FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ferguson and the Right of Resistance

by

Barack Obama, the obsequious errand boy for the financial and corporate plutocrats who own the U.S. government, made a pathetic appearance on national television to try to persuade the “natives” to remain peaceful in response to the non-indictment of the Ferguson killer-cop. His inane comments extolling the value of non-violence and the rule of law seemed strangely incongruent with the militaristic rhetoric and policies of his administration over the last few years.

Yet, Obama’s positions on law and violence are not as contradictory as they might appear when these positions are resituated within the context of imperial logic and the framework of power. Legitimate violence is always determined by history’s dominant powers and employed as a weapon to maintain and extend that dominance. Over the last five hundred years Europe emerged from the backwaters of history and cultural backwardness to predominance as a result of genocide and land theft in the Americas, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and colonial/capitalist development. The violent establishment of capitalism, racism, and heteropatriarchy enabled the West to impose its definitions of legitimacy, including “legitimate” violence.

Thus when Palestinians resist the theft of the their land and the killing of their people by Israeli colonists, their response is defined as illegitimate violence that sparks support for Israel’s “right to defend itself.” When Africans waged national liberation struggles to free themselves from European colonial domination in places like Kenya, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the West condemned their efforts as illegitimate. Furthermore, because those struggles were determined to be illegitimate colonial powers felt justified to viciously attack those efforts with the support of the U.S. government. And when African Americans organized against police violence and for self-determination and our own definitions of liberation in the 60s, our efforts were deemed illegitimate. We were brutally suppressed with the full range of state terror tactics including beatings,
KillingTrayvons1deaths, infiltration, surveillance, and the jailing of activists for decades.

Therefore, we should understand the State’s response to our discontent in the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown in this context. The heavy-handed use of violence to deny the people the human rights to peacefully assemble and freedom of association is consistent with the historical uses of violence to control and suppress opposition. And the state’s determination that more militant forms of popular resistance are illegitimate helped to shift the attention of the capitalist media to black resistance and away from the issue of impunity for yet another law enforcement official who literally gets away with murder.

The focus on the forms of resistance taking place in Ferguson is reflective of a shared, cross-class and racialized world-view that accepts the carefully constructed elite view concerning what constitutes illegitimate resistance. This hegemonic view creates a moral myopia that makes it impossible for many in white America to understand the point of view of the resisters to this non-indictment. This ideological and even cognitive disconnect makes the call for more national conversations on race such a dangerous diversion from the more immediate historic task at hand.

The task of the African American resistance movement is not to worry about sitting down with white people infected with the disease of white supremacy, but to build the capacity of black poor and working class folks to resist the intensifying expressions of repressive state power directed at our people. From that base, we can and should talk about building coalitions with other oppressed communities and people who are ready to take on the task of opposing the settler capitalist state at every level.

So while the corporate media has been somewhat successful in shifting the focus from the injustice of the non-indictment to the reaction of protestors, the insights provided by brother Malcolm X offer a framework for understanding what must be done.

For Malcolm, resistance is not a crime. In fact, the fight for human dignity and human rights is what makes us human. But he argued that there is a price that people must be prepared to pay. According to Malcolm:

“…you shouldn’t even be allowed around us other humans if you don’t want to pay the price. You should be kept in the cotton patch where you’re not a human being. You’re an animal that belongs in the cotton patch like a horse or a cow, or a chicken or a possum, if you’re not ready to pay the price necessary to be paid for recognition and respect as a human being.”

And what was the price? “The price is death really. The price to make others respect your human rights is death. You have to be ready to die…” “This is all we want—to be a human being.”

In our quest for authentic freedom for ourselves and our children who are being spiritually and literally murdered, Malcolm is reminding us that we have to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. This willingness to sacrifice, as inchoate and thinly grounded as the mass resistance was in Ferguson, demonstrated, nevertheless, that many of our young people are still prepared to pay the price for freedom. We should be proud that the spirit of struggle, resistance, and sacrifice is still alive. The experience of Ferguson demonstrated to people around the world that despite the opiate of credit-based false prosperity, illusions of system inclusion and Barack Obama – African Americans are finally awakening from an almost two decade long sleep and in the process reawakening the spirit of resistance for everyone.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at info.abaraka@gmail.com and www.AjamuBaraka.com

 

More articles by:

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine. 

Weekend Edition
November 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jonathan Cook
From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages
Linda Pentz Gunter
A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Fires This Time
Nick Alexandrov
Birth of a Nation
Vijay Prashad
Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis
Peter Montague
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise!
Kristine Mattis
Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets
Pete Dolack
Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking
Mike Whitney
ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness, Part Two
James Munson
Does Censoring Undemocratic Voices Make For Better Democracy?
Brian Cloughley
The Influence of Israel on Britain
Jason Hickel
Averting the Apocalypse: Lessons From Costa Rica
Pepe Escobar
How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads
Jan Oberg
Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?
Ezra Rosser
Pushing Back Against the Criminalization of Poverty
Kathy Kelly
The Quality of Mercy
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Gerry Brown
Myanmar Conflict: Geopolitical Food Chain
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Robert Redford’s Big Game in Nairobi
Katrina Kozarek
Venezuela’s Communes: a Great Social Achievement
Zoltan Grossman
Olympia Train Blockade Again Hits the Achilles Heel of the Fracking Industry
Binoy Kampmark
History, Law and Ratko Mladić
Tommy Raskin
Why Must We Sanction Russia?
Bob Lord
Trump’s Tax Plan Will Cost a Lot More Than Advertised
Ralph Nader
National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
Julian Vigo
If Sexual Harassment and Assault Were Treated Like Terrorism
Russell Mokhiber
Still Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco: John Boehner and College Ethics
Louis Proyect
The Witchfinders
Ted Rall
Sexual Harassment and the End of Team Politics
Anna Meyer
Your Tax Dollars are Funding GMO Propaganda
Barbara Nimri Aziz
An Alleged Communist and Prostitute in Nepal’s Grade Ten Schoolbooks!
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Graham Peebles
What Price Humanity? Systemic Injustice, Human Suffering
Kim C. Domenico
To Not Walk Away: the Challenge of Compassion in the Neoliberal World
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?
Christy Rodgers
The First Thanksgiving
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “We Were Eight Years in Power”
David Yearsley
On the Road to Rochester, By Bike
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail