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Monday, February 25, 2008

War Against the Panthers

I finally finished Huey P. Newton's War Against the Panthers: A Study Of Repression in America (his doctoral dissertation) this evening. Only a couple of words about it here, because (a) it is relatively short, (b) very descriptive only, and (c) not all that exciting to read. Newton's opening is very strong where he explains how he does not consider the US a democracy, because of '[1] social and racial cleavages which have historically been the source of division and bitter antagonism between sectors, and [2] the inherent and long-standing distrust held by America's ruling class of any institutionalized democracy involving the mass population.'

Quite obviously, Newton, (and understandably considering his experiences) exaggerates the relevance of oppression as a means of governing the United States, but he makes a very coherent and convincing argument. While this argument is not completely swaying, it does result in sympathetic interest and a desire to further one's knowledge in this 'other' side of American history. The Haymarket incident, Emma Goldmann, AIM, the FBI's activities against civil rights leaders and the Black Panther Party all do show a shocking lack of democratic institutions in the United States until well into the 1970s.

Newton after this historical summary just enumerates the ways in which the BPP was attacked by government agents (CIA, FBI, IRS, local police). I cannot verify most of his claims, but from what I can gather (or know as of right now) his general point of the BPP having been unjustly repressed is very valid.

In the end a truly interesting story, even if I would prefer reading something more comprehensive and less tedious and factually dominated about this. Mainly, because I feel like the dark sides of American history are gladly (and too easily) glossed over in today's society (where girls with teary eyes sing the national anthem before a basketball game rejoicing in their patriotic souls without really reflecting on what it is they are endorsing and praising).

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