Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Ultimate Cancel Culture Issue: The Holocaust

 "In the aftermath of the Nazi assault on European Judaism, we have seen a modern form of Biblical interpretation evolve out of an historic event. This interpretation is based almost as much on faith as on verifiable fact. What should be at least fairly conclusive according to examined evidence has become a religious belief system in which no examination or question is allowed unless it strengthens the already existing and accepted story. The event is not only treated as unquestioned as the word of God, but if dared to be questioned at all, punishable as blasphemy. Such is the modern burden of what is called The Holocaust, having even its name reflect a Biblical sounding event, like The Creation. 

". . . real Palestinian Deniers are an infinitely greater problem than any alleged Holocaust Deniers . . . Would it hurt us to move beyond simplistic, reductionist explanations in order to arrive at some understanding of material reality that might help our relations with the rest of the world?"

---------Frank Scott, "The Holocaust, Palestine and Israel: Revision, Denial and Myth" (posted on September 7, 2022 on the Legalienate blog, originally published January 1, 2005)

Monday, August 28, 2023

Cancel Culture Sixty Years Ago: The March on Washington

James Baldwin flew all the way from Paris but was not allowed to speak. John Lewis had his speech altered for daring to ask why the U.S. government could indict civil rights activists for civil disobedience in Albany, Georgia but couldn't find legal authority to bring violent racists to justice, or even just stop appointing racist judges to the bench. His censored text pointedly inquired:  "I want to know - which side is the federal government on?"
The Kennedy Administration vetoed these words.  Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle, the Catholic prelate of Washington, agreed with the censorship, refusing to deliver the invocation if the offending speech wasn't changed.  Dr. King also went along, firmly advising the much-arrested and oft-beaten Lewis to submit to the indignity.  Other dignitaries complained about words like "masses" and "revolution." 

Lewis reluctantly agreed to read a watered-down version of his speech while two Kennedy aides stood by ready to pull the plug on the microphone should he revert to his original text.

It's safe to say that James Baldwin would have been even more critical of the government had he been allowed to speak, convinced as he was that the civil rights movement was actually "the latest slave rebellion."  But most critical of all was Malcolm X, who acidly dismissed the event as "the farce on Washington." Said Malcolm:

"The Negroes were out there in the streets . . . .They were talking about how they were going to march on Washington . . .That they were going to march on Washington, march on the Senate, march on the White House, march on the Congress, and tie it up, bring it to a halt, not let the government proceed. They even said they were going out to the airport and lay down on the runway and not let any airplanes land. I'm telling you what they said. That was revolution. That was revolution. That was the black revolution."

No leader had any chance of stopping it: 

"It was the grass roots out there in the street. It scared the white man to death, scared the white power structure in Washington D.C. to death; I was there. When they found out that this black steamroller was going to come down on the capital, they called in . . . . these national Negro leaders that you respect and told them, 'Call it off.' Kennedy said, 'Look, you all are letting this thing go too far.' And Old Tom said, 'Boss, I can't stop it because I didn't start it.' I'm telling you what they said. They said, 'I'm not even in it, much less at the head of it.' They said, 'These Negroes are doing things on their own. They're running ahead of us.' And that old shrewd fox, he said, 'If you all aren't in it, I'll put you in it. I'll put you at the head of it. I'll endorse it. I'll welcome it. I'll help it. I'll join it.'"

And this co-optation worked: 

"This is what they did with the march on Washington. They joined it . . . became part of it, took it over. And as they took it over it lost its militancy. It ceased to be angry, it ceased to be hot, it ceased to be uncompromising. Why it even ceased to be a march. It became a picnic, a circus. Nothing but a circus, with clowns and all. . . ."

No dictator could have achieved more thorough control: 

"No, it was a sellout, a takeover. They controlled it so tight, they told those Negroes what time to hit town, where to stop, what signs to carry, what to sing, what speech they could make, and what speech they couldn't make, and then told them to get out of town by sundown." 

Civil Rights + Black Nationalism = Slave Rebellion

The U.S. civil rights movement emerged from the official hypocrisy of (allegedly) fighting racism abroad (with a segregated military!) during WWII while maintaining Jim Crow at home.  In the wake of foot-dragging on the Supreme Court's desegregation  decision (1954), the hideous murder of Emmett Till (1955), and the siege of Little Rock (1957), militant disaffection and non-violent moral witness burst forth with stunning suddenness and unprecedented depth.

In Greensboro, North Carolina black students sat-in at department store lunch counters, exuding and demanding the dignity that was their due.  In Monroe, North Carolina Robert Williams called for black "armed self-reliance" years in advance of Black Power and fought off white terrorists in furious gun battles that led to his flight from the country as an FBI fugitive.  Escaping by means of a modern-day Underground Railroad to Canada and then Cuba, Williams broadcast scathing denunciations of "rump-licking Uncle Toms" and "Ku Klux Klan savages" via "Radio Free Dixie" from his sanctuary in Havana.  

