Friday, March 4, 2005

Creeping fascism...fascist creeps, etc.

Via MyDD and Orcinus we learn that College Republicans at Santa Rosa Junior College are busy these days: accusing professors of indoctrinating students with communist propaganda and posting "red stars" on those profs doors. Somehow, as I started reading about the story I began thinking of the "yellow stars" Jews were forced to wear during the Nazi reign of terror, and of the pogroms that were infamous in the USSR and Germany during the first half of the 20th century.

Via Billmon, a little compare & contrast: Fox News and The Völkischer Beobachter.

Via Democracy Now, "Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib: Detainees in Post 9/11 Sweep Allege Abuse in New York Detention Center." There's video footage you can download as well.

It can't happen here? Think again.

TomTech provides us his latest edition of This Week in Fascism and monkeymind disabuses the notion that Bush = Hitler while simultaneously noting that a fascist social movement has definitely taken root on American soil. We seem to be reaching some sort of tipping point, and that should concern those of us who still give a damn about freedom. Makes sense to me, and seems to dovetail fairly nicely with David Neiwert's essay on pseudo-fascism, which is now available in pdf format.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

While we're on the topic of right-wing outrages

Rep. Gibbons (R-NV): Liberals Should Be Human Shields in Iraq. Check this out:
"I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else," Gibbons said to another burst of applause.

...

He said that they are the same people who wanted to go to Iraq and become human shields for the enemy.

"I say it's just too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket," Gibbons said.

Laughter rippled through the room, mingled with more applause. (Emphasis added.)

Rep. Gibbons, have you no shame? As far as I'm concerned the real America-haters are the right-wing extremists like Gibbons: they hate the America that I happen to love - the America where we take seriously the concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the America where we can think, speak, and worship as we see fit and reasonably expect that we will be at least tolerated. As David Neiwert notes with regard to Rep. Gibbons: "this will be noteworthy, marking by the day that eliminationist rhetoric became officially sanctioned."

That's the relatively softball stuff among the right-wing. As many of you may be aware, the husband and mother of a Chicago-area federal judge, Joan Lefkow, were murdered - and the investigation is centering on possible connections between their murder and a white supremacist who is currently awaiting sentencing for soliciting Ms. Lefkow's murder. Read the whole thing. It's pretty chilling to say the least. David Neiwert has an extended analysis of the story that is must-reading. One of the commenters at Daily Kos asks a pertinent question:
Is there such thing as hate crimes/murder by people associated with the extreme left? I'm just curious because the wingers have had a really hard time throughout history (and recently) of fellow wingers (even if they are on the outskirts of their philosophy) of committing awful crimes against fellow humans. You have the possible Matt Hale followers murdering the Judge's family, Timothy McVeigh, Matthew Shepphard murder, Robert Byrd's murder, Branch Davidians, KKK and lynchings, Black church bombings, etc. etc.

Truth is, it's really hard to think of anything particularly recent. Get past the days of The Weathermen and the SLA (and we're talking 1960s and 1970s when bloggers like myself were preschoolers), and it's not clear that there is much if anything in the way of extreme left-wing hate crimes or murders (and the extent to which one could characterize the aforementioned groups of either is questionable at best as well). I did a quick search of Earth First thinking that there was a group that might potentially fit the bill, but no dice. The more radical environmentalists and animal rights activists as I recall tend to be into property crimes (I'll save my opinions of those actions for another time - suffice it to say for now I frown on those activities) rather than engaging in physical violence against others. The organizations advocating and committing acts of political violence at this point in time appear to be almost exclusively right-wing. And as noted above, it's hardly hyperbole at this point in time to assert that these very right-wing extremists increasingly have the blessing of movement conservatives in the mainstream mass media and even in our own Congress.

Update: Do you know the whereabouts of these two men? They were seen near the Lefkow home around the time the murders were committed:

"And that's the sound of silence..."

If a congressman calls for a nuclear attack, and only blogs notice, does it really make a sound? Good question. Consider:
Number of times Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) recommended an unprovoked nuclear attack on Syria: 2

Number of daily newspaper articles to report the remark: 0

Number of newspaper editorials and op-eds to comment on the remark: 0

Number of reports on Johnson's comments on CNN: 1

Number of combined reports on Johnson's comments on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, and MSNBC: 0

At this point, I think it's safe to say the guy is going to get away with this. Let this be a lesson to all of us: Republican members of Congress can, in public, call for nuclear strikes in the Middle East and the national media will consider it mundane and uninteresting. Good to know.

That's quite a "liberal" media we have, eh? Good to know that the major news outlets are staying on top of the important stories, like the Michael Jackson trial.

Update: Jackson Thoreau has his own take on Rep. Johnson's comments in his column: Texas Republican Congressman: "Nuke Syria",
What this Congressman said was worse than even conservative serial-killing artist Ann Coulter saying, ""We need to execute people like John Walker [the American Taliban] in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors."

