Revolution #293, February 3, 2013 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

More on Choices...And Radical Changes

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Introductory note: These are comments by BA that were part of a discussion with people that went deeply into the questions of why people oppressed under this system often get caught up in things like crime, who and what is fundamentally to blame for this, and what is the way forward out of this situation. Comments from people in the discussion are in double brackets.

 

BA: I know by what was reported to me, and I hope I’m not out of line here. [laughs] But I know, for example, over the informal discussion, there was some question from people about what I was just saying, like whether it’s true that it’s the system’s fault that people get into crime or whether it’s people making bad choices. I know that this has come up so I spoke to that some but if people have something they want to throw in about that, either disagree with what I’m saying or ask more about that, it would be good. I know, for example you [...] brought this up, right? That people make these bad choices, am I right about that?

[[“Yeah, like, murderers, that’s they choice, it’s not the system to kill somebody. But they go out and kill somebody just to get a hit, or get anything. The system don’t tell them to do that, that’s by choice. Then they get caught up and they go to jail, stuff like that. And I’m like, I don’t get it how people say it’s the system.”]]

BA: Okay, I think that’s a good question, I think it’s a question that a lot of people have, even if they don’t like the system.

Look, I think you’re right that obviously people do make a choice, in the more narrow sense people do decide to do something or not to do it. It’s not like, in most cases at least, somebody literally puts a gun to their head, says you have to go out and rob somebody, you have to go out and rape somebody, you have to go out and kill somebody. That’s true.

But the point is the reason why we say that it’s the system in a more basic sense is because, both in terms of the conditions people find themselves in that aren’t of their own choosing, and in terms of the ideas that are out there in society that influence people, those things are not things that people thought up all on their own, those are things that come from something bigger than people—namely from the system.

In other words, the idea that you should get yours, and get over on other people, is an idea that has a lot of influence on people. But it is not just something people thought of on their own, that is the culture that we get from the popular... the TV programs, the music, all the things that are promoted encourage people to think in that kind of way.

Now if you are a stockbroker, and you work on Wall Street in New York, you do that by high level swindling and manipulating the stock market to get more money for yourself, or just undercutting other people in billion-dollar deals. And very rarely do you get caught for doing that and sent to prison for doing that. It’s not even always illegal what those people do, they just engage in a lot of high financial speculation and manipulation to make a lot of money off the misery of people who are being exploited to create that wealth in the first place. But that’s the mentality: make as much money as you can, get over on other people any way you can.

But if you are in a position to be a stockbroker then you can do it in a big-time way and you’re called a role model. [appreciative laughter] You’re held up as what people should try to be like.

But if you are on the street and you don’t have any way, you don’t have a background in knowing all about the stock market and everything else, but you have the same kind of thinking that’s been instilled in and influences your mind, then you’re going to go out and rob somebody because that’s the thing that you can do, or you can sell them drugs.

[[Because they can get away with it?]]

BA: Not because they can get away with it, but because that’s what is available to you, if you have the way of thinking that the idea is to get as much as you can get by getting over on other people. You can’t become a big-time stock trader if you don’t have the background to do that. They’re not going to let you just walk up in there and start manipulating stocks, right? [laughter] But you can rob somebody on the street.

[[Yeah, I’m understanding what you are saying now.]]

BA: Okay, so you can rob somebody, right? Now am I saying it is right to rob somebody? Absolutely not. But what I’m saying is if you’re influenced by the way that the culture and all the popular stuff on TV and the music and everything tells you you ought to be trying to get rich and get over on other people. If you get influenced by that and you say that’s the way the game is played, so I’m going to do my thing in it, right, then you are going to do what you can do. If you can’t be a stockbroker... if you can’t be some other person, a banker, who loans money to somebody to buy a house knowing that they can’t pay back the loan, and then forecloses on the house and sells it again, does the same thing again and again... If you can’t make your money that way, but you got the idea in your mind from the whole culture out there that the thing to do is to get over on other people, and get money any way you can, then you’ll do what you can do, which is to stick up somebody, or to sell some drugs, or to pimp out a woman and beat her down when she tries to get out of it, and so on.

Now did you make a choice to do that? Yes, you did. But why?

First of all, where did the ideas come from that told you that that was the kind of thing you should do? You didn’t just wake up one day and have those ideas. Those ideas are coming at you from every direction in the society.

Second of all, why did you have the choice of sticking up somebody instead of being a banker loaning people money? Because you came up in a certain situation that wasn’t of your own choosing. You were born into a certain situation that you were faced with from the moment you slipped out of your mother’s womb. That’s what’s the conditions that you were in. And if you are of a certain color or a certain situation, you are going to have a very hard time getting out of that. Yeah, you could become a rapper, or you could become a basketball player, but they never tell us—but think about it—how many people who are really good at rapping, or how many people who are really good, let’s say, high school basketball players, make it into the big time? One out of a thousand? One out of ten thousand, probably more likely, one out of one hundred thousand, maybe? Not very many people can get out of those situations by going into hip-hop or going into basketball or football or whatever.

So, there you are, and you didn’t choose these circumstances you’re in but you have got this influence of  “okay I gotta get over,” so you do what you can. You can hear people say that, “I gotta do what I gotta do, I gotta do what I can do.” Because they have been poisoned with the ideology—in other words, the way of thinking—of the system and so they do what is available to them to do.

Now, is that bad? Of course it is. It’s bad for the people. It’s bad for the person who does it. And it’s bad for the kind of world we want. And it’s bad for the revolution we need to get to the kind of world we want. So do we have to struggle with people about that? Of course.

But if we don’t give them a sense of a larger thing that this could be all about. If we don’t give them the sense that the world could be a whole different way, and that their circumstances could be a whole different way, that they could be actually using their creativity and their daring and other things to help make a revolution to get to a whole different kind of society where people like them and many, many others could be actually using their abilities to make a better society, then it’s very likely they are going to fall back into what they know how to do.

So this is the way we talk about it’s the system’s fault. It is not that the system literally put a gun in their hand, but it put the idea in their head of what life should be all about, and it put them in conditions where taking a gun in their hand makes a certain amount of sense, if you’re going from the idea of what the system tells you you ought to be going from.

So it’s not that this is a way of “excusing” what people do. It’s not that it’s all right to do it. It’s not like we’re saying “Oh well, you didn’t have any choice.” You know, it wasn’t your fault, in the sense that you couldn’t have done anything else. Yeah, they could do something else, but not as long as you are under the rule and playing by the rules of this system. You are not very likely to find a better choice for millions and millions of people. 

That’s what I meant by saying that this conservative writer said that if you’re in that situation, it makes sense to go into crime, it makes more sense than trying to get a job at McDonald’s.

Now, we need a different society where it doesn’t make sense for people to go into crime and rip other people off. Either the people on the very top—we need to get rid of all that. But also the people on the bottom who get caught up in all of this. We need to change all that so we don’t have people on the top and people on the bottom like this anymore.

So that’s why I say it’s the system, not in the sense that the people don’t have any responsibility, but in the sense that they’re being influenced and their way of thinking is being shaped by a system that then leaves them almost no other options once it’s convinced them through its culture and everything that this is the way that you have to try to live.

You do find people saying, “You know, I’ve got a wife and kids,” or “I got a family I gotta support,” or “I have my mama,” or “I have my kids and what am I going to do out here?” So we need to have a whole different world where that isn’t the situation that people are in.

Does that make any sense?

[[yes]]

BA: But???

 [[no but...]]

 BA: I am just saying, is there something I am missing with this? Is there something I’m skipping over that is part of the picture that we need to think about?

I don’t want to go on and on with this, but I do think maybe if we come across as saying in a kind of a simple-minded way “it’s the system” as if people are just machines that don’t have any mind of their own, then that would be wrong. If the way I’m presenting it is falling into that then that’s a mistake on my part, it is not that kind of crude over-simple thing. But it’s more the way I was trying to describe it, in terms of how people are influenced, and then how that influence causes them to act within the choices that they’re given, the very limited choices by the way the system works and the position it’s put them in.  

 

 


 

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

February 2, 2013

One Year Later and Still No Justice for Ramarley Graham

January 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Ramarley Graham
Ramarley Graham

February 2, 2012. Like so many Black youth before him, 18-year-old Ramarley Graham is cut down by a cop who had a story to justify the murder before Ramarley’s family even knew he was dead. Narcotics detectives barge into a home in the Bronx. They gotta come up with something to explain shooting a young kid, close range, dead, in the bathroom. First they say Graham ran into the building fleeing from the officers. But there’s a problem. Surveillance cameras show Graham walking to his apartment, taking out his keys, opening up the door, and casually walking in. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at first says Graham “appeared to be armed.” But this presents another problem for the police—because no weapon was ever recovered. They didn’t have a warrant. But they kick down the door. Enter, guns drawn. In a matter of seconds, a death sentence is carried out—for no reason other than being young and Black and therefore, in the eyes of the police, suspicious.

This murder was so outrageous: The police pursued Ramarley into his own home, busted through the front door, went into the bathroom and shot him point blank... and then made up a whole story about how Ramarley was runnning into the building and was armed, all of which was clearly shown to be a complete lie. All this hit people hard—and bitter anger expressed itself in ongoing protest. Hundreds came to the funeral. Up to 200 people came to demonstrations outside the 47th NYPD precinct. People showed up with T-shirts that said, “U C MY HANDS—NO GUN—Please don’t shoot” and signs declaring, “I am Ramarley Graham.” Outside the home where Ramarley Graham was killed, a vigil was held every Thursday (the day he was killed) for 18 weeks—to represent the 18 short years Graham lived.

June 11, 2012. NYPD cop Richard Haste was indicted on manslaughter charges for the fatal shooting of Ramarley Graham. Haste pleaded not guilty and was released after posting $50,000 bail. This is the first time an NYPD cop has been indicted on a charge stemming from an on-duty shooting since 2007 when three detectives were charged with the murder of Sean Bell. Those officers were later acquitted. When Haste walked out of the courthouse he was applauded by his fellow cops and supporters. As Revolution newspaper said at the time: THIS IS WHY WE CALL THEM PIGS!

April 2012. Ramarley Graham’s grandmother, Gwendolyn Henry, was there at the Manhattan Courthouse for the opening day of the trial of 20 defendants arrested in Harlem for civil disobedience to STOP “Stop & Frisk.” She told Revolution newspaper: “The reason I’m here is because of the injustice that is going on with our young Black and Latino children. This stop-and-frisk is nothing but something that has been planned to destroy our young children. And I am here to speak up about it because we are too silent. It has been going on for too long, too long. So we have to start and make a movement, this has to stop, this cannot go on.”

December 11, 2012. About 50 people chanted and held signs outside the building as another 50 protesters, including Ramarley Graham’s parents, were inside the courthouse for the proceeding involving NYPD cop Richard Haste. A judge adjourned the case to March 26, 2013. Haste faces up to 25 years if found guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter charges. Constance Malcolm, Ramarley Graham’s mother, said, “We’re going to be here every day [Haste is in court] to have a presence.” We must find ways to fight for justice for all the victims of murder at the hands of the police and racist vigilantes. And we need to link that to building a determined mass movement against mass incarceration.

 

Information from the leaflet issued by organizers:

Justice for Ramarley

1st Memorial for Young Ramarley Graham's Short Life
749 East 229th Street, Bronx, NY 10466
Saturday February 2, 2013, 2:00 pm
for a Rally and Candlelight Vigil

Ramarley Graham was an 18-year-old, unarmed Black male who was murdered by NYPD Officer Richard Haste in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother in the bathroom of his family's home on February 2, 2012. The NYPD Officer, Richard Haste, who executed Ramarley was charged with manslaughter, but other members of his team that were involved in the illegal entry of Graham's apartment have not been charged.

www.ramarleyscall.org
ramarleyscall@gmail.com * 347-903-5379

 


 

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

If Humanity Is Going to Fight Its Way Out of This Nightmare, It's Going to Be Because of the Work and Leadership of Bob Avakian

by Andy Zee | February 3, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is the transcript of a talk given by Andy Zee at Revolution Books, New York City, in early January to kick-off the BA Everywhere campaign for 2013. The text has been slightly edited for publication. The audio is available at www.revolutionbooksnyc.org/AZonBAE010813.mp3

Stop and think about this being a new year—a time of reflecting on the last and looking forward to the new. You are a kid playing and suddenly you hear a sound that you have been warned about and then moments later... the earth explodes, and if you are "lucky," it is the limbs and maybe the life of a friend that is blown apart, life bleeding into the dirt.

Who did this to you and why? It was the man put in office to quell the great anger brewing against the U.S. here and around the world—the man offered up as "Hope you can believe in" at a moment when the myth of the country as the bastion of freedom is deeply frayed... This harm came from Obama, deciding as he does every week who will live and die, checking off a kill list without any due process of law. In one week at the beginning of this new year, Obama prevailed in a federal court decision that upheld his killing by remote control without due process by invoking "executive privilege"—that even the judge had to say was Alice in Wonderland. In the same week he signed the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] and the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] laws allowing indefinite detention without charge or trial and which permitted state surveillance also without judicial process. Yesterday, he named the number one architect of drone policy to be the head of the CIA.

Is this the world that you should find your space and place within? Even as these changes sharpen the bloody hand of U.S. repression here and abroad, these changes also reveal deep problems for the imperialists as they shred their own principles to enforce their shaky empire. Hatred of the U.S. grows—resistance simmers and bursts through in one place then another around the world. Tremors are felt.

Football players in the Midwest brag about and Tweet a video of a young woman entering the prime of her life—drugged—they called her "dead," that they dragged from party to party, sexually violating her in dehumanizing and brutal ways, revealing their utter contempt for her humanity by urinating on her and bragging about it.

If this was the only rape that happened, it would be heinous enough. But in India, just weeks ago —and continuing to this day — there is outrage over three rapes. And again we could go on all night talking about the rapes. But this woman and her friend were in a bus, and men boarded the bus. They brutalized both of them, and then they repeatedly raped her including taking a rusty piece of rebar which is the steel that reinforces concrete, and jammed it up her vagina pulling out half her intestine. And then she was left on the street, and people walked by her for 45 minutes. And then the police argued about whose jurisdiction it was. And then she died. And in the same time period, another young woman was raped in India. I will commend to you a book by Katherine Boo, called Behind the Beautiful Forevers, because this is typical. Another woman was gang raped and the courts in India recommended that the way to deal with this is she needs to marry one of the rapists, so as to avoid the dishonor to her father and brothers. And then a freedom fighter in India was also raped. And they took her to the hospital and found rocks and stones in her vagina and rectum. But one thing that's different, that's happening in India, is that a long suppressed rage, a rage people didn't even know they had, has begun to traverse to the surface, and it's irrepressible.

Sunsara Taylor writes ("From Delhi to Ohio to Around the World: If You Are Not Fighting Rape, You Are Condoning It! We Need Revolution and a Whole New World!"):

There is no place—on the street or in one's home, in a rural Third World countryside or in the major cities of the imperialist citadels, from Delhi to Congo to Ohio and everywhere else—where women and girls are not in danger of being raped. Where women and very young girls are not then blamed and devalued for being raped. Where women and girls are not told to "get over it" when they are raped. Where women are not reduced to breeders of children—shamed, coerced or forced into bearing children against their will. Where abortion and even birth control is not either illegal or seriously under attack. Where women and very young girls are not oppressed, beaten, imprisoned, insulted, molested, abused, harassed, exploited, murdered, spat upon, thrown acid at, groped, shamed or otherwise systematically diminished. But this violence and degradation, all this cruelty and viciousness, is not just the depraved behavior of a handful of men. Nor is this just "human nature."

This is the nature of many men as they are shaped by the system we now live under, the global system of imperialism, which has patriarchy—the domination of women by men—woven into its foundation, its traditions, its "morals," and its culture. This violence is a direct and inevitable outgrowth of a system that feasts off of and requires the subjugated and degraded position of women in both its feudal/medieval forms and in its so-called "modern" forms.

One of the key things we should understand about the mass protest that is erupting across India—a country that is increasingly playing a major role in the world economy, is that only weeks ago women throughout India felt and largely suffered their oppression alone, and today a fury is rising that imperialist commentators worry is akin to the Arab Spring...

As we sit here tonight, 80,000 people in this country sit in impregnable boxes 23 hours a day with no furniture—just concrete shelves for a bed and a desk—deprived of all human contact for years on end... in what every major study has clearly defined as debilitating torture. This is the other end of the stop-and-frisk/mass incarceration pipeline that disproportionately targets Black and brown people. This is just one stark part of the reality that underlies our analysis that this system can not in any way liberate Black and brown people from the legacies of slavery and colonial conquest.

If all this was the necessary, if unfortunate, product of the only way that human beings with their self-interest could be organized—trapped in a capitalist-imperialist system that is rooted in the competitive pursuit of profit drained from the very lifeblood of humanity and the ripping off and despoliation of the planet, then what we are talking about tonight would not matter, or would amount to no more than being "our thing"—our set of beliefs that gets us through the night.

But, if we understand that humanity has done far better in the first experiences of socialism, that these experiences have been summed up through 30 years of work by Bob Avakian—mining their positive lessons as well as their shortcomings, looking at all this in relation to a wide breadth of human experience, and that this work, this new synthesis of communism makes possible a whole different and far better future, then tonight's discussion and plan making has enormous import and must be fought for.

To put it bluntly: If humanity is going to fight its way out of this nightmare, it's going to be because of the work and leadership of Bob Avakian—BA.

From the opening of the editorial in last week's Revolution—now available as a special BA Everywhere four-page broadsheet:

"This year, as horror upon horror pile up all over the world... as the web of life itself comes under increasing and unceasing stress... a different voice, posing a real alternative—a real revolution—can and must ring out.

"With new films and interviews and other new work... with bus tours of veteran revolutionaries and brand-new fighters continuing to take this all over the country... from the alienated campuses to the locked-down prisons to the communities of the oppressed... the words and work of the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian can and must hit with an impact like never before."

Stop and think about this—at this moment—with sharp divisions in the ruling class over how to address the deep inherent problems of the economy, with the world in increasing turmoil, with one half of humanity so outrageously oppressed, with their eyes on the women of India rising, with life lived on the edge in the ghettos of America, and in the wake of an election that saw fascistic lunacy battling the cynical vicious brutality of the status quo with Obama... and yet, at the same time, people's sights set low, not knowing that there is another way the world could be, up steps the leader of the revolution, BA, bringing forward new powerful work which can galvanize a movement for revolution right here in the heart of empire.

Following What Humanity Needs—Revolution and the New Synthesis of Communism, Cornel West projected BA's voice in a substantive highly accessible half-hour radio interview that is one of the best introductions for people to experience BA... And now, comes a five-part interview with BA on KPFK (Pacifica) by Michael Slate. Five parts, a discussion over several hours providing an opportunity for BA to go deep and reach out. The question here is: Are we going to reach out and fight for this interview to be a big deal—to reach all those who need this and don't yet know it? Are we going to set some terms far and wide letting people know that if you are not with all the shit that is going on in the world today—if all that people are going through in the world upsets you; if you think it is wrong; if you wish people could be better; if you voted for Obama in spite of your sensing deep down that this was no way out of the madness and horror; you need to hear this interview with Bob Avakian. If you are satisfied with the world... putting your snout in the trough or finding your peace by getting in on your little piece of the plunder, then this talk isn't for you.

There are people who are ready for the challenge... and, there are people we have to ready to hear and appreciate this challenge. The interview with BA on the Michael Slate Show will reach hundreds of thousands of people. Are we ready for that? Are we finding the ways to make sure that here in NYC people are getting on the web and coming together to hear this, discuss and debate it?

