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Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Homeland Security Head Chertoff: Crackdown is “Gonna Get Ugly”
In July, after the Senate failed to pass Bush-backed “comprehensive immigration reform,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned that the increase of arrests of undocumented immigrants is “gonna get ugly.”
What does he mean by ugly?
He means arresting a Mexican mother, ripping her child from her, and deporting her to Mexico—splitting up her family. Like millions of other Mexicans, Elvira Arellano was forced to come to the United States to survive but was quickly captured and deported for the first time. Forced to return to the U.S., she worked cleaning O'Hare International Airport, super-exploited like millions of other Mexicans. In a post-September 11 “anti-terror” raid, she was arrested and convicted of using a fake Social Security number in order to work, like so many others who have decided not to starve. Convicted and demonized, she refused to be deported once again, taking refuge in a Chicago church with her U.S. citizen 8-year-old son and advocating for immigrant rights for a year before being arrested and deported.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) web site bragged, “ICE deports high-profile criminal fugitive alien to Mexico. Woman who sought refuge in Chicago church arrested during weekend trip to L.A.” What the fuck do they mean “criminal fugitive alien”? Who pillaged and ruined the economy of Mexico, making life impossible for her and millions more? Who super-exploited her and millions more like modern-day slaves? Who acts like modern-day slave catchers? Who are the real criminals?
“Gonna get ugly” means armed ICE agents storming through garment sweatshops and life-numbing meat packing slaughterhouses to arrest and deport immigrants. Only a generation or two ago, the grandsons of African-American slaves were super-exploited on the killing floors of slaughterhouses but then their wages got too high and their attitude too rebellious, so they were replaced with immigrants. First they super-exploit immigrants in these hellholes—under conditions that are close to those in factories 100 years ago in this country. Then they demonize them in the media, and send in the immigration police to round them up. It means random sweeps of whole communities, grabbing up and packing off everyone “without papers.” “Gonna get ugly” means local ordinances and state laws making it illegal to rent an apartment or house to anyone who is undocumented or to hire them to work or to provide them with social services or let them post bail.
Important New Resistance
The system’s “gonna get ugly” attacks on immigrants have meant ICE agents sweeping into neighborhoods, kicking down doors, dragging people out in the middle of the night to be deported, leaving crying children behind. But on September 6, when ICE agents in South Los Angeles swept into a neighborhood, trying to force their way into apartments and arresting at least two people, residents of the neighborhood made a sign that said “ICE OUT!” and stood on the street. Some took pictures of what the ICE agents were doing and collected badge numbers. The ICE agents harassed these people. First, they were told to hand over their camera. Then ICE agents asked for their identifications and wrote down their information. Then the agents told them that they were not allowed to be on the street. “But we stood our ground,” said Cristina, a resident of the neighborhood. “Finally, they backed down. We had hidden our camera, and they finally admitted that we had the right to take pictures and to be on the street with our protest signs. They couldn’t stop us.”
There are important shoots of resistance breaking out in response to all this that need to be supported and spread. As I write this, a work stoppage and economic boycott is in progress in Phoenix, Arizona, lasting from September 3 through September 9. An organizer with La Coordinadora 3 de Septiembre told me that estimates are that 20,000 to 40,000 people have left work for the week to protest the Bush decision to require companies to fire employees whose names do not match their Social Security number. Their leaflet asks, “What would YOU do if… Your child came home, found you had been taken, and your location unknown?” People are demanding in part, “To have a real immigration reform that does not simply reduce us to the level of a modern slave (guest worker).”
On September 2, an estimated crowd of 5,000 to 10,000, overwhelmingly immigrants, marched through the streets of Woodbridge, Virginia, which has a population of about 32,000, located about 30 miles from Washington, DC. They were protesting the passage of anti-immigrant legislation by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. Organizers are calling for a work stoppage on October 9. On June 4, in Houston, two activists chained themselves to the front gates of the privately run Corrections Corporation of America immigration detention center to demand freedom for all the detainees and blockade the entrance.
Early this year, the New Sanctuary Movement, composed of Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and other faiths, was formed. Their goal is to protect immigrant families from unjust deportation by providing sanctuary in their houses of worship. Earlier this year, in both Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area, people protested and rallied to oppose ICE raids in their communities.
All of these are important developments. This movement of resistance must spread rapidly and broadly among immigrants and non-immigrants alike. Think about what a difference it made in L.A. when, in the midst of these raids, people on the spot mobilized to protect people. Imagine the impact if the movement of churches, mosques, and synagogues spreads. If in border communities, people politically challenge the brutal treatment of immigrants. And if all this is contributing to a broader spirit of defiance throughout society to the whole broader repressive agenda.
What Kind of World Do You Want to Live In?
Life has always been hell for immigrants. Until recently, the undocumented lived with the constant threat of deportation because of any unexpected encounter with the authorities. But, by and large, once here, they were allowed to be super-exploited, face discrimination and police brutality, but stay. Now something much more sinister is being hammered into place. Open season has been declared. Rules, for example, that in many places supposedly separated the normal police from the Migra are being changed to make every cop into an ICE agent. Anything goes. People who “work hard” and “play by the rules” can be snatched up at any time, their world and that of their families devastated.
On August 10, Bush announced a whole series of measures to be implemented by executive order. Many of these were contained in the so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” bill that failed in the Senate in June. They were not passed in Congress, so essentially by decree, Bush is ordering the enforcement of these regulations. The measures include 8,000 more Border Patrol agents, more walls, more detention camps, more raids, a campaign to go after workers whose names do not match their Social Security numbers, the importation of more “guest workers” to toil in slave-like conditions, and moves to require everyone applying for a job to have their identity run through a national government database.
Look at the kind of society that is emerging if we don’t STOP this: In Minnesota during the Swift raids, workers and advocates in the Swift meatpacking plant reported that individuals were first divided into groups by the color of their skin and that only non-white workers were questioned. In raids across the country, agents have arrested people based on their racial or ethnic appearance, accent, or limited English skills. People are presumed to be “illegal” with no rights based on how they look, the color of their skin, and the language that they speak.
And for those who still harbor the illusion that the Democrats will fight for immigrant rights, listen to the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi upon hearing Bush’s announcement: "Securing our border remains a top priority for the New Direction Congress."
All of this is no good. It is very, very bad for the people.
Throughout the spring of 2006, millions of immigrants and their allies poured into the streets all across the country, from the largest cities to numerous small southern and mid-western farming communities. This was a historic mobilization to defeat the draconian anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner bill (H.R. 4437) that would have made felons of the estimated 12–20 million undocumented immigrants in this country and anyone who aided them in any kind of way. People filled the streets to demand legalization and for immigrants to be treated like human beings. City after city saw the largest protest demonstrations in their history.
In the face of this escalating onslaught, there is great importance to promoting, supporting, and spreading new resistance. After being deported, Elvira Arellano called for a national day of action on September 12. This call has been taken up by activists in such places as Los Angeles, Chicago, Madison, Wisconsin, and New York who are organizing press conferences and protests that day to announce an October 12 National Day of Action for Workers Rights Against No Match (Letters), Raids and Deportations.
If you refuse to live in a world where human beings are categorized as “legal” or “illegal” based on the color of their skin, the language that they speak, and where they were born, with life and death implications, then you have the responsibility to resist. If you refuse to live in a world where millions are condemned to be super-exploited modern-day slaves, then you must act.
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
There are many deadly lies and deceptions in America today, but one of the deadliest is that the “Bush Regime is over.”
The torture, the wars, the spying and theocratic measures and the toxic waves of bigotry—against Black people today, gays tomorrow, immigrants or women or dissenting professors the day after—isn’t “limping to the finish”…it is intensifying. The crimes committed in our name pile up each and every day. The planning at the very highest levels—to sustain the war in Iraq, to very possibly launch a new one against Iran, to hammer in and further legitimize the revocation of the most fundamental rights—not only continues, but accelerates. The casting aside of high-level operatives like Rove or Gonzales is not the dissolution of a regime, but preparation for a “sprint to the finish.” Bush himself is reported to be impervious to criticism, “optimistic,” and acting with his “historic legacy” in mind.
That “legacy” is not something for the history books, after we’re all dead. It’s about locking in and pushing further the horrific crimes that have become “the new normalcy” of this imperialist system. It’s about what we’re willing to—and going to be forced to— live with; and what we’re willing to see other people live—and die—with. And that’s what will happen if the tens of millions who hate this regime and what it’s been doing continue on the current passive—and, yes, complicit—course. George Bush aims to use his last 16 months in office to do everything he can to ensure the continued existence and dominance of this empire, on even more horrific terms and with exponentially greater ability to suffocate any fundamental resistance to it.
The Bush Regime must be driven out. For unless it is decisively repudiated by the people, in massive visible political opposition, the outrages of today will indeed become the norms of tomorrow, with terrible consequences.
There Are The People to Do This
I have had the chance to talk to more people than most—traveling the country and speaking especially to young people on campuses—and there is a battle going on among tens of thousands of people. Giving voice to something I have heard repeatedly before, a young woman at NYU explained to me that if she led a walkout against the war she would risk her scholarship, have to go to a community college and work at the same time, and would never have the career that there is so much pressure to compete for in this increasingly insecure world...and then she added, “But I would do it in a second. I would risk all that and more—if I thought it would make a difference.” And there are people, increasing numbers of people, who want to hear about revolution —why it’s needed, what it’s all about, and whether it’s possible. And how does what we are doing today relate to that.
Three weeks ago in San Francisco, I watched the crowd at Rock the Bells go fucking wild when performers from the stage called for resistance and sacrifice to stop this machine and its fascist drive. Screaming, jumping, fists in the air.
There is a radicalness brewing in this country. There’s a section of this generation that is looking out on the world and sees nothing good and nothing they want to have any part of. A section of this generation that is ready to struggle and to question, that senses the need to be as radical as the times, that gravitates to the need for struggle and even great sacrifice to stop this whole direction.
But somebody’s got to step out and DO IT.
