December 5th, 2022 Global issues,Iran,Israel,June 2009,News,Non-Violence,Palestine,Racism,refugee
Secretary-General calls again on Israel to ease Gaza blockade
Palestinian women walk near Israel’s barrier near Ramallah in the West Bank
19 June 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeated his call on Israel to ease its blockade on Gaza during a meeting today in New York with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Mr. Ban also called for a freeze on all settlement activity, including natural growth, and for Israel to allow the resumption of stalled United Nations projects in Gaza, according to information provided by his spokesperson.
On Wednesday, a group of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) called for an end to the blockade on Gaza, which has now been in force for two years and has left the population of 1.5 million almost totally dependent on international aid.
In addition to Gaza, the Secretary-General and Mr. Liberman discussed a number of regional issues including Lebanon. Mr. Ban briefed the Foreign Minister on his upcoming report on Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah.
On the Middle East Peace Process, the head of the UN reiterated the need for a political process based on the two-State solution and negotiations on all core issues, as envisaged in international law, Security Council resolutions, and existing agreements.
The two men also discussed Iran, with Mr. Ban reiterating his belief that the nuclear issues can and should be resolved through peaceful means, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions.
December 5th, 2022 Censorship,Global issues,July 2009,News,Racism,refugee,Regions,Religion,Video
In Gaza journalist had been banned from reporting on the human rights abuse and murders at the hands of indiscriminate Israeli soldiers. In Iran after the election all media was banned from reporting but pictures of Neda death reached the world. The truth about oppressive governments never stays hidden for long. Repressive governments are warned that regardless if you attack a refugee camps in Gaza or abuse prisoners in Iraq, or silence peaceful protest in streets of Tehran the truth will always reveal itself.
December 5th, 2022 News,Racism,September 2010,USA
From Rand Paul in Kentucky to Carl Paladino in New York, Tea Party candidates have swept Primary races knocking aside the establishment candidates of the Republican Party. Their political pronouncements and policy platforms represent a shift to the far-right in American politics. Rand Paul is on record stating that he believes the Title II section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in private business, is an infringement of Constitutional rights. Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle has suggested armed insurrection and revolution against the government. Carl Paladino has called for the poor on welfare to be sent to prison in order to learn “personal hygiene.”
What connects all these Tea Party candidates is a disdain for minority rights and immigrants, as well as a sharing a view that the federal government has no role as a protector and guarantor of civil rights and equal justice. The Tea Party calls itself a movement of “Patriots” and “Constitutionalists “. The Second Amendment, which provides the legal protection to carry and use firearms, is the most important for the Tea Party. However, there are other amendments which they seek to overturn. The Tea Party is the reconstitution of Confederate politics.
The social layers which support the Tea Party movement are at best confused and at worst delusional. “Birthers”, the name given to the political movement that insists that President Obama was not born in the US and thus not eligible to hold elected office, represents both poles at once. Given that Obama has an East African Islamic name, the “Birthers” are confused about his name and origins. Since he does not have an “American”, read Anglo-Saxon Christian name, he must not be a real American. Since his father was from Kenya, Obama therefore he can’t be a legitimate President. The “Birthers” are delusional to believe that a person in the era of the Internet and 24 hour cable news can get elected to both the US Senate and the White House if the candidate was not legitimate. If Obama wasn’t born in the US, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation would have exposed the truth long ago and Obama’s political career would never have taken off.
Alongside the confused and delusional social layers of the Tea Party movement are xenophobes that fear that the US is no longer a majority white and christian country. This explains the angst regarding the President and calls for sealing the border with Mexico and the institution of a police regime in Arizona against Latino people. This is why, on first glance, the Tea Party wants to repeal the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution which states at any person born in the US is automatically a citizen. The argument goes that illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Central America, come to the US to give birth to children who automatically become citizens in order to remain. The language employs the use of the term “Anchor Babies“.
The real logic of the repeal of the 14th Amendment is to strip people of color; Blacks, Latinos and Asians of civil, legal and constitutional rights. The 14th Amendment was one of a series of post Civil War amendments to give the newly emancipated Black slaves the full protection of the citizenship. It was to correct the fatal compromise in the original constitution which held that Blacks slaves in the Southern states were only 3/5 of a person and therefore not eligible for the rights and protections of citizenship. Prior to the Civil War, Blacks slaves were less than human and therefore not entitled to legal protection. This was most brutally affirmed in the notorious 1857 Dred Scott decision of the US Supreme Court which stated unequivocally that Blacks ” had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The Dred Scott decision lit the fuse which exploded with the Civil War.
The most important clause of the 14th Amendment is the “equal protection clause“. Prior to the 14th Amendment, there was not any legal or constitutional provision of protection which stated that all citizens of the country were equal. Though Jefferson famously wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men were created equal”, this language was nowhere to be found in the original Constitution nor any of the first 13 amendments.
The 14th Amendment is arguably the most important of the entire Constitution. The equal protection clause has been used to overturn discriminatory laws both on the Federal and State level. Most recently, various state courts across the country have cited the 14th Amendment to overturn prohibitions against same sex marriage. Moreover, the 14th Amendment ensured that constitutional rights applied to the States. Previously, the US Constitution only offered protection from the Federal government. The individual States routinely infringed on individual rights claiming that the Constitution only applied to the Federal level but not to the State level.
The movement to repeal the 14th Amendment is one of the gravest threats to American democracy since the end of the Civil War. The repeal of the 14th Amendment would legalise discrimination. It would be the establishment of Orwell’s Animal Farm. Some citizens will be less equal than others. Plessy v Ferguson, the Supreme Court decision of 1896, which legalised racial discrimination still upheld the Equality clause of the 14th Amendment. “Separate but equal” was the legal argument to justify racial segregation. It took nearly 60 years before the Supreme Court overturned that decision in Brown v. Board of Education of 1954. The repeal of the 14th Amendment would allow for the States and the Federal government to implement laws and policies which will set into place the legal doctrine of separate and unequal.
December 5th, 2022 News,October 2010,Racism,USA
With less than 3 weeks left before the upcoming Midterm elections, the US political scene resembles Wonderland as described by Lewis Carroll. One cannot help but to think of the Mad Tea Party scene from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Moreover, it seems as if politics have fallen down the rabbit hole which began Alice’s delirious trek into a world of madness.
There seems to be a common denominator to many Tea Party Republican candidates during this election campaign. That common denominator is sociopath and in some cases psychopathic behavior. In other words, they seem to inherit chronic anti-social pyschotic tendencies. From New York to Arizona Tea Party endorsed Republican candidates have been exposed as persons who have neither the sense nor value for human beings.
Carl Paladino, the Republican gubernatorial candidate for New York State, has campaigned on a platform of social destruction. He has bluntly promised to cut Medicaid, the government health insurance scheme for poor citizens unable to afford private health insurance, to the tune of twenty billion dollars during his first year as governor. He has also suggested that welfare recipients be placed in prison where they will “learn personal hygenie.” Earlier this week, as he addressed a Hasidic congregation, he lashed out against homosexuality. Contrasting himself against his Democrat opponent, Andrew Cuomo, Paladino boosted that he hadn’t attended the Gay Pride parade. “That’s not the example we should be showing our children.” He elaborated further saying that children shouldn’t be “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option.” Paladino would have been the most distinguished foreign guest had he attended the anti-Gay Family March held this past weekend in Belgrade.
Jim Russell, another Tea Party candidate running for a congressional seat in the Empire State was discovered to have written an essay in 2001 for journal where he denounced racial integration with the concern that mixed raced schools and neighbourhoods encouraged interracial dating. “One wonders how a child’s sexual imprinting mechanism is affected by forcible racial integration and near continual exposure to media stimuli promoting interracial contact.” Note how both Paladino and Russell wish to instill sociopath tendencies in children in the name of protecting children!