Are we going out to raise big money as we get this out so that thousands and hundreds of thousands know about this—from Google ads to mass literature going far and wide across the country while concentrating in NYC for saturation in Harlem and some of the key campuses?

On the heels of this interview with Michael Slate will come a film of a tour de force talk by Bob Avakian given right after the election. Six-and-a-half hours of heart and science—of an implacable hatred for the unnecessary misery of the world today combined with a deep scientific understanding that the very horrific contradictions that so oppress humanity today also contain the potential for revolutionary crisis and revolutionary transformation—with revolutionary leadership. The film of this gripping talk reveals there is such a leadership in Bob Avakian. This film will premier as an event—six-and-a-half hours of passion and science, of refusal to accept what is unacceptable and unnecessary, infused with the vision and plan for a far better revolutionary state power leading to a communist world without class oppression and antagonism, filled with daring and a scientific strategy for actually making a revolution. While tonight we are not going to take up as yet the concrete plans for the premier and then the wide distribution of the talk, it must be in our sights and if you are interested in working on this—as we get going with this, then sign up to work on this now.

As the centerfold on BA Everywhere for 2013 puts it: This film is "BA speaking to the greatest and most urgent need of our times, in a timely way—with fire, passion, urgency, humor, and science. It is a journey that anyone and everyone who is looking for answers needs to take. Imagine the national debut happening simultaneously in key theatrical venues across the country—this would be a societal "happening."

Funds raised from all kinds of people to make this possible—a national fundraising weekend in January with yard sales, car washes, food sales, arts and crafts sales, penny drives... as well as people of more means giving larger sums. Imagine the unity forged with blocks of tickets for people in the projects purchased by people in the middle strata. And the engagement fostered with this cross section of people experiencing and discussing the talk together."

These new works are the centerpieces kicking off a wide range of BA Everywhere plans for 2013 that include continuing the BAsics Bus Tours in new ways, really stepping up the distribution of BA behind the prison walls—a place where people in the most downpressed conditions are both standing up in important struggle in forging truces between Black and brown, as well as continuing protest against the outrageous solitary units and prison conditions and where there is a section of prisoners who are getting BA—appreciating what he is forging—and as such can play a major role in influencing broader sections of society to engage BA and take up the campaign.

Really fighting for BA to actually be everywhere involves struggle—ideological struggle—sharp struggle, debating two futures. This April 15 there will be a major debate between Raymond Lotta and Slavoj Žižek on the theme of "the history and prospects for communist revolution."

Integral to forging a movement for revolution and whole other way that humanity could be is through unleashing a whole new culture. This Spring the film of April 11, 2011 will come out with the potential to inspire cultural expression in many ways.

What all of BA Everywhere is about is that the people of the world desperately NEED a revolution. When people get into BA and they see and feel and learn more deeply that all these outrages and abuses actually come from the same source—from this system; they come to understand why it doesn't have to be this way—that there is an actual material basis for a different world. When they grapple with BAsics or one of the new talks people will get the theoretical tools—the deeper understanding of the roots of why the world is the way it is so that they can see why it is completely wrong and unrealistic to think that this system could be reformed or tinkered with.

In taking BA Everywhere and making him a household word and raising big money to do so, we are taking to people a big part of how and why an actual revolution would be possible; about how there is necessary leadership and a developed science and concrete strategy to apply that science. We are laying a foundation to struggle with people about their role and people like them taking this up, becoming part of the thousands to lead millions; so that this revolution becomes a contending pole in society, so that the party that leads this movement for revolution grows, so that we can shape the crisis that is coming into one where revolution could come on the agenda and then be in position to actually lead all the way through to win. If we are really making a big deal out of BA—so that BA Everywhere becomes a reality over the next year... and the more we actually fight for BA Everywhere as part of making revolution now, the more we will draw forward, and the more it will be clear how fucking indefensible it is to sit by and do nothing.

There is not a wall between BA Everywhere and the different ways people are carrying out the strategic orientation of "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution"; or, working to save the center of the movement that we have with Revolution Books; or especially getting way out in the world with Revolution newspaper/revcom.us. The simple of it is that everything we are doing is for and about making revolution for real.

BA Everywhere and the first mainstay of the party's work—building a culture of appreciation, popularization, and very importantly protection of BA—is a key part of the strategy for revolution. In Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, BA says that "this has everything to do with projecting a radically different vision, a radically different political and ideological pole and authority—with raising what have been the extremely lowered sights of people. Now, if we were about something other than revolution and communism, if we were just working to bring about some minor adjustments within the established order, as horrendous as it is, then there would not be much significance to the new synthesis, to what it is that BA has brought forward and represents, to his whole body of work and method and approach. There is not much significance to that divorced from what we really do need to be about: the recognition, and acting on the recognition, of both the necessity and the possibility of revolution leading to a radically different society, and ultimately a radically different, communist world. If that is, in fact, what we are all about, then not only should it not be hard to go about building this culture of appreciation, promotion and popularization, we should be fired with enthusiasm and with inspiration for doing this and finding creative ways to do it.

"To put it in very fundamental terms: People need to know about objective reality in order to transform it in their interests. And a decisive part of objective reality is that people need leadership, a certain kind of leadership, in order to transform society and the world through revolution.

"...This matters to—it is of profound importance for—the masses of people, even if most of them don't know it right now. Look, let's face it—to invoke once more that line from Bob Dylan, let us not talk falsely now—masses of people throughout the world don't know a lot of things that are very important for them to know. That doesn't mean they can't learn them—that's where the role of conscious, vanguard forces comes in. That's why we go back to 'for whom and for what': what is the objective and whose fundamental interests are involved in the work we are doing and the struggle we are waging? What this is all about and what we are basing ourselves on is not a 'secret temple of knowledge.' It is a scientific understanding of reality which others brought into being in the first place, which has been developed by others before us—and we're taking it, applying it, and developing it further. We should be very actively and energetically fighting for it everywhere we go, and in every arena into which we enter—in a living and a compelling way that expresses that dialectic of being 'completely outrageous and eminently reasonable.'"

So, let's do it—make plans and change the world.

 


 

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Scenes from BA Everywhere

Week of January 28

January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

"Scenes from BA Everywhere" is a feature that gives our readers an ongoing picture of this multi-faceted campaign, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised, and the whole BA vision and framework is being brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper/revcom.us is at the hub of the BA Everywhere effort—publishing reports from those taking up the campaign. Revolution plays a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge all our readers to send us timely correspondence on what you are doing as part of this campaign.

 

A Weekend of Fundraising Efforts Around the Country

The MLK Day weekend, January 19-21, saw concerted BA Everywhere fundraising efforts around the country. The following are from reports we have received from readers about some of those efforts.

Chicago

The loudspeaker covered the whole intersection in sound. An older man who said he had been with the Black Panthers back in the '60s told us how he had been watching us every time we came out. He told us people in the area are paying attention—and how the police also are paying attention every time we are out.

Light poles around the corner were decorated for a couple of days leading up to the event with "BA Everywhere 2013" broadsheets and "Pennies for REAL Change" flyers to let everyone in the neighborhood know about BA and the upcoming collection day.

On Saturday of the MLK weekend we set up big displays with centerfolds from Revolution newspaper on them clamped to the fence on the corner of a gas station lot. We had a loudspeaker blasting the three video clips from the BA Everywhere DVD into the intersection while they played on a laptop sitting on a table under the displays. We have found that the three clips are a great introduction to BA in settings like this. People listen and want to know more about BA. The manager of the gas station let a couple of people stand outside the door and collect as people came in and out.

People got out flyers and palm cards telling about the BA interviews with Cornel West and on the Michael Slate Show along with the "Pennies for REAL Change" flyer that introduced people to BA. People also collected in the intersection—we need to get better at getting out literature while collecting funds at the same time.

A lot of people stopping on the corner to change buses donated and some stopped by the table for short discussions. One of the youth who had taken up the revolution brought his mother over for her to learn more about the revolution. She got the BA Everywhere DVD and the CD of the Cornel West Interview with BA.

The people collecting donations and working the tables included longer-time revolutionaries and people just joining the movement for revolution. We wore stickers with the Revolution newspaper logo on our coats and arms. A number of youth from the area who knew the revolution and wanted to be involved came by. Students we know from a local school came by and wanted to know when we'd be back at the school.

The goal was to involve the Revolution Club and new people who have come forward around the struggle around the recent police murders in the nationwide effort of BA Everywhere. Someone we know described the corner as an unofficial community center where people come to meet and hang out with friends. And police harassment on the corner is a regular occurrence. We took up the idea of the penny jar collection from what people did in Harlem, and planned a penny drive centered on that corner.

We went around to the stores near the corner and talked to people about what we were doing. Where people had time and inclination we showed the three clips. In every store—even where they didn't watch the clips—they agreed to take flyers and palm cards for their customers.

We got out to a number of the people we knew and talked about the BA Everywhere broadsheet and the upcoming new works from BA. A number of people took up the penny drive and got jars. They were collecting their own change and going to friends and family to add to their jars. Some other people brought change in to Revolution Books.

One person with more means was inspired by the idea of the penny drive and donated $100 to match what was being raised, as well as donating their own change jar ($41). Anticipation built up for the day. The collection was scheduled to start at 1 pm. At 9 am the morning of the collection, a guy who lives near the corner called to ask where we were. His cousin came by his house a little later with the same question.

Not including the matched funds we collected $185 in change—and there are a number of penny jars still out there waiting for us to collect from the weekend.

San Francisco Bay Area

Preparations for taking out BA Everywhere on January 19-21 began before the weekend. Two groups of proletarians, African-Americans, Mexican immigrants, and revolutionaries made about 200 tamales and dozens of brownies to sell to raise money for getting BAsics into the hands of prisoners. One of the groups included two women (one African-American and the other Mexican), both of whose sons were killed by the police. Even though there was a language barrier, they had a strong desire to interact and to some extent overcame that barrier so they could communicate and work together on this project. While they were making the food they listened to the BA interview with Michael Slate. It was also noteworthy that in one group, both men and women worked together to cook, which broke down some gender roles. This project, which people saw as part of taking out BA Everywhere and building a movement for revolution, helped to foster camaraderie and community in the course of raising funds.

BA Everywhere was taken out to a farmers' market where mostly middle class people gather on the weekend to get organic vegetables, fruit, crafts, and to eat at a food court. Some new people, including women from a neighborhood and a couple of high school students, came out to be part of the efforts. We got out Revolution newspaper, BAsics cards, the BA Everywhere brochure, and cards promoting Cornel West's and Michael Slate's interviews with BA. Over $400 was raised from the food sales.

Atlanta

Every year thousands gather on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday here in Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. King. Atlanta holds an annual march and celebration that begins Downtown and ends at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violence, next to King's birth home and his church, Ebenezer Baptist, and the current location of his tomb.

For years the march and celebration have commemorated King's "dream" and his legacy; it's been an occasion for a number of progressive causes—and some reactionary ones like the military and police. Local high school bands and trade unions march along with community groups, student social and service organizations, and there are always representatives of the U.S. military and the Atlanta police department in the mix.

Since the election of Barack Obama, it has been hard to tell who is really being celebrated at the march and gathering. This year's march took place on the day of the inauguration and complimentary Obama-ade was served before, during and after the march!

Among the crowd of marchers, something new and refreshing yanked the wrinkled, vapid mask of hope—reinforced by the inauguration—to awake the sleeping from their dreams of change from within the system. "When the Revolution comes... won't be no more mass incarceration... won't be no more wars for empire...get down with Bob Avakian, leader of the revolution!" A small, yet bold, team of revolutionaries chanted and waved a banner proclaiming "HUMANITY NEEDS REVOLUTION AND COMMUNISM."

As the revolutionaries moved down the streets, arms reached out for palm cards promoting the recent interview Cornel West did with Bob Avakian. On this MLK Day in Atlanta, thousands were introduced to Bob Avakian (we distributed around 3,000 palm cards) and $100 was raised throughout the day with a brownie sale plus donations to get BAsics into the prisons. We can and must build on this.

Cleveland

We had a potluck on Saturday, January 19, to raise money to get BA's vision and framework to all corners of society and to push the campaign to a new level in 2013. People brought good food, and as people got a plate, we sat down, hearing Outernational's music in the background, and began talking. The people who came, including some youth, came looking for answers to the horrors they see and face in this society, looking to how to change the world in a big way and interested in what BA had to say. And there were some who were new to this revolution entirely. So after we ate, we listened to the Cornel West interview with Bob Avakian. People had lots to say bouncing off the points made in the interview about how things don't have to be the way they are. One man asked, "I don't know much about Bob, got BAsics but haven't read it yet. But I ask, 'what is success?' It's when no child is hungry in the world. I make $32 an hour but I am not satisfied that children are hungry in the world." A Black woman said that to get a change and make revolution our mindset has to change. She said, "Like Bob Avakian says it will take millions, we need a spark to get going a fight for justice, not a fight between us. The mindset is important for a revolution." A Black woman who heard about the potluck at college and came to check it out spoke about how deep racism still is in this society.

The MC read from the RCP's statement "On the Strategy for Revolution." After some more engaging about revolutionary goals and how to get there, there was a call for people to raise money for BA Everywhere in different ways—house parties, dinners, and more. We raised $80 and people left with stacks of the new palm card with BA's quote "On Choices... And Radical Changes."

Slate Interview on Campus Radio

From a reader:

Sunday morning as I tuned into a local college campus station that airs a weekly progressive news program, I was greeted by the driving drum beat that always announces the Michael Slate Show. This week the college show was airing the first installment of Michael Slate's interview with Bob Avakian!

What a great way to start the morning. The radio station which is just outside the large metropolitan city where I live, has a larger listenership of students, activists, and academics from around the area—both on air and online—where I caught it.

I had to call the DJ to tell him how exciting it was to hear the interview. He said he hadn't had a chance to get much response but that he planned on airing the whole series in the coming weeks. "You know, I have aired previous interviews that Slate has done with Avakian over the years. I am very excited to see what response we get—especially, you know, when times are so heavy." We agreed to stay in touch and to share feedback from the interview going forward.

 

 


 

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

An Appeal to the Brothers and Sisters Locked Down in this Society's Prisons:

Bear Witness to Torture in U.S. Prisons and to All Law Enforcement Abuse

February 3, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

2.3 million of you are locked away in the dungeons of this society, more people than in any other country in the world! You have been subjected to horrible conditions, and those held in solitary confinement have faced actual torture—arbitrary confinement, isolation and denial of any human contact for weeks, months and even years.

The authorities justify this by calling you "the worst of the worst," criminal predators who are little more than animals. They say subjecting you to brutal suppression keeps the rest of society safe.

This is not true. The U.S. prison population has leaped by more than 800 percent since 1971 because the authorities have criminalized successive generations of Black and Latino youth. Under the "War on Drugs," Black men are 10 times more likely than whites to be incarcerated for drug possession, even though Blacks and whites use drugs at about the same rate. Women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population, and more women are imprisoned in the U.S. than anywhere else on the planet. Whole families of undocumented immigrants—including young children—languish in immigration prisons as record-breaking numbers of immigrants are locked up.

The backdrop to this is the way inner cities have been stripped of the employment opportunities needed to survive and raise families, and the educational system has been geared to fail our youth. This has left millions of youth growing up facing futures without hope. The response of the authorities to all this has been unleashing cops to harass and brutalize youth, unleashing the courts and enacting laws and policies to warehouse people in prison and to subject formerly incarcerated people to open discrimination after their release from prison.

All this has enmeshed tens of millions of people in the web of the criminal "injustice" system. It amounts to a slow genocide aimed at Black and Latino people. It is racist and unjust, and it must be stopped!

We call on you to join the efforts to stop it. The world needs to know of the sadistic, systemic horror of long-term solitary confinement, which is enforced on more than 80,000 people in the U.S. prison system. We know that revisiting this can be difficult for those who are facing or have faced these conditions, but the truth must be laid bare for all. All of society needs to know of the racial profiling that sucked you into the pipeline to prison, of the horrific conditions everyone in prison endures and of the open discrimination formerly incarcerated people face after release. You are in a unique position to expose the lying justifications given by the authorities for what they are.

Send these stories to the Bear Witness Project of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Through this you will be opening the eyes of those who are shielded from the real situation in the inner cities and the actual conditions enforced in prison. And letting those caught up in the cycle of going in and out of prison know that what they're up against are social problems, not individual ones, and that by standing up and resisting them together, we can change the way mass incarceration is looked at in society and contribute to bringing forward a movement that can end it.

Many were inspired by the efforts of prisoners to transform the horrible conditions they are subjected to through hunger strikes in California and other places. The call for racial unity issued by California prisoners and efforts by prisoners to engage and spread radical and revolutionary ideas about what is the problem in society and the world and what needs to be done about them are also inspiring. These heroic efforts need to be made known to all. You telling your stories can help make that happen.

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network and others will make these stories widely accessible. The stories will be posted online, run in print media, and read and spoken about in electronic media. Readings and other events, involving authors, actors, professors and other public figures, will be held to let as many people as possible hear of the horrors mass incarceration and all its consequences inflict on so many.

As people who have been in prison ourselves, we know that when the authorities imprison you, they tell the rest of society you don't matter. Show that they are wrong. Lift your heads and raise your voices. Let the truth about the slow genocide strangling Black and Latino communities ring out from behind the prison walls and reverberate among all who hate injustice!

Signed:

Carl Dix, representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party who was imprisoned in the military for refusing to go to Vietnam

Clyde Young, a revolutionary communist who was imprisoned in his youth

Gregory Koger, a revolutionary communist who was imprisoned as a youth and spent many years in solitary confinement.

Mail correspondence to: PRLF 1321 N Milwaukee, #407 Chicago, IL 60622
or Stop Mass Incarceration Network P.O. Box 941, Knickerbocker Station, New York City, NY  10002-0900

For those with Email access:
contact@PRLF.org, stopmassincarceration@gmail.com

Web: www.stopmassincarceration.org

 


 

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

No, It's NOT Fucking Complicated!

CIA Stands for Cold-blooded Imperialist Assassins!

January 24, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Some people coming out of Zero Dark Thirty respond to protesters by saying, "It's complicated."

Say wha-a-a-a-t??!? It's about as complicated as Hitler.

 

1953: The CIA overthrew the elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran when he attempted to nationalize a British-owned oil company. The CIA installed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlevi as an absolute monarch, and established the U.S. as the dominant power over Iran. For the next 25 years, the Shah ruled Iran with a bloody iron fist. His hated secret police, the Savak, imprisoned, tortured and murdered huge numbers of Iranians who dared to oppose his regime. "U.S. Relationship with Iran: A History of Imperialist Domination, Intrigue, and War" (Revolution #88, May 13, 2007).

1954: A nationalist government headed by Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala attempted to take over unused land held by United Fruit and distribute that land to peasants. The CIA immediately engineered a coup to overthrow Arbenz and replaced him with Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, who was trained at the U.S. Command and General Staff School in Fort Leavenworth. The coup began a wave of reactionary violence—thousands of people were arrested, many tortured. The tracts of land were given back to United Fruit and other big landowners. "Guatemala: Bones Tell Story of U.S.-Backed Massacres," (Revolutionary Worker #912, June 22, 1997, online at revcom.us).

1960: The CIA orchestrated the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, a popular nationalist leader and critic of colonialism in the Congo. After Lumumba became the Congo's first prime minister, CIA Director Allen Dulles ordered that Lumumba's "removal must be an urgent and prime objective." The CIA worked to destabilize the country and recruit pro-U.S. forces within the army and government, including Joseph Mobutu. After Lumumba's assassination, the U.S. installed Mobutu who ruled as brutal and corrupt enforcer for imperialist interests. "We Are Being Lied To About the REAL Cause of Africa's Oppression and Suffering," (Revolution #172, August 9, 2009).

