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Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
In 1890 the U.S. Army massacred 300 Lakota Native American people at Wounded Knee.
In 1945 the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people.
In 1968 U.S. soldiers massacred 400-500 unarmed people in the Vietnamese village of My Lai.
In 2004 U.S. troops laid siege to the Iraqi city of Fallujah, killing several thousand Iraqi civilians.
The very names of these places: WOUNDED KNEE... HIROSHIMA... MY LAI... FALLUJAH.... symbolize for many the long and bloody history of the United States. And there are many, many, MORE dates, places, and death counts... that can be added to this list.
On November 19, 2005, nine-year-old Eman Waleed was at home with her family in the Iraqi village of Haditha when U.S. Marines busted in the door. “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying and shot him,” she told the BBC. “They went to my grandmother and killed her too. I heard an explosion. They threw a grenade under my grandfather’s bed.” Only Eman and her little brother were left alive in her family. Next door the Marines killed eight people, including four children. In another house U.S. soldiers dragged four men into a closet and shot them. After five hours of such terror on Haditha, U.S. troops had murdered 24 people.
Such war crimes are not an “aberration” or “isolated incident.” The U.S. war on Iraq was based on blatant lies. This is a war to strengthen U.S. empire and domination. And from the very beginning, it has been all about kicking down doors, murdering people, air strikes on villages, leveling whole cities, and torturing and killing prisoners.
In one country, in only five years, think of all the human carnage and social destruction caused by the United States: More than a million Iraqis dead. Four million driven from their homes.
Think about how the criminal nature of this SYSTEM goes back to its very roots: Founded on exploitation, including the vast wealth stolen from the labor of millions and millions of Africans kidnapped from their homes, packed into slave ships, and forced under the whip to work in America’s plantations. The near-genocide of the Native Americans. The spreading of this country from “sea to shining sea” through a war of aggression that robbed Mexico of huge expanses of territory.
Think about how throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, before Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States invaded, colonized, occupied, plundered, and dominated people and countries all around the world, including: Mexico, the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Panama, Korea, Vietnam, Haiti, and Somalia.
Today, the U.S. sits atop a global system of capitalism-imperialism. And the very character and workings of this SYSTEM brings war, death, hunger, brutality, and humiliation for the vast majority of humanity throughout the planet. And there are millions of victims of this system right here in the “belly of the beast”:
The whole planet sees how the U.S. government abandoned the people of New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina and ever since. Look at how immigrants are labeled “criminals,” hunted down and rounded up in Gestapo-style raids at workplaces and neighborhoods. Look at how this system’s police routinely beat and murder people, especially Black youth.
This whole blood-soaked setup is protected by the most powerful, destructive military force ever in history. A military built off the great wealth extracted through exploitation in the “homeland” and all over the world. A military with bases in 130 countries. A military that has brought, and continues to bring, immense death and destruction around the globe. A military with thousands of nuclear weapons that give the U.S. the power to annihilate whole countries, or even the whole world, with the touch of the nuclear button.
This issue of Revolution will be out around the Fourth of July, a time when a lot of people—including a lot of progressive people—will get sentimental about the “promise of America.” Many of them will admit—they will even target and oppose—some of the crimes and horrors that have been carried out by this country and this government, and some of the ways that the profit-driven system of capitalism-imperialism viciously exploits people. They may criticize the daily ongoing repression and suppression in American society, and point to the hypocrisy of politicians of all stripes. But all too many will still return to, even cling to, a sort of bedrock belief that these horrors are somehow anomalies—departures from the real essence of America, departures from its “democratic ideals.”
SO LET US POSE A CHALLENGE: Spin a globe. Take almost any area in Latin America, Africa, Asia, or the Middle East and try to find a place where you could not find a similar—or even worse—record of American brutality, murder, and horror as we have sketched here. From Central Asia to southern Africa; from Central America and the Caribbean to Indonesia; from the Congo to Southeast Asia…and beyond.
Or take U.S. history over the past 100 or so years, and show us a time—just a 10-year stretch even—when the U.S. has NOT been murdering people wholesale, or financially and politically sponsoring such murder (either through puppets or proxies), or carrying out military aggression or occupation, in one or another oppressed nation. We don’t think you can.
If we are right, then can you really tell yourself (or others) that this repeated and pervasive behavior is NOT systemic? Can you tell yourself that each of these mountains of outrages is an exception, a case of a “fundamentally good society” gone astray from its promise and ideals? When atrocities are that repeated and that widespread and, frankly, that unmatched on a world scale—can you tell yourself that there is NOT something at the root of it, at the foundation, that drives the madness forward?
Or must you not instead confront the reality, fully, and set about analyzing the problem…and finding the solution?
Note to Readers: Download and print the poster version of the front page graphic, available online at revcom.us.
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Testimony from Veterans
March 13-16, Winter Soldier Investigation: Iraq and Afghanistan was held in Washington, D.C. At these hearings, organized by the Iraq Veterans Against the War, almost 50 American veterans testified about what they had done to the people and land of Iraq and Afghanistan. The audience, about 350 people at any time, were mostly American veterans, military families, and parents whose children were killed in the war.
The four-day event brought together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan—and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists gave context to the testimony. These panels covered everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans’ health benefits and support.