Meanwhile, a Tea Party congressional candidate in Ohio has been outed as a closet Nazi. Rich Iott for years participated in re-enactments of Nazi military operations during the Second World War, where he dressed in a SS uniform. Rather than resigning from the election, Iott defended his actions and that of the Nazis. Iott claimed that the Nazi’s offered to protect Europe from Communism and therefore, the Nazis were defenders of European freedom. If that isn’t alarming enough, despite denunciations from the Republican National Committee, the Toledo and Lucas County Republican party have not denounced Iott nor have withdrawn their endorsements.
It appears that the East Coast Tea Party candidates are much more liberal than their comrades in arms on the West Coast. Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for Nevada‘s Senate race, has a political background more deranged than Paladino, Russell and Lott combined. Angle not only wants to deny abortions to 13 year old raped by their fathers (family values at their very best!), but she also wants to abolish the Federal Department of Education. Moreover, she wants to bring back Prohibition of alcohol. Like Paladino, she’s not only an incorrigible homophobe, but at one time proscribed to the notion that Sodomy lead to the ruin of the country but also HIV could be spread through the water .Before entering politics as a Republican, Angle was a member of the Independent American Party during the 1990s. While a member, the party undertook a campaign to legalise discrimination against gay and lesbian people in employment and housing.
In Colorado, Tea Party politician Ken Buck believes that rape isn’t a crime, so long as the rapist is neither Black nor Latino. As a District Attorney in 2005, Buck refused to investigate or prosecute an alleged rapist despite repeated appeals from the victim. “A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse,” he told the Greeley Tribune in March 2006. He went on to publicly call the facts in the case “pitiful.” Earlier during the Primary campaign against his female Republican candidate, he boasted he was more qualified simply because he didn’t “wear high heels.” Like Angle, his views on abortion are psychopathic. “I am pro-life, and I’ll answer the next question. I don’t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest. I believe that the only exception, I guess, is life of the mother. And that is only if it’s truly life of the mother.”
Try as hard as their members and supporters to deny it, the Tea Party movement is nothing less than fascist. These are not just a few isolated examples. There are many more. However, many of the high profile Tea Party candidates are running in important races which will impact millions of citizens and residents of the country. The Tea Party movement is reactionary to the core. American voters should think not only twice but thrice before pulling the lever for the Tea Party candidates. In spite of the frustration and disappointment many Americans feel about President Obama and the congressional Democrats, voting for the Tea Party will place the United States on a direct path to disintegration.
December 5th, 2022 December 2009,Interviews,Iran,News
I will be a guest on BC Persian Radio this evening hosted by Ebby Mohseni starting at 9 PM to 11 PM PST tonight Saturday December 5th 2009. If you like to participate and join this show tonight please tune in on BC Persian Radio at 9 PM tonight. We will be discussing issues related to current politics in Iran. Please follow this live broadcast on www.redfm.ca
December 5th, 2022 News,October 2010,USA
The extreme rhetoric and politics of many Tea Party candidates for the upcoming Midterm elections have alarmed many Democrats, liberals and moderates. They are not alone. The statements and disclosures of many Republican Tea Party candidates in recent weeks have also caused many GOP leaders to be extremely leery as well. High ranking Republicans, including former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani and George W. Bush‘s speech writer David Frum, have repudiated and have denounced many Tea Party candidates running for their party. The RNC (Republican National Committee) has been forced to distance, and in some instances, withdraw support from congressional and gubernatorial candidates. Many of these Republicans fear that the Tea Party movement is damaging the Republican brand. While the party expects and hopes to win big in the upcoming elections, some are apprehensive about the long term prospects for the party, particularly the Presidential race in 2012. They fear that the Tea Party is to the extreme right of the electorate and will alienate moderates as well as independents alike.
Already in this election, two of the most prominent Tea Party candidates in the Northeast are almost certain to go down in flames. Carl Paladino, the Tea Party gubernatorial candidate for New York State, has all but been abandoned by that state’s GOP organisation. There are fears that Paladino will not only get crushed at the polls but that his crash will smash the entire Republican ticket in New York State, possibly sabotaging the party’s prospect of regaining control of the State Senate which had almost seemed certain at the beginning of the year. After Paladino’s remarkable homophobic outburst, former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani denounced Paladino’s statements has “highly offensive”. Christine O’Donnell, Delaware’s Tea Party Senatorial candidate looks well on her way to get laughed out of the First State. Her stunning ignorance of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which enshrines the principle of the separation of church and state, as well as her agenda to replace scientific Evolution with Creationist teaching in public schools has all but guaranteed that her opponent, Democrat Chris Coons, will wipe her out with a near 20 point landslide. The Tea Party is certain to get crashed on the shores off the Chesapeake Bay. Truthfully, the Tea Party didn’t have the proverbial snowball’s chance in Hell to succeed in the most liberal region of the country.
The most venomous denunciation of the Tea Party came from the most unexpected corner. David Frum, the speech writer of former President George W. Bush, has launched devastating broadsides into the Tea Party movement. In an extraordinary interview with the BBC, Frum castigated the GOP for even letting Tea Party candidates win the Primary elections. Frum is worried that the Tea Party will tarnish the Republican party as a bastion of bigotry, exclusion and intolerance. He has called out and derided the racism of the Tea Party movement and its candidates. Frum didn’t mince his words. “We are offering a politics of cultural protest at a time when Americans need a politics of economic leadership…. We have nothing to say to the unemployed, except that we will balance the budget very fast, even though we have no plan to balance the budget very fast.” Frum went on dismiss the economic platform of his party’s Pledge to America as nonsense. “None of these plans work,” he said with an air of annoyed vexation. Frum went further: “We are offering racially coded appeals that are going to define the Republican party for a generation of young voters as a party that attacked President Obama, not because he spent too much and regulated too much, but as some Kenyan interloper who was trying to impose an alien ideology on his own country.” Frum then launched a cruise missile attack and declared war on Sarah Palin, the Vice Presidential candidate in the the 2008 election and former Governor of Alaska, who has since become the self anointed leader of the Tea Party movement. He flatly declared that Palin “has irretrievably proven she’s not up to the job of being president of the United States.”
What is one to make of these developments? First of all it’s clear that much of the GOP establishment fears being taken over and ousted by the Tea Party movement. The second point is that many older Republican Party members find themselves as Dr. Frankenstein. Since the election of Richard Nixon in 1968, the Republican Party has never hesitated to employ race bating tatics against the Democrats. In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign took off after campaigning at a segregationist festival in Philadelphia, Mississippi. George H.W. Bush infamously won the 1988 Presidential campaign with the Willie Horton ad, by scaring white Americans into believing that if Michael Dukakis were elected, he would have emptied the prisons allowing Black men to rape and kill white women. His son went on to steal the 2000 election by preventing thousands of Blacks from voting and throwing out the ballots of those who actually managed to vote. Hence, Frum is not being completely honest with his criticisms. Paul Craig Roberts, the father of Reaganomics and Assistant Treasury Secretary under Reagan, has written a series of essays repenting for the economic and social policies that he and his party have implemented over the past of 30 years.
There are objective political factors with which the GOP establishment have come to terms with. Though the George W. Bush administration was the most right wing and reactionary administration in nearly a century, it was the first administration that reflected the contemporary demographics of the country. Bush appointed Colin Powell, the first Black Secretary of State. He also appointed Condoleezza Rice, the first Black and woman as National Security Advisor who was subsequently promoted to Secretary of State. Bush also appointed Alberto Gonzalez, the first Latino Attorney General. While many believed that these appointments were merely cynical and opportunistic, if not hypocritical window dressing, there were in fact, real political calculations behind them. The Republican Party suffers from a gender and racial gap vis-a-vis the Democrats. Women have been, generally speaking, alienated by the Republican party’s opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment and the right of reproductive choice. George W. Bush barely received 10% of the Black vote. On the evening of the 2002 Midterm elections, one prominent South Carolina Republican politician noted his party’s failure to win 10% of the Black vote in a state where they comprise 30% of the population. He warned that the GOP had to attract Black voters or else the party would vanish within 20 years. Moreover, the Latino vote, particularly in Florida and Texas, had boosted the fortunes of the party during the Bush years, only to abandon it in droves in 2008. The lost of that vote was, in large measure, due to the party’s scapegoating of and criminalization of Latinos as illegal immigrants and unwelcome in the country.
