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Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Interview with Carl Dix:
Revolution: Why should people go all out on September 13 to Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk in New York City and answer the Call for Nationwide Resistance to Racial Profiling, Police Brutality and Murder and the Pipeline Leading to Mass Incarceration?
Carl Dix: Two very important reasons. One is the very intense way the criminal “injustice” system as a whole is being unleashed on people: racial profiling, the almost two-and-a-half million people being warehoused across the county, the five million plus people discriminated against even after they’ve served their sentences—denied employment, government loans, public housing, not even allowed to vote. This is a very intense situation for tens of millions of people; their lives are enmeshed in the justice, or the injustice system as I like to refer to it. But at the same time there is a mood of defiance and resistance that’s been building. We saw it in the response to the legal murder of Troy Davis, after the vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin, with the civil disobedience actions to protest stop-and-frisk, the hunger strikes in California prisons that then spread to other states. And there is a need for that resistance to be taken to a higher level. That’s the point of September 13.
Everybody who sees this injustice needs to see September 13 as the day that we blow the whistle on all of this shit and act on it in a number of different ways—people going to prisons, to the courthouses where people get framed up, to the neighborhoods of the oppressed where the racial profiling is intense. In Anaheim people might go to the scene of the recent murders that were carried out by the police or to the police precinct where the pigs who did these murders work. Or blowing the whistle on stop-and-frisk all over New York City like what is going to happen here and delivering a message that we will no longer suffer this abuse in silence and that we have to and can do something about everything that the police and the whole criminal justice system does to us. This is a very, very important message that needs to be delivered all across the country.
We’re trying to unleash a social media campaign. Our tweets are being re-tweeted and picked up by others; others are putting it on their Facebook page. We don’t know how far it’s gonna go, but we’re calling on people—no secrets, send pictures, video, written reports if you wanna go real old school, but send in word of what you did on this day and blow the whistle on all the crap the criminal injustice system and its enforcers are bringing down on the people. People should tweet about blowing the whistle on September 13—on stop-and-frisk, on the torture-like conditions in prison, on police brutality and police murder, on mass incarceration and all of its consequences. And we’ve developed a hash tag—#S13—that people should use on their tweets. People can go to stopmassincarceration.org and get an organizing kit to use and they can post it up on their Facebook; they can also tweet that link. That’s the kind of thing that we’re trying to unleash.
Revolution: What do you hope will be accomplished on September 13?
Dix: When people step out and blow the whistle, there’s going to be a new day, a whole different scene on this. Because up til now, too much what it’s been is people suffering this abuse in silence, people taking it and even blaming themselves, or blaming each other, for what comes down, that this is your own fault, that this comes down on you because of what you do. And we have to break with that. We gotta stand up and resist. But we also have to look out for each other, have each other’s backs. We have to stand together against what they do to us, instead of looking out for number one and stabbing each other in the back. There’s gotta be a new culture and a new day.
It’s gonna begin in some places, it’s gonna be uneven, but the idea is to gather in different parts of the city on September 13, but then to spread the word on it—to go where people have not yet heard about this and tell them why we’re blowing the whistle, bring them whistles for them to join in. And that’s also why we need to get reports of what goes on around the country so people can get a sense that they’re not isolated, but that they’re part of a growing nationwide movement.
This is actually an application of something we in the Revolutionary Communist Party speak to in our strategy for revolution in a country like this—“fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution.” It’s people standing up, resisting what’s being done to them and to other people. And as people resist they get a better sense of what it is they are up against, that these aren’t isolated problems, but that they stem from a system, from the very way this system operates and that when people stand up there are allies that can be drawn to come to their side and stand with them in the fight. But also, people come to see more what kind of a fight is necessary to actually win, that it’s revolution that we need to get rid of all this madness once and for all. And we have the leadership we need for this revolution in Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who has dug into previous revolutionary societies and re-envisioned how to make revolution and how to bring into being a society and a world that people would want to live in, to emancipate all of humanity.
And so that’s the process going on here and what will come out of this is both a stronger fight against all the ways the criminal injustice system comes down on people, but also people lifting their heads, getting a sense what they’re up against, the kind of struggle needed to break through and win, and people joining the movement for revolution.
Revolution: OK, so what’s next after September 13, building off of what is accomplished?
Dix: Coming off September 13, there has to be a sense that the days of suffering the injustice of mass incarceration and all its consequences in silence are over. That people are going to be lifting their heads and resisting all that. Concretely that will mean taking this spirit of resistance into this year’s October 22, which is the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. On October 22, people need to be out at the prisons saying no to the genocide that mass incarceration is part of. And we’re going to have our whistles with us when we do that. Doing this will infuse some new life into October 22.
And we’re going to fight the legal cases the authorities have thrown at those who have stood up to fight stop-and-frisk and we’re going to do that as part of carrying forward the fight to stop that racist illegitimate policy and to take on mass incarceration overall. Off of the campaign of civil disobedience to STOP “Stop & Frisk” that Cornel West and I initiated last fall, 19 people face two trials. They should be getting medals, not facing two trials and several years in jail for the stand they took. And we are going to build a big fight to force the authorities to back down and drop the charges against these freedom fighters.
Among these people is “Noche” Diaz, a young revolutionary who is somebody who walks on the People’s Neighborhood Patrols, known in the community, to non-violently prevent illegal police abuse under color of authority, police abusive violence. He has been especially targeted for prejudicial prosecution for his defiant stand against police abuse of the people. In addition to being part of the two stop-and-frisk cases, Noche faces two more trials for observing the police brutalizing people in Manhattan and the Bronx. In one of these cases, the man being beaten by the cops told Noche, “You saved my life because I believe they were going to kill me out there.” Noche faces a total of 10 or 11 charges and more than four years in prison for politically calling out police who were beating people down.
In going after Noche like this, the authorities are trying to deliver a message—do not stand up against what we do to people and especially, don’t do that as part of building a movement for revolution, because if you do, you’ll pay a heavy price. We have to stand with Noche, defend him and deliver a different and opposed message—that we will stand with the people who stand up against what this system does to the people, and that we will especially have the backs of our heroes who do this in a consistent and determined way. We’re not going to let you have Noche, and we’re going to call on people to join him and others in standing against police abuse, with all of us calling on people to join him in fighting that as part of building a movement for revolution.
Fighting these legal attacks isn’t a distraction from the fight against mass incarceration and to STOP “Stop & Frisk.” It’s an integral part of that fight because it’s through taking on the ways the system comes at people who resist them that we will be able to build a stronger fight, a fight that can beat back their abuses as part of building a movement for revolution which is the kind of movement we need to end the injustice they inflict on people here and around the world.
So to pull this all together, coming off September 13 we have to be making our message—that the days of suffering this abuse in silence are over—REAL!
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Below is information on the actions on September 13 that we've heard about. Check at http://www.stopmassincarceration.org/ or with Revolution Books stores in various cities for further information and updates.
Meet others to blow the whistle on September 13 as schools let out:
Harlem: 125th & Lenox State Office Building
Brownsville, Brooklyn: Rockaway & Livonia
South Bronx: 174th & Manor, Bronx River Projects
Jamaica Queens: Jamaica Avenue & Parsons Blvd.
Staten Island: Stuyvesant Place & Wall Street near SI Ferry
1 Police Plaza, outside Ray Kelly's office (walk east on Chambers into plaza)
Union Square, south side
Or at 6:00 pm, wherever you are, blow your whistle!
Venice: 3 pm, Venice LAPD Substation, 1530 W Ocean Front Walk
Pico Union: 3 pm, 6th and Alvarado by MacArthur Park, march to LAPD's Ramparts Station
Pasadena: 5 pm, Hilton Hotel, 178 S Los Robles Ave
Anaheim...Leimert Park...Cal State University, Northridge...
Wherever you want to Blow the Whistle on all of this!
Convergence at LAPD Headquarters, 1st and Main, Downtown
Meet at 5th and Spring for ARTWALK LA
Chicago South Side
5pm: Corner of 63rd & Halsted
Chicago West Side
5pm: Corner of Division & Pulaski
Wicker Park/West Town
5pm: The triangle where Milwaukee, Division & Ashland meet
Meet at Bancroft and 73rd Ave, Oakland
March to the Oakland Police Substation, Eastmont Mall
Assemble across from Tower City
March to Justice Center
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
The following is from a statement given by “Noche” Diaz at the August 29 press conference held in New York City by Cornel West, Carl Dix, and others to announce a new wave of protest against stop-and-frisk. Noche is a young revolutionary who faces years in jail if convicted on unjust charges. He has been arrested five times since October 2011 and has had 11 charges piled on him in four New York City boroughs, all for observing and protesting the illegitimate actions of the NYPD. Noche was one of the first members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and helped organize protests that kicked off a citywide struggle against stop-and-frisk. He is well known to the people—and to the NYPD—for being a member of the People’s Neighborhood Patrol of Harlem.
Some of you out there have never been stopped and frisked, and maybe you don’t know what it actually means, what it means to be a young person coming up in New York City or maybe you know some people and you’ve heard these stories. But people need to actually know what happens every day, 1,900 times or more. Maybe you’re coming home from school, maybe you’re going to school, maybe you’re going to work, or coming home. You’re minding your own business, you’re going about your day and suddenly some cop steps to you. They grab you, they throw you up against the wall, they turn out your pockets and if you speak back you risk being thrown in jail and spending the whole night locked up and facing charges and a case, maybe having to miss school, or maybe having to miss work which you can’t afford to do. And your whole life begins to be dominated by the fact that at any moment when you walk the street, some cop can step to you and mess up your whole day, your whole week and the rest of your life.
More than this, why is it that I have to look at these 15-year-olds in the playgrounds in the Bronx who tell me that if you’re not a white person in this world you don’t matter and you don’t mean anything? Why do I have to talk to a 16-year-old, who for a year had to walk around with a restraining order to keep the cops off his back because by the time he was 15 he had been stopped and harassed so many times he couldn’t leave his house without his mother fearing for his life and he had to go to a court and have a judge issue an order to keep these cops off his back? And now that he’s 16, he no longer has this piece of paper and he’s afraid to walk out and hang out with his friends.
What kind of society is this? What kind of world are these youth growing up in? And how come you never hear that story every time they talk about these youth who devalue themselves and carry out violence against each other that the mayor loves to point to after the fact, when he knows and he lies anyway and he knows this stop-and-frisk policy does nothing to stop—that he cares nothing about these youth and these lives that are lost and these generations who are condemned to an early death or a life of brutality and imprisonment. On September 13, that is not going to go down anymore where people are isolated, where people just feel like this is just happening to them, and that something is wrong with them for being stepped to, for being harassed, for being dehumanized, for having their basic rights taken from them and violated. No more in silence and no more at all. On September 13, we’re elevating the level of resistance to actually put another nail in this coffin of stop-and-frisk, like my brothers Cornel West and Carl Dix have been saying, we don’t want to mend it we want to end it. Like Carl Dix has said over and over again, the Freedom Riders didn’t want extra seats in the back of the bus, they wanted an end to Jim Crow segregation. And we want an end to the new Jim Crow of mass incarceration.
Like people have said, I’m facing trials all over the city. On September 5, I’m on trial in Manhattan, facing up to four years in prison, precisely because when these kind of things go down I don’t walk by and I don’t let it happen in silence, I don’t let people get violated without someone speaking up for them. [Noche’s trial has now been continued until October—Revolution.] I’ve been standing up for these youth for years. And I’ve been targeted for my role in doing that. But what’s important for you to know is that you can actually be a part of beating back these attacks on people who stand up for the people and for the youth. And so I invite everybody to join us on September 13 and join me in court on September 5.
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Bronx: People "Blow the Whistle"
From a reader:
At 2:00 am, Friday, September 7, there was an attempted robbery at a bodega in the Bronx, New York City, and the two people working at the bodega were being held captive by the robbers. Someone called the police. When the police arrived on the scene, the robbers fled to the basement. At that point, one of those working in the bodega, Reynaldo Cuevas, a 20-year-old Dominican immigrant, fled out the front door to what he must have thought was safety. Instead he was shot and killed by a cop waiting outside the bodega.
The police claim the killing was an "accident," but the surveillance video and accounts by neighbors who witnessed the killing paint a picture of wanton disregard for the lives of people. News reports say the cop who killed Cuevas was stationed outside with his gun drawn, ready to fire. The video shows Cuevas running out of the store, bumping into the cop, and then the cop shooting Cuevas dead. People are asking, why was Cuevas dragged across the street? "They just killed my cousin and dragged him like he was a dog," said Cuevas’ cousin. "No, that’s no accident," said Cuevas’ uncle, Jesus, who is the store’s owner. But the police have charged the three arrested for the robbery—not the cop—with the murder.