The following excerpts are from the testimony of Jon Turner, one of the veterans who spoke at the second panel on “Rules of Engagement.” Excerpts from two other veterans at this panel appeared in Revolution #126, and a correspondence from a Vietnam vet on the hearings appeared in issue #125. Readers can listen to the testimonies from the hearings at ivaw.org/wintersoldier/testimony.
Jon Turner: “I am sorry for the hate and destruction that I have inflicted on innocent people.”
I served three deployments with Kilo Company, Third Battalion, Eighth Marines. One of which was in Haiti, the other two were in Iraq—in between Fallujah and Abu Ghraib the first time, and in downtown Ramadi at the government center, the second time. I do have some video footage and pictures that I’ll be sharing with you. The videos that I do have, there are swear words in there, so those that are live feeding this, you might need to turn the volume down. Could you please play the first video… So this is gonna be a video of my XO, Executive Officer, at the time of Kilo Company. And in this video he states, “I think I’ve just killed half the population of northern Ramadi, ‘f’ the red tape”….
This video is the aftereffects of what my XO had stated: we had gone into a two-hour-long firefight. It was over for quite some time but he still felt the need to drop a 500-pound laser-guided missile on it, and this is the aftereffects of it.…
Upon arrival to Ramadi in March 2006, we had gotten our Rules of Engagement brief at Camp Ramadi. Just after we had gotten that brief, our First Sergeant had pulled my platoon aside and stated, “If you feel threatened in any way, shape, or form, take care of the threat and we’ll deal with it later.” With that being said, mistakes were made on several occasions. One incident was this guy we called Mr. Wilson. My post was Post Alpha at the government center, in SW corner. And his house was directly across the street. We had a high suicide vehicle-borne IED threat that day. And this car came running around the corner and I fired one 50-caliber machine-gun round at his direction and it ricocheted off the ground, through the floorboard of the car, through his shin, and then through the roof. The car immediately came to a stop and outside of the car came seven of his daughters, including Mr. Wilson himself....
This is another video of a laser-guided bomb.... That was done on the Ministry of Health building. This building was still in use. There was still people that went there and that was a missile that just went into it...
Please go to the next picture. That is looking down the sight of a 50-caliber machinegun. For those of you who don’t know, the round is about six inches long, and the projectile is about one and a half inches long. There are many different types of rounds. The one that was shot at Mr. Wilson was a slap round, which has a polyurethane base and a titanium tip. When the projectile exits from the barrel of the 50-caliber machine-gun, it spreads open like that, so it’ll go into your body leaving a hole about four inches and exit leaving you with nothing.
This will bring me to my next point. When mistakes were made, we carried drop weapons. Please go to the next picture. These weapons right here were taken from the Iraqi police back during our first deployment. This is just an example that we would take their weapons and carry them around with us in case we did mess up and shot the wrong person. What we also did was, anytime we went into a household, we would take the firing pins out of the weapon. Every household is allowed to have one AK-47 for their own protection, and by taking out the firing pins, the weapons would not fire. Therefore they had no protection against themselves or us.
Please go to the next picture. This is what happens when you get hit with a 50-caliber. Next picture. For those of you that don’t know, that is brains. That was not my kill, that was one of my friend’s, but that did happen on my deployment to Iraq. Afterwards it just goes to show you, the mistakes we did made, we had no respect for their bodies afterwards.
Please go to the next picture… That is a man’s face. On April 2, 2005 at Abu Ghraib we had a very highly coordinated attack on us, and the next day we went ahead and had to search the premises for any remains. And obviously that face, or that part of the face, was found and put on top of a Kevlar [helmet] so that a picture could be taken of it.
Next picture please. This picture is kinda hard to see. But we had a mortar attack at Camp India which is right in between Camp Fallujah and Abu Ghraib. And this was a 12-year-old worker who was building our camp for us. And he took a piece of shrapnel to the head....
Next image please. On April 18, 2006 I had my first confirmed kill. This man was innocent. I don’t know his name. I called him the fat man. He was walking back to his house and I shot him in front of his friend and his father. The first round didn’t kill him. After I hit him up here in his neck area and afterwards he started screaming and looked right into my eyes. So I looked at my friend who I was on post with, and I said, “Well, I can’t let that happen” so I took another shot and took him out. He was then carried away by the rest of his family. It took seven people to carry his body away. We were all congratulated after we had our first kills and that happened to have been mine. My company commander personally congratulated me as he did everyone else in our company. This is the same individual who had stated that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing them to death will get a four-day pass when we return from Iraq.
There was one incident where we got into a firefight just south of the government center, about 2,000 meters. We had no idea where the fire was coming from and the way our rules of engagement were: pinpoint where the fire’s coming from and throw a rocket at it. So with that being said, we still didn’t know where the fire was coming from and an 84 mm rocket was shot into a house. I do not know if there was anyone in it. We do not know if that’s where the fire was coming from, but that’s what was done.
Please go to the next image. This man right here was my third confirmed kill. As you can see he was riding his bicycle. Later on in the day we went ahead—and we had CBS [reporter] Laura Logan with us, but she was with the other squad and so she wasn’t with us—and so myself and two other people went ahead and took out some individuals because we were excited about the firefight we had just gotten into and we didn’t have a cameraman or woman with us. With that being said, anytime we did have embedded reporters with us, our actions would change drastically. We never acted the same, we were always on key with everything, did everything by the books.
