I first ran into the leadership and ideas of Bob Avakian (BA) more than 15 years ago straight out of middle school. I was a rebellious and inquisitive young person who was forced awake by the USA’s wars of terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with the madness that I saw around me growing up in East Oakland. The images of American troops in Abu Ghraib prison smiling as they tortured and dehumanized their victims haunt me to this day and they pushed me to dig for deeper solutions than just “me and my people.” With all this anger at the conditions of masses of people worldwide and with a thirst for radical change, BA was like an oasis in the desert of false ideas.

In 2007, 14-year-old me wrote to revcom.us and described what BA meant to me: “I knew what was wrong at that time. I knew what was needed. But then I didn’t know exactly how to get it. Avakian introduced me to the thought of a Revolutionary Communist revolution in the ‘belly of the beast.’ He gave me a platform—structure and theory—behind what I knew the world needed. He formulated a response from me to the system. He opened my eyes to the idea of how we could accomplish change. I had never seen anything like it! I started looking into the complete ideas of the Party—Marxism-Leninism-Maoism—and really saw the solution to end the oppression. I found something that wasn’t only the liberation of a few, but the emancipation of all of humanity.”

BA’s writings and talks challenged me to think critically and reject any type of religiosity. Not only did I break with the belief in gods through works like his book Away With All Gods!, I was also led by BA to confront dogmatic ways of thinking within the communist movement and within myself. And as I grew up and matured, as my knowledge of the world expanded, BA was also hard at work at forging a whole new framework beyond MLM: the new communism. This groundbreaking new method made a scientific inquiry and summation of the achievements and the shortcomings of the previous wave of revolutions in the 20th century. He grounded the communist movement, and the RCP, on a much more solidly scientific foundation, arguing that all truths are good for oppressed people and the struggle to get free. He led the RCP in deepening the strategy to make revolution in this country with a real chance to win. He made huge breakthroughs in the approach to the future socialist society that we’re fighting to bring into being, insisting that dissent and debate be at the core of continuing the revolution even after we have power (codifying all of this in the Draft Constitution). He’s consistently done all of this with the final goal of ending all forms of oppression worldwide as the guidepost for everything. This had a profound effect on my life and the way I learned to see my role in the struggle to emancipate humanity.

So when so-called “progressive” haters (coordinating with major media outlets) throw around accusations of “cult” in order to isolate BA and invite repression against him, not only do I find it intellectually dishonest, not only does it tell me that these fools haven’t read with an open mind a damn thing written by BA, not only do I question the intent of these blowhard “woke” sleep-walkers… I also take it very personal. Excuse my language, but these assholes haven’t done shit compared to BA’s work over the last 50 years. BA has consistently done the work to break down extremely complex concepts about science, understanding the world in order to change it, to broadly popularize in society. He’s paid particular attention to bringing these ideas to the most oppressed. People denied education, caught up in superstition, harassed day in day out by the powers-that-be, and simply trying to survive. I’m a product of this initiative he’s taken. I came to understand communist theory, world history and cultures, biology, physics, and so much more through the work of BA. And I learned all of these things not for some selfish pursuit to be an armchair intellectual, but BA continually challenged me to dedicate my life to making a revolution to liberate all the peoples throughout the world. And he actively leads the RCP and the masses around it in getting organized and prepared to go all-out to make a real revolution.

BA has a broadness of mind and a huge heart. He is a leader that needs to be taken seriously, defended from attacks, and scientifically followed. These petty attacks that are part of a COINTELPRO-type campaign need to STOP.