Family, friends, and others in the area were outraged, and throughout Friday people began to converge on the spot where Cuevas was murdered, making a memorial for him there. They were joined by several people from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Throughout the afternoon and evening people came: mainly Dominican immigrants from the neighborhood, but also some African-
Americans, Puerto Rican people, and others, expressing their outrage in various ways, blasting their car radios LOUD. Many got whistles and saw the connection between this murder and the battle to STOP "Stop & Frisk." [See "Blowing the Whistle on September 13—And Making Our Message Real" in this issue.] 700 whistles got out Friday, with a number of youth from the neighborhood taking up distributing them.
At 5:00 pm there was a rally. Among those who spoke was "Noche" Diaz, who said: "If ever there was a time for them [the police] to prove that they are out here to protect and serve anyone, today would have been that day. Here was a young brother robbed at gun point—the people who are supposed to protect you show up and he sees an opportunity to run for safety—but he is shot dead by the very people supposed to be there to save him. People have tried to say that the problem was that the police needed better training. We don’t need better trained killers on our streets.
"I know some of you here are very angry. We can’t just do whatever we want, we need to be disciplined. You need to get with this revolution. I am a revolutionary. And the leader of this revolution, Bob Avakian, says that in the new society, when we have power, and we have people’s police on the street that they would sooner risk their own lives than to kill an innocent person. That’s what it means to serve and protect the people. Fight the Power, and Transform the People, For Revolution!"
The crowd took off on a march to the 42nd Precinct and the neighborhood filled with the sound of whistles blowing. By the end every whistle was out among the people.
On Saturday, there was a follow-up gathering, which in addition to people from the neighborhood, also drew anti-police brutality activists and college students. Heavy rains interrupted and prevented what was to be a larger rally and march to the precinct. This time people from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and the Revolution Club came with a lot more whistles. Masses stepped forward to help get out the whistles, as well as to get out copies of the RCP’s Message and Call: "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," "12 Ways That YOU Can Be Part of Building the Movement for Revolution—Right Now" cards, and Revolution newspapers. People in the community responded to the call for donations for the whistles, donating $46. And people networked about organizing further actions against the murder of Reynaldo Cuevas and to prepare for a powerful outpouring for September 13 day to Blow the Whistle on Stop & Frisk in the Bronx. At the end, groups of college students from several schools took hundreds of whistles and fliers to spread plans for actions to Blow the Whistle on Stop & Frisk on September 13 beyond the community and onto their campuses. Altogether more than 800 whistles were distributed on Saturday.
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Romney Is a Wannabe Criminal-in-Chief... But Obama’s a Proven One... So:
People—especially progressive people—will tell you that “the stakes are too important to sit out this election.” And they are half-right: the stakes are important. But the stakes are not what they say. And the way that people who really want change need to participate in this election is to expose the bankruptcy of the whole process.
So let’s be honest about what it means to get behind Obama. And let’s say right from the beginning that Mitt Romney—who presides over a collection of backward, reactionary, racist, woman-hating, gay-bashing fanatics, klukkers, theocrats, and warmongers—would himself do nothing but enforce the interests of empire. Interests which guarantee the continued misery and subjugation of the vast majority of the people on this planet and the continued destruction of the environment. His only argument with Obama—and Obama’s fundamental argument with him—is who can enforce those interests better and more effectively.
Bad as Romney is, Obama is no better. With Romney, you get the outright fascists. With Obama, you get the “reasonable” fascists—they carry out essentially the same fascist policies as a Bush, but with a different and more effectively deceptive packaging. Obama sells himself to those who ultimately make the decisions as to who runs and who wins on the basis that he can better control the oppressed while carrying out those policies.
Remember the argument last time?
“Obama will open up space for progressive movements.”
“Space.” Really? Unless you mean space in jail cells for millions of poor people, mostly Black and Latino, or space in the federal penitentiary system for people from the progressive movements... he has done the opposite.
Or how about this argument:
“Obama wants to do things that are in the interests of the people, but we haven’t pushed him enough.”
Which of these things does Obama want to do, and why in the world would you think that? What shred of evidence, outside of your own wishful thinking, exists anywhere that Obama wants to do anything besides enforce the interests of empire?
“Obama’s heart is in the right place, but ‘they’ won’t let him do anything.”
“They” chose Obama because he was and is one of “them.” He proved himself over many years, and they tested him out and felt that he would be the most effective one of “them” to put in office and carry out their interests—which was to codify some of the repressive measures Bush put in place, rebuild U.S. imperialist alliances overseas, and project “soft power” (U.S. political and economic domination enforced by blackmail, death squads, and drones) into the oppressed nations, give more focus to U.S. military aggression overseas, and pacify Black people and the so-called progressive movement, among other things.
“But we have to vote for Obama—otherwise the racists will win and they’ll feel emboldened.”
Racists in America always feel “emboldened” because the encouragement and enforcement of racism has always been at the heart of U.S. capitalism and the culture it has spawned since day one. The hard-core racists were emboldened by Obama’s election, and they would have been emboldened if he’d lost. And yes, the Republicans will make great efforts to unleash the ugliest, most vicious sentiments among backward white people that they can. This is actually part of the strategic thinking of the people who really decide who runs and who wins—which, by the way, is not you or me. If you want to fight the racism that will be unleashed as part of the whole plan for what the real rulers want to accomplish with this election, the Democratic Party is the very last place to go because they will do about as much to take this on as Obama has done from his so-called “bully pulpit”—which is absolutely n-o-t-h-i-n-g. The imprisonment of a generation, the wanton murder of African-American and Latino youth by police, the never-ending police harassment of young people of color... all this goes on without even a peep from Obama, let alone a concrete action.
But it’s worse—because Obama’s people in the White House keep telling Black people to shut up and not “rock the boat” and “make it harder” for him. And lackeys and worse, from Al Sharpton to Steve Harvey, attack and try to silence anybody who dares raise a voice against the many ways that oppression comes down on Black people—as well as other oppressed people—and this is especially true for African-American people who raise a voice against the way things are.
“Obama will appoint pro-choice Supreme Court justices—the only thing that stands in the way of a complete banning of women’s right to abortion.”
How’s that working? The deadly logic of demobilizing the pro-choice movement behind the Democrats and adapting to (instead of taking head on) the morality and “logic” of Christian fascists—who would enslave women as forced child-bearers—has led to a situation where “pro-life” terror combined with draconian laws have left abortion hanging by a thread—and now even birth control is under siege.
“But if we don’t elect Obama, we’ll get Romney and the Republicans.”
Mitt Romney has, like Obama, proven himself willing to do anything, no matter how ugly and outrageous, in the service of U.S. imperialism. It is very possible that those who decide things may end up feeling that Romney would be the most effective way to sell their program—that is, to mobilize social forces to accept and rally behind the ugly shit this system does and the even uglier shit it has in store for the people, here and around the world, in the next period. But the actual program that is put forward and then enforced will differ very little. Ask yourself this: exactly what has Obama done that McCain would not have? Unleash drone attacks on people in a growing number of countries? Refuse to prosecute those who ordered and carried out torture under Bush? Claim official power for the president to make “kill lists” and carry them out without any possibility of a day in court for those on the list? Ramp up deadly sanctions and war threats against Iran? But if Romney and all he represents is reprehensible and intolerable, then how do you justify falling in line behind Obama when there is no substantial difference between them on any issue that really matters to the people of the world?
“Well, yes, you’re right about the war crimes and the violations of the rule of law, but this is the only ‘game’ we have, and if we are going to be ‘relevant’ we have to play it.”
NO! Playing this game over and over, every four years, is part of how the oppressed stay oppressed. This is the logic of the Judenrat—those committees of Jews set up by the Nazis to regulate the Jewish ghettos of Poland while the Nazis prepared to exterminate them in the gas chambers. It means participating in a ritual through which all the horrors of everyday life under this system, all the institutions that warp, mangle, and destroy millions of people every day, are legitimized. In the particular case of this election, “playing this game” is part of how the severe and legally unprecedented repressive measures codified by Obama will be legitimized and consecrated; and these are measures which make it a great deal harder for people to mount and carry through resistance against those horrors. Most of all, “playing this game” means lowering people’s sights—putting blinders on them—away from the possibility of a whole different “game”—a different, revolutionary society, one for which a constitution actually exists and for which there is a strategy to get there.
“But what about health care?”
This argument is almost as absurd as it is immoral. Absurd because Obama’s plan is nothing but the same plan that Mitt Romney came up with when he was governor of Massachusetts, both of which were authored by a right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation. But it is also an ugly and immoral argument—for if you go with this, then you are saying that it is okay to rain down hell on people all over the planet, to lock up millions in inner cities, to destroy the environment, to mislead and pacify those most in need of change... so that people in this country can (supposedly) get better health care.
Here’s the reality: We have nothing more to do with the actual decisions of the ruling class than the fans, or even the wrestlers, in a pro wrestling match.
Confronting that truth and acting on it is the opposite of apathy! You want to fight the racism that will be unleashed against Obama... that will spill over against and affect everyone Black and brown? You want to really resist the war on women—which is not a “Republican” war on women but a U.S. war on women in which the Democrats are complicit? You want to see real changes in the world? There is a place for that, and for you—but it is not in the deadly clutches of the Obama for President trap. Real change will only happen through determined struggle against the powers-that-be. And as those struggles become part of a movement for revolution, that’s when we are actually moving to really change things.
That movement for revolution is here, now, ready for YOU!
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Week of September 10
This is a regular feature that gives an ongoing picture of the multifaceted campaign BA Everywhere, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised and the whole BA vision and framework brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper is at the hub of this effort, publishing reports from the campaign, and playing a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge our readers to send in timely correspondence and photos on what you are doing as part of this campaign to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From a snapshot of the BAsics campus bus tour in one city:
As students were coming to school for the first time or heading back for a new semester, the BAsics campus tour went right up in the face of the status quo and verdicts that this is the best of all possible worlds. We took as our guideposts the principles from the BAsics bus tour of putting BA—who he is, and what his leadership is all about—in people’s hands, involving people on the spot and in lasting ways, and letting everyone we meet know that we have a strategy for revolution and we are carrying out that strategy.
On one campus a few folks from Harlem joined us one day, and debate broke open about what is communism, what happened in the 1960s and whether revolution is possible today. Three students went back and forth with us, and many more joined in listening or checked out the BAsics because they just had to find out what it was about that people were debating.
We put revolution on the map at a freshman orientation event at a major university, where around 2,500 students, about half the freshman class, were lined up outside, and we got out about 50 of the Revolution newspaper issue featuring BAsics 3:22 and 1:10 and several hundred palm cards with “10 ways you can be part of the revolution.” When some upperclassmen students decided to be upholders of conformity, discouraging and even trying to prevent the freshmen from checking out the revolution, it made the revolution a controversial, memorable part of orientation—and some students wanted to check it out even more because they were being told not to, and they came to college to discover new ideas.
At two different colleges, we brought to students the ideas and comments of people from oppressed communities in the city. People in the neighborhoods responded to BAsics 3:22 and wrote their stories about what it’s like to be a woman living in the projects and what it’s like to be stopped and frisked by police. Students read these comments and the quotes from BAsics and were also inspired to join the conversation or to find out more about the movement for revolution that drew forward all this.
In all this we started to meet students who don’t want this world, and they began checking out this revolution, finding out about Bob Avakian, and contributing in beginning ways.
From a reader:
We connected a huge crowd with BA and his works at the Rock the Bells (RTB) hip-hop festival. The crowd was very diverse ethnically, mainly 20s, though with lots of people of different ages. We had displays featuring the 3 Strikes quote from BA, which got a lot of attention especially from Black people; the internationalism quotes (BAsics 5:7 and 5:8); and a big banner with “stories from the war zone” featuring the centerfold from the paper containing the “You cannot break all the chains, except one” quote (3:22) and comments from people off of the “10 days” actions in New York against porn and patriarchy. This attracted a lot of attention especially, but not only, from women. We got out approximately 3K BAsics quote cards.
We engaged people on the spot, using the cards and BAsics (and the banner) to get some responses and challenging them to plug into the movement by getting cards, writing their comments, and in other ways. One Black man who saw the 3 Strikes quote and then the quote about slavery (1:1) immediately bought BAsics and then, when we pointed out BA on the cover of his memoir, got that as well, saying he wanted to check out how this young white guy became the man who was writing these quotes. He said, “This quote [3 strikes] just says it all!”
