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Revolution #65, October 15, 2006
On October 5, thousands of people in over 200 cities came out to manifest their opposition to the Bush regime and the whole direction that it represents. The demonstrators and those who supported them took a strong stand at a dangerous time—a time when this regime has gone on a new offensive, passing the draconian new law legalizing torture and revoking fundamental legal rights as well as defending their wars in the Middle East, and laying a basis for still worse. The pictures on this page give a sense of the breadth and determination of those who took up this call.
But this must be multiplied. Quickly. Hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, need to take up active opposition to this regime. As the website of World Can’t Wait states, “There is time, but there is very little time.” Things are moving very fast. In this light, we call on our readers to more than ever take up the call of World Can’t Wait, struggle with others to come forward, and to continue to go forward in this next crucial period to help realize its aims. [See the important message from World Can’t Wait.]
We will have further coverage in our next issue. In the meantime, we call on our readers to correspond with us, to write us with your experiences and thoughts off of October 5.
Revolution #65, October 15, 2006
This message was delivered at Oct. 5 rallies across the country.
A day we’ve all been waiting for is happening. We are standing up together, all over the country, determined to carry forward a great movement to drive out the Bush Regime. This movement is made up of many people of many different viewpoints and backgrounds—all uniting to accomplish something that must be done. This audacious and historic venture is born of urgent necessity. “The Bush Regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.”
In just the past year we have seen:
The act passed last week stripped the fundamental right of habeas corpus for 14,000 detainees in secret prisons around the world and to anyone anywhere that the president accuses of being an enemy combatant—all without any real opposition in the halls of power.
This is how fascism happens here, with an orderly transfer of power to the executive branch, to a president and administration claiming war time powers—in a war promised to last generations; to a president who lied about Iraq and is now laying plans for a catastrophic war with Iran; to a president who believes he is on a mission from God.
This is indeed a defining moment. It is not too late to stop this fascist trajectory. But if it goes unopposed by the people of this country, it could be too late. The darkness of this regime descending on the country and the world will succeed in silencing dissent, critical thought, science, the ideals of equality and even the way people think of basic human decency.
Millions of people deeply disturbed by this have been looking for a vehicle to express their outrage. Today in more than 200 cities—90 of them in 26 states that went for Bush in 2004—people are finding their courage in this vehicle. We are punching a hole in the political atmosphere of silence and fear that has people going along with a fascist program. And we are opening the way for the kind of resistance we need to stop and reverse the direction this government is taking this society and the world.
Acting in this way, we join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped. We have to look at ourselves through their eyes – how is the rest of the world seeing us. We have to reckon with how the people of the Middle East, whose countries have been turned to rubble, are seeing us. To be silent when your country is waging endless war, legalizing torture, and taking step after step towards consolidating a police state to “make us safe” is just not conscionable. But when we are out here as we are today, we are demonstrating to the world that there is a difference between the people and the government of George Bush.
Having taken this historic step, we must promise to take this forward to make resistance to all this a reality, now. We must go forward—transforming the anguish, outrage and frustration millions of us feel into truly effective, positive and massive political mobilization. We must stay on the offensive with our opposition to the WHOLE direction of things, and to this regime—including through the immediate period before and after the mid-term elections.
We must not stop, we must go forward. No matter who is elected, we ourselves, the people, by our OWN active initiative, have to now set entirely different political terms than the ones presently accepted as “realistic.”
We must not stop.
It is time to change the terms of discourse. It is not acceptable, at a time when the Supreme Court is getting ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, for the opposition to be saying that the right of a woman to control her own body is expendable.
It is not right for the terms of debate on war in Iraq to be “No exit till victory v. sending more troops.” It’s totally unacceptable that in a civilized country there would even be a debate about torture—or that the opposition is only how to regulate and legalize it.
We must not stop. There is time but there is very little time. We have to change the political landscape so everyone has to respond to what hundreds of thousands of people are now actively on a mission to accomplish: to drive out this criminal regime and to repudiate, to reject, to put beyond the pale the whole immoral and unjust program of this regime.
We have taken a gigantic step today—now we have important plans to make, including over the next days and weeks. So, as you end this day, know that this is not one of those demonstrations you march and go back home to the same old same old. What do you do when there is warning of a tsunami coming your way? You make plans for emergency mobilization. And we are going to do just that.
In one week, we are calling for MASS MEETINGS—where thousands across the country must come to be part of summing up what we have accomplished and be part of planning how to go forward, rapidly expanding our capacity. We’ll discuss “how do you drive an illegitimate regime from power?” We have very important plans for what the next ambitious and necessary steps this movement should make.
