“Mastery of language affords remarkable power.”—Frantz Fanon
“And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.”—Howard Zinn
Language is an incredibly powerful tool. It can be used for great good or enormous evil. It can be wonderfully liberating or hideously demeaning and enslaving.
The United States government and its de facto propaganda arm—the corporate-stream media—repeatedly use language as a formidable tool of manipulation, control, and oppression. Those who oppose the policies of the U.S. corporate/military elite, and who dispute its concomitant narrative, are constantly labeled as ‘militants,’ ‘malcontents,’ and/or ‘conspiracy theorists,’ etc. These labels are fallaciously liberally applied to critically thinking persons inside this nation as well as to those in other lands who dare to question or dispute the right of the corporate-owned U.S. government to control and dominate the lives of everyday ordinary people.
In order to justify the absolutely unjustifiable abrogation of economic, civil, political, and human rights at home—and perpetual U.S. wars abroad—the United States corporate-owned government constantly and deliberately creates and fosters the perception of both real and imagined enemies being virtually everywhere. What better way to distract people’s attention away from what their own government is doing—keeping them misinformed, uninformed, and docile—than by ensuring that they are in a constant state of fear? The government and corporate ‘news’ media’s use (or more accurately, misuse) of language plays a key role in shaping the opinions and mind-set of the general populace.
The U.S. government, in concert with its corporate-stream media, has for many decades, inside of this nation, labeled as ‘militants,’ those who unswervingly struggled for civil, political, and human rights. Being referred to as a ‘militant’ in the U.S. meant (and still) implies that such person, persons, and/or organizations do not deserve and should not receive constitutional and human rights. Thus, the abuses of the infamous and murderous national U.S. government program known as COINTELPRO (i.e., the Counter Intelligence Program) against political activists/organizers inside this nation, wherein thousands of persons were viciously framed, discredited, imprisoned, and often murdered. There are myriads of political prisoners who remain in U.S. prison gulags to this very day, who are victims of COINTELPRO. Thus, in a very real sense, COINTELPRO continues unabated. Just being labeled as a ‘militant’ virtually assured being targeted by COINTELPRO. Moreover, Barack Obama’s NDAA (indefinite detention provisions) and his obscene ‘Kill List’ has now, in essence, codified COINTELPRO into law in this year of 2013.
On the international stage in this 21st century, the U.S. corporate-owned government under the ‘leadership’ of Barack Obama, continues to label as ‘militants’ any and all persons who dare attempt to defend their respective nations against U.S. drone missile attacks, aerial bombings, and/or U.S. sponsored coups d’état (euphemistically referred to as ‘regime changes’), etc. Thus, being labeled as being a ‘militant’ has come to be the irrational rationale for U.S. extrajudicial murders. This is an example of the calculated and deliberate misuse of the incredible power of language. The crux of this warped U.S. government narrative is that the corporate-owned U.S. government (and/or its puppets) must be accorded total immunity and exclusivity for their own acts of war and of State-sponsored terrorism. This is of course in egregious violation of the U.S. Constitution, international law, and basic human rights. Those many persons, most of whom are civilians, who are being murdered by Obama’s predator drone missiles in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa, and throughout the Middle East, etc., be they so-called ‘militants’ or not, are deserving of the right to enjoy their national sovereignty devoid of the murderous interference from the U.S. and its pawns. Labeling people as ‘militants’ and then killing them is utterly unacceptable. In the words of the late historian Howard Zinn, “Tyranny is Tyranny, let it come from whom it may.”
It is time for everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in this nation and throughout Mother Earth to regain (as Frantz Fanon suggests) the “mastery of language” to serve the interests of we, the ordinary people. The French philosopher and writer Albert Camus noted, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” In a sense, we are all writers of a sort, in that all of us utilize language, either verbally, in written form, or both. Indeed, language belongs to the ordinary people and should be used to their/our benefit—not that of the national or global elite.
Language truly is an incredibly powerful tool, and to be labeled a ‘militant,’ by and in the context of the U.S. corporate-owned government, is more often than not a death warrant. It must not remain this way at home or abroad; and we the people, if only we collectively knew it, do have the power to change it. We should all be ‘militants’—militants in service to the human family and Mother Earth!
Remember: Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one. Onward, then, my sisters and brothers. Onward!
Intrepid Report Associate Editor 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, Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour. Pinkney is a former university instructor of political science and international relations, and his writings have been published in various places, including The Boston Globe, the San Francisco BayView newspaper, the Black Commentator, Global Research (Canada), LINKE ZEITUNG (Germany), and Mayihlome News (Azania/South Africa). 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.)