A number of women were amazed that a man had said something like this [3:22]. One woman said that it raised her spirits that a man could know how something as “normal” as the way women were put down was so fucked up and write something like that.
We got out cards to many very far-flung places. People had come from both coasts of Canada—from BC to Montreal and Toronto—specifically for this RTB. We met people from Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, DC, and even from England and Norway. Some of these people, like the Norwegians, who came back to the booth on the second day, got BAsics with the understanding that they were bringing a radically different new synthesis of communism into a place where very few people had knowledge of it—and that this could be significant.
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
On August 30, the U.S. Justice Department announced that no one will be prosecuted in the two cases that had been under investigation for the torture deaths of prisoners at the hands of the CIA under George W. Bush.
In 2008, one reason some people got behind Obama’s candidacy for president was his promise to end, and bring to justice those responsible for, one of the most hideous and dangerous crimes of the Bush regime—the torturing of people in secret prisons, many put there merely on the suspicion of being members of al-Qaeda and other groups opposed to the United States. This was an outrageous violation of international law—but the Bush regime openly justified and legitimized this torture. In fact, there is evidence that more than 100 people died while in U.S. custody—not by “rendition” (sending the prisoners to countries, like Mubarak’s Egypt, to be tortured, murdered, and permanently disappeared), but at the direct hand of CIA torturers.
When Obama ran for president in 2008 he said, if elected, his attorney general would “immediately review” evidence of criminality in these torture programs because “nobody is above the law.” But then, before he was even inaugurated, Obama made clear he was opposed to any such investigations, citing what he called “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” He announced complete immunity from prosecution for any officials who had carried out acts of torture that had been officially declared legal by John Yoo and other Department of Justice lawyers.
After this, in August 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said there would be an investigation into whether charges should be brought in over 100 cases of “severe abuse.” In June 2011, he announced that of those 100, only two cases would be pursued.
One was Gul Rahman, who froze to death in the “Salt Pit,” a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan, after being stripped, beaten, and shackled to a cement wall in freezing temperatures. The other was Manadel al-Jamadi, whose frozen body, wrapped in plastic, was seen around the world in the photographs of the torture victims at the CIA-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The autopsy couldn’t settle whether he’d been killed by “blunt-force trauma” (the beating itself), or by suffocation; because after having six ribs broken, he was shackled and suspended upside down with a hood over his head, in a position where he was no longer able to breathe.
(And, by the way, Romney says he “does not believe waterboarding is torture,” doesn’t think “it’s wise ... to describe precisely what techniques we’ll use in interrogating people,” defends detaining people indefinitely without trial, and opposes closing the U.S. torture dungeon at Guantánamo.)
NOBODY in the U.S. government will now be held accountable for the torture that was carried out systematically, all over the world, for almost 10 years under the Bush regime. As Glenn Greenwald points out in the Guardian UK (August 31, 2012):
“This is so despite the findings of General Antonio Taguba, who investigated the torture regime and said that ‘there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes’ and ‘the only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.’ And it is done even in the face of General Barry McCaffrey’s extraordinary observation that: ‘We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the CIA.’”
At the same time, the Justice Department IS bringing criminal charges against John C. Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who spoke publicly about waterboarding, accusing him of giving journalists the identity of other officers who took part in interrogations. And Obama’s Justice Department is carrying out a vicious prosecution against Bradley Manning, a 24-year-old private in the U.S. Army, facing a military court-martial for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents later published by the website WikiLeaks. Manning has been imprisoned for nearly two years, often in conditions constituting torture.
So Obama and his U.S. “Justice” Department has closed the books on cases of CIA torture, insuring NO ONE will be punished for horrendous torture directly carried out by the U.S. government. But in instances where crimes against humanity by the U.S. are brought to light—the Obama administration is vigorously using all its power to punish, imprison, and even torture people.
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Outside the Democrats’ Convention:
The following correspondence is based on interviews with members of World Can’t Wait who participated in the protests in Charlotte, outside the Democratic National Convention. The quotes are from the interviews.
A small group from World Can’t Wait united with other antiwar activists to create a big visual presence September 2-4 while protesting the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. They brought a big replica of a Reaper drone, a weaponized unmanned vehicle, scaled to 1/8 the size of actual drones deployed by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In the march of 1,500 people, the drone, 12 feet in the air, drew hundreds of protesters as well as media to talk about what World Can’t Wait meant by the “crimes” of the U.S.
One of the contingent organizers said the drone raised the question, “You think our government isn’t committing any crimes under Obama? This is what the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen deal with almost on a weekly basis. This thing flies 15,000 feet in the air and has missiles. An operator sitting at a computer at a base in the United States decides which people are ‘insurgents,’ then pushes a button. That group of people gets obliterated. There have been hundreds of drone strikes, and civilians killed, many of them children. While Bush started using drones, Obama escalated it 10-fold and also uses them when he decides every Tuesday morning who he is going to assassinate next.”
The drone, on wheels, was pushed along the march route as delegates began gathering in the days before the convention began. “At one point during the march we were in downtown Charlotte where residents and delegates were on the sidewalk. We spoke about the U.S.’s use of drones. People were listening intently and taking it all in and you could see that they were really grappling with it. It wasn’t like they were getting mad at us, but were trying to process this information. The drone model was photographed over and over again. We were thanked again and again for having the drone model in the march.”
The contingent distributed thousands of palm cards with the image of a child injured by a U.S. drone in Pakistan. “Tell this child the Democrats are the lesser of two evils,” it said. “Regardless of the presidential election results, the next U.S. president will be the commander-in-chief of drone strikes killing civilians; executor of a ‘kill list’; indefinite detention without trial; vast domestic surveillance; and unconstitutional suspension of core civil liberties.” In the march, and on the streets, people considered that information, and some turned from it. “They agreed that drones are a terrible thing, but they’re still really stuck in the politics of the ‘possible.’ It’s like they can’t imagine anything else is possible so they’re making these really deadly choices. There were a few people who flat out refused to take the postcard... they just didn’t want to engage it at all.”
Others embraced the challenge, and acted on what they learned. “A group of young people from Occupy Charlotte came up to our contingent at one point and started chanting, ‘Drone strikes are war crimes, Obama should do prison time!’ We didn’t even think of that... they came up with that on the spot. During an unpermitted march on September 4 in support of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning, we could hear people chanting that again.”
World Can’t Wait’s “12 Step Program to Overcome Addiction to Voting for the ‘Lesser’ of 2 Evils” was enlarged into a poster, and later brought to the middle of a large Occupy discussion and cheered. Modeled on the self-help approach of addiction programs, the list got people laughing, including at themselves. “4. Stop lying to yourself. The President is not sucking up to the most powerful interests in the world because he loves you. 5. Cut off all contact with Obama, Holder, Clinton and Pelosi. No more phone calls or writing letters. They are aware of what they are doing and they just don’t care what you think.”
All of this was very controversial. Without the political intervention of this contingent, the September 2 demonstration would NOT have targeted Obama’s expansion of the U.S. wars on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, or threats to Iran. Last spring, organizers of the coalition to protest the DNC changed their name and mission (from protesting the Democrats and the convention) to the Coalition to March on Wall Street South, “building people’s power at the Democratic National Convention.” The main demand of the march, an appeal to Obama and the Democrats, or perhaps to union members and the Occupy movement, became “Good jobs for all! Economic justice now—Make the banks and corporations pay for their crisis!”
This really does bring to mind BAsics 3:12—“If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.”
But especially among people in the Occupy movement, who came from around the country to protest, “There seemed to be a willingness and desire to challenge convention goers and delegates on Obama’s U.S. foreign policy, not just to focus on the banks and corporations. One of us interviewed a few of them on video. A young woman talked about how she was disgusted by the thought that she had voted for Obama... she was really aware of the crimes carried out by Obama.”
In addition to the protests in Charlotte, World Can’t Wait and other organizations answered the call of Iraq Veterans Against the War in the San Francisco Bay Area to protest at Obama campaign headquarters around the nation on Thursday, September 6. In dozens of cities, veterans led protests to drop the charges against Bradley Manning, and specifically called on Obama to release Manning from prison.
* * * * *
We received the following correspondence from Chicago:
As the Democratic National Convention was beginning in Charlotte, NC, on Tuesday, September 4, protesters in Chicago—President Obama's "hometown"—delivered their own message to his national campaign headquarters. Chanting "B-A-R-A-C-K, how many kids did you kill today?" Occupy Chicago, No Drones Illinois, Chicago World Can't Wait, Vets for Peace, Gay Liberation Network and friends marched from Occupy headquarters through the Chicago Loop carrying black coffins with "Hope" and "Change" in bold white letters to be deposited in front of Obama's campaign office in downtown Chicago. No Drones Illinois brought a large model Reaper drone with a "delivery slip from the White House." The action was controversial in the Occupy movement and in the streets of Chicago, with some people arguing that it was "helping elect Romney." The protesters stood firm and spoke out, many describing how they had worked for Obama in 2008 and now see that he has only expanded wars, drone attacks, and suppression of basic rights. One young woman said, "The system isn't broken, this IS the system" at work, and several Occupiers said they see the only hope is with the people taking action. World Can't Wait's "12 Steps to Overcoming Addiction to Voting for the 'Lesser' Evil" were read to applause and the speak-out in front of Obama's re-selection campaign headquarters continued with passionate debate.
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Sunsara Taylor and others with “End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women” traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, in the lead-up to the Democratic National Convention to confront the war on women. They confronted the anti-abortion fanatics who had targeted Charlotte’s abortion clinics; they protested outside the downtown strip club which was catering to the delegates; they recruited new activists, distributed palm cards and stickers, and carried a bold banner in the March on Wall Street South.
The group was written up three times in the Charlotte Observer and the following is taken from the LA Times article on protests at the DNC:
Sunsara Taylor, an organizer from New York for StopPatriarchy.org, a pro-abortion-rights and anti-pornography group, said some members of her group went to abortion clinics to escort and protect women from “Christian fundamentalist organizations.”
In addition, she said group members went to a strip club Saturday night to confront delegates who might be patronizing the business. “Strip clubs are part of the war on women,” Taylor said. “A lot of the delegates are embarrassed. I don’t think they like having their claim of being the party of women challenged.”
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Originally published by End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women as part of their growing collection, “Stories from the War Zone.”
The piece on this page, and the response to it by Andrea Strong, RAPE is NEVER the Victim’s Fault, originally appeared online at stoppatriarchy.tumblr.com. Responses to either or both of these pieces, as well as letters telling further “Stories from the War Zone,” are strongly encouraged and can be sent to StopPatriarchy@gmail.com or submitted through the website StopPatriarchy.org.
I was 42 before it really, seriously dawned on me that my first sexual experience was an assault. Even now, in my late 50s, I cannot say that it was rape. Rape is what happens to others; this wasn’t “as bad.” Even as I write about it now I have to soften it, distinguish it from real pain, by calling it an assault.
It was 1970; I had just turned 15. Much of my life seemed out of control (parents, peer pressure, poverty, etc.) but it was all better when I was babysitting. I had my regular job, every day after school and usually Friday and Saturday nights. They were a great hippie couple (both 31) with four wonderful boys. She was beautiful, earthy, smart, and funny. He had long dark hair pulled into a ponytail, stoner blue eyes, and wore tie-dyed t-shirts and love beads. They knew all the local bands, went to all the trippy parties, and stayed out all night long. They introduced me to Janis Joplin, Allen Ginsberg, and weed. She worked all day at an office to pay the bills; he flaked from job to job without much real success. He graduated from seminary school and was a minister for a few years. That is how I met them: he worked at a neighborhood church running all kinds of cool programs for kids. By the time I babysat for them he was already into a different line of non-work.
I wanted to grow up and be in that same kind of situation. I could imagine myself as that mom with some great hippie guy. He was good looking, I had a crush on him, and I wanted to be like his wife so I brought it on myself. For years I blamed myself for what happened.
He called me up and asked me to babysit. It was a Wednesday night so it was a little strange but I said yes. I got to the house but he was the only one there; even the kids were gone. He said he was working on a surprise for his wife and wanted my help. We needed to go into the bedroom. Somehow it involved her closet or her stuff in that room. The rest happened pretty fast. He didn’t use real force or bully me. Maybe I was a little flattered but then I was scared and wayyyyy out of my league. But I tried to be cool and seem in control. I didn’t want him to think I was scared. I don’t remember much about the next 5 minutes. All that lying and betrayal took a whole 5 minutes. But I remember what happened next. He looked at the sheets and was disappointed that there wasn’t more blood. He even commented on it. Again I wanted to be cool so I said I wasn’t a virgin, I did it all the time. I was just having my period. He said I was the 7th virgin he’d taken to bed since his marriage but now he was disappointed in me; I wasn’t really a virgin.