World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime has called for an “Orange Uprising.” Stop keeping your discontent and your anguish private. There are millions and tens of millions who share it—become a magnet for them, every day. Be part of setting a different social context where other people who, like yourself, feel—and right now, are—isolated, begin to see that there are others. Declare it loudly and boldly by brandishing orange, the color of the torture victims and the color of those who refuse to bow down. Wearing orange has to become a declaration of refusal to sit quietly as the world is burning around us. It has to be a challenge to all those who do in fact already agree but are not yet resisting, giving them the heart and the courage to not only step out against the regime but to go up in the face of those who are still going along, and to insist that they not allow these crimes to be done in their names. A sea of orange, to revoke the legitimacy of anyone—from the Bush regime to the “opposition” party Democrats —who claim to be acting with a mandate from the people; a sea of orange to confer legitimacy on those determined to drive out this regime, and to encourage and galvanize the massive disgust and refusal to accept its crimes.
Orange must become the color of defiance. People have to begin noticing all the orange, and asking each other what it’s about, and then become part of it catching on and becoming a social wave. It must be promoted by popular artists, advertised on the airwaves and internet, and in the actions of individuals and groups that take on these horrors. The news should feel compelled to regularly report on “orange‑clad protesters” sitting down in major intersections or in politicians’ offices and orange flags turning up in the most unexpected places. At the World Can’t Wait website there are all kinds of ideas on how this can go viral, and all kinds of things ready to happen—if people act.
This sea of orange must be coupled with, and reinforce, increasingly militant and growing outbreaks of real political resistance—actions of individuals or groupings that keep pace with and are on a scale commensurate with the horrors piling up. Some of that’s starting. But it’s not yet enough. We’ve got to stop waiting for a resistance to emerge, and go out and lead it. If we want to see a resistance movement, people need to start being one. Resistance needs to much more spring up like mushrooms after the rain, in all kinds of different forms and unexpected places, and everybody wearing orange can help spur that and spread it.
Four Crucial Political Battles
Four political battles are shaping up now that are crucial. If seized upon, and if coupled with the growing social wave of orange envisioned above and with the kinds of resistance I just outlined, these can be openings to make things more two–sided, to bring another force onto the stage that can give expression to people’s pent-up aspirations, and to reverse the political momentum and direction in this society.
First, there is the extremely high‑stakes Jim Crow trial down in Jena, Louisiana where six Black high school students face decades in prison for standing up against nooses being hung from a “whites only” tree in their schoolyard. The actions being planned for September 12 and especially September 20 have everything to do with whether anything meaningful will be done to stop the whole direction of this society against Black people—and with the Bush regime, the definite genocidal element of this agenda has found sharp expression, as became sharply clear with Hurricane Katrina.
Shortly after that, on September 25, George Bush is daring to come to New York City to speak to the United Nations as part of greasing the way towards a new war against Iran. The eyes of the world look upon New York City and the city must appear to them as what it is—one of the most anti‑war and anti‑Bush places in the country, not like people who can’t be bothered to do anything as massive death, suffering and torture is being engineered. They also must not see simply an isolated, routinized protest. The city needs to be ORANGE—everywhere the eye looks and everywhere a news camera pans, on armbands and ribbons, on flags out store windows, on banners on rooftops and clenched in the fists that get raised in opposition to Bush’s monstrosities right outside where he speaks.
In the week of October 22-26, David Horowitz’s fascist student group “Students for Academic Freedom,” has announced a week against “Islamo-fascism” to take place on over 200 campuses. Horowitz is a close ally of Bush and intends for this week to target Muslim student associations, women’s centers, and more for not being sufficiently supportive of the “war on terror.” This has the potential to even more seriously chill what is already an icy atmosphere on campus. But it also has the potential—if it is met with orange-clad students and faculty ready to take them on and increase awareness of the fascist order being locked into place here—to actually turn the tables on these bullies.
Finally, on October 22, there will be a national day of protest against police brutality. This too can bring thousands more into political action against yet another horror of this system, and powerfully stand against outrages like the murder of Sean Bell in New York last December, on his wedding day.
Each of these must be very powerful in their own right; and they must also be times when the “orange upsurge” gets further launched into society.
A Different Political Calculus
If this movement of wearing orange takes hold, and people increasingly see that they are not alone and there’s an everyday defiance that takes hold in the culture and finds expression in all kinds of ways… if these important days of resistance and action this fall break into the atmosphere in a way that cannot be denied or marginalized…and with all that taking place in the face of the Bush regime’s high-stakes horrific gambles in Iran, their grinding bloody war in Iraq, and who knows what new measure within the U.S., as Bush sets out to cement his “legacy”… then there is a chance for a different sort of political calculus to take hold. A chance for a serious challenge to the legitimacy of this regime and to create a political situation in which it is driven out. The synergy between a growing social movement of defiance in the everyday action of wearing orange, and increasingly broad and determined outpourings of resistance, can create something on a whole other level…in other words, in the political sphere the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.
And let’s imagine what that would mean. A victory like that would change things for millions of people and it would open up new possibilities in everybody’s thinking. People would feel their strength and they would raise their heads. The question of the imperialist character of the kind of system that gives rise to a Bush—and to political “opponents” who refuse to question his basic assumptions—would get posed in a different way, to millions. The question of what to do about it—of what kind of future people do need—including the possibility of revolution, would become a much more living thing.
And the Bush regime and all its horrors and the course it has set things on would be repudiated. The wars, the torture, the attacks on women’s rights, everything symbolized by Katrina, the gay-bashing, the repression and demonization of the immigrants, the outrages to people’s legal rights, the attack on critical thinking…repudiated.
And wouldn’t that be a new day worth fighting, and sacrificing, for?
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Over the past week, protests and rallies in support of the Jena 6 have taken place on several campuses. And across the South and beyond, students and others are organizing to be on the buses to Jena to demand: Free the Jena 6!
On September 5 students at North Carolina Central University in Durham held a rally in front of the town courthouse. University of Michigan students are holding a program on campus on the Jena 6, Wednesday, September 12. At Louisiana Southern University of Baton Rouge, students have declared a “Jena 6 Week” beginning Monday, September 10. September 10 there will be a Jena 6 awareness program at 7 p.m. in Stewart Hall auditorium; September 11 a Candle Light Vigil for the Jena 6, 7 p.m. at the Smith Brown Student Union Patio; and September 13 a protest march at 7 p.m., beginning at the back of campus and marching to the student union. In Chicago there was a march and rally for the Jena 6 on Sunday, September 9. A Free the Jena 6 march has also been called in Washington, DC for September 20.
Buses for Jena are being organized from cities, towns and campuses throughout the South. The Atlanta University Center Louisiana Club of Morehouse College is organizing students at several colleges and universities to get on the bus and head to Jena for September 20. The president of the organization, Jeremy Cormier, told Revolution that they are inviting students from other colleges to join them and get on the bus. He said about the 20th, “The masses of people that will be out there will actually show how our legal system is really still racist. We won't stop at the rally. We will keep on pushing to show what really goes on. We won't stop until we feel Mr. Bell has gotten what he deserves, and that's his freedom.” (See link below for details.)
Los Angeles filmmaker Tyrone Nitty Buckner is creating a documentary film about students and youth traveling to Jena from Atlanta, and organizing a bus. He told Revolution about his project: “I own an advertising firm here in Beverly Hills, California, and I basically got my company here to put up some funds to organize here for a film. And myself and others are sponsoring kids to get on the bus. Most of the buses are paid seating. I've heard of only one volunteer bus, everywhere else I haven't heard of people going for free, including the youth. What I did was organize where the youth can at least go for free, my company and other companies that would sponsor the youth to go free.” For information or to get on that bus from Atlanta (youth 14-24), contact: email@example.com or call 678-887-7134 or 310-709-0256
Radio host Michael Baisden is asking people to wear black in solidarity with the Jena 6 and is scheduled to do his show live from Jena on September 20. His web site has extensive information on busses to Jena from Atlanta, Smyrna, GA; Birmingham, Montgomery, AL; Jacksonville, FL; Tallahassee, FL; Orlando, FL; Tuscaloosa, AL; Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, TN; Morehouse and Spelman Colleges; Fort Worth/Dallas; Charlotte, Durham, NC; Detroit, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; Philadelphia; Indiana/Chicago (Hammond, IN / Halsted St., Chicago); Maryland/Virgina/Washington, DC Area (Glenn Dale, MD); Baton Rouge, LA… and the list is growing. Travel details are at http://www.minglecity.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=145
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
We received the following correspondence from a Revolution distributor in Clevelan d:
Last week a young Black woman in our city took the initiative to organize a protest in support of the Jena 6. I went to a meeting to organize a protest on September 20. There were people from the Nation of Islam, a woman from an activist Baptist church, someone from Black on Black Inc, a community organization, and an activist Muslim woman.
In organizing the march, the idea is to have principals and teachers allow the students to come to school late since the march begins at 8 a.m. One principal is already promoting it and so the march will start from that high school. The group is planning on asking high school teachers to have the march be a field trip. At a Labor Day picnic in the Black community, the Jena 6 support group had a table and passed out 1,000 leaflets and through this, got the support of two Black sororities, Deltas and Alphas, and are reaching out to Black fraternities as well. Also, since Mychal Bell is a football player they are trying to get coaches to have their teams come out for the march. Black Studies at Cleveland State will be calling on students to go the march and panel discussion. This issue is really getting out among and mobilizing people broadly—way beyond the usual movement and activist forces. There is a beginning movement around “all out for the Jena 6” and some people are going to try to go Louisiana for the protest on September 20.
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Jena, Louisiana. A court hearing was held on September 4 for Mychal Bell who is one of the Jena 6—six black youth who face the possibility of years in prison for standing up against racism. Bell was convicted by an all-white jury of second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit second-degree battery and faced up to 22 years in prison. At this hearing, the conspiracy conviction was struck down, not the second-degree battery conviction, and so Bell still faces 15 years in prison! Two other youth who are part of the Jena 6 were also in court on September 4 and had their charges read.
In other words, the prosecution and UNJUST persecution of the Jena 6 is definitely going ahead. And this underscores even more urgently the need for a mass, determined, and broad political struggle to FREE THE JENA 6!
The Jena 6 face years of prison for daring to stand up against white supremacy – for standing up against the hanging of NOOSES after Black students sat under a “WHITES-ONLY” tree.
