Jared Ball and Bashi Rose continue their coverage of the May 13th Commemoration of the 1985 Bombing of MOVE
PROTESTERS: Whose street? Our street. [Repeats] PROTESTERS: No Justice, No Peace. No Justice, No Peace. [Repeats]
JARED BALL, I MIX WHAT I LIKE: Hi, Jared Ball, Bashi Rose again for I Mix What I Like and The Real News Network here in Iladelphia covering the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the MOVE house on Osage Avenue. We’re here with veteran professor and activist Ward Churchill. And just want to ask you, what are your thoughts about today and this anniversary? What does it represent? And of course, what brings you out? WARD CHURCHILL: It represents a holocaust. Literally, to be consumed by fire. This state maintains itself in being by doing that sort of thing to people who would challenge its authority, challenge its legitimacy. But what happened 30 years ago in Philadelphia was just a part of a continuum that began in 1637 with the burning of the village of Mystic in Connecticut which is how the so-called Puritan fathers established themselves, setting fire to the village and then slaughtering the people that ran from the flames. The holocaust is the basis of this country’s existence and it is the basis of its maintenance, and it will be a recurrent pattern, a continuing reality until the nature of this state is irrevocably altered. BALL: You know, I heard Mumia Abu-Jamal’s recent commentary about what we did not learn from–the lessons we did not learn from 30 years ago today. You’re of course asking us to extend those lessons back, as you said, to 1637. What can we learn, and then what can we specifically do, are there any steps we can specifically do to bring about that irrevocable change that you’re talking about? CHURCHILL: Understand the nature of what we’re up against and who we’re up against, how the comport, they are not amenable to persuasion. They are not amenable to logic. They’re not amenable to moral content. They’re not amenable to ethics. They’re only amenable to sustaining themselves in positions of power and privilege at expense of everyone else. They have no soul, they have no conscience, they have no recourse to polite alteration. BALL: So wait a minute, are you saying that a vote for Hillary in 2016 is insufficient to bring about a revolutionary change in this society? CHURCHILL: To say the least, and that’s way the least. BALL: Anyway, Ward–. CHURCHILL: There’s an old saying that if voting could change anything it would be illegal. And in fact in a lot of places it is illegal. It changes nothing.
PROTESTER: When people of color are under attack, what do we do? ALL: Stand up, fight back. PROTESTER: When people of color are under attack, what do we do? ALL: Stand up, fight back. [Chanting repeats]
BALL: All right, Jared Ball back again for I Mix What I Like and The Real News Network. We’re of course reporting live from Iladelphia and the commemoration, or the reflection upon the 30th anniversary of the MOVE bombing in 1985 on Osage Avenue. And of course, we would of course run into Professor Anthony Monteiro. What’s up, my man. DR. ANTHONY MONTEIRO: Everything, brother. Everything. BALL: So we’ll ask people to go back and check the case that you just recently went through at Temple. We’re not going to get into that too much for today. We know again that we would run into you at an event like this, and this may be connected to why you’re not at Temple anymore. But tell us why you think it’s important for you to be here. MONTEIRO: Well it’s important for me to be here because I’ve been here every anniversary of this bombing. And I was here on the day of the bombing. And I was in West Philly on the day of the bombing near Osage Avenue. So I’m here as an act of solidarity with the MOVE family, with the MOVE 9, with Mumia Abu-Jamal, and with the people of Philadelphia. You know, the bombing in 1985 was a symbol and a sign of the terror that the government and the police were prepared to bring down on the people of this city, and ultimately of this country. So I’m here as an act of resistance. BALL: We heard Mumia’s most recent commentary saying that if we had learned the lessons that we should have learned 30 years ago today what is happening in Baltimore and Ferguson might not be happening, or might not have happened. As someone who studies the long arc of the black radical tradition, what do you think maybe we should be learning or doing right now so that 30 years from now we’re not having another one of these commemorations, but we’re talking about some real progress, if not total liberation? MONTEIRO: Well first of all, just on that phrase, real progress. I think it is a dangerous phrase because when you say real progress it assumes that we can make progress without a radical change, and frankly, a radical undermining of the foundations of the existing state and police system. Otherwise, there’s not going to be progress. The cycle that started let us say on May 13th, 1985 will continue. But one thing is important that this younger generation is learning, and a leadership is emerging from it, and that’s hopeful. And I think today what we’re going to see is the coming together of the young activists and old school veteran radicals and activists. And that kind of coming together can only bode well for us going forward. BALL: I got to ask you real quick, I know we’re not going to get into everything with Temple. But with the whole dust-up between Dyson and Cornel West, and this question–you know, a lot of academics are seen I think rightfully so from people in the community as ivory tower, not getting involved, not having their boots on the ground. And that was sort of implicit in this argument between Dyson and West. As an academic and someone, as you’ve said, has been in these spaces for 30 years, every year, every day working in the community, what do you think is the role of the academic in all of this struggle, and what would you like to see more from those coming into academia, or who are already there? MONTEIRO: I would say that the academic must become an intellectual. And that the academic must stop being a performer for white authority and become an agent of his people’s, or her people’s, liberation. I think as you saw with Dyson, attacking Cornel West was an attack upon dissent itself. It’s an attack upon an intellectual leaving the ivory tower and becoming an organic part of a people’s movement. He said–that is, Dyson–that Cornel is not a scholar. The question is, who is Dyson to establish himself as the judge of what scholarship is? Scholarship takes many forms. One of the most important forms of scholarship is the day-to-day education of people and bringing whatever we know to bear upon the people’s struggle to sit up in some ivory tower and write silly books does not constitute scholarship. And really, does not constitute the production of knowledge, which really is what we should be about. The other thing is, and I know you want to ask this, Dyson’s attack upon Cornel is very similar to Asante’s attack upon me, because Asante said I’m not a scholar. And he said he is the scholar. In fact, the penultimate scholar. Now, that’s a self-definition and a self-serving definition of both scholarship and who he is. But then, Molefi Asante went a bit beyond where Dyson went. Because Asante then pulled out the whole repertoire of Cold War McCarthyite rhetoric, referring to me as nothing more than a propagandist, and to use his words, a Communist apparatchik. When it goes there, we’re looking at McCarthyism, the criminalization of dissent, the criminalization of an activist intellectual. And he does this all in the name of some mythical Africa that never existed, will never exist, and does not reflect the aspirations of Africans on the continent or in the diaspora. BALL: You heard it here first. Or maybe not first. You heard it here last. That’s Dr. Tony Monteiro live from the streets.