1961: The CIA organized the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro—the invasion was defeated. The CIA tried several times to assassinate Castro. "U.S. Imperialism, the Cuban Revolution, and Fidel Castro," by Raymond Lotta (Revolution #56, August 13, 2006).

1965-1966: The CIA provided names and addresses of communists to the Indonesian government to aid the massacre of hundreds of thousands of communists and other activists. Time magazine wrote: "Travelers from those areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies." On December 2, 1965 U.S. Ambassador Green wrote a memo to Assistant Secretary of State Bundy about providing 50 million rupiahs to a leader of the death squads and to assure the State Department that "The chances of detection or subsequent revelation of our support in this instance are as minimal as any black bag operation can be." "Indonesia: U.S. Role in 1965 Massacres: Confessions from the U.S. State Department," (Revolutionary Worker #1116, August 26, 2001, revcom.us).

1965-1975: The U.S. invasion and war against the people of Vietnam; the war resulted in the deaths of two million Vietnamese civilians. In mid-1968 the CIA launched its notorious Phoenix program—intended to crush the people's movement by executing the organized "infrastructure" of revolutionary leaders and activists. It was a countrywide death squad campaign. The Vietnamese estimated that these CIA teams killed 40,000 people. "Vietnam Legacy: Heroes and Criminals," (Revolutionary Worker #1047, March 19, 2000).

1973: The CIA coordinated the overthrow of the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile by the fascist general Pinochet. Mainstream sources document the death of some 3,000 people at the hands of Pinochet, and Chilean revolutionaries have said that 30,000 people were killed. Many more were tortured or forced into exile during Pinochet's 17-year rule. Yet another example of the handiwork of the "dedicated men and women" of the CIA. "From Iran to Indonesia, Chile, Afghanistan and Worldwide: CIA's Decades of Criminal 'Service,'" (Revolution #191, February 7, 2010)

1979: After the Sandinista-led uprising that overthrew Anastasio Somoza, a brutal U.S.-backed dictator, the U.S. funded and trained death squads—known as "Contras"—who left a trail of murder, rape, and pillage across the country. The Contras targeted civilians, killing 30,000 people—Sandinista officials as well as many peasants, indigenous people, workers, students, and others. "The Election in Nicaragua, and the Real Nature of U.S. Democracy," (Revolution #70, November 26, 2006).

1980s: The CIA armed and funded terrorist activity by the Nicaraguan Contras with profits from drug smuggling that flooded the inner cities of the U.S. with crack cocaine. Journalist Gary Webb exposed how forces working with the Contras set up a cocaine ring that targeted the Black communities of South Central Los Angeles and Compton. They supplied tons of cocaine to the Crips and the Bloods, which ended up as crack in the ghetto streets. On top of horrors of the crack epidemic, the powers-that-be then used crack as an excuse for the "war on drugs" which greatly escalated the mass incarceration of young Black and Latino men. "The CIA/Crack Connection: RW Interview with Gary Webb," (Revolutionary Worker #912, June 22, 1997, available at revcom.us).

1980-1988: The CIA provided weapons and intelligence to both sides in the Iran-Iraq war. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and 100,000 civilians died. The New York Times (8/18/02) reported that U.S. officials "provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war." Also according to the Times, (2/5/2005) a former National Security Council staffer stated that "CIA Director [William] Casey was adamant that cluster bombs were a perfect 'force multiplier,'" for Iraq, and "'the CIA authorized, approved and assisted' Cardoen" [the supplier] in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq. "U.S. Hypocrisy on Chemical Weapons: How the U.S. Backed Saddam Hussein when the Iraqi Military Used Poison Gas," by Larry Everest (Revolutionary Worker, September 1, 2002, posted at revcom.us).

1980s: The U.S. government recruited armed groups in southern Africa—to attack the movements who had come to power in Angola and Mozambique, and to help preserve the racist apartheid government in South Africa. The CIA's backing of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA movement plunged Angola into over 25 years of civil war that ruined the country and made large parts of the population refugees.

During the U..S invasion of Afghanistan, there is evidence that more than 100 died at the direct hand of CIA torturers. 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. According to U.S. General Barry McCaffrey: "We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the CIA." "Complete Exoneration of CIA Torturers: This Is the Imperialist System... This Is What They Want You to Vote For," (Revolution #280, September 16, 2012).

2004, Khaled el-Masri, a German car salesman, was seized while crossing from Serbia into Macedonia by bus. A CIA rendition team stripped him naked, drugged him, shackled him, and flew him to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he spent four months in a dark cell being "interrogated." Five months later he was dumped by the CIA in Albania, and told his abduction, detention and abuse was a case of mistaken identity. "From Iran to Indonesia, Chile, Afghanistan and Worldwide: CIA's Decades of Criminal 'Service'" (Revolution #191, February 7, 2010),

Today/ongoing: More than 2,500 people have been murdered in drone attacks over the past decade. On February 4, 2012, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that "CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals." "Murder by Drone" by Larry Everest (Revolution #288, December 16, 2012).

 


 

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Revolution/revcom.us Sustainer Drive Extended for Two Weeks

January 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This first in the series of pledge drives is gathering momentum.

Revolutionary appreciation goes out for the pledge covering the cost of the photos that are used each week, answering the call in the January 20 Revolution (#292)!

Other pledges have begun to come in; there are new sustainers, and others answering the call to double an existing monthly pledge. This is an important beginning in meeting the need faced by Revolution newspaper/revcom.us. And it must now be built on.

This first pledge drive of the year will end in two weeks. For the next two weeks, our challenge to YOU is to follow the lead of this beginning. For those who haven't yet, make your pledge now.

A Great Need: Revolution/Revolución and revcom.us do not have the financial base to continue.

The Answer: YOU and others sustaining this paper and website.

What's needed is to forge—with creativity and determination—a network of sustainers, people who contribute money to Revolution and revcom.us on a regular basis. Without this network of sustainers, Revolution will not continue to publish—in print or online. What a disaster that would be! But a vibrant, vital network of sustainers will make it possible for this paper and website to continue and expand its reach. And that network will itself be part of preparing the ground for revolution.

It starts with YOU. If you're not a financial sustainer of Revolution, make arrangements with your local distributor to change that NOW. And reach out to many others who are inspired by the radically revitalized revcom.us website and Revolution newspaper.

Arrange to sustain Revolution and revcom.us through your nearest Revolution Books, your Revolution distributor, at revcom.us (click the Donate link in the Revolution section of the site), or by writing RCP Publications, P.O. Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654-0486, or emailing us at rcppubs@hotmail.com.

 


 

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

IMPORTANT LIVE WEBCAST:

Sunday, February 10, 2013, 4 pm, Eastern Standard Time.

January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

IMPORTANT LIVE WEBCAST:

Sunday, February 10, 2013, 4 pm, Eastern Standard Time.

Raymond Lotta on: Obama's Assault on Rights, Resisting with High Standards, and the Betrayals That Can Not Be Tolerated

Raymond Lotta speaks on how the Obama administration has been seeking to bolt unprecedentedly repressive measures into place—and the need for outcry and resistance. A critical focus is the battle against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). But this cannot be fought in a way that aids the government's efforts to single out and target particular political forces. Lotta will address the politically and morally unconscionable and unacceptable decision by journalist Chris Hedges and his legal team to make a dangerous mischaracterization of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and its Chairman, Bob Avakian, a pivot point in a lawsuit against the NDAA.

Visit revolutionbooksnyc.org and revcom.us to learn how to view the webcast and submit questions.

 

 


 

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

A Moment to Seize in the Midst of Post-Inaugural Delusion

January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We strongly encourage readers to listen to the entire interview of Bob Avakian by Michael Slate, as it is posted at revcom.us. And get out palm cards for the interview, which will be available soon at revcom.us/avakian/audio/bob-avakian-interviewed-by-michael-slate-en.html.

This week, we want to note a moment to seize in the midst of the wave of post-inaugural illusions and self-delusion surrounding the inauguration of Barack Obama. Suggestion: Gather people at work, school, in your community, or wherever you are, and listen to part 1 of Slate’s interview with Bob Avakian.

Among other things in the first part of the interview, BA sharply exposes what voting for the Democrats, and the Obama presidency, really means. In a dynamic engagement with Slate, BA analyzes the deadly dynamic between the Republicans and the Democrats, and particularly how that went down the second time around with Obama, when much of the “hope” and “change” illusion had worn thin. He dissects how to understand and respond to the openly racist and fascistic agenda of the Republicans, but without being played into complicity with terrible crimes against people here and around the world under Obama. He injects a sorely needed dose of reality into the discourse of what Obama is Commander in Chief of—as drones rain down on people around the world, Obama asserts full backing for Israel’s threats of war on Iran, Black people are fed into the pipeline to prison, women are evicted from inner city projects, and record numbers of immigrants are deported.

BA speaks to the ways the Republicans are going after the right of Black people to vote, something people sacrificed and died to win. While making clear that right must be defended, BA cuts to the bone on what voting and the whole vaunted U.S. democracy means for people—in this country and around the world. And BA specifically paints an undeniable and damning picture of what it has actually meant for the masses of Black people to have Obama in the White House—and how the Obama presidency has been used to tell people for whom there are no jobs, no housing, no opportunities, “it’s your own fault” that you are not “making it” in America.

And there’s much much more in part 1 of the interview. Avakian’s analysis of the election is framed in a larger, compelling challenge to get out of whatever kind of comfort zone people are in, confront the horrors of this system, and rise up beyond the terribly lowered sights so prevalent these days, where real, revolutionary change has been ruled off the agenda. With biting humor, honesty and truth, BA shines a light on how the opportunity for real change can become real when people break out of the deadly framework of this system. So gather people up, turn up the volume, listen to, discuss, and spread part 1, and the whole interview. Send experiences, insights, questions and suggestions to revolutionreports@yahoo.com.

 


 

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Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Sanctions: Weapons of Mass Death and Destruction

by Larry Everest | January 20, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Iran hasn't been in the headlines in recent months, but there's a lot of talk that 2013 will be the year of decision on Iran—whether a deal will be struck between the U.S. and its allies and Iran on ending or restricting Iran's nuclear enrichment program, or whether the U.S., Israel and other big powers will attack Iran.

The debate about confirming former Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, revolves around whether he's "tough enough" on Iran, while leading think-tank strategists are calling for overt preparations for attacking Iran, tougher economic sanctions and "more explicit threats to destroy its nuclear programme by military means." ("Neocons, War Hawks Call for 'Overt Preparations' for Attack on Iran. New push in US for tougher sanctions, war threats against Iran," Jim Lobe, January 16. 2013)

"In 2013, perhaps in the next few months, President Obama will face a crisis on Iran. He has categorically ruled out living with a nuclear-armed Iran under a Cold War—style policy of containment," imperialist thinker Fareed Zakaria writes. "That means either Iran will capitulate to U.S. demands or the U.S. will go to war with Iran. Since the first option is extremely unlikely and the second extremely unattractive, the Obama administration needs to find a negotiated solution. That means using sticks and carrots—or what is often called coercive diplomacy—to get a deal that Washington and Tehran can live with....Otherwise, 2013 will be the year that we accepted a nuclear Iran or went to war." ("The Year We Reckon With Iran," January 21, 2013, TIME)

In short, tough sanctions are being promoted as a kinder, gentler alternative to war. And perhaps some people voted for Obama in part because they perceived him as less likely to start a war with Iran than Romney.

But let's get clear: Stiffening sanctions is a form of war against an entire population—a real weapon of mass destruction that is already imposing enormous suffering and death on the Iranian population. The U.S. is literally murdering babies and other vulnerable sections of the population, but this fact is rarely mentioned by the cheerleaders of empire—aka the U.S. media—and there is no debate about it within the U.S. ruling class.

"Targeted" Sanctions Target the Iranian People

The U.S. claims that its sanctions are "smart" or "targeted" and only aimed at Iran's government—the Islamic Republic—and its top leaders. But because the U.S. and its big power allies (Germany, France, Britain and other European countries) are sanctioning and embargoing Iranian banks, they have crippled Iran's ability to pay for urgently needed imports—including medicines—and halted many shipments. In addition, many drugs and needed chemicals aren't getting into Iran thanks to the banning under the sanctions of "dual-use" chemicals with possible military applications.

Here are some of the impacts being felt, just in terms of drugs and medicines:

"Hundreds of thousands of Iranians with serious illnesses have been put at imminent risk by the unintended consequences of international sanctions, which have led to dire shortages of life-saving medicines such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer and bloodclotting agents for haemophiliacs," Guardian UK reports. ("Western measures targeting Tehran's nuclear programme have impeded trade of medicines for illnesses such as cancer," 13 January 2013)

Iran produces most of its medicines internally, but sanctions have crippled domestic production making many Iranian-made drugs unavailable or very costly. This past October, two pharmaceutical companies closed and others are facing closure or bankruptcy. ("The unfolding humanitarian catastrophe of economic sanctions on the people of Iran," Mehrnaz Shahabi, Fair Observer, 10 December 2012)

The director general of Iran's largest biggest pharmaceutical firm told the Guardian, "There are patients for whom a medicine is the different between life and death. What is the world doing about this? Are Britain, Germany, and France thinking about what they are doing? If you have cancer and you can't find your chemotherapy drug, your death will come soon. It is as simple as that."

His firm can no longer buy medical equipment including sterilizing machines essential for making many drugs, and some of the biggest western pharmaceutical companies refuse to have anything to do with Iran. "The west lies when it says it hasn't imposed sanctions on our medical sector. Many medical firms have sanctioned us," he said.

According to the Guardian, there's a "looming" health crisis in Iran. Each year 85,000 new cancer patients are diagnosed who need chemotherapy and radiotherapy, now in short supply.  

"Iranian health experts say that annual figure has nearly doubled in five years, referring to a 'cancer tsunami' most likely caused by air, water and soil pollution and possibly cheap low-quality imported food and other products....An estimated 23,000 Iranians with HIV/Aids have had their access to the drugs they need to keep them alive severely restricted. The society representing the 8,000 Iranians suffering from thalassaemia, an inherited blood disorder, has said its members are beginning to die because of a lack of an essential drug, deferoxamine, used to control the iron content in the blood."

Iran's over 8,000 hemophiliacs are in grave peril. It's more and more difficult for them to get blood clotting agents, and operations on hemophiliacs "have been virtually suspended because of the risks created by the shortages," the Guardian reports. At the end of October 2012, a 15-year-old child died for lack of coagulant medication. The head of Iran's Hemophilia Society said, "This is a blatant hostage-taking of the most vulnerable people by countries which claim they care about human rights. Even a few days of delay can have serious consequences like haemorrhage and disability." (Mehrnaz Shahabi) Last year, Iran's Hemophilia Society told the World Federation of Hemophilia that tens of thousands of children's lives were being threatened by shortages of medicines. ("Sanctions Will Kill Tens of Thousands of Iranians," Muhammad Sahimi, August 8, 2012 antiwar.com)

Again, this is just the sanctions' impact on Iran's healthcare—it is also devastating the population in a hundred other ways big and small.

They Know...And They're Killing Babies Anyway

The Obama administration and its allies know full well how sanctions are impacting the people of Iran—including helpless babies. In fact, they've admitted in rare moments of truth-telling (mainly within their own ranks in discussions of strategy and tactics) that the whole point of sanctions is to cause suffering and discontent among Iran's population, in order to pressure or collapse the Islamic Republic. An article last year in the Washington Post began, "The Obama administration sees economic sanctions against Iran as building public discontent that will help compel the government to abandon an alleged nuclear weapons program, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official." ("Public ire one goal of Iran sanctions, U.S. official says," January 10, 2012)

A column in the rightwing Wall Street Journal argued that sanctions were a "tool to precipitate the regime's collapse." ("What Iran Sanctions Can and Can't Do," Emanuele Ottolenghi, July 24, 2012)

Too many people see sanctions as a thoughtful, peaceful, or diplomatic alternative to war. Bullshit.

It's bullshit because sanctions are already murdering people, but it's also bullshit because sanctions can be part of the preparations or strategy for war. This is what the U.S. did to Iraq before the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. Between these two wars and the intervening 13 years of sanctions, well over a million—probably over 2 million—Iraqis were killed. And did those sanctions prevent war? No. Because one goal of imperialist sanctions is to win political support for war if that's deemed necessary: "We tried sanctions and had to resort to war," they'll claim.

Another goal is to soften an enemy up so waging war will prove easier—again, if the imperialists deem it necessary.

Sanctions or War = Imperialist Aggression

Neither imperialist war, nor imperialist sanctions, nor imperialist "diplomacy" are anything other than different forms of imperialist aggression. None of them are moral, or just. All must be opposed. It's unconscionable for people in the U.S. to sit passively and silently by as these crimes are being carried out in our names, resulting in the suffering and deaths of thousands of people, thousands of miles away.

We can't accept the terms that it's either sanctions or war – either slow death or fast death. The U.S. is killing Iranian civilians in the interests of an unjust empire, and this is something that everyone with a conscience and a basic sense of right and wrong should oppose and protest.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/calling-bullshit-on-obamas-recommitment-to-women-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Calling Bullshit on Obama's "Recommitment to Women"

by Sunsara Taylor | January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

I've been hearing too much oohing and aaahhh-ing over Obama's inaugural address. Supposedly he recommited to the equality of women. Bullshit!

"We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own."

Fuck you, Obama. First of all, girls in this country do NOT have the same chance as everyone else! Girls will be molested, raped, abused, and demeaned at horrifying rates. Girls will be shamed for having sexual feelings, demonized if they have sex, face enormous restrictions and judgment if they seek abortions, will be taught to starve themselves or hate themselves or cut themselves, will be discriminated against in employment and underpaid in every field, will be surrounded by images of degradation and misogyny in pornography and the broader culture, even if they do not themselves become the direct victims of the pornographers and pimps. How the fuck is that "equal"?

Further, those born into poverty in this country do NOT have an "equal chance." They disproportionately remain locked at the bottom of society—condemned by the worst education and worst opportunities. They are disproportionately Black and Latino and face incredible segregation and oppression because of it. Women, especially poor women, make up the fastest growing population of the U.S. massive prison system; fully one-third of all women in prison in the world are imprisoned in the U.S.

And finally: how the hell does the "little girl born into the bleakest poverty" only apply to those who are American? The women of the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh don't count? The women who make our iPhones don't count? The women sold into brothels and sex slavery worldwide don't count? The millions of girls who make up a huge portion of the ten million children in the Third World who die unnecessarily each year of preventable disease and malnutrition don't count?

And to all who bought this bullshit and were moved by "Obama's recommitment to women and girls," WAKE UP!

As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party has put it, "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives."

If you really care about the liberation of women, stop pretending that Obama is something other than the Commander in Chief of a truly oppressive and monstrously violent empire that is contributing to the worsening conditions of women here and all over the world. If you really care about the liberation of women, stop thinking like an American and start thinking about humanity! If you really care about the liberation of women, stop cheerleading the empire and start fighting for that liberation: join the movement at StopPatriarchy.org.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/one-year-since-vigilante-murder-of-trayvon-martin-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

February 26—One Year Since the Vigilante Murder of Trayvon Martin

We Are All Still Trayvon! Take to the Streets!

by Carl Dix | January 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

February 26 is one year since the vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin—one year since George Zimmerman saw Trayvon, a 17-year-old wearing a hoodie, and decided this Black youth "...must be up to no good." One year since Zimmerman followed Trayvon and gunned him down. One year since the Sanford, Florida, cops walked Zimmerman into and out of the police station letting him go free, citing Florida's racist "Stand Your Ground" law. Only after powerful outpourings of protest spread all across the country was Zimmerman re-arrested and charged for his crime.