At every turn, the school, the city, the federal officials, the police and courts have stepped in to officially enforce white supremacy. Government and school officials threatened Black students who stood under the “white-only” tree in a defiant protest, telling them to shut up about the nooses. The school board stepped in to prevent the students that hung the nooses from being expelled, giving them only three days’ suspension. Racist white students who jumped a Black student were given a slap on the wrist (probation). But when a Black student disarmed a white student who was threatening him with a gun, he was arrested. In December Bell and five other Black students were arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, stemming from a fight where a white student, Justin Barker, sustained injuries that required a couple of hours in the emergency room.
The court procedures on September 4 were a further continuation of this same kind of racist Jim Crow injustice.
A wealth of evidence was brought before the court on September 4 showing violations of constitutional rights during Mychal Bell’s trial. At this hearing, Bell’s lawyers filed several motions, arguing that the court should reverse the conviction and provide a new trial, or drop the charges altogether. The system responded loud and clear: DENIED.
Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr., with the 28th Judicial Court, denied every appeal made by Bell’s lawyers except for the one on the conspiracy conviction. But Bell still faces the possibility of 15 (it was 22) years in prison—which is still completely unjust. The only fair outcome of this court hearing would have been for ALL the charges to be dropped against Mychal Bell, as well as ALL charges dropped on the other five youth, AND an apology for the blatant and racist persecution that has already gone down. Nothing less than that should be acceptable to the people.
One of the motions filed by Bell’s lawyers stated: “Mr. Bell was denied his constitutional right to a fair trial by an impartial jury when biased jurors with relationships to the victim and his family, the district attorney, and witnesses for the prosecution sat on his jury.” Court documents contained several pages documenting this.
The motion for a new trial stated that Bell's lawyers have testimony from a witness at the high school which, according to court documents, “would have challenged other versions of the events” that were presented by witnesses called by the State. But at the time of the trial Bell's court-appointed attorney didn't call up this witness or any other witnesses who were available and could have testified on on Bell’s behalf. .
Evidence brought out by Bell’s lawyers exposed the Jim Crow ways this case has been handled from the very beginning. But the judge denied motion after motion, clearly upholding the unjust way Bell was convicted—from the all white jury, to the outrageous argument that Bell's tennis shoes were a lethal weapon, to the fact that Bell’s court-appointed lawyer didn’t even make a pretense of defending Bell.
Before Bell’s hearing, two other youth of the Jena 6, Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw, pleaded not guilty to second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit second-degree battery. As they had done earlier in Mychal Bell’s case, the DA had reduced the charges from attempted murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree battery. Carwin Jones court date was set for January 28, 2008 and Theo Shaw's trial has not yet been scheduled.
Theo Shaw's attorney, George Tucker commented, "If this is how all of the cases were prosecuted, there would be no one on the street. Everyone would be locked up."
Tucker’s comment hits at how the only future this system has to offer Black youth is a future of low-wage jobs, criminalization, and imprisonment. This had also come out in the bond hearing for Mychal Bell on August 24. DA Reed Walters brought out Bell’s supposed “criminal record” of minor offenses to argue that he was a danger to the community and should not be allowed out on bail. Walters made racist analogies, vilifying Bell as being like an animal that needs a fence erected around it. (See “Bond Hearing For Mychal Bell: A Vicious Attack on Black People Everywhere,” Revolution #100)
This case is not about a schoolyard fight. It is about six Black youth being punished with the force of the law for daring to stand up against outrageous discrimination.
The case of the Jena 6 has ripped through the lie that says the oppression of Black people is “a thing of the past” or that what happened in Jena is just about “racial tension” between people. NO. This is a struggle against the workings of a white supremacist system, a system whose very foundations are deeply entwined with the outright slavery and oppression of Black people.
To the backward view that says youth like the Jena 6 are “out of line” thinking that someone “owes them something”—I say, this system does owe these youth something. It owes them their life back. And not only should the charges be dropped but the system should apologize to them and to the entire Black community for this outrageous, blatantly racist, and unjust persecution. This system cannot offer them justice, let alone a future. But we cannot stand by and let this happen.
Wherever justice has been achieved for Black people in this country, it has only been through fierce, determined, and broad mass struggle. And this is the kind of upsurge now required to free the Jena 6. This must be powerfully expressed on September 12 across the country and in Jena and throughout the nation again on September 20. Whenever and wherever people call for action demanding “Free the Jena 6,” this must be built on. Wherever the demand “Drop the Charges, Free the Jena 6” is manifested, it must be supported and spread.
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Support Revolution Newspaper's Six-Month Expansion and $500,000 Fund Drive!
When I first heard about the fund raising drive, although I thought it was a great idea (especially extending the paper into the southwest), I was a little discouraged. Being on a fixed income, I knew I would not be able to contribute in the financial way I would like to. You can only imagine my amazement that in as little as 3 days we had raised over $500 for the paper. After reading through the fund raising packet (especially the “40 ways…” list at revcom.us) and the small article about a garage sale in #97, I was inspired to have a garage sale of my own. My husband and I committed to a $100 Team. Our team captain sent out the word on line advertising the sale and asking for donations of goods to sell. I also advertised in two local papers and the night before the sale I went out and posted signs at all the major intersections in a suburb of Cleveland.
With a week’s notice the stuff started trickling in. Everyone has too much stuff in their houses and for me it was a great exercise in being non-materialistic and clearing the decks for Revolution. Some people from the community who regularly read the paper but are not otherwise involved, volunteered to come over during the sell and help out. Since I had most of the items in my garage and backyard I moved a representative sample from each group to the front yard. I also set aside a special table to display the current issue of Revolution Newspaper, the Fund Raising broadsheet PDF, “Wanted” posters and lots and lots of T-shirts. I also stapled sheets of paper on the table labeled for each day with headings to record the number of papers, “Wanted” totes and “Wanted” T-shirts sold, and the number of people who came each day and if they had seen the ad in the paper or my homemade signs. The flip side of the page was designated to record names and addresses of people who were interested in hearing more about RCP and the reactions and comments of people who visited. I also hung Wanted Posters and Tote-Bags from my front porch.
I think one of the most important aspects of readying the items was careful pricing. I know that anyone in this country can buy anything for a dollar at one of those stores and when I go to garage sales things are often over priced. Other than a 20 ft. fiberglass canoe that brought in $100 the most expensive item I sold went for $7 (it was a humungous 6 ft. wind chime that must have retailed for $70). Most small items (do-hickeys as we call them here), some clothing and all the books were placed in bins and baskets and labeled 25 cents each. People left with boxes full of treasures that had once been collecting dust in our homes.
I scheduled the sale to run Labor Day weekend, Thursday–Saturday, from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. In Ohio, and I assume elsewhere in the states, the first day begins at around 7:00 AM when the bargain hunters start arriving. We were ready with fresh coffee, donuts, ice water (for a donation), a big welcome and a revolutionary zeal to raise consciousness and funds. The first day of the sale we were inundated with people and I lost count but we estimate it had to be at least 100 people. The first day ended around 8:00 PM with $280 in profits. On Friday and Saturday we had over 50 people each day and the sale totaled $524 including $67 for papers, “Wanted” tote bags and T-shirts. People responded in equal numbers to the ad survey so it seems the $80 for newspaper ads and the two hours I spent putting up signs was well spent.
More importantly however, were the reactions and comments from the people. Three people had already heard of Bob Avakian. Two had read the paper online. Although many people were moved by the facts I detailed from issue #98’s coverage of the two year anniversary of Katrina, more than one woman confided that although it was important for the paper and people like me to be out there spreading the word, she could not risk losing her job. I responded by telling her that a monetary donation could possibly be her way of contributing to the revolutionary struggle.
I identified as a communist raising funds to benefit Revolution Newspaper. A lot of the younger people did not understand that communism was not equal to totalitarianism. Two women were concerned for my personal safety and asked if it wasn’t a little risky to use that terminology. We talked about the connotation of the term that we had come away with from our “duck and cover” elementary school experiences during the cold war. And I told them that if people like me didn’t stand up in the community and identify as communists then the meaning would never change and that was one of the reasons I was out here doing this today.
My most memorable customer was a young working class guy. He came hustling up the drive way with a hand full of plastic tote-bags saying, “Where did you get this shit, this is so great, my buddies are going to love this!” When he saw the T-shirts he just could hardly believe someone had captured his sentiments exactly. He didn’t have enough money on him that day for a shirt but he bought the totes and newspaper and promised he would read the broadsheet and return the next day for his T-shirt so he could show it off to his friends and family and wear it to a “peace demonstration” that weekend. He was true to his word and I expect to hear from him soon with another T-shirt order. If I don’t I’ll certainly get a hold of him.
As a result, a lot more people in my community know about Bob Avakian, the Revolutionary Communist Party USA and Revolution Newspaper. And some of them contributed to our fund raising drive. I learned a lot about my neighbors and the wide spread discontent, anger and revulsion with the Bush regime and politics as usual in this country. On the last day of the sale, my sale actually sparked another one. A comrade took some of my items that hadn’t sold to the home of another reader who put them out in her yard during a large street sale in her neighborhood and brought in an additional $45. And, with the stuff that’s left over, and more donations we are calling for, we are trying to get another proletarian friend who wants to support the fund drive to have a sale in his neighborhood on the other side of town before the snow flies here in northern Ohio.
Finally, I realized that I can make the kind of financial contributions that I wish to. Thank you so much for all the careful thought and planning that went into the fund drive kit. It really translated into real cash.
When the national fund drive was announced, a friend of mine who teaches history at a city school came to the kick-off event here. He's been reading the paper on and off for a while. He hesitated to donate at first. He spends about $4,000 a year of his own income on school supplies and other items for his students.
At the same time, he began to ask for the paper every week, and I was very moved by the fact that he would read each issue with a fine tooth comb; raising questions, disagreements, and making suggestions for other issues that the paper should cover. For example, he suggested off of reading about the "Nazification of the American University," that Revolution do an article about how "No Child Left Behind" is part of the Nazification of the high schools. He also suggested doing an article about the conditions of life and thinking of white proletarians in rural Ohio, because he was thinking about his father and why, even tho he's been screwed over so much, that he still supports the system.