In the meantime we must not lose an ounce of momentum—immediately getting other people to join us. To keep the profile and message of World Can’t Wait pulsing through the political atmosphere over the next 6 weeks. We are calling on people to:
1) Be out in the streets—be out in the public square. Wear orange. Wear orange armbands. Decorate yourself and the city with orange Emergency crime tape to symbolize those being disappeared and tortured in our name. Pick a busy area in your city and be there at the same time and day for the next 6 weeks, creating a culture of resistance in song and theater, holding speak-outs on the “Your Government” indictments, making exhibits and showing films. We’ll be ready to respond to an October, or November surprise by the Bush Regime.
2) Today is a gigantic step forward in starting the society-wide debate needed for people in their millions to act even more powerfully. So we are calling today for STATE OF EMERGENCY TEACH-INS to take place before the end of October that can carry out emergency education on each of the “Your Government” indictments found in our Call. We are out to wake people up to what is going on, in their name. We will make the case that this regime is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
So go home with something orange and wear it the rest of the month. Come to the meeting next week and plan to bring your courage and your imagination, bring your resources and your political connections because together we will plan our next steps needed to drive out this Regime before 2008.
Because Bush, because Cheney, because Rumsfeld, because Rice, because Gonzales must all be driven out, they must leave the White House politically repudiated and thoroughly discredited as the war criminals that they are. Anything short of that is unacceptable to the world, to our children, to the future.
THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN—WHICH ONE WE GET IT UP TO US
Revolution #65, October 15, 2006
For more on the U.S. war moves against Iran:
On October 6, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the U.S, and China met in London and agreed to discuss sanctions against Iran. U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said, “The decision has been made—we’ll go for sanctions; the question is what the extent of the sanctions will be.” The terms of the sanctions will likely be discussed next week, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told CNN that she expected the sanctions to be economic—and she stated that she was “quite, quite certain” that the UN would approve them.
Sanctions, Inspections, and War
The Bush Regime is on track for war with Iran, a war that might well involve the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S., with no significant opposition from the Democrats. Forging some kind of alliance with the European powers, Russia, and China to impose sanctions is not a diplomatic alternative to war, it is essentially diplomatic preparation for war. The October 7 Jerusalem Post quoted Rice making an ominous Godfather-type threat before meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss sanctions: “We cannot continue to extend deadline after deadline after deadline or nobody will take the international system seriously.”
We saw this before in Iraq, where sanctions were not an alternative for war—they were a step on the road to the U.S. invasion. In the buildup to the Iraq war, the U.S. first got the UN to impose impossible sanctions and arbitrary deadlines that it knew would not be met—and then, once those were violated, this was used as a justification for escalating to war. Speaking to those lulled by Bush’s talk of diplomacy in relation to Iran, Dave Lindorff wrote in The Nation, “War skeptics may be whistling past the graveyard. After all, it must be recalled that Bush also talked about seeking diplomatic solutions the whole time he was dead-set on invading Iraq, and the current situation is increasingly looking like a cheap Hollywood sequel.” (“War Signals?” online at thenation.com)
Both with Iraq, and now Iran, the U.S. has instructed its “intelligence community” to produce “analytic judgments” that justify war based on made-up “evidence” of “weapons of mass destruction.” When international agencies don’t fake reports that exactly fit U.S. war plans, they are attacked. Currently, the U.S. is putting pressure on the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to manufacture a case for war. And, just as the U.S. used sanctions to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and prepare for war, sanctions against Iran are intended to be used to create a scenario that is invoked as “proof” of Iran’s unwillingness to cooperate with the “international community.”
Imperialist Logic for War on Iran
William Kristol’s newspaper, the Weekly Standard, is a neo-conservative insider’s journal for the Bush Regime. In July, he laid out the case for smashing the Islamic Republic of Iran as the key link in the larger Bush/neocon agenda of establishing the U.S. as the sole, unchallenged, and unchallengeable superpower:
“Regimes matter. Ideological movements become more dangerous when they become governing regimes of major nations. Communism became really dangerous when it seized control of Russia. National socialism became really dangerous when it seized control of Germany. Islamism became really dangerous when it seized control of Iran—which then became, as it has been for the last 27 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria (a secular government that has its own reasons for needing Iranian help and for supporting Hezbollah and Hamas), little state sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah. And no Shiite Iranian revolution, far less of an impetus for the Saudis to finance the export of the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam as a competitor to Khomeini’s claim for leadership of militant Islam—and thus no Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and perhaps no Hamas either.”
On Fox News (August 22), Kristol said, “I think we could be in a military confrontation with Iran much sooner than people expect. I don’t think this is an issue that’s going to wait two and a half years until President Bush leaves the presidency. I think he will decide at some point next year—in 2007—he’ll have to make some very tough decisions about what the U.S. and the world can tolerate in terms of this regime…”
A recent cover story in Time magazine, “What Would War Look Like,” noted that major U.S. navy strike force deployments in the region “suggest that a much discussed—but until now largely theoretical—prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.”
Stop the War on Iran!
