[News] Dhoruba Bin Wahad on Tookie Williams execution

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 15 14:54:49 EST 2005



By Dhoruba al-Mujahid Bin-Wahad

As one of the individuals Stanley Tookie Williams dedidcated his booK
to, I thought it important to comment on his execution and the sad state
of affairs that now determines the parameters of debate around the 
death penalty.

First of all, Tookie Williams was a product of the African experience in
racist America. Lets not get it twisted.  Nuns can lament his execution,
Preachers can pontificate about how valuable he could be to Black youth,
and Law enforcement can talk about legal and judicial rulings, but the
bottom line is that Tookie Williams was a consequence of his communities
racist marginalization - of America's internal Black colony and its
occupation by racist and brutal police armies.   This being the case,
his execution by the enemies of African-America, and I know there are
scores of born again Negroes out there who don't believe that the
nation-state of America is their enemy, (a faith they must have if they
are to attach any meaning to their life), but history and recent events
emphatically substantiate the racist character and morality of America.

Tookie Williams is a product of social and political forces we have
permitted to take control of our collective destiny. African-America
should have judged and punished Tookie Williams itself.  But it didn't.

It was incapable of holding its denizens accountable.  Street gangs that
started out as expressions of our community's inability to control our
own streets and in opposition to police terror, were led down a certain
path by the likes of Tookie.  These gangs became predatory, apolitical,
and reactionary.  Our communities suffered as a consequence.  Those who
followed in Tookie's footsteps did so because not one Black institution
existed that embraced and channeled their warrior spirit in a positive
direction.  Black nationalist were to busy "getting the right political
line"; The Black Clergy was to busy mobilizing themselves to influence a
body politic that considered them nothing more than mouth-pieces for the
Black middle class;  Black professors and militant academician were
hollering at white educational institutions for inclusion and
relevancy...none spoke the lanquage nor harnessed the energies of our
street soldiers.  The only organization that did so was the Black
Panther Party - and that was destroyed by a potent combination of forces
over three decades ago.  Nothing ever replaced it.

As a Muslim, and even in the Panthers, I never opposed the execution of
criminals and butchers of people. There can be no true justice without
retribution - without balance. Having said that, I must point out that
the European nation-state, and America in particular, given the racist
nature of its evolution has absolutely no right whatsoever to act as a
surrogate executer of justice for people of color. But Because the
African-American community, and its ersatz leaders have no temporal
power, no institutions for social justice, or to exact a political
consequence on those who make war on our community, we are left to
debate the merits of the "death penalty" as a deterent to crime or state
murder.  The state says it executed Tookie Williams because he killed
four people - three of them Asians and people of color.  But the
California has never executed one white man for killing Blacks, Latinos,
or Asians during the course of armed robberies.  And if they did would
that justify executing one Blackman?  If Guilt or innocence were the
real issue rather than a pretext, I would still say no.   Why?  Because
the death penalty in America has always operated as a legal instrument
of racial terror.  The death penalty evolved from, and assumed the
psychological role of Lynching.  Least we forget, every Black man
lynched was "guilty of a crime".  Tookie Williams could have murdered
Black folks in droves and would have never faced the death penalty.  It
was law enforcement's role in the politics of drugs, and urban gang
warfare that made his case extraordinary.

If I were to say the present regime in Washington qualify for 
judicial prosecution and probable
execution for crimes against humanity, not one newspaper or major media
outlet would treat that statement with respect rather incredulity.  But
if Law Enforcement officials were to say that to embrace the likes of
Gorge Jackson meant that one was "criminal minded" there is not one
media outlet that would question that proposition.

Which brings me to my major point: The Tookie William's execution by 
the state of
California is not just about the efficacy of the death penalty in
America, or punishment for a heinous crime, but about the ethics of
atonement and redemption in a racist culture and society.  Indeed, the
Governor of California in his Hollywood portrayal as the "terminator"
and other violent monosyllabic killers is himself a role model for
countless thugs, bandits, and murders around the globe, some of whom
I've met personally.  Liberia's murderous rebels, Sierra Leonean
butchers of children, and scores of other misguided youth have adopted
the violent persona of the Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" and Arnold
Scharzenegger...the "Teminator"!