In Alabama and Mississippi, pacifist "Freedom Riders" toughed out savage beatings at the hands of racist mobs to integrate public transportation. Meanwhile, activists of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee faced down clubs, bullets, bombs, and jail in the deepest strongholds of the Klan, winning the franchise for all Americans a century after Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Embarrassed by the screaming headlines and distressed at the propaganda advantage the Kremlin was reaping from such events, the Kennedy administration moved belatedly and reluctantly to support the black freedom movement. While peaceful protesters were beaten and jailed, and Medgar Evers was murdered on his front porch, FBI agents took notes and filed reports, but did nothing to protect the lives of black Americans.  Concerned about his support in Congress, President Kennedy moved to shore-up his Southern political base, appointing racist judges to the bench, including one in Georgia who sought to prevent "pinks, radicals and black voters" from overturning segregation, and another in Mississippi who saw no point in registering "a bunch of niggers on a voter drive."  

Yes, segregation finally crumbled, but not before inflicting a century of lynchings, and the federal government only very cautiously abandoned its Dixie allies under intense and sustained popular pressure.  The persistence of racial subordination beyond the dismantling of legal apartheid heralded the growing realization that racism was not simply an anachronism of the ex-Confederate states, as many liberals had supposed, but pervaded the entire nation. In his first northern campaign (1966) Martin Luther King was shocked by the virulence of Chicago prejudice, where ghettoization had achieved an informal apartheid every bit as formidable as legal segregation and the Citizens Councils.  At the peak of civil rights success, devastating riots in Harlem, Watts, Detroit, and Newark made the national character of American racism dramatically plain while serving notice that its abolition demanded something more than programmatic change.  By decade's end the rhetoric of liberal inclusion and the tactics of marching, singing, and sitting-in gave way to the angry rhetoric and armed apostles of Black Power, who echoed Malcolm X's demand for freedom "by any means necessary."



Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, (Harper, 1995) p. 449

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, (Dell, 1962) pps. 117-18 

Tom Hayden, Reunion, A Memoir, (Random House, 1988) p. 59 

Arthur Schlesinger, A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, (Houghton Mifflin, 1965) p. 972


Friday, August 25, 2023

Zoonotic Spillover, or Capitalist Viral Flood? The Deep Origins of Covid 19

 "This new age of plagues, like previous pandemic epochs, is directly the result of economic globalization. . . . Today, multinational capitalization has been the driver of disease evolution through the burning or logging out of tropical forests, the proliferation of factory farming, the explosive growth of slums and concomitantly of 'informal employment,' and the failure of the pharmaceutical industry to find profit in mass producing lifeline antivirals, new-generation antibiotics, and universal vaccines. 

"Forest destruction, whether by multinationals or desperate subsistence farmers, eliminates the barrier between human populations and the reclusive wild viruses endemic to birds, bats, and mammals. Factory farms and giant feedlots act as human incubators of novel viruses while appalling sanitary conditions in slums produce populations that are both densely packed and immune compromised. The inability of global capitalism to create jobs in the so-called 'developing world' means that a billion or more subsistence workers (the 'informal proletariat') lack an employer link to healthcare or the income to purchase treatment from the private sector, leaving them dependent upon collapsing public hospitals systems, if they even exist. Permanent bio-protection against new plagues, accordingly, would require more than vaccines. It would need the suppression of these 'structures of disease emergence' through revolutionary reforms in agriculture and urban living that no large capitalist or state-capitalist country would ever willingly undertake."

-------Mike Davis, The Monster Enters - Covid 19, The Avian Flu and the Plagues of Capitalism, pps. 16-18

Friday, August 18, 2023

It's Not Unvaccinated vs. Vaccinated, It's Capital vs. Community

"COVID has been a perfect illustration of how our government now works. In a crisis, it will provide benefits, but only the absolute minimum it determines necessary to protect the system from political upheaval. And then, as soon as stability is restored, it will take them away."

-------Union organizer Jack Califano

"Several lessons emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and frame our approach to planning for the next pandemic.  

"First, there are three 'partners' in this enterprise: the government, the public health establishment, and the communities.  Each partner has an important role to play in insuring that we learn these lessons and can meet the next challenge with a better chance at survival. But there is an underlying issue of excess power held by the American oligopoly and the politicians allied with them. They profit in power and wealth from the array of policies David Harvey (2019) labeled 'accumulation by dispossession.'

"Any serious examination of pandemic threat must confront the danger contained in such one-sided power. Part of the way in which the oligopoly has gained and maintained power is by undermining communities and destroying their organizations. While this is good for short-term profit, it poses an enormous threat to long-term survival. Rebuilding community power is an essential part of epidemic control." 

