Saturday, October 21, 2017

Angela Davis and the myth of redemptive violence

“When you feel you have right on your side, you can do some pretty horrific things.” - Brian Flanagan, former Weathermen member




Tonight over social media progressives were celebrating a presentation by Angela Davis at the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and the hashtag #SpiritOfJustice circulated across social media. The late Walter Wink, who was once affiliated with the Union Theological Seminary, wrote of the myth of redemptive violence but it appears that this lesson has been lost on those attending the gathering with Ms. Davis.

Angela Davis attended the 8th World Festival of Youth and Students in Helsinki, Finland in 1962 at age eighteen. The first festival was held in 1947 and the the nineteenth was held in 2017 in Russia and they are gatherings of the youth wing of the international communist movements and part of the communist totalitarian networks. Ms Davis is a serious communist intellectual who studied under Herbert Marcuse, a Cultural Marxist of the Frankfurt School, she had met him at a rally during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963 at age nineteen. In 2007 she described his impact upon her thinking at the time: "Herbert Marcuse taught me that it was possible to be an academic, an activist, a scholar, and a revolutionary." She had decided to study in Europe and began her studies there in 1965.

The Black Panther Party was founded on October 15, 1966 in Oakland, California and was heavily influenced by Robert F. Williams, a black militant nationalist who fled to Cuba in 1961 and was still there in 1966. Members of the Black Panther Party were also reading Che Guevara's books on Guerrilla Warfare and applying it on the streets of America to deadly effectThe Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee on November 1, 1967 made public these statistics on riots in the chart below.




The call for guerrilla warfare in the streets of American cities generated an escalation in violence, lives lost, injuries, and hundreds of millions in material losses in an effort to overthrow the United States government with a violent revolution. The Central Intelligence Agency issued a report "DISSIDENT ACTIVITY: January 1966 through January 1973" that was approved for release on June 19, 2003 that documents the situation in 1967 explaining that "[a]lthough severe racial rioting had occurred in U.S. cities in previous summers, it never had been as widespread or as intense as it became in 1967. In the two cities hardest hit, Newark (26 dead) and Detroit (43 dead), conditions of near-insurrection developed in ghetto areas, and police and National Guardsmen responded with volleys of automatic weapons fire."

Inspired by the revolutionary ferment Angela Davis in 1967 decides to discontinue her studies in Europe and return to the United States in order to become involved in the Black  revolutionary movement. She went to San Diego where her mentor Herbert Marcus was teaching at the time. She was also inspired by the emergence of the Black Panther Party. In 1968 she formally and publicly joined the Communist Party and in the Fall of 1969 she was hired to teach in the Philosophy Department at UCLA.

After having demonstrated her credentials as an academic, an activist, and a scholar in 1970 she showed her revolutionary commitment. Angela Davis purchases the firearms, including a shotgun, that would be used two days later by a 17-year-old African-American high-school student, Jonathan Jackson, on August 7, 1970 to take over a courtroom in Marin County, California. He armed the black defendants and together they took Judge Harold Haley, the prosecutor and three female jurors hostage. They fled the courtroom and ended up in a shoot out with police. The judge was shot in the head with a blast from the shotgun purchased by Professor Davis and it was demonstrated that she had been communicating with one of the inmates. She was charged with conspiracy to murder and kidnap, fled the jurisdiction but was captured two months later across the country in New York City. 

The campaign both legal and in the mass media was a textbook case of totalitarian networks mobilizing, along with their agents of influence, to shape public opinion and to push for the circumvention of justice.

These networks have been around since 1921 when the Soviet Union organized clandestine operations of propaganda aimed at the West. They created networks of supporters that used all propaganda resources from high culture to the most basic: film, radio, theater, books, magazines, and newspapers. They were able to connect to and use all types of formers of opinion respected by the public: writers, artists, actors, priests, ministers, teachers, businessmen, scientists, and psychologists. In the 1970s with Angela Davis this meant songs by Virgilio Savona "Angela" "Angela" "Angela"(1971), The Rolling Stones "Sweet Black Angel (1972), Bob Dylan "George Jackson" (1971), John Lennon "Angela" (1972), Todd Cochran "Free Angela" (1972), and there were others. On the revolutionary front on January 28, 1972,  Jose Marti's birthday, Garrett Brock Trapnell hijacked TWA Flight 2 and one of his demands was the release of Angela Davis.

Although her first attorney was John Abt, general counsel of the Communist Party USA, Ms Davis was soon represented by the far more competent Leo Branton, a civil rights and entertainment lawyer, who pioneered techniques in jury selection in her defense that were later adopted by other attorneys.
Branton hired psychologists to help the defense determine who in the jury pool would favor their arguments, he also hired experts to discredit the reliability of eyewitness accounts and gave a powerful closing. She was acquitted by an all white jury.



Following her release she went on an international speaking tour visiting Cuba, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Whereas the Soviet Union engaged in active measures to destroy Martin Luther King Jr. the Russians spent considerable resources to assist Professor Davis. It was not surprising considering her communist background that she sided with the oppressors and not the oppressed whe she traveled in the East Bloc. Nor did it go unnoticed. When the great Russian writer and dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn visited the United States  and on July 9, 1975 addressed the AFL-CIO and spoke of her.
“There’s a certain woman here named Angela Davis. I don’t know if you are familiar with her in this country, but in our country, literally, for an entire year, we heard of nothing at all except Angela Davis. There was only Angela Davis in the whole world and she was suffering. We had our ears stuffed with Angela Davis. Little children in school were told to sign petitions in defense of Angela Davis. Little boys and girls, eight and nine years old, were asked to do this. She was set free, as you know. Although she didn’t have too difficult a time in this country’s jails, she came to recuperate in Soviet resorts. Some Soviet dissidents–but more important, a group of Czech dissidents–addressed an appeal to her: `Comrade Davis, you were in prison. You know how unpleasant it is to sit in prison, especially when you consider yourself innocent. You have such great authority now. Could you help our Czech prisoners? Could you stand up for those people in Czechoslovakia who are being persecuted by the state?’ Angela Davis answered: `They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison.’ That is the face of Communism. That is the heart of Communism for you.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that "[u]nearned suffering is redemptive. Suffering, the nonviolent resister realizes, has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities."This outlook is incompatible with the communist doctrine of class struggle. Reverend King had a moral clarity that Ms. Davis did not share and was manifested in surprising ways.

The philosophy professor also managed to show a moral blindness for an American mass murderer. Angela Davis addressed Reverend Jim Jones and the Peoples' Temple on September 10, 1977 and  she may have fed into the paranoia that 14 months later on November 18, 1978 ended in the Jonestown Massacre.
"This is Angela Davis. I would like to say to my friend Jim Jones and all my sisters and brothers from Peoples Temple who are in Guyana there: know that there are people here, not only in the San Francisco Bay Area but also across the country, who are supporting you, who are with you. I can personally speak for the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression in cities throughout the country, from Birmingham, Alabama to (inaudible) that there are people who are aware of the contributions of Peoples Temple to our efforts to, for example, free Rev. Ben Chavis and the Wilmington 10." 
Jim Jones was a white male, but he was also a communist and that trumps race for one simple reason. Angela Davis is a communist revolutionary who defends an ideology that has claimed over a 100 million lives over the past century and ruined many more. She is also proof that violence is not redemptive. The Black Panther Party wreaked havoc in the late 1960s and reaped what they sowed.  Professor Davis is directly responsible for the death of a 17-year old, a judge and three inmates. She avoided legal jeopardy but still has to live with that.