I don’t remember how it all became public. Somehow she found out, my parents found out, maybe they would call the police. There were phone calls and threats made. My parents, who could barely help themselves, did try to help me. They tried to hold him accountable legally, as if that was going to reassure and comfort me. They were hurt and I hated to see them hurt. I made that happen, I made them hurt and I couldn’t stand the pain I caused them. I hurt that woman. She never let me back in her house. I lost her, I lost her boys, I hurt everybody, and I couldn’t stand to see the damage I had done and the pain in everyone’s eyes. I broke everybody and made everything bad.
Over the years I aged but didn’t really grow up. I found myself a hippie guy and had kids of my own. I screwed up so many things and damaged and hurt so many people along the way but that is the material for a different essay. If I ever thought about being 15 and losing my virginity it was always in the context of “serves you right” and “you brought it on yourself.”
When I was 42, I was driving through town with my best friend. I said “You’re not going to believe what happened this week.” I took my kids to the library. What a shock—I saw that hippie mom working the counter. Even though I had moved 100 miles away and over 20 years had passed, there we were again. They had moved to my town and she worked at my library. I broke into a cold sweat when we were checking out books but she didn’t recognize me. She was nice, pleasant even. As we drove around town I told my friend about my experience at age 15; I told her that I could never take my kids back to that library. I found out where in town they lived and I could never go to that part of town. I was still embarrassed and guilty and shameful. Somehow they had managed to stay together and they had moved to my town. It was now my job to stay out of their way and never make them remember the pain I had caused.
There is a reason that we have best friends. They tell us stuff we are supposed to know about ourselves but don’t. She got mad for me. She felt the pain for me that I could never feel. She felt the rage for me that I could never express. In the next 5 minutes she showed me a different way to interpret those 5 minutes so many years earlier. It never, ever dawned on me that I was only 15 and he was 31. It never occurred to me that I was a child, that I didn’t know everything, I wasn’t really cool, I didn’t ask for it, it did hurt, I was lost, I did run away from home, I didn’t want anyone else to hurt but I never let myself hurt. It never dawned on me that it wasn’t just all my fault.
I know it in my head now but I still don’t really feel it. I still qualify it. I know women who have had it so much worse. My story is nothing. I didn’t suffer as much as others so it isn’t really the same. I don’t take on all the blame anymore but I still can’t let it go. I recently found some pictures of that hippie minister from back in the day. I found a few of another neighbor man for whom I babysat. He tried the same thing but I was wiser that time. I found a few other pictures of old family friends who tried the same kind of thing but I was better at fighting off old men. Where are these men now? How many lives have they damaged? How did they ever think it was acceptable?? What kind of father looks for ways to stain his sheets with the blood of young girls? What kind of sons did he raise? Where are those men today? Where are their daughters? Did they ever learn anything different?
Now I am almost 60. I tell the story and share my “aha” moment from the past—my best friend’s outrage and my realization. But I still don’t feel it. I mostly still feel the guilt and shame. I will burn the pictures of those men because they don’t deserve any more recognition in my life. I can cry the tears, I can say that the good in my life outweighs the bad, and I can say that I have now processed the experiences. But it doesn’t really change anything. I still don’t know what to do with the anger and the weight of it just gets heavier all the time.
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Andrea Strong is a Steering Committee Member of End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women.
[Written after reading the letter, “I Still Don’t Call It Rape and the Weight of It Gets Heavier All the Time” from Abigail Lynn.]
These two pieces originally appeared online at stoppatriarchy.tumblr.com. Responses to either or both of these pieces, as well as letters telling further “Stories from the War Zone,” are strongly encouraged and can be sent to StopPatriarchy@gmail.com or submitted through the website StopPatriarchy.org.
Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault. Let me repeat that: Rape is NEVER EVER EVER EVER the fault of the victim. If you were raped, suspect you were raped, or if you were coerced by words or charm or threat, and may not call it rape, but still feel violated, IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT.
We live in a RAPE culture, a culture where people think that rape has to do with sex. Rape has little to do with sex; it is about one person controlling another: whether through physical violence, emotional pressure, or leveraging of power or other social capital, to the point where the victim of the rape feels anything from humiliation all the way up to fear for their life as the dominant emotions. Any female, from the age of 6 months to 90 years old, of any nationality, from any walk of life, wearing any kind of clothing, doing any kind of work or activity (sometimes even sleeping in her own bed), is at risk. Any female in any physical environment, at any time of day or night, is at risk. It could happen in her own home, at a college frat party, at her kindergarten playground, at her church or temple, at her job, in her car, on the street, on the bus or subway, etc., etc., etc. The aggressor could be her boyfriend, her teacher, her priest, her husband, her friend, her date, a stranger, her employer, her boss, her client, her co-worker, even her father/brother/uncle/ or other family member, etc., etc., etc.
This idea that women that get raped somehow asked for it: by their dress, by their behavior, by the work that they do—like prostitution, or pornography, (or babysitting!!), those ideas are wrong. Let me be clear, they are wrong because morally it’s wrong, not to mention ludicrous, to blame a victim of a crime for the crime that someone else committed against them. BUT moreover, those ideas are wrong, meaning that those ideas don’t reflect reality; they don’t accurately describe why rapists rape women.
Remember that list of things to do to avoid being raped or assaulted? They include things like: don’t walk by yourself late at night, bring a whistle with you to blow if you get attacked, keep your car doors locked, check the back seat of your car when you’re getting into your car, never give a ride to a hitchhiker, etc. This is sound advice, and many of the points these lists make are important for women to follow. However, those lists can make it seem like rape is just some natural and permanent part of our landscape. “Now here’s Vanna with the forecast: Well Todd, it appears that there’s a big rape cloud threatening the area around Main St., so if you own a vagina, you’re gonna wanna lock your car doors, or better yet, just not go anywhere tonight if you don’t have to. Make sure you lock your doors tight if you live in that area!” How come they don’t give out a list similar to the ones that women get, but geared toward rapists and potential rapists??? Feel like raping a woman? Then you need to carry a whistle with you, and blow the whistle on yourself if you feel like raping your date.
We also have these ideas that only vile, evil, old, gross men are the rapists. Look around you the next time that you are in public. Realize that one out of every four women that you see has been raped. In the U.S. every two minutes a woman is raped. How many women is that? Who is it that’s doing all this raping??? The fact is, it isn’t mainly old gross evil men who are strangers to the women that they rape. 80% of women who are raped are raped by someone that they know, they probably trust, and maybe the woman even likes and admires him.
Most women that have been raped, sexually assaulted, or molested blame themselves, and it is UNACCEPTABLE that this culture reinforces patriarchal notions of blaming victims for the crimes that were done to them. Furthermore, if you know and trust someone, and they are already a part of your life, how the hell is that list going to help you? It won’t. The straight-up fact for women the world over is that we live in a world that degrades us simply on the basis of our gender. We didn’t do anything to deserve the kind of punishment and outright brutality that one can be dealt if one happens to be a woman. This is a painful fact...I think that many times women try to figure out what their “mistake(s)” were, so that they can feel some control or find some logic in the betrayal and the crime that took away their control and their choice. If we can find some way that we fucked up, then we can protect ourselves and prevent it the next time that it might happen. Or if we can figure out, “Why did I deserve this?” then we could avoid it by being a better “good girl.” But it’s just wishful thinking, it’s bullshit to try to think that way, to try to wrest power from a situation where one was deprived of power, in a culture where all women are subverted on account of their gender.
Women everywhere are under these common threats of violence, and it’s intensifying. There is no way to avoid a culture of rape, a society that has become saturated with porn, the sexualized degradation of women and young girls. People have to recognize that no amount of women blaming ourselves, blaming other women for their rapes, no amount of denial or avoidance is going to drown out the fact that half of humanity is under attack. There is a real need to stand up against this shit, and part of what can happen when you stand up against it is that you start to see more clearly where the blame actually lies, and you begin to gain the ability to put the blame firmly on the patriarchal society we live in, the culture it gives rise to, and the rapists it produces. A part of this fight to defeat the war on women has to include us telling ourselves, our friends, and any one that we meet that confides in us about a rape or sexual assault that IT IS NOT OUR FAULT!!! It is not said often enough, and we need to say it, firmly know it, and tell others...because part of how that internalized blame gets reinforced is through how society treats women after they are assaulted or raped. THEY NEED TO HEAR THE MESSAGE, LOUD AND CLEAR: IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. No more whispers—let’s shout it: RAPE IS NOT OUR FAULT!!!
Get out of the shame, and the blame, and all of those head games, and START FIGHTING TO STOP THE WAR ON WOMEN! And you will probably find that all the crap thoughts finally, finally, finally have somewhere to go, some fucking usefulness. And under all the weight of all that hurt and horror there is probably a wellspring of fury that is just a whisper...just a wisp. As you get further into this, the whisper grows, until the rage that you didn’t even identify as actual rage can get channeled into something really earthshaking. And there are so, so, so MANY of us, and this fury moves DEEP in us. And we aren’t getting angry just to feel better, or to try to get even, we are out fighting to create a world where women aren’t preyed upon; we are out to create a world without rape, a world where women are treated as HUMAN BEINGS in EVERY sphere of society. This is something that both women and men should welcome and actively foster. And all this is WELL worth fighting for.
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
From a reader:
The first 3-1/2 years of Obama’s presidency have been a bitter disappointment for many people who had been swept up by Obama mania. Yet still... Romney and the Republicans he leads can seem even worse to many people. But it’s a lethal trap spun out of deceit, illusion, and willful blindness to think that somehow Obama is “less worse” than Romney.
Take a brief look at what Romney and Obama represent on two key issues—the use of torture and detention without trial as instruments of U.S. policy, and the mass criminalization and incarceration of Black and Latino youth.
During a debate among Republican presidential candidates last November, Romney didn’t address the topic of U.S.-sponsored torture. But immediately after the debate his top aide “clarified” Romney’s position, sending a message to reporters that Romney “does not believe waterboarding is torture.” Romney has said on numerous other occasions that he doesn’t think “it’s wise...to describe precisely what techniques we’ll use in interrogating people,” and then he adds with a straight face that he “opposes torture.”
Romney defends detaining people indefinitely without trial and opposes closing the U.S. torture dungeon at Guantánamo. He said, “And, by the way, I want to make sure these folks are kept at Guantánamo. I don’t want the people that are carrying out attacks on this country to be brought into our jail system and be given legal representation in this country. I want to make sure that what happened to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed happens to other people who are terrorists. He was captured. He was the so-called mastermind of the 9/11 tragedy. And he turned to his captors, and he said, 'I’ll see you in New York with my lawyers.' I presume ACLU lawyers. That’s not what happened. He went to Guantánamo, and he met GIs and CIA interrogators, and that’s just exactly how it ought to be.”
But what about Obama? Didn’t he promise to close Guantánamo as soon as he took office in 2009? Yes he did. He’s promised to close Guantánamo twice, in fact, when he first ran for president in 2008, and again in 2012, since the Democratic Party platform Obama is running on is once more making that promise in this year’s campaign. As of today, Guantánamo is still up and running, with 168 “detainees” held in its cages.
But the Obama administration has already gone much further—in deeds, not just words—in protecting and defending torturers from the Bush years, and extending its “right” to imprison people in other countries. As the New York Times reported on August 30 this year, “Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that no one would be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the C.I.A. Mr. Holder had already ruled out any charges related to the use of waterboarding and other methods that most human rights experts consider to be torture.”
Earlier this year, Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which grants to any U.S. president the power to detain any person, including U.S. citizens, indefinitely and without charge or trial for associating with a broad and vague category of people, including those who have nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks or terrorism.
As for holding people without trial in prisons across the planet, in March this year, the U.S. government and its Afghan puppet Hamid Karzai announced an agreement that said the U.S. would turn over control of the massive prison complex at Bagram Air Base to Afghanistan. But just this week, the Pentagon declared that the U.S. will continue to control prisoners there “for the indefinite future” and to “hold and screen newly captured Afghans for a time, ensuring continued American involvement in detention and interrogation activities.”
Romney is promising to do things Obama sometimes says he opposes—but in reality has been putting into practice for years.
