Identify, Don’t Compare
Last week the freedom loving people of the country celebrated the Stonewall Uprising, hailed as one of the clarion calls of today’s LGBTQ People’s Liberation Movement. Stonewall, as even the entrenched corporate media reported, was a mass people’s uprising against NYC police repression.
In fact, if recorded accurately, it was an act of revolutionary violence committed by the Gay community of the Stonewall section of New York City against the fascist police of NYC. It has often been critiqued that using words such as “fascist” is a rhetorical indulgence which allegedly diverts attention from the content of the discussion. However, it is now widely known that the Klan has entrenched chapters which act as influential cabals inside both the NYPD and the LAPD, and undoubtedly in other police departments across the country. It is simply in accord with the discipline of accuracy to call these cabals fascist. There is nothing rhetorical about this appellation.
The media discourse over the weekend revealed a sharp chasm developing between those who view Gay Pride as a “party/celebration,” and those revolutionary activists who view Gay Pride as “Corporate Pride,” what with the floats from General Electric and IBM. Indeed, the revolutionaries waged an alternative rally which focused on the need for continued mass peoples uprisings until genuine freedom from this culture of discrimination and exclusion has been replaced by a People’s Government.
As this debate unfolded, it occurred to this scribe how, at once, it is quite lovely to hear a mass people’s revolutionary uprising described in such positive terms … by all media outlets, and then, at the same time, to acknowledge that there has never been any revolutionary uprising of African Americans, ever in the history of this country, which is heralded as a good thing.
Reader, please think about this: What mass people’s uprising of African Americans, in the history of this country, which utilized the tactic of revolutionary violence, has ever been extolled as commemorative and worthy of celebrating? Yes, you are correct: There is none.
In the course of committing to a life devoted to social justice, one early lesson learned is that of not comparing oppressions. To try to determine whose oppression is worse than whose, to contrive to discover why one oppressed people is more important than another has been shown to be a dead end.
It is in connection with the above - that of the necessity to identify, and to not compare - that we ask the reader: “Why does everyone agree that the Stonewall Uprising was a glorious event in U.S. social justice history, while the uprisings of Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Robert Williams and the Black Panther Party — why are none of these regarded as cherished memories?
“Why does Harriet Tubman have to be turned into a nurse — yes, this is how some of ‘our’ U.S. public school history textbooks describe her so that her memory can be revered and evoked? Why is it that the revolutionary violence utilized by Harriet Tubman in her guerrilla raids on slave plantations must be erased from the historical record in order that her life’s work in the service of the liberation of humankind be honored?”
While you contemplate this question (any and all suggested answers are more than welcome), let us return to the bottom-line principle we are here observing: We don’t compare oppressions; we identify with each other’s plight and suffering. As a fighter in the African American People’s Freedom Movement, I honor, respect and extol the uprisings of all oppressed peoples. The Stonewall Uprising is a hallowed chapter in the chronicle of humanity’s struggle for a just and loving social order.
That the dying social order also sees fit to extol it should alert us to the motives of divide and conquer always at hand for the use of those in power, for those who hate, for those who want to be ever at the helm as the ship sinks.
It remains forever the responsibility of we the people to herald our revolutionary movements, whether they be of Queer People’s Liberation or the African American People’s Freedom Movement. By definition, it cannot be the enemies of humankind who get to define which liberation movement is righteous, and which one needs not be mentioned and learned from.
Comparing Concentration Camps
On July 2nd a friend of mine participated in a gathering at the Holocaust Memorial to acknowledge that Jews had been put in concentration camps. The purport of this event was to establish that the progeny of the survivors of that holocaust had a responsibility to oppose the concentration camps which are presently being perpetrated against the refugee children, women and men fleeing the military dictatorships which the United States military has set up in Central American countries. The logic of this gathering of hundreds of people in this speak-out/vigil was that the slogan “never again” means “never again” for anybody, not just for Zionists.
My friend reported that immigrants, Muslims, Jews, Black Americans, and White American working class people participated. She said that Muslims standing along the march route were randomly hugging her. She said the marchers arrived at the detention center behind Boston Medical Center, and the detainees were banging on their cell windows; these imprisoned refugees were dropping scraps of paper out of their windows which had written on them, “I love you.”
“It was a group effort… I was initially gripped with fear, what with the mass police presence. But, to see people coming together in solidarity with each other gave me a sense of exhilaration that erased my fear… America is a prison, and together we are banging on the cell bars of this prison… There are so many ways in which people are not free in this country…”
Identify, don’t Compare
This rally is an example of the peoples identifying, and not comparing. Clearly, putting babies in cages, and determining that our most progressive and forward thinking elected officials should be raped as punishment for their devotion to the people’s cause (ProPublica, 7/2/2019, https://www.propublica.org/article/secret-border-patrol-facebook-group-agents-joke-about-migrant-deaths-post-sexist-memes…) are manifestations of fascism.
These concentration camps bear all the familiar attributes of those meted out to the captured Africans awaiting the Middle Passage trip across the Atlantic as the prelude to slavery in the Americas. The conditions the refugees from the U.S. wars against the peoples of Central America are now enduring in the concentration camps on the border are clearly akin to those perpetrated against the Jewish people in Nazi Germany, those of the Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during WWII.
To be accurate, the historical record disputes the fantasy that the defining elements of the decaying of this social order can be laid at the feet of a couple of bad actors — for examples, Hitler and Stalin. The reality is that the disintegration machine known as U.S. monopoly capitalism has ground into dust since WWII (in this instance we will leave out the slaughter of the Native peoples of the Americas and that of the kidnapped Africans of the first 3 centuries of this society’s existence) many more millions of people than were considered for annihilation in the dreams of Hitler and Stalin.
Comparing oppressions cannot move us forward. It is only through identification from one oppressed people to the next, from one oppressed class of people to the next, that we can develop the conscious harmony of interests necessary to bring about our birthright as oppressed peoples: The international working class shall be the human race.