Then he asked if I could round up as many back issues of Revolution as I could find, and he would buy them. He read through all these papers, and then decided to become a sustainer for the newspaper at $50 a month, for a year. Just last week, when school started, Jake was talking to his classes about the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and some students mentioned the case of the Jena 6. He was thrilled that they knew about this, and immediately called me to round up as many issues of #98 so he could get them to his class. And lastly, he told me that if we're successful with the $500,000 fund drive, he will commit to trying to get some places in his rural hometown to carry Revolution!
I am 15 years old. I’ve been doing work with the paper for several months now and I have begun to really dive into the revolutionary communist politics of Bob Avakian and the RCP. One of the first ideas I began to grapple with was the importance of the paper to the whole movement; how it is the living link between the party and its leadership to the people all throughout society.
Revolution newspaper, needless to say, exposes the system for what it is in a ruthless search for truth. It enacts the science of revolution. But the paper is at a crossroads. We are in desperate need of expanding our material base, raising funds, to take revolutionary politics out there to the masses of people much more broadly. We are at a crucial moment in history where the role of the paper must be strengthened and expanded.
This is where we all come in.
I, along with about four other youth who have gotten together, have organized a team that is committed to this expansion. This is a perfect example, if not a challenge, for people to follow.
We have organized forces.
We have set a goal: $500 by Labor Day.
We will orient ourselves before and then sum up the experience after each new opportunity, under my facilitation.
On that note:
Yes, I am a "Team Captain" for this team of committed youth, but it won’t just stop there. The vision is to form this core of youth, and then branch off. Under my facilitation, they will each develop their own leadership skills. They will then hopefully branch off, each of them forming new teams and themselves becoming "Team Captains."
Now, here’s the challenge:
Most of us youth have no income, no way of directly providing. Most of you adults have an income, a way to directly provide. If we reach this goal of $500 by Labor Day, we need people willing to match, double or even triple that amount in donations.
If you are reading this paper, you have awareness, a consciousness of what is going on in this country and around the world. The system we live under, this imperialist system, continues to threaten our lives and ruin the lives of millions of people around the world. Not only does this system continue to brutalize and oppress, it threatens the very existence of humanity.
There is an answer to this madness: the Revolutionary Communist Party. This organization is the only force that will lead us to get rid of this horrible system and bring forth a new society where the masses of people will rule. Only then can we put an end to imperialist war, starvation, national oppression, and create equality for women.
My parents were survivors of the Holocaust. They were very resourceful. They managed to elude the Nazis, escaping through three countries. But millions did not survive. They were not able to resist on a mass scale. We must not wait until the steel boots march down our streets. We must not wait until we hear that knocking at our door. Our future, the future of billions is at stake. We must contribute as much as possible to the Revolution Newspaper Fund Drive. Revolution is our voice, our written word for revolution in this country. I am challenging all readers to contribute a Day's Wages Now. Today I am giving $250—my day’s wages.
A group of supporters of Revolution newspaper here in NYC are organizing a bike-a-thon to raise money for the paper's expansion/fund drive. Some of us are avid cyclists, others not as much, so the plan shaping up is to allow participants to do lengths ranging from 25 miles to 62 miles (100 km) of a route along with lots of other cyclists on an organized ride. This way we'll be able to meet a lot of people and talk to them about the paper and why we're choosing this form as a way to raise money for its expansion.
We're going to raise money from people we know and people we meet in the process leading up to the ride, either on a distance-ridden basis or in flat donations. One of the participants set a personal goal to raise $1,000 for the paper with this ride.
Drawing on the experience of bike-a-thons or walk-a-thons for causes like funding for cancer research or AIDS treatment, we feel that this will be a way to reach out to many people, and have many of them donate and draw in others to take it up with us.
We plan to reach out to just about everyone we know—cyclists and others—telling them what we're doing and why, and using the ride as a way to introduce old friends, co-workers, family, etc. to the paper in cases where they may not know about it already. We've already got plans to reach out to people in the cycling community and let them know about what we're doing in advance of the big ride, asking them to take part in it and getting pledges for it themselves. We're really excited out about all this, and want to encourage others to be creative and think of ways where what they're into or have expertise in, can be integrated into efforts to contribute to what the world needs right now: for Revolution Newspaper to be much more widely available to more people in more areas, with even better and more expansive coverage, and for this to contribute to the kind of revolutionary movement that can really change history at a time when the world cries out for it.
The ride will take place at the end of October. For more information about the ride, you can email the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Revolution Books in NYC at (212)691-3345. Also check out http://ridingforrevolution.blogspot.com/
I am pledging to donate $1500, $125/month until August 1, 2008 to the fund drive for Revolution newspaper. I am also pledging to match contributions to this drive from Cleveland neighborhoods up to $500 between now and the end of December. I am donating to this drive because Avakian and Revolution are single-handedly addressing the questions I have.
I am one of many "highly educated" professionals who find it impossible to pursue happiness in the context of the vexing state of affairs in the world. I don't see the point of fighting for reforms, but I do see an urgent need to promote and protect Avakian and Revolution. I have always been inspired toward radical solutions, ones that get to the root cause of the problem. Clearly capitalism/imperialism is the problem. If there is going to be a solution in time to literally save the world, I believe it will hinge on the influence of the leadership of the RCP…
Look at the criticism of the Revolution article on elections and the responses from the editors of Revolution. Have you ever read such a thoughtful discussion of some of the process of political expression, dissent, respect for the middle strata, risking defeat while attempting to maintain proletarian power under socialism? And Everest's recent article on Iraq? You couldn't get more clarity on the Democrat's inherent allegiance to US imperialism. And Taylor's review of the movie "Knocked-Up"? Beyond exposing its turning back the clock to the 50's in terms of pressure on women to sacrifice all to go through childbirth, she addresses the general terror of the times for millions of youth. And the Dennis Loo article? Soooo clear on so many questions about what is so different now compared to the 60's and what it might take to change the political landscape."
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
An article from Revolution newspaper, "Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles" (available online at revcom.us/a/060/mexico-volcano-en.html) has been chosen by Project Censored for inclusion in “Censored 2008: The Top 25 Censored Stories.”
Each year Project Censored produces a list of the top 25 censored stories of the previous year. The Top 25 Censored stories list gets wide media recognition in the U.S. and around the world. And the top 25 censored stories are included in Project Censored’s annual yearbook. This year’s book is scheduled for release by Seven Stories Press in September 2007. The Los Angeles Times called last year’s edition of the Project Censored yearbook "[R]equired reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens."
Exposing Censored Stories
Based at Sonoma State University in California, Project Censored reviews between 700 and 1,000 stories that are submitted each year by journalists, scholars, librarians, and concerned citizens around the world. More than 200 Sonoma State University faculty, students, and community members work with Project Censored to review the submitted stories for coverage, content, reliability of sources, and national significance.
The university community selects 25 stories to submit to the Project Censored panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance. Current or previous national judges include: Noam Chomsky, Susan Faludi, George Gerbner, Sut Jhally, Frances Moore Lappe, Norman Solomon, Michael Parenti, Herbert I. Schiller, Barbara Seaman, Erna Smith, Mike Wallace, and Howard Zinn.
Project Censored plays an important role in both exposing specific censored stories, and also in exposing the breath and extent of suppression of truth about all kinds of critical issues in the mainstream media.
In addition to the “Mexico's Stolen Election” story, this year’s list of the top 25 censored stories includes: “ No Habeas Corpus for ‘Any Person’,” “Bush’s Move Toward Martial Law,” “Increasingly Destructive Trade Agreements Enslave Poor,” “The Scam of ‘Reconstruction’ in Afghanistan,” and “Impunity for U.S. War Criminals.”
In a press release announcing the top 25 censored stories of the year, Project Censored Director Peter Phillips said that, “The systemic erosion of human rights and civil liberties, in the U.S., is the common theme of many of the most censored stories of [the past year].”
As an awardee for the Censored 2008 Yearbook, Revolution will be participating in Project Censored's Media Accountability Conference and the Real News Awards at Sonoma State University on October 26 and 27. As described by Project Censored, “The goal of this conference is to more closely examine important stories that were sidelined by the corporate media, and to discuss strategies for getting honest and thorough information to the citizens of the country.” Panels at the event will be filmed for release on Free Speech TV.
The Censored Story of the Mexican Elections
Most of Project Censored’s selected stories are documented by two or more articles. This year, the censored story of “Mexico's Stolen Election” references two articles: “Evidence of Election Fraud Grows in México,” published by AlterNet, and written by Chuck Collins and Joshua Holland, as well as “Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles,” which appeared originally in the September 10, 2006 issue of Revolution.
Tricia Boreta of Project Censored told Revolution that "Project Censored finds some of the most thoroughly researched, well written and deeply analyzed news reportage in Revolution newspaper. ‘Mexico - Rumbling Volcano’ provided valuable insight and background on U.S. involvement in Mexico's 2006 Presidential Election."
Revolution ’s coverage of Mexico over the past few years has included analysis, as well as on-the-scene reports by young Revolution correspondents who traveled to Atenco and Oaxaca. These writers lived with, learned from, and wrote about seismic struggles in Mexico in articles like “The Changing Landscape of the Mixteca” (#80, March 4, 2007, online at revcom.us/a/080/oaxoca4-en.html) and “Reporter's Notebook from Atenco, Mexico: Real Women Have Machetes” ( Revolutionary Worker #1178, December 8, 2002, online at revcom.us/a/v24/1171-1180/1178/atenco.htm). A Special Revolution four-page supplement on Mexico was published in Revolution #60, and is available as a PDF download at revcom.us.
An Opportunity and Challenge to Expand the Reach of Revolution
The inclusion of Revolution’ s coverage of Mexico in the Project Censored list of the top 25 censored stories of the year highlights the importance of both expanding the distribution of Revolution, and of raising money for this kind of coverage.
Stories like this award winning article in Revolution, and Revolution’ s coverage of Mexico are made possible by contributions to the Revolution Expansion and Fund Drive, and by contributions to the Reporter’s Fund in particular.
And, being included in the Project Censored 2008 yearbook opens the door to important opportunities to make this newspaper part of the landscape, especially on college campuses across the country: to get this newspaper distributed and read widely on campuses, included course curricula, subscribed to by University and high school departments and libraries, and supported financially by student activists.
