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Some People Push Back | Mickey Z.
Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
Aug. 5, 2013
“Revolution is a serious thing, the most serious thing about a revolutionary's life. When one commits oneself to the struggle, it must be for a lifetime.”
- Angela Davis
>This one’s for the short attention span crowd. So, grab your remote (or mouse or phone) and get ready to click, click, click…
In the 1989 film, Roadhouse, Patrick Swayze plays James Dalton, head bouncer at a seedy establishment called the Double Deuce Club. Dalton is armed with a PhD in philosophy from New York University and his three rules of bouncing:
1. Never underestimate your opponent.
2. Take it outside.
3. Be nice until it's time to not be nice.
Note to those striving for enduring social change: It's time to not be nice.
In the words of historian Kenneth C. Davis: “Nothing struck deeper fear into the hearts of southerners, whether they held slaves or not, than the idea of a slave revolt.”
As a young man, Nat Turner was sold to Thomas Moore. Upon Moore’s death, Turner moved to the home of Joseph Travis, the new husband of Moore’s widow. In each setting, he was remembered for his praying, fasting, and visions.
After interpreting a February 1831 solar eclipse as the sign for him to take action, Turner and a few trusted friends commenced planning their insurrection. On Aug. 13 of that year, when an atmospheric disturbance made the sun appear bluish-green, the plan was put into action. On Aug. 21, Nat Turner and his fellow slaves killed the entire Travis family as they slept. Thus began a house-to-house murdering spree that swelled Turner’s “army” to more than 40 slaves.
By the morning of Aug. 22, word of the rebellion had gotten out… prompting a calling up of the militia and a wave of fright through the region. Turner and his men continued marching and killing but were badly outnumbered by the white militia. Many slaves were arrested or killed, but Turner eluded capture for two months.
By the time Turner was finally caught on Oct. 30, 55 whites had been stabbed, shot, and clubbed to death. His actions, while doomed to end with his death at the hands of the state, had impacted the South and its “peculiar institution” in a permanent manner.
Turner and 54 others were executed, yet the rebellion brought Virginia to the verge of abolishing slavery. The state chose instead to clamp down harder on slaves, but this served only to heighten awareness of how untenable the situation had become. In the immediate future lurked John Brown, the Underground Railroad, Frederick Douglass, The Liberator, and, of course, the Emancipation Proclamation.
Nat Turner had indeed put the South on notice.
Tyler Durden sez: “How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight? I don't wanna die without any scars.”
William Burroughs once wrote about how we humans -- like the bull in a bullfight -- tend to focus on the elusive red cape instead of the matador. Indeed, we are all-too-easily distracted from real targets by an attractive image or illusion.
Of course, some bulls see right through the red cape, uh, bullshit... and quite justifiably introduce the matador to the business end of their horns. Before you mistake that for a lesson and/or inspiration, don’t forget that such bulls are promptly killed while the matador is mourned as a brave hero.
Here’s my question: If every single bull in every single bullfight were to gore every single matador, how long would it be before bullfights were a thing of the past?
Malcolm X sez: “It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”
Eugene V. Debs was one of the most prominent labor organizers and political activists of his time. He was nominated as the Socialist Party’s candidate for president five times. His voting tallies over his first four campaigns effectively illustrate the remarkable growth of the party during that volatile time period:
America’s entrance into World War I, however, provoked a tightening of civil liberties, culminating with the passage of the Espionage and Sedition Act in June 1917. This totalitarian salvo read in part: “Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or both.”
One year after the Espionage and Sedition Acts were voted into law, Debs was in Canton, Ohio, for a Socialist Party convention. He was arrested for making a speech deemed “anti-war” by the Canton district attorney. In that speech, Debs declared, “Do not worry over the charge of treason to your masters, but be concerned about the treason that involves yourselves. Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on earth.”
These words lead to a 10-year prison sentence and the stripping of his U.S. citizenship. At his sentencing, Debs famously told the judge:
Your honor, years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
While serving his sentence in the federal penitentiary, Debs was nominated for the fifth time, campaigned from his jail cell, and remarkably garnered 917,799 votes.
President Woodrow Wilson ignored all pleas to release Debs from prison. But, after serving two years and eight months behind bars, President Warren G. Harding commuted his sentence on Christmas Day 1921.
As Bradley Manning and too many others can attest, the Espionage Act remains on the books today.
To me, the following quote reads like a poem... so that’s how I’ll present it:
You’ve got to learn
that when you push people around,
some people push back.
As they should.
As they must.
And as they undoubtedly will.
There is justice in such symmetry.