And regarding the issue of mass criminalization and incarceration of Black and Latino youth in this country, how are the candidates for “the highest office in the land” addressing the shameful situation in this country that has the highest incarceration rate in world history, and where there is an epidemic of police brutality and murder that plagues inner cities from coast to coast?
Well, neither one of them has ever indicated in any way that he sees these outrages as a problem.
Their silence on this question is deafening. And the question must be asked: for anyone who cares about the future of the youth in this country, for anyone who is concerned about humanity and its future, for anyone who cares about the health of the planet itself, does it make any difference who wins this election? Would things be even worse for masses of people in this country and around the world if the pack of rabid warmongers, torture advocates, racists, and woman-haters headed by Romney came to power?
The short answer is no.
The presidential candidates, and even more the terms of this election—the terms of participating in the “political process” that U.S. imperialism offers—are deadly enough: would you like your poison straight up, or would you prefer it sweetened now and then with some honeyed words?
But even more, just by participating in this charade of “choice between two candidates”—by voting for either candidate, in other words—the role of the voters is to put a stamp of “legitimacy” on the entire process, and every monstrous crime against the people of the world and in this country that it commits.
Romney and Obama are contending to see which of them will preside over a political and military framework that defends and extends the most vicious, blood-drenched system of capitalism-imperialism in the world. The political machines they lead bring forward different bases of social support, but both act in the interests of that system. They work diligently to present and frame issues and topics of “debate” on the terms of that system.
And they work even harder to draw people in on those terms. Whoever wins this election will sit on top of a mountain of bones of the people killed and lives destroyed by the juggernaut of U.S. imperialism, and will be prepared to commit even greater crimes in the years and conflicts ahead. Whoever wins will say that these murderous acts are to “defend the American people” and represent the “will of the American people,” as expressed through the election.
As the Revolutionary Communist Party says, “Stop Thinking Like Americans and Start Thinking About Humanity!”
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Interviews from the NYC BAsics Bus Tour
The day started out hot and just got worse. There’s something unique about New York hot—like mid-July, temperature somewhere near 100 degrees coming together with the heat generated by 8 million people squeezed together, walking, working and living. Then put it together with humidity so high that the air seems visible and taking a walk feels like moving through a steam room. And just when you think you can’t take no more, there’s a summer afternoon rainstorm. It’s one of those special rains where the sun stays shining while water balloon raindrops hit the streets and cars with big plops and hiss as they evaporate into a layer of steam floating back off into the sky. It was a day when knowing the beach was just a train ride away made life seem so different, so good and so full of possibility—especially when you’re 16 years old and heading out with a few dozen of your closest friends.
I walked through the rain and down into the subway station at 125th and St. Nicholas looking to get the A train out to one of the far ends of Brooklyn. As I walked down the steps to the train platform I could hear a loud roar—not a train coming into the station but an angry crowd running and yelling in my direction. When I reached the platform I had to jump out of the way of a gorilla sized, red-faced New York Transit cop dragging a Black youth no more than 20 years old up out of the subway station by his neck. The roar I heard came from a crowd of the youth’s friends running after the cop, demanding their friend’s freedom. There were about 40 Black youth, men and women, African-American youth as well as many African and Caribbean immigrant youth. As they ran towards the cop an army of police—many of them New York City street cops—seemed to come out of every corner of the station. Some plainclothes cops even crawled up out of the train tracks like rats. They descended on the youth, pushing, shoving and beating them back. But the youth refused to back down. They stood face to face against the police line and shouted at the cops. They yelled about injustice to the other people waiting for a train. The youth were angry as hell and made their case to anyone who would listen. I looked beyond the crowd and saw the ruins of not just a day at the beach but all kinds of dreams and hopes—smashed Styrofoam coolers, broken radios, backpacks split open so clothes, towels and bottles of lotion scattered across the platform, shards of broken memories before they ever had a chance to form.
One of the youth came up to me to make sure I knew what was going on. His eyes were bright, his face a mix of anger and deep pain. I asked what happened. He told me they were all school and neighborhood friends. They had planned this day at the beach for awhile and everything was in place for a moment where nothing else mattered but fun and friends. They were laughing, messing around and listening to music while they waited for the train. Suddenly, a cop came up out of nowhere and decided to start pushing people around. The cop grabbed one of the youth and dragged him away with no explanation. That cracked everything open. The young brother talking with me was 17, a senior in high school. His voice trembled with rage and tears welled up in his eyes as he demanded answers, “Why did they do that? Is it because we are going to the beach? Is it illegal to go to the beach? Is it because we are Black? Is it illegal to be Black?” He turned to try to retrieve some of his belongings and then turned back to yell “Yeah, we’re Black. We’re human beings! We have rights!”
Eventually the cops dispersed the youth—forcing small groups of them onto whatever train pulled into the station and then ordering the engineer to quickly take off.
* * * * *
An hour and a half later I was in Brownsville. Carl Dix was scheduled to speak about the fight against stop-and-frisk on a street corner in Brownsville later that day. I walked down one of the main streets to get a sense of the neighborhood—lots of used furniture stores and small “Mom & Pop” corner shops. Public housing projects of different sizes pop up everywhere. In fact, public housing in one form or another is the main form of housing in Brownsville and the neighborhood has the highest concentration of New York City Housing Authority developments in the city, 18 of them at last count. A little more than 116,000 people, mainly Black, are crowded into just over two square miles of space.
Brownsville is one of those neighborhoods where everyone talks—on corners, in front of stores and on stoops. Everyone has an opinion and argues for it. When I first arrived the volunteers from the BAsics Bus Tour had already fanned out around the area getting out Bob Avakian’s book BAsics and building for actions against stop-and-frisk. Whistles—as part of “Blowing the Whistle on Stop & Frisk" were getting out all over the place. On one intersection a group of women gathered around a halfway parked car and debated each other around how to look at stop-and-frisk. Across the street a group of old-timers sat on broke down kitchen chairs with throw pillow seats and argued about the police and their role in society.
There’s something about whistles and giving them out as part of fighting the power. You can get them out all over the place and do it in a way that is almost invisible. But then, especially when the whistles are meant to be blown as part of calling out stop-and-frisk, making a way that people can stand up against this fascistic and racist assault, stand with the people being harassed by the cops and do it collectively, this invisible army is suddenly jumping out from every corner. A week after the whistles were first given out in Brownsville you might hear them any time of day or night.
* * * * *
James lives on one of the back streets in Brownsville. His front stoop is always crowded with people, mostly family and friends. I first met James on a day when bus tour volunteers marched down his street, agitating and then stopping to talk with people about building resistance to stop-and-frisk, revolution, BAsics and Bob Avakian. The people hanging out in front of James’ house were excited to hear all this. But then, a man about 30 years old burst out the front door, yelling at the volunteers, telling them that they need to move on, that if they wanted to do something good, they should go and organize against what the police are doing in that neighborhood. This was James. He was over-the-top angry and clearly had no idea what was really going on.
Someone managed to get a copy of BAsics—opened up to 1:24: “The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.”
James’ eyes were riveted on the page. He was deep in thought and his whole mood changed. He quietly asked how much the book cost and immediately bought a copy. James’ family and friends grabbed up whistles and I made arrangements to come back and talk with James later.
James is just about to turn 30 and has lived in Brownsville most of his life. When I first got back in touch with James, I asked him what changed him around after reading that quote from BAsics and what made him want to buy the book right away. James looked at me like I should already know the answer and said, “It was something that hit me, man. I felt like it was more in that book, for me, for people to know. And I like to send a message. I mean, like if I get something from you, I’m not gonna hold that in, I’m gonna tell somebody about it.”
He started talking about what it’s like living in Brownsville. “It's rough. It ain't easy, but it's rough. I mean, all my life, I always seen police like take advantages of the community. And they always had to blame everybody for one man's mistake. I mean, they judge you by the clothes you wear, or whether you say 'hi' or 'bye' to 'em. Now, [if] the police ride by and see me sitting here talking to y'all, they assuming that I’m serving y'all something or giving y'all something. They assume it. And I don’t think that be right, man. I think there's one nation right here and we all in it together.”
I asked James what he thought about stop-and-frisk. His eyes got angry as he talked about this. “If it ain't stop-and-frisk, it's a stop. And they've already got their guns drawn to young boys about 12, 11. They draw their gun before they even ask any questions. It's like that, man. It hardly be nobody getting hurt around here. If it do be somebody getting hurt they get to live to see another day. There probably be a fist fight, a ambulance called. But they [the police] just bring a little too much into the situation. They draw they guns too fast. They don't even know if anybody got anything, a weapon or anything on 'em. And it be more than one. They like the biggest gang in New York City. The biggest gang in Brownsville, you ask me.”
I asked James if he knew how many times he got swept up in all this. He voice gave away his exasperation. “Too much. From growing up? How many times? I really can't even count. But I could say the last few times, they just jump out and frisk me just because of I been here for too long... They lock you up for open container, riding the bike up the one-way, having a razor in your pocket even though you might've came from work. They'll lock you up for stuff like that.
“All that is just building up a young man's reputation, a rap sheet, I say. So then when god forbid that they do get caught up in a situation that they can't get out of, they gonna make it seem like he been doing this all his life. And it ain't really like that. Like you can walk around with, um, you can just be coming from work and got a screwdriver on you. They gonna make it seem like you was out to kill somebody. It ain't really like that."
James did time in prison and talks about how so many other people in the neighborhood have also spent time in prison. I read him BAsics 1:13, the quote about how the system condemns generation after generation of young Black and Latino people to oppression, misery and oblivion even before they are born. James loved the power of saying “No More of That!” But he had a hard time wrestling with the idea that this system already has a future set out for so many millions of Black and Latino people, himself included. “Nah. That's what they think, they has each and every last one of us futures figured out. But I don't think it's like that. I don't think that they—I’m gonna keep it on 'I.' I don't think they got my future figured. Like, they plan on thinking that I’m going to go back and continuously do the same thing. I’m grown. You know, I’m about to be 30 in a couple of more days. I’m grown. I don’t think that they got my life figured out. But it's like every time I turn around they try to bring me down. And only one that could do that is me.”
James and I wrestled over what it meant that the oppression of Black people is systematic and systemic and how one of the ways it’s expressed is in things like stop-and-frisk and the pipeline to prison. I asked what he thinks is going on with all this. He thought hard on that. “Since I was young, since I can even remember, I been seeing the same thing go on. And on and on and on. It's like a revolving door, man. And like, even if you go and serve your time for your mistakes, you'll come out thinking that you gonna go the right path, but they still drag you in...
“And like I said before, they catch people up—if you ain't got a ID that say you from here, you trespassing. They taking you to jail. If you ride a bike up the wrong street way, you going to jail. Whatever. You can get caught smoking a cigarette near the park, you're going to jail. And there's a lot of stuff that if you do, that I don't feel like you should be able to go to jail for. But they got it in their head that you're going to jail. And that's how they give us a rap sheet. And they fill our rap sheet out when nobody ain't got no crime, no conviction. And then you get the rap sheet and never been convicted of none of this. But they done got your rap sheet looking like you a mastermind of a whole bunch of stuff—like you meant to do this or knew not to do this and still did it.”
I asked James if he ever dreamed about being able to live in a different world. His eyes lit up. “Everybody done dream! I want a life where there's no dying, no killing, like everybody just living. A life with nobody dying, no robbery, no murders, no rapes. I believe everybody can get along. I mean, just to make this nation even better.” I told James that I think we need to get rid of all nations and build a whole new world—and especially this nation that is slaughtering people and poisoning the planet every minute of every day. He thought about that for a minute and came back with this: “But then we gotta add up—some people need to be molded, man, 'cause if we do change the world, there's some people changing as well.”
We kicked that around a bit as I looked for BAsics 3:17. We talked about how people have to be transformed as they change the world and in order to really change the world. James liked that but had some doubts. “It ain't but much you can really change about a human being, a person, period. You can change the thinking process, but you know that always that stinking thinking gonna come up. Even if there's no wrong way to do nothing right. So you really gotta—you really gotta be dedicated to the change. A lot of people don't dedicate theyselves to the change.”
I read James BAsics 3:17: “People say: ‘You mean to tell me that these youth running around selling drugs and killing each other, and caught up in all kinds of other stuff, can be a backbone of this revolutionary state power in the future?’ Yes—but not as they are now, and not without struggle. They weren’t always selling drugs and killing each other, and the rest of it—and they don’t have to be into all that in the future. Ask yourself: how does it happen that you go from beautiful children to supposedly 'irredeemable monsters' in a few years? It’s because of the system, and what it does to people—not because of ‘unchanging and unchangeable human nature.’”