The Tea Party movement foreshadows ominous political developments for the Republican Party as well as for the country as a whole. The statements of Frum and other senior GOP figures signify the coming division and possible break up of the party. The Tea Party may propel the GOP to to victory this year but the battle lines are being drawn. What is certain, however, is that the United States is fast approaching political turbulence which will have unknown knock on effects for both the Democrats and Republicans.
December 5th, 2022 January 2011,News,Non-Violence,USA
One of the most distinctive features of American democracy is its constitutional right to free speech. The idea of a free and open press has been one of the pillars of the country before the founding of the republic. By the 1930s, the United States led the world with mass media through newspapers and radio. The 1960s saw the beginning of talk radio. The concept of talk radio was novel as it produced the first non dramatic radio personalities. Listeners were allowed to phone the radio studio to share their opinions and ideas live over the air with millions of listeners. From the 1960s through the 1970s, talk radio hosts such as Studs Terkel played a key role in the expansion of democracy following the free speech, civil rights and anti-war movements. Talk radio was viewed as a people’s forum where most of the listeners and presenters had liberal and progressive politics.
Talk Radio “Shock Jocks”
By the 1970s, “Shock Jocks” appeared including Murray The K and Don Imus. They gained notoriety also for their use of profanity, explicit sexual innuendo and advocating drug use. While Imus and Murray The K were crude, there was a progressive element to their content. They were popular expressions of anti-establishment sentiment of the country.
Talk radio’s political content changed in the mid 1980’s. Right and and bigoted talk radio began to become mainstream, in part of the shifting political and social climate to the right under the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Bob Grant, who hosted a prime time radio talk show on WABC New York, started this trend. He gained the reputation for being insulting and rude to callers that disagreed with him. He would viciously denigrate and abuse callers while hanging up on them. After the Bernard Goetz shooting incident, in which a white man shot a group of Black teenagers he believed were threatening him on a New York City subway train, Grant’s rhetoric became hateful. He openly characterised Black New Yorkers “savages”. He would engage in wholesale slander and libel against 5 million strong Black and Puerto Rican population. Grant’s popularity increased and he became the number one radio talk show in New York.
The Rise of Trash TV
Television programming went through a political transformation as well. Phil Donahue is credited for starting the first successful TV talk show program. His subject matter started as serious and sober. On his program had members of his studio audience interact to ask his guests questions and to comment as well as television viewers phoning in to participate in the conversation. The arrival of The Morton Downey Jr Show towards the end of the late 1980s brought radical change to TV talk programs. Downey’s show aimed for the lowest common denominator. He espoused the right wing politics of Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Downey would scream and shout in the faces of his guests who disagreed with his views. He would interrupt his guests before they could finish a sentence. He smoked on the set and blew it in the faces of his guests he disagreed with. The studio audience was a motley crew of ignorant low lives scrapped off the gutters of Jersey City and the frat houses of New Brunswick, New Jersey. They would bark like dogs in front of the camera. The nastier and more vicious Downey would treat his guests, the more excited and aroused they would become. Fisticuffs would erupt and many of his episodes degenerated into street brawls with the low lives shouting, barking and further instigating the conflict. Geraldo Rivera joined the act. Rivera started off as a serious investigative reporter for WABC TV in New York during the 1970s before degenerating into a trash show host. Many of his episodes degenerated into brawls as well.
The 1990s continued the downward trend. Rush Limbaugh arrived on WABC Radio as well. What made Limbaugh different than Bob Grant and Morton Downey, Jr was his stunning ignorance. Though Grant and Downey was repugnant personalities, they did still presented their opinions based on facts. Limbaugh crossed over into the realm of propaganda. Limbaugh told outright lies and misinformation over the airwaves. Limbaugh accused Bill Clinton of being a “socialist”. When Clinton tried to pass health care reform, Limbaugh led the ideological propaganda assault lambasting it as “socialism.” Limbaugh was seen as a market success and he became the most popular talk show host in the country. Talk radio outlets across the country introduced legions of similarly ignorant hosts who espoused hateful incendiary speech.
On television, more and more talk shows attempted to build off the success of Morton Downey, Jr. There seemed to be a race to the bottom in content. Producers didn’t even attempt to get serious guests on to discuss the pressing issues of the day. Most programming was dedicated to cases of relationship infidelity in which ignorant and uneducated young people would scream and fight each other over men. Jerry Springer, the former right wing Democrat mayor of Cincinnati, became the most successful. His studio audience made Downey’s look civil by comparison. These programs were not even “talk shows” as there wasn’t any dialogue or exchange of ideas, let alone opinions. Instead they were nothing less than shouting matches and physical violence. Indeed, these programs were more psychological programs. Certain topics were selected as the choice of guests were generally repulsive people with whom no one could relate to. These programs were designed to induce and provoke emotional responses with both the studio audience and the TV viewer.
Fox News and The Political Rise of the Far Right
The first political manifestation of this trend was the rise of the Newt Gingrich Republicans during the 1994 Mid-Term elections. Instead of being the dignified representatives of the people, the House Republican caucus was a circus of ignorant, misinformed, reactionary cretins found under the rocks of the most remote caves in far away mountains. Rather than articulating their right wing agenda, they would shout and scream against Clinton and the Democrats. Rather than civil debate on the floor of the Congress, they would take every opportunity to demonstrate that they and only they were the vilest and the most vulgar. When President Clinton gave State of the Union addresses, Gingrich and Trent Lott would glower and scowl at the president. The United States Congress had transformed from an institution from where the work of the country and the issues facing the country were debated and discussed with dignity and sobriety into the TV studios of Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones.
In 1996, Rupert Murdoch launched Fox News Network. In spite of its trademark “fair and balanced”, Fox News gave airtime to the far right. Bill O’Reilly replaced Rush Limbaugh as the leading propagandist. O’Reilly was not only a propagandist but a violent agitator at that. While one could chuckle ten years earlier listening to Bob Grant as he snarled: “Get off the air you creep!”, there wasn’t anything remotely amusing or funny about O’Reilly. While Bob Grant opposed the holiday honouring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and called him a “trouble maker”, O’Reilly openly called for the repeal of landmark civil rights laws. O’Reilly along with Limbaugh called for the repeal of Affirmative Action and other aspects of civil rights legislation. O’Reilly would threaten physical violence against guests who disagreed with him. O’Reilly is known to raise his hands and fists motioning to assault guests who had the temerity to disagree with him.
The Sibling Society
By 1996, the cultural, political and social climate had degenerated to the point that older intellectuals and artists became alarmed. In his 1996 book, The Sibling Society , the poet Robert Bly declared that the US was no longer a society of adults. Instead, it had regressed to a society of adolescents. He cited the examples above on television. He described Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in Congress as adolescents. Where were the adults? How was it possible that politicians in their 40s and 50s behaved like teenagers in high school. He described the Democrats and Republicans as two high school arch football rivals. He wondered how it was possible during the president’s Sate of the Union Address that the leaders of the country would appear on national television without dignity. Bly warned that the TV programming was creating a nation of adolescent siblings who fought and competed with one another. Rather than a united country based on the common zeal of the community, American culture and politics had degenerated into high school. He warned that this would lead to fascism. He argued that fascism would arise out of conformity. He cited the Super Bowl as the biggest example of fascism. Everyone in the US is practically obliged to watch the Super Bowl regardless if they like football or not. If one is not watching it on TV, then one is an outcast. Bly noted the pressure to conform during adolescence. If one doesn’t conform, then one is outcast as a loser. It warning has come true.
