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by Mumia Abu-Jamal Friday, Nov. 09, 2001 at 3:03 AM

It is often surprising what comes to mind when one thinks of the press.

[Col. Writ. 10/25/01] Copyright '01 Mumia Abu-Jamal
    It is often surprising what comes to mind when one
thinks of the press.  We often think of it as a daily necessity,
as our window to the world, as an impersonal, sometimes
faceless acquaintance, whom we deal with daily.
    We rarely think of the press as a multi-million dollar
industry, which, by its very power, wealth and burgeoning
influence, has become a virtual branch of government.  Or,
perhaps worse, as a subsidiary to a multibillion-dollar
multinational corporation.
    Lastly, we may, rarer still, never come to see the press
as the private possession of one person, or a small group
of persons, for such a thought shocks us.  For most of us
have come of age hearing, seeing, or reading of the press
as "a public service."
    Seen this way, most of the nation's commercial media
begins to resemble a tool, an institution, indeed an agency
of the wealthy classes.  This is a dangerous thought, for
it shatters any illusion that the press is an instrument of
democracy (Ask any reporter if he ever told his boss, the
editor, what *he* wanted to cover, as opposed to what
his editor wanted done, and you'll learn that no newsroom
is a democracy!).
    You see the true nature of the press clearest in times of
war, when any notion of dissent is snuffed into silence.  In a
case that is as shocking as it is silly, a number of newspapers
around the nation have withdrawn the hilariously brilliant
"Boondocks" comic strip, done by a young man named
Aaron McGruder.  As was the case of its predecessor strip,
"Doonesbury," the "Boondocks" strip takes on political,
cultural, and social issues of the day.  In one banned strip,
the central character, a pint-sized, perpetually petulant
radical boy named Huey Freeman (who bears a rather
striking resemblance to the late Black Panther founder,
Huey P. Newton) calls up the FBI's Anti-terrorism hotline,
and asks, "Is this the FBI's Anonymous Anti-terrorism
hotline?"  A voice on the line promptly replies, "Yes, Mr.
Freeman, this is the FBI's Anonymous Anti-Terrorism
hotline.  Whatcha got?"  Huey is stunned for a second,
then yells into the phone, "ANONYMOUS?!" The FBI
guy responds, "C'mon, Huey! You know we've been
buggin' your phone for years! Whatcha got?"
    This is funny stuff.  But apparently, thousands, perhaps
tens of thousands (or more!) won't see it to know.
    Many years ago, when the Zulus and the Lakota Sioux
were fighting against encroaching white imperialism in
their homelands, both indigenous empires scored
impressive military victories over imperialist invaders.
They are known to history as the battles of Isandhlwana
and Little Bighorn.  The press described Sitting Bull as
a "savage" and Zulu King Cetshwayo as a "bloodthirsty
barbarian."  (When Custer slaughtered hundreds of
Cheyenne men, women and children at the Black
Kettle Village on Washita River, killing even ponies,
I doubt any newspaper in America called him either
a "savage" or a "bloodthirsty barbarian").  The daily
press criticized the British and American militaries
for daring their "inferiors" to beat them, and whipped
them on to more brutal, violent, and punitive attacks
on Lakota and Zulu peoples and lands.
    This imperialist training of the press in the 1800s
can be seen today in the way the media whitewashes
massacres, ignores or distorts history, and demonizes
any opponents of the empire.
    As the old saying goes, it's a 'free press' -- only
if you own one.
Copyright '01 MAJ

"We are fighting the last battle to Free Mumia, and need support now
more than ever.  We need donations of money, calling cards, copy cards,
etc. and we really need manpower.  We need people to be in the streets
every day putting out information, demonstrating, raising money, and doing
whatever you can to help."

"Tell judge pamela dembe to hold an evidentiary hearing and a new
post-conviction relief appeal, to hear the confession of Arnold Beverly
and to let Mumia be at the hearings in his "trial".  Tell mayor john
street to keep his promise and do what he can to help Mumia receive a
fair trial and to hold an independent investigation into the case.  (you
can get a sample of both of these letters at http://www.freemumia.com)

pamela dembe: 1417 criminal justice center 1301 Filbert St. philadelphia
pa, 19107 Phone 215 683-7148 Fax 215 683-7150

john street: room 215 city hall philadelphia pa 19107
Phone 215 686-3000 Fax 215 686-2170"

International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
 P.O. Box 19709, Philadelphia, PA 19143
 Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180/
 E-mail - icffmaj@aol.com /www.mumia.org

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
    Mumia Abu-Jamal
    AM 8335
    175 Progress Drive
    Waynesburg, PA  15370


This column may be reprinted and/or distributed by
electronic means, but only for non-commercial use, and
only with the inclusion of the following copyright

Text (c) copyright 2001 by Mumia Abu-Jamal. All rights
reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books: 'Live
from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things

Write to Mumia directly at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370
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