|Mar 28, 2013 - Issue 510|
“If you're not willing to die for it, put the word 'freedom' out of your vocabulary.”
- Malcolm X [el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz]
“Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.”
- Bobby Sands
In the year 1978, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, publicly stated that, “There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people [in the U.S.] whom [he] would call political prisoners.” Currently, in this year of 2013, the situation as pertains to political prisoners in the U.S. has become even more widespread and is far, far worse today. This ongoing quagmire of injustice is an integral part of the so-called U.S. legal 'justice' system which continues to be an utter farce and nightmare for the vast majority of persons confined in its clutches.
To be sure, there are political prisoners being held in various other nations throughout the world – not only in this bastion of hypocrisy known as the United States – but for the purposes of this current column, I am honing in on the U.S. and the political prisoners in its barbaric prison gulag system.
In The Black Commentator article titled, Counterinsurgency and Political Prisoners in the United States, of September 15, 2011, I wrote in relevant part, “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 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.”
WHO ARE POLITICAL PRISONERS?
What defines being a political prisoner? Succinctly stated, political prisoners are those persons who have been imprisoned due to their political views and/or conscious political actions; and they consist of men and women of all colors. More often than not, especially in the U.S., these persons are charged with 'crimes,' which on the surface, do not reflect the distinctly political nature of the charges against them. This is practiced in order to confuse and manipulate the public while simultaneously discrediting and criminalizing those who are charged and imprisoned. This practice, in effect, criminalizes political dissent, under the fallacious guise of protecting society. Thus, the judicial system itself is utilized as an insidious tool of political suppression and repression.
Some few political prisoners in the U.S. are relatively well known while many more such prisoners are not. ALL of them however, are important. These persons need to be seriously supported and freed, not pimped and exploited for personal, prestige, monetary, and/or veiled systemic gain.
Moreover, in view of the fact that the entire U.S. prison gulag system is corrupt and physically and/or psychologically sadistic, there are many imprisoned persons who may not necessarily have entered prison as conscious political prisoners but have attained an active and astute political and social conscience and consciousness as a result of the undeniable systemic injustice and brutality of their imprisonment. These persons also, must not be overlooked or discounted. The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation on Mother Earth and this is by systemic design – not mere coincidence.
LINKING U.S. GOVERNMENT TERRORISM & THE PLIGHT OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
The perpetual U.S. wars of hegemony abroad and the war against persons inside this nation are directly linked to the plight of political prisoners in the United States and elsewhere, as is the profit-driven, avaricious, (national and global) corporate hegemong and bloodsucking of the peoples of the world.
The U.S. so-called 'war against terrorism,' is in fact a global war of terror, against the everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow peoples of Mother Earth. And this includes the everyday people inside the United States itself. The U.S. corporate/military elite, and their concomitant incestuous corporate-stream media pawns of incessant propaganda - own and operate this political system that perpetuates (national and global) economic and political exploitation - and whose insidiousness and subterfuge has today- no equal in the history of humankind.
By and large, most political prisoners in the U.S. have, in word and deed, opposed not only the despicable corporate-owned U.S. government's war of economic and political terror against the people inside the United States, but have consistently and adamantly opposed U.S. military aggression and hegemony against peoples and sovereign nations throughout the world. For this, they are doubly hated and despised by the power elite of this nation. Thus, the plight of political prisoners in the U.S. is an urgent and important international issue and concern, not only a pressing matter of national importance.
Political prisoners in the U.S. (and elsewhere) are not some kind of inexplicable anamoly that somehow simply came into being. Their existence is by deliberate, calculating, and callous systemic design.
ON POLITICAL PRISONER – LYNNE STEWART
Of the myriads of political prisoners, who are beloved by politically conscious persons of conscience, who are held in U.S. prison gulags including (but by no means limited to) Albert Woodfox (of the Angola 3), Leonard Peltier, Sundiata Acoli, Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Jamil Al-Amin, The Cuban Five (Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene' Gonzalez), and so very, very many additional women and men; there is the sterling example of 73 year old political prisoner Lynne Stewart – the courageous people's lawyer.
