Mumia Abu Jamal: Murder Incorporated

Murder Incorporated: Dreaming of Empire Book 1 (Empire, Genocide and Manifest Destiny)

By Mumia Abu Jamal* and Stephen Vittoria

Prison Radio (2018)

Inspired by Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, this book is a carefully compiled history of the genocidal racism that forms the bedrock of US history and culture.

Murder Incorporated begins by exploring the Aryan and New Israel mythology embedded in the writings of the early colonists and so-called founding fathers. This was the same Aryan mythology Hitler would borrow to justify the attempted extermination of European Jews. According to the myth,  a selected subgroup of Aryans  reportedly originating near modern day Iran) migrated north to Germany and west to England. They purposely kept their bloodline pure by annihilating all the inferior tribes they crossed paths with.

The writings of North American settlers are also full of New Israel “Manifest Destiny” mythology. The latter regards the continent as a “new Israel” promised to them by divine Providence – Just as Palestine was promised to Jewish slaves escaping Egypt.

Mumia and Vittoria quote extensively from  Thomas Jefferson, the founding father most commonly extolled for his “liberalism.” His writings are full of these myths, which he uses to justify both the extermination of Native Americans and the immensely profitable institution of African slavery. In his business journal about whipping boys as young as 10 to force them to work in his nail factory.

The authors also definitively settle the question of whether he “raped” Sally Hemings, the slave who bore him six additional slaves. They also refute modern accounts of Jefferson’s so-called “love affair” with Hemings – by pointing a 16-year-old slave girl is incapable of consenting to have intercourse with her 47-year-old master.

Moving on, the book describes the founding fathers’ deliberate decimation of dozens of indigenous civilizations over the next 75 years. They provide an equally graphic analysis of the western slave trade, which would cost the lives and/or freedom of 60 million Africans. This sections includes a fascinating discussion of the Arab trade in African slaves that preceded it.

The following chapter covers the brutal class war between farmers and workers and wealthy planters and merchants who forced them to fight in the War of Independence and later wrote the Constitution to strip them of their basic political and economic rights. Citing Zinn and others, the authors detail scores of food and debtor prison riots that began 50 years before the Declaration of Independence.

Setting the stage for two centuries of bloody foreign conquest, a long chapter on the Monroe Doctrine (1824) leaves no doubt the founding fathers knew they were building an empire from the outset. The Monroe Doctrine would be used to justify the US invasion of Mexico in 1846, of Cuba and the Philippines in 1898, of Colombia in 1983 (leading to the US occupation and annexation of Panama), of multiple Latin American invasions under Wilson and his successors and the 56 successful or attempted CIA coups to overthrow democratically elected governments.***


*In 1982 Mumia Abu Jamal was sentenced to death for the murder of a Philadelphia police offer, despite a local gang member’s confession to committing the murder. In 2011 his sentence was commuted to life without parole. He continues to fight for a new trial. See Mumia Wins Right to Re-Open Appeals

**Allowing the US to occupy and annex more than half of Mexico (which at the time included California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, New Mexico and parts of Wyoming, Colorado and Oklahoma).

***Including Australia in 1975. See John Pilger: Gough Whitlam 1975 Coup that Ended Australian Independence

 

 

 

The Framing of Sacco and Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti

Directed by Peter Miller (2006)

Film Review

This film, featuring radical historians Howard Zinn and Studds Terkel, concerns the 1920 framing of Italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti for a murder they didn’t commit,

Sacco and Vanzetti begins by exploring the appalling working conditions most US immigrants faced  in the early 20th century. These desperate conditions drew many European immigrants into an anarchist movement seeking to overthrow capitalism.

The most interesting part of the documentary is the trial, in which jurors clearly convicted Sacco and Vanzetti because they were immigrants and anarchists. The prosecution, aware the two men were innocent of murder, deliberately fabricated evidence against them.

Convicted of murder in connection with an armed robbery, they spent seven years unsuccessfully appealing the verdict. The third and final appeal (which went all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Court) was based on a confession by a man belonging to the gang that had staged the robbery. During the entire seven years there were massive protests across the US, Europe, Japan, China and Africa demanding their release.

The city of Boston declared martial law the day they were executed – fearful the entire city would riot.

Although the film can’t be embedded, it can be viewed free at the following link:

Sacco and Vanzetti (2006 – Peter Miller)

 

Expose: US Concentration Camps in Post-War Germany

Other Losses: An Investigation into the Mass Deaths of German Prisoners at the Hands of the French and Americans After World War II

by James Bacque

General Paperbacks (1991)

Book Review

This book is a mind boggling expose about the 5 million German soldiers and civilians crammed into barbed wire cages in Allied occupied Germany. According to reliable witnesses, as many as three million of these detainees were civilians, ie had no military status. Survivors, military personnel and camp visitors reported seeing pregnant women in the camps, as well as children as young as six. The prisoners had no access to shelter, warm clothing, sanitation or medical facilities. Many were deliberately given starvation rations.

