In a free thinking society, one that allows people to wake up with the morning sun thinking out loud to the world, there can never be a line or demarcation for political and academic freedom. Those that seek a line to distinguish what is acceptable for students to hear, read, and learn are creating a world where there is a journalistic deprivation that starves students of the necessary nutrients for them to form their own opinions and how to give them meaning and application in the society they live in.
It was not long ago that a professor played that tune for me by saying, “Take me off your email list for this.” We had exchanged many different views of the world in the class he taught, even went to office hours to chat about the course, International Political and Economic Theories. Professor G at Cal State Los Angeles had been on my email list for four years and I thought he might have engaged me in the intellectual aspects of his reasoning. But he, like many in America, lives in a world dominated by the acceptance of censorship, even self-censorship, induced by the fear of even broaching a subject seen as taboo by a closed-minded society; a subject about real life that forces those trapped in the theoretical world to think about human injustice in a way that makes us realize that we are all responsible for it.
The article that I sent to him was about terrorism, it was less than a year after 9/11. It was a time when I had read as many articles as I could on the subject. At the same time I was reading Frantz Fanon’s book, The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon has a presentation about the colonizer that does not let us forget about those that are colonized in the world, similar to American ingenuity and capitalist democracy today. I was reading the chapter on violence when my article came to me, If I Were a Terrorist. (Indymedia - UK, Indymedia - Boston)
In retrospect even, Emma Goldman rings out in my mind when the question of political violence comes up. In her essay, Psychology of Political Violence, she writes: “To the earnest student it must be apparent that the accumulated forces in our social and economic life, culminating in a political act of violence, are similar to the terrors of the atmosphere, manifested in storm and lightning.
To thoroughly appreciate the truth of this view, one must feel intensely the indignity of our social wrongs; one's very being must throb with the pain, the sorrow, and the despair millions of people are daily made to endure. Indeed, unless we have become a part of humanity, we cannot even faintly understand the just indignation that accumulates in a human soul, the burning, surging passion that makes the storm inevitable.”
The original article, If I Were a Terrorist, was written in that vain when I described what happens to those that become so desperate that they can no longer restrain themselves: “The indigenous people and others that sit at the bottom of the imperialist cesspool, beaten, malnourished, aids infested, have no alternative but to resist this kind of brutal oppression. And you wonder why I seem mentally deranged.”
It is easy for many, including the governments we live under, to misinterpret the messages here. I do not believe in, practice or advocate violence, but instead, want to understand it. In a real free society it should be mandatory that we question the causes of political violence in order to find a solution to ending the practice of murder.
Why did Albert Einstein, author of Why Socialism?, ask Sigmund Freud about seeking a solution to ending war? How could two great minds engage in a lengthy correspondence about war and violence and most people have never heard of it, least of all read it? It may be a result of a line of academic censorship, not a line of academic freedom that has existed for too long and has hindered millions from vital exposure to these great people and, even greater, the ideas they wanted to share with the world. We can never let these views of humankind disappear from high schools and colleges because they are far too important in helping us analyze society.
The phrase, the line of academic freedom, is an oxymoron to me. If we place a limit on what one can say about society, good or bad, then there is no freedom; then the new freedom that the neo-conservatives are talking about is a freedom to agree and never disagree. We are turning the corner in history when people will no longer be able to say what they think out loud to the world when the morning sun comes up – a time where we no longer know what the truth is. Is it not the exchange of facts and ideas that form the thesis and then the antithesis? How can we reach the exchange of ideas if only one monolithic dialogue is presented? Is it not a journalist right to share all the thoughts we encounter? Are the thoughts of an anarchist, communist or terrorist less a part of the historical dialectic we live at this moment in time?? Or have we become the silencing machine the Nazi's loved, used so well to make the masses ignorant what they were doing to the history of humankind? They painted us with the brush of the holocaust, using water colors to dilute and hide the truth about the horrors they were all guilty of committing. Perhaps it is our mirror image of the “little Eichmann’s” that Ward Churchill was reminding us about that should make us question those that do not understand academic freedom and would rather leave unpopular opinions off the canvas of history.
George Orwell once wrote, "The most powerful form of lie is the omission, and it is the duty of the historian to make sure that those ties do not creep into the history books." America who wants to hide her ugly past, her holocaustic pre-emptive wars of the present, is trying to censor the release of pictures of dead soldiers coming home. They never talk about the millions of sick and dead children in Iraq that died because of our sanctions and bombs. Hurry, erase the thoughts of the 200,000 innocent Iraqis who have died.
Patch Adams had this to say in a speech in San Diego. “When I read that the richest 200 people in the world have the same number of assets as the poorest 2.5 billion how do I stop vomiting? Particularly since I know that 20,000 children die a day from starvation. How can I not call those 200 people war criminals when they can feed those children and choose, Choose, not to?!" (email@example.com by City Terrace)
You and I must write each day, always crossing the line, any line – the line of political and academic freedom, the line of censorship – that keeps people uninformed and in the dark shadow of the art we call journalistic history.