‘The American Way’: No truth, no justice
By Dolores Cox
Published Sep 7, 2009 9:34 PM
Editor’s note: This essay was written in response to the U.S. government’s denial of parole for Native-American political prisoner Leonard Peltier on Aug. 21.
There’s a comic strip character called Superman. His battle cry is “Truth, Justice and the American Way!” Unfortunately, however, “the American way” too often does not encompass the values of truth and justice.
The ugly truth about the United States is that it is a country that was founded on hatred, violence and lies. White supremacist ideology, capitalist greed and imperialist domination resulted in the theft of Indigenous peoples’ land, their displacement, enslavement, destruction of their culture and the massacre of millions of them. And white supremacist propaganda continues to drive the engine of the U.S. today, accounting for the high degree of bigotry, ignorance, apathy and indifference when it comes to the rights of Native Americans and all people of color.
There is no such thing as “liberty and justice for all” in the U.S. And there’s no such thing as color-blind justice. The judicial system and its prison-industrial complex imprison mainly people of color. And the number of political prisoners is abominable. Institutional racism dictates that being born a person of color is punishable by a life sentence of discrimination, and declares that having the audacity to speak truth to power is also a punishable crime. Fighting social injustice and oppression is labeled criminal activity.
In keeping with “the American way,” if you’re a person of color you will continually have to fight for your liberation from the oppressor and for your civil and human rights. The oppressor does not tolerate resistance or dissent, peaceful or otherwise. And your right to self-defense and self-determination will repeatedly be undermined. The rhetoric about democracy is just that—it has never been actualized.
The FBI—notoriously known as the government entity responsible for heinous criminal acts against people of color—continues to reign supreme, undisciplined and unbridled. And framing freedom fighters is nothing new. The civil rights and Black Power movements were destroyed by the racist attacks on its leaders and activists by the FBI and its Cointelpro operations.
Anyone speaking out and challenging the system is viewed as a threat to “the American way.” So they’re demonized and silenced through imprisonment, assassination or by any means the government deems necessary. On Native-American reservations the FBI has always had carte blanche. And the FBI had its way again at Leonard Peltier’s parole hearing
The U.S. government has committed unspeakable crimes against humanity on Native tribal nations, and the blood on the government’s hands still hasn’t dried. Living conditions on Indian reservations remain deplorable. And the devaluing of nonwhite life continues. Leonard Peltier will not be eligible for another parole hearing until the year 2024, at age 79. His two life sentences and denial of parole expose the truth of what the U.S. really stands for.
Of course, the U.S. leader of the so-called free world and his federal attorney general have the power to free Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal and other innocent political prisoners languishing in jails. But in keeping with “the American way” of life they’ve chosen not to give us the change we can believe in.
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