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
by a former Antioch student who attended the college during the late 1960s and early 1970s
An outpouring of opposition has brought about a real chance for the reversal of the threat to close Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
As we wrote in "Who Is Afraid of Antioch College and Why Are They Trying to Shut it Down?": “Antioch is well known—and, in the halls of power, hated—for a progressive, open-minded approach to education. Its academic program combines classroom learning with work experience and community involvement. Founded by progressive Christians as a secular college in 1852 in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch from the beginning sought to include Black people and women among students and faculty. A saying by founder Horace Mann became the school’s watchword: 'Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity'…
“…The move to close Antioch is part of the assault on the rebellious legacy of the 1960s—and part of attempts to shut down critical thinking and dissent on campuses today.” (Revolution #98, August 19, 2007, revcom.us/a/098/antioch-en.html)
In June, the Board of Trustees (BoT) of Antioch University came out with a surprise announcement that because Antioch College was in such financial crisis, the only option was closing the college at the end of the 2007–2008 school year. On August 27, the BoT sounded a tactical retreat and gave the Alumni Board two months to produce a viable financial plan to keep Antioch College open. The Alumni Board, the organization of college alumni, recently presented a counterproposal to the BoT's announcement.
The chair of the BoT and the Chancellor of the University System had stated several times that the closure decision was “irreversible.” The trustees also claimed they “hoped” to reopen the college in 2012 but have presented no plans to make that happen. The Antioch College community understands that even if the College were to reopen in 2012 under the trustees’ control, it would be an empty shell, stripped of the soul that has made it a unique institution. An important partial victory has been won, even though the BoT has not rescinded their announced "suspension" of College operations.
Alumni, Faculty, Students and Others Mobilize
What led to this turnaround?
At a meeting called by the Antioch University BoT on August 25 in Cincinnati, Ohio, over 150 people—alumni, faculty, staff, students and Yellow Springs residents and civic leaders—packed a hotel ballroom to show support for keeping Antioch open. Over 30 people spoke, and with the exception of one alumnus who supported closure, the passionate and articulate speakers brought proof that right is on their side and that Antioch stands for something they hold dear. The next day, the BoT heard from former BoT members who have come out against the death sentence for Antioch.
Among those speaking out on August 25 were several first-year students who had been on campus for only two days. They all stated they had come to Antioch in the face of the closure announcement because even one year at Antioch is an experience they could not walk away from. Over 70 new students enrolled at Antioch this fall, more than had been projected, and there have already been 11,000 inquiries from prospective students for the 2008 academic year! Prof. Hassan Rahmanian told of how he had arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s as an exile from his native Iran. He made his way to Antioch and has been on the faculty 22 years. Rahmanian poetically admonished the BoT: "As an educator I love the spiritual and intellectual intoxication that the students give me… I left my home and couldn't go back. Antioch became my home. Don't take away my home." Prof. Pat Mische spoke about the importance of tenure for professors that would be lost if the college were closed: "We need academic freedom. Faculty can't be afraid to lose their jobs if they speak the truth and call on students to speak the truth." Community Manager Rory Adams-Cheatham told the BoT that the fact that many small colleges have been forced to close in the last 5 years should not be used to rationalize the damage that would be done by closing Antioch: "This makes it even more important to save Antioch College. We're not just fighting for Antioch College, but for the institutions of tenured faculty, for unionized staff, for liberal arts education."
The BoT called the meeting in an attempt to pacify a national mobilization of alumni that began in late June and to chill out the overwhelming outrage amongst faculty, students, staff and people of the Village of Yellow Springs. Over the past two and a half months, alumni have initiated over 20 new alumni chapters and raised more than $8 million in donations and pledges for a fund dedicated to reviving Antioch College. In mid August, the Antioch faculty filed a lawsuit against the BoT, asking for a permanent injunction against the closing of the College.
Since the 1980s, Antioch College has been governed by the Board of Trustees of the relatively recent graduate-level Antioch University system. One of the main reasons for the financial crisis of the undergraduate College has been a diversion of resources to the University, which has just opened a new $30-million building in Yellow Springs, while College buildings are given little or no priority for upgrading. Not only has financial independence (including fundraising initiative) been denied to the College, but the authority over academic and work/study programs has suffered as well. Recently, the University drastically cut staff in both the development and admissions offices of the College and, in 2003, imposed a “Renewal Plan” that forced unwanted changes in academic and co-op (Antioch College’s work experience component) programs. All that is part of why the Alumni Board proposal centers on establishing a separate and independent governance system for Antioch College.
Behind the Attack on Antioch College
In the period since the closure announcement, a number of alumni, faculty and progressive investigators have developed a zest for "digging up the dirt" on who runs Antioch and what they have done to create this crisis. One element of this has been the appearance on the Internet of leaked documents from the trustees and the University administration revealing internal discussion about such things as eliminating tenure for professors in a “new” Antioch College and the model of other small colleges that have closed and been turned into retirement communities. Reports indicate that in some cases College facilities were unjustifiably shown in official financial calculations to be declining in value twice as much as University facilities. Prof. Peter Townsend, a lead plaintiff in the faculty lawsuit to stop the closure of the college, told Revolution that in the past few years "faculty didn't see what was happening beyond the individual events which were seen as 'stupid moves' [by the University administration and trustees.]. Now they see the overall trend of deliberate neglect."
The financial deterioration of the College has a close relationship to the political priorities of the University administration and trustees. Among other things, it has come to light that one former and two present members of the BoT have intimate ties to U.S. government intelligence and military contractors and industries (see “Antioch Trustees and the Military-Intelligence Connection” in Revolution #98, revcom.us/a/098/antioch-military-en.html). Related to this, businesses and civic leaders in the Yellow Springs area are being lobbied by the military and related industrial interests to participate in the local region’s “Base Re-Alignment Consolidation” (BRAC). BRAC is a major initiative to restructure the economy in the Dayton/Yellow Springs area to become fully dependent on developing war-related industry, centered around the huge Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In July, Congress voted to allocate $50 million to over a dozen firms in the area that are carrying out research for high-tech military application (see Dayton Daily News, July 16, 2007, ). According to the Yellow Springs News of August 16, 2007 (ysnews.com), a "Center for Business and Education" (CBE) has been established in Yellow Springs to develop an industrial park and "The CBE’s educational component, Antioch University McGregor, is scheduled to finish its new building in September and will move its classes from the Antioch College campus at that time."
This is a setup in which the momentum and lure of the expansion of capitalism, all in the service of the machinery of war and death which itself is designed to enforce capitalist expansion worldwide, is a blatant obstacle to emancipation of humanity and to serving the real needs of people. And it has run up against the existence of the Antioch College community, whose historic values are based on a progressive approach to education and serving humanity.
All this exposure has stung the trustee board and propelled forward a growing movement. The inspiring resistance to the threat to close Antioch is important not only for Antioch, but for campuses around the country. There is a heavy cloud hanging over academia today because of the reactionary clampdown on critical thinking and dissent. The recent firing of University of Colorado Prof. Ward Churchill and the denial of tenure to Professorss Norman Finkelstein and Mehrene Larudee at DePaul University in Chicago drive home the danger of the reactionary movement to silence professors who carry out the kind of scholarship and teaching that invites people to question the official narratives of U.S. history. (see article "Purge of Professors Accelerates Suppression of Critical Thinking" in Revolution #99, revcom.us/a/099/professors-purged-en.html)
Many around the country have begun to see that if Antioch were shut down, it would open the floodgates much wider to this reactionary assault. What’s needed now, at Antioch and on every campus, is an even wider and more determined resistance to the assault on critical thinking and dissent. And this also cries out for a revolutionary movement based on the goal of a liberated socialist society that fosters critical thinking, encourages dissent and unleashes the people in their millions to do away with the material basis for the exploitation of humans by other humans (see the special supplement "Resist the Nazification of the American University—Wanted on Campus: Critical Thinking, Dissent…and A Revolutionary Movement" in Revolution #99).
Follow the continuing coverage of the struggle to save Antioch and to defend critical thinking and dissent on campuses nationwide in the pages of Revolution and on Revolution Online. There is further information available at these web sites: antiochians.org (the Antioch Alumni Board); antiochfaculty.org (the Antioch faculty); theantiochpapers.org (featuring important documents in the development of the whole crisis); and recordonline.org (The Antioch Record, the student newspaper).
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Norman Finkelstein Resigns
The case of Professor Norman Finkelstein, the noted Holocaust political scientist and author of critiques of Israel, came to a sad and disappointing resolution on September 5.
Under continuing pressure from the DePaul University administration, facing unrelenting attacks by rightwing ideologues and operatives like David Horowitz, and smeared in the local media, Finkelstein resigned as professor of political science. He resigned rather than continue to fight the egregious and unjust decision by the university to deny him tenure.
This was a day of shame for the administration of DePaul University. Coming on the heels of the firing of Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado, this resignation is a serious blow to critical inquiry, academic freedom, and the integrity of the tenure process of faculty review and promotion.
But September 5 was also a day when many people demonstrated defiance, solidarity, and conscience. Faculty colleagues, students from DePaul, and other supporters came out to stand with Finkelstein. Many who threw in with Norman Finkelstein sensed that what happened at DePaul would have larger ramifications. Will dissenting voices and innovative and oppositional discourses be heard and defended, or will the universities be turned into institutions of intellectual conformism and political servility?
For the larger national battle to defend dissent and critical thinking, there are vital lessons to draw and valuable experience to build on.
A Travesty of Due Process
Norman Finkelstein is an accomplished scholar who has written extensively on the Nazi Holocaust. He is also an outspoken critic of Zionism and Israel. As a dedicated teacher, he has imbued students with the spirit of searching out uncomfortable truths. Finkelstein’s scholarship has been praised by people in the field, including the late Raul Hilberg, founder of Holocaust studies.
Professors like Norman Finkelstein are all too rare in the academy. But they are an important reason that the university is one of the few arenas in society where critical thinking has some initiative. And at a time when the U.S. is waging war in the Middle East, with Israel as its dependable strategic client-ally, Finkelstein’s research and teaching take on special relevance and urgency.