Please go to the next image.… The man on the bicycle, he was left on the street for about ten minutes until we realized that we needed to leave where we were; and his body was dragged about ten feet to the right of him, where his body was thrown behind a rock wall and his bicycle was thrown on top of him.
Another thing that we used to do a lot was “recon by fire,” where we would go ahead and try to start a firefight if we felt threatened in any way, shape, or form. There was one particular incident where we were working with the Iraqi army and the Iraqi special forces in downtown Ramadi. And with our squad and the Iraqi army there was also Lieutenant Colonels, Majors, First Sergeants and Sergeant Majors, sorry Sergeants Major. With that being said, the Iraqi army would go into the house, kick in the doors, and then go ahead and shoot. And there were loud bursts of machine gun fire, we thought we were taking fire, but then we later found out that it was them.
House raids. Because we were a grunt battalion we were responsible for going on several patrols. A lot of the raids and patrols we did were at night, around three o’clock in the morning, around there. And what we would do is just kick in the doors and terrorize the families. That [looking at photo] was an image taken around three o’clock in the morning through night vision goggles and that is the segregation of the women and children and the men. If the men of the household were giving us problems, we’d go ahead and take care of them any way we felt necessary, whether it be choking them or slamming their head against the walls.
If you go back to that one picture. That was one man that was taken care of in a very bad way. Because of all the wiring that he had, it would be considered IED-making material.
On my wrist there’s Arabic for “F you.” I got that put on my wrist just two weeks before I went to Iraq because that was my choking hand and anytime I felt the need to take out aggression I would go ahead and use it. Please go to the next picture. This is an instance of detainees and how they were treated—in a nice manner. [Two men sitting against a wall with hands bound and black cloth covering their entire upper bodies.]
Next. That is the Fatima Mosque minaret. As you can see, it is ridden with bullet holes and holes in the top of it. Those were from mortars. And the next video that I’m going to show you is a tank round that went into that minaret where we weren’t sure if we were taking fire or not….
This is after one of the guys in weapons company had gotten shot. This is a way that we take out our aggression [video of shots going into a mosque]. For those of you who don’t know, it is illegal to shoot into a mosque unless you are taking fire from it. There was no fire that was taken from that mosque. It was shot into because we were angry….
There are many more stories and incidents for me to talk about, although we don’t have the time to but this just goes to show you that … everyone sitting up here has these stories and there’s been over a million troops that have gone in and out of Iraq so the possibilities are endless… The reason I am doing this today is not only for myself and for the rest of society to hear but it’s for all those who can’t be here to talk about the things that we went through, talk about the things that we did…
Next image. Those four crosses and this memorial service were for the five guys in Kilo Company Third Battalion Eighth Marines that we lost. Throughout our unit we had 18 that got killed.
With that being said, that is my testimony. I just want to say that I am sorry for the hate and destruction that I have inflicted on innocent people, and I’m sorry for the hate and destruction that others have inflicted on innocent people. At one point it was OK, but reality has shown that it is not, and that this is happening, and that until people hear what is going on with this war it will continue to happen and people will continue to die. I’m sorry for the things that I did. I am no longer the monster that I once was, thank you. [standing ovation]
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Emergency Forums in SF Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York:
This information is from the World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime website (worldcantwait.org)
These emergency meetings are being called to raise awareness of the rapidly escalating danger of a possible U.S. preemptive attack on Iran—perhaps before Bush leaves office—and to organize mass opposition to any U.S. military action against Iran.
Organizers write: “Are you willing to be silent as your government—steps up pressure and war preparations against Iran—a Third World country of 70 million people half-way around the world? Are you willing to sit passively while leading political figures—from President Bush to John McCain and Barack Obama to Israeli leaders—threaten Iran that ‘all options are on the table’—i.e., with nuclear annihilation?”
7 pm Tuesday June 24
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Hall
1924 Cedar St. (at Bonita Ave.)
Sponsors: Revolution Books and World Can’t Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime.
Co-sponsor: Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists—Social Justice Committee
Info: 510-848-1196 $5-10 donation, no one turned away for lack of funds. Wheelchair accessible.
7 pm Wednesday June 25
City of West Hollywood, Plummer Park Community Center, Rooms 5 & 6
7377 Santa Monica Blvd @ Martel, Los Angeles
Sponsors: Westside Progressives • World Can’t Wait–Drive Out the Bush Regime. LA. Endorsers: LGBT Greens • Out Against the War-LA • Topanga Peace Alliance
Info: Westside Progressives: 310-490-3858 or World Can’t Wait:
323-462-4771. $5-10 donation; no one turned away for lack of funds. Wheelchair accessible
6:30 pm Thursday June 26
Auditorium, Local 1199,
310 W. 43rd Street
b/8th & 9th Avenues.
Larry Everest is a correspondent for Revolution newspaper and author of Oil, Power & Empire–Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda. He has covered the Middle East for 30 years, reporting from Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and India. His nine-part series, “The U.S. & Iran: A History of Domination, Intrigue and Intervention,” is available at www.revcom.us.
Gareth Porter is the author of Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam and an independent investigative journalist and historian. He has written extensively for Inter Press Service, The American Prospect, The Nation and Salon.com on Bush administration deceptions and threats against Iran.
