Plunging Into and Widening the Debate at Mizzou Against White Supremacy and Christian Fascism, and for Revolution

by Sunsara Taylor | November 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revcoms and students at Mizzou
Revcoms and students on the Mizzou campus November 12. Photo: @NinaCavender
See Interactive Graphic: RevCom, anti-police brutality movement came to Mizzou

Big questions have been—and need to be further—torn open by the ferocious struggle that jumped off at the University of Missouri against racism and spread to other campuses. As Carl Dix, founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and co-initiator of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, posed it in a recent statement, “What kind of a system breeds, supports and defends the kind of racism that the Black students at Missouri—as well as students at every college—have to face? Racism that finds expression in millions of other ways in this society? And what do we intend to do about it?” The urgency to these questions—and the answers that the RevComs were bringing into the situation—was intensified when white racists responded to these righteous protests by threatening to shoot and kill Black people on campus.

On Thursday, November 12, Carl Dix and the RevComs stepped right into the middle of this, connecting with, widening, and transforming the profound level of ferment that has been stirred up. About 15 students, mainly Black, gathered at “Speaker’s Circle” (a “free speech zone” on campus), a small plaza in the middle of a busy campus crossing. Many more were drawn in once he began. Dix saluted the students who had protested, linked the racism on campus with the white supremacy this country was founded on and which takes a concentrated expression today in police terror, and called on people to get into Bob Avakian, the strategy for revolution, and the new synthesis of communism he has brought forward to put an end to the many other crimes of this system once and for all. Other RevComs passed out Carl Dix’s statement (“Which Side Are You On? Statement of Support for University of Missouri Students”) and signed people up to get into the revolution and get involved in mobilizing protests on the upcoming anniversary of the police murder of Tamir Rice.

Many had heard of Tamir Rice, but very few knew the whole story and circumstance of his death and how the police had tackled and arrested Tamir’s sister rather than even allowing her to comfort her brother as he bled to death on the street. Several Black women present each made the point separately that the story made them think of a younger brother or a cousin, boys in their own families who are in danger already simply because of the color of their skin. One had tears in her eyes as she spoke.


"There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.”

BAsics 1:1

Get your free e-book copy of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian here.

Two Black men who had traveled down to Mizzou from Albany, New York, joined with us. One held the bullhorn for several hours and the other helped hold the Stolen Lives banner and at times joined in the agitation. They, too, came because they were inspired by and wanted to support the student struggle and, from their own perspective, linked this with the fight against other forms of oppression. With encouragement, a Black student testified about the fear she has been made to feel due to the racist attacks and threats on campus and her fear for the safety of her younger brother who looks so much like many on the Stolen Lives banner. “Black lives matter,” insisted a young white man. He pledged he would never sit back while other white people say racist shit in front of him, expecting him to laugh along.

All this was very rich and going strong when a viciously hateful white Biblical fascist showed up with his own bullhorn and sign covered in Bible quotes and the words “Obey HIM.” He got right up in the face of women, calling them “sluts” and “whores” and started taunting Black students, accusing them of “sipping gin and juice” and blaming Michael Brown for his own murder and justifying the actions of the police. It was vile and unadulterated woman-hating, racism, and homophobic bigotry, and it was meant to offend and to injure.

Several students told us that the guy is always on campus and that people usually just ignore or laugh at him. But this kind of celebration of oppression is not funny, and shouldn’t be accepted as just the normal backdrop to life.

On this day, however, a group of students surged forward and got in the face of this fascist bigot. At one point, a physical altercation seemed to briefly break out. It is unclear exactly what happened, but when it was over the fascist was whining about allegedly having been hit in the mouth.

Immediately, the whole scene got more intense and the crowd swelled even more. The preacher was screaming that he was “punched by a Black guy.” A progressive white student started screaming that it was absolutely necessary to “denounce the violence” or else “the protests would end up looking bad.” Right wing students dove into the fray, screaming about how “the left silences free speech with violence.”