James considered the quote deeply and then said, “I’m thinking right now. I feel you gotta change the surroundings, people, places and things. 'Cause everybody don't think the same. I don't think nobody think the same. But some people be on the same page. Some people they be on the same page and some of us don't. Some of us ain't looking for no change 'cause they might feel that they embarrassed of a change 'cause they been doing this since they known life itself.” I asked James if he thought we could make a revolution in a place like this and he answered, “The more the merrier. We overpopulate all the negativity, I figure we win and they lose.”
We had been talking for quite some time and James had to split soon. I reminded him that all of his family and friends who were hanging around his stoop on the day we first met were now wearing whistles as part of the “Blow the Whistle on Stop & Frisk” campaign, and I wanted to know what he thought about this campaign. James talked while he walked back towards the sidewalk. “Yes, see, with a lot of people, because I seen a lot of people blowing the whistles. They been blowing the whistles when police stop-and-frisk for no apparent reason. And they blowing them just to make other people aware of what's going on, so they won't be left there by theyself. I feel that was a good thing. It was a good thing. You know, you got some people that blow them just when they see police saying something to somebody, get to blowing them...”
We started to say goodbye and I turned to James and said humanity really needs this revolution we’ve been talking about, really needs this movement. But before I could finish James interrupted with, “Yes, we do. 'Cause it's too many young Black men getting hurt. It's just a little bit too much. And they getting away with it. And some of them don't even be having a record or court appearance about nothing. And they just judge us wrong.”
I told James that this revolution is still small and not strong enough and if he really means what he’s saying he needs to be part of making this real. James smiled and said, “I’m there. No questions asked. From the book [BAsics], the book is a good book. I didn't really go through too much of it, but everything I went through in the book, it made me think about a better life tomorrow. Yeah, I had people reading the book the other night and I seen it in their eyes and everything that they was reading, that they was thinking, because a lot of the stuff that's going on in that book is true. A lot of it is true. And all I do is just sit there and think. I have a open mind, you know? And stop thinking about self. And you think about the bigger picture, like the bigger picture is us, and we all we got."
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
This summer has seen a scorching heat wave across the U.S. More than 40,000 individual high temperature records were set this summer. Cities like Atlanta and Nashville broke records for the highest temperatures ever. The first six months of this year in the U.S. were the warmest in 132 years of recorded history. Wildfires of size and intensity never before seen have scorched parts of Colorado and New Mexico. Drought has engulfed two-thirds of counties in the U.S. The devastation of corn and soybean crops has sent food prices skyrocketing. These price rises under the workings of this system create a real danger of another food crisis like the one of 2008 that caused massive suffering and hardship among the planet’s poorest people.
These events come after other massive heat waves in recent years—in the U.S. last summer, in Russia in 2010, etc. The Russian heat wave was the worst in 1,000 years of recorded history there, according to the Russian state weather ministry. It killed thousands of people and caused hundreds of damaging wildfires.
For years scientists have been predicting that, as the planet warms and the climate changes, there will be increasing extremes in weather, more destructive and frequent storms, and vast transformations in climate such as expanding drought. Now there is increasing evidence that these changes are already upon us. Climate change is caused by the warming of the earth from the build-up in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases that are produced by the burning of oil, coal, and gas and other practices that are rooted today in the functioning of the capitalist-imperialist system.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that of the 13 warmest years globally, 11 of them were the years 2001 to 2011.
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by climatologists James Hansen and Makiko Sato points to evidence globally for the last 61 years showing that in the last three decades, as the average temperature of the globe has slowly risen, extreme weather events have soared and expanded to cover 10 percent of the globe. This is an increase of 50-100 times from the previous three decades. Speaking of the U.S. heat wave in 2011 and heat waves in Russia in 2010 and Europe in 2003, Hansen says, "These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are miniscule, vanishingly small." (Washington Post, August 3, 2012) While other scientists argue it is still not possible to say definitively these extremes could not have happened except as a result of global warming/climate change, it is clear there is an increasing trend of heat and drought extremes as the planet warms.
Things are happening in global climate that have never been seen before. Author and environmentalist Bill McKibben pointed to a rainfall at 109 degrees F. that happened in Mecca, Saudi Arabia this year. He called this the "hottest rainfall in the history of earth. In his book Eaarth, McKibben lists other unprecedented storms. "In the last half decade we've seen the earliest forming Category 5 hurricane ever recorded (Emily 2005), and the first January tropical cyclone (Zeta 2006), the first known tropical cyclone in the South Atlantic (Catarina 2004) and the first known tropical storm ever to strike Spain (Vince 2005)." A New York Times op-ed article by Charles Blow ("Farewell, Fair Weather", New York Times, May 31, 2008) said "According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, there have been more than four times as many weather-related disasters in the last 30 years than in the previous 75 years."
These kinds of weather extremes—heat waves and droughts, flooding and monsoons and more devastating and more common storms—are disproportionately affecting people in the countries of the "Third World," those countries oppressed by capitalism-imperialism.
Global warming and climate change is transforming the face of the planet and causing increasing extinction of species. Polar ice is melting at a rate never before seen. Arctic sea ice was at the lowest level ever recorded in August of this year ("Arctic sea ice just hit a record low. Here's why it matters," Brad Plumer, August 28, 2012, washingtonpost.com). 70-95% of the melt of the Arctic since 1979 was caused by human practices according to a new study in Environmental Research Letters. The melting of ice is already damaging a tremendously rich ecosystem that is important to life on the whole planet and threatening to destroy it over the next decades. The way of life for whole peoples in the Arctic ecosystem is being undermined. Melting of ice in Greenland and Antarctica is raising sea levels with much greater damage to come unless there is a dramatic turn away from burning fossil fuels quickly. According to James Hansen (Storms of Our Grandchildren), the last time the Earth was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer than today (and if business as usual continues predictions are that the temperature increase will go beyond, even quite a bit beyond that over the next century), the sea level was 25 meters (82 feet) higher than today. About a billion people now live at elevations of less than 25 meters, spread along the world’s coastlines and on islands.
These climate changes are part of an overall environmental emergency—the destruction of forests and other natural habitats and ecosystems, the extinction of species far above normal "background" rates, the acidification of the oceans and killing off of ocean life, pollution and degradation of air, water and soil, etc. Climate change is the leading edge of this, causing its own damage and also interacting with and making worse these other impacts. The hard truth is this is just the beginning.
An impending environmental catastrophe confronts the world. Without massive and urgent changes to drastically cut the burning of fossil fuels, climate change will become much more devastating and can become unstoppable. And yet the capitalist energy companies of the planet already have plans to extract and burn five times more oil, coal and gas in the reserves they already own than the upper limit set by climate scientists of what can be burned without causing truly devastating warming of the earth. McKibben points out, "Yes that coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it’s already economically above ground—it’s figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony." These reserves are worth about $27 trillion. ("Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math," Rolling Stone, July 24, 2012)
This reality begins to point to the deeper dynamics of why capitalism-imperialism can do nothing to truly address and deal with this threat to the planet’s ecosystems and to humanity itself. It’s not just about money or greed or even "the corporations." The situation today is the inevitable outcome of a system whose whole heartbeat and functioning is based on approaching everything—all of the natural world and people—as commodities to be bought and sold or used to pour into more growth and production for profit. This drives a process of ruthless and relentless competition among all the capitalist powers to win out against the other, to grab, slash and burn before the "other guy" gets it.
More people are now recognizing the danger of climate change, and in a sense there is a moment to seize. But this needs to go a lot deeper. There is tremendous urgency to transform the situation so people are seriously facing up to the actual danger posed by climate change and the overall environmental emergency, and beginning to get clear on how the system is the source of this problem—and that things don’t have to be this way. Only revolution that defeats and sweeps aside the current ruling power, when conditions for doing that have been brought into being, and establishes a radically new socialist state power, can actually open up the way for dealing with the global environmental emergency for real. There is a great need for increased and more determined resistance on this front, and to link this resistance closely to building a movement for revolution that can bring actual hope of saving the planet from the most devastating changes to come. There is a viable way out, through the new synthesis of communist revolution brought forward by Bob Avakian and the principles for a new system and a new way of protecting the environment laid out in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). (Also check out online Revolution's special issue on the environment at revcom.us/environment.)
As BA puts it in his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, "This system and those who rule over it are not capable of carrying out economic development to meet the needs of the people now, while balancing that with the needs of future generations and requirements of safeguarding the environment. They care nothing for the rich diversity of the earth and its species, for the treasures this contains, except when and where they can turn this into profit for themselves.... These people are not fit to be the caretakers of the earth." (BAsics 1:29)
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
"Decision by Netanyahu, Barak to strike Iran is almost final"
(Times of Israel, August 11)
"Israeli speculation over Iran strike reaches fever pitch"
(Guardian, August 14)
Over the past several weeks there has been an eruption of alarming reports, high-level meetings, and public debate over whether Israel is close to deciding—or has already decided—to launch a military assault on Iran before the November U.S. presidential election.
On August 10, Channel 2 News, Israel's leading news program, reported that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak were on the verge of making a decision to go to war. Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest daily, reports, "Insofar as it depends on [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran will take place in these coming autumn months, before the U.S. elections in November."
The week before, the New York Times reported, "In Israel, there remains feverish speculation that Mr. Netanyahu will act in September or early October." A former head of Israeli intelligence commented, "If I was an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks."
In the midst of these threats, the BBC reported that a document purporting to be an Israeli plan was leaked describing a "shock and awe, Israel-style" assault including a massive cyber-attack, barrages of ballistic and cruise missiles, and follow-on attacks by Israeli war planes.
There is widespread debate and speculation over what's really going on here. Is Israel actually preparing to attack in the coming weeks, calculating that on the eve of the presidential election it would be difficult if not impossible for the Obama administration to refuse to support or join such an assault? Are the threats by Israel's leaders part of a high-stakes ploy aimed at forcing the U.S. imperialists to take an even more aggressive stance toward Iran, with an even more clear cut and near-term commitment to take military action against Iran in order to head off a unilateral Israeli attack as the New York Times and others are suggesting? Is it some combination of both, or another scenario entirely? In any case, there is doubtless more going on behind closed doors than is being aired in public, and in all likelihood no one outside the highest levels of the Israeli and/or U.S. governments can answer these questions with certainty at this moment (and there may be uncertainty at these levels as well).
But three things can be said.
First, whether bluff, actual attack preparations, or some other machination, this flurry of threats represents a further escalation of a very dangerous overall trajectory toward confrontation and possible war against Iran by the world's main capitalist-imperialist powers and their creation and Middle East garrison state—Israel.
This dynamic has ratcheted up sharply in the past year and in certain ways the U.S., Israel and the European powers are already waging forms of war on Iran (sanctions, covert cyber-attacks, assassinations and the like). The stated and public focus of this clash has been Iran's nuclear enrichment program, but this is part of a bigger battle by the U.S. and Israel to maintain their domination and control over the entire Middle East-Central Asian region, including their military hegemony. At present, this battle for dominance is concentrated in their clash with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is posing an obstacle and challenge to the U.S. on many fronts. This is a clash between two reactionary, outmoded forces, with the U.S. and Israel posing the far greater danger to the planet. Stepped-up U.S. intervention in Syria, including possible military intervention, is linked to these efforts to weaken, isolate, and ultimately topple Iran's Islamist theocracy.
Second, whatever Israel's motives, the moves against Iran are still outrageous and must be condemned. Threatening preemptive war is itself a form of aggression. Let's call it what it is: terrorism, aimed at terrorizing the people of Iran and the region. And it must be noted here that whatever differences do or don't exist between Israel and the U.S.—the Obama administration has neither condemned these threats, nor stated categorically that it opposes an Israeli strike and would not support such an action. Instead, Obama officials have talked of Israel's sovereign "right" to make its own decisions concerning its "defense."
And coming from Israel, the region's only nuclear power, a country whose main backer, the U.S., is the only country in the world to have ever actually used nuclear weapons, there's an implied nuclear threat here. This makes it all the more clear that Israeli and U.S. aggression is not aimed at lessening the nuclear danger, much less ridding the world of these horrific weapons of mass destruction. Israeli and U.S. threats—"all options are on the table"—are a form of using nuclear weapons—their nuclear weapons—against non-nuclear Iran. Their demand: that only they be allowed to possess and wield these doomsday devices, while Iran must not be allowed to enrich uranium or ever develop nuclear weapons know-how.