War Department records reveal the camps had death rates of approximately 30% annually from exposure and starvation related illnesses – though the US Army officially recorded them as “other losses.” For the most part they were buried in mass graves, some of which were later uncovered by German construction crews and grave diggers. Because the US military made no effort to identify them, by 1947 German families were reporting one million loved ones missing and unaccounted for.

How Eisenhower Circumvented the Geneva Convention

Military personnel who worked closely with Eisenhower and his aides believe this policy (to imprison large numbers of Germans in concentration camps) was devised in 1944. In April 1945, Eisenhower announced to the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS)* that he was creating a new category of military prisoner – Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF).**

Although other generals in the CCS advised him against capturing any more DEFs after VE Day,*** Eisenhower went on to capture an additional 2 million.

In addition to denying them any form of shelter or adequate rations, Eisenhower also prohibited the Red Cross (ICRC), Quakers, Unitarians, YMCA and concerned German civilians from providing them food parcels.

Heavy Censorship: How the Camps Were Kept Secret

Owing to heavy censorship in US-occupied Germany, the deplorable conditions of these camps were kept secret outside of Germany until the US began transferring prisoners to French camps for slave labor assignments (which also violated the Geneva Convention). The French camps were allowing ICRC visits. Horrified by the extreme emaciation and poor health (with many on the verge of death) of the former US prisoners, Red Cross representatives made formal complaints with the US and French government and the press.

US Blames Fictitious “World Food Shortage”

In response, the US government launched a massive PR offensive shifting the blame for the prisoners’ horrendous condition first to the French and then to a non-existent “world food shortage.” There is incontrovertible evidence there were global surpluses of wheat, maize and potatoes in both 1945 and 1946. There were also hundreds of thousands of food parcels piled up in US Army and ICRC warehouses that the Red Cross was prohibited from delivering. There were also hundreds of thousands of unused tents captured form the German army.

There was absolutely no military reason for the Allies to keep millions of disarmed Germans in prison camps after Germany surrendered. The French kept them for slave labor and, where possible, to recruit them to the Foreign Legion to fight in Vietnam and Algeria. According to Bacque (based on actual statements by Eisenhower), the sole purpose of the US camps was a perverted and sadistic desire to take revenge on German soldiers and civilians.

Low Death Rates in Canadian and British POW Camps

The experience of POWs in Canadian and British camps was markedly different from that in the US and French camps. In the former, all inmates were provided tends or other shelter and, in all but one case, adequate food rations. The Canadian and British military also provided hospital care for sick and wounded inmates. The result was death rates comparable to the general population.

The US had only released 40% of their prisoners by January 1946. A year later 24,834 remained in custody.


*The Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) was the supreme military command of the military forces of the US and Great Britain during World War II.

**Clearly Eisenhower hoped that by calling them DEFs instead of Prisoners of War (POWs), he would avoid violating the Geneva Conventions governing POW treatment. It was for this exact reason, George W Bush declared all the detainees at Guantanamo Bay Enemy Combatants, rather than POWs.

***Victory over Europe Day (May 7, 1945) – the day the Allies accepted the German terms of surrender.

Lies My Teacher Told Me

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

By James W Loewen

Touchstone (1996)

Book Review

This book is a treasure trove of hidden US history. Loewen’s primary goal is to analyze why high school students universally hate US history. He mainly blames US history textbooks. The way they filter out embarrassing facts makes them incredibly dull and boring ir tendency to filter out embarrassing facts makes them dull and boring, especially given their unrelenting promotion of corporate capitalism, American exceptionalism*, growth, progress and unconditional optimism about the future.

As he so handily demonstrates, real US history (of the kind you find in primary sources**) is both exciting and compelling. Yet because it sometimes portrays the Europeans who colonized North America in an unfavorable light, it rarely finds its way into high school textbooks.

The sections I found most interesting concerned Columbus, the first Thanksgiving, Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller.

  • Prior to reading this book, I was unaware that Columbus started the North Atlantic slave trade – nor that he was responsible for kidnapping and transporting more slaves (5,000 Native American slaves) than any other slave trader in history.
  • Prior to reading the section on the first Thanksgiving, I was unaware that only 35 of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower were Pilgrims. The other 67 thought they were headed for Virginia tobacco plantations and, according to Loewen, were most likely “kidnapped” by the Pilgrims and forced to sail to Massachusetts against their will. He believes the purpose of the Mayflower Compact (which gave them a democratic voice in governance) was to keep them from rebelling and overpowering the Pilgrims. When the ship arrived at Plymouth Rock, the settlers found nearly the entire indigenous village of Patuxet had been wiped out by plague (which they caught from European fisherman several years earlier). This meant the Europeans could take over indigenous fields without clearing new land – which they did with the help of Squanto, the sole indigenous survivor.
  • The chapter on Woodrow Wilson gave me new insight into the president who promised not to embroil the US in World War I during his campaign and promptly reversed himself once he took office. Wilson holds the record for the most Latin American interventions of any period in history. He also invaded and occupied Haiti, as well as invading the Soviet Union (which was concealed from the American public via an elaborate coverup).
  • I was previously aware that the renowned humanitarian Helen Keller was a socialist. The information that she quit the socialist party to join the anarchosyndicalist International Workers of the World (IWW) was totally new to me.

