Points of orientation concerning the June 2 killing of Usaamah Rahim by police agencies:

June 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On June 2, Boston police and FBI shot and killed a 26-year-old Black Muslim man, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim.  Police say that they stopped him at a bus stop at 7:00 a.m. in front of a CVS drug store in order to question him.  The police claim that Rahim refused to talk with them (which would have been perfectly legal on Rahim’s part), that he pulled a knife and began advancing on them, and that they had no alternative but to kill him.  Immediately, based solely on government sources, the media not only slavishly reported the story along the lines put forth by the police, they began to trumpet claims from the agencies involved that Rahim was actually preparing to carry out an attack on police inspired by ISIS, the utterly reactionary Islamic fundamentalist group now waging war in Iraq and Syria against U.S.-backed forces.  In the midst of the media barrage on this, here are some important points of orientation to keep in mind:

  1. Right now, nobody in the public knows what actually happened.  While the news media act as if they are presenting objective facts, in reality almost everything they are saying comes from “sources” within the police department and FBI, or so-called experts who work with and support these agencies.  There is no reason to believe anything that either the police or the FBI are saying in the absence of hard proof, tested in an independent and adversarial process.  On the contrary:  police departments generally and the FBI in specific have long records of twisting facts when it comes to killings by police, or inventing “plots” when they want to scare the public into line. (See “WOT Witchhunt in Lackawanna”; and "December 1969: The FBI Assassination of Fred Hampton—"I AM... A REVOLUTIONARY!")
  2. This incident should raise all kinds of questions.  Why did the police and FBI approach Rahim at 7 in the morning at a drugstore?  Why was there no arrest warrant for him and no search warrant, if he indeed was about to embark on a deadly plot, and why was he being approached for “questioning”?  Not only is the media refusing thus far to raise any of these or other pointed questions, they are treating everything that is being said by the authorities as the gospel truth, merely on the say-so of those same authorities.  They are acting as amplifiers and cheerleaders for the official story, not questioners of it.  At the same time, the media are further taking the opportunity to provide platforms for all kinds of reactionary authorities and political figures to not only justify the pervasive repressive surveillance that exists but also to call for more repression, more surveillance, and more unrestrained police powers.  The media, with government, are creating a climate of fear in which people are being conditioned to turn to the very authorities whose wars and repression helped create and exacerbate this horrible situation in the first place.  Platforms are being given to right-wing fascist agitators who aim to target immigrants and Muslims, and whip up chauvinism.   The general tenor of the coverage is designed to send the message that, in a time of rising protest against the rampant police murder of Black and other oppressed nationality people, people should “trust in the police to protect you” and should in general not protest, not question, and instead behave like sheep.  In other words, this incident is being used to whip up and promote reactionary agendas.  The mainstream media, in any serious matter, have a record of slavishly following the authorities.  They also attempt to set up the “permissible positions to take” along lines that serve those same powers-that-be.   That is, they give the semblance of debate, but within very narrow bounds, as a way to close off actual critical thinking.  Because of this, anything they say must NOT be taken at face value but must instead be analyzed for what the media show themselves to be in cases like these: essentially, conduits and mouthpieces of government propaganda. 

  3. It is wise to remember that in a great many recent so-called “terrorism” cases in the U.S., it has turned out that FBI informants have usually organized and instigated the so-called plots that other people have been sent to prison for.  Particularly given the reactionary agendas being pursued through this incident, as described above, one must not only wonder about what really happened but whether—whatever turns out to be true about the murder by police of Usaamah Rahim—this particular incident was either created or provoked by government agencies to serve the ends described above, or if not is being used by them in dangerous ways that go against the interests of the people. 

  4. Leaving aside this specific case and whatever the actual truth turns out to be, but speaking to the political dynamic being whipped up and unleashed: it must be said that between the U.S. on the one hand and forces like ISIS on the other, both sides are reactionary.  Neither side can be supported and both must be opposed.  Like the U.S. imperialists themselves, groups like ISIS represent outmoded and reactionary social relations—in this case, patriarchy, theocracy (ruling society through superstitious and backward religious beliefs), exploitative economic relations, etc.  At the same time, the far greater damage worldwide has been and is being done by imperialism—especially US imperialism—and it is indeed imperialism which has mainly fueled the rise of this Islamic fundamentalist movement, in different ways.  The deadly dynamic between the imperialists on the one hand and Islamic fundamentalism on the other—a dynamic now being fanned by both sides of the equation—must be broken and another way—a REAL revolutionary way forward, revolutionary communism—must be promoted and fought for, and must gain strength.  This is urgent, here and around the world. 

And as part of this, people very broadly within the imperialist countries must be won to aim their principal struggle against the imperialists themselves and not allow themselves to be taken “under the wing” of the biggest oppressors in the world.


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