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Radicals

This section of DiscoverTheNetworks focuses on individuals whose agendas are those of the political far left. All of these men and women are committed to radical social change; some go so far as to seek the overthrow of the U.S. government and the dissolution or transformation of all American institutions -- particularly capitalism. Such objectives are founded on the axiom that the United States is a fundamentally evil nation.

One the best-known radicals of recent times is Mumia Abu Jamal, a former Black Panther who catapulted himself into the public limelight in 1981 when he murdered a Philadelphia police officer named Daniel Falkner. Now an icon of the academic left, Abu Jamal has been a guest speaker at several college commencement ceremonies -- in each instance delivering his addresses from the confines of his prison cell. Likening himself to persecuted social-justice crusaders of the past, Abu Jamal contends that he has been imprisoned solely because of his revolutionary efforts to raise public awareness about America’s alleged repression of blacks and other minorities. “Revolution,” he says, “according to the Declaration of Independence, is a right” of all oppressed people.

Another well-known black radical is the poet and self-described “Third World Marxist-Leninist,” Amiri Baraka, whose legendary hatred for white people found expression in his assertion that "we [blacks] must eliminate the white man before we can draw a free breath on this planet." When a white woman once asked Baraka what she could do to help the black cause, he replied: "You can help by dying. You [whites] are a cancer. You can help the world's people with your death."

In October 2001 Baraka published a poem titled "Somebody Blew Up America," in which he accused the Israeli government of having had prior knowledge that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were being planned. Also in that poem, Baraka referred to whites and Jews as "the gonorrhea in costume, the white sheet diseases that have murdered black people, terrorized reason and sanity, most of humanity, as they pleases." He further characterized whites and Jews as those "who cut your nuts off, who rape your ma, who lynched your pa … who own the oil, who do no toil, who own the soil … who killed the most ni--ers … who believe the confederate flag need to be flying … who [are] the biggest terrorist[s] … [who] only do evil … [and who] invented AIDS."

The longtime Marxist Carl Davidson, who currently serves as a national steering-committee member of United for Peace and Justice, also embodies the radical leftist spirit. Aiming ultimately to help transform the United States into a socialist nation, Davidson advocates the mobilization of “new grassroots majorities required for progressive, systemic change.” As a college student in the 1960s, Davidson was a national secretary of the Students of a Democratic Society (which became the leading radical organization of its day) and a national leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement. He and Tom Hayden take credit for having launched in 1969 the “Venceremos Brigades,” organized by Fidel Castro's Cuban intelligence agency to train "brigadistas" in guerrilla-warfare techniques. Most recently, Davidson has been an ardent supporter of Barack Obama.

Among the many radicals who have been warmly welcomed into academia is Angela Davis, a former Black Panther and a lifelong Marxist who is now a professor at UC Santa Cruz. In 1992 Davis helped form the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism to carry on the Communist mission.

Few Americans have been part of radical culture longer than Tom Hayden, who, as a young man, was a principal organizer of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In 1962 the then-22-year-old Hayden authored the SDS political manifesto, known as the Port Huron Statement, which condemned America's political system as the chief cause of international conflict and of numerous social ills -- including racism, materialism, militarism, and poverty.

Among the most visible and outspoken mouthpieces of the pro-Communist camp during the Vietnam War era, Hayden in the early 1970s organized -- along with Jane Fonda, John Kerry, and Ted Kennedy -- an “Indo-China Peace Campaign” (IPC) which lobbied to cut off American aid to the non-Communist regimes in Cambodia and South Vietnam. The IPC worked tirelessly to help the North Vietnamese Communists and the Khmer Rouge (led by the bloodthirsty dictator Pol Pot) emerge victorious. On the domestic front, meanwhile, Hayden advocated urban rebellions and called for the creation of "guerrilla focos" to resist police and other law-enforcement agencies.

Another high-profile radical of our day is Van Jones, a self-identified communist revolutionary who says he became politically radicalized in the aftermath of the deadly April 1992 Los Angeles riots which erupted shortly after four L.A. police officers who had beaten the now-infamous Rodney King were exonerated in court. By the late 1990s, Jones was a committed Marxist-Leninist-Maoist who viewed police officers as the arch-enemies of black people, and who loathed capitalism for allegedly exploiting nonwhite minorities worldwide. He became a leading member of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), a Bay-Area Marxist-Maoist collective that was staffed by members of various local nonprofits.

On March 10, 2009, President Barack Obama named Jones to be his so-called “Green Jobs Czar.” Amid mounting controversy over his radical past, however, Jones resigned that post on Labor Day weekend 2009.

The RESOURCES column on the right side of this page contains a link to the section where profiles of these and other radicals can be found. It also contains links to articles, essays, books, and videos that explore the phenomenon of radicalism and issues related to it.

Individual Profiles

Group Profiles


IN DEPTH

BOOKS

* For recommended books on this topic, click here.


                                SEE ALSO

* Radicalism

* Radical Groups





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