THIS ANNIVERSARY MUST BE MARKED BY POWERFUL OUTPOURINGS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY! The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has called for everyone who hates the way Black and Latino youth are treated as less than human to take their outrage to the streets in cities and towns across the country at 4 pm on February 26.

Before this murder, almost no one outside Sanford, Florida, knew who Trayvon was. But everyone felt the sting of his murder. It reminded many people of the bull's-eye this society has long placed on the backs of Black youth. This sentiment drove millions into the streets filled with rage. Wearing hoodies and having bags of Skittles became symbols of resistance.

Trayvon wasn't the first one to be murdered like this, and he hasn't been the last. Emmett Till was lynched in 1954 in Money, Mississippi, for supposedly whistling at a white woman. Jordan Davis was murdered in Jacksonville, Florida, by a white man who said Jordan's music was too loud last November 23. That killer fled the scene and only later turned himself in, claiming he was "standing his ground" against a Black youth armed with a shotgun that no one has ever found. This is like declaring it's open season on Black youth. WE HAVE TO STAND UP ON FEBRUARY 26 AND SAY WE WON'T ACCEPT THIS IN SILENCE!

Trayvon could've been any Black youth. He could've been my nephew, or your brother, cousin or son. The racial profiling that led to his murder is the same thing that has led to almost 2.4 million people, most of them Black or Latino, being warehoused in prisons in the U.S.—more than any other country in the world. It's the same thing that has led to 100's of killings by police every year in this country, with almost all the killer cops getting away without being punished. The backdrop for all this is the way generations of youth are growing up in inner cities across this country with no hope for the future—no jobs to survive or raise families and confronting an education system geared to fail them. Trayvon's murder, and how the cops dealt with it, is rooted in the way this society criminalizes Black and Latino youth, treating them as guilty until proven innocent, if they survive to prove their innocence.

THE RAGE MILLIONS HAD IN RESPONSE TO THIS MURDER MUST BE SHOWN AGAIN BY TAKING TO THE STREETS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY ON FEBRUARY 26!

It is racist, unjust, and illegitimate for the authorities to give racist vigilantes and killer cops a green light to murder our youth like their lives are worthless. It must stop, and it will take our determined action to stop it! Trayvon's parents courageously stood up and called for justice for their murdered son. We must match their courage and determination in taking to the streets on the anniversary of his murder.

On that day if you are somebody who wants to see a better future for the youth, you must defiantly protest the way this system criminalizes them. Young people must be out in the streets—youth who were hurt to their hearts to hear of his murder and reminded of the target this society puts on their backs; youth who cried, "We are all Trayvon," must be right up front in doing this.

Pour into the streets in cities and towns all across the country and BLOW THE WHISTLE ON ALL THIS! Demand that Black and Latino youth not be treated as fair game for police and racist vigilantes; demand that their humanity be recognized. Wear hoodies on that day! Mobilize at your schools, in your neighborhoods, at your workplaces and everywhere else. This is the kind of resistance that's needed to show we will accept nothing less than justice for Trayvon and to take on all the abuse the criminal injustice system heaps on Black and Latino people.

It's up to us to demand an end to these kinds of horrors, and to act to make sure they end. Come together nationwide and say in one loud, clear, and united voice: NO MORE!

WE ARE ALL TRAYVON! THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY.

 

Carl Dix is a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party and a leader in the movement to Stop Mass Incarceration.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/freedom-fighter-constance-malcolm-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Freedom Fighter Constance Malcolm

January 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

At a fundraising dinner for the Stop Mass Incarceration Network on December 6, 2012, Ramarley's mother, Constance Malcolm, was presented with an award recognizing her as a Freedom Fighter in the people's struggle against police brutality and injustice. The following is a transcript of Constance Malcolm's acceptance speech.

Thank you for having me here today. It was October 22 where I stood up and called Ray Kelly and Bloomberg out. I said they were full of shit. And I said that because when they murdered my son, Ray Kelly came out and said it was a struggle in my apartment, with the cop. And he came back the next day and retracted that story and said there was no struggle and I asked him where did he get that story from and up to today he still can't tell me. And so I'm saying if these cops will lie to him and that's they boss, who are we the public? They would lie to anybody, and that's exactly what they did because what they did is they showed a video of a man running and tried to say it was my son. I know there are surveillance cameras at my apartment and that's what brought the indictment down because if it wasn't for that video camera you would be hearing that my son is a robber, he's a drug dealer like they say right now. This is what they do, to push things under the rug and try to blame the victim after they pass and this is where we really have to stand up no matter what your child did or what the situation is, there is no need for excess force. The cops are supposed to be serving and protecting us, we're paying them, this is what they're there for, they're not there to abuse us and a lot of times that's what they do. I'm just asking, people in this room today, we go back to court March 26, and we want all of you out there. This is the only way we're going to get justice, we stand together and let them know, enough is enough. [applause] Stop-and-frisk did play a part in Ramarley's death because it was racial profiling and that's what they do to a lot of kids. A lot of kids don't understand that they have rights, we all got rights, that's what this country is built on: rights. And it seems like these cops are taking away little by little the rights that we got. And we have to stand up and let them know, no more. We gotta stand up for our rights and if we have to lay our lives down, that's what we will do because we need justice and we want to get justice no matter which way, any means necessary.

I just want people to know that I'm not only fighting for Ramarley. I'm fighting for all the Black and Brown kids and other victims who have passed away and didn't get any justice. And I want to make sure that Ramarley's case doesn't end up without us getting the justice we deserve, like too many of the other cases. Justice for one is justice for all. And I know it's going to be a long road to justice, but with the public's help we will win this one.

And I want to thank the community for supporting us, all the boroughs and all the organizations that have been with us since this fight started. We appreciate your support, and we hope that it continues.

Thank you.

 

Keep checking revcom.us for information about events marking the first anniversary of the murder of Ramarley Graham.

Information from the leaflet issued by organizers:

Justice for Ramarley

1st Memorial for Young Ramarley Graham's Short Life
749 East 229th Street, Bronx, NY 10466
Saturday February 2, 2013, 2:00 pm
for a Rally and Candlelight Vigil

Ramarley Graham was an 18-year-old, unarmed Black male who was murdered by NYPD Officer Richard Haste in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother in the bathroom of his family's home on February 2, 2012. The NYPD Officer, Richard Haste, who executed Ramarley was charged with manslaughter, but other members of his team that were involved in the illegal entry of Graham's apartment have not been charged.

www.ramarleyscall.org
ramarleyscall@gmail.com * 347-903-5379

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/more-armed-pigs-in-schools-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

More Armed Pigs in Schools ... A Solution to What?!

January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In the wake of the terrible Newtown, Connecticut school shootings, and under the pretense of “protecting students,” the National Rifle Association called for armed police officers at every school in the nation. Mainstream liberal politicians attacked the NRA for opposing “gun control” legislation. But nobody in authority is talking about what it would mean to put more armed police in every school in the country.

A 2007 New York Civil Liberties Union report counted nearly 5,000 police stationed in New York City public schools (“Criminalizing the Classroom: The Over-Policing of New York City Schools”). The report was a rare glimpse into how police impose a reign of terror already in inner-city schools. It quotes students saying the police are “treating us like criminals, like we’re animals,” and that “sometimes the classroom feels like a jail cell.” It details numerous instances where the cops brutalized students. At one school, cops chased students who tried to avoid the checkpoints, screaming, “Round them up!” Young women were searched by male officers and, the report says, “students and teachers alike complain that male police subject girls to inappropriate behavior.” A gay student was humiliated every day as male cops would flip coins to see who had to search him. And the NYCLU report exposed how teachers who defend their students are attacked and brutalized as well.

On March 8, 2005, at least seven NYPD officers arrived at the New School for Arts and Sciences after teachers called 911 to ask for medical assistance for a student who had been involved in a fight. Teachers had successfully stopped the fight and controlled the situation before the police responded, and an English teacher pointed out that those students were now peacefully sitting in the classroom. A cop responded: “You fucking teachers need to get your shit together. These kids are running crazy. You need to get rid of them.” When a teacher objected to that, he was told to “shut the fuck up” or he would be arrested. When a woman teacher objected, a police sergeant said: “That is it; cuff the bitch,” and the woman teacher was paraded out of school in handcuffs. She and another teacher were detained at the 41st precinct for approximately two hours before being released.

The NYCLU report goes on and on with such incidents, detailing numerous times where students were attacked by police and/or arrested for petty offenses like swearing, being late for school or refusing to turn over their cell phones. One 13-year-old girl was handcuffed and taken into custody in May for drawing on her desk in school.

Speaking of police brutality in schools, commentator Bob Herbert wrote, “This poisonous police behavior is an extension into the schools of the humiliating treatment cops have long been doling out to youngsters—especially those who are black or Latino—on the city’s streets.” (“Poisonous Police Behavior,” NY Times, June 2, 2007)

Anyone who really cares about the safety and well-being of our youth should be struggling to get police, armed or otherwise, to stop brutalizing and killing in or out of schools.  

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/constantly-straining-against-the-limits-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

From a Prisoner:

"Constantly Straining Against the Limits"

February 3, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

"I remember reading... where Lenin said something like, there are decades when nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen."

29 December 2012

As always my warmest greetings and best wishes are sent to you and everyone else at the PRLF.

I received the interview "What Humanity Needs," and the article "The Critical Importance of Leadership" by Lenny Wolff. Thank you, as always I am very grateful and will study it thoroughly. I had actually already began digging into the article as soon as the first part was printed in the paper, and I also got back into the interview itself as part of that. I missed the second part because I didn't get issue No. 287 [December 9, 2012] of the paper due to the move, so I'm really glad you sent me the whole thing.

The article is definitely something to reflect on. I struggle every day to develop my level of understanding and ground myself more firmly in what I've learned from studying BA's body of work. Doing that while also trying to pull others to do the same isn't easy. I feel the pulls of everything going on around me and my old ways of thinking every day, but I fight in one way or another to stay on the course I'm on with an even firmer understanding of what it's all for. That's why I found this article so relevant to what I'm facing here in prison. Every time I make a breakthrough with one prisoner, there's a thousand things pulling him in the opposite direction. We're not as irredeemable as most people think, but I don't want to romanticize prisoners either. It's hard getting them to abandon their old ways and raise their sights to something really worthwhile. I understand how difficult it is to make that leap. I've had my own problems with drugs and everything else. I am by no means done but the changes I've made are so far pretty dramatic so I think (to paraphrase a donor to the PRLF) "If I can change, who else can change?"

I remember reading a quote once where Lenin said something like, there are decades when nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen. This made me think of the concept of hastening while awaiting and how it could be applied here in prison as another hunger strike is coming up in July. There's more time to organize before the protest and the number of participating prisoners promises to be a lot higher than last time. There seems to be a potential for an explosion of resistance just below the surface and also a possibility that the unity achieved so far between prisoners will turn into its opposite. There was an "Agreement to End Hostilities" in October but race riots aren't that easy to prevent. There was one here in this prison about a week after I got here and we're on lockdown for that now. There's such an urgent need for prisoners to take up ideology as things are coming to a head but the reality is that most prisoners want to leave ideology out of it. I try to figure out how to "constantly strain against the limits" and try to "transform the objective conditions to the maximum degree possible" so that decades happen in weeks and leaps are made in people's thinking as this particular struggle intensifies. I'll get into the Lenny Wolff article and BA's interview as part of this and do my part to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.

On another note, do you have anything that analyzes Cuba and North Korea? When I tell people that we need socialism, these two countries always come up, especially Cuba. I've been able to read a little bit of Cuba but not North Korea. Anything you could send on either of these two countries I'd really appreciate.

Alright then you and the PRLF staff take care and keep up the great work. Thanks again for everything. I hope to hear from you again soon.

XXXXXXXXXXX

 

To make a non-tax-deductible donation to the
Prisoner Revolutionary Literature Fund, go online to PRLF.org.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/drawing-out-the-fury-of-women-in-steubenville-ohio-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Drawing Out the Fury of Women in Steubenville, Ohio

January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This correspondence is from a team of Revolution paper sellers who have been going out to Steubenville, where the gang rape of a 16-year-old woman has sparked outrage and protests.

Steubenville, Ohio: We made up signs that read: "From Delhi to Ohio and Around the World—If You Are Not Fighting Rape, You Are Condoning It! "Stop Watching Porn—Start Fighting Patriarchy!" "Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!"

We had been reading about the rape of a 16-year-old female at several parties, reportedly by at least two football players on August 11 in Steubenville. Then on January 5, there was a rally of 1,000 people from California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and more to say NO TO RAPE! and to declare that the rape would not go unanswered and once more pushed under the rug. We knew we had to get down there with our revolutionary communist message. As we drove along the Ohio River in southeast Ohio, we approached Steubenville. There we saw a rusted-out steel mill, stores left empty in the downtown, very few people in sight. Then appeared the high school where the accused rapists played football, and as we passed the high school, a nervous feeling went over us.

After a quick coffee, we began talking to people and asked them about what had happened there—the cover-up by the police and powers-that-be, the fact that after the rape happened on August 11, the football games were never cancelled and the alleged rapists kept playing several games until they were indicted, and just how widespread the culture of rape is there. From the minute we began conversing there, the widespread abuse, rape, and degradation that women experienced poured out. Thinking about the observation in Revolution, "the 'ordinary functioning' of this system has had devastating, horrifically life-draining impact on India and the rest of the world...," it is much more extreme in the conditions of India, yet we felt this "life-draining impact" among people here in Steubenville. So we drew out the fury that seemed to stir just under the surface among the women there, and brought out the underlying cause of capitalism. We called on people to take inspiration from the women rising up in India, and to unleash the fury of women as a mighty force, to bring forth an understanding of the genuine communist revolution as Bob Avakian has re-envisioned it to get rid of the scourge of rape throughout the world.

So we began at a McDonalds where we talked to a few Black youth about the rape, but they were quiet and seemed almost afraid to speak about it. Then outside, a few women had lots to say. Toni said, "I don't care if a female is naked, NO IS NO!" She told how her daughter was raped at age 12 after a football game and went through the "legal" process but got nowhere. She said, "They want football here and that is that. You [females] can't be safe. I teach my six daughters that at these parties girls are waiting to be raped. I was totally drunk and raped at 14 and 15 years old. I was at a party, needed air, went to this guy's car and got raped. This case is a wakeup call. It is not supposed to be this way."

Then a Black woman joined the conversation and said, "The police do nothing. My brother was murdered and we gave them information but they don't care. And they aren't doing anything about this rape." We read BAsics 1:24 on the role of the police. We threw around the point that BA makes that the "law and order the police are about, ... enforces all this oppression and madness." And how the way they treat rape and the attacks on women is to ignore it or laugh at it or just say the "women were asking for it." Then Toni said, "It is always the girl that 'deserved it.' I was six years old when I was raped by my uncle. I am glad for the rally and the victim got a voice, which needed to happen and I applaud her parents and hope more people speak out. A student at my daughter's school said, 'they didn't rape that whore' and my daughter took it on. My daughter got into trouble for it. Coaches and some parents are blaming the girl, it is truly sick here."

Then we went to a small strip mall and got out our poster "From Delhi to Ohio and Around the World—If You Are Not Fighting Rape, You Are Condoning It!" and people checked that out. A woman came along and listened quietly to what we said about opposition to the rape. She said, "Some justice is never served and never will be," and when we told her how significant is the protest going on in India and the demonstration of 1,000 in Steubenville, she perked up. She told of how badly she was beaten, abused, and bruised by a man, and it was never reported. On the verge of tears, she spoke of her abuse and took the BAsics 3:22 card.

Then we met a young woman and her mother—the young woman was acquainted with the woman who was raped and knew the guys accused. She is home-schooled and wasn't at the parties but saw some of the photos on the Internet and told her mom, who raised an alarm about it. The young woman was very quiet but her hatred of this kind of behavior was evident. "It is wrong, it is wrong, it has to stop," they said. One of them said how it is as if the only way a woman is safe is if she locks herself away. They got a newspaper and wanted to know more about what can be done. In talking about India and the conditions of women there, the mother said, "I know they sometimes kill the infant if it is a girl, because girls are not wanted."

We went to a small neighborhood which was mixed with Black and white people. A few people were standing outside so we went up to them and started to talk about why we came and our message of revolution and communism. A white woman, Rene, had lots to say about Steubenville and the plight of women. Once the place was called "Sin City." She said prostitution is very big in this town, and then explained she had been in that life, but thankfully got out of it. Only a few months away from being deep into prostitution and drugs, she told of her experience of violence and abuse—having a gun held to her head and being raped; another time jumping out of a moving car to escape from danger in which a woman who was left in the car ended up dumped out and left—beaten, dead or unconscious. And she feels responsible for the fate of that woman, because she left her. Then we opened up a clip from Bob Avakian's Revolution talk. Rene listened to the beginning of "the postcards of the hanging" section, until she couldn't take the violence any more. But then she wanted to keep talking. She said how in this town, anybody that is part of Big Red football is protected, the coach has gotten players out of scrapes with the law by talking to judges, etc. We told her about getting connected to the movement against patriarchy and pornography, and gave her the article "From Delhi to Ohio" by Sunsara Taylor. She brightened up when she realized there is an outpouring of rage being organized to fight against the oppression of women.

An older white woman sitting on the stoop didn't say anything while we were talking to Rene, then said how she had been continually abused and raped by her stepfather since she was young, and it was all hushed up, so she has had this inside of her all these years. This is the way men are, she says, and this is how they will always be. At this point we brought out how, after China had made a revolution, in Shanghai, which had one of the largest red light districts in the world and opium was affecting millions, women went from having bound feet to seeing that outlawed, and prostitution ended in two years after the revolution. It happened because capitalism and the enslavement of China by imperialist powers were ended. Women who had been prostitutes now had jobs and women in general had dignity. We spoke about how BA has put out the solution and a re-envisioned socialism and communism. Rene took about 60 BAsics 3:22 palm cards to get out, and we got out several papers to people there.

A Black woman who bought a paper told how she keeps to herself in her apartment because of the violence among the people there. She listened intently to the Cornel West interview with Bob Avakian, liked it and thought she needed to think more about revolution as the solution.

Throughout the afternoon, women told their stories of abuse, rape, and how the powers-that-be and the police cover it all up, how women are told to "get over it" or are blamed and devalued for being raped. The women we talked to had not gone to the demonstrations there but knew about them and were excited they happened. They all said how rape and abuse goes on in Steubenville and nothing even comes out about it and that it is good it is coming out in this case, with people fighting back against the horror of that night for the 16-year-old youth who went to a party to be with friends and have some fun before school started but was gang-raped while many watched, cheered, laughed and some urinated on her. There was outrage at what happened that night and a need to fight back against the pervasive culture of rape, to fight back against the rape there. There was a beginning sense that perhaps there can be a way out of all the misery women go through here and around the world. There was a beginning feeling among the women there that all the hurt they felt inside themselves for years got expressed, and they felt inspired by the upsurge in India, that they could be part of this movement to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/beneath-the-blindfold-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Beneath the Blindfold – a Film by Ines Sommer and Kathy Berger
Four Survivors, One Truth: This Should Not Happen To Anyone

February 3, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

On January 17 Revolution Books in Chicago had a film showing of Beneath the Blindfold, a film by Ines Sommer and Kathy Berger. On their blog (beneaththeblindfold.org) they make an important statement around the revolting culture we face today: "Where are the voices of torture survivors? As the new film Zero Dark Thirty opens in movie theaters across the country and despite the extensive media coverage of abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, it is worth noting that the voices of torture survivors are rarely included in any of the public discussions about the use of torture. But without their stories, torture remains abstract, a practice that happens to people we neither know nor care about. They become statistics, their human suffering easily ignored."