Approximately six years ago, in The Black Commentator article of July 12, 2007 titled, Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter – Stalwart Cohorts in the People's Struggle, I wrote, in relevant part, “On February 10, 2005, attorney Lynne Portia Stewart, after having been targeted for many years by the U.S. government for the vigorous defense of Blacks and other people of color, found herself convicted of a despicably bogus 'conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism' charge...it was, is, and will continue to be – the love and deep respect of the people – Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White from whence her credibility and strength is derived. No court in America can boast such credentials...What motivated and continues to motivate Lynne and Ralph is a very special kind of 'revolutionary love' for the people...It is that very love that today in 2007, finds Lynne and Ralph still speaking out...on behalf of the down trodden everywhere in the human family.”
Lynne Stewart was sent to prison on the above-mentioned bogus conviction in 2009. Subsequently, in the year 2010, her already unjust sentence of 28 months was, in an egregiously outrageous action by the U.S. legal 'justice' system actually lengthened – and she was re-sentenced to 10 years. Thus, today, in 2013, Lynne still faces well over six more years of wrongful imprisonment. Moreover, as U.S. government authorities are well aware, a very serious life-threatening cancer is spreading in her body. Lynne Stewart is a 73 year old woman political prisoner fighting for her life! And the corporate-owned, war mongering Barack Obama regime which is steeped in subterfuge and deceit, along with his Democrat and Republican party cronies, want to see political prisoner Lynne Stewart DEAD! Obama's hypocritical and callous actions and inactions as they pertain to political prisoners inside the U.S. demonstrate that he and his confederates want ALL such prisoners silenced and/or dead! As the prolific writer and activist Stephen Lendman recently wrote in the VETERANS TODAY-Military & Foreign Affairs Journal article titled, 'Lynne Stewart's Struggle for Justice Continues' (pertaining to Lynne Stewart and all political prisoners), “Change more than ever is needed. Great struggles are won in small steps. Supporting right over wrong matters. Mass public outrage is needed. Activism gets results. There's no other way.”
In 2008, Lynne Stewart was a recipient of the Voice Of Justice Award for her (over 40 years) of having tirelessly and vigorously defended the human and political rights of everyday ordinary people. Yes! For over 40 years Lynne has been a thorn in the side of this hypocritical U.S. government and its unjust judicial system – which is precisely why she is imprisoned and fighting for her life today. Nevertheless, from the brutal confines of unjust imprisonment she remains a stalwart and inspiring human being and comrade, committed to the struggle of and for everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in this nation and throughout Mother Earth!
We everyday people must be just as committed in word and deed to Lynne Stewart (and other political prisoners) as they have demonstratively been to us! We can ill afford inaction in this regard and there is no in-between. As the late people's historian Howard Zinn noted, “The prisons in the United States had long been an extreme reflection of the American system itself: the stark life differences between rich and poor, the racism, the use of victims against one another, the lack of resources of the underclass to speak out, the endless 'reforms' that changed little.” Lynne Stewart and the many other political prisoners in the United States are very much a “reflection” of what the United States so-called 'democracy' really is: the bastion of hypocrisy! This must be changed, NOW! The words of the matyred South African political activist Steve Biko, should be ringing out strong, loud, and clear TODAY, in this year of 2013: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” There is a Chinese adage that says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Our individual and collective “first step” must be to free our “mind[s]” and quickly and consistently take effective actions to put an end to our economic, social, and political systemic oppression.
STOP waiting for the masses to respond. You and me – all of us everyday ordinary people - are a part of the masses! So step up to the plate and do your part because it is important. YOU are important.
The brutal, sadistic, and unjust imprisonment of political prisoners is a reflection of our own systemically manipulated mental internment. This must no longer be tolerated. Remember, cherish, and most of all actualize the immortal words of Joe Hill: “Don't mourn. ORGANIZE.” Let the words of the late Irish freedom fighter and martyr Bobby Sands be brought to fruition, for he was correct when he said, “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.” Yes, “our revenge,” be we young or old in this long and protracted struggle, will be the sweet taste of liberation for the people of this nation and the struggling peoples throughout our precious Mother Earth. So take heart and carry on! There's much work to be done.
Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one. Onward, then, my sisters and brothers. Onward...!
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, 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 view Larry’s interview of October 26, 2012. Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.