The Far Right Seizes Power
Bly’s warning came true four years later with the Presidential election of 2000. The Republican candidate George W. Bush was the epitome of what Bly characterised as the adolescent. Bush was a candidate lacking any intellectual and communication skills. Meanwhile, his Democrat opponent Al Gore was dubbed Al Bore. It didn’t matter that he had much more experience than his opponent. The entire media, which had degenerated towards the successful Fox News format in order to compete for viewers and advertising revenue, reduced the election to a popularity concert. Rather than asking voters who they believed had a better understanding of the issues, the media asked who they would rather have beer with.
The night of the election was witness to some of the most remarkable events in American political history. Initially, the state of Florida had been projected to Gore by all the major networks based on exit polling. Gore was believed to have won the election. The Bush campaign took the unprecedented step denounce the projections as wrong. Bush went before the cameras and declared that he had won the election. He refused to concede defeat. The networks backed down and declared Florida too close to call. In the early hours of Wednesday, Fox News became the first network to call Florida for Bush, thereby declaring him the victor in the election.
Heading the decision desk, where the network reviewed vote totals and polls to arrive at projections, was John W. Ellis, a first cousin of George W. Bush. Ellis unilaterally called the election for Bush before any determination by the Voter News Service, the consortium of leading newspapers and television networks, after a 2 a.m. telephone discussion with Bush and his brother Jeb who was the sitting governor of Florida. Fox News had politically interfered in the election outcome
Over the next weeks, a legal challenge and recount was conducted in Florida. Angry lynch mobs of Republican supporters took to the streets. In the counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, Florida Republican officials and their mobs of supporters physically harassed and threatened election board members from meeting and recounting the ballots. The day after the Florida Supreme Court ordered the continuing recounting of votes, a mob of Bush supporters besieged the Miami-Dade County board of canvassers, grabbing a Democratic lawyer and threatening to assault those involved in manually recounting the ballots. A few hours later the Democratic-controlled board announced it was abandoning its recount. Eventually, the US Supreme Court suspended the recount of votes and effectively handed the election to Bush. American democracy had been hijacked.
The record of the Bush regime is well known and there’s no need to review them. The events of September 11, 2001 transformed the political and social landscape. Fox News led the jingoistic vitriol. It became acceptable to openly espouse hate speech against Arabs and Muslims. American society had been thoroughly militarized. Anyone that questioned Bush, the “War on Terror” and the invasion of Iraq was denounced as a traitor, disloyal, unpatriotic and a terrorist. The 8 year reign of the Bush regime was the most violent in American history. Television and radio had dominated and set the political tone. The liberal media outlets such as the New York Times and National Public Radio had parroted the lies and propaganda of the Bush regime. Journalists such as Bill Moyers and Dan Rather were hounded out of their jobs by the screaming far right for being unpatriotic.
From the White House, the Pentagon and Justice Department down to the TV and radio studios of Fox News and ABC, madness reigned supreme. Lies, propaganda, violence and vitriol was had become part of the national fabric. Mass murder, genocide, plunder, torture and sadism was on practically every TV and radio station in the country. The venerable New York Times lost credibility after having been exposed for publishing fabrications and collaborating with the Bush White House in suppressing information about illegal wiretapping by the government.
By 2006, the vast majority of Americans had been sickened by the debasement of the country under the Republicans. The Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 and lost the White House in 2008. Billions of people within the US and the world celebrated the ousting of the Republicans and hoped that the US would return to humanity.
Unfortunately, the political and social damaged had been done. The election of the first Black president emboldened the far right. Obama was denounced for not being a natural born American and for being a “communist” and “fascist”. 2009 saw a string of far right wing violence. In May of 2009, Dr, George Tiller, a physician who performed abortions in Wichita, Kansas was murdered by a fascist anti-abortionist. Like Congresswoman Giffords, Tiller had long been targeted by the far right wing. Dr. Tiller has survived multiple attempts on his life. His clinic had been bombed repeatedly. Jared Lee Loughner had also been known to espouse anti-abortion views. Loughner had insulted a woman in his community college class for a presentation about abortion she had presented.
Within a week of the murder of Dr. Tiller, a Neo-Nazi white supremacist went on a shooting rampage at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC killing a Black security guard. By the beginning of 2010, the Tea Party movement began its agitation.
Jared Lee Loughner was born and raised in the cultural political and social milieu over the past 20 years. He was ten years old during the stolen election of 2000. Like most American kids growing up during the 1990s, he was probably raised watching Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones. He was 9 years old during the Columbine school massacre. Loughner is a victim of the degenerate cultural and intellectual toxic swamp that the United States has become over the past 20 years. How many youth today are psychologically damaged from the political climate over the past 10 years? How possible could it be for anyone that grew up under the 8 years of Bush/Cheney and the regime of Fox News to be a stable person capable of making sound moral judgements? Loughner is as much a victim as he is a perpetrator of the sado-masochistic psychological violence that the United States has become.
Yes, the Republicans and propagandists such as Rupert Murdoch are to blame. The right wing movement is an ever growing and present danger and threat to the country. However, it would not be in the interest of fairness to lay the blame squarely on their shoulders. Liberals and the Democrats have failed to do their part to resist and undermine the efforts of the far right. This will be the subject of the third and final part of this series.
December 5th, 2022 Global issues,January 2011,News,Non-Violence,USA
“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. April 4th 1967
Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam-A Time To Break Silence is as applicable today, if not more so, as it was nearly 45 years ago when he gave it at Riverside Church in New York. Presently, the United States has been at war longer than at any other time throughout its history. The Afghan war has been waged for a decade without an end in sight. NATO has pushed back its deadline for withdrawal year after year with the never ending caveat “if ground conditions permit”. More than 50,000 soldiers continue to occupy Iraq. More than 150,000 soldiers from more than 50 countries around the world fight a dirty colonial war in Afghanistan. While it’s true that these current wars started under George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress, it has been continued and expanded under the Democrats. The majority of Americans suffer from war fatigue. Twice within the past four years, the electorate voted to stop the wars but alas, the wars continue. President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have recently passed the largest military budget since the Second World War. As the United States commits unspeakable violence overseas, horrible violence plagues the country at home.
Where Are The Heroes?
Historically, the differences between American liberals and conservatives was more than differences in politics and policies. The most important differences lay within values. Liberals believed in social justice and true equality. Conservatives believed in hard justice and inequality. Liberals believed that all human beings deserve equal chances to prosper and lead lives of quality as conservatives believed that inequality was an inherent “human nature” and that attempts to reduce inequality was an undue burden on society. Liberals recognised socio-economic inequality while conservatives believed so such thing existed in the United States. Liberals through the Democratic Party believed that if the government lifted society from the bottom, the living standard would rise for everyone. Conservatives through the Republican Party believed that if government lifted society from the top, the living standard would rise for all.
The most striking display within the differences of values between liberals and conservatives were those they identified as heroes. For the liberal grand and great-grand parents of today, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was their primary hero. Roosevelt is their hero because he attempted the ameriloate the negative impacts of the Great Depression through massive public work projects, employment and by introducing the welfare state through measures such as Social Security. For the conservative grand and great-grandparents of today, their hero is Dwight D. Eisenhower, the military general and Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces during the Second World War. Though he warned of the “military industrial complex” at the end of his term, it was under his presidency that the US became increasingly militarized. Under his presidency, the CIA began its activities of overthrowing soverign democratic governments around the world and replacing them with brutal dictators. Eisenhower was the first US President to visit Fascist Spain and recognized General Franco.
For liberal baby boomers, they had plenty of heroes as they grew up. They had John F. and his brother Robert Kennedy, as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Their conservative contemporaries had Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The liberal heroes spoke of peace, an end to war and for social justice in equality. The conservative heroes spoke of war, law and order and moral values even though their actions and deeds were immoral.