The film takes you through the struggle of torture survivors, from Liberia, Colombia, Guatemala and the U.S. The torture survivors who speak in the film do it with courage and heart. Kathy Berger pointed out how the survivors have responded very differently to their circumstances. In living through the most inhuman crimes that have been perpetrated against them they have sought to bring their stories out through this film, through speaking at demonstrations, through theater, activism and as way for psychological release for healing.  

One young man from Liberia was forced to become a child soldier and when captured given a Drano type substance that destroyed his esophagus. Others had been held for ten days and tortured with the sounds of children crying in the next room and the guards telling them that it was their children. A female doctor who had been working with indigenous people in Guatemala had been told to leave the country; she refused and had been gang raped and tortured. Many of these crimes can be directly traced back to the School of Americas (SOA), where the U.S. trains in counter-insurgency, torture and assassinations. One of the torture survivors is seen at an SOA protest and calls it "the first terrorist training camp."

Each story is woven together with the history of torture dating back to the CIA development of sensory deprivation, with documentation from Alfred McCoy, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and author, and with comments from those who work with torture survivors. A point was made about the iconic image from Abu Ghraib – that this is a demonstration of two most important discoveries by psychologists about torture: self-inflicted pain and sensory deprivation.

The film underscores the fact that even with the most brutal physical torture techniques that are used against people, the scars that have been left in people's minds are even worse. They suffer from flashbacks, fear of people and difficulty in speaking about their experience even to their loved ones and ongoing medical issues that would last a lifetime if they lived. And some never regain their mental faculties; torturing people without leaving any visible marks.

People who attended the film screening were working with torture survivors; some from the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture in Chicago who are training to work with people who have been tortured and going through medical treatment for the scars inflicted on them.  

Kathy Berger spoke at the end of the film: how it took years in making the film to make sure the people were able to speak and tell their stories without harm and setbacks in their struggle with the crimes that had been committed against them. How some people wanted to know why she was doing a film on such a "depressing story." She responded that this was a story that needed to be told and especially at the time of the 11th anniversary of Guantánamo and the recent release of Zero Dark Thirty. One participant commented, feeling helpless, that after 9/11 people just spontaneously started supporting torture or war. In discussing this point it was raised how people's responses have been molded in various ways by the system, and the huge role that culture plays in doing this. Beneath the Blindfold shows clips of the TV series NYPD Blue in the '90s, through the series 24, and ZDT that promote torture in the mainstream media.

At the Golden Globes host Amy Poehler joked that living with director James Cameron was like "torture." When ZDT director Kathryn Bigelow appeared on Jay Leno's show, he said "Waterboarding, I think that happened to me at a frat party." This is the disgusting and brutal culture that makes jokes of torture and then spews them into the mainstream culture. It reinforces that torture is fine if it keeps me safe.

Everyone at the showing got a copy of Revolution newspaper with the review of Zero Dark Thirty and palm cards that said "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives" and "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First," quotes from Bob Avakian's book BAsics.

Beneath the Blindfold did not make the cut in any of the film festivals, including Sundance or any other film festivals. So it's up to us to get it out there and show it to friends, family, community groups or local TV stations.  Get out at the Oscars, at theaters and to talk to people about how torture becomes the new normal; reinforcing throughout society that torture is fine if it keeps me safe.

Looking away from the crimes the U.S. and others are committing against the people of the world is unacceptable. See this film Beneath the Blindfold. Demand that these crimes be stopped and the people responsible for them are prosecuted.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/cheers-lupe-fiasco-rap-obama-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Cheers to Lupe Fiasco's Rap on Obama

January 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Lupe Fiasco performed courageously at the January 20 Start Up Rock On (SURO) concert to celebrate Obama's second inauguration. Matt Dornic, senior director of public relations for CNN, tweeted, “Things going terribly wrong at Lupe Fiasco performance during SURO. Kicked off stage, bashing Obama.”

The pre-inaugural festivities for Pres. Obama started with a blast of fresh air as Lupe Fiasco, who was chosen to headline "an evening celebrating President Obama's 2nd term and honoring innovation," performed a relentless 40 minute "anti-war" and "anti-Obama" song. He rapped:
"Limbaugh is a racist / Glenn Beck is a racist / Gaza strip was getting bombed / Obama didn't say shit / That's why I ain't vote for him / The next one neither."

"Rock On" turned off the stage lights and sent several large men from security on stage to surround the rapper and escort him off the stage.

"Rock On" event organizers issued a baldly ingenuous statement saying, "We are staunch supporters of free speech, and free political speech. This was not about his opinions. Instead, after a bizarrely repetitive, jarring performance that left the crowd vocally dissatisfied, organizers decided to move on to the next act." However, in youtubes of the incident voices in the crowd can be heard shouting "Lupe, Lupe." See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw_rnXQVGao

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/lupe-fiascos-bold-stand-and-the-truth-about-obama-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Lupe Fiasco's Bold Stand—And the Truth About Obama

February 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

From a reader:

On Martin Luther King Day, which was also the day of the inauguration of Barack Obama, I woke up angry and outraged. The world does not have to be the way it is. The masses of people here and around the world should not have to live another day under a system of capitalism-imperialism which grinds the majority of people up with no regard, and then tells people that this is the best that humanity can do, and trying to do anything else, especially communism would be nothing but a disaster. That is more than enough to make me sick, and others like me who are fighting for a different, and far better world. Today though something happened that made me even more indignant. All over Facebook, various blogs, and even TV One, a popular cable television channel catered to African Americans, was the news that last night at an inauguration party, Lupe Fiasco, a rapper who is popular among progressive youth was asked to perform.

Lupe Fiasco escorted off stage

"Rock On" turned off the stage lights and sent several large men from security to surround the rapper and escort him off the stage. Artists like Lupe Fiasco should be supported when they speak the truth about this system and Obama's role in leading it now.

Lupe Fiasco performed his song "Words I Never Said." If you haven't heard this song he says in his lyrics at the end of the first verse “Limbaugh is a racist. Glenn Beck is a racist. Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn't say shit. That's why I didn't vote for him, next one either.” Well during his performance, he did not shy away from uttering those exact same lyrics in front of a large crowd who was there to celebrate four more years of Barack Obama's rule. He was immediately heckled, and forced offstage. In the aftermath of this I saw that there were various forces on the blogosphere, and other media that were calling for him to be boycotted. This is BULLSHIT!

First off let's get into the essence of the matter. Was what Lupe Fiasco saying have any truth to it? On several occasions during his presidency thus far Israel has taken unjust military action against the Palestinian people. Bombings, raids, assassinations and the advancement of settlements along the West Bank, forcing Palestinians off their land. All of these things have taken place. Not just alleged "enemy combatants," but civilian men, women, and children who have nothing to do with this conflict have been killed as a result of Israeli aggression. This brings me back to the November issue of Revolution newspaper and the article titled "Israel's Murderous Assault on the People in Gaza... And the Need to Oppose These Crimes NOW." It tells of a doctor's post on Facebook saying that in less than 2 hours, 14 military attacks took place against different targets in different parts of the Gaza Strip, 6 were killed including 2 young girls age 4 and 7, also leaving 11 injured without adequate emergency medication, and no power. He says at the end that this aggression must stop now. Think about this happening over and over again to the people of Palestine and that the U.S. and Israel are inflicting this terror.

What has Barack Obama done during all of this? He has said nothing about all of the horrors inflicted against the Palestinian people. He has backed Israel on several occasions, verbally, saying that "the state of Israel has the right to defend itself." The U.S. before and during Barack Obama's presidency also has continued to provide economic and military aid to Israel, and this will only continue during Obama's next term. We have to look at the facts squarely in the face and in their proper context. What's going on here is nothing more than U.S. imperialism along with Israel continuing to protect its interests, expanding its sphere of influence, and trying to consolidate control over a Middle East that they feel is getting out of control, with Islamic fundamentalism taking hold amongst many of the Arab youth. Capitalism-imperialism, and Islamic fundamentalism are both outmoded and as a framework are nothing but horrors for the masses of people, and need to be entirely swept away if we are going to get to a world free of all oppression and exploitation. But let's get this clear. Imperialism has been the dominant means of devastation overwhelmingly in the world, and Barack Obama is at the helm. Islamic fundamentalism would not even have as much of a current in the Middle East had it not been for U.S. imperialist action and intervention.

Lupe Fiasco Performing Words I Never Said

Lupe Fiasco performed courageously at the Start Up Rock On (SURO) concert to celebrate Obama's second inauguration. He performed "Words I Never Said." He rapped: "Limbaugh is a racist / Glenn Beck is a racist / Gaza Strip was getting bombed / Obama didn't say shit / That's why I ain't vote for him / The next one neither."

The trend I have been seeing which was even more exposed by the backlash against Lupe Fiasco, has been the uncritical support for Barack Obama during his first four years as president up to now. Anyone who comes out to speak any truth about the reality about Barack Obama, and the system he presides over, even if the criticism is not that articulate or developed is immediately attacked and isolated. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley for example have even been labeled "uncle Tom's" by comedian, and now talk show host, Steve Harvey. This is actually turning reality on its head. It is outrageous quite frankly. The fact that people can get away with saying things like this without being called out is ridiculous. Let's actually take a step back for a moment here and look at this more fully. First off the exploitation and oppression of Black people in this country lies in its foundation and continues up till today. The feelings that the masses of Black people felt when Barack Obama became president had some real meaning after the long night of oppression imposed upon Black people. There was the feeling that anyone could make it under this system now. There were no more excuses. I can't count how many times I've heard that tired old phrase.

If we are going to see things as they really are, then we are going to have to get into what Barack Obama's presidency has actually meant for Black people, and what is this system that he is the Commander and Chief of. First off, the sentiment felt around the country was that this presidency would inspire Black youth to take "personal responsibility" and achieve the "American Dream" that so many had hoped for. Well this ran right up against its limits. Unemployment for Black youth at an all-time high due to lack of decent employment opportunities. Blacks still locked in the ghettos and slums set out to battle each other on a regular basis. 900,000 Black men along with a quickly growing number of women in prison. Police murder. Hundreds of thousands stopped and frisked every year in New York City alone. The majority of them never doing anything wrong in the first place. This is what sociologist Michelle Alexander so correctly pointed out as the New Jim Crow, and what Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party describes as a slow genocide that can turn into a fast one, that we are being conditioned to accept.

Barack Obama has never come out and said anything about these devastating conditions. Instead he has used his platform to tell Black youth that they need to pick their pants up. Take personal responsibility. Be fathers to their children. Blaming the masses of Black people for their conditions that are not of their own making, but rise out of the very system that he presides over. Reinforcing the idea that if you are living under these desperate conditions then it's your own damn fault. There are those that would say to this, that he is the president of the United States, he can't put Black people as a priority. Well let me say this. If there were any other country doing this to a whole section of people, people rightfully so would be outraged crying aloud that this is a serious violation of human rights, and something needs to be done about this. To be honest these conditions demand that this be met as a priority, but they never will under this system. Look, Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America, which is capitalist-imperialist. This is a system that puts profit over people. Things are socially produced on a worldwide scale, and then the wealth is appropriated to the hands of a few. The need to exploit people more ruthlessly for more profit compels those capitalists in competition with each other to go to other countries, mainly in the third world, and pay people far less than they can in this country. Through all of the Presidents in this country's history, nothing has ever changed the way this works fundamentally, and under this system it never will.

What I just described about the functioning of this system ties directly into the oppression of Black people which has been at the foundation and a cornerstone of this country. This system, at a certain point not being able to exploit Blacks as profitably, took their factories and other forms of employment that used to be available to Blacks out of the country and left many Blacks to be of no use to this system anymore. The result is that the majority are locked into the ghettos with no way out facing all the horrors of these conditions, while some Blacks, relatively few compared to the number of those locked in the slums and prisons of this country, are in the middle class. The ruling class of elites have cleverly used all of this, along with the presidency of Barack Obama to say that it's your fault if you've been living under these conditions, catering to Black middle class feelings and aspirations, reinforcing the idea that Blacks have achieved full equality, and the whole "I made it and you didn't" mentality. This ruling class has used this to make far too much of the Black middle class embrace American chauvinism and exceptionalism. This has very dangerous consequences for those trapped at the bottom.

Now the fact of the matter is that the monumental problems that plague this society as a matter of fact are a product of this very system that puts the blame on people for those conditions, and that needs to be fully swept away if we are going to get beyond all this. This means we need a REVOLUTION! to deal with all of these problems at their root and to dig out the vestiges of this system whose time is up. More specifically we need the new synthesis of communism, developed by Bob Avakian, the chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who has re-envisioned communism. He has looked at its history, the great achievements and errors that have been made, and has figured out how we can do much better the next time the people have power over society.

Artists like Lupe Fiasco should be supported and encouraged when they take the stand that they do, boldly calling out this system and who is leading it at any given time. We desperately need more artists that are breaking out of the confines and taking bold stands like this. It is a part of people fighting back, and can lead people to raise their sights, and see the true nature of this decadent and utterly worthless system.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/stop-mass-incarceration-marches-in-LA-MLK-Day parade-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Stop Mass Incarceration Network Marches in L.A. MLK Parade

February 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Led by a 10-foot banner reading “MASS INCARCERATION + SILENCE = GENOCIDE / Break the Silence," a lively and passionate group of people—of diverse ages, nationalities, and backgrounds—marched with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) contingent in L.A.’s huge Martin Luther King, Jr. parade this year. The parade attracted tens of thousands of people and had over 300 floats and marching units this year. 

In the SMIN contingent: an ex-Pelican Bay SHU prisoner marched with a mother whose son was part of the prisoner hunger strike in 2011; a young woman whose father, brother and step-father are all in jail marched with others who don’t have these personal experiences but don’t want to live in a world that has no future for the youth. Some people wore t-shirts matching the slogan on the SMIN banner and some wore t-shirts with the words: I am part of the thousands working on the revolution." A group of 20 Aztec dancers with placards against mass incarceration attached to their drums, danced the whole parade route. And a crew of young women who had just met each other that day worked out their own dance steps to the drums, full of excitement and real determination, as they chanted out the slogans to the crowds. “Mass incarceration / NO MORE! / Solitary torture / NO MORE! / School-to-prison pipeline / NO MORE! / Police killing youth / NO MORE!” 

All along the way, people watching the parade joined in yelling out “NO MORE” as the contingent passed them. A few people, like two young women who had been beaten by the police outside their high school, jumped in to march for a ways. Stop Mass Incarceration stickers and Bear Witness! flyers, which detail the facts about the genocidal direction of mass incarceration, were distributed along the route and some copies of the "Call to End Hostilities" among the different racial groups in prison from SHU prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison were distributed at the closing festival.

Revolution Club members were an active part of this Stop Mass Incarceration Network contingent and also went into the crowds of thousands, passing out cards widely, promoting the Bob Avakian interview currently airing weekly on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK radio, calling on people to get into the leadership we have to make the revolution we need and to donate for the BA Everywhere campaign. A couple of hundred Revolution newspapers were distributed. The parade also passed by a banner promoting the BA interview that was put up along the route by supporters of the BA Everywhere campaign. Two girls who got a card, looked at it and said, “Hey, WE were passing out these cards too! We got them from people who came to our school.” After the parade plans were made for a listening party of the upcoming interview segment.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/movement-for-revolution/stop-patriarchy/jan-2013-week-of-action-for-abortion-rights.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/sunsara-taylor-fighting-for-abortion-on-demand-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Sunsara Taylor in Washington, DC:

Fighting for Abortion on Demand and Confronting People with the Real Truth on All This

January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

January 20-26, 2013, the Stop Patriarchy Campaign held a Week of Action to Defend Abortion & Defeat the War on Women in Washington, DC. There were also actions in the San Francisco Bay Area. The following excerpts are from one of Sunsara Taylor’s blog posts, written from DC. Go to revcom.us and Stoppatriarchy.org to read the whole blog, as well as much more coverage of the whole week of events in DC and the Bay Area, including photos and links to press coverage.

January 25, 2013

We’ve been out on the street as much as the weather will allow—fingers and toes become painful and then numb within half an hour in this subfreezing weather, even with those amazing toe and hand warmers.

Day 4 in DC, out defending Planned Parenthood and counter-protesting the lunatic anti-abortion Christian fascists.

Yesterday we went out to a college campus. We were decked out in bright stickers and signs sticking out of our backpacks which read, “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!”

More Coverage at revcom.us

Most of the coverage here is from Plans, Reports, and Photos Straight from the Week of Action for Abortion Rights from Washington, DC, and San Francisco at revcom.us (in the “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution” section). Revcom.us is a dynamic hub for correspondence, analysis, guidance, struggle, engagement, photos, audio, and video, in more or less real time. It provides people with a living feel for the movement for revolution, emerging on the critical front of fighting for the right to abortion and for ending patriarchy and the oppression of women all over the world. And it connects that with the whole movement for revolution. These reports illustrate how a small but critical mass of determined people broke into the mainstream media and discourse in the U.S. and around the world, cutting through the deadly terms of things with liberating truth. This gives a living sense that things do not have to be this way!

Come back to revcom.us for full coverage of the week of action in DC and SF.

See interviews with volunteers at the week of Protest for Abortion Rights in Washington D.C. in "Speaking Out Against Patriarchy."

The response from the students was mixed but overall very positive. A handful of students were vehemently anti-abortion and refused to stop. But a good number of those who began by saying they were against abortion were quick to add that they understood there are sometimes circumstances that makes it necessary. We never found this satisfactory and we never left things at this. “Do you realize that right now it is very difficult for millions of women to get an abortion? 97% of rural counties in this country do not have an abortion provider. Doctors have been killed and women are being shamed. The truth is women who cannot decide for themselves when and whether to have a child have no more freedom than slaves.” This would usually get people really tuned in—most people don’t know any of this. People have the misconception that abortion is somehow widely available and over-used.

After jolting people as to what the reality is, we would go further still. “Fetuses are not babies. They are a subordinate part of a woman’s body. Because of this, abortion is not murder and there is nothing wrong with it. It is a perfectly moral and responsible decision to get an abortion if a woman wants one.” This would open up discussion in a very deep way. No one we have talked to has yet heard anything like this. People asked a lot of questions and we would provide answers. The truth is, not everyone who began inclined against abortion got won over in the course of these conversations, but a lot did! Especially among young people, young men as well as young women.

Fetuses Are NOT Babies!
From Sunsara Taylor’s Day 2 Blog:

The arguments that the people in our crew were making were getting sharper throughout the day. They were cutting through the obfuscation and claim to a “higher morality” of the anti-abortion movement. They were the kind of arguments which caused many of the young anti-abortion activists to turn around and back away because they could not answer them. They were the kind of arguments that, if they were being made more consistently throughout society in this debate, could enable those who care about the lives and the liberation of women to turn the tide. Some examples:

Why should a baby have to suffer because a woman made a mistake?

First, fetuses are not babies—so when an abortion takes place, no baby is suffering. Second, why is a woman having sex considered a mistake? Sex is not wrong. When it is engaged in with mutual respect and equality, when it is engaged in out of mutual caring and pleasure, it can be one of the most amazing experiences humans can have.

But it is a baby! Once the sperm meets the egg, if you leave it alone it will become a baby.