What would be the actual consequences of this war with Iran that the U.S. is building towards? A U.S. attack on Iran may very well involve nuclear weapons, and in any event would take the initial form of a massive bombing attack, with terrible human consequences. The political consequences, in their own way, are just as terrible. In the absence of a visible, powerful movement in this country opposed to the whole Bush Regime, the U.S.-backed Israeli invasion drove even non-religious people in Lebanon into the arms of Islamic fundamentalists. Imagine what a nuclear strike on the world’s largest and most powerful Islamic theocracy would set in motion! All this would further strengthen the two poles of, on the one hand, U.S. imperialism rampaging the world with Bibles and nukes, and on the one hand, obscurantist religious-fundamentalist forces who are setting the terms of oppositional forces in many of the oppressed nations of the world.
The danger of a U.S. attack on Iran is still far too much of a secret. Many people don’t know, or can’t believe, that the Bush Regime would do this. It is critical and urgent for people to educate themselves and others about this threat, and join with others to protest and prevent a U.S. war on Iran!
Revolution #65, October 15, 2006
Interview with Bill Goodman, Center for Constitutional Rights
Revolution recently talked with Bill Goodman, the legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, who is supervising the caseload for attorneys at CCR—including those representing hundreds of detainees at the U.S. government's Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own, and they are not responsible for the views expressed elsewhere in Revolution and on our website.
* * * * *
Revolution: Can you talk about the significance of the Military Commissions Act, just passed by Congress? Does this mean that the President, just on his say-so, can declare anyone beyond the scope of legal rights, lock them up, and deny them what people have understood to be a trial for hundreds of years?
Bill Goodman: There are a number of things about this new law that are very significant.
The President, under this new legislation, cannot simply declare someone an ‘‘enemy combatant ‘‘on his say-so’’—although it comes very close to that. He can have somebody declared an enemy combatant through what’s called a CSRT (Combatant Status Review Tribunal)—which is a creature which is sui generis to [unique to] the Guantanamo situation so far.
Or he can impanel tribunals that are the equivalent of CSRTs anywhere in the world, including within the U.S. as I read the statute, and declare anybody or everybody an “enemy combatant.” And of course, the law applies to people not only who have been declared “enemy combatants” but who are “awaiting such determination” as to whether they are an “enemy combatant”—which is an interesting phrase as well.
So it comes close to that, but there is a little bit of process built into the statute. And if someday we are forced to live with the statute—which I hope we won’t because I believe the statute to be unconstitutional—we may have to be relying on these little scraps of process that are left to us.
But it does mean, I think, that on a sweeping basis, and for the first time in hundreds of years, at a grand level really, the basic protection of democratic rights—the core and heart of what is freedom from oppression, which is of course the core and the heart of democracy itself—has been tremendously weakened—and to certain people it has been totally eliminated, and that’s the writ of habeas corpus.
So this is a shameful moment for the U.S. Congress.
And it means from a practical point of view that anyone, anyone in the world, can be declared an “enemy combatant.” And that is true of American citizens as well.
Now people who are non-citizens then (once declared this) can be held indefinitely, without any process whatsoever, without trial, without any further hearing other than what have been, so far have been, kangaroo court proceedings in front of these CSRTs.
It is a dangerous moment for all of us.
Revolution: The new Military Commissions Act specifically denies “alien unlawful enemy combatants” the right to habeas corpus. Could you explain to us who this affects, where things are headed, and what happens to rights that people have taken for granted if this is not reversed?
Bill Goodman: First of all, the term habeas corpus is an ancient term. It’s obviously Latin and is a common law term that goes back to the Middle Ages and really before the Middle Ages. And it means that no one, including the king (back in those days), including the president (in this day) can hold somebody without a good reason to do so. A small judge, a magistrate, has the power to say to the king that “you can’t hold this person any more unless you prove to me you’ve got a good reason to be holding them, that you have evidence to prove that they are guilty of something. And without that you have to release that person.’’
And that is a fundamental right.
As I said the other night, without it we are all slaves within a police state because it is so basic.
And as I just said a few moments ago, this ability to hold people without giving them a right to any process at all applies to any non-citizen of the United States who had been declared an “enemy combatant” or who is awaiting a determination as to whether they are an “enemy combatant.” And those people now can be held without recourse to a court and without really any rights whatsoever, I think. That’s what it means.
Revolution: And for as long as the government wants to.
Bill Goodman: Yes. Indefinitely! My clients at Guantanamo have, many of them, been there five years and could be held there until they die. And most of them are young men.
Revolution: You and the attorneys working with you at CCR have been representing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. And you recently said that such lawyers could themselves now be targeted by the White House as “enemy combatants.” Once it becomes legal to strip the rights from one group, how does this target then get widened to new groups?
Bill Goodman: The definition of enemy combatant [in the new Military Commissions Act] is incredibly broad—and it could include all sorts of lawful activity. And one example is providing legal ‘‘support.’’ Another example is providing ‘‘support’’ by way of protest or political agitation.
