Contact: Art McGee (artmcgee [at] usa.net); Bill Fletcher, Jr. (bfletcher4 [at] compuserve.com).
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During this extremely sad and traumatic time, we extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who lost their life on September 11th. We also wish for the speedy and full recovery of those who were injured, and we hope and pray that in the aftermath of the attacks, rescue crews can find as many people still alive as possible.
The Black Radical Congress (BRC) strongly condemns the horrific terror attacks which occurred on September 11th, 2001. The brazen murder of countless thousands of civilians cannot be supported or condoned.
It is without question that US imperialism has brought genocidal levels of death and destruction to people around the world. Whether one looks at the situation in Iraq with the continual blockade and air bombardments, the situation in Palestine where the US continues to give virtually uncritical support to the Israelis in their national oppression of the Palestinians, the economic blockade against Cuba which aims to undermine its economy and weaken its population, or any number of other places, one clearly sees the callousness and evil intent with which US imperialism treats the lives and property of others, especially non-white peoples around the globe.
Yet, even with a firm understanding of the causes of the desperation, fury, and hatred of US imperialism, turning to terrorism to fight global oppression and exploitation is not an acceptable strategy. A clear and unambiguous distinction must be made between radical/revolutionary political action on the one hand, and terrorism on the other, regardless of whether the causes that appeared to inspire the terrorist action(s) are just. Open and unmitigated attacks on civilian targets do not advance radical/revolutionary causes and must be repudiated. Rather, such attacks inevitably antagonize the populace, weaken any existing popular support, and help legitimize heightened levels of repression by the imperialist state against all progressive/radical/revolutionary political activity, including increased restrictions on the civil rights of the people.
We already hear, in the voices of those in power, calls for war and vengeance. War and vengeance without a precise target, but striking out blindly, is nothing more than self-serving jingoism. Given the track record of the US, this could include indiscriminate bombings or missile attacks, such as the attack against the Sudanese pharmaceutical laboratory two years ago, which was later found not to have been connected with any sort of terrorist activity.
The dangers presented by the September 11th terrorist acts do not restrict themselves to the external threat. We hear on television and radio calls for changing the laws and regulations in order to make it easier to conduct surveillance and to carry-out covert operations against potential opponents of the US. Rather than accomplishing anything in terms of reducing the threat of terrorism, such steps will eliminate basic civil liberties and strengthen the existing tendency toward a racist and classist police state. The police are already out of control and on the rampage in communities across the country. We cannot afford to further unleash their undemocratic and frequently murderous behavior in the name of national security.
We should add here that the terrorist attacks have also brought potential damage to the growing anti-capitalist globalization movement. The ruling class has been making noise for months about the demonstrations that accompany the gatherings of capitalist globalizers. They have inferred that these demonstrations will get increasingly out of control. There is no question that the events of September 11th will be used as a pretext to both discourage activity, as well as to clamp down on any and all popular outrage with neo-liberal globalization.
It is also critical in moments such as these that we as human beings fight and resist popular impulses toward scape-goating and racism. From almost the moment of the first attack on the World Trade Center, there has been an assumption floated within the media that Arabs or Muslim fundamentalists were behind the attacks. The reaction to the attacks is reminiscent of what we witnessed immediately after the Oklahoma City bombings. There was a widespread assumption that Arabs or Muslims were behind the attack on the Federal Office building. Few establishment observers expected, or led any of the public to expect, that the terrorist could be—and was—a homegrown, white American right-winger.
Therefore, it is important to reserve judgment until a more thorough investigation is conducted. This is particularly important given the anti-Palestinian/anti-Arab/anti-Muslim bias of the media. The automatic assumption of the US media is that Palestinians specifically, and Arabs generally, are animals, or at best, fanatics with no concern for human life. The just and righteous Palestinian cause is rarely given credible time, and when offered, generally dismissed by allegedly objective (but really pro-Israeli) commentators. Therefore, in the current situation of horror following these criminal acts, we must actively oppose any and all witch-hunting and stereotyping which is bound to emerge.
Yet another danger we currently face will be xenophobia and, general anti-immigrant sentiment. This will almost inevitably be directed at immigrants of color and particularly those who look like they might be of Middle Eastern (North African) origin. The attacks on immigrants and the condemnation of entire communities must be stopped before they escalate out of control. We already see some of this happening with numerous reports of anonymous death threats sent to Arab and Muslim institutions, as well as the spray painting of racist slogans and direct, personal threats and attacks on individuals who are assumed to be from the Middle East (North Africa). We call on all clear-thinking people to be especially vigilant at this time in making sure that in the aftermath of this tragedy, another tragedy born of pain, anger, and hatred does not occur. True anti-racism may require us to put ourselves at risk physically in order to defend Arabs and Muslims from unwarranted attacks.
Lastly, Black America must not condone or be indifferent to the horrendous loss of human life resulting from this tragedy, nor can we allow these horrific acts to be used as an excuse to further repress Arab-Americans, Muslims, or those perceived to be opponents of capitalist globalization. As a people that has survived over 400 years of genocidal oppression on these shores, we are all too familiar with the human suffering caused by both terrorism and racial hatred. From the amputations, beatings, and rapes of Chattel Slavery, to the New York City Draft Riots of 1863, to the post- Reconstruction terrorism of the Klu Klux Klan, to the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921, to the government sponsored Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the 1960s, to the contemporary state-sanctioned police murder and brutality we are fighting today, we as Black people have lots of experience with the horrors of terrorism in the US, as it has too frequently been directed against us. That is why we must show our full and unqualified support and compassion for all those suffering as a result of this horrible tragedy, most of whom have come to experience terrorism for the first time, as we continue our 400+ year struggle to rid ourselves of this evil, both domestically and around the world.
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Black Radical Congress
Columbia University Station
P.O. Box 250791
New York, NY 10025-1509
Phone: (212) 969-0348
Email: blackradicalcongress [at] visto.com.