Global Politics & Cultures (formerly Independent Thought & Freedom)
Episode 19

Keeping High Spirits in Low Places: Singing Fidelio in Prison w/ Mike Billington

Kirk Meighoo published on

LISTEN to the FULL episode 10 w/ former political prisoner, author, Asia EIR editor, Mike Billington BELOW! 

What would you do in prison for 77 years? What if your sentence was trumped up for political reasons, you could demonstrate that it was unjust, but the system threw everything it had at you, flying in the face of justice, due process, and fair play?

Mike Billington, a leading figure in the LaRouche Movement, faced that problem in 1989 when Robert Mueller -- the same Robert Mueller investigating Donald Trump -- began his politically motivated prosecution.

He could have sunk into depression, fear and the hopelessness of life in prison, mixed in with mass murderers, child molesters, and the worst offenders imaginable. He could have become bitter with rage and revenge. But he did neither.

Instead, he did remarkable things. He trained himself to sleep during the day, so that he could study at night, undisturbed by the constant noise of prison life. He taught himself to read and write Chinese, and became knowledgeable about the history of Chinese philosophy. 

He wrote a book about prison life: Reflections of an American Political Prisoner: the Repression and Promise of the LaRouche Movement.

And perhaps most amazingly, he recalls his "greatest experience" in prison as being the work he did, with co-defendant Paul Gallagher, in founding a prisoners' chorus, where prisoners sang classical choral music, including the "prisoners' chorus" from the opera Fidelio by Beethoven.

This was in keeping with the examples of the best political prisoners in history: Gandhi, Nehru, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., St. Paul, Henry David Thoreau, and others.

I interviewed him for my podcast, "Independent Thought & Freedom", and in this moving excerpt he tells this particular prison story.

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