Anti-American or Anti-Imperialist?
by Mumia Abu-Jamal
What does it mean to be an American? That is the question that is pulsing through the country, especially as the nation embarks on the dark road to war.
A plethora of pro-imperialist writers (pro-imperialists can be of both the right or the so-called 'left') have been busy promoting the suggestion that many of those who are firmly in the anti-war camp (such as this writer) are somehow 'Anti-American.' Of course, they feel no need to define their terms, for they rely on the implicit understanding of the reader to follow their drift.
But such a charge has a long history in the United States, and seriously deserves an answer.
Decades ago, the U.S. Congress appropriated to itself the task of defining what 'Anti-Americanism' meant, and established the infamous HUAC (for the House on Un-American Activities Committee). This group waged ideological war on Communists, socialists, and anyone who tried to organize social change in the repressive status quo of the United States. People barely remember the rednecks who sat on the side of the government, and who imperiously condemned those who came before them, but Paul Robeson, Dr. W.E. B. DuBois, and the Hollywood 10 (actors and writers who were black listed during the period) are remembered with something akin to reverence.
Who were the 'real Americans'? The rednecks and racists who stormed and raged and lorded it over those activists and artists? I stand with Robeson. I stand with DuBois. I would rather pitch my tent with the artists of the Hollywood Ten, who stood for the right to create work that reflected the truths about this society, rather than with the racists and segregationist politicians who stood for silence in the face of repression.
Thousands of people lost their livelihoods, and some committed suicide in the face of this cruel government repression. Families were destroyed in this witch hunt of the 1950's which launched the careers of the Nixons, and the Roy Coens, and the like.
The definition of American has been contested all throughout the history of this country, and when the State has been able to assert their meaning, it has always meant blind obedience to those in power, in government.
There are millions of people in this country who believe in another definition. They believe in the people. They believe that it is not the duty of people to obey the government, but the duty of the government to obey the people. They believe that everyone should have a say in that definition, not just the moneyed interests. They also do not believe in Empire.
To be an American also means that one is related to other peoples in the Americas. Like the Cubans. Like the Venezuelans. Like the Nicaraguans. Like the Brazilians.
They do not believe that it is the inherent right, or the 'manifest destiny' of the Norte Americanos to rule over them like New Rome.
They don't believe that it is right for American military or CIA or any other agency to destroy the leaders or popular organizations of neighboring states (or distant ones).
That definition of American is not anti-American, but the very best of what it means to be a part of the people of the Americas.
That kind of American is not represented in the halls of government or in the corridors of power in the Bush regime; but it is in the hearts, minds, and souls of the people. It has not yet found true political expression, but it will.
They may be called anti-imperialists. But they may also be called, "Americans."
Copyright 2002 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books: 'Live
from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things
Write to Mumia directly at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370