These are things that are protected by the First Amendment among other provisions in the Bill of Rights. And so this language is so broad that it could be argued and used against people who try to help, in the ways we at the Center for Constitutional Rights and hundreds of other lawyers have tried to do in an attempt to uphold the Constitution really.
But certainly, seen from the perspective of a narrow-minded, reactionary, careless, thoughtless bureaucrat, or government official with too much power and too few brains, that could include large portions of the population which would otherwise be acting within their constitutional rights.
So far, the consequence doesn’t mean much if a person, like me and the lawyers I work with, is a U.S. citizen. At that point, the statute does not specifically authorize the government to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for those people who are U.S. citizens. But it allows them to declare these people ‘‘enemy combatants.’’
I think it is very chilling, and of great concern to many of us, that the government can now declare anyone, whether they be a citizen or not, an ‘‘unlawful enemy combatant.’’ And who knows what the future consequences of that might be. It is of concern for that reason.
Revolution: What connection do you see between the legalization of torture in this new Act, and the stripping away of basic rights of imprisonment, trials, evidence, and habeas corpus?
Bill Goodman: There is a clear historical connection. Originally, back in the Middle Ages, anyone who was detained at all was automatically tortured. This goes back to the Romans. And it is an old and familiar practice, an unfortunate practice in western society, in western civilization. So that the ability to challenge the king and say he has to bring someone forward and tell us what evidence he has against them, and if you don’t you have to release them—this is tied into the movement against the use of torture as a method. And so it fits in that way to start with.
I think that the other aspect of it is the bill not only strips courts of jurisdiction to hear petitions for habeas corpus, it strips those courts of jurisdiction to hear any claim that arises out of this kind of detention and then those claims for damages against torture. They have no rights whatsoever.
So notwithstanding the fact that you can’t do these things to people, those people and their families and people concerned about them can do nothing to protect them. You have to rely upon the ‘‘good will’’ of guess who—George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And that ‘‘good will’’ and fifty cents—somewhere!—could get you a cup of coffee.
Revolution #65, October 15, 2006
by Reggie Dylan
Hear Bob Avakian’s talk on:
As students were heading back to campus for the fall term, University of Texas professor Robert Jensen compared a recent announcement by the President of Iran—that “he wants to purge liberal and secular teachers from Iranian universities”—to the attack on college faculty in this country, pointing to the call by a number of politicians in the past year for the firing of University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill for an essay he wrote right after the 911 attacks.1 Could it happen here? Could we see the widespread intellectual “cleansing” of America’s universities? Could students and faculty witness professors and colleagues silenced, dismissed, and hauled in front of government hearings for teaching evolution as a fact, or questioning the “official story” of U.S. history and its role in the world “in a time of war”? This question conjures up images of McCarthyism, intellectual life under Iran’s mullahs, or Nazi Germany—but could it happen here?
A profound “culture war” has been raging in this country coming off the political and cultural turmoil and upsurge in this country and internationally of the 1960s and ‘70s. On the campuses whole new fields of study—which emerged to challenge the distorted official history taught in colleges and universities—have come under fire themselves since the 1980s, an expression of the U.S. ruling class’s assertion of its position as unrivaled superpower in the world.
In the wake of 9/11 this attack on the campuses took a leap. The warning by Bush’s press secretary, Ari Fleischer, that people should “watch what they say, watch what they do,” was soon followed by an incendiary report by the self-appointed campus watchdog group the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) titled “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America.” The ACTA report claimed that “colleges and university faculty have been the weak link in America’s response” to September 11th. “When a nation’s intellectuals are unwilling to defend its civilization, they give comfort to its adversaries.” Here the use of the phrase “give comfort”—implying something “treasonous” about the actions of the nation’s intellectuals—was coming from a group started by Lynne Cheney, wife of the Vice President, and Senator Joe Lieberman, and includes the governors of New York and Colorado among others. This report compiled a list of more than 40 professors, including the president of Wesleyan University, as examples of an unpatriotic academy.2
David Horowitz has become the self-described “battering ram” for the escalated assault on the universities—and on critical thinking and dissent itself—which has unfolded since then. Horowitz is a reactionary political operative with close ties to Karl Rove and other forces grouped around the Bush regime. Through his “Center for the Study of Popular Culture,” his frontpagemag.com website, and endless publications, he oversees a national operation that includes Students for Academic Freedom (SAF) and other groups that organize right-wing students on the campuses, not unlike Hitler’s brownshirts, to spy and inform on targeted faculty. Horowitz’ book Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left (praised by former CIA Chief James Woolsey) gave encouragement, direction, and political ammunition to Campus Watch and the pro-Israeli David Project which launched attacks on Middle Eastern departments and scholars at Columbia University and elsewhere in late 2004, accusing them of intimidating students, being biased and anti-Semitic, and of silencing students whose views differ from theirs.
