Are we all Muslim now?: Assata Shakur and the Terrordome
Excerpts from Al Jazeera
“Don’t believe everything you hear. Real eyes realize real lies.”
– Tupac Shakur
Assata Shakur is now a Muslim. Well, she didn’t actually convert to Islam. But in the eyes of the United States government where “terrorism” and threats to the state have become synonymous with Islam and Muslims, the recent placement of Assata Shakur on the F.B.I.’s “Most Wanted Terrorist List”, has for all intents and purposes, made her one.
While her being named to the list shocked many, is it really that surprising, especially when one considers how the “War on Terror” has been used as a logic of control to systematically target, undermine and destroy any challenge to the domestic and global realms of U.S. power?
…While many were shocked that Assata would be placed on the “Most Wanted Terrorist List,” some argued that not only is she innocent of the charges against her, but that what she was struggling for as a Black revolutionary could not possibly make her a “terrorist.” But this begs the question: who is a “terrorist”? And what does he do that would make him one? Would he by chance have a beard? Wear flowing garb? Be a Muslim?
…For her supporters and those on the Left who deny that she’s a “terrorist,” we have to understand that to the U.S. government that’s exactly what she is. But instead of denying it, its high time that we instead challenge the prevailing logic of “terrorism,” refuse to normalize it, and recognize it for what it is: not only a political label used to discredit and undermine struggles for self-determination, but also a legal frame that then gives the state the sanction and power to narrow the scope of dissent and violently crackdown and arrest, incarcerate, torture, bomb, drone, invade, and even assassinate those deemed threats to state interests.
But if her allies continue to accept “terrorism” as the ruling paradigm, and make the false and fatal distinction between the struggles of Black radicals like Assata from the struggles of Third World peoples fighting for dignity against racist, imperial power in places such as Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, then these supporters are not only misunderstanding and undermining the internationalist legacy of Assata Shakur and the Black Panther Party (who supported the Palestinians and other Third World struggles), but they are also ironically reinvigorating the very same violent state forces that she and the Black Power movement struggled to eliminate.
…For to not question how the logic of “terrorism” is now being used to silence Black and Third World voices is to undermine the very movements that Assata (and so many others) have so valiantly sacrificed their lives and livelihoods for.
Lets remember that yesterday it was Nelson Mandela who the United States labeled a “terrorist,” and today it’s a Palestinian, an Afghan and now Assata. Tomorrow it could be a labor organizer, a student activist, a teacher, or maybe even you.
Originally published on 05.09.2013 in Al Jazeera.