Behind Bars

Wars Against All

Speech by Mumia Abu-Jamal to the April 9th and 10th Anti-War Demonstrations

Ona Move! Long Live John Africa!

If history teaches us anything, it’s that war changes everything; for wars, by their very nature, are both external and internal affairs.

The Civil War, the most violent war in U.S. history, brought us the Income Tax, the establishment of Chicago as the nation’s meatpacking industrial center, the Homestead Act, which granted millions of acres of land to white settlers, and the Legal Tender Act, which introduced and systemized the use of paper money across the U.S.

These wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan) have brought indefinite detention, Guantanamo, the so-called Patriot Act, and the regime of Homeland Security. Under the rubric of national security and fear of terrorism, the Constitution, never truly reliable against state repression, has slid into silent obsolescence.

Yet, there is more. As the nation directs its wealth and technical expertise to the art of war, the schools crumble, cities experience economic and social disaster foreclosures strike millions and joblessness soars. Unions are under attack in ways not seen since the 1930s, and the wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

Activists find themselves silenced, on the sidelines, and unable to rebel when the commander-in-chief is the nation’s first Black president. This is so even after the latest military adventure in Libya.

Quick. Why can the West assemble its war machines to ravish an oil rich country, yet can’t help Japan as it faces its greatest threat since World War II? Which nation faced the greatest humanitarian threat? There will come a time when generations hence will look back with something like incomprehension as we now do slavery. They will look back and conclude that this era was, above all, stupid.

Meanwhile, the Right has more juice now than at any time since the Know-Nothings of the late 1800s, as it wages a culture war to return to the days of Ozzie and Harriet—the ’50s.

For all intents and purposes, the war is as much against workers, students, teachers and the poor, as it is against the Taliban and al Qaida; for they are being targeted and bombed with repression, joblessness, homelessness and hopelessness, amid cities of waste.

It’s time to organize—to stop the wars—within and without.

Thank you.