Occupy protesters, anarchists, and other left-wing revolutionaries have been ramping up direct-action protest demonstrations all week in opposition to the RNC convention being held in Tampa, Florida.
While organizers claimed the Monday protests would draw thousands, only 250 showed up for a park rally followed by a march on the convention center. The numbers are certainly weaker than anticipated, and the weather is partially to blame. If the protests are anything like the anti-NATO protests in Chicago, however, we can still expect these numbers to grow as large as one to two thousand, as buses delayed by hurricane Isaac will likely roll into town to drop off the radicals of the Occupy movement.
Yesterday’s protests exhibited familiar talking points: “stop the wars, free education, LGBT rights, end deportations," etc. However, the overarching message echoed the anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, and anti-capitalist vision shared by President Obama, as Dinesh D’Souza argues in his book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, and in his new film, “2016: Obama’s America” that’s currently exceeding box office expectations.
Omali Yeshitela, founder of the African Nationalist “Uhuru Movement” (Uhuru is Swahili for freedom) gave a rousing speech directed at the RNC, bashing America’s capitalistic nature and economic principles.
Yeshitela told the audience:
There can be no good in a system, and we’re talking about capitalism, there can be no good a capitalist system that was born of slavery, it was the slave trade that created the first commodity of capitalism. There can be no good in a social system that requires colonialism, it is a parasitic social system…Comrades, I wanna thank you, I just wanna say this, that capitalism, imperialism is like a tape worm. A tapeworm doesn’t do anything at all, but it continues to get bigger and bigger and bigger off of your work… In order to get rid of the tapeworm, you have to use some revolutionary medicine… We have to flush imperialism off the face of the earth… Imperialism must go, capitalism must go, colonialism must go, Africa must be free… The Mexican people must have their lands back, the so called Indian people living in concentration camps that are euphemistically referred to as reservations must be free!
Yeshitela’s associate, Penny Hess, a '60s radical and chairman of Yeshitela’s African Peoples Solidarity Committee also championed an anti-American message. Hess told the crowd:
We recognize that imperialism was built on the genocide against indigenous people and the theft of their land… And we recognize there is a war going on inside this country, against the African community, against the Mexican community. Just as the U.S. is waging war against the people around the Middle East, in Afghanistan and other places around the world, it’s waging a war against African and Mexican people right here. We say it’s not enough to call for peace, we have to say victory to the people of Afghanistan, victory to the people of Iraq, victory to the people of Syria and Iran... and all those in resistance around the world.
President Obama once told Occupiers who “mic checked” his speech, “you are the reason I ran.” Listening to Yeshitela and Hess, who delivered Occupy and the institutional left’s message loud and clear yesterday, the same anti-colonial, anti-imperial, anti-capitalist views the president shares with his father, it is easy to understand why.