9/22 Black Radicalism Criminalized; Decoding War Hawk Language w/ Orisanmi Burton, David Vine

September 21, 2023

It’s an EmMajority Report Thursday! She speaks with Orisanmi Burton, assistant professor of anthropology at American University, to discuss his recent book Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt. Then, she’s joined by David Vine to discuss his project entitled “WORDS ABOUT WAR MATTER.” First, Emma runs through updates on the filling of Rupert Murdoch’s shoes, the House GOP’s ongoing self-obstruction, Merrick Garland’s testimony, Lina Khan’s FTC, the ongoing labor action of the UAW and WGA, Trump’s skyrocketing polling, another Rudy allegation, Kari Lake’s run for Senate, and Bob Menendez’s old-school corruption, before parsing through the dense black hole of reactionary bigotry and corruption that is the legacy of Rupert Murdoch. Then, Professor Orisanmi Burton dives right into his analysis of prisons as an extension and development of warfare, outlining why this distinction from other analyses of the US Justice System is both necessary and not mutually exclusive from those lenses. Expanding on this, Professor Burton walks through prisons as the domestic grounds for counter-insurgency techniques the US Empire develops abroad, backed by a global network of state actors, before he and Emma step back and walk through the parallels between the lenses of “prison as war” and “prison as slavery.” Next, Orisanmi parses through the legacy of what he dubs the Long Attica Revolt, an extension of the four-day Attica Rebellion in September 1971, exploring how the broader understanding of these riots paints a picture of organized revolution over the months before the incident, and completely counters the bloodless liberal narrative of spontaneous carceral reform. After tackling the evolution of the Attica narrative (despite mass bloodshed at the hands of the state), Professor Burton wraps up by walking through the consistent role of counter-insurgency tactics employed by US Intelligence from COINTELPRO through the ongoing indictment of Cop City protestors, and how prison is maintained as a site of demobilization and discipline. Professor David Vine then joins as he assesses the evolution of the rhetoric of warfare two decades on from the war on terror, exploring how the terms and emphasis – from terror to “special operations” – serve to obscure the immense violence at hand. Professor Vine and Emma then look to the international spread of this rhetoric, from Russia to Israel, as leaders attempt to shirk responsibility for their violence, before they tackle how this rhetoric also serves to dehumanize and monolithize the targets of violence. David leaves us with a message on the importance of direct transparency from the state, particularly when it comes to warfare.

And in the Fun Half: Emma is joined by Brandon Sutton and Matt Binder as they tackle the absurdity of gender reveals, watch Merrick Garland get reamed for supposedly being anti-TradCath, and Alia calls in to expand on today’s conversation about warfare rhetoric. David Brooks is shocked that alcohol costs money, Matt Walsh takes on trans men in his most recent bigoted tirade, and Michael from Nashville asks for help on a national rail system, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Orisanmi’s book here: https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520396319/tip-of-the-spear

Check out “WORDS ABOUT WAR MATTER” here: https://www.wordsaboutwar.org/uploads/5/7/1/7/57170837/words_about_war_matter_language_guide_2023.pdf

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