Assault on Ward Churchill
This assault on progressive and radical professors, and on dissent and critical thinking on the campuses, rose to a whole new level with the attack on ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill in February 2005. Churchill was head of the Ethnic Studies Department of the University of Colorado (UC) at Boulder when suddenly an essay he wrote after 9/11 was brought to light and used to prevent him from speaking at Hamilton College in New York. He became the target of a nationwide campaign by the right-wing noise machine and Republican politicians to drive him out of the university. The CU Boulder administration first launched an investigation to see if the content of his essay warranted firing (or arrest!). Then, with public advice from Horowitz, the attack was retooled, becoming an investigation into Ward Churchill’s body of work in search of evidence of “research misconduct.”
Same Witch-hunt—Different Form
A faculty committee was formed to provide a thin cover of legitimacy to the continuation of the same witch-hunt in new form. By agreeing to participate in an investigation illegitimate on its face, and in spite of the poisoned atmosphere surrounding it, this faculty committee has done far greater damage to the academy than any alleged research misconduct by Churchill they claim to have found. Their finding of serious research misconduct—described by a Boulder sociology professor that studied their report as “grotesque exaggeration,”3—has sown confusion, giving the appearance of a neutral review by peers. This was quickly used by Interim CU Chancellor DiStefano to announce his intention to fire Churchill.
Horowitz and ACTA didn’t wait for the investigative committee’s findings to be made public to unleash the next salvo in their offensive. In spring 2006, Horowitz published the book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, branding as “terrorists, racists, and communists” a list that includes some of the most distinguished scholars and public intellectuals in the country. For their part ACTA published a Report asking “How Many Ward Churchills?” with the answer, “Ward Churchill is not only not alone—he is quite common.” Since this report was released days before the Colorado investigative committee’s announcement, ACTA wasn’t talking about the quality of Churchill’s footnotes but his radical political critique.
The relentless drive to purge the universities of radical and progressive faculty is at its heart aimed at transforming the campuses from places where students learn to think critically, including by subjecting the most important issues in society to critical analysis, into sites of indoctrination instead. As the Open Letter From Concerned Academics: Defend Dissent and Critical Thinking states, “The Churchill case is…a concentrated example of a well-orchestrated campaign launched in the name of ‘academic freedom’ and ‘balance’ which in fact aims to purge the universities of more radical thinkers and oppositional thought generally, and to create a climate of intimidation. While the right-wing claim that the universities are ‘left-wing dictatorships’ is specious beyond belief, it is unfortunately true that the campus remains one of the few surviving refuges of critical thinking and dissent in this country. This is something to defend and strengthen.”4
Balance—A Straw Man
Horowitz uses his Academic Bill of Rights to manufacture a demand for left-right political “balance” in order to create the conditions, including by whipping up a reactionary social base, for purging university faculty of scholars and public intellectuals. This reactionary campaign targets those who have arrived at radical critiques of the present order and the official myths through subjecting the dominant and official claims to reality to critical thinking.
In fact, balance has nothing to do with the search for the truth. Yes, there needs to be ideological ferment and the clash of contending ideas. But the object is to arrive at a deeper understanding of reality—not to achieve “balance.” Insisting on all ideas being given equal weight would be impossible and wrong. Teaching astronomy and astrology? In a biology class, offering completely non-scientific intelligent design creationism side-by-side with evolution?
And as many scholars have pointed out, to equate having a political view with a bias that prevents critical thinking denies the existence of objective truth. For Horowitz the appeal for “balance” is just a transition to silencing any challenge to restoring the official myths about this country’s origins, eliminating the reality of genocide, slavery, the theft of land from Mexico, and its imperial conquest, domination, and exploitation of whole parts of the world.
With powerful forces grouped around the Bush regime pushing harder every day to break down the separation of church and state with the aim of establishing a theocracy, this call for “balance” in place of critical thinking and the search for the truth serves that goal as well. According to Professor Dean Saitta, in an editorial for the August ‘06 issue of Anthropology Today, Florida’s version of Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights “gives students the right to sue professors who don’t ‘respect’ their beliefs—for example, by teaching Darwinian evolution to the exclusion of Biblical creation in science class.”5
Opposition Is Growing
In fact opposition to this relentless and escalating attack on academia has been growing significantly in recent months, with a concentrated focus now on opposing the attempt to fire Ward Churchill. The Open Letter From Concerned Academics: Defend Dissent and Critical Thinking has been mobilizing faculty around the country to contact the CU administration and express their opposition to the impending firing, to write about it for newspapers and professional journals, and to speak about it publicly. And they have made many of these writings available at their website (www.defendcriticalthinking.org). Teachers for a Democratic Society (www.teachersfordemocracy.org)—formed by faculty attacked in Horowitz’s book—features a statement opposing the firing, with close to 500 faculty signatures. Articles opposing the firing and condemning the attack on academia are appearing in newspapers, online publications, and magazines, like the one in Anthropology Today. Significantly, a faculty group at CU Boulder has formed in opposition to the attempt to fire Ward Churchill and in defense of the Ethnic Studies Department. An Emergency Summit took place at the University of Kansas in Lawrence at the end of September under the title “The Latest Indian Wars: The 'War on Terror' Targets Critical Thinking—Who’s Next, and How Do We Fight Back?” And campus administrators are awakening to efforts to bring control of the universities under the thumb of state and federal legislatures—directly or indirectly, through control of the process of accreditation.