When Norman Finkelstein came up for tenure, his department and a college-wide committee unanimously recommended promotion. Students had flocked to his classes and looked forward to studying with him. But in June, Finkelstein was denied tenure. The president of the university overruled faculty recommendations. This unprecedented intervention was the culmination of a systematic and ugly campaign to destroy Finkelstein’s career at DePaul (and anywhere else he might go).
ITEM: The pro-Israel Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz inserted himself into the review process. He introduced briefs against granting tenure to Finkelstein and went into the media to repeat his bogus charges that Finkelstein is an anti-Semite. This external pressure was in total violation of standard faculty review practices.
ITEM: The president of the university claimed that Finkelstein was guilty of “ad hominem attacks on scholars” and of a tendency to “polarize and simplify conversation.” But as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has pointed out, “collegiality” is not a valid standard for judging a professor’s research and teaching and scholarship. If getting along, or going along with dominant ideas, were the acid test, then controversial, unsettling, and unpopular views would be ruled out of order.
ITEM: The normal protections afforded professors in these circumstances were trampled upon. After the denial of tenure, Finkelstein had no recourse to appeal. A professor denied tenure is normally allowed to teach his courses for another year. But Finkelstein was put on administrative leave, barred from teaching, and denied all relevant privileges.
ITEM: On September 3, the Chicago Tribune reported “leaked memos” from the administration accusing Finkelstein of “threatening and discourteous behavior.” But the only evidence cited of “physically” threatening behavior was that Finkelstein held open elevator doors while talking to a dean!
These are the tactics of a witch-hunt, of a smear campaign.
But Finkelstein’s cause was gaining notice and winning backers. Fellow faculty members and students were stepping forward. A letter signed by Howard Zinn, Immanuel Wallerstein, Derrick Bell, and other public intellectuals and academicians, called on people to fight “for the soul of DePaul.”
A Moment of Reckoning, A Situation of Real Potential
During the week before things came to a head, Norman Finkelstein had stated his intent to fight his firing: “I intend to go to my office on the first day of classes and, if my way is barred, to engage in civil disobedience. If arrested, I’ll go on a hunger strike. If released, I’ll do it all over again. I’ll fast in jail for as long as it takes.” (Chicago Tribune, August 28, 2007).
It was a strongly stated stand that galvanized support and ignited hopes. It was a controversial stand that stirred debate and raised awareness. It was the stand called for under the circumstances. And it led to a sense that what happened at DePaul would powerfully reverberate.
At the August 31 convocation marking the new academic year, a contingent of students and professors showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan “We Are All Professor Finkelstein.” Students were organizing on the DePaul campus, and surrounding campuses were just beginning find out about the situation. Discussions were breaking wide open. Some freshmen noted that some of their high school teachers had come under fire. A common refrain: “but I don’t understand, DePaul is supposed to be about diversity and openness.” Students watched debates between Finkelstein and Dershowitz on YouTube and got into the Israel debate.
On September 5, people gathered on the campus quad where Finkelstein planned to teach his class. They carried banners of support with demands for tenure and academic freedom and calls for courageous dissent. When Finkelstein arrived, he announced to the crowd that he was talking with representatives of the university and would come back to make a statement.
People organized a spirited march around campus, their numbers now reaching 150. At about 12:30, Finkelstein returned and announced that a private settlement had been reached with the university. The announcement, especially after he had made his bold statement to resist, took supporters by surprise and left many confused and deflated.
The details of the agreement have yet to be made public. But this much is known: the university now acknowledges that Finkelstein is a “prolific scholar and outstanding teacher”—while Finkelstein agrees to leave, ostensibly with his reputation intact (although he admits that his “prospects in academia are dim”).
The resolution of this case is a very bad one. Indeed, no sooner had Finkelstein resigned than David Horowitz’s FrontPage magazine was calling for the ouster of yet another progressive DePaul professor. The sharks smelled blood in the water.
A Missed Opportunity, Lessons To Be Learned
There were many favorable elements in the DePaul mix: the incipient groundswell of support for Professor Finkelstein, the electrifying impact that his original statement to resist had on people, the ways in which students and faculty were beginning to stir each other, the coming together of prominent voices nationally in support, and the possibility for building on and spreading what might have happened at DePaul if the political battle went forward. There are many ifs, but one thing is certain: a determined stand would have sent a powerful message.
This did not happen. For whatever complex of reasons, Norman Finkelstein chose not to fight. It cannot be minimized that Norman Finkelstein faced incredible strains and pressures. But these are times that demand that people be strong and stay strong.
Professor Finkelstein stated that he felt he had to leave DePaul because the atmosphere had grown so “poisoned.” Here we have to step back and look at the larger situation.
The atmosphere on campuses is growing thick with toxic fumes of right-wing hysteria, the demonization of critical, or unorthodox, thinking, and professional character assassination. It is an atmosphere that puts scholars like Finkelstein in a terrible position. They face enormous pressure to repeatedly backpedal to refute base distortions; constantly look over their shoulders to see who’s watching them; and expend enormous amounts of energy protecting their jobs and integrity. And that is precisely what the organized reactionary forces behind these attacks are trying to do: create an atmosphere where it becomes almost impossible for scholars like Norman Finkelstein and Ward Churchill to continue teaching.
This is completely unacceptable. It is one reason to continue to press the demand that DePaul apologize and repudiate the whole process and grounds on which Norman Finkelstein was forced to resign. We need to create an atmosphere that welcomes these scholars and that defends them. We need to develop a movement that can, with bold clarity and firmness, bring others to understand what's at stake—and actually defeat these attacks.
This program of bullying and purge and thought control—with powerful right-wing backing—has already resulted in the firing of Ward Churchill, attacks on Middle Eastern studies at Columbia University, and the targeting and hounding of progressive professors through books like David Horowitz’s The Professors: 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. It is not going away. It is becoming more emboldened and more vicious. (See accompanying article on “Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week.”)
The stakes of this battle are high: for the professors, academic programs, and universities in the crosshairs of these attacks; for the intellectual and political life of universities; and for the kind of society we are living in. Students and faculty and all those concerned for "the soul of the university” and the direction of society face great necessity and responsibility.
But there is also great possibility to take on and defeat this assault on dissent and critical thinking. The potential was in evidence at DePaul—as diverse forces rallied behind Norman Finkelstein, called out the administration for its moral cowardice, and mobilized to stand with an embattled professor as a showdown approached.
We need to the grasp the stakes of the situation. We need to build resistance with a broadness of vision. We need to act with commensurate courage.
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
“The Left controls the labeling machines in our culture—universities, virtually the entire press, network broadcasting, the schools… I want to scream every time one of my conservative friends uses the term ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ to describe totalitarian reactionaries who would send them all to gulags if they had a chance…A Noam Chomsky, a Howard Zinn, an Ibrahim Hooper—these are Nazis, or fellow-travelers of Nazis…
“This October 22-26 I am declaring Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. I will hold demonstrations and protests, teach-ins and sit-ins on more than 100 college campuses. Our theme will be the Oppression of Women in Islam and the threat posed by the Islamic crusade against the West.”
David Horowitz, August 28th, 2007 interview at Frontpagemag.com
This declaration by David Horowitz can’t just be dismissed as the rantings of a reactionary meglomaniac. Horowitz is a major figure in Republican and Christian Fascist political circles. He has been a major spearhead of the assault on dissent and critical thinking in the universities, with the aim of transforming them into servile sites of indoctrination. Over the summer we saw the purging of two prominent scholars at the top of Horowitz’ hit list for scholarship and public statements that challenged official “truths” vital to mobilizing the country behind the Bush regime’s global war for empire: Norman Finkelstein from DePaul University and Ward Churchill from the University of Colorado. And Horowitz and others have made it clear that this is only the beginning.
“Islamo-fascism Awareness Week” is his call for a major fall campus offensive, a concentrated effort to combine racist bullying with insidious deceit to recast this country’s global war for empire as an historic defense of freedom against the threat from Islamic fundamentalism in alliance with the “radical left.” And through it to further harden the dangerous polarization that sees the only choices in the world as between Jihad and McWorld/McCrusade—between Islamic fundamentalism on the one hand and capitalist-imperialist domination led by the U.S. on the other. This fall campus offensive needs to be met by a Fascism Awareness counter-offensive that focuses on the threat represented by this country’s Christian Fascists and the Bush Regime, and at the same time brings forward an alternative vision of the future that is tied neither to the imperialists nor to the Islamic fundamentalist states and movements.
We must both take on and defeat this—and see the real opportunities this poses to flip the script on Horowitz and his ilk. In other words, the negative polarization that Horowitz is driving for must be and can be re-polarized.
Behind “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”
In March of this year Horowitz brought former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and other right-wing politicians to Washington D.C. to huddle with his campus brownshirts—Students for Academic Freedom—at their annual conference. (Santorum, among other things, is the Senator that attempted to insert into the “No Child Left Behind” Act the teaching of Intelligent Design creationism in the country’s science classes.) There they began laying plans for this fascist offensive on the college and university campuses this fall. In his keynote speech, Santorum told the campus Republicans “Words matter. How you define things matter, particularly in this war.” He explained "You see, they [Shia Muslims] are not interested in conquering the world; they are interested in destroying the world … But it's not just radical Islam; it is also the radical left … They fight us on college campuses, and they fight us in the streets of Central and South American countries, in North Korea … They see the soft underbelly of America, just like the Soviet Union did. And they're going after it…. What must we do to win? We must educate, engage, evangelize and eradicate … We need to do more…to spread the ideas throughout your campuses."
Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is planned as a national effort “to rally American students to defend their country.” It will feature “memorial services for the victims of Islamic terror both in America and around the globe.” It will include sit-ins at the offices of Women’s Studies Departments and campus Women’s Centers “to protest their silence about the oppression of women in Islam.” According to the Anti-Racist Blog, “The stated goals of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week are:
TO EXPLAIN WHO THE ENEMY IS—not ‘terror,’ but a fanatical religious movement associated with … the sponsors of the Muslim Student Association (MSA)…
TO COUNTER THE LEFT’S BIG LIE – that ‘George Bush created the war on terror…’
TO PROTEST THE VIOLENT OPPRESSION OF WOMEN IN ISLAM;
TO STRENGTHEN THOSE ON CAMPUS WHO REJECT THE ANTI-AMERICAN CURRICULUM OF THE TENURED LEFT;
TO TEACH AN ALTERNATIVE CURRICULUM THAT WILL ARM AMERICA AGAINST THE RADICAL JIHAD.”