Additionally in New York: Ervand Abrahamian is Distinguished Prof. of History at CUNY and author of A Modern History of Iran (Cambridge University Press, July 2008); Khomeinism; Tortured Confessions; Iranian Mojahedin. Prof. Abrahamian is currently working on a new book, The 1953 Coup in Iran.
Additionally in Berkeley: Shahram Aghamir is an activist and a journalist who was born and raised in Iran. Currently, he and his colleagues collaboratively produce a weekly show on KPFA Radio entitled “Voices of the Middle East and North Africa.” Daniel Ellsberg is the former State Department and Department of Defense official who leaked the Pentagon Papers.
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
From A World to Win News Service
June 16, 2008. A World to Win News Service. A busload of Palestinian children, aged 6-12, came from Hebron in the West Bank to see the sea. Cut off from going west to the beaches of the Mediterranean by Israel’s “separation wall,” instead they went east. They had never seen an open body of water. The school outing, coordinated with the Israeli-recognized Palestinian Authority Education Ministry, included teachers and parents as well as the children.
The Dead Sea beaches are lovely, and the children were really looking forward to them. But Israeli soldiers cut off the bus and would not let it pass. The bus left and then came back again later that day, in hopes that the soldiers had just been in a bad mood.
The bus driver, Mohammed Ahmed Nuaga’a, described it like this to the Independent (June 14): “I tried to explain to them that these are young pupils who came from very far to fulfill a big dream—to see the sea,” he said.
“But the soldiers were aggressive, and started shouting at us that Palestinian passage is forbidden, whether children or adults. The pupils begged the soldiers to let them go for even ten minutes just to see the sea and return, but nothing happened.”
It turned out to be official Israeli policy to erect checkpoints on roads just before they reach the Dead Sea beaches on weekends and Jewish holidays.
Why? Because shopkeepers in beachfront communities—illegal Jewish settlers on the northern part of the sea which is, even according to Israel, supposed to be Palestinian territory—complained to the army that having Palestinians sitting on the beaches hurt their business selling things to Israeli tourists, who are not used to sharing public spaces with Palestinians.
Many of the Israelis, no doubt, came from what was once the jewel of Palestine, Jerusalem, on the infamous Israeli-only roads leading out of the city and through the West Bank. These walled roads cut off Palestinian communities from one another, allow the rapid movement of Israeli troops and make commuting easier for Jewish settlers, thereby encouraging even more illegal Jewish settlements deeper and deeper into the little territory left Palestinians. Construction for these settlements has accelerated since the “road map” negotiations began.
An indication of the character of these settlements came June 8 when an Israeli group released a video made by a young woman in a Palestinian village near Hebron. It showed club-wielding masked youth marching out of a Jewish settlement below and beating her 70-year-old father- and mother-in-law while they were tending the family’s goats on the hillside (video at news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7451691.stm).
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (aworldtowin.org), a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Letter from a reader
I want to let you know about our experience distributing Revolution newspaper at the Haight-Ashbury Festival in San Francisco. This is a really great event every year. It has a very diverse crowd, very multinational, all ages, including a good number of people from countries around the world. And the event overall really has a good edge—it has that feeling of freedom associated with the ’60s, that young people respect about the’60s. In this whole atmosphere we had a lot of freedom to get the paper out and talk with people and we got an overwhelmingly really good response from the masses. There were tens of thousands streaming by all day.
The main thing I want to report here is the role of the giant enlargements of posters from Revolution. I really want to pass on to the newspaper how appreciated these graphics are. They have a sharp political edge and really draw forward the masses to talk to us. They really draw out people’s political lines. We had a long line of the big posters, one after another, covering about a whole traffic lane of a closed-off area. We had 36 x 48 mounted enlargements of: The Bush Regime “Wanted” poster, right next to the “Humanity Needs a Whole New World...Not a Rotting Empire”; “The Two Weddings, Two Dreams” (the police murder of Sean Bell and murder in Iraq), “The Catholic Church... Is Still a Horror”; the one addressed to: “Those Living in the American Empire All Worked Up Over the So-called Immigrant Problem”; the “We Need A Lot More of This....Not This” (with the 1968 Olympic protest by Black Athletes... and football player Terrell Owens pointing up to “god”); and the one titled, “Living in the House of Tony Soprano...” (all available to download in PDF form at revcom.us/s/graphics). All day, people were stopping and reading these and talking with us.
One important thing that would have been good to add to this is the enlargement advertising the “7 Talks” by Bob Avakian, because when you put that next to the other posters, it provokes a higher level of conversation.
We met all kinds of people, for example, a couple—the guy was from Ireland and the woman from Brazil—and both really dug the poster about the Catholic church, the Tony Soprano poster and the guy talked about how Soprano and the Pope are one and the same. They bought the Away With All Gods! book by Bob Avakian. A professor from San Jose State University who teaches Religious Studies said he would be interested in having us talk to his class about the Away With All Gods! book. One woman read the Sean Bell/Iraqi wedding poster and then the “All Worked Up Over the So-called Immigrant Problem” poster and said she knew about the mass ICE raids and really wanted to know why all this is happening.