However, for both the boomers and Generation X, they had one more hero than the liberals. They had Ronald Reagan. Reagan sought to undermine and roll back the gains of workers and minorities in the country. Reagan began the process of destroying all the programs and policies established to bring about social justice and equality in the country. Reagan held minorities and the poor with contempt. He demonized poor mothers on welfare as undeserving and lazy parasites. Reagan sent the military to overthrow the democratically elected government of Grenada. He sent war planes to assassinate Libyan leader Gaddafi killing his one year old child in the process.
The point is that American liberals proposed peace, justice and equality as American conservatives promoted war, militarism, injustice and inequality. After the assasination of Dr. King in 1968, American liberals seemed to run out of heroes. The last liberal hero, Jesse Jackson was co-opted and marginialised in 1988. Bill Clinton was never a liberal. Liberals tolerated Clinton simply because they had been demoralized after 12 years of Reagan and George H.W. Bush. In 2004, a new liberal hero appeared to emerge in the person of Barack Obama. In 2008, he was elected to the presidency. Liberals had never been so excited and happy since the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. Perhaps after 40 years of conservative and centre-right politics, liberalism had returned? Instead, liberals find themselves disappointed with Obama. Obama, Joe Biden and others at the White House have expressed nothing but contempt for liberal values. Once again liberals find themselves isolated and cannot see anyone on the horizon to restore their hope and confidence.
The conservatives have found new heroes and a new heroine. Unlike liberals they not only have heroes and heroines in politics but also in the media. Today, the Tea Party is the political home of today’s conservative heroes and they have plenty more on Fox News and talk radio. Liberals have become ashamed of and embarrassed by Obama. Their only heroes are now late night comic actors on Comedy Central. Those liberals with time on their hands to read call Noam Chomsky their hero. Liberals and progressives find themselves in an intellectual and moral morass.
Liberalism and War
The Democrats are often considered the party of peace and the Republicans the party of war. The historical record states otherwise. The United States entered both World Wars under liberal Democrat presidents. Woodrow Wilson promised peace and to stay out of the First World War when he ran for re-election in 1916 only to take the country to war one year later. Franklin Roosevelt ran a pacifist campaign in 1940, even while he was angling behind the years to get involved. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the convenient excuse FDR needed to enter the war.
Initially, John F. Kennedy was a war hawk. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Kennedy was quite keen to start nuclear war with Cuba and the USSR. Kennedy had an itchy finger over the red button. The crisis was averted and the world saved from the brink of destruction due to the intervention of the Canadian government. Kennedy was irate over Canada’s intervention and Kennedy made it clear during a State visit to Ottawa where he cursed out the entire cabinet of the government of Prime Minister Diefenbaker. On the other hand, Kennedy seemed to undergo a political transformation and clashed with the military brass and the CIA. Though not officially recognized, there’s been enough research, including the death bed confession of one his assassins, to indicate that Kennedy was killed by elements of the military industrial complex.
His successor Lyndon Baines Johnson is mostly remembered for his esclation of the Vietnam War. Declassified documents have revealed that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a hoax in order to justify a complete military intervention of the war. Among liberal and progressive anti-war activists the initials of the president became synonymous with war and murder. Though it was under Eisenhower that the US first became involved militarily in the Vietnam conflict and Kennedy had sent more military “assistance” to South Vietnam, it was Johnson who became most identified with the war. By 1967, Johnson had become hated amongst anti-war and civil rights activists.
It’s important to note that though FDR and LBJ led through countries into brutal warfare, they both introduced government programs to relieve poverty. Johnson launched the “War on Poverty“. As part of this “Great Society” program Medicare, the health insurance scheme for elderly retirees was introduced. It was under Johnson that both the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were drafted and signed into law. This was always the fatal contradiction of American liberalism. One on hand, liberal Democrats advanced democracy, social justice and equality domestically while they went on imperliast military adventures abroad. Under Johnson, the CIA continued to overthrow democratic soverign governments from Brazil to Indonesia. The CIA even tried to overthrow the Canadian government of Lester Pearson for his efforts to reduce Cold War tensions. This is the fatal flaw and contradiction of American liberalism. One cannot advance social justice and equality at home while pursuing tyranny and inequality abroad. This is the cause of America’s moral, political and economic predicament today.
Clinton, Obama and The New Democrats
“Conservatives believe. Liberals lie.” The trends forecaster Gerald Celente made the preceding statement a couple of weeks ago. Celente calls himself a political atheist which places him in an objective position to give political analysis. “Conservatives believe” in the lies spoon fed to them by Republican politicians and the talking heads on Fox. Conservatives really believe that Muslim terrorists “hate our freedoms”. They really believe that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.” Conservatives believe that the “War on Terror” is to really “bring democracy to the Middle East and Afghanistan.” Conservatives really believe that God is “punishing America for its immorality” of killing millions of unborn fetuses. The more fantastic, the more absurd and more preposterous the propaganda, conservatives will fall for it hook line and sinker.
Liberals on the other hand lie. During a Gary Null radio interview Celente elaborate: “They will never admit that they have been conned by the conman in chief, head of the presidential reality show. Liberals are intellectual enough to know they have been conned but don’t have the moral or spiritual strength to admit so.”
It’s sad to agree with Celente’s comment. Since taking office, President Obama’s foreign and war policy had matched and even exceeded that of George W. Bush. While Bush was in office, liberals protested and complained. However, when Obama has done the same or worse, there is a deafening silence from liberals. Obama’s award for the Nobel Peace Prize is a choice example. Obama received the prize less than a year of taking office and absent of any significant history of bringing peace to the world. When Bush was nominated for the peace prize was there consternation and explosive indignation that a war criminal could even be considered for the prize and rightfully he didn’t win it. Obama’s acceptance speech was his most vulgar public display to date. Obama stated that there would always be war and to think otherwise and to even stop war is to live in fantasy land. Obama stated that he was Commander-In-Chief of a nation at war. The rest of the address was bellicose in extreme. “We must begin by acknowledging a hard truth. We will not eradicate violent conflicts in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations, acting individually or in concert, will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.” In the next breath Obama desecrated the legacies of King and Gandhi by stating that as the President of the United States, he could not act according to their ideals. Had Bush made the same speech, liberals would have stormed the White House and lynched him from a tree across the street in Lafayette Square. However, since it was Obama there wasn’t even a murmur of disapproval by liberals.
American liberals abhor capital punishment. Yet every Democrat presidential candidate since 1992 has supported it. During his tenure as governor of Texas, Bush executed more people than any other politician in American history. Texas competed with Iran and China for the top spot of state executions. Per capita, Bush executed more prisoners than any other chief executive in the world during his terms as governor. Liberals abhorred Bush during the 2000 election for that very reason.
But where was the same moral outrage when Bill Clinton, after the 1992 New Hampshire Primary, flew back to Arkansas to personally oversee the execution of a mentally retarded Black man? Liberals made all sorts of excuses for Clinton. He had to show he was “tough on crime” under George H.W. Bush pulled another Willie Horton as he did against Michael Dukakis in 1988.
How many times will liberals let the Democrats betray them before they do anything about it? Liberals believed that if they swept Republicans out of office during the 2006 Mid Term elections, they could achieve two purposes: Stop the wars and impeach Bush. The Democrats swept the Republicans out. Less than a week after the elections, incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ruled out impeachment proceedings against Bush. Liberals believed that if they couldn’t impeach Bush, Democrats would have the power to investigate Cheney, Rumsfeld and other officials in the Bush administration. The Democrats didn’t open a single probe. The wars could have ended in 2007 simply by cutting off the funding. The Democrats refused out of fear of being viewed as unpatriotic. They justified the continued funding of the wars claiming they were opposed the war but “supporting our troops.”
Not sensing reality, liberals placed all their efforts to electing Obama with his empty slogan of “change and hope you can believe in.” Many gays and lesbians voted for Obama as they were tired of the homophobic demagogy from the Christian far right. Obama, not wasting time to spit on his core base, assigned a right wing homophobic Christian fundamentalist pastor to give the inaugural invocation. Before Obama was sworn in, he assembled the most right wing, reactionary and Zionist members of the Democratic party to fill his cabinet.