Wow, what happened to the woman? If you take a sperm and an egg and actually leave them alone, they will die in a few seconds. A fertilized egg doesn’t become a baby because it is “left alone.” It becomes a baby only if it is incubated by a woman’s body. Only if the woman takes in nutrients, keeps on breathing, living, and functioning does the fertilized egg develop over time, and through stages, into a fetus and later into a baby. But, until it is born it is not a separate social or biological being. It is part of a woman’s body. That woman is a person, the fetus is NOT!

There were also a great number of people who were incredibly supportive and happy to see us out. They thanked us as they walked by, saying things like, “I am with you!” The notion that is being widely promoted by the anti-abortion forces this week, the notion that this new generation is the “Pro-Life Generation” is a fucking lie. This is one thing we are seeing face to face and close up in every outing we have. But, it is also the case that the anti-abortion elements of this generation are far more mobilized and energized than the greater portion that supports the right to abortion. And, it is clearly the case that—owing not only to the vigorous fight that has been waged by Christian fascists to demonize and restrict abortion over decades, but also to the craven capitulation to this fight and its terms by the official “pro-choice” movement—most people who support the right to abortion still think of it as something that ought to be avoided because on some level it is wrong.

This is why we would spend so much time arguing with people—even those who agreed in the main. And then there was the ongoing challenge of fighting for people to see the need to ACT. To join in a movement that is fighting to end all forms of enslavement and degradation of women. It really is not enough to support the right to abortion, in a society where that right is being taken away if you are not fighting to defend and expand access and to destigmatize abortion and to defend providers, you are allowing this right to disappear.

Many people were very curious as to what we thought was needed and this opened up a lot of debate over whether it does anything to “vote pro-choice” or whether we need to be resisting. In these debates, for many of us, it often opened up into a bigger (and very controversial) discussion of just how criminal the whole program and impact of Obama’s presidency (and the Democrats more broadly) is—from the killer drones to the continuation of torture at Guantánamo to the blaming of Black youth for their oppressed conditions as prisons and police continue to steal the lives of millions to record numbers of deportations and a whole program of capitulation and “common ground” with the attacks on abortion. I and a few others with this crew have been promoting the need for an actual revolution—the way that it has been reenvisioned and is being led by Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party. We’ve been getting out Revolution newspaper to folks who really hear us when we challenge them in this way.

This Is What We Are!

From a letter to the volunteers for the Week of Action to Defend Abortion Rights and Defeat the War on Women, days before the beginning of that week:

We are just a few days away from our Week of Action to Defend Abortion Rights and Defeat the War on Women and, even as we are all super busy getting ready, I think it is important to step back and appreciate what we are embarking on and its significance and potential.

In 1928, at the height of the white-supremacist terroristic backlash against the abolition of slavery, the KKK brought 50,000 people to march on Washington, DC. This march was embraced by many officials in politics. Now, think if, in this kind of situation, those who claimed the banner of Black people’s rights, rather than confronting and countering these protests, instead held celebrations of “how far Black people had come.” Think if one of the major groups who millions looked to to stand up for the rights of Black people chose this moment to announce to the world that it was abandoning the label “anti-racist” because “labels are divisive” and the subjugation of Black people is “complicated.”

This is a very good analogy to the situation that is confronting women on the fast-approaching 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

As our call for the Week of Action points out: at no time in the last 40 years has the right to abortion been more restricted, more under attack, more dangerous to provide, or more stigmatized. The last two years have had the two largest numbers of restrictions passed on abortion across the country. Tens of thousands of Christian fascists are about to march on both coasts to publicly denounce not only abortion but also birth control. Many politicians will send messages of support to these fascist rallies. Yet the official “pro-choice” movement is calling for celebrations! Planned Parenthood has chosen this moment to announce, through a recent video campaign, that it is dropping the label “pro-choice” because they consider it too “divisive.”

All this does NOT show that there is no basis for the kind of massive, uncompromising, society-wide resistance necessary to turn the tide. What this shows is that that kind of massive, uncompromising, society-wide resistance will only come about if a new movement breaks free of all this played-out-shit and fights for all-the-way liberation for women! There are millions today who are not acting in the way they need to not because they can’t or they won’t, but because there hasn’t been the leadership blazing a trail, inspiring them, struggling with them, giving them strength, and rallying them forth.

This is what we are!

One of our volunteers has continually made the point to us, in our informal discussions and time spent with each other, that up until just a few weeks ago she herself was “pro-life.” She had never heard what people like us are saying. She has actually stressed this in relation to the revolution as a whole—the real history of this system and the real meaning of slavery (nothing like the half a page and half a day spent on it in high school!), the real role of the police in enforcing an unjust and exploitative order, the role of the U.S, around the world in waging unjust wars, and the possibility of a whole different world. She keeps repeating, “I know I am only twenty-one, but I should have known about this a long time ago. All this has been kept from me.” She is so right—and this has been one of our big reminders of why it is so essential for us to keep going out very, very broadly to the masses of people with the message that this world is intolerable and we do not have to live this way and what kind of struggle is needed to turn this tide and ultimately bring about a whole different and far better world.

Last night a bunch of us listened to the most recent installment of Michael Slate’s interview with Bob Avakian and got into a very deep discussion about a lot of this—about how an actual revolution could come about, whether that is really necessary, what is the truth about the first wave of communist revolution, why this was defeated and what should be learned from that, the impact it would have on society to spread BA Everywhere especially in terms of lifting people’s sights and inspiring them with the possibility of a different world and the desire to fight for it, and many other big questions. All of this wrangling is pulsing through our time here—with different people bringing in their own understandings, but engaging with an open mind and deepening our common commitment to go out and fight for others to take up this struggle for the liberation of women.

We have, of course, run into people who argue ferociously against abortion in all circumstances and one of the most noteworthy things about these people is how extremely crude their negative views of women are. We have heard so much derision against women for “spreading their legs” and so much cruelty and straight-up bigotry from people who insist that the woman’s life really doesn’t matter, that it is her duty to bring to term every pregnancy and raise children. That to not raise children as her main desire in life is “selfish.” That “feminists made up the desire for abortion because they were selfish and wanted the same rights as men.” We have heard so much backwardness—and the truth is this is all the backwardness and judgment that piles on the heads of women every day, women who have sex, women who have abortions, women who are raped, women who try to walk down the street and cannot without being treated like a piece of meat or a piece of garbage.

Even if you don’t acknowledge it, even if you are one of those people who can sometimes avoid interacting with this most crude shit, it is out there and it is pervasive and it is unabashed and it is crushing the lives of so many women and it is part of the weight sitting on all women.

January 26. Confronting and opposing the anti-abortion “Walk for Life” in San Francisco. 200 people rallied and marched for 3 hours along Market Street, chanting defiantly in the faces of the marchers for forced motherhood: “Women are NOT incubators! Fetuses are NOT babies! Abortion is NOT murder!” It was a beautiful day of unity and strength among people who wanted to resist and were not satisfied with merely “celebrating” the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The march was followed by an impromptu speak-out and people made plans to meet the next day—all who want to stop patriarchy are invited! This is just the beginning.

One woman we encountered who was filled with a lot of this backwardness on this campus yesterday was insisting that women bring their pregnancies to term and give the baby up for adoption. The volunteer who had been arguing with her for a while up till then finally just lost her temper, “Do you realize what that does to a woman or a girl, to her body, to how much suffering she has to go through, through how much judgment and stigma that is put on her, and then to have to make a baby and give it away? Do you know how cruel that is? And besides, how is that good for a baby. Get real. I know what happens in the foster system—those babies go into families where they are raped and molested, abused and neglected, and no one cares about them and they suffer all this shit and the whole time they are thinking they deserved it because even their own parents don’t want them. Then they end up running away and they end up getting pimped out as prostitutes or pimped out into porn—all of this destroying their own lives and making more of this shit culture that destroys the lives of other women. This is so wrong I cannot even talk to you!”

I, of course, am paraphrasing—but I am capturing the basic content and spirit. But I regret you cannot hear her say it herself. She is usually pretty quiet, but each day out here she—like all the volunteers—has been getting sharper in her arguments and bolder in her convictions. It seems to me she probably knows people who have had experiences like she described—and certainly this is true to what goes on. I am so proud of the crew who is here, and so deeply impressed by them. And they are getting more impressive by the day!...

We have more big things we are under way with and I have to, once again, get running. I do want to note that we have been wrestling with and promoting among people the need to see the fight for abortion rights as one essential part of a larger fight—for the full liberation of women. This is connected to the global epidemic of rape, of violence against women, of pornography and objectification of women, and much more. As one woman told us, “I never thought of myself as enslaved, but I am beginning to see what you mean.” Reporting more fully on this—both its impact out on the street and the wrangling and transformation of our crew here around our deepening understanding of this—will have to wait....

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/stop-patriarchy-jan-21-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

From stoppatriarchy.org blog January 21, 2013

Stand Up for Women! Join Us in Washington D.C.

January 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We have arrived in Washington DC! Stop Patriarchy burst out on the scene in a big way on our first day out in DC. We started bright and early at an anti-war rally which lead to a march towards the White House where masses of people were arriving in waves to hear President Obama’s inaugural speech. Our contingent was small, but the message was heard loud and clear. We marched through the streets among other radically minded folks, mostly chanting anti-war rhymes which were extremely important especially for those who were headed towards the inauguration of the war criminal himself, Obama; but our chant “Without this basic right, women can’t be free, abortion on demand and without apology!” really stood out and brought a whole other component to the march... and of course stirred up plenty of controversy.

The march ended at a barricade hundreds of feet away from the White House, lined with military and police personnel as well as army tanks. Can’t say that was a surprise. With protesters dispersing, we decided to continue on past the barricade and go into the crowds arriving for the inauguration to spread our palm cards and get more people involved with the movement. In about an hour, we got out over 1,000 palm cards, sparked many sharp debates, and gained lots of support and new connections. As we wrapped up the day at a nearby cafe, we were told by some people who had just gone to the inauguration and noticed our signs and stickers, that there was a lunatic anti-abortion fanatic dangling from a tree, completely interrupting their ability to watch to the inauguration and making a fool out of himself. The people telling us this story expressed how different the situation could have been, had we been there to counter him.

Well, this needs to be the situation everywhere, all the time. That is why we came to DC; to create a pole that draws people into this dialogue and challenges not only the crazy Christian fascists who want nothing more than to keep women in the dark ages, but also those who believe themselves to be ‘pro-choice’ but don’t see the need for such a political force to be out in the streets declaring that women are not free until they all have access to abortion and a world which does not demonize the women who choose to have one. The fact of the matter is, abortion rights are under attack, clinics are being shut down left and right, and regulations are at a record high limiting more and more women from even having the option of getting an abortion. This is entirely unacceptable and there is a huge need to not only acknowledge this and call it out, but also to oppose it and declare it for what it really is, a means of keeping women enslaved; and if half of humanity is enslaved, we are all enslaved. STAND UP FOR WOMEN! COME OUT WITH US THIS WEEK IN DC!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/stop-patriarchy-jan-22-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Stop Patriarchy—LIVE FROM DC, Day 2:

Standing Up for Abortion at the Supreme Court, Taking on the Anti-Abortion Bullshit, and Challenging the Deadly Reliance on the Democrats of the “Pro-Choice” Movement

by Sunsara Taylor | January 23, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We spent most of yesterday at the Supreme Court for the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. We began by honoring the doctors and providers who risk their lives every day to provide women with abortions.

We read statements from some of these doctors as passersby paused to listen. Behind us was a droning voice of a hate-filled anti-abortion fanatic (he later called one of our leaders, “Bitch!” and threatened to “knock [her] out”). Off to the side were a hundred or more anti-abortion activists praying in small circles or kneeling in prayer before the Supreme Court. The whole backdrop only underscored the heroism of the providers who actually give women abortions—and how essential it is to honor them. All too often, they are accompanied and called out by name and known only by those who hate them.

Stop Patriarchy at Supreme Court, January 22, 2013, 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade . Photo: Li Onesto/RevolutionStop Patriarchy at Supreme Court, January 22, 2013, 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade . Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

But, on the 40th anniversary, at the Supreme Court in DC, their voices and their service and their courage was heralded! Stories of botched abortions and unnecessary suffering, terror and death of women before Roe were shared. Stories of commitment to women and safe access to abortion were shared. Stories of the gratitude and appreciation that millions of women have expressed to thousands of doctors and staff were shared. StopPatriarchy.org was proud to make these voices at the center of the controversy around abortion!

Taking on the Anti-Abortion Rhetoric

We were also proud to politically confront and expose the vicious program of the anti-abortion forces. We got into many arguments with them. What was noteworthy about this was less that I think we are going to sway many of their hard-core organizers and activists who believe they are on a mission from god and that motherhood is the duty of women.

But, it was noteworthy that the arguments that the people in our crew were making were getting sharper throughout the day. They were cutting through the obfuscation and claim to a “higher morality” of the anti-abortion movement. They were the kind of arguments which caused many of the young anti-abortion activists to turn around and back away because they could not answer them. They were the kind of arguments that, if they were being made more consistently throughout society in this debate, could enable those who care about the lives and the liberation of women to turn the tide. Some examples:

Why should a baby have to suffer because a woman made a mistake?
First, fetuses are not babies—so when an abortion takes place, no baby is suffering. Second, why is a woman having sex considered a mistake?  Sex is not wrong. When it is engaged in with mutual respect and equality, when it is engaged in out of mutual caring and pleasure, it can be one of the most amazing experiences humans can have.

But it is a baby! Once the sperm meets the egg, if you leave it alone it will become a baby.
Wow, what happened to the woman? If you take a sperm and an egg and actually leave them alone, they will die in a few seconds. A fertilized egg doesn't become a baby because it is “left alone.” It becomes a baby only if it is incubated by a woman's body. Only if the woman takes in nutrients, keeps on breathing, living and functioning does the fertilized egg develop over time, and through stages, into a fetus and later into a baby. But, until it is born it is not a separate social or biological being. It is part of a woman's body. That woman is a person, the fetus is NOT!

But in Latin the word fetus means “little one” so that means it is a little person.
So the ignorance and prejudices of people living in an extremely patriarchal society where women were literally considered chattel, and before the emergence of modern science, are what we should bow down to? How does that make any sense? The Latin root for family is “familia” and it refers to the male head of household and all his living possessions – his wife, slaves, children, etc. – all of whom he has the power of life and death over. Does that mean, dear Christian fascists, that we should let fathers kill their wives and children and keep slaves with impunity? Because that is the Latin root? While this is actually the logic and program of the fundamentalist core of the anti-abortion movement, this is still something that most of their followers find difficult to stomach. Most of the college age anti-abortion activists who started out very emboldened by this argument ended up walking away.

There were other very good exchanges and arguments. We will blog more of them soon – again, not merely to share the impact they had on the anti-abortion activists (though sometimes that was very revealing) but even more because this shit needs to be cut through among people very broadly.

Sunsara Taylor being interviewed at Supreme Court, January 22, 2013, 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade . Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution
Sunsara Taylor being interviewed at Supreme Court, January 22, 2013, 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade . Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

Another point I am particularly proud of was when we were getting ready to take a break for food and to warm up, one of our organizers looked back at all the teenagers kneeling before the Supreme Court with red tape over their mouths and shouted, “Listen up, if any of you are gay I just want you to know that God doesn't hate you... because god doesn't exist! And there is a place for you in this movement.”

Our activist continued to speak to them briefly about the fundamentalist camps that gay youth get sent to and how hurtful and wrong they are and letting them know this in case they go through it or know someone who does. Later, our organizer explained to us that she has friends who had that experience. It is not unheard of, actually, for people who have come through this kind of fundamentalist abuse to become active and leaders in the movement against Christian fascism and bigotry.

Taking on the Deadly Reliance on the Democrats of the Official Pro-Choice Movement

At five o'clock we returned to the Supreme Court to join with NOW and others for a short vigil for Roe v. Wade. This was a very mixed affair.

While the event was made up of some 75 people out in the bitter cold standing up for women's right to abortion, and while there was a lot of very powerful exposure done on the hypocrisy and cruelty of the anti-abortion restrictions, the dead hand of politics-as-usual and the killing subordination to the Democratic Party and official bourgeois politics was choking this message and determination.

Over and over again, important exposure on how many restrictions on abortion have been passed (a record 92 restrictions in 2011) and how difficult to access it has become, especially for poor and oppressed women, would be undercut by the insistence that, “Elections do matter!”

Stop the tape. Elections do not matter. Voting for Democrats has done nothing to counter the anti-abortion juggernaut that has been mounting over the course of decades. Whether it has been Republicans or Democrats in the White House and in Congress, this right has been steadily stigmatized, restricted and endangered.

It was Bill Clinton who popularized the position, “Safe, legal and rare.” This conceded the moral high ground to the forced-motherhood camp, implying there is something morally wrong with abortion—which there is not. But, the “pro-choice” movement, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Feminist Majority and others, followed suit, insisting that they are the ones who reduce the most abortions!

Meanwhile, for millions of women and girls in this country abortion is something that they cannot access and the reality is that abortion needs to become more common, i.e.: the women who currently seek one who cannot access one need to be able to access one. The abortions that would take place if women currently unable to access them had access.

Besides, there is no way to reduce the need for abortion without vigorously promoting and expanding access to birth control, something that itself will require a head-on fight with the anti-abortion movement. The anti-abortion movement hates birth control as much as it hates abortion because their biggest purpose and mission is to restore the situation where women's duty was broadly acknowledged and enforced to be childbearing. The Democrats and the “pro-choice” movement have never wanted to fight this cult of motherhood—so their claim to want to reduce abortions is not only the wrong goal, it is one they could only succeed in by further criminalizing and stigmatizing abortion. In other words: it is a misdirecting, defensive, dead-end.

It was Hillary Clinton who came out and said that abortion is a “tragic” decision for women. Bullshit. You know what is tragic? Forced motherhood! You know what else is tragic? Poverty is tragic. Poverty that prevents a woman from being able to have and care for a child she wants is tragic. Rape is tragic. Pregnancies that result from rape are tragic. Health problems that interfere with a woman's pregnancy, causing risk to her life or to the fetus are tragic.

Being able to have an abortion to prevent women from being double-penalized by these tragedies, to prevent women from having to foreclose their lives and futures and dreams, to prevent women from being further trapped in poverty or abuse, this is POSITIVE AND LIBERATING!

I could go on and on, but the Democrats have led this conciliation and capitulation to the Christian fascist juggernaut that is spearheaded by the Republicans. And reliance on the Democrats has only demobilized pro-choice people and caused most of them to lose their own moral bearings.

As Bob Avakian has put it, “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.”

The more pro-choice people have relied on the Democrats, the more they have themselves adopted the idea that we should apologize about abortion, that we should feel sad and mourn abortion decisions, that we should all be united in our desire to “reduce abortions” and that we should, consequently, turn our backs on the poor and oppressed people who do not have access to abortion already and join in stigmatizing all women who get or consider abortions.

Stop Patriarchy at Supreme Court, January 22, 2013, 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade
Stop Patriarchy at Supreme Court, January 22, 2013, 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade . Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

Electing Obama has not slowed the attacks on abortion. It didn't stop an assassin from killing Dr. Tiller. It didn't prevent the record number of restrictions that were passed in the last two years. Actually, all it did is DEMOBILIZE the very people who ought to be out in the streets raising bloody hell about all this.

At this rally by NOW, we heard the tired refrain that the Republicans overreached in the last election by saying that pregnancies by rape are gifts from god and that the election of Democrats shows that this was defeated. Not true! The Republicans showed the true colors of the anti-abortion Christian fascist movement. The Democrats moved closer to and conciliated further with that movement in the name of “opposing” it.