One woman, a Latina, commented after reading the poster about the Sean Bell murder and the immigration poster, “What kind of person does these raids and puts people through this; how can these people even do that kind of thing?” She was aware of this planet of slums thing also. Made her question how can we change the whole setup.
So again, I wanted to let Revolution know how enormously helpful the posters are—and keep them coming!
These posters and many others are available for download and reproduction online at
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Chicago Police Shoot 5 People In 5 Days
Shots from Chicago Police ring out across Chicago. Smoke clears, and two are dead, three are wounded. From June 11 to June 16, five Black men between the ages of 16 and 28 were shot by the CPD.
As we write this, 16-year-old Jonathan Pinkerton lies in a hospital bed, paralyzed from the waist down. For the first eight days after he was shot by police his ankles were shackled to his hospital bed. On June 11 Jonathan was shot in the back by a cop in front of many witnesses and charged with “possessing a weapon.” His uncle, who was at the scene moments after the shooting, told us that people there he talked to said Jonathan was unarmed. And that, after the police shot Jonathan, a SWAT team was on the scene in minutes—pointing automatic weapons at people. Jonathan is a student at Corliss High School, where he got As and Bs. He was planning to tour colleges before his senior year. He had never been arrested, something unusual in a part of the city where Black youth are frequently arrested for as little as just being outside when the police ride by. His uncle described how the police jack people up when they are just coming and going to the store. Think about that: it is an unusual event when a young Black man like Jonathan makes it to 16 years old without ever being arrested.
On June 14, Chicago police shot Devon Young, who dreamed of being a rap artist and practiced his raps in his friend’s apartment, 40 paces from where he was killed by police. Neighbors told us that Devon—D-Mack to people on the block—was killed, shot in the back of the head execution style, while kneeling with his hands in the air shouting out to the police “don’t shoot, don’t shoot—I ain’t got nothing.” A neighbor was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying that Young was not carrying a gun on the night he was shot and killed. On the block where D-Mack was killed, youth wear grim faces as they talk about how police “hop out on you for nothing.” The police “slapped palms” after D-Mack was killed and told each other “Good job,” according to a number of people on the block who spoke with reporters. “They don’t treat dogs this bad” said one of D-Mack’s friends. Killed by police at the age of 26, D-Mack leaves a five-year-old son.
On that same night, June 14, a block away from where Devon Young was shot, another young man was shot in the back of his shoulder after he stopped and put his hands up when the police shouted “freeze.” He is now on the hospital tier of Cook county jail—also charged with possessing a weapon that his friends told us he did not have.
On June 15 Reginald Knight was shot eight times in the back by police and killed on the South Side of Chicago. The mother of his three children was arrested when she came to the scene of the shooting around 10 or 11 at night. She was released six hours later without being charged—it was then that she learned Reginald was dead. Queen Sister of the “It Takes a Village Organization” told us that Reginald, dead at 24, will never again play the sax she said he loved so much for his church or to the children he provided for. Police claim that Knight pointed a gun at them as they chased him, but a man who says he witnessed the shooting from his porch told a Chicago TV reporter, “I didn’t see no gun. He had to use both hands to get over the fence. I didn’t see no gun.”
And on June 16, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, yet another young man was shot by police on Chicago’s West Side. The article entitled “2 killed, 3 injured in police shootings over the past week” said this man was shot and wounded by police—the fifth in a five day span. Someone who lives where the shooting happened told us that the police had stopped a car, the three guys in the car broke out running, and the police shot one young Black man in the back.
What kind of society does this to its youth?
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Beginning at 5:01 pm on June 16, same sex couples had the right to marry in California. For centuries, gays and lesbians have been denied this basic right. Their relationships have been driven underground by a vicious stigma, by the threat of jail and violence. Now, gay and lesbian couples have the basic right—at least in California at the present moment—to have the formal legal and economic status that comes with official marriage.
The weddings follow a May 15 decision by the California State Supreme Court, which ruled that laws that have excluded gay and lesbian couples from the right to marry were unconstitutional.
Outside San Francisco City Hall hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the first wedding. Here in San Francisco, the first couple to get married was 87-year-old Del Martin and 83-year-old Phyllis Lyon, who have been at the forefront of the gay rights movement since they moved in together in 1953. The mood was festive, with people singing along as the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band played. Cheers went up from the crowd as people went in and out of the building.
There were a small number of rabid anti-gay marriage protesters. These reactionaries carried signs reading, “Homo Sex Is a Threat to National Security,” “God Hates Fag Enablers,” and “Homo Sex is Sin.” Two men in “Love Jesus” T-shirts carried a large banner calling for the criminalization of gay sex. When a man in the crowd suffered an apparent heart attack, one of the Christian protesters shouted at his unconscious body, “Satan Got You! What is the Devil whispering in your ear about now?”
People were angry that these bigoted people dared to come out and began yelling at and mocking these fools. Others took pictures kissing in front of a banner that said “Re-criminalize Sodomy.” A big sign had pictured the cover of the new book by Bob Avakian, Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World.
The next day was the first full day of weddings in San Francisco and the rest of the state. There were a lot of people—from gay activists to revolutionary communists to progressive religious people—in front of San Francisco City Hall to celebrate and congratulate those getting married. Members of a local Unitarian church passed out cupcakes and offered gay couples the use of their church for weddings. An Anglican minister held a sign that said, “Franciscans for Same Sex Marriage.” A progressive Jewish temple set up a chuppah (canopy) that is part of the Jewish wedding ceremony.
