Revolution Club be dropped immediately!
Be part of getting the Message from the Central Committee of the RCP everywhere.
You are needed:
1. Come to the Criminal Courthouse, Thursday, June 16, 8:30 a.m. for a speak-out and press conference. Come ready to speak out about why these charges should be dropped and why this system has no right to rule.
2. Call LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. Demand the charges against the Revolution Club be dropped: 213.978.8100
3. Check out the Message from the Central Committee of the RCP at revcom.us and below. Be part of getting this everywhere.
The problem: this system. This system drives refugees and immigrants into exploitation, horror and death. This system wages brutal wars of slaughter. This system destroys the environment. This system locks down generations of Black and Brown youth, brutalizing and incarcerating them and even blowing them away—or else setting them up to fight and kill each other, when they should be fighting the REAL enemy. This system conditions men to disrespect and brutalize women, when the fury of women must be unleashed for revolution. This system—capitalism-imperialism—must be overthrown.
The solution: REVOLUTION–nothing less! Revolution where millions go up against, defeat and dismantle the system's armed forces of violent suppression. Revolution that sets up a totally new power, with a different economy and different ways people relate to each other.
The goal of this new revolutionary power is communism: a world where people are no longer divided into rich and poor, masters and slaves, rulers and ruled. No longer fighting and slaughtering each other, but working together for the common good. No longer locked in ignorance, but consciously understanding, and changing, the world. No longer destroying the earth, but acting as its caretakers. This is possible, humanity has developed the basis for such a world; it is the system of capitalism that is in the way.
The leadership: Bob Avakian, BA, the leader of the RCP, has developed scientific theory on a world-class level. At the same time, BA deeply understands and connects with the most oppressed.
BA breaks down why reality is the way it is, and how people can change it for the better. He's learned from the achievements and the shortcomings of past revolutions, and brought forward a much more scientific approach to the big problems facing humanity. This is the new synthesis of communism.
BA has developed answers to why this system can't be reformed... how revolutionary forces could grow from weak to strong, and actually defeat the enemy...how people could then build a new society on the road to emancipating humanity throughout the world ...and how to wage the struggles of today to reach that goal.
BA's leadership is a huge strength for the revolution: to follow, to learn from, to defend.
How to move today: The all-out struggle for power is a serious thing, and it can only be won when the system is in deep crisis and millions are ready to put everything on the line. Today is not yet that time... but today IS the time to urgently prepare for that.
1 Go to www.revcom.us every day.—the lifeline that cuts through events to reveal the need for revolution and how to move now to hasten, and prepare for, that revolution.
2 Join the Revolution Club. Revolution requires organization: the Revolution Club is where you get organized to fight the power today to STOP the horrors of the system, and to transform the people, FOR REVOLUTION. Revolution requires a scientific approach: the Revolution Club is where you learn BA's new synthesis of communism, and how to apply it to solve the challenges we face.
The Revolution Club moves boldly and it moves wisely, up in the face of the enemy, projecting revolution into every corner of society.
All of this is part of going for a revolution that we, the RCP, have taken the responsibility to lead. There's a whole other way to live and fight and even die to change the world – a strategy to do that and a way, right now, to make that real.
Prepare the ground, prepare the people, and prepare the vanguard—get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.
Download PDF Flier, 11x17", 2-sided, designed to be folded in half with title on outside:
Revolution #443 June 6, 2016
Updated June 19, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Freddie was chased and beaten down by cops who arrested him for nothing. Video shows him bent like a pretzel. They ignored his cries of pain and threw him in the police van. Then the cops subjected him to the kind of “rough ride” that has terrorized many Black people in Baltimore. This was a modern day lynching, and it’s the kind of thing police in this country inflict on Black and Brown people with impunity, all the damn time!
They are letting the murdering cops go free on the installment plan. The first trial of one of the cops who was involved in Freddie’s murder ended in a mistrial, and the cop in the 2nd trial was found not guilty. Now the cop who gave Freddie that “rough ride” is on trial. We cannot sit back while the system engages in another mockery of justice and lets another killer cop walk.
What we do matters a great deal. There wouldn’t even have been trials of any of these killer cops if people hadn’t rebelled after Freddie’s death. We must take things into our hands and demand justice for Freddie Gray, and for all the victims of brutal, murdering cops.
List of sponsoring/organizing groups and individuals in formation, including:
Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network with Dr. Cornel West
Tawanda Jones, sister of Tyrone West, who was murdered by Baltimore police on July 18, 2013
Qiara Butler, cousin of Tyrone West
Rev. Carl David Olson, Minister, First Unitarian Church of Baltimore
Tariq Touré, Baltimore Muslim essayist, poet and educator
Wayne AmonRa, outspoken voice in West Baltimore with radio show on WOLB-FM
Bonnie Lane, Baltimore Green Party organizer and advocate for the homeless
For more information and to add your name/organization to the list of sponsors, email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Flash updates when verdict is announced will go out via twitter: @revbmore