These developments show the basis as well as the urgent need for opposition to the assault on academia to rise to a whole new level. The answer to the question “Could this happen here?” is, YES. But it could also be prevented, and something much, much better brought into being. As an important part of that, there is a need for political, ideological, and theoretical debate and clarity around the importance not only of challenging the direction the country as a whole is being driven toward, and the role the universities should play in society at this time, but also the need to fiercely defend, while deepening, an understanding of the scientific approach to reality. This must go right up against the onslaught by reactionaries gathered around Horowitz and ACTA, as well as by the Christian fascists, who would impose their absolutist concepts of “Biblically revealed truth” with all the horrors that means for humanity.
1. See “Iranian President’s Attack on Academics Should Sound Familiar in the U.S.” by Robert Jensen, www.dissidentvoice.org, September 11, 2006. [back]
2. “Lynne Cheney-Joe Lieberman group Puts Out a Blacklist” by Roberto J. Gonzalez, in the San Jose Mercury News, 12/13/01. [back]
5. Dean Saitta, “Higher Education and the Dangerous Professor: Challenges for Anthropology,” in Anthropology Today, August 2006. [back]
Revolution #65, October 15, 2006
The emails sent by Republican Congressman Mark Foley were ugly, but they were nowhere near as ugly as the way in which the Foley scandal has been used to silence the real debate that must go on over the dizzying list of terrible outrages being implemented by Bush. And nowhere near as ugly as the way in which the incident has been used to whip up anti-gay hysteria and witch-hunts. And the Democrats have been complicit in all of this. Look at what the Democrats and the media are not talking about: Bush, with no real opposition from the Democrats, just got a bill saying the government can lock people up without a trial, and deny them the thousand-year-old right to habeas corpus (the right to be brought before a judge and charged with a crime if you are arrested). Bush got absolution for the torture already committed by CIA agents and others at Guantanamo, at Abu Ghraib, and at secret prisons around the world, and a green light to do more torture. There is no significant opposition from the Democrats to Bush’s moves towards war on Iran.
And there’s more: The right to abortion hangs by a thread while the “right to lifers” debate when to fully come out with the next step in enslaving women—banning birth control. And, after Bush left over a thousand people in New Orleans to die, the Black and poor people of that city remain effectively barred from returning to their homes, stranded and vilified in desperate situations around the country. And just before adjourning their session, Congress funded a fence on the Mexican border that will create many more horrible deaths in the desert for people driven by global capitalism to come to the U.S. in search of work.
The Democratic Party attacks on Republicans for the Foley incident come on the heels of what are being called “signs of life” from the Democrats—like Bill Clinton talking tough on Fox TV, and saying he’d send 20,000 more troops to hunt down Bin Laden. Or Hillary Clinton saying that Bush has lost interest in winning the war. This is not in our interests, and it ignores the felt sentiments and real demands of millions of people who look to the Democrats—to get out of this horrific war.
And all this seems to have caused too many people to lose their minds. Yes, the Foley scandal, and the capital the Democrats have gotten from it, might win them some elections. But why is that a good thing? All the terrible crimes of the Bush regime are getting a free pass in all this. Plus, by refusing to oppose the gay-bashing that is running rampant, the Democrats are contributing to a Biblical-literalist anti-gay atmosphere that, taken to its logical extreme, leads to approving even things like the lynching murder of Matthew Shepard.
Republicans are using the Foley scandal to ratchet up attacks on gays. Influential Republicans are saying that nobody outed Foley because they were too concerned about being “politically correct.” CBS reported that “several other top Republican staffers who handled the Foley matter are also gay. Their role in this controversy has caused a firestorm among GOP conservatives, who charge that a group of high-level gay Republican staffers were protecting a gay Republican congressman.”
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force sounded the alarm that “The parallels to McCarthyism are chilling. Here it is gays, not communists, ‘operating at the highest levels of government.’…”
If you’re waiting for a denunciation of the gay-bashing tactics by the Democrats, you may have a long wait in store for you. Indeed, a week after the scandal broke, when it became very clear that this whole gay-bashing frenzy is unleashing a McCarthyite atmosphere towards gays, moveon.org—the “grassroots” arm of the Democratic Party—sent out an email that said, “The Mark Foley scandal has pushed this election to a tipping point… Reynolds [a Republican congressman] has a problem: this week, it was revealed that he knew about Mark Foley’s scandalous emails, buried them, and did nothing to intervene. Folks in his district aren’t happy that he covered his own butt instead of protecting kids—and polls show that all of a sudden, his race is neck and neck.”