Revolution spoke to a man standing on the steps of City Hall waving a rainbow flag. “I’m here to support my brothers and sisters in this cause to become equal. We deserve it after all these years of being second class citizens. I wanted to show my support and be there for them even though I’m not getting married,” he said. People with the RCP were also there supporting the right for gay people to marry.
Another couple, dressed in tuxedos, who had been together for 12 years and were married four years ago in San Francisco only to have that marriage annulled by the courts, talked about why they felt they had to be married on the first day, “We wanted to be part of history and be here with all the other couples.” His partner added, “It’s nice to have the same rights as everyone else.”
A group of college students drove up from San Jose to be part of the celebration in San Francisco. Holding up a brightly colored sign with rainbow lettering, one of the students told Revolution, “Everyone should be able to get married. It’s like validation for being a human being. That our feelings are real and that our relationships are real.” One of the other students asked, “How can you ban love?”
A Looming Battle
While many were celebrating, groups opposing gay marriage have been mobilizing to whip up hate and prejudice against gays and lesbians and to turn things back.
The clerks of both Merced and Kern Counties said that they will no longer officiate at any weddings, although couples (both same-sex and different sex) will still be allowed to file for marriage licenses. This is reminiscent of the decisions by racist city officials during the civil rights movement who shut down public facilities rather than see them integrated. These clerks sought legal advice from the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group that is about filing lawsuits to break down the division between church and state in the U.S. In the days leading up to June 16, Alliance Defense Fund went to federal court in an effort to block the marriages.
Christian fascist religious forces collected more than 750,000 signatures for an initiative that will appear as a constitutional amendment on California’s November ballot and, if approved, will write into the state constitution that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. These forces have announced that they were going to spend tens of millions of dollars and bring in reactionary anti-gay forces from around the country in an attempt to pass this bigoted initiative.
Billionaire Howard Ahmanson, the initiative’s largest supporter, donated $400,000 so far. Ahmanson has ties to what is known as Christian Reconstructionism, the idea that civil society should be ruled by biblical law. In 2004 Ahmanson said that he doesn’t think that it is “essential” that a society stone to death people who oppose biblical law, although a society that chooses to do this should be supported.
Another major backer of the initiative is the group Focus on the Family, headed by James Dobson. Dobson is one of the most influential leaders of the Christian fascist movement and is known for accusing Sponge Bob Square Pants of promoting the “homosexual agenda.” Dobson has said that gay marriage “will destroy the earth.” (The Daily Oklahoman, October 23, 2004)
Christian fascist forces like these have tremendous influence throughout the government and the military. And they view gay marriage as threatening to patriarchal (male-dominated) social relations in society. Gay marriage, in itself, is not going to undermine and destroy patriarchy. But, in a society in which patriarchy is an essential and defining element, even breaking out of the more traditional forms of patriarchy—such as raising the demand for formal equality in same-sex relations—is seen by sections of the U.S. ruling class as a serious challenge to traditional oppressive relations.
In recent years, the forces opposing gay marriage have pushed out their hateful agenda nationally. They have tried to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning gay marriage. Twenty-seven states currently have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Forty-one states have passed laws that say that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. And let’s not forget that in most parts of this country, including in California, a same-sex couple walking down the street hand-in-hand risks a beating, if not their lives.
There is a need for those who oppose the discrimination of gay people and the ripping away of women’s rights to recognize the implications of the battle around gay marriage in California and actively resist. Who wants to live in a world where people are hounded, discriminated against, degraded, and killed for their sexual orientation?
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
This position paper was prepared in 2001 by a specially constituted writing group assembled by the RCP, USA.
From the Draft Programme of the RCP, USA
“As for intimate relations, socialist society will promote values of, and create the conditions for, personal, family, and sexual relations based on mutual love, respect, and equality.
“The revolutionary proletariat is staunchly opposed to the attacks on homosexuality by reactionary forces such as religious fundamentalists, and to all physical assaults on, discrimination against, and government repression of homosexuals, which is so widespread and vicious in the U.S. today. In the new society, discrimination against homosexuals will be outlawed and struggled against in every sphere of society, including personal and family relations.”
Draft Programme, Part I (p. 22)
From "On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme"
“We, as Maoist revolutionaries, want to liberate all of human expression and social relations from the weight of thousands of years of traditional (oppressive) morality and institutions. So when it comes to matters of sexuality, we do not approach things in the manner of a ‘bedroom police.’ We recognize the great variety and complexity of human sexual expression—including historically—and that the practice of human sexuality is not a static or unchanging thing. We also know that there is much that is not yet well understood—and there is therefore much to learn still—about the many different characteristics of human sexuality at both the individual and broader social levels. And, while there has been important experience in socialist society, which needs to be further summed up, we also understand that it is not possible for anyone to fully predict what forms sexual expression might take in socialist and then in communist society (and what the social ‘meanings’ and significance of various practices might turn out to be in these new social contexts).”
from “On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme”
Complete text of position paper is available at revcom.us/margorp/homosexuality or inquire at your local Revolution Books or outlet.
