“You can jail a revolutionary, but you can’t jail the revolution.”—Fred Hampton
“History is important. If you don’t know history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything and you have no way of checking up on it.”—Howard Zinn
One of the most insidious historical myths perpetuated by so-called ‘educational’ institutions and the corporate-stream media is that the United States was founded upon the holistic principles of ‘democracy’ and ‘justice for all.’ Since when has ‘democracy’ and ‘justice for all’ meant the genocide of the Indigenous Native peoples, the enslavement of Black people, and the systemic disenfranchisement of women and the poor?
There are those who will smugly argue that these above-mentioned realities were all ‘in the past,’ despite the fact that the past continues to be the very foundation for the present; especially since the realities of that past are wrapped in historical mythology, glorification, glossed over and/or outright ignored. Until that “past” is honestly and forthrightly addressed, this nation continues to be the world’s most insipid hypocrite both at home and abroad.
The daily experiences of everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in the United States attest to the hypocrisy of this society and nation. We are enslaved by, and labor under, what the noted author, revolutionary, and psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon, referred to as “cognitive dissonance.” In this context, the mere color or gender of those in power is absolutely irrelevant, and the systemic horror and hypocrisy continues unabated.
The notion, for example, that there are no political prisoners in the United States is inaccurate and absurd. There are numerous political prisoners and/or prisoners of conscience held in the sadistic and brutal 21st century U.S. prison gulag system. Many of them have been imprisoned for decades as a direct result of the U.S. government’s war of counterinsurgency against its own citizens.
Even as the corporate elite of this nation have overwhelmingly gutted the economic-industrial base in the United States, the prison industry (and it is an industry) has grown, and is growing, by leaps and bounds. Many millions of economically poor people in this nation are incarcerated, even as the avaricious and criminal corporate elite bask in trillions of stolen dollars, given to them by their surrogate, corporate controlled, U.S. government.
In many ways, the counterinsurgency by the U.S. corporate-government against the people of this nation has actually been tweaked and intensified. For example, many components of the U.S. government’s outrageous, and then illegal and devastating program (known by its acronym COINTELPRO—the Counter Intelligence Program) to “frame, neutralize, imprison, and/or murder” political activists (and their families and friends) have now been codified into law, as embodied in what is now known as the so-called “Patriot Act.”
The American Heritage college dictionary defines the word counterinsurgency as a: “Political and military strategy or action intended to oppose or forcefully suppress insurgency.” The word insurgency is defined by the afore-mentioned dictionary as: “The quality or circumstance of being rebellious.” Thus, COINTELPRO and the Patriot Act have, in effect, criminalized rebelliousness. Our alleged U.S. Constitutional rights be damned.
This is not a new phenomenon, as all who know of the government’s COINTELPRO program are aware. However, it is in this 21st century a most dangerous and treacherous development with everyday people in this nation as the unsuspecting targets. To better understand the U.S. governments’ history of suppressing rebellion, right up to the present, I strongly recommend that every reader of this column (and beyond) obtain and view the documentary film COINTELPRO 101.
The perpetual wars (and military forays) abroad being waged by the U.S. Empire and its ‘allies,’ the increasing economic austerity at home, and the de facto gutting of the U.S. Constitution do not make the people of this nation or of Mother Earth as a whole any safer. To the contrary, accepting these things is an unfolding and sure recipe for disaster.
It is our human duty to rebel against systemic injustices at home and abroad, even as we educate ourselves and one another, about and in, this ongoing everyday people’s struggle. In the words of Frederick Douglass, “There is no progress without struggle.”
To be sure, serious political struggle has its risks, but shirking said struggle guarantees the tightening of our mental and political chains. The words of Joe Hill still ring true, loud and clear: “Don’t mourn. Oraganize!” Moreover, Fred Hampton was correct when he said, “You can jail a revolutionary, but you can’t jail the revolution.”
Onward then, my sisters and brothers! Onward!
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil / political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book.) Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.