Interview w/ Assata Shakur, Granma Part II

Les Schaffer schaffer at
Sun Dec 10 08:13:09 MST 2000

[bounced from  unsubbed "Tom Warner"
<twwarner at>. Reformated, Part II]

[cont. from previous post]

Q. (Inaudible. Probably about media manipulation...)

A. (Talking about how absurd it was that the US could convince people
Grenada was a danger to its security)....Grenada has about 100,000
people.  I remember Ronald Reagan holding up this map, an aerial map
of an airport, a nd saying this was gonna be a military airport that
was gonna threaten the people of the United States. And actually they
convinced a huge amount of people that Grenada, a LITTLE, TINY ISLAND,
that wasn't even the size of Brooklyn, was a threat to the United
States government!!! And people really believed it. It was like
convincing people to believe in the tooth fairy.  (Laughter). So
people have to be aware of how the media manipulates the way we
think. Because they have really created a situation where all the US
government has to do is say that such-and-such a government is
terrorist, and they can wipe people off the map! The language that is
being used in the media today is incredible.

I must have been about 14 years old when I read "1984". It never
occurred to me that anyone would name a nuclear missile
"Peacekeeper". It never occurred to me that thousands of people would
be killed in the name of "peace-keeping". But that is what is
happening today.

Or that the deaths of 200,000 people is called "collateral damage".
How can you justify that? They are making a language that is a callous
language of imperialism and we are using it. That doesn't mean we are
going along with their language, but that we have not developed our
own. The ave rage person living in the US may not even be aware that
those are 200,000 women, children, babies that are dead, and they are
not even called human beings, they are called "collateral
damage". "Friendly fire" -- what the hell is that? It is sickening
when you listen to it, but you are inundated by it.

Because they've developed these code words, they have been
incorporated into the language of politics, and people see that as
normal. Just as they see the police dressed up as Martians beating
people up as "normal". So th e abnormal, the sick, the vicious have
become more and more interwoven into the violent culture of the United
States. Into the way news is seen, into the way movies are seen.

I watched this movie, they had it on tv here, called "Instinct".
Black actor Cuba Gooding, very good actor, is playing the
psychologist, and his patient is this white anthropologist who has
been extradited from some African country for killing three
people. And Cuba Gooding is trying to get at the roots of what has
made this man "mad". The man has a relationship with gorillas that
he's been studying and is beginning to bond with gorillas; he finds
that the gorillas have this good gorilla way of living.  And this
anthropologist becomes like a hero in this movie. And he's talking
about what liberation is, how gorillas have achieved a stage of
liberation, although you are never clear what he means by that.

And because this guy stands up to this system in prison in which the
roughest prisoner gets a turn to go out on the exercise yard; they
deal out a deck of cards and the one who gets the ace gets to go
out. And the one who is the strongest and the most evil takes the ace
and always goes out into the yard. So this anthropologist stands up
against this strong guy -- who also happens to be black -- and he
becomes the hero of the prison.  In the end he escapes. And he's like
this great white hero who escapes.

And nowhere in the whole movie, there is not one word about these
three people he killed. All three of them were Africans, and they were
poaching on the animals, capturing the gorillas. And this guy kills
them because of the gorillas.

In the way that this whole history is told, we feel so much for this
guy.  We begin to love him; he becomes the hero, the symbol of liberty
and justice.  He and his relationship to the gorillas become
principal, and the three Africans that he killed are totally

And from the beginning to the end of the movie, that's the way it
goes.  And I'm looking at this and thinking, "This is incredible! When
Malcolm X created 'tricknology' as a word to describe how the mind can
be twisted and distorted and manipulated into believing that the enemy
is the victim and the victim is the enemy -- the United States is a
MASTER of it!

You have a bill: "Feed Cuba! Food for Cuba!" that not only tightens
the blockade, makes things harder for the Cuban people, and they say
"Oh, this is a wonderful thing to open trade with Cuba". And they have
people believ ing it. We're living in a very tricky world, and unless
we become analytical and expose the tricknology, people will become
sucked into that.  It is very easy, it is very, very easy.