Horowitz envisions this the “biggest conservative campus protest ever” that will tell the truth about “the greatest danger Americans have ever confronted.” Campus speakers will include David Horowitz, Christopher Hitchens, Rick Santorum, Daniel Pipes, and more. Senator John Kyl and Santorum will be among those hosting showings of “Obsession,” a controversial “documentary” on the threat of radical Islam, marketed by a self-described pro-Israel group—HonestReporting—and promoted by Fox News and CNN.
A particularly racist component of this week is the targeting of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) around the country. Claiming it ise sponsored by fanatical religious movements, MSA is already being “baited” by these brownshirts—insisting that it sign on to their “Islamo-Fascism Petition” to prove that it “reject[s] the hateful agendas of its sponsors, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.” This vilification of immigrants from the Middle East and Muslims of all countries is meant to appeal to and inflame the most ugly, nativist passions. In his speech to the SAF in March Santorum explained: “What losing looks like is pretty easy, in my mind. Look at Europe….The most popular male name in Belgium—Mohammad. It’s the fifth most popular name in France among boys. They [native Europeans] are losing because they are not having children, they have no faith, they have nothing to counteract it.”
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
If this weren’t so deadly dangerous, it would be laughable. Stop and think for a minute about who these people are that are portraying themselves as the opponents of fascism:
They are the staunchest champions of the Bush Regime, which has legalized torture on an industrial scale. That claims the right to declare any U.S. citizen an enemy combatant and strip them of all legal rights—and did just that with Jose Padilla. That has declared its right to spy on anyone, and is doing so on an unprecedented basis. That is continuing the war in Iraq—an ongoing and outrageous war crime launched on the basis of complete lies. And that is now threatening and preparing for a pre-emptive strike on Iran—launched either by the U.S. or Israel—with potentially disastrous consequences for the world. And these campus brownshirts are planning to shove this whole program down the throats of college students by telling them “you’re either with U.S., or you’re with the Islamo-Fascists.”
These forces also claim to be the champions of the rights of women and opponents of fundamentalist religious fascism. Meanwhile they work hand in glove with the Christian version of fundamentalist religious fascism in this country—forces who are determined to deny women not only access to abortions, but to birth control as well; to reinforce the subjugation and degradation of women in all its imperialist forms; to blur and overwhelm the boundary between science and religion; and to knock down the wall between religion and the state and establish a theocracy. How can we let them pose as opponents of the oppression of women? Or as “champions of religious tolerance?”
The Two Outmodeds
The world is a complex and dangerous place at this time in history – and we cannot allow these reactionary forces to define the future.
Bob Avakian has brought forward a crucial analysis of the present situation and the road forward in Bringing Forward Another Way (available online at revcom.us/avakian/anotherway and also as a pamphlet). In it he elaborates on his characterization of the two forces contending in the world at this time—McWorld / McCrusade or Jihad—as representing “the two outmodeds,” and he argues that there is no future in the interests of the people of the world in allowing our vision to be reduced to choosing between them:
“What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these ‘outmodeds,’ you end up strengthening both.” (From the talk, “Why We’re in the Situation We’re in Today…And What to Do About It: A Thoroughly Rotten System and the Need for Revolution. ”)
This analysis must be deeply grappled with. As we wrote in our article on line last week: “Islamic fundamentalism is not a progressive force for the world. It, or any kind of religious literalism, is a program full of outmoded and oppressive content: vicious patriarchy and bigotry, religious warfare, “honor killings,” and the promotion of unscientific, superstitious ignorance. But the U.S. is a much more powerful and more dangerous reactionary force. Overall, it is the far greater threat to humanity. It is in no way the "answer" to the genuinely oppressive nature of Islamic fundamentalism…. Every progressive-minded student and teacher should begin preparing now to politically – and ideologically take on these hypocritical fascists.”
Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week must be met by a determined counteroffensive. The “two outmodeds” – either Islamic fundamentalism or capitalist-imperialist domination—must be repudiated as choices that represent any road to the future. And we need to be collectively grappling with the road to a future that genuinely represents the interests of the people of the world.
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Background to Confrontation:
Part 7: 1991-2001: The Soviet Collapse, the Growth of Islamic Fundamentalism, and The Intensification of U.S. Hostility Toward Iran
For over 100 years, the domination of Iran has been deeply woven into the fabric of global imperialism, enforced through covert intrigues, economic bullying, military assaults, and invasions. This history provides the backdrop for U.S. hostility toward Iran today—including the real threat of war. Part 1 of this series explored the rivalry between European imperialists up through World War 1 over which one would control Iran and its oil. Part 2 exposed the U.S.’s 1953 overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh’s secular, nationalist government in order to restore a tyrannical client, the Shah. Parts 3 and 4 examined the impact of 25 years of U.S. domination via the Shah, and how it paved the way for the 1979 revolution. Part 5 explored the 1979 revolution and the U.S. response, including how both fueled the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Part 6 exposed the imperialist logic—and necessities—behind Ronald Reagan’s 1985-86 “arms-for-hostages” gambit to Iran. Part 7, traces the escalation of U.S. hostility toward Iran—from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991until 2001, when George W. Bush took office.
The Soviet Collapse—A Geopolitical Earthquake
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a geopolitical earthquake—opening both new opportunities for and new threats to U.S. imperialism. In one swift stroke, the main rival to U.S. global power had (at least temporarily) been removed. America’s theoreticians of empire sensed a historic opportunity to forcefully extend U.S. global dominance and deal decisively with a raft of impediments—to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable empire.
This new mix of opportunity and necessity reshaped Washington’s approach to Iran. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the U.S. not only drove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait but destroyed much of Iraq’s military and industrial infrastructure—while Iran remained neutral. Afterward, the Islamic Republic’s leaders took some tentative steps to normalize relations with the U.S., which had been broken when the U.S. Embassy was seized in 1979. The Ayatollah Khomeini had died two years earlier and a new, more pragmatic leadership under President Rafsanjani had come to power. And Iran was eager to attract new foreign investment and trade to prop up its economy.
The U.S. wasn’t interested. The Islamic Republic was still an obstacle to U.S. aims on a number of fronts. The Soviet collapse hadn’t resolved the knot of problems the U.S. faced in the Middle East (in fact it exacerbated some) and it opened up a Pandora’s box in Central Asia,. The U.S. was increasingly bumping up against Iran in both regions. And now with the Soviet Union gone, U.S. strategists no longer felt the need to balance Iran and Iraq. Instead they could move more directly against both.
“Dual Containment”—Preserving the U.S.-Dominated Status Quo
The Clinton administration adopted a policy of “Dual Containment,” with punitive economic sanctions against Iran and Iraq, aimed at weakening and isolating both. Clinton and company feared that Iran’s regional needs and ambitions and the growth of Islamic fundamentalist movements could jeopardize the U.S.-dominated Middle East order.
Iran’s 1979 revolution and its anti-U.S., Islamist message still reverberated with people living under brittle pro-U.S. tyrannies in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan, and Egypt. The Soviet Union’s demise had weakened (sometimes fatally) many pro-Soviet parties and movements. This further strengthened Islamic fundamentalist trends, which were becoming the main pole of opposition to the U.S. and its clients. The Iranian revolution and then the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan emboldened Islamists who could now argue that if they had helped bring down the Shah and then a superpower, why couldn’t they do the same to the United States?
As the region’s main Islamist state, Iran represented an ideological challenge to U.S.-led imperialist globalization and “modernization.” The Islamic Republic represented a pole of opposition to some of the U.S.’s political objectives in the region, as well as a source of inspiration (and sometimes direct support) for various Islamic trends.
The Clinton administration viewed the U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” which was aimed at ending the Palestinian struggle and strengthening Israel, as crucial to undercutting anti-U.S. sentiments and strengthening U.S. control of the region. But Iran was an obstacle here—both because of its political support for the Palestinians and its material support of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Islamic Palestinian forces.
The U.S. also worried about Iran’s potential to become a major force in the region due to its size, location, vast oil resources, and its efforts to reach out to global powers. The fact that the U.S. 1991 war on Iraq had weakened it as a regional bulwark against Iran added to these worries.
Iran, meanwhile, was eager to attract foreign investment precisely to expand oil production and build its industrial and military infrastructure. In the early 1990s, Iran offered the U.S. oil giant Conoco $1 billion to help develop its oil and gas industry. This sparked a furor in the U.S. and led to the imposition of sanctions in 1995, blocking any U.S. companies from investing in Iran’s oil and natural gas industries (later expanded to punish foreign firms who did so).
A New “Great Game” in Central Asia
The Soviet collapse also had enormous repercussions for the U.S.—and Iran—in Central Asia. Suddenly, states formerly part of the Soviet Union possessing vast energy resources—Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan (today the site of the world’s largest oil development project)—were independent and up for grabs. Fierce competition was quickly underway between the U.S., Russia, China, as well as European powers for access, influence and control. Former Carter official Zbigniew Brzezinski warned, “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”
Iran sought to expand its historic, geographic, cultural, and linguistic ties with these new republics. It also sought inclusion in the new energy arrangements centering on the construction of oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia to outlets for the global market. Iran lies between the energy-rich Caspian Sea to the north and the Persian Gulf to the south, and already had a network of pipelines. So why not transport oil and gas through Iran?
As Revolution noted, “If the pipes go south through Iran to its refineries and harbors, then the U.S. containment of Iran is broken…. The U.S. vetoed any Iranian route and insisted the pipes run over Afghanistan—to Pakistan.” (See “Afghanistan: The Oil Behind the War,” Revolutionary Worker (now Revolution ) November 4, 2001)
In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. and its ally Saudi Arabia were also covertly organizing and bankrolling anti-Iranian Sunni fundamentalist groups (including the Taliban) in order to isolate Iran and counter Iranian-inspired Shia Islamists, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These covert intrigues further fueled reactionary religious fundamentalism and sectarianism across the region.