Obama signed two executive orders on his first day to close Guantanamo Bay detention facility and to ban the practice of torture. Two years later Gitmo remains open. Torture is still practiced by the US military and intelligence agencies. Obama increased more troops to Afghanistan and expanded the war into Pakistan. Predator drone attacks have increased and killed more civilians than anytime under Bush. Why are the liberals silent? In 2010, Obama signs an executive order given him the exclusive right to assassinate American citizens who he, and only he determines to be a threat to “national security”. Imagine if Bush had signed the same executive order. Most recently, Obama is moving to have preventive and indefinite detention without trial. Habeas Corpus has been executed without a whimper from liberals. 800 years of Anglo-Saxon Common Law tossed in the rubbish sign with nothing more than a yawn from liberals.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the media, the Republican surge in 2010 wasn’t the results of a massive shift to the far right nor was it because Americans believed that the Democrats had governed too far to the left. The tens of millions of people who had voted from Obama in 2008 sat the election out as they no longer believed that the Democrats were any different from the Republicans.
“The Liberal Media”
As Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann explained thoroughly in “Manufacturing Consent”, the myth of “The Liberal Media” was a concoction of conservative ideologues in the 1980s in order to intimidate and force the mainstream media to give more attention and focus to right wing ideas. It’s true that the mainstream media up until the 1990s was less commercial than today. It’s also correct that the media used to do a bit more investigative reporting and report on issues of vital importance. It’s beyond the scope of this essay to give a full examination.
As presented in the second part of this series, the media landscape changed during the mid 1980s. As social inequality widened and the top earners got richer and corporations faced less regulation, the news media shifted with the country. What made the media “liberal” was the new technology of television during the 1950s and 60s. There was far less censorship than today. What made the Civil Rights Movement so effective was the images of peaceful Black protestors being brutalised by police dogs and fire hoses. The anti-war movement became powerful because people all over the world saw the horrors of Vietnam in their living room during dinner time. The TV cameras were present on the streets of Chicago as the police cracked open the skulls of unarmed peace activists during the Democratic National Convention of 1968. The cameras were live as they filmed Mayor Daley shouting “fuckers!” at anti-war protestors on the floor of the convention. Dan Rather was attacked by delegates on the convention floor and got into a scuffle live on TV. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrlYRWD_tnA
Today if Martin Luther King had organised marches in Birmingham, none of the TV networks would have aired it. The local TV station would have used creative editing. The story would have been told by Bull Connor and the reporters would have repeated what he said and implied that the unarmed and peaceful protestors had “provoked” the police. Over the past decade there has been police brutality against peaceful protestors outside political conventions and international summits. These have all been ignored by the media or the official police version of events is presented. On February 15, 2003, hundreds of millions of people participated in the largest globally planned protest movement in human history. CNN didn’t mention it.
As Bush and Obama have gutted the constitution and committed crime, there wasn’t a single editorial or protest by the New York Times or the Washington Post. The newspapers and television networks consulted with the White House to edit the stories to present. Each new outrage produced silence, tepid criticism or even worse, support from the media. This has led to the rise of alternative and independent media. The growth of online news has increased by remains a drop in the ocean compared to the established newspapers.
Solutions for Progressives
It’s obvious that most liberals no longer care about issues of social justice. Liberalism is dead. Progressives need to organise and start anew. A new third party must be formed. This is evident yet somehow liberals are unable to break out of the straightjackets of masochism. “We can’t vote for a third party candidate because they can’t win.” Yes they can’t win when everyone says the same thing. Just imagine what would happen if everyone that made that statement actually voted for a third party candidate? What are the solutions?
I will cite one solution offered from Ralph Nader. In a recent interview with Chris Hedges, Nader dared to say what no liberal has the courage nor nerve to state. Nader didn’t mince his words and they are notworthy:
“The more outrageous the Republicans become, the weaker the left becomes…The more outrageous they become, the more the left has to accept the slightly less outrageous corporate Democrats.
“The left has nowhere to go. Obama knows it. The corporate Democrats know it. There will be criticism by the left of Obama this year and then next year they will all close ranks and say ‘Do you want Mitt Romney? Do you want Sarah Palin? Do you want Newt Gingrich?’ It’s very predictable. There will be a year of criticism and then it will all be muted. They don’t understand that even if they do not have any place to go, they ought to fake it. They should fake going somewhere else or staying home to increase the receptivity to their demands. But because they do not make any demands, they are complicit with corporate power. “Corporate power makes demands all the time…It pulls on the Democrats and the Republicans in one direction. By having this nowhere-to-go mentality and without insisting on demands as the price of your vote, or energy to get out the vote, they have reduced themselves to a cipher. They vote. The vote totals up. But it means nothing.
“Obama has the formula now,” Nader said. “You give the Republicans a lot of what they want. Many of them vote for you. You get your Democrat percentage. You weave a hybrid victory. That is what he learned in the lame-duck session. He gets praised as being a statesman and a leader and getting things done. Think of all the rewards he can contemplate while he is in Hawaii compared to what they were saying about him on Nov. 5. All the columnists and pundits say that now he can work with John Boehner. But once you take a broader view, it is the difference in the mph of corporatism. McCain is 50 miles per hour and Obama is 40 miles per hour. The left has disemboweled itself…It doesn’t even have a strategy every four years like a good poker player.”
On the topic of the right wing hegemony of the media, Nader had this to say:
“The so-called liberal media, along with Fox, is touting the tea party and publicizing Palin,” Nader said. “There was an editorial on Dec. 27 in The New York Times on the Repeal Amendment, the right-wing constitutional amendment to allow states to overturn federal law. The editorial writer at the end had the nerve to say there is no progressive champion. The editorial said that the liberals and progressives have faded out to let the tea party make history. And yet, for months, all The New York Times has done is promote Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. They promote Newt Gingrich and the neocons on the Op-Ed pages. The book pages of the newspaper ignore progressive authors and pump all the right-wing authors.
“If we don’t raise hell, we won’t get any media. If we don’t get any media, the perception will be that the tea party is the big deal.
“On one notorious Sunday, Oct. 10, two of The New York Times’ segments led with a big story about Ann Coulter and how she will change her strategy because she is being outflanked by others,” Nader said. “There was also a huge article on this anti-Semite against Arabs, this Islamaphobe, Pam Geller. Do you know how many pictures they had of Geller? Twenty on this front-page segment. The number of anti-war Op-Eds in The Washington Post over nine months in 2009 was 6-to-1 pro-war. We don’t raise hell. We don’t say Terry Gross is a censor. We don’t say that Charlie Rose is a censor. We have got to blast publicly. We have got to hammer them, because they are the tribune of right-wing fascist forces.
“Three thousand people rallied to protest the invasion and massacre in Gaza two years ago,” Nader said. “It was held four blocks from The Washington Post. It did not get a single paragraph. People should march over to the Post and say ‘Fuck you! What are you doing here? You cover every little blip by the right-wing and you don’t cover us?’
“They are afraid of the right-wing because the right-wing bellows, and they have become right-wing,” Nader said of the commercial press. “They have become fascinated by the bias of Fox. And they publicize what Fox is biased on. The coverage of O’Reilly and Beck and their fights is insane. In the heyday of coverage in the 1960s of what we were doing, it was always less than it should have been, but now it is almost zero. Why do we take this? Why do we accept this? Why isn’t Chris Hedges three times a year in the Op-Ed? Why is it always Paul Wolfowitz and Elliott Abrams and all these homicidal maniacs? Why are they there? Why is John Bolton constantly published in The Washington Post and The New York Times? Where is Andrew Bacevich? Bacevich told me he has had five straight Op-Eds rejected by the Post and the Times in the last two years. And he said he is not inclined to send anymore. How many times do you hear Hoover Institution? American Enterprise Institute? Manhattan Institute. These goddamned newspapers should be picketed.”