While the moveon.org email does not engage in open gay-baiting, where is the principled opposition to the ugly gay-bashing that has been set loose by this? And it would be hard to mistake the glee over the situation in their email.
In the truly sordid way the Foley incident is being used, and in the complicity of the Democrats in all this, we see a vivid example of why the Democrats do not represent the people’s interests. And why we need a movement to drive out the Bush regime. Without that, even if the Democrats win in the upcoming election—we do not.
Revolution #65, October 15, 2006
Part 2: Evacuation Nightmare
by Li Onesto
This series is based on a 141-page report, “Abandoned & Abused: Orleans Parish Prisoners in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina,” released on August 10, 2006, by the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project. Based on questionnaires received from 1,300 prisoners, as well as interviews with current and recently released Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) prisoners, the report contains extensive and damning testimony and evidence of the inhuman and racist torture-like conditions and treatment that OPP prisoners have been subjected to. Part one of this series, “Locked Cells in Rising Water,” told how prisoners were abandoned, some in locked cells, when Katrina hit and water flooded into the prison, and how deputies later came back and used mace, tasers, batons, and shotguns against prisoners who were struggling to survive. This Part 2 tells the story of how thousands of prisoners were evacuated under inhuman and brutal conditions.
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Three small boats. Almost 7,000 people. What did this mean for the prisoners in Orleans Parish Prison who had already been abandoned and abused? It took over three days to evacuate everyone. People had to stand in chest-deep water waiting to be rescued for up to ten hours. And this was only the beginning of what was to be an evacuation nightmare.
Albert G. Couvillion, one prisoner interviewed by the ACLU, said: “People were scared and were screaming that they could not swim… On Wednesday we were escorted out with our hands on our heads and automatic guns pointed at us. I waded through slimy, greasy, trash-filled sewage water up to my neck to boats waiting for us 1½ blocks from the jail.”
There were 354 juveniles being held in OPP when Hurricane Katrina hit. They, too, told horror stories of the evacuation—how they were tied together with plastic cuffs, pulled out by a rope, and put on boats. One 15-year-old boy said: “It was scary because I can’t swim and they were pulling us by our shirts and I went under the water a few times. I even swallowed a lot of water.”
The water was very deep and some prisoners were too short or too weak to stand above the water on their own.
One woman told of how she carried an elderly woman on her back from her building to Central Lock-Up where prisoners were being herded together to be evacuated. She said. “We waded through 4½ sometimes 5 foot deep water. I carried a 65 year old lady on my back because she was 4 foot 9 inches and could not swim and had a heart condition and the officers told her that if she didn’t learn to swim quick they had a body bag with her name on it…”
Interstate Highway 10. This is where the prisoners were deposited, at the Broad Street overpass—delivered not to safety, but to heartless and brutal guards. They were made to sit, for hours, for days—sitting cross-legged, back-to-back. They were not allowed to move at all. Prisoners were assaulted if they tried to stand up to relieve themselves. One man said, “I was maced several times because I either wanted to stretch my sore and numb limbs or because I need to use the bathroom.”
Even a deputy admitted, “[There were] some instances where pepper spray was used when it could have been avoided… When the inmates were getting pepper sprayed, the only things they were asking for was food or water. They wasn’t getting hostile or whatever. But when they got loud, they got pepper sprayed.”
Quantonio Williams told the ACLU, “We were put in rows. The rows in front had floodwater coming up to them. The staff who took us told us that we would be given food and water. Although we saw lots of food and bottled water around, we were not given any. We saw the correctional officers drinking the water… Lots of people were passing out in the sun. The only way we could keep from burning up was to wet our shirts in the floodwater. We sat out in the direct sun all day without food or water… all the people who had passed out were just left out in the sun to the side and not transported. One man in the section started acting out, and the correctional officer just sprayed all the people in the area, including me. I got mace all over my back.”
Dozens of prisoners interviewed by the ACLU talked about how officers used taser guns on people who were just stretching or asking for help. One man said he saw someone “get bitten by a dog because he had to use the bathroom and ‘stood up’ when we were ‘told’ to stay sitting in the sun on that ‘hot’ concrete… The guard couldn’t get the dog to release [his] leg for about 5 minutes.” Another prisoner said, “I saw guards ‘march’ an inmate past me with Taser Wires attached to his back. At no point were we given food or water, and we spent the entire day sitting directly in the sun, at gunpoint.”
Woman prisoners, in particular, were subjected to sadistic guards. One female prisoner recalled, “[They] made us urinate and make bowel movements in our clothes where we sat. It was inhumane, humiliating and also degrading. I and other females were on our menstruation and had no sanitary napkins to change our old ones. We wore what we had on for 3 days. Some of us had menstrual blood all over us. The S.I.D. [Special Investigation Division] and Swat team called us ‘crackheads,’ ‘whore,’ ‘bitches’ and all sorts of other names.”