                    --------Pandemic Thinktank

Source: Rob Wallace, The Fault in Our SARS - COVID-19 in the Biden Era, Monthly Review, 2023, pps. 352-3 


Trans-Class Pride Celebration Planned


A spokesperson for Trans-Class-Pride said a massive parade and rally for the hundreds of millions of working class and poor Americans who feel rich but are disrespectfully not allowed to be what they feel is planned for a weekend soon.

“ A day would be much too short for all our members to be able to participate and we may need a week rather than a weekend’ said cis-working class member George Melissa Mulatto who delivers for amazon but feels like the people he delivers to - a member of the upper middle class.


“We are sick, tired and fed up with being denied the American dream and forced to live the American nightmare of the gig economy at best and street poverty at worst” said the poorly dressed but academically rich even though only having been to college to make deliveries and clean toilets spokesperson, whose pronouns are homeless/houseless.


‘When we march together we feel stronger and at peace without seeing therapists which we cant afford or using drugs which we cant afford either.”


“I have a good friend who is a woman with a penis and shim gets to use toilets of shims choosing, play on men’s sports teams and is respectfully treated as trans female. If shim can have their feelings acknowledged why cant we? Just because some of us have no bank accounts is no reason to deny us credit or because we are without shelter deny us money for rent. After all, Americans spend billions on our animals and even call them members of our families. Cant we give that much respect to the majority of us Americans who struggle to get by let alone the substantial minority of us who have no shelter and are forced to live under conditions many of us would not tolerate for our pets. We may no more be middle class than my friend with a penis is an actual female but we deserve at least the trans rights being enjoyed by so many citizens. How about trans class Americans who are possessed of testicles, vaginas, both or neither but nonetheless are members of the human race who deserve at the very least what a tiny minority of us have: equality of transism!”


Congress is considering legislation to ban any public display of trans-classism unless it can be shown that all trans classists are not inspired by Chinese or Russian or Socialist or Communist or Catholic or Jewish or Agnostic or Atheistic propaganda and all have testacles, vaginas, both or neither and firmly believe in the American constitution and the right of people to spend trillions of social dollars on war, hundreds of billions on pets, while poverty, injustice and other marketable commodities remain available to all Americans without discrimination.


Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Feudalism Returns

    "Everywhere you go . . . . in every town and city, the biggest, newest, most expensive and pretentious buildings are the banks: sure sign of social decay. . . . 

    "The working people live in plasterboard boxes, in fiberboard apartments, in mobile homes of tin, aluminum, and plastic; but the banks rise up in gleaming stone and glass and steel, dominating the surrounding mass of huddled hovels precisely as the medieval lord's castle brooded above his vassal village."

--------Edward Abbey, The Journey Home, 1977

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

1945: Alamagordo

                  The Atomic Genie Escapes

Never have scientists so fervently prayed. Slumping against a wooden post, Robert Oppenheimer reminds himself not to weaken: "I must remain conscious!"

The countdown proceeds: "five . . . .. four . . . . three . . .  two . . . " Afraid it may electrocute him, the normally unflappable Sam Allison drops the microphone at the last second. At 5:29 a.m. he shouts, "Zero!" 

Interminable silence. . . . then suddenly the horizon ignites and a reddish-orange fireball infinitely brighter and ten-thousand times hotter than the sun rises majestically over the desert, turning darkness to light for hundreds of miles around. On this day, even a blind woman reports that she has seen the dawn. 

A New York Times reporter is reminded of Genesis: "Let there be light!" Physicist Isidor Rabi fears the fire will burn forever. Colleague Dick Feynman, momentarily blinded, turns away in pain. Oppenheimer recalls a line from the Bhagavad Gita: "I am become death, the shatterer of worlds!"

The boiling mushroom cloud swirls into the heavens, presaging catastrophe.

Under a curtain of radioactive fallout, jubilant scientists break into a jig on the desert floor.


-----Michael K. Smith, Portraits of Empire, pps. 12-13 


                    1945: Hiroshima

                              A Sun Of Fire,

a violent light never before seen in the world, rises slowly, cracks the sky open, and collapses. Three days later a second sun of suns bursts over Japan. Beneath remain the cinders of two cities, a desert of rubble, tens of thousands dead and more thousands condemned to die little by little for years to come. 

The war was nearly over, Hitler and Mussolini gone, when President Harry Truman gave the order to drop atomic bombs on the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the United States it is the culmination of a national clamor for the prompt annihilation of the Yellow Peril. It is high time to finish off once and for all the imperial conceits of this arrogant Asian country, never colonized by anyone. The only good one is a dead one, says the press of these treacherous little monkeys. 

Now all doubt is dispelled. There is one great conqueror among the conquerors. The United States emerges from the war intact and more powerful than ever. It acts as if the whole world were its trophy.

      ------Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire, p. 126