I read this yesterday from Mumia and then this morning there was a story
in the NY Times about the most recent attack by a US soldier on an
Okinawan young woman. Buried deep in the article was this sentence:
"Japanese and Western historians have said that in the aftermath of
World War II, American troops raped thousands of Okinawan women without reprisals."
One thing that seems to define all conquering and occupying armies is
their predilection to rape defenseless women. While agreeing with
Mumia's statement, I would say that the phenomenon is not limited
to the US.
FROM MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
SNATCH AND GRAB IN CENTRAL PARK
Column Written 6/26/2000
All Rights Reserved
"Next to God, we are indebted to women, first for life
itself, and then for making it worth having." - Mary McLeod Bethune
The spectacle of hordes of young Black and Puerto Rican men,
wetting, grabbing and stripping young women in New York's famed Central Park
in the waning hours of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, sent shock waves through
the city, across the nation, and indeed, around the world.
Almost as baffling was the lack of response by police, who told
weeping, terrified, angry and barely-clothed women that they couldn't leave
their posts, that they didn't have radios on them, or directing them to fill
This frenzied attack on over 40 young women would've been denied or
ignored were it not for the power of videotape.
Although for most of us a natural reaction to this unhealthy
spectacle would be shock, denial, or even disbelief, another response, one
informed by history, might have been more appropriate: it's logical, and
Undoubtedly, a number of readers are asking serious questions at
this point: "Logical? What?! Jamal, you must be crazy!" What is
crazy is the deep and abiding hatred, fear, and envy of women that lies
recesses of the American psyche.
This resistance to the unleashing of female power is deeply rooted
in the West, as revealed in the motto promoted by the Roman Catholic Church
in the 12th and 13th century: "Woman is a temple built over a sewer." The
infamous book Malleus Maleficarum ("The Witches' Hammer," publ. 1487)
led to the torture, death and damning of thousands of women in Europe,
in the name of witch-hunting. The name, Salem, proves this wasn't just
"Ok, Jamal - What's this stuff got to do with what happened in
Central Park, man?"
America's history is a history of the domination of women, and where
official domination is not allowed, unofficial ways of subordination
will be found.
What happened in Central Park in June of 2000 was not "clean fun,"
"wild boys," or an open form of erotic play. What happened was a mass
attack on women, to humiliate them, and to subordinate them. It was an act
designed to discipline them by instilling terror in them. It was an act of
veiled hatred, that was seconded by the cavalier treatment the women
received at the hands of the cops. It was an act motivated more by gender
dynamics, than racial dynamics. But, there was another dynamic at work:
that of mass psychology.
Psychiatrists Frantz G. Alexander and Sheldon T. Selesnic, in The
History of Psychiatry (1966) cited the work of French psychologist Gustave
Le Bon, who wrote La Psychologie des Foules (1895) (The Psychology of
Fools), for the idea that conscience is naturally diminished by mobs:
... Because the voice of the individual conscience is silent
in a group. All that has been repressed, all that violates the
standards of the conscience, is free to appear uninhibited. (p.204).
What had been socially repressed? The deep-seated misogyny of the West, or
hatred of women.
It was lessons well-learned by teenaged boys, who were modeling not
only disrespectful, and misogynistic videos, movies, and TV shows, but also
a political culture that has, as one of its central themes, the hatred,
demonization, and destabilization of poor women, especially women of color.
It may not have been nice, but it was logical, in a society erected
It is time to change the lessons we teach kids, by radically
transforming society itself.
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