“How much more can the oppressed take before they revolt? And can they revolt without organizers? These are the two important questions. You have got to have organizers, and as of now we don’t.”
When will liberals stop being afraid to speak out against police brutality? How come the liberals in San Francisco are silent when Oscar Grant is executed in front of hundreds of witnesses on a subway platform and his killer is acquitted on murder charges? How long will it take for liberals to take a real stand against capital punishment? How is it possible that more people know of the case of Mumia Abul Jamal in London, Paris and Berlin than those in New York, Boston and San Francisco? When will liberals stop being afraid accused of “being soft on crime” or go out of their way to say that they always “support the police”? When will liberals stop being so blatantly selective about the issues they get vocal about? Liberals will march and protest about stolen elections in Iran and the lack of human rights in Tibet while being silent about stolen elections and human rights abuses at home. Have liberals become cowards? Have liberals perverted Dr. King’s policy of non-violence to the extreme that they don’t even bother showing up to protests for fear of being beaten and arrested for their convictions? Do liberals believe non-violence means the absence of fights and struggles? Have liberals confused humility for meekness? Do liberals believe that they can try to talk rationally and intellectually with opponents who want to hurt them? Dr. King was a warrior. He didn’t beg nor plea with power for them to be nice. Dr. King was non-violent yet assertive. Dr. King was peaceful yet forceful. Most importantly, Dr King took responsibility for his inaction for speaking out against war earlier.
The only way to stop war is to acknowledge that one is in a war. Peace is the goal. But being anti-war doesn’t connote denying the reality of a war. The United States is at war at home and abroad. In order to stop the war abroad we must stop the war at home. We must stop the political war we are engaged in. We must stop the civil war that’s happening in every inner city district of the country. Regardless of whether certain liberals want to confront this reality or not, there is a war in the poorer darker pockets of American cities between the residents and the police. It’s a one sided war as the former are vastly out-gunned by the latter. We must stop the “War on Drugs.” The United States is the world’s largest prison with the vast majority of those incarcerated for low level non-violent drug offensives. Middle Class liberals must understand that being caught with a joint by the police is different than being a person caught with the same joint in Harlem or Hunters Point. There is an information war. Liberals must wake up and confront the reality of daily systematic violence afflicting large segments of the population. War is on television. War is in the schools of the nation. War is on the streets of the nation. There’s a global economic war. There is economic warfare in the country.
Liberals have been complicit in the current state of affairs. George W. Bush has published and book and has appeared on national TV admitting that he engaged in torture and would do it again. The Bush regime know that after 2 years of Democratic rule without criminal investigations opened or charges pressed, they are confident that they can do it again. Obama is breaking both US and International law by refusing to bring the Bush regime to justice. “Looking forward and not looking back” is nothing less than averting one’s eyes. Over the past 25 years, liberals have averted their eyes to injustice or have pretended not to notice. Worse, many liberals simply don’t care. Out of sight, out of mind appears to be the predominate trend for American liberals be it to injustice at home and abroad. From this arise the following questions which American liberals and progressives must answer.
Are we going to give up and hand over all the economic, social and political rights we gained over centuries of struggle? Remember the millions before us that died so that we can live in peace and prosperity. Are you going to give up more than 200 years of Enlightenment with all the advances in philosophy, politics and science to a well-funded and organised band of ignoramuses that want to take us back to feudalism? If you answer no to any of these questions, then you have no other choice but to rise, stand up and fight. If we don’t fight now we will lose our liberal freedoms and social justice for decades if not centuries to come. We have a choice. Time is running out.
December 5th, 2022 January 2011,News,Racism,USA
No American state has received as much negative publicity over the past 20 year as Arizona has. The last time a state received as much derision was Mississippi back during the 1960s. In the post-civil rights era, Arizona alone has surpassed the entire Deep South for having a government and populace contemptuous of civil and human rights. In less than a span of one year Arizona has been the centre of legal and political controversy. From its xenophobic anti-immigrant laws up to this month’s political assassination attempt of Congresswoman Giffords, Arizona has been branded as a region of social backwardness and reaction. This begs the question why? What is wrong with Arizona?
This southwestern state west of the Rockies is less than 100 years old as a US state. It’s the 48th State admitted into the Union and the last of the mainland states to have joined. Because of it’s relatively young age as a state, its social and cultural development has lagged behind the rest of the country. The primary reason for this is due to its geography. Arizona is mostly desert. Both practically and metaphorically speaking, Arizona is a vast desert in the United States. Even it’s geography is contradictory as 27% of the land is forest.
The area received the first European explorers with the Spaniards at the end of the 16th century and was subsequently colonised by Spain. Due to its remoteness from the seas and being a landlocked desert, it was sparsely populated by European settlers and their descendants. Most of the inhabitants of the region were indigenous people with the Navajo, Hopi and Apache being the three largest groups. Arizona has the largest American Indian population of any state of the US. After Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, most of the southwest from Texas to California became part of Mexico. After the Mexican-American War of 1847, the US snatched control of all the territories of Texas and Nueva California. During the Civil War, Arizona had joined the Confederacy as a territory. The reason why Arizona achieved statehood late was due to the Democrats in the territory legislature that wanted statehood to coincide with the anniversary of joining the confederacy.
Arizona remained sparsely populated until the end of the Second World War. After Florida, it became the choice state for elderly retirees. Phoenix, the state capital and seat of Maricopa County, remained barely more than a small provincial city up in the 1970s. Like many other cities in the “sunbelt”, such as Atlanta and Dallas, it experienced a population boom of migrants from the Northeast and Mid-West. The city expanded exponentially out into the desert. As the population expanded, so too did big business. Scores of new skyscrapers were erected. Unlike the older cities on the Eastern seaboard, its expansion wasn’t hindered by estuaries, bays and oceans. Phoenix became typical of post-industrial sprawl with a central business district and suburban residential areas.
Issues of Diversity
Given its history as a former colony of Spain and being a territory of Mexico, Arizona has long had a large Hispanic population. As mentioned above, Arizona has a significant American Indian population. (Upon seeing a recent documentary on Russell Means, in which he states his preference for the use of “American Indian” over “Native American”, the former will be used for this essay.) Latinos make up 30% of the population yet have very little social and cultural visibility and their political influence is weak in proportion to their numbers. American Indians are even more deprived as most of them live on Reservations where they lack all civil, legal and constitutional protections and rights. According to Russell Means, American Indian Reservations are to this day classified by the Pentagon as “Prisoner of War Camps”. Despite having the highest population of American Indians in any state, the percentage is only 4.5%. Even more surprising for a midsized American state in 21st Century US is the near absence of Blacks and Asians. Individually there are fewer Blacks and Asians than there are American Indians with 3.4% and 2.3%.respectively.
It was the lack of sensitivity to issues of diversity and of concern for civil rights, which first brought negative controversy to the State of Arizona. Along with New Hampshire, Arizona did not recognise the federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. U.S. Senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate, John McCain voted against the measure, though he later he did support the measure to pass on a referendum voted on by state residents in 1990. This measure failed the pass. The failure to recognise Dr. King’s holiday brought national condemnation. The controversy spread internationally when the rap group Public Enemy released the song and video “By The Time I Get To Arizona“. Many Arizonans were defiant and perplexed by the national outcry. Many of them pointed out the fact that since the Black population was negligible, there wasn’t a need to have a “Black holiday” in the state. However, given the history of Arizona’s support and attachment to the Confederacy, one logically concludes that Arizona would not only have kept racial segregation but slavery as well.
In August of 1994, I along with another French artist travelled to Arizona. We had been invited to attend the World Unity Festival which was held outside of Flagstaff in the North of the state. As our plane descended into Phoenix Sky Harbor airport just before sunset, we fly through a heavy haze of smog which was unexpected. From my position, I was unable to see any signs of human habitation on the ground. I saw some mountains and the desert but I not any homes or other indications of human settlement. This fuelled my perplexity as to the source and reason for such heavy pollution.
