Rats Are Still Comrades

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and From Mainline to Sideline. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Reason and many other publications.


davis“The California prisoners’ hunger strike is a courageous call for the California prison system to come out of the shadows and join a world in which the rights and dignity of every person is respected.”

That’s the closer of an oped piece by Angela Davis, “professor emeritus of history of consciousness and feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.” There’s a lot more to professor Davis, and her latest cause could also stand some scrutiny.

Peter Coyote, Susan Sarandon and other Hollywood celebrities have signed a letter of support for prisoners engaged in a hunger strike over conditions in the security housing unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. Professor Davis claims such solitary confinement constitutes “torture.”  But according to the liberal editorial board of the Sacramento Bee, which has been critical of Pelican Bay in the past, the stars “ought to save their outrage.”

The inmates fomenting the hunger strike, who claim their human rights are being violated, “include killers and leaders of the most brutal gangs in the prison system. They are from the Aryan Brotherhood, Black Guerrilla Family, Mexican Mafia and Nuestra Familia.” Prison officials say the hunger strike “has nothing to do with conditions and everything to do with gang leaders wanting to get into the general population so they can more readily conduct their gang business.”  The Bee agrees, and adds some detail.

The security housing units are stark, “but it’s not as if they are rat-infested, medieval holes. Many inmates have cellmates and can talk through the locked doors to their neighbors. Pelican Bay inmates have televisions, with 23 channels, including the four broadcast networks, PBS, BET and ESPN, plus educational and self-help channels and Bible channels in English and Spanish.” Inmates have to “work”  to get in such units. That is, they commit acts of violence. “For the safety of other inmates,” the Bee said, “that’s where some of them should remain.”

These are “gang leaders who masquerade as human rights advocates”  and the celebrities “diminish their credibility” by embracing their cause. As readers of this profile will understand, it’s a bit different for Angela Davis, who does have some knowledge of violent prisoners such as Black Panther George Jackson, responsible for killing a guard at Soledad Prison.

As this article described it, Davis brought the “arsenal of weapons” to spring Jackson. On August 7, 1970, “George Jackson’s 17-year-old brother, Jonathan, charged into a Marin County courtroom and took several people hostage, including Judge Harold Haley, the prosecuting assistant DA, and two jurors. The assailants taped a sawed-off shotgun (owned by Davis) to Haley’s chin. In the ensuing escape attempt, a shootout took place during which Haley’s head was blown off, and Jonathan Jackson was killed.”

Davis fled but was arrested in New York. At her 1972 trial more than 20 witnesses implicated her in the plot to free Jackson, but she was acquitted. That made her a national figure and helped launch her political career.

In 1979, she won the International Lenin Peace Prize, awarded by East Germany, a totalitarian state that shot people for the crime of attempting to leave the country, a practice Davis never criticized. The Lenin Peace Prize helped her rise in the Communist Party USA, a creation of the Soviet Union, whose vast Gulag prison system never bothered Angela Davis, a faithful soldier in totalitarianism’s alibi armory.

In 1980 and 1984 Davis was CPUSA vice-presidential candidate, on the bottom of the ticket under white Stalinist Gus Hall. She and Hall lost, but that defeat, her advocacy for totalitarian dictatorships, and her involvement in Soledad case, could not prevent Davis from becoming professor of history of consciousness and feminist studies at UC Santa Cruz. As such, Angela Davis is a highly paid and pensioned member of California’s ruling class. She is also, like the Pelican Bay hunger strikers, masquerading as human rights activist. But on another level, her activism makes perfect sense.

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the question arises about the place in the revolution of wild, non-domesticated creatures. The revolutionary leaders decide that, yes, rats are comrades. Likewise, in the view from the Hollywood and academic Left, violent criminals like the Pelican Bay gang bosses are simply more victims of capitalist injustice. That’s why Hollywood stars and Angela Davis support them.

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  • joshuasweet

    “a leader of the Communist Party USA” Gee I wonder what her agenda will be? will it be the same as Obama’s?

  • Well Done

    Odd, that the hard left are so in favor of very strict gun control, yet they don’t mind if a gun they own blows someone’s head off. More to the point, the system doesn’t mind. Think a “right wing militia”(TM) type person would have been let off like this bee itch was?

  • muchiboy

    ” Davis brought the “arsenal of weapons” to spring Jackson.”

    Brought and/or bought? The distinction is important.

    • objectivefactsmatter
      • muchiboy

        Thanks.I was unsure on this point.I did hear a recent interview with her discussing the murderous incident at the courthouse,her subsequent hiding and capture.She seemed to be saying the guns were taken without her consent and or knowledge.Found that hard to believe,but she was found not guilty by an all white jury.Sometimes you just have to put your hands up and accept the absurdity and insanity,of it all,or maybe just the unfairness or complexities of the justice system in a free society.Still,it happens on both sides.Justice is blind but not deaf and dumb.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          “Still,it happens on both sides.Justice is blind but not deaf and dumb.”