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
On June 21, about 100 pro-war/pro-military bikers protested in Berkeley in support of the Marine recruiting station in downtown Berkeley. They were met by about 60 demonstrators chanting “Murder, Rape, Torture, War—That’s What They’re Recruiting For” and carrying pictures of Iraqi civilians maimed at the hands of U.S. troops. Another sign said that torture is not a career choice. By taking these reactionaries head on the protesters made it clear that there is no “honor” in fighting an illegal immoral war and that they would not allow fascist thugs gunning motor-cycle engines and shouting “USA Number One” to become the new norm—in Berkeley or anywhere else!
The Berkeley Marine recruiting station has been a target of anti-war resistance by protesters, including from World Can’t Wait and Code Pink, who say that the recruiters are unwelcome in Berkeley. In February, hundreds of high school students courageously went in the face of the pro-Iraq War bikers and goons. These actions sparked actions nationwide against military recruiters. This summer, activists with World Can’t Wait are mounting a political campaign to drive military recruiters out of Berkeley and other communities.
Recently Ron Kovic, a Vietnam veteran whose combat injuries left him paraplegic, and author of the memoir Born on the Fourth of July, sent an open letter in support of “the courageous struggle to stop military recruitment in Berkeley.” The statement says in part:
“Who knows better the deep immorality and deception of military recruiters than those of us who decades ago entered those same recruiting offices with our fathers believing in our hearts that we were being told the truth, only to discover we had been deceived and terribly betrayed.
“Many of us paid for that deceit with our lives, years of suffering and bodies and minds that were never to be the same again. If only someone had warned us, if only someone would have had the courage to speak out against the madness that we were being led into, if only someone could have protected us from the recruiters whose only wish was to make their quota, send us to boot camp, and hide from us the dark secret of the nightmare which awaited us all.”
Read the full statement at:
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
New York Revolution Books Store Opening:
We received the following letter from New York:
Tuesday evening, June 16: The new Revolution Books store in New York City buzzed as 100 people packed the space to celebrate its opening, delighted to meet each other and hear performances and learn what this store is all about.
People from the struggles of several generations—from the 1930s to today—participated. Universes, the multi-disciplinary ensemble from the Bronx, dedicated an a capella selection from their new 90-minute performance, “Ameriville,” about Katrina and America, to the people of Iowa now confronting massive floods. They took us into the waters searching for lost loved ones with a slow gospel tune demanding “where is Noah now?” The beat got more fierce as they sang, taking you to a rooftop in New Orleans, looking up to see Air Force One doing a “fly-by” over thousands abandoned to die.
The evening ended with Michael Wimberly and Laurence Goldman performing a free-flowing montage of African, gospel, jazz, and Native American rhythms and tunes—Wimberly on African djembe drum and drawing piercing notes out of a conch shell; Goldman on a bass, punctuating the performance with vocals calling out for revolution. At the center of the piece was their powerful and angry rendition of Oscar Brown’s “Bid ’Em In,” an evocation of the slave auction block.
Marc Levin, the producer of the documentary SLAM and a neighbor, told how intrigued they were to learn that the new store on the block would be Revolution Books and not a dreaded high-end boutique in this rapidly changing area with a radical history. John “Tito” Gerassi, the internationally renowned Latin American history scholar, urged the store to reach the new generation. Frances Goldin, literary agent for Barbara Kingsolver and Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Lynne Stewart, the people’s lawyer who was prosecuted for representing defendants targeted as “terrorist” by the system, also greeted the crowd.
A speaker from the bookstore staff said: “This is a place that refuses to accept the world as it is; a store alive with a revolutionary vision of a world you would want to live in—a store animated by Bob Avakian’s re-envisioned communism.” He talked about the potential of Revolution Books to spark a new spirit of scientific and radical thinking in a dangerous time where critical thinking is increasingly being locked down and circumscribed in every arena in society.
You could feel something new coming into being—and this was just the “first night” opening of the new Revolution Books in New York City. A mid-summer open house is planned and a major grand opening will take place in September to coincide with the opening of the new school year. A full calendar of author events and discussions is scheduled (see Revolution Books Calendar online or revolutionbooksnyc.org).
Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
Hook Up With the Revolution:
June 25, Wednesday, 7 pm
Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason. “With mordant wit, Susan Jacoby surveys an anti-rationalist landscape [where] reading [is] on the decline and scientific and historical illiteracy on the rise...” Jacoby also wrote Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism.
June 27, Friday, 7 pm
Larry Everest & Gareth Porter speaking on the threat of U.S. Invasion of Iran. Larry Everest is the author of Oil, Power, and Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda and a writer for Revolution newspaper. Gareth Porter is the author of Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam and writes frequently on Huffington Post and other websites.
July 2, Wednesday, 7 pm
Jeremy Scahill, author of New York Times bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Jeremy Scahill can be heard on Pacifica‘s Democracy Now (99.5FM) and Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO).
June 25, Wednesday, 7 pm
“Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: WHAT IS BOB AVAKIAN’S NEW SYNTHESIS?” Continuation of Part II: A Philosophy to Understand—and Change—The World. The Role, and Potential Power, of Consciousness—a further and qualitatively deeper grasp of the ways in which matter and consciousness mutually interpenetrate with and transform each other.