Upon landing, we took a limousine Downtown. I was to see the strangest sites my 22 year old eyes had ever witnessed. The highway we drove along had 6 lanes in each direction. As a native New Yorker, I had never before seen a 12 lane highway. Robert Moses, with his grandiose mind and proclivity for monumentalism has only designed 6 land Expressways with 3 lanes in each direction. What made the experience all the weirder was the emptiness of the highway. There were hardly any cars anywhere. Why were there 12 lanes for such little traffic? It was shortly after 7 o’clock on a Thursday evening. In New York, the highways are still packed like fat rats at 7 0′clock on an evening workday.
The first truly surreal sight to behold was Downtown Phoenix. Then suddenly, while driving along a deserted 12 lane highway in the middle of a flat empty desert, there appeared a shiny metropolis with sparkling blinking skyscrapers. It really appeared as a mirage in the desert. The last thing one expects to find in the middle of a desert is a post-modern metropolis. We were suddenly out of the desert and racing through wide tunnels with high ceilings, thrust in the canyons of glass and plastic. We turned off the highway and were driving through Downtown. The streets were deserted. Nary another car drove on the streets and not a living soul walking around. Phoenix was silent. Or at least, it seemed so at first.
Our driver asked us where we wanted to go. My companion and I were exhausted from the 7 hours of flying travel we had endured including a layover in Pittsburgh. We had thought about staying the night in Phoenix but neither my companion nor I got the good sense about Phoenix and instructed our driver to take us to the bus terminal. We were keen to get out of that city as quickly as possible.
At the bus terminal, we were informed that we had just missed the bus which departed for Flagstaff. The next bus was scheduled to leave at 3:30AM. We stepped outside to smoke cigarettes. The city was still. Not the zen stillness of nature in the forest or mountains but rather an unnatural stillness. The stillness made me unsettled. That wasn’t all. The city was wasn’t silent per se. I heard a high frequency pitch in my ear. I ignored it at first thinking it was an auditory hallucination. However, it wouldn’t go away. My companion and I locked eyes. “Do you feel it?” She asked. “Yes,” I replied and then asked her: “Do you hear it?” She replied in affirmative. We realised that we had to get out of Phoenix as soon as possible. We thought of alternatives to get out quickly. I considered the train but given that we were in a provincial city in the middle of the desert, it was a long shot. She went in to ask for directions to the train station and to obtain information about transportation out of the city.
There were only Black people at the bus terminal. There weren’t people of any other colour around. The stillness of the atmosphere began to choke me. I observed the Black men sitting around. I have seen down and out Blacks in Harlem, The Bronx and West Philadelphia but there was something special and unique about the particular disposition of these men. Usually Black men are very lively. Conversations, jokes and laughter are usually heard among Black men on the East Coast. These men were silent. Moreover, they seemed afraid to speak. I made eye contact with one middle aged man. I saw fear. It was fear I had never known. A fear that I had never seen. A fear which I didn’t want to know. I looked at the other men and they all had the same fear. Then it struck me what it was. It was the same fear which permeated in Germany during the 1930s. It was the same fear and silence which reigned over Central and Eastern Europe after the Second World War. It was beyond fear. It was terror. A terror that only a totalitarian social system could produce. Instantly I knew that this was even worse than that. I was in a high-tech totalitarian system of terror. That high frequency pitch was a part of it. We had to get out of Phoenix and fast!
At that moment a taxi drove past with the words Quick Silver on its side. The driver asked if anyone needed a ride. My companion returned and reported that there was no way out of town until the bus at 3:30AM. We then negotiated a fair price with the taxi driver for a ride to Flagstaff. Before we left Phoenix, he stopped by his home. He invited inside where his 5 dogs were sitting in front watching the television with the lights out. When we left, I suggested that he turn off the TV. “No. I always keep it on. The dogs like to watch TV.” Even the animals are under Thought Control in Phoenix.
As we drove North on the interstate out of Phoenix, I noticed a large compound next to the highway. It was surrounded with barbed wire and fences. The first thought that came to my mind was a concentration camp. I pointed my companion to it. We asked the driver what that was. He informed us that it was a prison for children between 7 to 15 years of age.
On the road the driver and his friend whom he enlisted as a co-pilot rolled a couple of spliffs. Just before entering Flagstaff, they become nervous. The driver spoke with the utmost alarm. “We’re almost at Flagstaff! Put out the joint! Put it out! We can’t be smoking in Flagstaff!” I was rather curious as to why they were suddenly so afraid. I found out why minutes later. After we crossed the city line into Flagstaff I observed police brutality. On the other side of the highway, a police officer was thrashing a motorist within an inch of his life.
December 5th, 2022 March 2011,News,USA,World
Hundreds of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates arrived in Bahrain on Monday, March 14 under the auspices of the Gulf Co-Operation Council to help the kingdom control a wave of anti-government protests that began on February 14. No one knows how the troops will be deployed, but human rights organizations and numerous foreign governments have urged Bahrain to exercise restraint. Protesters are still camping out on the Pearl Roundabout, where there have previously been serious incidents of violence and at least eight deaths. Adding to the trouble is strong sectarian tension between Shiites (majority) and Sunnis (minority) that several power brokers seek to magnify.
he following text is from an email sent to Global Voices by a blogger who has asked to remain anonymous. It is republished with permission.
Let’s put it this way, so far it is not very clear what is happening. Yes, last night there was tear gas and rubber bullets all over pearl roundabout (not square!). Today, the town seems extremely quiet. They have blocked a good chunk of the city, and lots of people have not been able to go to work. I went out for a little cruise around town earlier today. In grocery stores, people are stocking up goods. In the booze shop too!
Many students were dismissed from school. Some schools have the week off, while others schools were forced by the ministry of education to stay open and have students attend classes. As for the university, a minor clash involving tear gas etc. occurred within one. I do not know what happened exactly.
The media is not doing a very good job here at alerting us to what’s going on… And now on TV, there are troops coming in on the Saudi Causeway in tanks, waving hello and showing the peace sign! And then there are intervals of the traditional dance with the Saudi King, and Bahrain’s King and ruling family, and that apparently is the traditional war song! It did not happen today, but they keep repeating clips of it.
What will happen next?
It’s all very odd!!! Tomorrow everyone has the day off. The guys at the roundabout asked their wives and kids to go home, and many are wrapped in – I do not know what you call it – it’s like ‘coffin’ cloth or this canvas they use here to wrap dead bodies. Maybe those are the ones who would rather die for a good cause and have nothing else in life, I really do not know. I think it’s insane and that everyone should just go home and stop going to the roundabout. I hope they do not get shot, but chances are bad if they resist and do not clear the area.
Gas stations have gone on strike, and there are warnings that ‘electricity might be switched off’. Other warnings and rumors included ‘Dear sunni’s if you approach a cop or a tank, you might be shot’. Another warning is not ro go out at night in groups, or else there is a risk of being shot.
And of course, the jokes are out too… Saudi troops are not heading to pearl roundabout, they are going to Exhibition Road!! (where the prostitutes and cheap pubs are).
Today at the Pearl Roundabout there are people giving their speeches, but it is quiet and fine. My friends walked around, the people there have always been friendly and inviting, for tea, coffee, food…etc… Only the media shows them in a different way. I also went there earlier on, and it felt like a carnival.
The pro-government people had to do their thing around the clock at the roundabout too, which is very close to the Royal Court, praising the King the family…etc.
People are glued to the TV hoping for something, but there is nothing, except stupid fluff like ‘We love you King Hamad’, and ‘We know that you don’t sleep if we’re awake,’ and tears and drama and thank you for sending those troops to save our lives!! There is nothing, no words, coming out from the Government or King or Prime Minister. We do not know what is coming next. Thank God for BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter and things like that where we can keep track of what people are actually seeing.