May 13th Remembered...Minus The Revisions
(MOVE's Carnage 1985)
I must of course, show my lack of ability with regard to gift giving and attempt to find something reasonably adequate to give my mother in honor of the day named for her and all mothers. It is an act that I always find frustrating given the way that my mother has stood by me throughout the years. How you reward that kind of un-conditional love in the form of a material offering is completely impossible.
It is also that time of year when the MOVE victimization racket kicks into high gear and we are exhorted to "Remember May 13th", mostly by those whose understanding of the events of that date are incomplete at best, and are cynical repetitions of known lies at worst.
With that said, I do think it appropriate to "Remember May 13th", but not in the way that the acolytes of MOVE would have people to.
What is worthy of remembrance is not Ramona Africa’s bitter complaints about police malfeasance given her role in the disaster that befell the people of Osage Avenue in May of 1985. For, if she possessed any semblance of moral scruples or intellectual honesty, she would have long since admitted the fact that she and her fellow MOVE members used children first as human shields, and later as human sacrifices in their stupid and suicidal "confrontation" with the "system".
It was a fight that MOVE did all that it could to instigate. The blood of the children who died that day are on the hands of John Africa and those who followed his suicidal impulses. Today, there are those who would bring new meaning to the term cognitive dissonance by attempting to cast the MOVE members on Osage Avenue as innocent victims of some racist conspiracy to kill them.
With that said, I do not intend to make light of, or deflect responsibility for, the actions of the City of Philadelphia in their handling of the 1985 crisis that MOVE created. They botched it in every possible way imaginable. From the Mayor on down there was a complete lack of judgement, creativity, and lastly accountability on the part of the city government. Without question, the children in that house were, and should have been treated as the hostages that they clearly were. Instead they were regarded as "enemy combatants", to use today’s nomenclature. For that fact alone I hold to the view that Ramona Africa was not the only person who should have inhabited a prison cell for their role in the events of that day.
Authoritarian cults can be expected to act violently, without regard for life, theirs or others, and display a complete lack of responsibility to their vision, and for their actions. Our elected officials on the other hand, should be more than a few steps above that, but on that day they were not, and I go further to argue that with regards to MOVE that the city has still not risen to the occasion.
It is a matter of fact that almost nobody who looks at the MOVE crisis finds the city’s actions to be above reproach, but there has evolved a kind of cottage industry of revisionist minded activists who have either bought into or have contributed to the myth of MOVE heroism on that day. This is not particularly surprising given MOVE members post ‘85 existence has largely revolved around the advancement of the marketing of martyrdom for monetary and egotistical gain. Ramona Africa and other MOVE members have circled the globe running this victimization scam on anyone who will listen (and more importantly, pay to hear it.)
Having sat through Ramona’s propaganda/victim routine on more occasions than I would care to admit, and I have always gotten the sense that the people that hear it tend to give her the benefit of the doubt. Who, after all, would by so callous and morally bereft to exploit the death of children for personal gain? Apparently she would, because that is what she does, and what she will likely continue to do so until the power of truth forces her from her pulpit of deceit for good.
Now, it is disturbingly ironic that many of those who are writing in defense of MOVE’s actions in 1985 are white. Ironic, because in a real sense the celebration of MOVE is the celebration of the destruction of the lives of dozens of African-Americans whose homes and dreams were demolished thanks to the destruction that MOVE . Disturbing, because the charred and burned to dead children were also African-American, their lives squandered on the foul altar of John Africa’s madness. Black human sacrifices that are apparently acceptable to MOVE’s white apologists.
Would the reaction be the same if say, MOVE was a predominantly white group, who enforced a policy of child-rape, illiteracy, preached violence, and exploited race in it’s rhetoric, and than forced a deadly confrontation with police? We all know the answer to that question.
So I too urge people to remember the events of May 13th 1985. I advocate people to take the time to read the terror that MOVE members wrought upon their working-class, African-American, neighbors. Try and understand the terror of having your neighborhood quite literally taken hostage, the stench, the infestation of bugs, rats, etc...Having your children subjected to bullhorn amplified, profanity laden harangues, that would go on for hours at a time.
Think of the wasted lives of the dead children of MOVE members (I will not again refer to these kids as MOVE members as they could not be members of MOVE any more than they could be Republicans or Democrats). What good did these deaths serve? What purpose? Was anything solved as a result of this bloodletting?
The ostensible goal of John Africa’s assault on the "system" was to gain the freedom of the "MOVE 9". Thankfully, they are still comfortable guests of the Pennsylvania DOC, where if there is any justice they will reside until their deaths. So one can argue that the lives of the children on Osage Avenue were wasted on a hopeless, pointless, and indefensible cause.
This fact speaks volumes to the nihilism of MOVE itself, the reality being that it’s very existence currently revolves around a kind of self-preservation and aggrandizement that is purposeless and impotent with regards to the problems that currently face our world.
For if MOVE ever had anything to offer, we would have gotten something from it by know. But while they have preached peace, they have wrought violence, while they claim reverence for life, their history is written in the blood of innocents, they claim a monopoly on truth, yet upon close examination one un-covers a group that is built upon one lie after another. The myth of MOVE’s innocence on Osage Avenue just being one of many.