Third, what should our stand be towards all this? First, recognizing that any U.S. and/or Israeli attack would be a towering crime against the people, with the potential to escalate in unpredictable ways. Second, the need to act with urgency to mobilize mass opposition, in many forms and on many fronts, to the U.S.-European-Israeli aggression against Iran that's taking place right now, and to any kind of military attack—right now. Third, the solution to this madness is not siding with either of the reactionary outmoded forces now at each other's throats, but fighting to bring forward a whole other, liberating way—including here in the U.S. by actively opposing the threats and crimes of this government—election or no election, no matter who's in office.
Revolution will continue to closely follow these developments.
* * * * *
For background analysis:
"Hype, False Hopes, and the U.S. Imperialist Agenda Behind Iran Nuclear Negotiations," Revolution #272, June 17, 2012
"Threats, Aggression, War Preparations...and Lies—U.S. and Israel Accelerate Campaign Against Iran," Revolution #262, March 11, 2012
"Is Israel Driving the Threat of War?" Revolution #262, March 11, 2012
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Interviews from the NY BAsics Bus Tour
I first met Nicky in a Harlem park where the BAsics Bus Tour volunteers were having a send-off breakfast on the first day of the "New York and Beyond" leg of the tour. We all chowed down on food and drink donated by people in the projects in Harlem and other parts of the city. A supporter who had helped organize people in the 'hood to support the tour talked movingly about how street corner tables were set and that as people learned about the tour and what it's doing, they gave with all their heart. Now these are people who don't generally have a whole lot of anything extra hanging loosely and pockets that have little more than holes in them. But they gave with their hearts and their brains. They dug deep and gave what they could and went to their neighbors and friends, to their churches, tenants' associations, schools and buildings, to do the same. All told, $450 and a whole lot of food was contributed to the tour in a neighborhood where people often have to choose which meals they need to skip in order to stretch the food out to the end of the month. These were people who were eager to be part of this movement for revolution in whatever way they could.
As the brother continued to tell stories about taking the tour out to the people, I glanced over in Nicky's direction. She was listening hard—sometimes she rubbed the corner of her eye and other times a broad smile lit up her face. I went over to talk with Nicky and she told me that she was a hardcore supporter of the tour. She also told me that she had gotten Bob Avakian's latest book, BAsics, and would love to talk with me about her thoughts on all this. We arranged to talk at her home a couple of days later.
The Bronx is the northernmost borough of New York City and sometimes it can seem like it takes half a day to get to the Bronx from any other part of the city. It's one of those places that all kinds of people know about—some people work in the area and a whole lot of people drive through on the highways that slice across the Bronx as they head out to someplace else. It's renowned as the birthplace of hip-hop and a center for Latin jazz, but truth is, very few people purposely make their way to most of the neighborhoods in the Bronx for fun.
More than 1.4 million people live there—most of them Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and other people from the Caribbean, together with African Americans. Over the last couple of decades a number of African immigrants have also moved to the area. The Bronx has the lowest number and percentage of white people living in it of all the New York City boroughs. And while it has a few better-off neighborhoods, it is also has some of the poorest neighborhoods in the U.S. For many decades at the end of the 1900s, the Bronx was a concentration of abandoned buildings. For a while, the urban renewal program in the Bronx was the City pasting pictures of window panes and flower pots over the sheet metal covering the gaping holes that once were windows in buildings that could be seen from the highways. Arson fires took care of the rest.
As I got off the bus and walked towards Nicky's street, I passed by two cop cars parked on opposite sides of the street. The cops eyed me for a while but didn't interfere. But by the time I got to the intersection with Nicky's street, one of the cop cars was crawling up the hill behind me. I only knew this because just as I got to the intersection I heard a loud, gravelly voice yelling out "Poliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!" Three old men were sitting on a bench just outside of a neighborhood playground. They explained that they were old friends who now saw themselves as "watchers." They explained that they sat on that bench all day, every day, and knew everyone in the 'hood and everything that happens. As we talked, they shouted out birthday greetings to passers-by, asked about health problems and tossed around enough sharp jokes and comments to make your head spin. They said that they watch out for the people and explained that yelling out about the police was just so no one would be taken by surprise. They told me that for many in the neighborhood, just being alive made them a suspect and a target for the police. They also pointed out that in some neighborhoods in the U.S.,their little bench would be inside the park instead of outside of it. They called my attention to a sign that barred any adult not in the company of a child from entering the park. They also pointed out that the listed rules of the park pretty much forbid most things that kids do for fun in a park.
I asked the watchers which way to go to reach Nicky's building. They pointed down a street lined with identical light brown or off-white brick walls, often stained with dark smears that come from decades of human sweat, tears, and laughter. A poetic symmetry of dull black metal fire escapes forming cascading Z's down the front walls of all the buildings drew me into the neighborhood. As I made my way into Nicky's building, concerned neighbors took careful note. Nicky greeted me warmly and we began to talk. I asked her about life in the Bronx, and Nicky explained that for her the Bronx was home but that for a very long time that meant a life of fear, abuse, and pain.
"I've lived here my whole life, since about the age of four. And living in the Bronx is a struggle. It's always been a struggle. It's been a struggle for my mother and my father who raised me. Having a job where I still can't have enough to make ends meet. I've been forced to work two jobs and even seven days a week, where I still can't seem to get ahead. I've raised four children right here in this apartment. There has been times where I've had to rely on public assistance with my jobs. I have children that have gone to college. And even today I still struggle with a job. Just seems like no matter what I do I just can't get ahead."
I told Nicky about the watchers and what they said about the police and the youth in the neighborhood. I asked her what it was like to raise three sons in these conditions. "I think, just like for me, fear, always fear. I have two of my sons that, well actually all three of my sons that have been stopped by police, not doing anything. I tried to be a mother that asked for a curfew because I fear what will happen to them out in these streets, you know? My oldest son actually did seven years for something that he didn't do.
"He was accused of two cab driver robberies in 1999—basically no proof at all, but he was sent to prison for seven to 14 years. And at that time my son was into the rap business. He had a $90,000 contract signed with Def Jam Entertainment. And still that didn't matter to these people. They accused him of robbing one cab driver for $100 and a ring and said that he smoked a cigarette in the back of the cab. My son never smoked a cigarette a day in his life. But none of that mattered.
"I have a handicapped son who has been arrested and thrown up against the wall for no reason at all. He'd gone to visit neighbors in the project, maybe at a party. He was arrested for trespassing. The officer said, 'Do you live here?' 'No. I'm just visiting. There's a party here.' They hauled him off to jail. So basically as a mother, I've had to live in fear. I feel lucky to some degree that my children have only just been arrested. Because a lot of other mothers have actually lost their sons' lives. So to that degree I feel sort of blessed. But I still don't know, you know, will that day ever come? That's what it's like living here in the Bronx."
Life Devoted Toward Making Change
It was hard to think of Nicky as living in fear. Although I had only met her a few days earlier, she seemed so determined and really inspired by the BAsics Bus Tour and the movement for revolution it's bringing forward. I asked Nicky what drew her to the tour and the revolution. "I believe it happened maybe about a month ago. I was on 125th Street, in Marcus Garvey Park, and some gentlemen came by with this big poster and they were talking about the bus tour and they asked me if I'd like to write something on the billboard and I did. And I left my number and my email with them. And I would say maybe about a week or so later, I got a call and that person asked me what would you be willing to do, you know, to help us in this revolution, in this movement? And I was like, what do you need me to do?
"Basically, my whole life has been devoted toward making change, you know, for the better of people, even as me, a mom, and also as an educator in the school system. I just think that this world is just so upside down. And people only do better when they know better. I mean it doesn't seem fair to me that one household has food to throw away and another barely has food at all. I don't like the idea of one particular group of people being able to determine what I eat, where I live, what type of education I'll have, you know, and it goes back to the BAsics book, you know, that one particular race of people defines the lives of others, and even before our children are born. You know, they're doomed before they ever get here. And that really bothers me."
I read that quote, BAsics 1:13, out loud to Nicky. "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that." She thought about it for a minute and then leaned forward on the couch and started to talk again.
"We're Not Going to Take This Any More"
"What I found striking about that quote is that, I think that for so long that we have learned to become comfortable with the abuse that we suffer on a daily basis. And when we say, 'No more,' to me it means that in our hearts and our souls that we're not going to take this anymore. It's not like a smokescreen that we don't realize what's happening to us, and what you're doing to us. And we have to fight back. You know, we just can't just stay laid down and do nothing. And that's why that's really important to me."
Nicky described being part of the "silent march" this June in Manhattan of thousands of people against stop-and-frisk and how powerful she thought it was and how good it felt being there and fighting back. She also talked about how she thought about Trayvon Martin during the march and all of the young Black and Latino men killed by the police in New York and across the country. "Well, to be honest, because it's a typical thing here, in our city, I went, 'Another mother's child.' You know, like, when does it end? There's been so many. I mean, it's almost like I'm losing count. And it touches me because it makes me look at reality and say, 'Will it be my son tomorrow?' I can't imagine what it's like to lose a child. But I know that living where I live, that it's a possibility that that day may come for me.
"To me, they always get away with it. I mean, I've not really ever heard of any case where they've, you know, wrongfully killed our children or imprisoned them, or even beat them where they haven't gotten away with it. Like I said, my son did seven years for something that he didn't do. And he came out. He was supposed to be on seven years of probation, but because my son is not the monster they thought he was, they lessened his parole. He was done in three years. He's a musician and he chose to travel the world and to share his talent. And I believe my son went over to Europe and he was scheduled to have a concert there. And as soon as he got off, you know, the plane or whatever, he was detained: never allowed to make it to his concert because when they looked at, you know, his papers and so forth, they went into the computer and they says, 'Oh, we see that you have a record.' So he spent, I believe it was like four days in this detaining center. And then put back on the plane, you know, like, get him out of here.
"And this is a label that many of our young adults as well as old ones, you know—you steal a loaf of bread because you're hungry, because you're starving, you have a family to feed. And they send you to prison for stealing a loaf of bread, a place where they tell you is rehabilitation for you. So, I mean, doesn't that count for something? Then you walk outside those doors and your family hasn't gone away. You still have a family to feed. And you try to do things the right way. You go and you apply for a job. But you've been labeled and you've been stamped, so they'll say, 'No, sorry, we don't have work for you. You're a ex-con.' So what do you do? I mean, where do you turn to? You go to public assistance and you've got five kids to feed but they decide that you only need $300 to feed your family of five or six people. So you get what we have or you starve to death. And that's not the way this system should be."
Nicky and I talked about the quote a little longer. I pointed out that what Nicky was talking about is exactly how the system works and is designed to work. We went back and forth for a little bit parsing out what it means to talk about the system and that the very nature of this capitalist system is what makes the system do what it does to people—it can't do anything else. Nicky thought for a minute and then spoke up. "To me, it's just not human. A system that only cares about wealth and power and is willing to just annihilate human life to get it. To me, that's not a system, that's—I don't even know what to call it. I mean, what happens to everyone else that's in need. I mean, how do you have so much hate for other people that you don't care if they breathe, if they eat, if they die, if they live. I know there's a better way. I know there is."
"An Awesome Book"
"I put a lot of faith into this BAsics book because overall what it tells me is that we have to be united. We have to come together. But a lot of times we don't know what's being done to us. And this is why I think the BAsics Bus Tour is a wonderful thing, because it goes around and it educates people. And it gets them to see what exactly this system is doing.
"I think that it's an awesome book. I think that so far what I've read, and like I was telling you, I'm just so into other things right now in school, but every chance I get, I pick it up. It's knowledgeable. It shows me some of the things that are being done to me that I couldn't maybe see before. Because it's done in a way that it doesn't—the system does things in a way that it like blinds you, you know. You think because if you're on public assistance they pay your rent or, you know, they give you a couple of food stamps, you know, your life is great. But why can't you live where they live? Why do we have to have food stamps? Why don't people just be able to have enough money to go out and to buy food? You understand what I'm saying? So it opens my eyes to some things that I was never able to see before. And I think that's the wonderful thing about this book.
"One piece that really stuck with me is that when you talk about public assistance, you know, everything's on the computer now. And there're millions of people on public assistance and depend on that to survive. That's how they eat. And the system is able to just press a button and say, 'Millions of you will just starve.' I mean, that's not human."
"America Is This Greedy Place"
We talked a little more about BAsics, and I asked Nicky what she thought of the two quotes that were being featured in July—"American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives," and "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First." Nicky mentioned that these were the quotes she saw when she first met this movement for revolution and they hit her hard.
