A message from The Black Radical Congress

Teun A. van Dijk teun at HUM.UVA.NL
Fri Sep 14 10:09:55 UTC 2001

A message from the Black Radical Congress:

Terror Attacks of September 11, 2001

During this extremely sad and traumatic time, we extend our sincere and
heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who lost their
life on September 11th. We also wish for the speedy and full recovery of those
who were injured, and we hope and pray that in the aftermath of the attacks,
rescue crews can find as many people still alive as possible.

The Black Radical Congress (BRC) strongly condemns the horrific terror attacks
which occurred on September 11th, 2001. The brazen murder of countless thousands
of civilians cannot be supported or condoned.

It is without question that US imperialism has brought genocidal levels of death
and destruction to people around the world. Whether one looks at the situation
in Iraq with the continual blockade and air bombardments, the situation in
Palestine where the US continues to give virtually uncritical support to the
Israelis in their national oppression of the Palestinians, the economic blockade
against Cuba which aims to undermine its economy and weaken its population, or
any number of other places, one clearly sees the callousness and evil intent
with which US imperialism treats the lives and property of others, especially
non-white peoples around the globe.

Yet, even with a firm understanding of the causes of the desperation, fury, and
hatred of US imperialism, turning to terrorism to fight global oppression and
exploitation is not an acceptable strategy. A clear and unambiguous distinction
must be made between radical/revolutionary political action on the one hand, and
terrorism on the other, regardless of whether the causes that *appeared* to
inspire the terrorist action(s) are just. Open and unmitigated attacks on
civilian targets do not advance radical/revolutionary causes and must be
repudiated. Rather, such attacks inevitably antagonize the populace, weaken any
existing popular support, and help legitimize heightened levels of repression by
the imperialist state against *all* progressive/radical/revolutionary political
activity, including increased restrictions on the civil rights of the people.

We already hear, in the voices of those in power, calls for war and vengeance.
War and vengeance without a precise target, but striking out blindly, is nothing
more than self-serving jingoism. Given the track record of the US, this could
include indiscriminate bombings or missile attacks, such as the attack against
the Sudanese pharmaceutical laboratory two years ago, which was later found
*not* to have been connected with any sort of terrorist activity.

The dangers presented by the September 11th terrorist acts do not restrict
themselves to the external threat. We hear on television and radio calls for
changing the laws and regulations in order to make it easier to conduct
surveillance and to carry-out covert operations against potential opponents of
the US. Rather than accomplishing anything in terms of reducing the threat of
terrorism, such steps will eliminate basic civil liberties and strengthen the
existing tendency toward a racist and classist police state. The police are
already out of control and on the rampage in communities across the country. We
cannot afford to further unleash their undemocratic and frequently murderous
behavior in the name of national security.

We should add here that the terrorist attacks have also brought potential damage
to the growing anti-capitalist globalization movement. The ruling class has been
making noise for months about the demonstrations that accompany the gatherings
of capitalist globalizers. They have inferred that these demonstrations will get
increasingly out of control. There is no question that the events of September
11th will be used as a pretext to both discourage activity, as well as to clamp
down on any and all popular outrage with neo-liberal globalization.

It is also critical in moments such as these that we as human beings fight and
resist popular impulses toward scape-goating and racism. From almost the moment
of the first attack on the World Trade Center, there has been an assumption
floated within the media that Arabs or Muslim fundamentalists were behind the
attacks. The reaction to the attacks is reminiscent of what we witnessed
immediately after the Oklahoma City bombings. There was a widespread assumption
that Arabs or Muslims were behind the attack on the Federal Office building. Few
establishment observers expected, or led any of the public to expect, that the
terrorist could be -- and was -- a homegrown, white American right-winger.

Therefore, it is important to reserve judgment until a more thorough
investigation is conducted. This is particularly important given the
anti-Palestinian/anti-Arab/anti-Muslim bias of the media. The automatic
assumption of the US media is that Palestinians specifically, and Arabs
generally, are animals, or at best, fanatics with no concern for human life. The
just and righteous Palestinian cause is rarely given credible time, and when
offered, generally dismissed by allegedly objective (but really pro-Israeli)
commentators. Therefore, in the current situation of horror following these
criminal acts, we must actively oppose any and all witch- hunting and
stereotyping which is bound to emerge.

Yet another danger we currently face will be xenophobia and, general
anti-immigrant sentiment. This will almost inevitably be directed at immigrants
of color and particularly those who "look" like they might be of Middle Eastern
(North African) origin. The attacks on immigrants and the condemnation of entire
communities must be stopped before they escalate out of control. We already see
some of this happening with numerous reports of anonymous death threats sent to
Arab and Muslim institutions, as well as the spray painting of racist slogans
and direct, personal threats and attacks on individuals who are assumed to be
from the Middle East (North Africa). We call on all clear-thinking people to be
especially vigilant at this time in making sure that in the aftermath of this
tragedy, another tragedy born of pain, anger, and hatred does not occur. True
anti-racism may require us to put ourselves at risk physically in order to
defend Arabs and Muslims from unwarranted attacks.

Lastly, Black America must not condone or be indifferent to the horrendous loss
of human life resulting from this tragedy, nor can we allow these horrific acts
to be used as an excuse to further repress Arab-Americans, Muslims, or those
perceived to be opponents of capitalist globalization. As a people that has
survived over 400 years of genocidal oppression on these shores, we are all too
familiar with the human suffering caused by both terrorism and racial hatred.
>>From the amputations, beatings, and rapes of Chattel Slavery, to the New York
City Draft Riots of 1863, to the post- Reconstruction terrorism of the Klu Klux
Klan, to the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921, to the government sponsored
Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the 1960s, to the contemporary
state-sanctioned police murder and brutality we are fighting today, we as Black
people have lots of experience with the horrors of terrorism in the US, as it
has too frequently been directed against us. That is why we must show our full
and unqualified support and compassion for all those suffering as a result of
this horrible tragedy, most of whom have come to experience terrorism for the
first time, as we continue our 400+ year struggle to rid ourselves of this evil,
both domestically and around the world.

NOTE: When responding or sending us feedback about this statement, please
indicate whether we have your permission to share your comments publicly, as
part of a broader discussion and debate. Thank you.

Black Radical Congress
National Office
Columbia University
Station P.O. Box 250791
New York, NY 10025-1509
Phone: (212) 969-0348
Email: blackradicalcongress at visto.com
Web: http://www.blackradicalcongress.org

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