A good example is what went down with Richard Mourdock—he got defeated after saying that pregnancies from rape were "gifts from god" and therefore all abortions should be banned. But, who defeated him? An anti-choice Democrat! Joe Donnelley (the Democrat) thinks abortion should be available to rape victims—so, yes, he is "not as bad"—but this whole logic is deadly.

I did get a chance to speak and I challenged this logic forcefully—we have to rely on ourselves, we have to say what no politician is willing to say, we have to defend the providers, we have to destigmatize abortion, we have to tell our stories of abortion, we have to be out in the streets, we have to change the terms, we have to rally others to join us, we have to tell people the truth: it is only in this way that we can turn the tide!

I connected the assault on abortion with the global war on women—the epidemic of rape from Delhi to Ohio and beyond, the trading of women as sex slaves across the globe, the culture of pornography and cruelty towards women, and the need for us to stand up and fight against all of this. I announced the protests StopPatriarchy.org is planning for International Women's Day and challenged people to be part of the rest of the Week of Action to Defend Abortion Rights and Defeat the War On Women while we are here in DC.

My speech got a very good response, including a number of people (young and older) who really loved my anger and the truth I was speaking about the need for a different and a much more defiant strategy. Many of these folks said they will be joining us on Friday as we go out to politically confront the March for “Life” (ie: the March for Forced-Motherhood).

When Ellie Smeal, of Feminist Majority Foundation, spoke, she polemicized against my comments. She made the picky point that the restrictions on abortion were passed at the state level, not by Obama. So fucking what? Do you think that means shit to the woman in Mississippi who cannot make it to the only clinic left in her state? The Democrats don't have to be the most vehement fighters against abortion to be the biggest obstacle to “pro-choice” people in actually standing up to defend and expand this right. Smeal also insisted that we should take over Congress. This got cheers, but only shows how imprisoned people are in thinking that the only show in town is official bourgeois politics. Congress is a ruling class institution—it is not a vehicle through which people can exercise their will. And the idea that women and men who care about abortion should direct their attention towards influencing or joining Congress makes about as much sense as suggesting that those who hate the sport of basketball change its nature by becoming its referees. (Now, I don't hate basketball—but you should get the point here, being the administrators of a fucked up system does not change the nature of that system.)

Wrestling with the Stakes and the Way Forward at Night

There is more to be said about our time at the Supreme Court, but probably the next time I blog I will get into some of the discussion the StopPatriarchy.org crew had when we got back to our place. After a wonderful dinner cooked by two of our volunteers, we spent several hours wrangling with how to understand the political moment we find ourselves in—from the collapse of any meaningful pro-choice movement to the uprisings against rape in India to the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh—and what it will take to bring forward not just thousands but really millions of people to fight against this heightening war on women across the globe. We wrestled with questions of revolution and resistance, of the power of art and culture, of the importance of anger and truth-telling, and visions of International Women's Day and beyond.

All that, however, will have to be the subject of another blog post because right now we have to get ready to get back out there in the world with our message and our movement. Today we are going to college campuses. Tune in later to find out how it goes.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/bay-area-stop-patriarchy-week-of-action-day-two-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

January 22, 2013 - Day Two

SF Bay Area Actions for Week of Action to Defend Abortion & Defeat the War on Women

January 23, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Stop Patriarchy Bay Area January 22, 2013, Press Conference to call people into the streets to counter the 'Walk for Life' (Walk for Forced Motherhood)
Stop Patriarchy Bay Area January 22, 2013, Press Conference to call people into the streets to counter the 'Walk for Life' (Walk for Forced Motherhood)

Stop Patriarchy Bay Area delivered a powerful, visual press conference in front of City Hall to call people into the streets to counter the “Walk for Life” (Walk for Forced Motherhood) on Saturday. While the statement below was delivered, two women stood in chains with bright orange “A”s emblazoned on their chests to symbolize the shame and stigma heaped on women for exercising the fundamental right of getting an ABORTION. At the end of the statement, they proudly “broke the chains,” broke their silence, and raised signs demanding “Abortion on Demand & Without Apology!”

About 25 to 30 supporters, onlookers, and media – including TV Channels 7 (ABC), 2 (Fox), 5 (CBS), a Reuters photographer, KTSF a Chinese-language TV station, and two other Chinese language news outlets, including www.chinapressusa.com.  (Links to press coverage below).

Youtube of action:  http://youtu.be/v7T2oDqankI

After the action some people headed to SF City College to build for the protest on Jan 26, while another organizer rushed over to KPFA radio for an in studio interview.  Her interview, along with an extensive interview of Sunsara Taylor direct from Washington DC was played on the Flashpoints program, hosted by Dennis Bernstein, at 5pm and heard by 10's of thousands across northern California. 


At press conference, two women stood in chains with bright orange “A”s emblazoned on their chests to symbolize the shame and stigma heaped on women for exercising the fundamental right of getting an ABORTION. At the end of the statement, they proudly “broke the chains,” broke their silence, and raised signs demanding “Abortion on Demand & Without Apology!”

That night at Revolution Books 25 people, including some coming to the bookstore for the first time, came to a meeting to talk about the need for massive resistance to stop the war on women and defend the right to choose, and to organize for the Saturday actions.  Following a presentation from Stop Pornography and Patriarchy, people kicked around experience and ideas for mobilizing people and bringing forward a new core of people to take on the woman haters marching on Saturday. 

(And after the meeting we learned that the Pope himself will be sending a special message to this march for patriarchy and the enslavement of women:  http://www.walkforlifewc.com/

"We are thrilled and honored to be able to announce that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States will be attending the Walk for Life West Coast on January 26 and reading a message from Pope Benedict XVI!"

* * * * *

STATEMENT FROM StopPatriarchy.ORG

Read at protest action / press conference on steps of SF City Hall:

A woman who is forced to bear a child against her will, under ANY circumstances, is a woman ENSLAVED.  ENDING the SUBJUGATION OF WOMEN is what the battle for abortion rights, and birth control, is about.

Abortion has never been more stigmatized, more difficult to access, and more dangerous to provide at ANY POINT in the last FORTY YEARS, than it is RIGHT NOW.  Abortion providers are UNDER SIEGE by a combination of violent attacks, including assassinations of doctors and assaults on clinics.  VICIOUS laws make abortion impossible to get for MILLIONS of women and subject women to humiliating, unnecessary procedures like invasive vaginal ultrasounds.

All around the world, there is a war on women, and the battle for abortion rights is CRITICAL to breaking ALL the chains that oppress women.  People need to take to the streets and FIGHT for abortion on demand and without apology.

It is time for massive and uncompromising struggle.  THIS SATURDAY the woman-hating movement, the Walk for “Life”, will descent on San Francisco.  We will confront them, and anyone who hates the idea of women in shackles around the world, needs to join us.

At 10am on Saturday at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco (marching to Powell & Market at noon)
At Noon on Saturday at UN Plaza (near Civic Center) in SF
And most importantly, at 1pm at Powell & Market to confront the so-called “Walk for Life”

To quote Sunsara Taylor, initiator of this new movement to STOP PATRIARCHY, “people need to WAKE UP.  We are going to have to GET OUT IN THE STREETS and RELY ON OURSELVES if we are going to TURN THIS TIDE.”

Fetuses are NOT babies.  Women are NOT incubators.  Abortion is NOT murder.  BREAK THE CHAINS!

****************

PRESS COVERAGE

* NBC Nightly [National] News tonight included footage of SPP protest in DC and of Sunsara confronting antis:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/50554667#50554667

* KPFA extensive interview with Sunsara Taylor and Alex of Bay Area Stop Patriarchy about protest:  http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/88265 (Also attached)

* Channel 2 Oakland coverage of today's protest / press conference:
http://www.ktvu.com/videos/news/san-francisco-demonstration-marks-40th-anniversary/vn3jd/

* Reuters photos of protest:

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local&id=8964100

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-abortionbre90l0qn-20130122,0,6239713.story

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/roe-v-wade-slideshow/sheriffs-deputy-removes-sign-steps-city-hall-during-photo-211849837.html

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/stop-patriarchy-jan-24-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Day 4 In DC:

Fighting for Abortion On Demand And Confronting People with the Real Truth On All This

By Sunsara Taylor | January 25, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We've been out on the street as much as the weather will allow—fingers and toes become painful and then numb within half an hour in this subfreezing weather, even with those amazing toe and hand warmers.

Day 4 in DC, out defending Planned Parenthood and counter protesting the lunatic anti-abortion Christian fascists

Day 4 in DC, out defending Planned Parenthood and counter protesting the lunatic anti-abortion Christian fascists

Yesterday, after our crew had counter-protested the anti-abortion fanatics at the local Planned Parenthood (shamefully, Planned Parenthood staff came out and insisted that our side stay away—a request we ignored because of how unconscionable it is to allow the Christian fascists to stand unopposed!), we went out to a college campus. We were decked out in bright stickers and signs sticking out of our backpacks which read, “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!”

The response from the students was mixed but overall very positive. A handful of students were vehemently anti-abortion and refused to stop. But a good number of those who began by saying they were against abortion were quick to add that they understood there are sometimes circumstances that makes it necessary. We never found this satisfactory and we never left things at this. “Do you realize that right now it is very difficult for millions of women to get an abortion? 97% of rural counties in this country do not have an abortion provider. Doctors have been killed and women are being shamed. The truth is women who cannot decide for themselves when and whether to have a child have no more freedom than slaves.” This would usually get people really tuned in—most people don't know any of this. People have the misconception that abortion is somehow widely available and over-used.

After jolting people as to what the reality is, we would go further still. “Fetuses are not babies. They are a subordinate part of a woman's body. Because of this, abortion is not murder and there is nothing wrong with it. It is a perfectly moral and responsible decision to get an abortion if a woman wants one.” This would open up discussion in a very deep way. No one we have talked to has yet heard anything like this. People asked a lot of questions and we would provide answers. The truth is, not everyone who began inclined against abortion got won over in the course of these conversations, but a lot did! Especially among young people, young men as well as young women.

There were also a great number of people who were incredibly supportive and happy to see us out. They thanked us as they walked by, saying things like, “I am with you!” The notion that is being widely promoted by the anti-abortion forces this week, the notion that this new generation is the “Pro-Life Generation” is a fucking lie. This is one thing we are seeing face to face and close up in every outing we have. But, it is also the case that the anti-abortion elements of this generation are far more mobilized and energized than the greater portion that supports the right to abortion. And, it is clearly the case that—owing not only to the vigorous fight that has been waged by Christian fascists to demonize and restrict abortion over decades, but also to the craven capitulation to this fight and its terms by the official “pro-choice” movement—most people who support the right to abortion still think of it as something that ought to be avoided because on some level it is wrong.

High school students on civics tour at Supreme Court join in
At the Supreme Court on January 22 some high school students from a bus on a civics tour joined in.

This is why we would spend so much time arguing with people—even those who agreed in the main. And then there was the ongoing challenge of fighting for people to see the need to ACT. To join in a movement that is fighting to end all forms of enslavement and degradation of women. It really is not enough to support the right to abortion, in a society where that right is being taken away if you are not fighting to defend and expand access and to destigmatize abortion and to defend providers, you are allowing this right to disappear.

Many people were very curious as to what we thought was needed and this opened up a lot of debate over whether it does anything to “vote pro-choice” or whether we need to be resisting. In these debates, for many of us, it often opened up into a bigger (and very controversial) discussion of just how criminal the whole program and impact of Obama's presidency (and the Democrats more broadly) is—from the killer drones to the continuation of torture at Guantanamo to the blaming of Black youth for their oppressed conditions as prisons and police continue to steal the lives of millions to record numbers of deportations and a whole program of capitulation and “common ground” with the attacks on abortion. I and a few others with this crew have been promoting the need for an actual revolution—the way that it has been reenvisioned and is being led by Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party. We've been getting out Revolution Newspaper to folks who really hear us when we challenge them in this way.

One of our volunteers has continually made the point to us, in our informal discussions and time spent with each other, that up until just a few weeks ago she herself was “pro-life.” She had never heard what people like us are saying. She has actually stressed this in relation to the revolution as a whole—the real history of this system and the real meaning of slavery (nothing like the half a page and half a day spent on it in high school!), the real role of the police in enforcing an unjust and exploitative order, the role of the US around the world in waging unjust wars, and the possibility of a whole different world. She keeps repeating, “I know I am only twenty-one, but I should have known about this a long time ago. All this has been kept from me.” She is so right—and this has been one of our big reminders of why it is so essential for us to keep going out very, very broadly to the masses of people with the message that this world is intolerable and we do not have to live this way and what kind of struggle is needed to turn this tide and ultimately bring about a whole different and far better world.

Last night a bunch of us listened to the most recent installment of Michael Slate's interview with Bob Avakian and got into a very deep discussion about a lot of this—about how an actual revolution could come about, whether that is really necessary, what is the truth about the first wave of communist revolution, why this was defeated and what should be learned from that, the impact it would have on society to spread BA Everywhere especially in terms of lifting people's sights and inspiring them with the possibility of a different world and the desire to fight for it, and many other big questions. All of this wrangling is pulsing through our time here—with different people bringing in their own understandings, but engaging with an open mind and deepening our common commitment to go out and fight for others to take up this struggle for the liberation of women.

We have, of course, run into people who argue ferociously against abortion in all circumstances and one of the most noteworthy things about these people is how extremely crude their negative views of women are. We have heard so much derision against women for “spreading their legs” and so much cruelty and straight up bigotry from people who insist that the woman's life really doesn't matter, that it is her duty to bring to term every pregnancy and raise children. That to not raise children as her main desire in life is “selfish.” That “feminists made up the desire for abortion because they were selfish and wanted the same rights as men.” We have heard so much backwardness—and the truth is this is all the backwardness and judgment that piles on the heads of women every day, women who have sex, women who have abortions, women who are raped, women who try to walk down the street and cannot without being treated like a piece of meat or a piece of garbage.

Even if you don't acknowledge it, even if you are one of those people who can sometimes avoid interacting with this most crude shit, it is out there and it is pervasive and it is unabashed and it is crushing the lives of so many women and it is part of the weight sitting on all women.

One woman we encountered who was filled with a lot of this backwardness on this campus yesterday was insisting that women bring their pregnancies to term and give the baby up for adoption. The volunteer who had been arguing with her for a while up till then finally just lost her temper, “Do you realize what that does to a woman or a girl, to her body, to how much suffering she has to go through, through how much judgment and stigma that is put on her, and then to have to make a baby and give it away? Do you know how cruel that is? And besides, how is that good for a baby. Get real. I know what happens in the foster system—those babies go into families where they are raped and molested, abused and neglected, and no one cares about them and they suffer all this shit and the whole time they are thinking they deserved it because even their own parents don't want them. Then they end up running away and they end up getting pimped out as prostitutes or pimped out into porn—all of this destroying their own lives and making more of this shit culture that destroys the lives of other women. This is so wrong I cannot even talk to you!”

I, of course, am paraphrasing—but I am capturing the basic content and spirit. But I regret you cannot hear her say it herself. She is usually pretty quiet, but each day out here she—like all the volunteers—has been getting sharper in her arguments and bolder in her convictions. It seems to me she probably knows people who have had experiences like she described—and certainly this is true to what goes on. I am so proud of the crew who is here, and so deeply impressed by them. And they are getting more impressive by the day!

Another young woman spoke to me for a while out on this campus. She asked a bunch of questions and listened to my description of why this battle is so essential and why she should get involved. After a while she got quieter and said, “Can I ask you something... I feel like I can talk to you.” I said, “Go ahead,” and she then confided in me that she is pregnant and really scared. She hasn't told anyone yet—myself as a stranger on the street was the first person she felt she could talk to about this. That tells you something so damning right there about this culture and the reality for women, even while abortion is still legal. She explained how she really couldn't have a baby right now, she had just transferred to this better school and wanted to play soccer and finish school, but she can't tell her family and doesn't know many people up here yet. She asked if I would go with her to get an abortion. I explained that I would if I could but I won't be in town after two more days, but I would be happy to talk with her about it and assist her in finding a good clinic and helping her figure out how to talk to someone else.

I told her, and it seemed she really, really needed to hear this from someone, that she had no obligation to have a baby. Being pregnant is NOT a good reason to have a child. Having birth control fail or getting carried away and not using birth control or any set of circumstances is NOT a good reason to have a baby. The ONLY good reason to have a child is because you really want one and are ready to care for one. NOT because you are pregnant. I also told her that having an abortion IS taking responsibility. It is fine and moral and she knows what is right for her. She took a bunch of deep breaths and smiled at me. I will be calling her. But, again, listen up all you people out there—there are women out there right now who desperately need us to defend, expand and de-stigmatize this right!

We have more big things we are under way with and I have to, once again, get running. I do want to note that we have been wrestling with and promoting among people the need to see the fight for abortion rights as one essential part of a larger fight—for the full liberation of women. This is connected to the global epidemic of rape, of violence against women, of pornography and objectification of women, and much more. As one woman told us, “I never thought of myself as enslaved, but I am beginning to see what you mean.” Reporting more fully on this—both its impact out on the street and the wrangling and transformation of our crew here around our deepening understanding of this—will have to wait.

Off to do great things today. With a core of people about whom, as one of them put it last night after an in depth discussion preparing for our emergency summit on Saturday, “It is really amazing how much knowledge and passion and direction and understanding we have in this small group of us.” A group like this, when acting on a faultline as deep as the oppression of women, really can break open struggle on a scale unlike any we've seen in decades. Can't wait—off to make it happen!

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/roe-v-wade-battle-update-sf-bay-area-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Roe v. Wade Battle Update - SF Bay Area

Actions on Wednesday, January 23:

January 24, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Stop Patriarchy SF posted the following:

Day 3 in San Francisco: Today we went to Mills College to talk to students about abortion and the war on women, and to challenge them to be on the ground with us confronting the woman-hating March for Life this Saturday! Clear your schedules, grab some friends, and be at Powell & Market at 1pm to fight for a different future! These women took extra flyers, palm cards and stickers to give to others and stopped to pose with one of the banners-in progress for Saturday. It was the first day back on campus, but they said running into Stop Patriarchy was "the best reason to be late to class ever!"

Day 3 in San Francisco: Today we went to Mills College to talk to students about abortion and the war on women, and to challenge them to be on the ground with us confronting the woman-hating March for Life this Saturday! Clear your schedules, grab some friends, and be at Powell & Market at 1pm to fight for a different future! These women took extra flyers, palm cards and stickers to give to others and stopped to pose with one of the banners-in progress for Saturday. It was the first day back on campus, but they said running into Stop Patriarchy was

Day 4 and Day 5 – Thursday and Friday - people will be going to UC Berkeley, Castlemont High School, and SF City College.  We'll be emailing and Facebooking - including women's and gender studies departments, healthcare providers, women's groups and others. 

- So far 2,200 have been invited to the protest on the event's Facebook page.   We're aiming to get to 10,000! 

- one woman posted this comment:  "Get the patriarchs out of my womb, others' wombs, Afghanistan, Israel, Pakistan and Palestine."

More Press Coverage of Protests on Tuesday, January 22:

Telegraph UK article quoting Sunsara Taylor: 

"Abortion protesters clash on 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade"

"'We're here today not to celebrate 40 years of Roe versus Wade. We're here to recommit to the fight, to expand this right, to defend this right,' said activist Sunsara Taylor of StopPatriarchy.org."

"Forty years on, access to abortion services remain difficult for many women, said Ms Taylor, who also argued that women who choose to terminate a pregnancy still find themselves stigmatised."

