This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 22 June 2015 contains one article. It may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as it is credited.
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Shock waves sweep U.S. after white supremacist murders nine Black people
22 June 2915. A World to Win News Service. Many people abroad, and some in the United States., believe that with the presidency of the African-American Barack Obama, the U.S. has become a “post racial” society. In fact, the country is becoming increasingly – and violently – polarized for and against the oppression of Black people.
Despite the massive protests against police killings of Black people that began breaking out after the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida by a white vigilante, and then especially last year after the shooting of the unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and choking to death Eric Garner in New York, U.S. police have been continuing to kill Black people and other minorities at a terrifying rate. To give a statistic that reveals something about the difference between the U.S. and other imperialist countries, despite the prevalence of racism in all of them, U.S. police have shot dead almost 400 people so far this year, not counting those who were choked to death, killed by electrical shocks (Tazers) or otherwise murdered in custody. Half were minorities, and Black people were far more likely to be killed while unarmed and allegedly committing a minor offence (like failing to obey police orders) or none at all.
This has everything to do with the legacy of slavery and other forms of the oppression of Black people that have continued since the end of the civil war, when the southern states (the Confederacy) fought to preserve the “right” to enslave African-Americans. There is tremendous controversy over whether to remove the Confederate flag that now flies in official events and locations, including the capital of South Carolina, a state where slaves once vastly outnumbered white people, and where the civil war began.
When 21-year old Dylann Storm Roof walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina whose history is deeply rooted in resistance to slavery and Black oppression, he wore a t-shirt bearing the flags of the white minority regimes that once ruled Zimbabwe and South Africa. His Web site also featured the Confederate flag. The state’s governor at first denied that the massacre of nine people in this church had anything to do with racism. Later, she claimed that state law will not allow her to lower that flag. While other politicians called for its removal, as if the official American flag itself were not itself a symbol of oppression in the country and the world, the fact that many prominent political figures have defended the Confederate flag or refused to condemn it shows the depths at which fissures are speeding through U.S. society. Roof explained his act by saying that he wanted to provoke a new civil war.
In its coverage of the massacre and the aftermath, Revolution, newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA , reported the following observations by a team of revolutionaries, including members of the Revolution Club in Atlanta, Georgia, at a 21 June memorial service held at that church, located in what has become a white area after Blacks were pushed out. Hundreds of people crammed inside and gathered on the street in front, many from nearby churches.
“One older white woman from a different church congregation brought her Confederate flag from her house. This flag had been passed down through generations in her family and had been on the wall of her kitchen. She brought it to the church and said she didn’t want it on her wall any more. A group of white children with scissors ceremonially cut it up.
“We weren’t the only ones challenging the terms of ‘healing’ – before the disease is cured. One sister came with her sign ‘Enough is Enough’ on one side and on the other ‘White Jesus isn’t Coming Back.’ She, too, was the focus of controversy. I talked to her about why she was making this statement here. She said, ‘They are continuing to mask the underlying hate.’
“She said, “Black people make 13 percent of this country, but we are the highest rate of incarceration and death. We are killing each other – because what do we do with the hate? This Kumbahyah [an African-American folk song often taken to mean that God will everyone together – which is Obama’s stance] ain’t working for everyone. That white boy was angry, what do we do? I’m not saying go out here and kill anyone, I don’t condone hate to that measure, but we have to be able to express [our] anger…
‘[I’m focused on] those who are struggling in the economy, who have no hope, this next generation, they are the ones who can make change… Everyone coming to me with anger is 23, 24 and younger. Out here, they are trying to cover the anger. This country has been built on Black backs. I’ve been told they have pushed Black people out of this community. We are angry at this gunman, but he ain’t by himself. It would be stupid to think this is just one man with a gun!'”
RCP Chairman Bob Avakian has written, “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery.” For more on this, see “The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need” on revcom.us
Following is a statement by Carl Dix, the co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, made on 18 June, 2015. After that is an article about guns and white supremacy in the U.S., from Revolution #392, June 22, 2015. Both have been slighted edited for use in this news service.
Outrage in Charleston – This IS America!
Outrageous! A white supremacist motivated by racist venom enters Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, during a Bible study class. He sits down with people there for a while and then starts shooting them, murdering six Black women and three Black men. He calmly reloaded in the course of carrying out these foul murders, telling his victims that he had to do this “Because you (meaning Black people) rape our women and are taking over our country”!
Mass murder carried out in a church – a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary in the face of injustice. This brings to mind the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 which killed four little girls. And the wave of burnings of Black churches in more recent decades.
Mass murder carried out at this church, which has a history of being a place Black people gathered to organize themselves to stand up to the savage oppression this system has enforced on them for centuries. This history goes back to the church’s founding in 1816. Among its founders was Denmark Vesey, who was hung in 1822, along with 35 other Black people, for planning a slave uprising.
