by Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson
How often have the millions of us who’ve suffered the tortured abuse of U.S. imprisonment heard officials self-righteously sermonize that we must accept responsibility for our accused crimes? Well, so too must they.
We call on everyone, especially young people, to give all possible attention and support to the planned historic events of Oct. 22-25, 2021. During that weekend, an international tribunal will be held against the U.S. government for its crimes against humanity, human rights violations, and crime of genocide in its treatment of Black, Brown and Indigenous people.
US judging others while immunizing itself from judgment
Amerika holds the world’s largest prison population and has spearheaded many high profile international prosecutions of others for human rights violations and war crimes. Despite this appearance of criminal intolerance and imposing accountability on others for running afoul of the laws, the U.S. government has systematically shielded itself from liability for its own crimes. It has also gone so far as to destroy the lives of and murder independent Black leaders like Paul Robeson and Malcolm X, who have attempted to have it answer for its crimes before an international forum.
In a sort of twisted irony, it is this government’s massive abuse of imprisonment – the conditions of which constitute slavery – targeted especially at people of color and used to suppress the voices and resistance of those who have stood against its abuses of their people that are counted among the crimes the international tribunal seeks to hold it accountable for.
Going back to the second “Great War” (World War ll), the U.S. government set the standard for enforcing international criminal liability that it must not continue to avoid itself.
Amerika led the prosecutions of German Nazi leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity and went so far as to express its own willingness to be held liable for international crimes. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert H. Jackson stated:
“If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we are not willing to have invoked against us.”[i]
Which is exactly what Amerika has done since Jackson made this empty pronouncement. In fact, in 1946, the same year as the Nuremberg trials, the U.S. led in creating the International Court of Justice or the World Court – but declared its own officials exempt from prosecutions before the court.
The Nuremberg Code, which is still binding international law, established that citizens have the LEGAL DUTY to rise up against their own government when it violates international criminal laws.
This exemption has given Amerika license to commit crimes of every sort in the international arena with impunity, to such an extent that the New York Times, Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets have admitted that opening the door to Nuremberg-type tribunals against U.S. officials would see guilty findings against many of them at the highest levels.
As one Washington Monthly editorial frankly admitted, “War crimes tribunals would be the worst thing that could happen, [because] they would amount to legal guilt for top [U.S.] officials.”[ii]
Recognizing this danger, U.S. presidents like George W. Bush (in 2020) and Barack Obama, have since issued executive exemptions against prosecutions of Amerikan soldiers and officials before foreign and international courts.
In one instance, in 1986, the World Court defied Amerika’s claims of immunity from prosecution and attempted to hold the U.S. liable for “unlawful use of force” – international terrorism – for its terroristic war against Nicaragua and ordered it to pay large reparations.[iii]
The ruling was ignored by the U.S., and a week later Congress increased its aid by $100 million to the Contras. The Contras in turn flooded U.S. inner cities with tons of cocaine to generate more funds for the illegal war, creating the crack cocaine epidemic in poor Black and Brown communities and the massive surge in Black and Brown imprisonment.[iv]
None of this has been accounted for. But because it ruled against the U.S. for its aggression against Nicaragua, the World Court was deemed a “hostile force” in the media and its ruling thereby discredited to the public.[v]
The duty to oppose official crimes
Aside from Justice Robert Jackson’s empty rhetoric about the U.S. accepting accountability for violating international laws, the Nuremberg Code, which is still binding international law, established that citizens have the LEGAL DUTY to rise up against their own government when it violates international criminal laws.[vi]
The October 2021 International Tribunal is an important and historical judicial action against U.S. self-exemption from liability for its ongoing crimes against the people.
In this context, domestic efforts to hold U.S. officials accountable for their crimes is every Amerikan’s legal obligation. Anything short of open insurrection, which is what the Nuremburg Code calls for, is a mild response indeed, such as Paul Robeson’s and Malcolm X’s efforts to bring challenges against the U.S. government for genocide against Blacks before the United Nations. Their reward, however, was brutal retribution.
Continuing the work of Paul Robeson and Malcolm X
In response to his efforts, Paul Robeson was hounded and had his career as a leading Black entertainer of the 1950s destroyed by the federal government. Malcolm X was also hounded, and just a week before he was set to introduce his petition before a special Afrikan-Asian conference in Algeria, he was murdered by designs of the U.S. government.
While U.S. officials recognize that efforts to prosecute it before an international forum would produce no enforceable action against the U.S., what they fear(ed) is exposure. Amerika has always maneuvered to project a false image to the world as a bastion of democracy where everyone is treated fairly, justly and equally.
A lie that is used to prop itself up as a moral standard-bearer that other peoples should look up to and bow down to as world leader. The continuing notion of Amerikan/white supremacy.
But exposures of recent years – through cell phone technology and social media – of this false image and the systemic violent government abuse and repression suffered by people of color in Amerika have begun to open the world’s eyes, compelling U.S. officials to renew efforts to co-opt resistance, remake its image and whitewash these conditions in order to re-establish its legitimacy as world hegemon. We must expose this lie for what it is.
The October 2021 International Tribunal is an important and historical move in this direction – both as a judicial action against U.S. self-exemption from liability for its ongoing crimes against the people and as an educational tool exposing the hypocrisy of U.S. democracy to the world.
The Revolutionary Intercommunal BPP endorses this Tribunal. For more information on how to participate in and get involved with this project, go to spiritofmandela.org.
Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!
Send our brother some love and light: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, A787991, SOCF, P.O. Box 45699, Lucasville OH 45699.
[i] Quoted in Bertrand Russell, “War Crimes in Vietnam” (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967), p. 125.
[ii] See Townsend Hoopes, “The Nuremberg Suggestion,” Washington Monthly, Jan. 1970.
[iii] For the World Court’s decision, see International Court of Justice, Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders: 1986, “Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua” (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Judgment of June 27, 1986.
[iv] See Gary Webb, “Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion” (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2014).
[v] “America’s Guilt – or Default,” New York Times, July 1, 1986, p. A22.
[vi] For an example of Amerikan acknowledgment and glorifying this obligation for OTHER people, an account of German officers who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler is written in Giles MacDonogh, “A Good German: A Biography of Adam Von Trott Zu Solz” (Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1992).