"It just seems like America is this greedy place, you know and they go places and they take people's lands, and they put them in situations where they can't do for themselves, you know, and have to be dependent on them. No one person anywhere is more important than anyone else. We're all human beings. And we all deserve to be treated with the same respect, the same dignity, and no one should have more than another. There's no reason why those children over in those third world countries should, you know, you should see their ribs, and they're starving because of mere medications and no food, you know, no family. It's just not right."
I brought up the children in the Congo who are being worked to death in the mines digging out coltan that's used to make cell phones work. Nicky got a horrified look on her face. "Absolutely. They're working sunup to sundown on whatever they're working for. They still don't have adequate food. Isn't it something? Oh my god. It's horrible. And then I think about the ones, you've got nine- and ten-year-old girls in places, they're prostituting their bodies just to eat. You know, I mean, like it's unreal. It's just unreal."
I reached for Nicky's copy of BAsics that was sitting on the coffee table. I wanted to read her BAsics 1:10 about the oppression of women under capitalism. When I picked the book up I could see it was well read, some pages dog-eared and others highlighted in yellow. I stopped when I noticed that she had BAsics 1:22 completely highlighted. "In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about 'democracy'—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no 'democracy for all': one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality." Nicky said it was one of her favorite quotes. I asked her why.
"I just never really understood why are we separated, you know? Why are you the poor class, the middle class, the wealthy class? Why don't we all have equal? And money seems to take preference over human life. So those who are richer and have more will always be in the predicament to keep us oppressed and keep us from reaching that same level. And, is that democracy? Is that what democracy is supposed to be about? 'Cause I don't think so. I mean like democracy, like we all supposed to be a team, you know, and decide things together. Things are supposed to be divided up equally. I have a say; I have a right; you have a right. But in this country and around the world we don't have a right. We have no rights. There is no democracy. You're not rich, you have no voice."
Born Female in a World of Male Domination
Since Nicky had commented about being horrified when she heard about the sexual abuse and enslavement of young girls around the world, I wanted to read her BAsics 1:10: "Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world. And in addition to all the other outrages which I have referred to, in terms of children throughout the slums and shantytowns of the Third World, in addition to all the horrors that will be heaped on them—the actual living in garbage and human waste in the hundreds of millions as their fate, laid out before them, yes, even before they are born—there is, on top of this, for those children who are born female, the horror of everything that this will bring simply because they are female in a world of male domination. And this is true not only in the Third World. In 'modern' countries like the U.S. as well, the statistics barely capture it: the millions who will be raped; the millions more who will be routinely demeaned, deceived, degraded, and all too often brutalized by those who are supposed to be their most intimate lovers; the way in which so many women will be shamed, hounded and harassed if they seek to exercise reproductive rights through abortion, or even birth control; the many who will be forced into prostitution and pornography; and all those who—if they do not have that particular fate, and even if they achieve some success in this 'new world' where supposedly there are no barriers for women—will be surrounded on every side, and insulted at every moment, by a society and a culture which degrades women, on the streets, in the schools and workplaces, in the home, on a daily basis and in countless ways."
Nicky's face got very, very serious. She took a deep breath before she started to talk and then laid out a horrible story of abuse she suffered simply because she was a "female in a world of male domination."
"I've had a lot of debate and talk about this because of the way society is implemented, that males are dominant over females. I know that even, you know, in the corporate world like we can't get ahead. A lot of women have degrees, master's degrees, and you know, are suited for these jobs, but just because they're female they don't get them.
"I have been raped as a child, was told you're a woman, you will grow up to be a woman, this is part of life, you know. This is just what men do because they can. I've been in a very, very [bad] domestic situation with my first husband, you know where, just about every day, you know, I had black eyes and so forth, you know. I had to leave and go to shelters to see that me and my kids, you know, would live.
"The thought that men have a right to do this because of their masculine strength is just—it's unbelievable. And this is another thing, you know, that needs to be addressed, because women, you know, we are women, we shouldn't be exploited and raped and beat and just demoralized just because we're women, you know. There are a lot of very strong women, women that raise families on their own, you know that are very productive in society, and they should be treated as such, especially when you have a partner. You understand what I'm saying? And it's true because we're born female it's just, you know, you're a female, you do what I say, and I'm the man and that's it."
I mentioned to Nicky that one of the horrors piled on top of the horror is that so often women who face this kind of abuse are told that it's their fault. Nicky nodded and took the story even further.
"Yes! If you have—'oh, that dress is a little short, if you hadn't have worn that dress, maybe you wouldn't have got raped', you know what I'm saying. I mean we're not even allowed to wear the clothing that we want to, you know, it's always some reason. It's always our fault, like I said my first husband and I, we met when I was 14 and he was 19. I was physically abused and raped by the time that I was 20 and I actually married him—god, don't even ask me why—but then is where I began to learn about the abuse, you know, that women have to take. And you know he would get drunk and today I have a black eye and tomorrow he'd be sorry, you know, and my kids were in turmoil. They were always shaking and nervous, not knowing what's going to happen today, what's going to happen tomorrow, you know, my daughter learned how to dial 911 in the dark by the time she was five years old. I've been beaten with police rods. I've been stabbed. I mean, you name it, it's been done. You know, and this is why I fight as hard as I do, you know, no matter what has happened to me, I realize that I have to continue to fight so that this can change."
"It's Powerful Stuff"
Nicky and I both had to take a minute to pull ourselves back together after talking about this horror. I quietly asked her, in the face of all this terrible oppression she has suffered through, what did it mean for her to find this movement for revolution and its leader, Bob Avakian.
"It meant thank God! Somebody else sees the vision that I have for changing what women go through, for changing the educational system so that everything is equal when it comes to education, changing that some countries are starving and some that are not. Just making changes to better human life period. And that's how I felt. I've had this vision my whole life. There's really people out here that share my vision. And that's why it was like a godsend. Wow, God sent these people to me, like, see, somebody else thinks what you think, you know, and that's why I'm just so happy to contribute, to do whatever I can to make this movement a success."
Nicky mentioned that she hadn't heard of Bob Avakian before she met this movement but now that she has she has some strong opinions. "I've never met this man. I've just started reading his book. But I think that he is a leader. You know, a leader is a person that has a vision and is so genuine in that vision that they're allowed to get other people to share that vision and to become a part of it. And in my opinion, he's a leader in a positive manner, you know. People say, oh, you know, communist or whatever. Listen, this man is teaching me things that I never knew before and is showing me a way to change the things that I feel that need to be changed, which is this whole world, by the way, you know. It's powerful stuff."
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
The following was posted at the Stop Mass Incarceration Network website (www.stopmassincarceration.org):
Monday (September 3), the Stop Mass Incarceration Network distributed thousands of bright orange and yellow whistles to parade viewers and marchers heralding a new and more widespread wave of public protest of the NYPD policy of stop-and-frisk beginning Thursday, September 13.
Their message, “No one will be stopped-and-frisked in silence,” was cheered. Thousands of photos were snapped of their banner “Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk Thursday Sept. 13.”
But one group did not like the contingent’s message, and blocked them from entering the parade, then encircling them with hundreds of armed officers. The NYPD, despite the group’s authorization from the West Indian Day Parade Association to participate in the parade, refused the contingent admittance at several times and places along the route. At one point, after they were directed to their place in the march, police pushed the contingent out of the march and onto a side street.
Carl Dix, an initiator of the campaign along with Cornel West, said, "The NYPD set out to keep our message--Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk--from getting out on Labor Day. A ‘white shirt’ cop told us that he wrote the permits for who gets to march on Eastern Parkway in the West Indian Day Parade. This is what a police state sounds like."
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network says, “If it sickens you to know that under Stop-and-Frisk, almost 2000 people, most of them Black or Latino are subjected to harassment, disrespect, brutality and even worse; if you are tired of seeing Muslims and South Asians targeted; if you hate the way immigrants and LGBT people are treated as less than human by NYPD; if you are someone who knows this will never happen to you but also know it's wrong; Join in BLOWING the WHISTLE on STOP-and-FRISK Thursday September 13. On September 13, nobody gets Stopped-and-Frisked in silence!”
The Network has announced gathering points where youth are regularly stopped and frisked in 5 boroughs on September 13, and also plans to symbolically “blow the whistle” on 1 Police Plaza at 4:00 pm that day.
To read the call for nationwide resistance on September 13 by Carl Dix and Clyde Young go to: revcom.us/a/278/september_13_call-en.html
September 13th—Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk:
A Call for Nationwide Resistance to Racial Profiling, Police Brutality and Murder and the Pipeline Leading to Mass Incarceration
Revolution #280 September 16, 2012
Letter from a Reader in L.A.
This summer the "new and improved" LAPD revealed once again that its cruel and vicious nature is unchanged.
Alesia Thomas, a 35-year-old Black woman, takes her two children—one 3 years old and the other 12—to the LAPD Station in South Los Angeles. She tells police that she is a drug addict and feels she cannot care for her children. The police station is supposed to be a "safe haven" for abandoned babies. She is doing exactly what the system tells her to do to keep her children safe from harm. The police, as if mocking her, go to Thomas' home to arrest her for child endangerment. The video recorded by the police cruiser camera, which has not been made public, shows what happens next (the description is from the LAPD): one officer sweeps Thomas' legs from beneath her while two others handcuff her hands behind her back. Two more officers are called and a "hobble restraint device"—an adjustable strap—is tightened around her ankles. They try to get Thomas into the back of a patrol car. One woman officer threatens to kick her in the genitals if she did not comply, and then follows through on the threat. Thomas is put in the squad car and dies there.
Utterly infuriated and cursing under my breath, I flashed to BA's response to the police murder of Tyisha Miller, shot 12 times by Riverside, CA police as she slept in her car.
"If you can't handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people's police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses." (from BAsics 2:16)
The police killing of Alesia Thomas happened on June 22 and only came to light in August because the investigation of the death revealed there was videotaped evidence. In the same period, two more LAPD incidents happened within a week of each other and became public because they were caught on video.
Ronald Weekley, a 20-year-old Chemistry/Pre-Med student at Xavier University in Louisiana was home in Venice, CA, for the summer. He was skateboarding near his home and according to police was on the wrong side of the street. He ignored the police coming toward him because he thought they were going to question some other youth nearby. As he opened the door to his house he was tackled from behind by the four cops. A cell phone video shows the police piling on him and one punching Weekley repeatedly in the face. Weekley went unconscious. He suffered a broken nose, fractured cheekbone, and a concussion. He is being charged with felony resisting arrest stemming from supposedly riding on the wrong side of the street. Weekley's attorney, Benjamin Crump, who is also the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family, asked at a press conference, "Was he (Weekley) stopped because he was on the wrong side of the road, or was he attacked because he was the wrong color?" Weekley is African-American.
And again: Two LAPD officers pulled over Michelle Jordan, a 34-year-old white woman, registered nurse and mother of two, because she was driving with a cell phone in her hand. This is considered an infraction. She parked and got out of her car. The cops claim she failed to comply with orders to get back into her car so they slammed her to the ground and handcuffed her. While cuffed, they slammed her to the ground a second time because—her husband said—she swore at them. A parking lot surveillance video recorded the whole incident and shows the officers doing a fist-bump after the second take down—a lesson passed from the 22-year veteran commander to the 10-month rookie on how to handle women who talk back.
As if these are not enough to make you want to scream, two more incidents surfaced from earlier this year. In May, LAPD was called to help an actor from the porn industry who was threatening to commit suicide. The police called an ambulance and accompanied Marland Anderson, a Black man, to the hospital. Anderson arrived at the hospital in critical condition with brain damage and died five days later. The autopsy released this summer reveals "neck compression." Experts suspect the police used a chokehold, or sat or stepped on his neck. The second incident happened in April when a distraught, but cooperative, Deutsche Bank executive was picked up late at night in a working class part of LA by the LAPD and ended up in the hospital with face bones broken in 15 places. The executive recently filed a $50 million dollar lawsuit against the LAPD.
In the quote above from BAsics 2:16, BA makes this very important point:
"[T]he role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that's one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people."
This is why on September 13 everyone who hates the brutal murdering pigs, the racial profiling, the mass incarceration; who wants to see a nationwide movement change the political terrain and contribute to building a movement for revolution—you must answer the Call for Nationwide Resistance to Racial Profiling, Police Brutality and Murder and the Pipeline Leading to Mass Incarceration. On that day, PEOPLE MUST BLOW THE WHISTLE and say: "WE WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT ALL THIS INJUSTICE IN SILENCE!"