Please contact Professor Zinn and let him know the truth about the group that he is supporting.
CAS Political Science
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author of some 20 books, is currently Professor Emeritus in the Political Science Department at Boston University and more importantly an intellectual icon of the far-left. He has embraced MOVE, first by narrating a propaganda film for the group and now by lending his name and reputation to the efforts to obtain parole for the "MOVE 9". As I hope to demonstrate here, he is woefully misinformed about the subject and I do hope that someone close to him is able to reach him with the information that he is supporting a child-raping cult, that is explicitly authoritarian and violent.
The "documentary" Zinn narrated, such that it is one, borrows heavily from an earlier pro-MOVE film, and is more so a display of how ideology fused with ignorance can come together and to the uninitiated at least, seem like an assessment of what MOVE is. MOVE could not have asked for a better advertisement for the only real commodity they have, their identity as an "Organization" of perpetual persecution as a result of their dedication to the "protection of life". It is a false depiction offered up by two young film makers who had become bleary eyed and abandoned any pretense of impartiality in their desire to please their new friends in MOVE.
I was "in" MOVE during the production of the film and became aware of how it was being done and the fact that the goal of the film, whatever it started to out to be, ended up as a presentation of MOVE’s version of the truth as opposed to the much more complex and nuanced truth that such a subject deserves.
Howard Zinn brought the film an air of instant credibility because of his participation in it. Zinn, along with Noam Chomsky provide a significant portion of the intellectual foundation of the far-left and his seminal book, "A People’s History Of The United States" is acclaimed the world over.
Whether one agrees or not with his politics, there should be no doubt that Zinn has a powerful intellect and a passion for the underdog and especially for those whose stories history has left behind. That said, the fact that he is a partisan whose personal convictions have apparently left him unable or unwilling to turn his critical mind towards anything other than the "power structure". This is by definition anti-intellectualism and is the flaw that allows Zinn to be duped into believing the absurd.
So now, after having narrated the horrifically flawed MOVE documentary, Zinn again is lending his name in support of the cult thru his signing of a "Free The MOVE 9" petition and with a letter he sent to the parole board.
I will preface my comments about this by writing that I have no real issue with the concept of parole. People can change. I am an example of that and I know many others who have done likewise and I am not comfortable with the idea of shackling someone forever for what may have been their worst moment, especially when they were under the influence of a cult leader who had a penchant for scrambling people’s sense of morality.
If these MOVE members in question had taken the time in jail to act in repentance, change their lives, disavow their violent acts, and work to keep others from making their mistakes, I would not be so against the idea of their being paroled. They certainly would have much to answer for even if they had did all of the above. However, none of these things have occurred.
MOVE members have never taken responsibility for their actions, never apologized, have induced people to join their group, and have taken the audacious position that the men who were their victims were shot down by their own fellow officers. The evidence presented against them was clear and the proof of this was found in the fact that MOVE responded to the evidence by attempting to turn the courtroom proceedings into a Manson-esque affair, which only delayed the convictions which were inevitable.
I seriously doubt that Howard Zinn, in preparation for his letter of support for MOVE members took into consideration the evidence against them or even what they were ultimately convicted of. He notes that a "man was killed", which makes me wonder if he even knows that man’s name. But fails to mention that several other men were shot and some of those who were wounded were nearly killed, escaping death only through the prompt medical treatment they received and the fortune to not have been struck anywhere in which they could have been killed instantly. Zinn apparently doesn’t realize these victims of MOVE even existed and I can only believe that the fact that he cannot even acknowledge the depth of MOVE’s crimes in his letter pleading for their release will not help MOVE’s cause.
While Zinn cannot even bother to refer to the man who MOVE murdered, James Ramp, but he certainly does not fail in his letter to mention the events of May 13th, 1985 and does so in the context of furthering MOVE’s narrative of perpetual victimization. From my perspective, the mention of May 13th really helps to make the point that MOVE members, at the very least, have a few issues insofar as their dealings with the rest of the world go. Certainly you cannot blame imprisoned MOVE members for the crimes of the MOVE members outside jail, that is unless you could show some kind of causality, which I don’t think is possible. It is rather clear that it was John Africa who was calling the shots, not the "MOVE 9", although one could argue that they had given MOVE’s leader their children when they had gone on their little mission for their fearless leader.
Zinn does get one thing correct in his letter when he claims that the events of August 8th 1978 shouldn’t have happened. Indeed they shouldn’t have. However, John Africa’s devotees had done all within their power to insure that the confrontation occur and they did this under the instruction of Africa himself and thru his proxies. They wanted it to happen. It did happen and now they are crying foul when faced with the consequences of their actions. It really is a pathetic display of deluded arrogance and shows us the face of evil.
Another example of Zinn’s ignorance with regards to the MOVE issue is his statement that he "understand(s) they have been model prisoners". This is a really classless way of saying that is what he has been told and is essentially a rhetorical trick that gives him a way to shirk responsibility for disseminating inaccurate information. And for the record, MOVE members have been anything but model prisoners.
During their trial, MOVE members instigated numerous incidents, many of which were violent, which led them to be barred from the courtroom for large portions of their own trial. Since they have been in prison, they have instigated full on prison riots, of which they are rather proud of. I can certainly recall my numerous visits with MOVE members in jail in which the topic of conversations were MOVE’s fights with prison guards and purposeful disobedience with regards to prison policy. MOVE members have routinely been placed in administrative segregation as they seem to be of the opinion that their role as convicted murderers has allowed them the right to go by their own set of rules and that they are allowed manipulate their environment as they see fit. From my view, this hardly makes them eligible for early release. The people of Philadelphia are in no need of an influx of spoiled brat cultists, who murdered a Police Officer, and who will only aid and abet MOVE’s current run of criminality.
If Howard Zinn and others want to take the position that MOVE members have served enough time, he ought to know that the time they are serving is just not for the murder of Officer Ramp, but also for the attempted murder of other Officers and Firefighters. He needs to realize that MOVE members have been anything but "model" prisoners, and although both May 13th 1985 and August 8th 1978 were unnecessary tragedies, they were tragedies instigated by MOVE, at the expense of those around them, their own children and the children of other MOVE members, the community, and law enforcement tasked with dealing with their cult-inspired violence.
It is a sad testament to Zinn’s credibility and integrity that he is apparently taking positions without knowing the truth, and if he does no the truth and is taking up for MOVE anyways, than he is worse off than I thought.
Below is Zinn’s letter to the parole board.
Dear Ms. McVey:
I have studied the case of the eight prisoners of the MOVE organization and believe very strongly that they deserve to be released from prison. This is a situation which cries out for compassion. A man was killed in 1978 and, as I understand it, the sentencing judge said he had no idea who fired the fatal bullet. In a bombing attack against their organization by the Philadelphia police eleven of their friends and relatives, six adults and five children, died from the resulting fire. A jury found in 1996 that excessive force was used by the city of Philadelphia in that incident. These eight people have been in prison for thirty years, paying an exorbitant price for a series of events that should never have taken place. As I understand, they have been model prisoners. They are not violent people. There is every reason to believe they will be productive members of the community if released. I ask you to approve their petition for parole.
Professor Emeritus, Boston University