It was worse than what conservative writer John Derbyshire penned, when he more than hinted that Chelsea Clinton should be killed as an "enemy of the state".

Johnson, a member of Congress with great power who is invited to semi-private functions with Bush in the White House, at least twice called for murdering hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people just because he THINKS that country MIGHT be hiding those weapons of mass destruction that our leaders LIED about to cajole us into a stupid invasion of Iraq.

No liberal politician or writer I know has come so close to publicly calling for the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people or of Bush's daughters or of conservatives in general.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes....

Been making some link changes here and there the last day or so. Not to worry, this blog is not quite ready for an extreme makeover. Among the things to check out on the sidebar are a linkable button for Peaceblogs (I've always had a link to them, but it finally dawned on me that something more salient would be helpful), and a link to the Indy 500 Weblogs Webring. That webring contains the blogs of some very good people who posted statements opposing the eventual confirmation of Abu Gonzales to the post of AG. Check those links out and explore some bloggers whom you might not have checked out otherwise.

Passings: I noticed that the cat behind Earthside.com seems to have given up the ghost. The link is still valid, but the webmaster seems to have stripped the site of its content. Too bad, as I found his site to be a useful compendium of news headlines. For now I'll keep the link here in the hopes that the site comes back to life. But, no worries, a quick perusal of the sidebar should make it crystal clear that there are plenty of useful sources of alternative information available. Dive in!

Catching my attention

Via Avedon Carol's (yes, I am going to get your name right if it kills me) worthwhile blog The Sideshow, I was led to a most cool post by Natasha of Pacific Views that pretty well sums up my motivation for blogging as well, sometimes in spite of occasional bouts of outrage fatigue.
Things improved because the first civil rights crusaders didn't get tired of pointing out that it was wrong to drag people out of their houses in the middle of the night to be tortured and killed. Though it must have made them sick to their stomachs to even have to say it. Though they must have wanted to tear their hair out every time they saw fresh evidence that not only did everyone not realize lynching was horrible, not only did some people not care, but that there were those who thought it was both patriotic and just.

[...]

They faced longer odds, started with less power, and knew that their murderers wouldn't even be prosecuted.

Sometimes I do want to throw my hands up and forget about these issues, turn off all the news, stop talking about it. I should be ashamed when I feel that way. I should be ashamed to add my silence to the crimes being committed in broad daylight.

More Thoughts on the Churchill Brouhaha

Emma Perez does a decent job of cutting to the chase with regards to what's at stake in the Ward Churchill controversy in her column, A Neocon Test Case for Academic Purges: The Attacks on Ward Churchill. Once one realizes who's behind the attempt to purge this tenured professor, and what it means for the fate of the tenure system, fields such as Ethnic Studies, and for the general climate of academic freedom in this country, one might reconsider calling for his scalp. One passage that caught my attention:
Ward is a prime target. He is vulnerable and, at the same time, has extremely high strategic value. In terms of his vulnerability: he can be isolated from support forces who would traditionally make it hard to attack a tenured faculty. There are faculty who have problems with his being American Indian or who have something against Ethnic Studies, etc etc-these faculty will be reluctant or refuse to defend him (until it's too late). As a revolutionary, he can be counted on to have a significant number of colleagues who strongly dislike him and will be reluctant or refuse to defend him (until it's too late). On top of all this, in the post-911 climate, moderates who would normally disagree with his views but then go on to defend his free speech rights and academic freedom, will hesitate because they are afraid of being cast in with his "anti-americanism" (much like the McCarthy period). In terms of his high value as a target (David Horowitz has already written on this): he's not only tenured, but he's a full prof; he's not only inside ethnic studies but he was chair; he's not in just any university in CO, he's at the institutional flagship of "liberalism" in the middle of a red state.

Basically he's an easy target for the start of a right-wing purge. Professor Churchill's main thought crime as near as I can reckon is this: he dared to not only question or challenge a core assumption held by the vast majority of Americans, but thoroughly tramples it. That core assumption is fairly simple: the American government in its dealings with others outside its borders (as well as with its own people within its borders) has noble intentions. If one accepts that as a starting point, then the parameters of debates regarding foreign and domestic policy are well-defined. One might question the consequences of policies but not of their intentions - we're the nice guys spreading democracy and freedom around the globe. Professor Churchill refused to accept that core assumption, and in the process argues that not only have the consequences of the US government's actions been awful for many both inside and outside its borders but that those actions by the government were not even well-intentioned actions to begin with. From the former perspective, terrorist attacks, like the ones experienced a few Septembers ago, are senseless. From the latter perspective, taken by Churchill, such attacks are perfectly understandable. One may or may not agree with the tactics of slamming a Boeing into a highrise, but one can at least have some idea of why someone might be motivated to take such actions (note: for the record, while I find the 9-11 attacks as understandable I also found them abhorent; much as I find the Dresden-style air raid on Fallujah perpetrated by our government abhorent). Churchill's argument, if given serious consideration, has high potential to introduce a great deal of cognitive dissonance. His words, and the meaning behind those words, simply make folks too uncomfortable. The easy way out, and I've seen plenty of self-styled "liberals" who really should know better, is to dismiss the argument without considering its merits and to distance oneself from those who make that argument - even if it means standing idly by while the angry mob tries to silence Churchill, or perhaps to grab a pitchfork and join that mob.

