Special: Commentary: Mumia Abu-Jamal: ‘Outside Agitators’

As the nation’s Republican and political leaders had their feasts and
festivities of opulence and splendor in the shadows of poverty, depravation
and want, Philadelphia hosted hundreds of demonstrators, from a variety of
movements, who each and all came to register their strong disapproval with
the status quo; and who opposed the repressive state of affairs. What is
interesting is how these people were projected and represented in the
corporate media.

As the nation’s Republican and political leaders had their feasts and
festivities of opulence and splendor in the shadows of poverty, depravation
and want, Philadelphia hosted hundreds of demonstrators, from a variety of
movements, who each and all came to register their strong disapproval with
the status quo; and who opposed the repressive state of affairs. What is
interesting is how these people were projected and represented in the
corporate media.

Almost without exception, the people were likened to that infamous Southern
epithet, “outside agitator.” Demonstrators were called “anarchists,” and
some ridiculous media outlets seemed to whisper that they were … (gulp!)
“terrorists!” Similar media hyperbole will no doubt be projected at those
who protested at the Dem Wealth-fest in L.A.

Why? Because the media, certainly now more than ever, is a tool of wealth,
and as such, the instrument of those who rule: the wealthy. When people
challenge the status quo, no matter how vicious, no matter how vile that
status quo, they are opposed by those who benefit from that status.

There are few Americans today who dare to criticize the late civil rights
leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now lionized, at the time of his
early ministry of protest, he was criticized by virtually every major news
outlet in the nation. It took the rise of unapologetic, militant activists
like the late Malcolm X, and the fiery young lions, like Stokeley
Carmichael (later Kwame Ture), H. Rap Brown (now Imam Vamil al-amin), and
the revolutionary black Panther Party, to make the Rev. Dr. King look
appealing to the rulers, and their media. For his national campaign of
protests, however, he was frequently condemned by the press, for being an
“outside agitator.”

When the French bourgeoisie and workers were rebelling against the Crown,
Philadelphia’s own Benjamin Franklin (Ambassador) and Virginia’s Thomas
Jefferson were “powerful alien subverters” of the French Government. French
historian Pierre Gaxotte wrote, in The French Revolution (1932), regarding
Franklin’s influence:

“His house at Passy at once became the headquarters of the agitators. He
was the high priest of the philosophers, the Messiah of the malcontents,
the patron of the framers of systems…. People wrote to him from all
quarters, begging him for advice….” [pp. 55-56].

In France, Franklin was an “outside agitator,” spreading dangerous and
subversive ideas about the uselessness of kings in the land ruled by Louis
XIV. A young French lawyer was inspired by him, and dedicated his first
speech in court to the American. That lawyer was Robespierre, one of the
most radical of the French revolutionaries.

Today, who calls Franklin, Jefferson, or Thomas Paine (who was made a
French citizen after the Revolution, and elected deputy for Pas-de-Calais)
“outside agitator”?

The great African-American scholar Oliver Cox wrote, in Caste, Class & Race
(1948): “In political-class conflict the ruling class will always be
intolerant. Speech is never free to be used as a threat to the reign of a
political class.” [p. 169]

Isn’t that precisely what was shown in Philadelphia, the so-called “cradle
of Liberty,” which threw over 400 men and women into their most vile
dungeon, Holmesburg Prison; the second oldest prison in America? Didn’t
they show this when they hit young protestors with fines of up to
$1,000,000 (called “bail”)?

For daring to exercise their alleged rights of free speech and protest,
they were denied every other so-called right imaginable.

For true revolutionaries, there is no outside; for boundaries of race, and
of caste, and of language, gender, and nationality fade into the
commonality of human, and indeed of life. To the state, which draws its
very meaning from social conflict and separation, nothing could be more
dangerous.

We must all learn from this; and build from this, for a revolution isn’t a
dinner party. It is a struggle, to really transform and change things.

Let us begin.

Author: Mumia Abu-Jamal

News Service: Free Mumia Now, TheExperiment Solidarity

URL: http://www.freemumia.org

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