*American exceptionalism is an  ideological belief that the US outpaces all other countries in nearly every field of endeavor.

**A primary source is an artifact, document, diary, manuscript, autobiography, recording, or any other source of information that was created at the time under study.

How Einstein Set Back Quantum Mechanics Three Decades

Einstein’s Quantum Riddle

Directed by Jamie Lochhead (2019)

Film Review

This fascinating documentary tries to explain, in ordinary language, the scientific principles behind quantum mechanics the and the apparently bizarre theory of quantum entanglement. The latter was a mathematical theory first put forward by Danish physicist Neils Bohr in 1927.

Quantum mechanics, which is the study of subatomic particles, shows that 1) very small particles behave more like energy than mass and 2) all you can really know about them is the probability they will be found in specific locations or possess specific properties.

Quantum entanglement refers to the ability of paired subatomic particles to affect each other over great distances. Largely because the father of relativity Albert Einstein rejected it, quantum entanglement fell out of favor until the 1960’s. This was when experimental physicists John Bell and John Clauser first developed methodology to test its validity.

Humankind’s understand of quantum mechanics made possible the development of lasers and the transistors and disk drivers essential to running personal computers.

Scientists are using quantum entanglement to develop quantum computers that run on “qubits” and are capable of exponentially faster processing than super computers or even networks of supercomputer.

Google Labs leads this work in the US. However China, which has recently launched a quantum communications satellite, is far and away the world leader in this area.


*A qubit is a two-state quantum entangled mechanical system. An example would be a polarized photon (an elementary particle or quantum of light) that ceases to be entangled if a hacker tries to hack it.

How Britain’s Bronze Age Created the UK’s First Wealthy Elite

The World of Stonehenge – Part 4 The Age of Bronze

BBC (2018)

Film Review

Episode 4 is about Britain’s Bronze Age, which began about 2,200 BC. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. Archeological evidence suggests the first British copper came from western Ireland. It was transported to Britain to be combined with Cornish tin to make bronze.

Skeletal DNA evidence suggests that Irish copper and Cornish tin were discovered by European metal prospectors who taught the British how to extract copper and tin from ore, combine the molten metals to craft tools weapons and jewelry.

Copper alone is no stronger than the greenstone used for Stone Age tools and must be combined with tin to produce strong and durable swords and axe heads. The film contains fascinating shots of metallurgists reproducing the ancient technologies used to smelt copper and tin and combine them to make bronze.

The discovery of metallurgy in Britain led to the development of an entire industry made up of metal workers, metal traders and middlemen who controlled the main trade routes. It also created the opportunity for some families to become ostentatiously rich, as they acquired bronze tools (poor people could only afford stone tools) and gold and jet* jewellery. Because tin was relatively scarce, by 2,000 BC Britain was setting fashion trends for the rest of Europe.

Prior to the Bronze Age, there is no evidence of permanent settlement in Britain – farmers typically worked fields and pastures until they exhausted the soil and moved on. However beginning in 2,220 BC, Britons began building permanent dwellings (single room Bronze Age roundhouses) that could last as long as 1,000 years. The first evidence of villages also dates to this period.

Despite the clear emergence of a wealthy elite during the Bronze Age, skeletal remains reveal no evidence of a malnourished underclass.


*Jet is a type of lignite, a precursor to coal, a gemstone of organic, rather than mineral, origin.

 

 

Archeologists Find Indoor Stone Toilet from 3,300 BC

The World of Stonehenge – Part 3 The Age of Cosmology

BBC (2018)

Film Review

The Age of Cosmology describes Britain’s late Neolithic Age between 4,000 and 3,00 BC. The age Stonehenge dates from, this period is mainly characterized by the rise of a priestly class and an interest in spirituality and cosmology. Both Britain and Ireland are home to hundreds of large stone monuments like Stonehenge. They are all astronomically aligned to the summer and winter solstice and are unknown anywhere else. Some of Ireland’s neolithic stone monuments predate the Egyptian pyramids.

In addition to circular stone monuments, archeologists also find remains of large green stone axe “factories” and stone beads from this period, along with evidence of cremation. The latter was reserved for the priestly classes, to hasten their journey to the afterlife.

Archeologists have also found the remains of an indoor stone toilet in the Orkney Islands dating from 3,300 BC.