The blood of the nine people murdered in Charleston is on the hands of the rulers of this country. Whether this guy acted alone or not, he was acting within a climate that has been deliberately whipped up. White supremacy has been ingrained in the fabric of America from its very beginning. This country was founded on theft of land from and genocide inflicted on the native inhabitants and the dragging of millions of Africans to these shores in slave chains. And white supremacy remains at the heart of this society right down to today.
What does it tell you about this country that George Zimmerman could murder Trayvon Martin as he walked home carrying Skittles [sweets] and iced tea and walk away with no punishment. That cops could choke Eric Garner to death, ignoring his cries of “I can’t breathe,” and get off scot free. That a South Carolina cop could feel he could get away with shooting Walter Scott in the back as he ran away. That Black communities are built on toxic areas that poison people. That Black couples with good credit were steered to sub-prime loans that led to them disproportionately losing their homes in the 2007 economic meltdown. That more than million people are imprisoned in this country, vastly disproportionately Black and Latino. These and more amount to a genocidal programme of suppression and deprivation targeting Black people. And they have contributed to a climate in which it is legitimate to view Black people as criminals and justified to murder them. In these and a thousand other ways a message is delivered that Black life doesn’t matter.
All this faces us all with an urgent question: Which side are you on? Are you on the side of the savage oppression and brutality this system enforces on Black people? Or do you stand against these kinds of horrors?
The crocodile tears being shed by those who preside over the brutality and murder this system inflicts on people are worse than useless. It will take revolution, nothing less, to uproot white supremacy and end the oppression of Black people and all the other horrors this system inflicts on humanity. If you want to see these horrors stopped, there is a movement you can get with, a movement for revolution that the Revolutionary Communist Party is building.
Everyone should understand that there is no middle ground in this struggle where people can be neutral while this system grinds away, crushing the bodies and breaking the spirits of those on the bottom of society. If you have an ounce of humanity, you must add your voice to those demanding that horrors like these STOP! Right Now!
“Gun Control” is not a solution to violent white supremacy
When a white supremacist murdered nine people in a historic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, he reportedly told the victims, “You’ve raped our women, and you are taking over the country… I have to do what I have to do.” According to press reports, he has told authorities he committed the crime to start a “race war.”
In the face of what is undeniably a racist mass murder in a racist society, Barack Obama’s response to the massacre said: “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.”
Only after that did Obama acknowledge: “The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked.”
A specific defining factor in the history and culture of the United States is that this country is built on genocide and white supremacist violence carried out not only by the official forces of violent repression (the army and police) but by significant sections of armed white people.
The horrible murders in Charleston are a product of and component of vicious, violent, societal white supremacy that runs from the Confederate flag in front of the South Carolina State House to the AmeriKKKan flag on the shirts of police who murder Black people from New York to California and everywhere in between. [KKK is a reference to the Ku Klux Klan, a white militia organized to terrorize Black people after the end of slavery that exists to this day.]
Yes, the United States is unique among powerful imperialist countries like those in Western Europe, Japan, Australia, or Canada, in the number of guns in people’s hands and the amount of violence associated with that. The question is why, what that serves, and what’s the solution? And then how do calls for “gun control” (in quotes because “gun control” advocates are not in any way calling for controlling all guns!) fit into this picture?
We live in a society of intense exploitation, alienation, and – correspondingly – an ethos of “might makes right.” That he who has the most and biggest guns gets to assert his interests. And a specific defining factor in the history and culture of the United States is that this country is built on genocide and white supremacist violence carried out not only by the official forces of violent repression (the army and police) but by significant sections of armed white people.
From the gold mines of South Dakota to the farms of Oklahoma, as the army drove Native Americans from their land, armed settlers who occupied that land were formally or informally “deputized” to enforce their “right” to that stolen land with guns. Mexicans were also frequently the targets of lynch mobs in the South-west, from the mid-1800s until well into the 1900s, to drive Mexican landowners from the land.
The iconic American myth of the “rugged individual” supposedly defending “his” farm, his ranch, his claim, his property from so-called “savages,” is set on a stage of genocidal massacres of Native Americans and theft of land from Mexico.
[In Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy (RCP Publications, 2008), Bob Avakian] takes on the ideals of Jeffersonianism [the founding ideology of the U.S.], and convincingly locates even its “loftiest aspirations” in social relations of exploitation and oppression – the social relations out of which those ideals grew, and which they served and continue to serve. In doing so, he draws on a wide range of scholarly research and polemically takes on major contemporary defenders of Jeffersonian democracy. Avakian demonstrates why and how these ideals of democracy co-existed with – and, indeed, arose on the basis of – the enslavement of Black people and the deep embedding of white supremacy into the body politic and ideological psyche of the U.S. But he goes further: not only showing why events turned out that way, but why those ideals themselves could only and can only generate and serve relations of exploitation and the division, and polarization, of people into antagonistic classes, into oppressor and oppressed. Moreover, he convincingly points the way to a vision and future that is truly emancipatory – to a vision of freedom far more radical and thoroughgoing than anything imaginable within the constricted horizons of Jeffersonianism. In doing this, Avakian includes a devastating critique of the “free marketplace of ideas”, contrasting it to a genuinely unfettered search for the truth – and he shows what kind of economic and political system would be necessary for that to flourish.