The Clash Over Grand Strategy in the 1990s
U.S. strategy toward Iran was shaped by sharp debate within the bourgeoisie that took place during the 1990s over post-Soviet global strategy. The neocon strategy was articulated in 1992 by top officials in the George H.W. Bush administration (who returned to power under Bush II). It called for wielding U.S. military power to preemptively knock down potential rivals and establish unilateral global hegemony.
During his eight years in office, Clinton championed Washington’s “right” to act unilaterally and shape the global environment by force if need be, while emphasizing acting in alliance with other imperialist powers, an overall posture the administration called “assertive multilateralism.”
Clinton was not hesitant to use military force, as in the NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia, the military preservation of the no-fly zone over Iraq, and the taking out of targets in Sudan. And he pushed for NATO expansion into the former Soviet Bloc. But this was still in the context of a more traditional “multi-lateral approach” (in which the U.S. always had the final say and veto power). Further, there was a considerable focus by the Clinton administration on strengthening the U.S. economic hand globally, and aggressively pushing forward with imperialist globalization and things like “free trade agreements” in the interest of U.S. finance capital.
Clinton never adopted a strategy of regime change toward the Islamic Republic, but while emphasizing the stick, also dangled the carrot of better relations. U.S. bullying was, in the words of Clinton’s “Report to Congress on National Security Strategy” (January 11, 2000), “aimed at changing the practices of the Iranian government in several key areas,” while “signs of change in Iranian policies” were viewed “with interest…”
The neocons felt the Clinton administration was squandering the victory of the Cold War, allowing events to drift and threats to build. They considered Clinton’s approach too multilateral (vs. unilateral) and his efforts to forge a new wave of globalization (in the interest of U.S. imperialism) too economically focused. What these neocons saw was an opportunity to radically reshape global relations through a hard line, unilateral and vast step-up in the application of military force and an aggressive program of “regime change.”
Their view was that even though Saddam Hussein was not a major threat to the U.S., the Middle East needed to be radically reshaped or else it would keep generating anti-U.S. forces, particularly Islamic fundamentalist forces, which would get in the way of U.S. domination in the whole region—an objective shared by the whole ruling class, even while there were (and are) differences over how to go about achieving this.
This battle was intertwined with a sharp debate over the significance of resurgent Islamic fundamentalism, which had been sparked by serious Islamist challenges to the ruling regimes in Egypt, Algeria, and Afghanistan. According to author Robert Dreyfuss, there were basically two camps within the U.S. establishment: those who “argued that the United States had nothing to fear from the Islamic right” versus “the clash-of-civilizations school [championed by right-wing academics like Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis], which believed that the Muslim world was unalterably and fundamentally hostile to the West.”
George Bush’s capture of the presidency in 2000 followed by the attacks of September 11, 2001 led to the consolidation of the neocon grand strategy and the launching of the “war on terror” to carry it out. The U.S. war machine would be unleashed to defeat Islamic fundamentalism and take down states impeding U.S. objectives. Global relations were to be radically transformed, and America’s sole superpower status locked in for decades to come. Iran would quickly become a prime target in this war for greater empire, as we will explore in the next and final installment of this series.
Ali M. Ansari, Confronting Iran: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Next Great Conflict in the Middle East, Chapter 4—The United States and the Islamic Republic, pp. 132-146
Bob Avakian, “The New Situation and the Great Challenges,” Revolution #36, February 26, 2006
Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, p. 30
Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, p. 316
Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda, Chapter 8—A Growing Clamor for Regime Change
Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, Chapter 5: The Battle of Islamic Fundamentalisms, pp. 160-168
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Revolution received the following correspondence, via the on-line comments feature on our website, in response to the correspondence “The High-Tech Lynching of Michael Vick” in issue #100.
As the director of an important animal welfare organization, I would like to comment on the controversy around Michael Vick.
I strongly oppose the brutality of dog fighting and all that goes with it. In many areas of our inner cities and in rural areas as well, dog fighting is seen both as "sport" and as part of proving one's manhood.
It is also a part of the alternative economy, where dogs, especially pit bulls, are fought for monetary gain. Michael Vick's participation in the cruelty of dog fighting was not a good thing.
BUT, as a part of a "humane" organization, I MUST speak out against the vicious and ugly campaign that was unleashed against Michael Vick and all that it represents.
First of all, the tenet of innocent until proven guilty was completely demolished. Michael Vick was publicly hung, censored by the league, and humiliated without even having had the right to due process. A right which, by the way, should be extended to everyone, regardless of whether she/he is suspected of being found guilty of a crime.
Second, animal lovers need to get some perspective. Dog fighting should not be condoned and public education needs to go on to persuade people to look at our relationships as human beings to other animals as guardians and advocates.
But we would be in a far more humane world if there was even this big a hue and cry against the 3/4 of a million Iraqi people slaughtered by the U.S. military. To be "humane" must extend to human beings.
Third, to anyone who got some laughs or satisfaction from all of the cartoons depicting Michael Vick being attacked and mauled by dogs out for revenge, I would argue that this is truly no better, and is actually far worse, than the cruelty that dog fighting inflicts on canines.
Further, given that humane activists want to debunk the mythology around pit bulls, the portrayal of these animals as deadly creatures consciously out for revenge is just ugly and a case of humans putting their own need for "an eye for an eye" into the mind of some fictional dog.
To go further, I think these cartoons were a chilling way of harkening back to dogs being set loose to track down runaway slaves and escaped Black prisoners in the south. The references to "neutering" Michael Vick are not very far from the historic practice of castrating Black men for defiance or breaking the rules of the master.
Let's be honest, these images are a matched set with the white-only shade tree in Jena, Louisiana and threatening nooses being hung when the black students get out of control. Given what's actually happening today in our country, the persecution of Michael Vick is part of a chorus of racist incidents that are being justified.
A word on the "sport." No, dog fighting is not a sport. But in the sport of pro football where bone crushing hits is part of the sport, is it at all surprising that dog fighting is a "hobby" of some of the players (and my guess is that far more players, white and Black, partake than meets the eye)?
As for bringing down Vick. Some people have argued that "finally the NFL is getting serious about punishing players for criminal activity and for abusing their position of role models."
Interesting…because it sure does seem that Black players are focused on more often than not. And with the relatively recent rise in the number of talented Black quarterbacks, is it possible that they are not only held to a different and higher standard because of racist and backward assumptions but also because especially when it comes to the position of quarterback, it is a far more select club and only guys who fit will be kept on board, no matter how skilled and talented they are. And yes, because of Vick’s clear talents and huge popularity, taking him down required annihilating him. Opposing the destruction of Michael Vick does not equal upholding dog fighting.
A good friend of mine pointed out that there is an interesting dose of hypocrisy when it comes to how this whole situation has approached the dogs themselves. On the one hand, dog fighting is lifted to the level of deserving more punishment than what has been faced by government leaders for the crimes of mass murder being committed in Afghanistan and Iraq. On the other hand, the government is pushing more and more dog ban legislation around the country aimed at banning (and even exterminating) whole breeds (like Pit Bulls) that are especially prevalent in the inner cities and in African-American communities.
One argument is that banning certain breeds is part of combatting drug dealers and criminal elements in the inner cities. Breed specific legislation is an extreme (and unscientific) approach to dogs who have been portrayed as making up the bulk of vicious dog attacks in the U.S.
The fact is that the breed responsible for more bites than any other is the Cocker Spaniel. Another myth is that Pitt Bulls are so dangerous because they "lock their jaws." This is anatomically a myth. And while any breed can be bred based on wanting to emphasize certain traits, the basic fact is that Pit Bulls are not genetically bound to be any more vicious than, let's say, the Labrador Retriever, which is currently so popular among suburban middle class people.
The problem of Pit Bulls and any other breed is that if they are trained to attack and fight, they are treated cruelly and are dangers to the communities where they are kept. The question of how to combat all this is a complex one that has been addressed by animal welfare agencies through education, humane law enforcement, and some very creative programs which have been brought to some inner city neighborhoods.
The case of Michael Vick has its own specificity given it certainly was not about dog fighting as a major money-making hobby. Much of the thinking that underlies dog fighting is deeply rooted and linked to a lot of old ideas about the worth of animals and stereotypes about what it means to be a man.
The point here is that when it comes to football, the imagery promoted is really not much different than the imagery that is in play when it comes to dog fighting. A player that is known as "dangerous" and able to throw "damaging hits," who makes a tackle and "doesn't let go" is held in high regard…is it really so surprising that NFL role models are really just small scale promoters of the same values that permeates the league from the top?
So, what should be done about things like Michael Vick's treatment of dogs? First it must be responsibly criticized and stopped. Because it is important that we human beings take responsibility for our all around humanity. Secondly, there must be an emphasis on education. This is part of the role of humane organizations. Should the point be to ruin someone's life or to transform people? We live in a society where the government praises war criminals as heroes and where money is made off of suffering.
To everyone who wants to do the right thing about Michael Vick and about dog fighting…first you have to be willing to think. In our society, where racism is alive and well, even something like opposing dog fighting means you have to be able to deal with the complex interaction of different "wrongs" that are going on in our society.
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
Revolution #101, September 16, 2007
From A World to Win News Service:
September3, 2007. A World to Win News Service. Following is an August 30 statement by the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.
The Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement learned with anger and outrage of the arrest in The Netherlands of José María Sison by the Dutch authorities. Comrade Sison was the founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1968 and has remained a life-long opponent of imperialism and reaction and leader of the Filipino people’s struggles. It is for these reasons and no other that comrade Sison has been hounded by successive reactionary governments in the Philippines. U.S. imperialism and the European Union have also tried to stick the “terrorist” label on comrade Sison, despite the fact that the struggle he has been associated with in the Philippines is widely known, even by the reactionary news media, to have the support of millions of Filipinos from all walks of life.
The arrest of comrade Sison is not only a major blow to the struggle of the Filipino people, it is also an attack on the thousands of revolutionaries and other political activists from around the world who have settled in Europe because of severe political persecution in their home countries. If the Dutch authorities succeed in bringing comrade Sison to trial, it will have ominous, more widespread implications.
The CoRIM, on behalf of the entire Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, calls upon all communist, revolutionary and progressive forces and individuals to raise their voices in protest to demand that the Dutch authorities release José María Sison, drop all charges, and cease their political persecution of him.