Coverage of SF Protest / Press Conference:

SF World Journal (in Chinese)

Sina Daily News (in Chinese)

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/all-out-protest-walk-for-life-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Saturday Jan 26:  

All Out to protest the "Walk for Life"

January 25, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

  

Rise Up for Abortion Rights On the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: WE WON'T GO BACK!

Saturday, Jan 26th in San Francisco

Join this FB event and invite your friends [click here]
Reports & new article by Sunsara Taylor on the Week of Action here


Message from Stop Patriarchy Bay Area:

THIS SATURDAY, when the Walk for "Life" takes to the streets of San Francisco, be on the RIGHT SIDE.  Do not stay home.  Do not settle for celebration.  Do not be deceived:

The Catholic Church, the right-wing, and the anti-abortion movement have made great advances in their objective in recent years, both through oppressive and inhumane state legislation, and by LYING to millions of people about what a fetus is, what a woman is, and what it means when a woman gets an abortion.

JOIN US to put the truth right in the face of this march, the media, and people everywhere watching:

Fetuses are NOT babies
Women are NOT incubators
Abortion is NOT murder

It's Time to Turn the Tide!

For further info: go to StopPatriarchy.org

SF Protest FB Event Page:  “Will everyone who cares about women and their fundamental rights please take the time to invite their FB friends, and pick up the phone to urge people to DEFEND abortion rights and uphold the MORALITY of abortion by showing up to protest and confront this March for Forced Motherhood and Female Enslavement on Saturday at 1 pm.”

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/updated-information-on-saturday-january-26-protest-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Updated Information on the Saturday, January 26 Protest

January 24, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Saturday Jan 26: All Out to protest  the "Walk for Life" --  They want to enslave and terrorize women like the Klan wanted to enslave and terrorize Black people. Think about it: if the KKK was marching in your town, what would you do?  Rise Up for Abortion Rights On the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade:

Saturday, Jan 26th in San Francisco

10am - Justin Herman Plaza, SF - Mobilize attendees of SF's celebration of women's right to abortion to confront the war on women and protest the "Walk for Life" at 1 pm.

12pm - UN Plaza, SF -  Rally to Oppose the "Walk for Life"

1pm – Powell & Market, SF -  Protest and Confront the "Walk for Life"

The following was posted on the January 26 protest Facebook page: ""Our plan has gotten a little more complex. We will go to the Celebration called for by the City of SF to COMPEL OTHERS to join us in RESISTING the Walk for Life (10am). We will still rally at UN Plaza and be joined by Radical Women and anyone else who hates patriarchy (12pm noon). Then we will go to our position at Powell and Market to be READY to confront the Walk for "Life" (March for Forced Motherhood) as it passes (1pm). JOIN US and BRING OTHERS!"

The SF Bay Guardian reports that "One Billion Rising" is organizing a "flash mob" to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade as part of the January 26 "Women Life & Liberty" celebration marking the Anniversary 10am at Justin Herman Plaza in SF:  www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/01/22/roe-v-wade-anniversary-inspires-flash-mob-pro-choice-rally-and-pro-life-march-sf

We'll be going and discussing / struggling with people over the need to fight to recognize that abortion rights are under assault, that it's urgent to fight to defend them and fight the entire war on women – including by confronting the "antis" later that day a few blocks away.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/pope-and-the-movement-for-forced-motherhood-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

The Pope and the movement for forced motherhood

January 25, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Pope and the Catholic Church are aggressively fighting to defend and strengthen patriarchy and enslave women.  Today Pope Benedict tweeted his support for the “Walk For Life”:  “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”  (Benedict has 1.5 million twitter followers)  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/pope-benedict-tweets-washington-dc-prolife-rally_n_2550659.html)

For 25 years, before becoming the Pope, Benedict (then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), served as the Vatican's chief enforcer of orthodoxy. He drafted official positions regarding homosexuality and fought the legal recognition of homosexual couples. Two years ago, in a document attacking homosexual unions as a "misrepresentation of marriage," he wrote that "within homosexual unions, the biological and anthropological elements of matrimony and the family, on which foundations for legal recognition of such unions could be reasonably laid, are totally absent." The document went on to state that among the missing elements are a "conjugal dimension" for "transmission of life." In other words, he argues, sex is for having children, so society should not morally accept or legally recognize homosexual couples. (Rev 2005)

He also headed the organization Holy Inquisition, the Church organization that during the Middle Ages burned "heretics"—scientists, unsubmissive women, Jews and other real and suspected opponents of Catholicism—at the stake for more than two centuries.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/sf-getting-ready-to-protest-the-walk-for-life-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Getting Ready to Protest the "Walk for Life"

Making Banners in the San Francisco Bay Area

January 25, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 


 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/snapshot-bay-area-dinner-in-hood-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

Bay Area Revolution Club and Friends

Snapshot of a Dinner in the 'Hood!

January 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

1/23/13

After a weekend of fundraising, the Revolution Club along with friends and neighbors (and their children) had a dinner together at a local small Mexican restaurant. The dinner was 2-fold: to see where we are in relation to fundraising for BAE and also very importantly building a contingent to protest the woman haters who are coming to town on the next weekend. As an added treat, we listened to the Michael Slate interview with BA #2!

Before the diner began, we announced how we were going to pay for the dinner: in a communist way... from each according to their ability to each according to their needs. Many folks from the hood don’t have much, but can put in a little, while others who are well paid put in more of their share. In addition, we’d talked with the owner about making it an affordable dinner (about $3 average). We were drawing on the spirit of BA’s latest interview mentioning working cooperatively and collectively; and we were able to pay for the dinner while having some left over (try doing the math with 7 kids!).

On the weekend outing, selling tamales and brownies, we’d raised close to $400. A woman at our dinner talked about how the tamales were made in 2 different cities... and how the cooking was done with men and women, Black, white, Asian and Latino! One family made brownies separately in their home, also.  All while listening to BA!

Speaking of listening to BA, we put out the boom box at the dinner. In spite of distractions (remember, 7 kids!), a few folks listened very intently to BA speak about the question of ‘is it crazy’? (i.e., to make revolution, given the way things are in the world). A middle aged Black man who had his ear to the boom box mentioned that this whole talk was making him think ‘about the whole world, making revolution in the whole world’.  Especially when it came to even things like ‘natural disasters’ turning into ‘social crisis’.

Also this same person after listening to a reference to Trayvon Martin, mentioned the whole Rodney King affair... how it just jumped off; and then he wondered if it could go even further than just getting justice. The importance of having a core of dedicated people (like Trayvon’s family and others) who take these things out more broadly would come up later when we talked about meeting the anti-women forces next weekend.

(‘The core of dedicated people for BA’ is something this same man also thought about when he heard the first installment of Michael Slate’s interview... at the same time he paid attention to the question of strategy, he said he knew we couldn’t ‘wait’ for thousands to arrive, even though they would need to arrive if we are to make revolution. Wed still need that core... And we have an urgency to get this interview out to other people).

The question of ‘crazy’ also drew a response from a Black woman who reiterated that the system is ‘crazy’ the way it treats people, whether it’s dropping bombs in the middle east or raping women here or in India. She kept saying ‘it don’t make sense’; yet it needs to be ended.

We got into the whole topic of war on women using the last 2 issues of Revolution paper. The rape in India was instructive both in its horrific brutality... but also in the response which has been worldwide. And how we can’t let this fire burn out. A few dinner guests raised their hands in commitment to ‘meet’ the anti-women forces on Saturday. People from the hood don’t normally go out to these demonstrations (which the City of San Francisco wishes to keep low key). Plans were made for hook-up spots, etc. and also importantly to be out among friends and others spreading this message to join us!

People at the dinner told stories about how the whole issue of rape etc. is NOT low key to themselves... one woman talking about how she’d been raped and molested from a very young age. She was very disturbed also to see the direction of things since Roe v Wade... to where abortion doctors are being killed (she hadn’t heard about Dr. Tiller). Interestingly, the same woman talked about how she was “against violence”; but when the question of defending oneself against rape came up, she was very vocal about defending herself OR any other woman being raped.

A very important part of discussion was a comparison of the war on women and the experience of slavery... how slavery was just accepted/tolerated by many white people at the time.... and now much of the abuse of women (e.g. in pornography) is just accepted/tolerated as well.

One of our guests talked about the topic mentioned on a flyer for the New Years party... that is, how the world is a horror but it doesn’t have to be that way... a revolution is possible, because of the vision of BA for a viable world which he has been working on for decades... and there is an urgent need to get BA out there everywhere.

And this is where we are at, an urgent need to take BA much further in 2013.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/walk-for-life-your-names-a-lie-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

"Walk for Life" – Your Name's a Lie!

January 24, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

- by a woman who has protested this walk to enslave women in SF in years past on the importance of protesting Saturday: 

The "Walk for Life" has come to downtown San Francisco every January since 2004.  It's a destination chosen to go in your face to the liberal pro-abortion rights city..... W4L puts a "family-friendly" and "peaceful" face on the reactionary anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-woman politics and preachings of the Cathollic Church.  Tens of thousands of people get bussed in from all over California – especially from more rural or small city areas – organized through their parishes, and the march is filled with priests and nuns, usually with lots of bishops in the mix too.  This year 2013 they are going to hear an actual message from the Pope himself congratulating them on their fight to stop abortion.

In contrast to the openly violent (murderous) anti-abortion forces who post and carry out death threats against abortion providers, attack clinics, etc. – Walk for Life wears a "compassionate" mask.  They say abortion is "violence against women and their children" and always have teary-eyed speakers telling personal horror stories of having, giving, or "surviving" abortions – unlike Operation Rescue et al, no gruesome photos of bloody fetuses here, although just like the Christian fundamentalist types there is a lot of praying, and hymns.   And they cultivate a tolerant, multi-cultural image, always bringing along at least one Black, one or two Asian, and lots of Latino church leaders, minor celebrities, former abortion providers, etc.  Tons of grandparents walking their whole family under their sea of "Abortion Hurts Women" signs and religious paraphernalia.

Every year a mixed group of women and men and different organizations come together to mount politically bold and confrontational mass demonstrations to counter-protest at Walk for Life.  But the mainstream organizations who adhere to the politics and paths of the Democratic Party have always held back from joining in, and they urge their followers to stay away.  When hundreds of protesters line the antis' march with banners and bullhorns, do non-violent civil disobedience to disrupt the antis' march, snakedance thru their rally to smuggle flyers and fact sheets to the teenagers in it and talk to them about the "violence against women" that flows from DENYING abortion and contraception – it's an absolutely crucial statement of outrage and action defending against the war on women. 

Yet far too many so-called "pro-choice organizations" are nowhere to be seen. There is a view among them that we should NOT directly act in any confrontational way because that just makes things worse:  do NOT organize clinic defense, do NOT counter-protest the antis' march, do NOT step outside the Democratic Party's box because that's the only place reproductive rights can be saved, etc.  One year representatives of this segment of the "pro-choice movement" came to the first organizing meeting for the counter-protest, to announce that they were opposed to any counter-protest as counter-productive, and they would NOT be coming back. 

This is shameful...but we're going to rally those who are outraged by this so-called "Walk for Life," and plant a pole for the millions of women who can be unleashed to fight for their liberation!

All Out for January 26!                     

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/we-wont-go-back-bay-area-en.html

Revolution #293 February 3, 2013

From San Francisco Bay Area

Building for "WE WON'T GO BACK! Protest the 'Walk for Life'" in the SF Bay Area   

January 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From Revolution Books, Berkeley: 

Defeat the War on Women! 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
January 2013
Rise Up for Abortion Rights On the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade:

Tuesday Jan 22: Demonstrate at SF City Hall at noon in support of Roe v. Wade

Tuesday Jan 22: Meet at Revolution Books (7 pm) for Orientation around  Counter Protest of "Walk for Life"

Saturday Jan 26: All Out to protest  the "Walk for Life" (which should really be called the "march for female enslavement") at UN Plaza at noon. See flier and details below.

At Revolution Books:

At RB an older woman took fliers saying she had had a pre-Roe abortion. She said there was an underground, including some ministers would make calls to doctors, then they would find people who could give women rides to the border where someone from Canada would pick them up. Another older woman told me she had helped a friend obtain an illegal abortion in Saint Louis, that it was a terrifying process, calling an anonymous number, putting her friend's life in the hands of an unknown, not knowing if it would turn out ok. A younger woman described her abortion a decade ago, safe and legal but she had to go through a gauntlet of pro-life people first. A UCB student took fliers for her dorm, she expressed anger about the Walk For Life. "do they think they can come here and tell us we're immoral? I'll be there to carry a banner on Saturday."

From Facebook Event Page, by Stop Patriarchy & Pornography Bay Area:

“WE WON'T GO BACK! Protest the "Walk for Life"
Saturday, January 26, 2013
12:00pm until 3:00pm
http://www.facebook.com/events/356262417804410/permalink/366766156754036/

The "Walk for Life West Coast" is a mass mobilization of anti-abortion activists from around the country that will descend for the 9th time on San Francisco and take to the streets with their doctored photos of stillborns, dehumanizing polarization of women as either incubators or murderers, and all the messages of objectification, enslavement, shame, and condemnation that typifies this front of the War on Women.

Despite popular misconception, the right to abortion is NOT safe under Obama. In 2011, 92 restrictions were passed on abortion access throughout the country. This is almost three times the previous record of 34 restrictions passed in 2005—and that was under Bush! In rural areas of the U.S., 97% of counties do not have any abortion provider. We must rely on ourselves!

Our counterprotest should plant a different pole, a movement of women and men who are uncompromising and refusing to stop until all women have access to abortion on demand and without apology. The movement to End Pornography & Patriarchy has a powerful track record of going right up against the most entrenched institutions and forces of patriarchy, and bringing forward powerful, transformative and contageous resistance. This protest can take all that higher, and lay a basis for going even further. All that’s needed is YOU!

Meet us on January 22 at Defeat the War on Women! A Meeting for Orientation & Action:

http://www.facebook.com/events/397618976988616/
We Won't Go Back!
Abortion On Demand & Without Apology!
Defeat the War on Women!
StopPatriarchyBayArea@gmail.com

January 14:  We are going out EVERY DAY with this message, this movement, and this event, to call on others to participate, speak out, and struggle with people to understand and fight to END the War on Women, here and around the world. Also, there is an important event at Revolution Books (2425 Channing): Panel—Outrage in India & Resisting the Global Culture of Rape. Additionally, our fundraising campaign ends on Wednesday of this week! Donate today, and let people know that whatever they can contribute will be used to directly confront & resist the anti-abortion movement, and the war on women.

Today's fliering outing—Monday. @5-7: 24th Street BART, San Francisco

January 19:  Today we were out in the Grand Lake area of Oakland and a few people told us they were pro-choice and that we were just preaching to the choir. Well, if so, the choir is NOT LOUD ENOUGH or big enough and some of it is napping. We need to come out in significant numbers to fight to defend abortion rights now, time for "massive, uncompromising struggle" as Sunsara says in this article: “Abortion: Stigmatized and Endangered: Time for Massive, Uncompromising Struggle”

January 20: Doctors, Providers at Unitarian Church Event—we’re celebrating our legacy and it’s complex. 

January 21: Crews of people from Revolution Books went out today in San Francisco and in Oakland to spread BA Everywhere and to build for the Jan 22 and January 26 protests.  In San Francisco we leafleted the MLK Day March and rally in the Moscone Center in the downtown area.  Mainly we were getting out Basics 1:1 and the palmcard announcing the radio interviews Bob Avakian has done with Cornel West and Michael Slate—there was a lot of interest in this with most people taking the cards.  We also got out the leaflet for the protests in defense of women’s rights on January 22 and 26.  When you told people that you could not get an abortion in 97% of counties in rural areas and that more anti-abortion laws were passed on the state level in the last two years under Obama than ever before—including during the Bush years, people took notice.  They didn’t know this.  But there’s a lot of struggle to be had to change the thinking of all too many women—and men—who generally support abortion. 

For example, one young woman I talked to was from Washington State.  She lived in the north, outside Bellingham, where Western Washington University is located, and said that she knew what I was talking about in terms of the rural areas—‘you get outside Bellingham and it’s a whole different story’ regarding abortion.  But she herself was somewhat defensive about the issue.  She blanched when I said abortion on demand without apology and said abortion should be kept legal because any woman who has a miscarriage certainly needs an abortion to protect her health.  But then she went on to say that abortion shouldn’t be used to justify poor or irresponsible decisions—like someone who was a drug addict, as if to imply that such a person would be irresponsibly having sex and then using abortion as birth control.  I pointed out that anyone who didn’t feel able or willing to have children should be able to get an abortion.  Anyway, she was sympathetic to what we’re doing and was interested in checking us out.  But again—lots of struggle to be had with allies—let alone those on the other side of the question. 

Taking out the protest against the so-called March for Life 1/21

We went to two spots in SF—16th and Valencia, in the heart of the Mission district, where hipsters, immigrants, homeless and middle class people converge and Powell and Market downtown. 

At 16th and Valencia, we had a table with Basics, palm cards and large posters of a Revolution on the attacks on abortion and a poster and cards we passed out from Basics: “You can’t break all the chains but one...”  We loudly called on people to “Defeat the War on Women and to Stand Up for Abortion rights.”  This drew some interest from people passing by.  Many got fliers and some stopped to talk. 

Responses ranged wildly from people being really glad there was going to be a protest against the anti-abortion forces to a few vociferously yelling, cursing us and threatening us.  The people who liked the counter protest with some saying they’d try to come included younger women who didn’t want the 1,000's of anti-abortion forces to set the terms and march down Market Street unopposed.  One older woman said she had been to a protest in Washington D.C. in the 80's that had 10,000 people marching for abortion.  She recounted how she felt in the 80's when the first person got shot for providing abortions and she thought things were going to start getting turned around against abortions and this was really a bad thing.  A college student who had heard of Bob Avakian and Basics in NY, had just gotten into town and was glad to run into us.  She took a bundle of fliers to get out to students in her classes.  One older man liked the slogan that “Women are Not Incubators!” and two men thought it was right to get out in the streets and not let the other forces take the streets without vocal opposition.  Several people agreed that without abortion women would be like slaves. 

Three high school girls said they don’t often hear any discussion about abortion but they were supportive.  Some people took fliers without saying much, though some said, “I’m with you.”

The arguments against abortion included: fetuses are human beings, capable of life and it was wrong to abort them, if everyone got an abortion, there would be no one to work (!), one guy said, “I’m adopted and I’m alive” as if that meant every woman should not be allowed to get abortions.

An interesting conversation developed with a young Black woman who said she followed her Christian religion which said sex was for procreation only, not for pleasure and it was wrong to have abortions.  I said does that mean that a woman would just have to continually give birth to child after child? She didn’t really have an answer to that.  She said if someone failed to use birth control it was their responsibility to give birth.  I asked what if someone did use birth control and got pregnant—should she be forced to have a baby, even if she didn’t want to?  I said this was like slavery.  She said she was a lesbian so it didn’t really matter.  I said okay, but what about all other women—why shouldn’t they be able to decide whether or not to have a baby?  She had to stop and think about this and then said maybe they shouldn’t have to give birth.  

While the majority we talked to were supportive and some said they wanted to come to the counter protest, a few people got very belligerent.  One guy started yelling at us saying we were murderers if we supported abortions and was agitating to others not to take our materials.  He loudly proclaimed that we were “Satan’s Disciples.”  Another guy walked by, heard what it was about and said something like women already have their rights, shove it up your vagina, you bitch and yelled, “What about the homeless?”