After the Civil War, the oppression of Black people in slavery-like conditions and the enforcement of Jim Crow laws took the form of official state violence, but also the lynch mob, the Texas posse, and the KKK. Movies like Birth of a Nation glorified lynching and Klan terror as “defending traditional Southern culture and way of life” – which was a tradition and culture of slavery.
And the history of the United States is a history of wars of aggression around the world, against rival reactionary powers, and against rebellions and revolutions. The murderers are glorified as “heroes,” and the victims demonised with racist venom (as “Japs,” “Chinks,” “Gooks,” or “Sand Niggers”). George Bush II told his generals in Iraq, “Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them!”
This “might makes right” gangster, “kick ass,” bullying “logic” and “morality” trickles down and infects this society very broadly. In the United States, all kinds of people resort to violence with guns for all kinds of reasons – and many of those reasons are very bad, including too many of the most oppressed killing each other over nothing. But this system and its spokespeople legitimize white supremacist, male chauvinist, anti-immigrant, and racist gun violence, both by their official enforcers (like the police and army) and by vigilantes and “lone wolf” racists and reactionaries.
A number of commentators have pointed to the fact that the massacre in Charleston isn’t being treated as a terrorist attack by the media. If the killer was a Moslem, he would have been branded a terrorist. And can anyone deny that had the murderer in Charleston been Black, he would have been branded a “thug” and Black people as a whole would have been blamed and vilified? In either instance, the incident would have been used to ratchet up racist demonization and repression. And imagine if one of the recent victims of racist violence – either at the hands of police like Eric Garner, or at the hands of a racist like the person who killed Trayvon Martin – had exercised a right to armed self-defence? What do you think the authorities, or the National Rifle Association, would have to say about that?
Not every gun owner is doing something bad with their gun, or planning to. And individual gun ownership and the ability to train in firearm use is actually an important right of the individual against the state, one which is upheld in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). At the same time, right now, in capitalist-imperialist America, there is an epidemic of reactionary violence committed with guns. But what would be served by passing new laws restricting gun ownership in light of everything we’ve pointed to about the nature of this system?
First off: the police kill hundreds of people every year in the United States, many of them Black or Latino and unarmed. Is anyone advocating disarming the police? The U.S. military inflicts mass death around the world. The U.S. invasion of Iraq alone was responsible for the deaths of over a million people. Are any “gun control” advocates talking about taking the guns (and drones and nukes and poison gas) out of their hands?
And why is it that the powers-that-be, as a whole, either do not want to or do not dare move to disarm these white supremacist militias, border vigilantes, and other armed fascists? For some in the ruling class, they count on these paramilitary fascists to enforce the status quo and to be a violent force in future societal clashes, and to be ready and able to try to crush a serious attempt at a liberating revolution.
As for others in the ruling class, they don’t dare stir up the hornet’s nest that would be set off if they seriously moved to disarm these forces. People should remember a year ago when a fascist named Cliven Bundy organized all kinds of white people to take up guns to “defend his property” against the federal government and totally got away with it. What do you think would happen if Black or Latino people did anything even remotely similar in the inner cities of this country? One thing for sure – the government would not have “stood down”!
The reality is, “gun control” has historically been used and would be used as a tool for ratcheting up repression directed against the oppressed. We are not here advocating anything, but to pose a hypothetical: How do you think stricter “gun control” laws (or even the ones on the books now) would be used in a future situation where there might be legitimate resistance and self-defence against racist attacks either by police or unofficial racist vigilantes? And how would these laws be used in the event of an attempt at a revolution – under conditions that do not exist today but that could emerge?
And get real: Who do you think would be targeted for any “gun control” clampdown? We’ve already seen how so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws that set an atmosphere where a white racist could kill Trayvon Martin in Florida were applied completely differently when a Black woman defended herself and her children – by firing a warning shot into the ceiling of her own apartment – from a man who was threatening them. [Sshe was sentenced to 20 years in prison at a first trial, and faces up to 60 years in a appeal because she fired the gun in the presence of her children,.]
New laws that gave the authorities – the State – more of a monopoly of control of guns would not address or solve the problem of violently enforced white supremacy. And would not be a good thing. But revolution can solve the problem of white supremacy, along with providing the basis to overcome and end all oppression and in so doing put an end to all antagonistic conflicts among people. That would be a good thing!
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