Leftists are okay with Angela Davis’s terroristic background but rescinded their decision to grant her a human rights award due to her support of the BDS movement and of Palestinians’ human rights. Apparently only some humans should have rights.
By S.T. Patrick
Angela Davis has led a career and a life that has attracted controversies, criticisms, and bans. The most recent was a rescinding of the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award given by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI). Citing that Davis’s opinions and remarks do not “meet all of the criteria on which the award is based,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin decided against the October decision to present the award to Davis.
BCRI’s decision comes at a time in the nation’s history when political correctness and the wildly shifting levels of “acceptable speech” reach a new, more disturbing apex on what appears on a weekly basis. Davis’s new crime of opinion—or “thought crime,” in the words of 1984 author George Orwell—was that she has been a longtime vocal supporter of Palestinian rights and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
BCRI’s decision to rescind the award is surprising, as Davis’s views on Israeli state policy and the ideology of Zionism are not new. In his 1992 book Chutzpah, attorney Alan Dershowitz famously described Davis’s response when he asked her for a public statement in support of a list of political prisoners being held in the USSR.
Davis told Dershowitz that none of the people on his list were political prisoners. “They are all Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism,” Davis explained.
Davis, an icon of the 1960s Black Panther Party, has also referred to the Israeli “occupation” of Palestine and has compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to American police shootings of African-Americans. She comes from a larger-than-life era where slogans, key words, and political posters ruled the day. She, like many others from that same era, speaks in anecdotes and analogies.
In 1969, Gov. Ronald Reagan (R-Calif.) attempted to have Davis banned from teaching at California universities because of her affiliation with the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). She was twice a candidate for vice president on the CPUSA ticket in the 1980s when Reagan was president. She left the CPUSA when it supported the Soviets’ 1991 “August Coup” attempt. The coup was led by communist hardliners attempting to wrest control from Mikhail Gorbachev.
In the new millennium, Davis has worked largely in support of the prison abolition movement. She co-founded Critical Resistance (CR) to build a groundswell of grassroots supporters dedicated to working against the “prison-industrial complex.” CR’s efforts are focused on building “engaged communities” that can educate and heal people rather than caging them.
There has been a reflexive reaction by conservatives to support the rescinding of the award. In a parallel story, there has also been conservative (and some liberal) support to admonish Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for her comments explaining both the definition of an Israeli lobby and her criticism of politicians who, for financial reasons, would adhere to the demands of a foreign lobby. President Donald Trump ridiculously called for Omar’s resignation.
Criticizing Davis and Omar is certainly within the bounds of free speech in a constitutional republic. The danger comes in the quick, negative labeling of people and politicians. When Republicans are irrationally labeled as “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobic,” or “jingoistic,” they rightly balk and demand retractions. So, is the quick labeling of Davis and Omar as “anti-Semitic” a tit-for-tat for Republicans wanting to turn the linguistic tables? If it is, it’s a petty lesson that will not be learned, no matter how many times it is taught. Instead, mouthpieces from both parties should realize how unconstructive it is to promote labels over arguments and verbal stings over vast solutions.
The rescinding of Davis’s award was a sloppy public relations faux pas by local politicians who believed they were doing the politically correct thing for the sake of political correctness, to maintain their wholly unoffensive PC cred. Rather, what they did was discover that the game isn’t real, and the maneuvers are contrived. Truth is truth and courage is courage, no matter what words are used in their explanations.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]. He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication carried by the AFP Online Store.