Q. Cuba has been fighting against [neoliberal] globalization. What do
you think the potential for the anti-globalization movement is?

A. I think that the movement against the policies of the World Bank,
of the IMF, is very important. People are really beginning to see the
mechanisms of imperialism. When colonialism existed people could see

When racial segregation existed in its apartheid form, people could
see the "whites only" signs. But it's much more difficult to see the
structures of neo-imperialism, neo-colonialism, neo-slavery.

I think that the movement against the World Bank, against the
globalization process that is happening, is very positive. We need a
globalization, a globalization of people who are committed to social
justice, to economic justice. We need a globalization of people who
are committed to saving this earth, to making sure that the water is
drinkable, that the air is breathable.

When I was a child, if someone had talked to me about buying water, I
would have thought it was a joke. If we are not committed to saving
this earth we will be buying designer air filters and gas masks with
little Nike sw ishes on them. (Laughter, applause)

The people who are running this planet are insane -- they are
literally destroying it. I don't know where they think they're gonna
drink water, breathe air....This planet is a wonderful place, but a
vulnerable place.  And they are making and implementing policies that
are destroying the earth in all kinds of ways.

The movement against the kind of global assassination that is going
on, in terms of whole countries -- because every African country is
facing an ecological disaster in terms of becoming deserts, in terms
of fuel -- Africa is one of the richest countries in the world and the
people are the poorest in the world. A lot of that poverty is directly
related to the policies of the IMF and the World Bank. Those policies
are very important not only to Cuba but to people all over the world
who want to see their children grow up and have access to health care,
to live somewhere that is not a desert, where they can drink water,
where they can breathe air. So I think that movement is one of the
most important, most optimistic struggles that is going on at this

Q. In 1965 US President Dwight D. Eisenhower said the Pentagon was
planning for 100 years into the future. Most of us don't even plan for
5 years ahead.  I don't know how Cuba is coming along with it's
planning. But most of us are always REACTING to what the world powers
do. What is our pro-active plan for 5 or 10 years from now?

A, I wish (laughs) I had those answers. I believe that we have
to...the first part of planning is to believe that you can put that
plan into practise. And I think that one of the problems that exists
in the United States and in many places in the world is that people
don't believe that they can make a difference. So a lot of times we're
defeated before we even start.

We've become consumers of a world vision, of Kentucky Fried Chicken,
of McDonalds, and we're convinced that Kentucky Fried Chicken tastes
better than any other thing, or that a hamburger made by McDonalds is
something spe cial. Other than a piece of greasy meat and some
bread. McDonald's are things we've been sold. And we've also consumed
the idea of powerlessness, of the idea that "you can't fight City
Hall" [you can't win against a power ful establishment -ed. note], of
"you can't change things, the government is strong, that's just the
way things are".

And as long as we continue to have that vision of the world, the
planning of a better world is going to be a hard nut to crack. So I
think that one of the things as a step towards the phase that WE plan
years and years ah ead is to actually believe that this world is
redeemable, changeable; that we can eradicate poverty, that we can
eradicate alienation, that we can eradicate this tremendous
consumerism, this disease that we have to buy ev erything that exists,
everything that the television says we have to have.

We have to have a vision of the world we want to make in 100 years.
And maybe when we have that vision, when we convince enough people
that that is a realistic vision, and that the opposite vision is
basically that if we don't do something in this 100 years, a hundred
years from now this world is gonna be so destroyed, so raped and
ravished that we won't HAVE much of a world to save.

Internalizing the importance of this century, and how much work we
have to do, will give us at least some ways to invent a system of
planning. I think it's really hard to plan if you don't believe you
can implement those plans.

(applause). -fin-


Forwarded as a public service by:

Thomas W. Warner (secretary Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee)
8923 2nd Ave. N.E.
Seattle, WA, 98115

(206) 523-1720

twwarner at

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