I’m often amused when I read, hear, or see a politician criticize his opponent as radical. That’s meant to isolate his opponent somehow weird, but guess what? Radicals are as common as crabgrass in American history.
That’s because without radicals, how could the nation be born based on it was on militant opposition to British kings? At the time, Europe was dominated by hereditary royalty, and after the U.S. Civil War, the radicals were the Republicans who opposed slavery and fought for black votes while the Democrats were the party of the Ku Klux Klan. So radicals fought for freedom from kings and from slavery.
In 1877, Republican presidential candidate Rutherford Hayes sold out black Republicans and black southerners to allow democratic ascendancy and political autonomy. The army left the south, and blacks were exposed to white terrorism. Again: radicalism, it seems, only went so far.
In the 1960s, blacks embarked on a radical freedom struggle, north and south. Predictably, they were again betrayed, often headed by Republican politicians. Radicals like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, like Malcolm X, Huey Newton, and thousands of others fought for black freedom. Others fought for an end to the Vietnam War. The point: radicals and revolutionaries fought for freedom from all kinds of oppression.
And the last I looked, that was a good thing.
From in prison nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.