The question of torture: national liberation is the real issue

One of Obama’s first actions as president this past week was to issue an executive order mandating the closure of the Guantanamo prison and making the statement, “the United States will not torture.”

Many people are appeased by this move, but if we are truly progressive we must go further.

The question of torture cannot be taken out of context of the larger issue: the U.S. has no right to invade other countries, occupy them, murder the people, steal their resources and take away the people’s self-determination, for the benefit of America and Americans.

When the U.S. or any imperialist power launches acts of domination, be they military invasions, covert actions, political attacks or deadly economic embargoes, the country, nation or people have a right to resist the hostile, colonizing force, to defend their sovereignty, to fight back on every possible front!

Under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, Gen. Alexander Haig declared that henceforth all freedom fighters will be known as “terrorists.” Thus began the concerted U.S. campaign to criminalize all anti-colonial forces, for which the revolutionary era of the 1960s was so well known.

For us to simply focus on the issue of torture and not the human right to national liberation is to say that thieves should treat their victims better when they force their way into someone’s house and steal everything in it.

It is also hypocritical not to demand an end to torture of oppressed people inside the U.S!

Despite Obama’s rhetoric about “post racial” America, there are in fact two Americas. There’s white America and there are the “others.” There are colonies inside this country.

Indigenous people, to whom land this rightfully belongs, are forced to live a Gaza-like existence on their own stolen land, on “reservations” with life expectancies in their 40s.

Indigenous resistance fighter Leonard Pelletier, who has been held as a political prisoner for a generation, was just recently beaten and tortured in prison.

There are nearly two and a half million people in prisons in the U.S., most of them African, Mexican or other impoverished oppressed people.

Mandatory minimums and discriminatory sentencing have millions of black people in and out of prisons—many locked up for life—for things most white people never serve a day for.

African communities live under martial law and war conditions imposed by a government policy of police containment that is popularly endorsed by the majority of white people.

Where is Obama’s condemnation of policeman Jon Burge in Obama’s home base of Chicago? Obama has yet to make a statement about the terror inflicted on hundreds of African men by Burge’s forces in Chicago for over 20 years.

Locked up inside the brutal U.S. prisons African and Mexican people are regularly tortured. Pelican Bay and Corcoran prisons in California are notorious. Angola in Louisiana and Parchman Farm in Mississippi are brutal plantation work camps continuing the system of slavery.

In every state African men, women and children are locked up and brutalized more often than in any other country on the planet, including those puppet countries that carry out U.S. torture through “extraordinary rendition.”

Some of the army guards at Abu Ghraib were prison guards in predominately African prisons in Pennsylvania. They were well trained in torture methods in U.S. prisons for their Iraq duty.

Here too, the question is not how to wage a nicer war against the black community, but to support the right of African, Indigenous and other oppressed peoples to resist, as Malcolm X said by any means necessary.

View Comments (2)
  • Excellent points. I was living in Chicago when the torture crimes of Jon Burge came to light. Governor Ryan commuted the sentences of all Illinois death row inmates on the day before he left office because so many were convicted with confessions obtained through torture under Burge’s command. The Chicago police built their own crude electrical shock devices to use on innocent African people. Burge wasn’t even charged in the torture and he retired to Tampa on his police pension. Torture is alive and well in the U.S.

  • I must admit that I was very very happy with the closure of the Guantanamo prison. I have no illusion that this mean that the US does not torture. I have fellow Arab American Friends in special jails created just for us in Illinois and Indiana, many I have worked with in the Palestine Solidarity Movement have been deported etc..

    I lost a job in large part due to my stance on Palestine and my support for the local Iman and Muslim Arab who were falsely accused of terrorism. ( I was teaching a course on ethics and Terrorism and rattled the Zionist Jewish community by having a prayer service for the families and having my students attend the trial.)

    At the same time I cannot deny that I am safer now with Obama in office. My spouse and I were terrified under Bush to travel. I turned down speaking arrangements and conferences outside the US because I was not at all sure I would get back in.

    Obama is a representative of the ruling class. And his fundamental interests will lie with that class– not with changing the system of capitalism. And his “recovery plan” almost explicitly excludes the African American, latin American and other communities who are victims of subprime mortgages (His “modification” plan rules out the types of sub-prime loans most common in these communities.

    So , yes I agree , he is about a kinder,gentler racist Capitalism 🙂

    At the same time I do not see why it is wrong for us to welcome the relief. As long as we do not confuse the relief with fundamental systemic change.

    Is that opportunism? Why?


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