- Ward Churchill
When early American revolutionaries chanted, “Give me liberty or give me death” and complained of having but one life to give for their country, they became the heroes of our history textbooks. But, thanks to the power of the U.S. media and education industries, the Puerto Rican nationalists who dedicated their lives to independence are known as criminals, fanatics, and assassins.
On March 1, 1954, in the gallery of the House of Representatives, Congressman Charles A. Halleck rose to discuss with his colleagues the issue of Puerto Rico. At that moment, Lolita Lebrón alongside three fellow freedom fighters, having purchased a one-way train ticket from New York (they expected to be killed) unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and shouted “Free Puerto Rico!” before firing eight shots at the roof. Her three male co-conspirators aimed their machine guns at the legislators. Andrés Figueroa’s gun jammed, but shots fired by Rafael Cancel Miranda and Irving Flores injured five congressmen.
“I know that the shots I fired neither killed nor wounded anymore,” Lebrón stated afterwards. With the attack being viewed through the sensationalizing prism of American tabloid journalism, this did not matter. She and her nationalist cohorts became prisoners of war for the next 25 years.
Why prisoners of war? To answer that, we must recall that since July 25, 1898, when the United States illegally invaded its tropical neighbor under the auspices of the Spanish-American War, the island has been maintained as a colony. In other words, the planet’s oldest colony is being held by its oldest representative democracy -- with U.S. citizenship imposed without the consent or approval of the indigenous population in 1917. It is from this geopolitical paradox that the Puerto Rican independence movement sprang forth.
This movement is based firmly on international law, which authorizes “anti-colonial combatants” the right to armed struggle to throw off the yoke of imperialism and gain independence. UN General Assembly Resolution 33/24 of December 1978 recognizes “the legitimacy of the struggle of people’s for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial domination and foreign occupation by all means available, particularly armed struggle.”
Prison did not dampen Lebrón’s revolutionary spirit as she attended demonstrations and spoke out to help win the long battle to evict the U.S. Navy from the tiny Puerto Rican island of Vieques in 2003.
Emma Goldman sez: “No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law.”
In her excellent 1995 book, Bridge of Courage, Jennifer Harbury quotes a Guatemalan freedom fighter named Gabriel, responding to a plea to embrace non-violent resistance: "In my country child malnutrition is close to 85 percent,” he explains. “Ten percent of all children will be dead before the age of five, and this is only the number actually reported to government agencies. Close to 70 percent of our people are functionally illiterate. There is almost no industry in our country -- you need land to survive. Less than 3 percent of our landowners own over 65 percent of our lands. In the last 15 years or so, there have been over 150,000 political murders and disappearances... Don't talk to me about Gandhi; he wouldn't have survived a week here. There was a peaceful movement for progress here, once. They were crushed. We were crushed. For Gandhi's method to work, there must be a government capable of shame. We lack that here."
In an Oct. 29, 1970, letter to the National Front for Liberation and Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Viet Nam, Huey P. Newton wrote:
“In the spirit of international revolutionary solidarity, the Black Panther Party hereby offers ... an undetermined number of troops to assist you in your fight against American imperialism. It is appropriate for the Black Panther Party to take this action at this time in recognition of the fact that your struggle is also our struggle, for we recognize that our common enemy is U.S. imperialism, which is the leader of international bourgeois domination. There is no fascist or reactionary government in the world today that could stand without the support of United States imperialism. Therefore our problem is international, and we offer these troops in recognition of the necessity for international alliance to deal with the problem … Such alliance will advance the struggle toward the final act of dealing with American imperialism. To end this oppression we must liberate the developing nations … As one nation is liberated elsewhere, it gives us a better chance to be free.”
Arundhati Roy sez: "People from poorer places and poorer countries have to call upon their compassion not to be angry with ordinary people in America."
Let’s say I see you lying on the ground. Looming above you is a large, menacing man with bad intentions. Clearly, you need help. What shall I do?
I could pray. I could meditate. I could create a really kick-ass Facebook page. I could chalk the whole thing up to bad karma and continue on my way. I could ask you to recognize the attacker as human and tell him that you love him. I could organize a candlelight vigil or pass around a petition. I could blame patriarchy, the Republicans, or gangsta rap. I could ask myself: What would Jesus do? What would the Dalai Lama do? I could try to remember that excellent saying about non-violence I got from my yoga teacher. I could vote for a Democrat.
OR: I could stroll over to the big fella, stomp my foot to draw his attention downward, and promptly whip out a finger jab to his eyes. When he brings hands up (too late) to protect himself, he leaves his mid-section exposed. I kick him in the balls -- doubling him over -- then grab him by the hair and bring his face down into a powerful knee blow before finishing him off with a right cross. Then I grab you and we get the fuck out of there as fast as we can.
It’s either that or chanting. The choice is yours.
Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.
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