SPEAKER: They don’t want to see. They don’t want all these eyes to see them shoot us. They would rather take you in the back of a van and break your back like they did Freddie Gray. That’s what they want to do. They want to kill us. But they can’t kill us right now, because they know that they’re going to have the whole world watching them, because they’re some cowards. They some cowards. They trying to fight us. They want to shoot us. Just like George Zimmerman. He was getting his ass whipped by Trayvon Martin, so he shot him. He didn’t want to give him a fair one. He wanted to kill him. I’m saying if these cops are so goddamn bad, how come they ain’t coming over here now? How come they want–they didn’t draw their gun, and if they really want a fight, how come they ain’t drawing a fight now? Because they know that they’d be getting more than they can handle. But if they was really powerful they wouldn’t be worried about that. They just want to kill people. But we want to fight. No justice. PROTESTERS: No peace. SPEAKER: No justice. PROTESTERS: No peace. SPEAKER: No justice. PROTESTERS: No peace. SPEAKER: No justice. PROTESTERS: No peace. SPEAKER: And these black cops need to understand something, too. They got their head so far up the system’s ass, but the system don’t care about them. The system don’t care about them.
BALL: All right. Jared Ball here, I Mix What I Like for The Real News Network. My man Bashi Rose on the camera. Of course, this is Dr. Cornel West. [A lot we want] to say, man. First of all, I appreciate you running into us and giving us this few moments here at this commemoration. DR. CORNEL WEST: Oh, but I, I salute you, I salute your scholarship, I salute your activism. Most importantly, I salute your love for the people though, man. That’s the key. BALL: Well, likewise. And wherever we may have had a disagreement there’s always agreement on your commitment to the struggle and to the people. Tell folks why you’re here today, and why no matter all that’s being said about you at some spaces why you still continue to do this work. WEST: Oh, no. Good God almighty though, brother. We think back on those who came before, you think about this Ferguson moment, this Baltimore moment. Just in Baltimore yesterday that we had a historical fork in the road. And when you talk about Mumia Abu-Jamal you’re talking about a towering intellectual. You’re talking about a love warrior. You’re talking about a man who’s freer on death row than most folk are free outside. And of course the movement itself, always open to a variety of voices. And so anytime you’re having to focus on the suffering, the social misery, but you have resistance, you’ve got hope, you got structural analysis, that’s the place to be. BALL: So given your critique over the last–coming on eight years, by 2016 at least, of the Obama administration, what would you suggest we do going forward with the vote? Are you now going to support openly alternative parties, third parties, et cetera? WEST: Well, definitely electoral political system at this point is just legalized corruption and normalized bribery. There’s no doubt about that. It’s true that I like brother Bernie Sanders, but he’s already now inside of the Democratic party primary. And so his voice might be important, but the last thing we need to do is to reinforce the two-party monopoly. So in that sense we do have to make a fundamental break from the two-party system. There’s no doubt about it. BALL: Any more response going to come from you on this whole issue with Dyson? WEST: I’m just praying for my brother. I tell him to focus on the suffering of the people. Focus on the resistance of the people. And focus on the rich tradition that produced us so that we engage in the kind of internal critique. If it gets too narcissistic, if it gets too narrow, you know something’s wrong. If you’re focusing on the decrepit schools, you’re focusing on the massive unemployment, you’re focusing on the drones dropping bombs on innocent people, then you got some serious, serious subject matter with which you’re grappling. And that’s what I would say to him and everybody else. BALL: And we know that that’s where you keep your focus. And I heard you got a new book coming out, I’m late on this, dealing with Dr. King. Any final words for all of us here in context of the real Dr. King, what we should learn from that going forward? WEST: Well, just a radical King who was trying to work with Malcolm to take the United States before the violation of human rights. It’s a radical King bringing poor people together, and a critique of capitalism and imperial policy into Vietnam, but also it’s the radical King who had deep cultural and spiritual commitments to something bigger than just selling out, bigger than his ego, something bigger than just making it. And that’s all three, the spiritual, the cultural, as well as that critique of empire and capitalism that you got. But never forgetting of the resistance to the vicious legacy of white supremacy. And I would add male supremacy, and homophobia as well, though. BALL: A little bit of capitalism and imperialism in there, too. WEST: Oh no, no, the capitalism and imperialism go hand in hand. They’re at the center. But again, I salute your work though, brother. Very much so. BALL: Thank you, man. So you all know who that is. I’m Jared Ball, that’s Bashi Rose. This is Dr. Cornel West for I Mix What I Like and The Real News Network. As Fred Hampton Sr. used to say, peace if you’re willing to fight for it. Peace, everybody. WEST: Peace if you’re willing to fight for it.
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