In the face of this wild scene breaking out in many directions, we fought hard to refocus things back on what is truly important. We made clear: There is no “war on free speech” as the right wing students and much of the media has tried to pretend. And there is no tyranny of violence coming from “the left.” The whole notion is absurd. Here we were just a day after every single Black student on campus had been threatened with death by white people who were intentionally mimicking the language of people who had carried out mass shootings. And here we were holding up a banner of the faces of just a few dozen of the thousands of Black and Brown people who have been murdered by police. This is what there is an epidemic of: white supremacy and racism, including the police systematically killing Black people. This is the subject that has been focused up by the student protests and this is the subject we will not allow to be changed.

Soon, we had drawn most of the crowd away from the Christian fascist to listen to what we were agitating about, but he could still be heard spouting out his hatred behind us, condemning women who get abortions, gloating over the way the police keep getting away with killing Black people, screeching in the most graphic and hateful terms about gay sex, and howling about the alleged evils of socialism and godlessness. All this made it even more necessary, but also easier and more joyful, to get into why it is absolutely necessary for people to get into Bob Avakian’s work and leadership and join the fight for an actual revolution to put an end to all the outrages the fascist was boasting about.

Build unity against ALL oppression

We got into the first quote of Bob Avakian’s BAsics, “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.” As well as: Fetuses are NOT babies, abortion is NOT murder, women are NOT incubators. We got into the fact that the Bible was written by human beings, not by god, and that those human beings lived in agrarian, slave-owning societies that stoned women to death if they weren’t virgins when they got married and didn’t understand science yet. We backed this up with Bible quotes and challenged people to confront the real world and a morality rooted in that real world and the interests of emancipating humanity. We got into what communist revolution actually is and challenged people to dig into the work of Bob Avakian, who has advanced the science of communism and is providing leadership today so we can finally get free. Everything the fascist said became fodder for a deeper discussion of the need and the way to break all the chains of oppression and ignorance.

Before long, the right wing students got their steam up again and started shouting about the “left’s suppression of free speech.” A woman got in the main right-wing student’s face, calling out his racism as well as insisting that “as a white male he had no right to speak about her reality as a woman or the reality of Black students.” He accused all of us of being afraid of his ideas and unable to take them on, claiming that instead we rely on violent suppression or “discounting him because he’s a white male.” He screamed that everyone deserves the right to speak, even if you don’t like what they have to say. Oppressed people do have the right not to have to listen to reactionary threats and abuse.

Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?

"Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?" is a clip from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. The film is of the November 2014 historic Dialogue on a question of great importance in today's world between the Revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Bob Avakian. Watch the entire film here.

While we united firmly with this woman’s anger, we also clarified: The right wing student’s ideas are wrong not because of his “white male identity,” but because they do not correspond to objective reality. They are morally wrong because they are at odds with the interests of humanity as a whole and serve to reinforce a whole system of oppression—indeed his “independent ideas” are backed up by the armed force of the state. There is not an epidemic of suppression of fascist, racist, woman-hating speech in this country. Turn on Fox News. Turn on CNN, for that matter. Take a history class that promotes the LIE that this country was “founded on liberty” (meanwhile, enslaving millions of Africans and whipping, torturing, raping, and savagely driving them). Besides, if this right wing student is really serious about “everyone’s right to speak,” where is his outrage about Tamir Rice’s right to speak, or Sean Bell’s, or any of the other thousands of Black and Brown people who have been murdered by police? We pointed to these people’s faces and more on the Stolen Lives banner. Where is his concern about the right of Black students to speak about and protest racism without receiving death threats and worse? On those things he was silent, proving that his claim about “free speech” is a cover and an excuse to change the subject and we weren’t going to allow it.

And, no, we weren’t “afraid of his ideas” and we wouldn’t discount them because he is a white male. We were perfectly happy to take on his raggedy bullshit with substance, which we proceeded to do in front of an eager and growing crowd. At the same time, we made clear that this is not some airy “battle of ideas” in the abstract—and we challenged the students listening on this, too. The ideas that this reactionary student was spouting, the ideas that encourage and excuse white students and others to “change the subject” when racism comes up and to turn their heads and allow it to keep happening, are ideas that come from and reinforce a society and a system that is currently carrying out a slow genocide against Black people who have been penned into ghettoes in the millions, denied work, routinely terrorized and even murdered by police, degraded and dehumanized in the media, and locked in cages at a rate unrivaled anywhere in the world.

