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Black Agenda Report

Radicalized = Weaponized = Kill at Will

“The line between political beliefs and illegal action is eradicated, so that the ‘radicalized’ person or group is inherently deserving of liquidation.”

Like all advanced police states, the U.S. national security regime has begun speaking its own, degenerate language. It is a mode of speech that simultaneously defines the “enemy” and justifies his or her destruction. The soulless, bureaucratic roots of National Security Speech belie the ruthless intent, which is to make the utter destruction of the targeted group or individual appear to be the natural order of things.

“Self-radicalization” is one of the terms coined by national security speakers. To people like President Obama, a guy who adds targets to his Kill List every Tuesday, “self-radicalization” represents a grave threat to the American state. “One of the dangers that we now face,” said Obama, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, “are self-radicalized individuals who are already in the United States,” because it is difficult to prevent them from carrying out “plots.”

In this context, it is clear that to “radicalize” means very much the same as to “weaponize”; the radicalized person has been transformed into a weapon. A radical is no longer simply an individual “who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform,” but someone who by their very thought processes represents a clear and present danger to the United States. The line between political beliefs and illegal action is eradicated, so that the “radicalized” person or group is inherently deserving of liquidation. The operative word is “radical.”


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Obama is not talking about “Manchurian Candidates” who have been programmed against their will and without their knowledge to carry out acts dictated by others. He’s talking about people who quite consciously object to U.S. policies, who might do something about it at some time in the future, or influence others’ opinions about the United States. Obama’s problem with the people he calls “self-radicalized” is that they cannot be easily entrapped or shown to be guilty by association with others who think as they do – and if they do act, their actions do not necessarily implicate others. For the fascist-minded, this must be quite frustrating.

“Assata remains radical.”

Assata Shakur was radicalized at least 45 years ago. An all-white jury convicted her of killing a New Jersey policeman. She escaped from prison, and has been under the protection of the Cuban government for the last 29 years, a political exile. The cop has been dead since 1973, Shakur’s political party has long been defunct, and she is a grandmother far from home. But the FBI felt compelled to double the one million dollar reward for Shakur, and to elevate her to number one domestic terrorist. Why? Because Shakur continues to “maintain and promote her…ideology" and "provides anti-U.S. government speeches espousing the Black Liberation Army message.” That is, she remains radical, and therefore, a weapon, even at the age of 65, isolated from her 40 million fellow African Americans, few of whom know her name. But the FBI pretends to fear that her “ideology” might go viral at any time.

They don’t believe that, of course. The political police are simply determined to make radicalism – of the “self” or group inspired variety – synonymous with criminality, much in the way that “Black” is now inextricably linked with crime in the public mind. According to that formula, a Black woman radical makes the perfect poster for a political witch hunt.

Glen Ford

Back Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

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