Open Letter on the Occasion of the Seating of the New York Session of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine
Cynthia McKinney | October 7, 2012
This weekend, anti-war protests are taking place all over the world. I do believe that the position of the vast majority of the world’s people is one that is utterly tired of a hungry war machine ignited by gangster bankers concomitantly devouring the money resources of the world’s people. There is a growing awareness of exactly where the problem lies: it is not in the millions of working people who struggle every month just to make ends meet; it is not in the immigrant fleeing the intentional destabilization of her homeland; it is not in the descendants of Africans imported from Africa for enslavement; it is not in the right-wing White person misled to believe that individuals from the foregoing groups are his enemy; it is not in the group of people who pray to Allah; it is not in the people on the street this weekend demanding peace and an end to war. It is clear that those who helped construct this current society and now preside over it are also the ones who benefit from having things as they are today. Increasingly, more and more of us are paying an even higher price for them to continue their privilege because enough is never enough for them. Real change, then, requires not only changes in the names, color, ethnicities, languages spoken, religion, or gender of those who preside over the current political state of affairs. Real change requires dismantling the current political, economic, and social structures that serve only the interests of an elite to whom current elected office holders answer. In short, the kind of change that people thought they were voting for in 2008. I have consistently drawn attention to the need for this kind of deep, structural change. Therefore, this Open Letter addresses what is happening to me as I challenge a system that no longer serves the interests of the people and push for the kind of change that will really make a difference.
As I write this, I note the irony that I am currently conducting research in order to write a paper on the violent repression carried out by individuals acting on behalf of the United States government against certain political actors of the 1960s and early 1970s. It was during this research that I came across the notion of “soft repression” and immediately recognized myself in what I was reading. I said to myself as I read, “Hey, that’s me.” So, I decided to write this Open Letter in order to blow the cover off a secret that I have walked with for years.
“Soft repression” tactics include ridicule, stigma, and silencing. I have experienced and continue to experience each one of these types of targeting. I routinely receive hate mail and withstand very active organized attempts to ridicule, stigmatize, and eventually silence me. I routinely experience strange occurrences with my computer (typing by itself) and telephone (answered by someone before it even rings on my end), and more. Strange things happen to my friends and to the friends of my friends (like police stops for nothing, and worse, calls to remote immigrant acquaintances asking for information about me).
Not too long ago, I received a call from a lawyer with the ACLU who tracks politically-inspired civil liberties violations and he told me that my name came up in a Texas Fusion Center of the Department of Homeland Security document as someone, associating with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and traveling to Lebanon with him, who should be surveilled for any attempts engaged in by me to push Sharia law for the U.S. It’s ludicrous, I know. It’s even more ludicrous that U.S. tax dollars are being spent to surveil people for this stupidity. But there it is.
More recently, Congresswoman Maxine Waters courageously asked the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Robert Mueller, at a Congressional Hearing if the FBI was surveilling me because she had documents that suggested that due to my political beliefs and inflammatory words uttered by others after my 2006 campaign election theft that placed blame for the unfortunate election results on Jewish Israel partisans inside the U.S.
I have been stalked (unfortunately, the prosecution occurred under a false identity as a Muslim Pakistani) and thank goodness to local authorities, the perpetrator spent time in jail until his high-priced lawyer bailed him out, and the individual with the false identity was convicted of stalking. Upon my return to the U.S. from Cape Town, South Africa at which the Russell Tribunal found that Israel practices its own unique form of apartheid, I was notified by my local FBI office that I was [the] subject of a terroristic threat, along with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama, by some poor hillbillies from the north Georgia mountains. The FBI offered to protect me from any other hillbillies who might get funny ideas.
Well, I’ve been through this before with the FBI, when a journalist called for my lynching on my way to vote. My alarmed Congressional staff alerted the FBI--only for us all to learn, years later, that this particular “journalist” was on the FBI payroll at the time that he made those reprehensible remarks.
I have lived with this “soft repression” since, as a Member of Congress-elect in 1992, I refused to sign the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pledge of support for Israel. I will begin to document and make public what has heretofore been covert activity carried out by bullies who pick on the weak. The members of my inner circle and I are extremely weak compared to the power and resources of those orchestrating and carrying out this “soft repression.”
What could they possibly be afraid of?
I will answer my own question: values whose time has come—truth, justice, peace, and dignity. Not only for the elite few, but also for the rest of us: everybody’s truth and everybody’s dignity.
I am honored to serve as a juror on the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. I am honored to serve with Angela Davis and Alice Walker and Dennis Means as the U.S. contingent of jurors here in New York City. Davis, Walker, and Means are giants in U.S. activism, demonstrating self-sacrifice, dignity, and great love for community. I have been with this Tribunal from its opening Session in Barcelona, where I was the only U.S. member. At these New York Sessions so far, we have spoken of colonialism, oppression, murder, and war with impunity. Therefore, I in no way want to equate the unusual events occurring around me with the violence of the situation faced by Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, the particular focus of this Tribunal. I seek merely to expose covert actions directed at me, and people close to me, that constitute bullying and soft repression that would otherwise go unnoted and whose purpose I surmise is to punish me for my values and political beliefs that favor justice and peace, and, most probably, to dissuade me from future political activities.
Their plan will not work. I believe in hearing everyone’s truths, especially from those whose voices have been shut down. I believe that we can only achieve justice when we are willing to face everyone’s truths. I believe that peace is achievable when justice is prevalent. And I believe that human and planetary dignity will exist during such time as we all live together in peace. My work, every day, is to advance this cause in the best way that I know, using the tools at my disposal at this time.
I have already received some requests for these documents that have been made available to me; I will make them available to anyone who asks.