Three and Three Dozen. The inhumane evacuation of people from OPP took three days. And the prisoners were then put on buses—to eventually end up at over three dozen different Louisiana state prison facilities. The ACLU report contains many stories of the brutality that continued, and even intensified, as guards seemed to single out the OPP prisoners for even more (than the usual) racist and sadistic treatment.
A 17-year-old prisoner who was taken to the Bossier Parish Maximum Security Jail said, “We were being maced and having racial remarks told to us by several guards. I was only there for about two weeks and I was maced six times. They feed us small portions of food, barely enough to live on.”
Timothy Ordon said an officer beat him up, then whispered in his ear “lil nigger boy, you know where the fuck you at, we don’t play that shit out here, you ain’t in New Orleans,” started hitting him some more, and then dragged him into a cell by his feet.
One prisoner sent to Bossier said his release date was September 9. He said, “I told one of the guards that my release date had passed and asked if there was anything I could do to get out of here. He blew up on me and started cursing me out. I started cursing him back and that was when he pepper sprayed me through the food slot in my cell… The guard later came back with a whole crowd of guards, including a big bald-head white guy who seemed to tell all of the other guards what to do. From outside the cell they told the dude in the cell with me that when they opened the cell he should come out. I could see that they were pointing a red light from a Taser at me and when I saw that I knew they were going to come in and beat me up. I got on my knees with my hands on my head to show them I wasn’t going to cause any problems. They walked in the cell and the big guy shot me with the Taser. When he stopped shocking me, the other guards all jumped on me and put handcuffs and leg shackles on me. Then they started beating me. Those wires from the Taser were still stuck in me, one in my chest and one in my stomach, so when he told them to get off me he started shocking me again, saying shit like, ‘you like that, you like that!’ He did that three times, where he would shock me and then let them beat me up and then start shocking me again. I blacked out and woke up alone in a cell with no clothes on at all. There was a rack for the bed, but there was no mattress. The only thing in the cell was the rack, a toilet and toilet paper. They were saying things to me like, ‘You New Orleans niggers think you so bad.’ They also said, ‘You are all animals. I’m gonna put you in the woods with the animals.’ They called New Orleans ‘Thug City.’ I’m American Indian, but my skin’s brown, so I guess they thought I was black.”
A prisoner taken to Quachita Parish Correctional Center wrote: “ I have been beat, tazed, maced, sprayed with pepper, bean bagged, spit on, almost bitten by a dog several times, cursed out, called niggers, monkeys, animals and other racist slurs. I have been deprived of all my privileges and some of my rights, put in rubber rooms, stripped naked and sprayed down with pepper… They think all of us in here are killers and they tell us, since we kill people and think we can get away with it then they can treat us any way they want and get away with it. That nobody gives a damn about us and we all are gonna die here and they’re gonna bury us out back where their parents used to bury our parents. Now you know they’re talking about slavery and if that’s not discrimination I don’t know what that is.”
Next: Part 3: Dungeon “Justice” and Slave Labor
Revolution #65, October 15, 2006
We received the following report from the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade in New York City:
On October 4, Jim Gilchrist, co-founder and spokesperson for the Minutemen, was scheduled to speak at Columbia. Two other representatives from the anti-immigrant vigilante Minutemen was also scheduled to speak.
A crowd of 300 gathered outside the building to protest, with the majority of the crowd inside decidedly in disagreement with the speaker.
Minutes into Gilchrist’s speech, students took the stage... In turn the college Republicans targeted and attempted to beat protesters. Security was called in and the audience was cleared from the building.
The president of the University wrote an apology letter to the Minutemen, and the Daily News and the New York Post viciously attacking the demonstration.
All this stands against the basic truth that this demonstration was a very good and much needed thing. The Minutemen is a nationwide, organized, well-armed, lynch mob—which needs to be put outside the realm of acceptable debate. Gilchrist is not just a guy advocating an issue. He is the head of a paramilitary fascist force that is actively responsible for the deaths of immigrants—not yet directly perhaps, but in the way they force immigrants to cross through even more remote desert areas. And the Minutemen movement is a growing project—with explicit and implicit backing from the Bush Regime. Its spokespeople must be repudiated and they need to be shown for what they really are—fascist vigilantes in their own right, and an important part of Bush’s whole reactionary and repressive program.
A statement has been released anonymously from those who stormed the stage, upholding what they did. Everyone at Columbia, one of the most influential campuses in the country, is talking about this incident, many saying it was good and right, many being shocked that Gilchrist was even invited to their campus.
In the wake of this the Minutemen are trying to come out stronger in New York City. They followed up the incident at Colombia by holding a rally the following Saturday outside of the Mexican consulate—where again they were met by people opposing them.
People need to act. And people need to act in a way that can really change things, something that would have been appropriate during Hitler’s rise and that really meets the challenges we face now—a truly massive political movement to Drive Out the Bush Regime and Bring This to a Halt!
From Set the Record Straight, Lies the System Tells You
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