A few Septembers ago, in the days after the 9-11 attacks, a friend of mine made the statement that "the birds had come home to roost." My immediate reaction to his words was very negative, to say the least. But it didn't take long before I began to reconsider and reread the works of Chomsky and others and ask some rather uncomfortable questions regarding my own assumptions. I can not in good conscience consider our government's treatment of others to be well-intentioned. The evidence to the contrary, if one is willing to look outside of the "official" history is simply to great to ignore. The gulf between the noble words found in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution and the actions of our elected leaders is simply too wide for comfort. Those noble words, however, to the extent that a few thoughtful people still take them seriously, give me hope that the US can do better. That certainly won't happen in the immediate future (not with the current makeup of the White House and Congress), but perhaps down the road. Until Americans face their demons, both past and present, meaningful change will not happen. Hence, the importance of the work of the likes of Chomsky, Zinn, Churchill, and others, and hence my willingness to stand up and be counted on to defend their freedom to continue their important work. As a scholar and citizen I am increasingly trying to face those dark truths - sometimes feeling like another voice in the wilderness.

Like it or not, the birds have started coming home to roost. There are those who would prefer we remain ignorant of that basic fact: but ignorance in this case is far from bliss. Ignorance, as we have seen, can be quite lethal. We owe ourselves and our children much better.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The GOP Hates Social Security

Dick Armey:
Former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey said Friday that Social Security should be phased out rather than saved.

"I think if you leave people free to choose, it will be phased out by competition," the former Republican congressman from Lewisville told reporters before sharing a President's Day Dinner with the Smith County Republican Club.

College Republicans at a Philly Santorum Event:
"hey-hey, ho-ho, Social Security has got to go!"

We report. You decide.

Those Darned Canadians

Of all the nerve: contending that their airspace is sovereign! Didn't Martin get the Preznit's memo? "All yer airspace are belong to us."

Putting Churchill In Context

Rafael Renteria comments in his CounterPunch column titled Look in the Mirror: Ward Churchill and White America,
This is the shadow in the mirror. This is the ghost of missiles screaming in the darkened sky of Baghdad. This is your inner demon. Look at it. In the mirror. The events of 9-1-1 are America's mirror. This is what it means to be bombed, in the Sudan, in Bethlehem and Belgrade. Horror.

One shows an implacable face to the enemy. This is the way of war. They never had any regrets and we, the Mexicans, we, the Palestinians, we, the Afghanis, Iraqis and Iranians, we the Black, we the Red, are the enemy.

[...]

Look in the mirror. The fascism that so many fear from Bush is nothing foreign. It is your own. The ecological horror that awaits us is nothing foreign. It is your own. The weapons of mass destruction, the nuclear tipped missiles, the hydrogen bombs, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, your own. Look in the mirror with me.

You know. You know why they are framing Lynne Stewart, why they hounded Amiri Baraka, why they painted a swastika on Ward Churchill's car, and promised him death. Like you, they don't want to look. Everything they've built their lives on tells them not to look, Little Eichmanns.

[...]

It's not the sacred memory of the people who died in the Twin Towers that's got them so upset. What's got them so upset is that someone called them what they are, what they cannot face. Eichmann. A man who was perfectly normal. The state psychiatrists declared it. Like you. Normal. Doing a job. Nothing more.

And it's that "nothing more" that is killing the Earth, that allows the US, which is not yet a fascist state, to have the highest incarceration rate in the world ­ America incarcerates its enemies, Red and Black, just as Hitler incarcerated his enemies, the Jews. It persecutes its writers who speak with the voice of the subjugated peoples ­ the enemies ­ within.

[...]

And you, you can cower like a German after the Reichstag fire, or you can act. Before it's too late. Before fascism is reality for white America, too.

As you sleep, there are people staying up all night. They are pounding keyboards and clicking mice. They are spreading word of a petition defending Ward Churchill and academic freedom. These are people in the battles Counterpunch calls "The wars of the laptop bombers." Oh, it's a small thing, but we are only people, not grandiose figures in a Wagnerian opera. We are just people. But we can do something. We simply must do something.

http://coloradoaim.org/wardpetition.htm

The Mumia Abu-Jamal quote at the beginning of Renteria's essay can be found at the site housing Mumia's radio essays (Prison Radio) - the essay's title is In Defense of Ward Churchill: Historian.