Although Schwarzenegger notes that Williams dedicated his 1998 book to a
group that includes myself, Assata Shakur,  Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X
and Mumia Abu-Jamal he is particularly upset by praise for Gorge
Jackson.   Schwarzenegger said the inclusion of a dedication to George
Jackson, who was charged with the murder of a California prison guard,
"defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not
reformed."  Defies whose reason?

Apparently Scharzenegger, or the
Experts on African sub-culture in America find it absolutely abhorrent
that Black redemption can or should embrace a radical political
paradigm.  They find it absolutely repugnant that the heroes and sheroes
for an entire generation of Black youth don't look or behave like
Hop-Along Cassidy, Arnold Scharzenegger's "Last Action Hero"  or GI Joe.

To many Black people (with an iota of consciousness), George Jackson is
a hero. Why?  Because Comrade George represented uncompromising
resistance to a racist system and its political institutions, a system
that incarcerated him his entire adult life for crime that a white boy
from suburbia would have done community service for.   Scharzenneger,
never considered this.  He never asked himself why should one black man
or woman who has been savaged and brutalized by police and prison
guards, agents of a state that has historically exhibited utter contempt
for them, their community, and their lives, mourn the death of any
prison guard?  That would be like the Jewish alumnae of  Dachau morning
the death of a concentration camp guard.  Were the murders of countless
men and women behind prison walls by sadistic guards ever a subject of
public outrage except when the state under John D. Rockefeller murdered
both prisoners and guards at Attica in  September of 1971? Least the
Governor of California forget, in regions like New York and New Jersey
fully 85% of prison inmates come from only several communities in the
area - all Black, Latino, and poor.  What that means is that almost
every black person has a relative either behind bars, on parole, or
under pretrial detention.  So who cares about the prison guards?  Their
Union, the state, and a racist society that has always viewed Black
people as criminals or potential criminals that is who.  But thanks to
"The Patriot Act" even white citizens are potential criminals before
they are law abiding citizens.

What wonderful icons Tookie chose to offer his respect to; Nelson
Mandela, Malcom X, Mumia, all respected and revered freedom fighters -
except to those who have spent half of their lives living off of the
misery and disenfranchisement of Black folks.  The utter absurdity of a
Jamie Foxx begging a fellow actor to exercise progressive politics is a
sickening commentary on the state of African-American leadership.

"Governor Schwarzenegger, we're not trying to push you into a corner.
We realize that you have a tough job to do and you're very busy, but in
being very busy, you may not get a chance to hear everything with the
case."  Foxx is reported to have moaned.  Like Richard Pryor once joked
about praying to god for help,  "I know your busy, cause I checked your
schedule".  Whether they are busy or not, there is not one legal or
"constitutional" right African People have in America that white folks
don't have the veto over, or not subject to judicial review -including
the right to life.  A Blackman's life is subject to termination by a cop
or agent of the state at any given moment - without recourse to appeal.

Indeed for many of today's so called leaders from Jessie and Sharpton to
national "talk show hosts" (who in the age of instant communication
substitute for ideological movements) the issue of African-America's
right to self-defense has been a taboo subject, yet it was the
destruction of militant groups such as the Black Panther's that left a
social, political, and ideological void in African-America to be filled
by street gangs and the distorted politics of individuals like Tookie
Williams.   Although Law Enforcement experts are anxious to dispel and
distort the social and political roots of street gangs such as the
Crips, the fact of the matter is that gangs like the Crips were in part,
a consequence of the success of COINTELPRO's devastation of the militant
Black liberation movement in America.

COINTELPRO was A government campaign directed at the African-American
community that Black leaders to this day have failed to fully
investigate or even wish to investigate.  It was the selective
repression of COINTELPRO and its spin offs that has conferred
credibility on some of today's Black leaders.  That lynching, a
historical instrument of anti-Black terror evolved into the modern death
penalty system, only further highlight the illegitimacy of Tookie
Williams execution by the state.  Indeed California's governor alludes
to this when he says, "there is little mention of atonement in his
writings and his plea for clemency of the countless murders committed by
the Crips following the lifestyle Williams once espoused. The senseless
killing that has ruined many families, particularly in African-American
communities, in the name of the Crips and gang warfare is a tragedy of
our modern culture."  A tragedy of "our modern culture" the body builder
says?  The Austrian Oak never lived one minute in the South Bronx, or
Watts.  Never ducked bullets in the Projects or watched helplessly as
cops gunned down a teenager on "suspicion of having a gun."