          We’re supposed to strive for “equal under the law” and process cases blind to distinctions that are not relevant under the law, like skin color.

          I don’t want to jump to conclusions about the case. But just as with Zimmerman (though I think we know more about his experience than we do about Angela Davis’s), there is a difference between a guilty verdict and having total confidence in someone’s innocence She joined and participated in radical movements. She purchased the shotgun 2 days before it was used. As a member of a radical revolutionary movement, I can’t see her suddenly taking up duck hunting 2 days before a premeditated slaughter / jailhouse break project. That’s extremely implausible.

          I don’t have access to the evidence though so, that’s just my comment for what it’s worth.

          • muchiboy

            I hardly ever agree with anyone on this form,but I think I’ll make an exception now.However,I have to say,I am Canadian,but was influenced by these events in America,to the point of being “radicalized,for lack of a better term.Really,a life time ago.Another time and place,one that America had to pass through,hopefully,for the better

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “America,to the point of being “radicalized”,for lack of a better term.Really,a life time ago.Another time and place,one that America had to pass through,hopefully,for the better.”

            Martin Luther King and many other proved that there is no justification for radicalism in the USA. Peaceful movements work when you articulate your case to the public and in some cases you use the courts. The courts are imperfect, but there is no radical movement that can improve the leverage anyone with a legitimate movement has with our lawful methods of change advocacy.

            I’m afraid that not enough people would agree with me on that. Which is a terrible shame because those people are fighting battles with no winners.

          • muchiboy

            Perhaps.How much public opinion influences the courts,legislation,etc.and vise versa,is complex.How radicals influence public opinion is another layer added to the complexity
            .

  • Loupdegarre

    Angela was and is a disciple of Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School. If you want to read an expose of how the communist have become so ingrained in our society read “School of Darknes” by Bella Dodd. It’s available for free on line just Google it.

  • Carl Toersbijns

    I offered to help with this matter as I am familiar with the concept and the steps it takes to reform the SHU conditions. The CDCR has no leverage in this matter. It is losing control via public opinion and pressure. This matter will be resolved inside the courtrooms unless the CDCR takes a proactive approach and takes control of the mediation process and begins real change not the bogus change of last year. The CDCR is losing their grip on their punishment approach in the SHU.. The fear of retaliation and other punishment for participating is diminishing and soon the whole issue will be out of control. Resolve now is the key to this matter; prolonging it will cause more damage to the already corrupt prison management system and federal oversight and control is imminent…… again

    • Gaeleus Canis

      I love you Carl, but how many people can hear you? .. I am so mad at most the people that need to hear what you and I both know.

      If this needs to happen in a courtroom, what I want to know is how does Beard live with so much blood on his hands after it’s too late?
      Will he get to keep his career after condemning those men to death by lack of humanity and a need to be right in spite?
      if all this criminal shotcalling activity they have said is currently happening in the SHU, they have admitted that SHU does not work for what it was intended.. or more like how they misuse it and the control they are supposed to be getting by it… utter failure. Time to give up the broken things for something akin to purposefulness and hauminatarianism

  • JamesJ

    Well, they’re rats!

  • http://shugartpoliticalaction.shugartmedia.com/uncommonsense/ Chris Shugart

    Only in Santa Cruz could you be a professor of “the history of consciousness.” Only in Santa Cruz could you turn the ordinary mental state of being awake into an academic pursuit.

    • bluffcreek1967

      Great point!

  • nimbii

    I may be wrong here but I seem to recall that in the late 60′s that Anglea Davis was being considered for the Supreme Court!
    Did not realize Peter Coyote needed work in Hollywood and decided to help his image.
    Sarandon is just a piece of liberal work.

  • Sue Sponte

    “‘ . . .Pelican Bay inmates have televisions, with 23 channels, including the
    four broadcast networks, PBS, BET and ESPN, plus educational and
    self-help channels and Bible channels in English and Spanish. . .’”

    I don’t think so at all. The TV is in mounted on wall in a day room they have limited access to, maybe for an hour ot two a day, or maybe can see from their cells depending on its location. MSNBC’s “Extended Stay” series about prison life gives a more realistic and less misleading view of all this.

    • graywoldja

      Oooh. Sounds like prison isn’t much fun.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      Please don’t make me cry.

  • garyfouse

    Pelican Bay is the worst of the worst because it has the worst of the worst prisoners. Being a guard there is taking your life into your hands. They should be getting the sympathy not the scum they are guarding.

    What an embarrassment to the UC system that this radical is teaching our kids (History of Consciousness-whatever that is.).

    Gary Fouse
    DEA-retired
    Adj teacher
    UC Irvine ext (and embarrassed)