July 2, Wednesday, 7 pm
“Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: WHAT IS BOB AVAKIAN’S NEW SYNTHESIS?” Continuation of Part II: A Philosophy to Understand—and Change—The World. Rupturing with Pragmatic Tendencies—a critique of a host of problems associated with pragmatism and related philosophical tendencies.
July 4, Friday, Noon-4pm
(Anti-) 4th of July Picnic: “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” (based on the speech by Frederick Douglass, see poster). Join us for discussion, debate, music, and food. Rogers Park, by the Wall. (Take the CTA red line to Morse, walk east to Morse and Sheridan, take circle turn into the park). It is a potluck so bring a dish, music and friends.
July 13, Sunday, Noon
312 West 8th Street 213-488-1303
July 5, Saturday, 3 pm
Seminar series on Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World — “Religion — A Heavy, Heavy Chain” (pp 119-154).
July 6, Sunday, 3 pm
Discussion: “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity” by Bob Avakian. One glance at the terrain and you can see all kinds of negative contradictions including extreme individualism, heightened parasitism, and relentless consumerism. But, as Avakian writes, “while it causes real problems and embodies real obstacles from the perspective of our revolutionary objectives, [it] also poses significant problems for the ruling class, much as they’re promoting it.” How should we understand and act in relation to the complicated political and ideological terrain today? Can all this be re-polarized for revolution?
2425 Channing Way near Telegraph Ave
June 24, Tuesday, 7 pm
EMERGENCY FORUM: The Danger of a U.S. Attack on Iran is Real and Growing—We Must Act Now! (See ad)
July 1, Tuesday, 7 pm
“Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity” by Bob Avakian. This week: Repolarization for Revolution
July 4, Friday, 6 pm
Anti-July 4th spoken word event in the spirit of Frederick Douglass’ famous address “What to the American Slave is Your Fourth of July?”
July 10, Thursday, 7 pm
Adam David Miller, author of Ticket to Exile, a memoir of growing up in the Jim Crow South.
2626 South King Street
Mondays, 6:15 pm
Revolution Books circle. Currently discussing “Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: WHAT IS BOB AVAKIAN’S NEW SYNTHESIS?”
July 6, Sunday, 3 pm
Discussion of Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World by Bob Avakian, Part 2.
2804 Mayfield Rd (at Coventry)
Cleveland Heights 216-932-2543
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 3-8 pm
Every Wednesday, 7 pm
Discussions of “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity” by Bob Avakian. Everything We’re Doing Is About Revolution.
1833 Nagle Place
Coming in July, Date TBA
Revolution Books presents
Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: WHAT IS BOB AVAKIAN’S NEW SYNTHESIS?
Presentation followed by discussion
June 28, Saturday, 7 pm
Discussion of “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity” by Bob Avakian. What do we mean by “Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism” and how is it possible to “hasten while awaiting” the development of a revolutionary situation in a country like the U.S.?
July 5, Saturday, 7 pm
Discussion of ”Making Revolution & Emancipating Humanity” by Bob Avakian. How is Bob Avakian—his body of work, method and approach—bringing forward an advanced understanding of what revolution and communism are all about and how to move toward that objective? Why does the world need a culture of appreciation, promotion and popularization around Avakian and his leadership?
(between Cass &2nd, south of Forest)
Tuesday, June 24, 6:30 pm
Discussion of Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World by Bob Avakian. Part Four: God Does Not Exist—We Need Liberation Without Gods. At Taqueria Arandas, 1807 Livernois Avenue (at Vernor), Detroit.
Tuesday, July 8, 6:30 pm
Discussion on “Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: WHAT IS BOB AVAKIAN’S NEW SYNTHESIS?” Part I: “Humanity Needs Revolution and Communism.”
1158 Mass Ave, 2nd Floor, Cambridge
Sundays, 6:30 pm
Ongoing discussing of Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World by Bob Avakian.
4 Corners Market of the Earth
1087 Euclid Avenue in Little 5 Points
404-577-4656 & 770-861-3339
Open Wednesdays & Fridays 4 pm - 7 pm,
Saturdays 2 pm - 7 pm
Sundays, 4-6 pm
Discussing “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity” by Bob Avakian. Meet at bookstore at 3:30.
Tuesdays, beginning July 1, 7-9 pm
Book Club discussion of Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World by Bob Avakian.
Revolution #133, June 22, 2008
Revolution Newspaper's Expansion and $500,000 Fund Drive
At a moment when much of humanity finds itself in a living hell, when the horror of the U.S. occupation of Iraq threatens to escalate into a war against Iran, and when the future of the planet itself is threatened, Revolution newspaper must be out there much more boldly and much more broadly—exposing what is going on, revealing why, and pointing to a revolutionary solution in the interests of the vast majority of humanity.
from “Truth…in Preparation for Revolution!” (available at revcom.us)
Important things were accomplished in Revolution newspaper’s expansion and fund drive. People from all walks of life came forward and participated in raising funds for Revolution. Now, we are challenging people to donate “economic stimulus” tax rebate checks to something really worthwhile—the Revolution expansion and fund drive.
Much is at stake. If people are going to really understand what is going on, and if something good is to be pulled out of the current storms, a greatly expanded Revolution newspaper must be at the heart of that process.
Send checks or money orders to: RCP Publications, Box 3486 Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654 or donate online at revcom.us/fund_en.php