[Col. Writ. 5/7/03]

Living in the Shadow of Rome

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

"The relative equality of Americans before 1776 has
been overwhelmed by a thousand forms of physical,
mental, and economic differentiation, so that the
gap between the wealthiest and the poorest is now
greater than at any time since Imperial plutocratic
Rome."
-- Will & Ariel Durant, *The Lessons of History* (1968)

Who among us chose Empire?

Of the millions of Americans who were actually allowed to cast their
vote, who among that number actually voted in favor of a foreign
policy that required armed Americans to fashion another nation in
America's image?

Who, among that admittedly limited number, voted to make the
Americans the Makers of Princes in lands where most people speak a
language unknown to the vast majority of Americans?

In the earliest days of the American republic, when a tight, nervous
knot of men (for they were *all* men) met in Philadelphia in the late
1770s, they had before them two examples that drew their admiration,
and emerged as models of what form of government this new nation
would adopt: Rome and Britain. For two of the delegates, Messrs.
James Madison of Virginia and John Dickinson of Delaware, these two
examples were most attractive. Madison wanted a Roman-style Senate,
but with popular elections. Dickinson wanted a Senate more like the
British House of Lords, elected, not by the people, but by state
legislatures. Dickinson won, and it was over a century before the
people would be allowed to vote for their 'representatives' (so much
for 'democracy', huh?).

The point is that two examples loomed large in the American mind at
the very beginning: *both were global empires*.

Why didn't Americans look to ancient (or even native-born, i.e.,
'Indian') democracies? They didn't want democracy; they wanted to
build a state that protected their wealth and privilege, but *seemed*
to be democratic. That's why it took until 1912 for Americans to
vote for 'their representatives', with the 7th Amendment. *That's
why today, in the year 2003, there is not a constitutional right to
vote.* If you doubt this, remember the 'election' of 2000, when
*Bush v. Gore* was decided. If you recall there were perhaps tens of
thousands of people who were disenfranchised from voting. The courts
have been largely silent on this grave usurpation. That's because
they know there is no direct constitutional right to vote; it is a
state right, 'protected' by state statutes, state courts and state
constitutions. The Supreme Court decided *Bush v. Gore*, not based
on the constitutional rights of the citizen to vote, but on 'Equal
Protection' under the 13th and 14th Amendments! How deliciously
ironic that the Constitutional Amendment which was designed to
protect the constitutional rights of Black Americans, newly 'freed'
from 244 years of bondage, would be instead the tool used to usurp
their 'right' to vote in Florida, and justified the judicial
usurpation of the political process, to install the bottom half of
the Bush Dynasty!

We are, all of us, subject to the autocratic whims of any Imperial
state, that seeks to jettison every semblance of any constitutional
protection that is promised by the Bill of Rights. We live in a
judicial-military-media dictatorship, which, like its predecessors in
England and Rome, professes to speak for 'the People', while
protecting and enriching the class that placed it on the throne.

In ancient Rome, the Senate and the Emperors kept Rome engaged in
endless wars on the frontier, to keep the Army away from ideas of
seizing control of the lush, wealthy City. For ancient Romans,
anyone who wasn't Roman was seen as a 'barbarian.' The current term
of art is 'terrorist.' The U.S. Empire bombs thousands, doesn't
bother to count the dead, and yet lashes out at retail bombers as
'terrorists.' The media, enjoying the spoils of Empire (good
ratings) joins the fun by praising the wisdom and goodness of the
Emperor and his troops.

Those who question this martial wisdom are denounced as traitors and
run from their businesses or professions. Yet, we are assured, this
is a War to bring Democracy to 'Other People.'

America is drunk on the wine of Empire, and like Rome, cannot see
the precipice that looms before it; the pride that cometh before the
fall.



Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
=======================================
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[Col. Writ. 5/7/03] Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal

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MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY AS POSSIBLE TO
INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND HELP CALL ATTENTION TO HIS CASE.
The campaign to kill Mumia is in full swing and we need you to
**please** contact as many publications and information outlets as
you possibly can to run Mumia's commentaries (on-line and
**especially off-line**)!! The only requirements are that you run
them *unedited*, with every word including copyright information
intact, and send a copy of the publication to Mumia and/or ICFFMAJ.
THANK YOU!!!

These are VERY SERIOUS TIMES for political activists in this country
and around the world. Get full details and keep updated by reading
ACTION ALERTS!! at www.mumia.org and its links.
========================================


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Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books:
'Live from Death Row',
'Death Blossoms', and
'All Things Censored'.