Sunsara Taylor with revcoms and students at Mizzou
Sunsara Taylor with revcoms and students at Mizzou, November 12.
Photo: @NinaCavender
See Interactive Graphic: RevCom, anti-police brutality movement came to Mizzou

The ideas of the Christian fascist that were shaming women for having sex and spewing the crudest hatred for women for having abortions or birth control are backed up by thousands of years of tradition’s chains and are being given the force of law across this country as abortion clinics are closed, doctors are terrorized, and women are being forced to risk their lives or have children against their will. We are not “afraid of the ideas,” we are recognizing and fighting against and calling on everyone to join the fight against the system of capitalism-imperialism that is enforcing these oppressive ideas on millions and millions of oppressed people here and all around the world. This is why the work and leadership of Bob Avakian is so valuable and important, this is why people need to get into this and join the revolution and this is why—even as people are learning about and figuring out where they stand in relation to that—we need to join together from different perspectives, shoulder-to-shoulder to fight against oppression today.

Throughout all this, one progressive white student kept insisting that we all be quiet and give him a chance to speak, because he “wanted to put forward a position in the middle.” Now that we had re-cohered the crowd, we gave him the space to say his piece. He insisted he was against racism and with the students who rose up, but also insisted that everyone present “denounce the fact that a preacher had just been punched in the mouth.” He said all violence is wrong and if we don’t insist on this we will allow Fox News to distort and discredit this movement.

Every time he followed something positive with the word “but,” one of the other protesters from out of town would interject, “Everything he says after that ‘but’ is going to be bullshit.” He had a point—that this student was trying to find a “middle ground” where there objectively was none. At the same time, we didn’t feel like this guy should be condemned in the same way as the fascists and reactionaries.

When he was done, I openly refused to denounce anyone for allegedly punching that fascist bigot in the face. Besides the fact that I didn’t see what happened and have no reason to trust the claims of that fascist bigot, the fact is that people should not have to be subjected to racist and degrading diatribes.

As for the broader notion that “all violence is bad,” this is simply not true. Think of the violence of a woman being raped, I told the crowd. Now, think of the violence of a woman fighting back against that rape and possibly injuring or even killing the rapist. Is the violence of the rapist and the violence of that woman the same? Many students shook their heads. I challenged people to look at the tremendous global violence that this system carries out every day for its mere functioning—its armies, its police forces, its prisons, its borders, and so much more that enforces relations that trap billions on the edge of survival. All that violence is going to keep going on until there is a revolution which, when the time comes for that under different conditions than today, will have to defeat and dismantle this system’s armies by force. And, in those circumstances, that will be like the violence of the woman fighting back against rape—liberating violence.

Around this time, students who had been listening intently for more than an hour began to sit down, making the decision to sit back and listen to all of what we might have to say. Afterwards, many thanked us for standing up to such hate but also for all the new information we had shared. They were moved particularly around what we said about the depth and outrageousness of white supremacy and police terror as well as the vicious oppression of women and the liberating views on all of this that we championed. At the same time, they were deeply compelled and intrigued by the rest of what we were saying—about revolution, about violence, about the Bible and atheism, about communism, and in our answers to the many different questions and arguments that got thrown at us. Dozens signed up, took flyers and got copies of Revolution newspaper.

This whole scene went on for over four hours. The crowd would swell and then thin out, fluctuating from about 200 at its peak to about 30 at its thinnest. At times we would lose the center of gravity to some reactionary or fascist and then we would fight and gain it back. At one point, one of the Black men who had traveled from upstate New York asked to get back on the mic. In addition to wanting to share his own thinking, he seemed concerned that perhaps all the talk of communism might be turning off students who otherwise would be interested in the fight against racism. Not afraid of anything he might bring up, even if he chose to go up against what we were putting forward, we gave him the mic. He did go at the question of communism, but quite differently than I had expected. He challenged the students: “Don’t be afraid when you hear the word communism. What you should be afraid of is capitalism—that is what brought slavery, that is what brought white supremacy, that is what brought rape culture and all the rest. Communism...” he paused, turned, and pointed at me, “is this nice lady right here!” I threw both arms up in the air with pride and then, together with him and many others, plunged in to further open air debate over some of the most important and pressing questions confronting humanity today.



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