Yes Black families have been ruined by gang warfare, Black 
communities have also
been occupied by police armies as well - cops who also believe they are
the biggest and baddest gang in the 'hood and act accordingly.  The rise
of street gangs directly coincide with the destruction of grass root
militant movements that would have otherwise occupied the energies of
several generations of African-American youth.  What the Governor of
California fails to mention is that the "tragedy of our modern culture"
was contrived, and created by a society and a nation of people who have
absolutely no shame, little sense of history, and absolutely no sense of
themselves as pigs rather than saints.  What's a tragedy is that the
people of California failed to make a distinction between the plastic
imagery of Hollywood and the reality of American politics when they
elected Schwarznegger Governor!

Robert Martin, Tookie's prosecutor, questioned whether there was any
moral equivalence "between co-authoring some children's books and the
senseless murder of four people in cold blood."

I have always asked similar questions, was there any moral 
equivalence between starting a
bloody war by lying to the world and thereby causing the deaths of
thousands and justifying the lies with the rhetoric of decency and
humanity?  Or was there a moral redemptive equivalent between security
agents of apartheid who brutally tortured and murdered Steven Biko, and
their apologies thirty years later before a "truth and reconciliation
commission" as Winnie Mandela would have us believe, while descendants of
white settlers still control the land in South Africa even though Blacks
are in political power and Racists Europeans still dominate the gold and
diamond industries and call the shots?   Or should the apologies of the
Belgian, French, and American murderers of Patrice Lumumba who now enjoy
their old age and write self-justifying memoirs while the Congo wallows
in chaos and bloodshed because of their imperial machinations be
accepted as true atonement?  Or even closer to home, is there a moral
equivalence between a government's  collusion with organize crime and
right wing Asian cartels and paramilitaries to flood the
African-American communities with drugs and then declare a war on drugs
thereby incarcerating and killing thousands of Black youth?

Lets not talk about moral and ethical atonement for heinous crimes - 
there is so
much America needs to atone for that "clemency" is out of the question.  Why
should African's debate a non issue as if it were relevant to the real
deal?  If the African community in America hadn't turned its back on its
youth by failing to seize control of their own community, its
institutions, its economics, and its cultural instruments of
self-verification, Tookie Williams could have been another freedom
fighter, rather than a redeemed thug who died at the hands of our enemy
and their hypocritical system of democratic fascism.

Al Sharpton is dead wrong when he says Tookie Williams has shown a lot
of young Americans, particularly in urban areas, the folly of being
involved in gang life. It would be far more positive for him to live
behind bars and continue that work. There's nothing gained by executing

By "Young American", I am assuming Sharpton is referring to an
audience not enthralled by the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, and
war on us, because if he is - ain't none of them took Tookie's books as
a guide down the yellow brick road to mainstream success.  Nor is there
such a quality as "life behind bars" everyone in prison is socially
dead, and politically mummified  - ask Sharpton and the rest of our
national Black leaders how alive to him are the Bashir Hameeds, Herman
Bells, Russel Shoats and countless other Black Political Prisoners?

Indeed, if anything young Blacks realize is that the biggest "gang" is
the US government and its law enforcement agencies.   And if nothing is
gained by executing Tookie Williams, then surely nothing is lost with
his demise.  But something is lost and something is achieved.  In the
age in which we live information is intelligence and manipulation of
public perception is key in the manufacture of public opinions.

Tookie Williams was executed to send a clarion signal to African youth that
redemptive militancy is unacceptable - only rejection of your social
history and complete surrender to the myths of white America could
possibly save your life.  In this sense, his execution was a commentary
on the cowardice of many of today's Black  leaders - who want to be both
patriots and champions of Africans in America.  This is the age of
American empire, you can't be both.

As for America's African-American youth...don't believe the hype - 
stay strapped - stay alert, and stay Black.
But most of all, don't mourn - organize!

Dhoruba al-Mujahid Bin Wahad
West Africa

The Freedom Archives
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