Tag Archives: activism

The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum

Chris Hedges

TruthDig

The blacklisted mathematics instructor Chandler Davis, after serving six months in the Danbury federal penitentiary for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), warned the universities that ousted him and thousands of other professors that the purges would decimate the country’s intellectual life.

“You must welcome dissent; you must welcome serious, systematic, proselytizing dissent—not only the playful, the fitful, or the eclectic; you must value it enough, not merely to refrain from expelling it yourselves, but to refuse to have it torn from you by outsiders,” he wrote in his 1959 essay “…From an Exile.” “You must welcome dissent not in a whisper when alone, but publicly so potential dissenters can hear you. What potential dissenters see now is that you accept an academic world from which we are excluded for our thoughts. This is a manifest signpost over all your arches, telling them: Think at your peril. You must not let it stand. You must (defying outside power; gritting your teeth as we grit ours) take us back.”

But they did not take Davis back. Davis, whom I met a few days ago in Toronto, could not find a job after his prison sentence and left for Canada. He has spent his career teaching mathematics at the University of Toronto. He was one of the lucky ones. Most of the professors ousted from universities never taught again. Radical and left-wing ideas were effectively stamped out. The purges, most carried out internally and away from public view, announced to everyone inside the universities that dissent was not protected. The confrontation of ideas was killed.

“Political discourse has been impoverished since then,” Davis said. “In the 1930s it was understood by anyone who thought about it that sales taxes were regressive. They collected more proportionately from the poor than from the rich. Regressive taxation was bad for the economy. If only the rich had money, that decreased economic activity. The poor had to spend what they had and the rich could sit on it. Justice demands that we take more from the rich so as to reduce inequality. This philosophy was not refuted in the 1950s and it was not the target of the purge of the 1950s. But this idea, along with most ideas concerning economic justice and people’s control over the economy, was cleansed from the debate. Certain ideas have since become unthinkable, which is in the interest of corporations such as Goldman Sachs. The power to exclude certain ideas serves the power of corporations. It is unfortunate that there is no political party in the United States to run against Goldman Sachs. I am in favor of elections, but there is no way I can vote against Goldman Sachs.”

The silencing of radicals such as Davis, who had been a member of the Communist Party, although he had left it by the time he was investigated by HUAC, has left academics and intellectuals without the language, vocabulary of class war and analysis to critique the ideology of globalism, the savagery of unfettered capitalism and the ascendancy of the corporate state. And while the turmoil of the 1960s saw discontent sweep through student bodies with some occasional support from faculty, the focus was largely limited to issues of identity politics—feminism, anti-racism—and the anti-war movements. The broader calls for socialism, the detailed Marxist critique of capitalism, the open rejection of the sanctity of markets, remained muted or unheard. Davis argues that not only did socialism and communism become outlaw terms, but once these were tagged as heresies, the right wing tried to make liberal, secular and pluralist outlaw terms as well. The result is an impoverishment of ideas and analysis at a moment when we desperately need radical voices to make sense of the corporate destruction of the global economy and the ecosystem. The “centrist” liberals manage to retain a voice in mainstream society because they pay homage to the marvels of corporate capitalism even as it disembowels the nation and the planet.

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The Prison Industry: Big Business or New Form of Slavery

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Brazilian Carlos Latuff’s art reflects his activism and love of Palestinians

Roba Assi and Ibrahim Owais

Uprooted Palestinians

Carlos Latuff: My artwork is not for sale, It is about love. I love the Palestinian people!

Drawing fire: Brazilian cartoonist and political activist Carlos Latuff visited Amman last month to present his groundbreaking work on his favorite subject: Palestine.

“Why the hell is a bourgeois publication interested in interviewing a pro-Palestinian cartoonist?” asks the skinny 40-something in a black and white keffiyeh. If it wasn’t Carlos Latuff, the now legendary Brazilian political cartoonist, we might have been offended. But for a man who has made a career championing a political cause some 15,000 kilometers away from the home he shares with his working class parents in Rio de Janeiro, a cup of tea is probably a means of capitalist oppression. And having avoided the temptation to question why being pro-Palestinian and bourgeois were somehow mutually exclusive – he might want to visit Abdoun to appreciate how many Palestinians have successfully graduated from the refugee camp – we managed to convince him that as Arabs, some of us actually Palestinian, the NOX staff does care rather a lot about the 40-year occupation. Maybe even as much as he does.

Bad first impressions aside, we moved to a comfortable spot in Darat al-Funun, the scene of an exhibition and talk, and he proved more than willing to discuss his career-long commitment to the cause. “I am an ordinary guy,” he says. “There is nothing special about me. The special thing in this whole formula is the Palestinian people. They transform ordinary people to pro-Palestinian activists – this is why I am here, this is why I am now displaying my art in Amman. It’s the Palestinians. Me, I am just ordinary.”

A crowd of well-over 500 people who attended the event would no doubt dispute his claims of “ordinariness”. Latuff, a cartoonist from Brazil, came to focus almost exclusively on Palestine after his visit to Hebron in 1998 and a conversation with a local man. “Khalid Idriss did not know me, neither knew what I did for a living,” he explained in the talk. “To him I was someone from the outside and his story can be echoed through me. So he invited me to his home. He took out his wallet and started pulling out broken teeth,” Latuff recounted passionately. “I said, ‘Jesus Christ, what is this?’ And he said, ‘It’s all the teeth I lost to the butts of the M16s of both Israeli settlers and soldiers.’ He then brought his teenage daughter and lifted her shirt off her back to show me all the scars and wounds. So I promised him to get his story out. Today, I am still keeping my word.”

NOX: You were one of the top finishers in Iran’s 2006 International Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Aren’t you afraid of being accused of being anti-Semitic?

Carlos Latuff (CL): Of course, I was bashed as a racist and anti-Semite. But have you seen the cartoon that won? It does not deny the holocaust, but actually reaffirms it. Today, we are witnessing a whole new holocaust against the Palestinians, and yet you can’t even say that in the media. I don’t care if people call me anti-Semitic, and I don’t care about what people think of me; I care about the Palestinians. It’s really amazing that when the Western media heard about the International Holocaust Cartoon Competition, they all cried “Rage!”. Just a few weeks earlier, they were defending “freedom of speech” over the Mohammad cartoon incident. Their double standards were exposed, and I saw a good a chance to make a point about the Palestinian cause.

NOX: Have you had many problems with censorship?

CL: In 2002, the Independent Media Centre in Switzerland was shut down over claims of anti-Semitism after they published my series “We are all Palestinians”.

The cartoons portrayed Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, Black South Africans, Native North Americans and Tibetans in China. All of these groups are drawn saying, “I am Palestinian”. A few months later, police in Israel arrested the editor. I have not only dealt with censorship, but also with police brutality, and blacklisting. I can’t visit Palestine because of my cartoons.

NOX: You sometimes need to rely on stereotypes to make the average person understand, but stereotypes can also be clichés. How do you create a balance?

CL: I have no problems with clichés. Cartoons should not only be accessible to intellectuals – they need to be clear enough to be understood by the janitor as well as the CEO. They should be like street signs, which everyone can understand. My real problem is fighting the negative clichés and stereotypes that people have.

NOX: An active member of Deviant Art, an active blogger, a supporter of Creative Commons… You are all over the internet. Would you say that the internet and social web was a main channel for your activism?

CL: Without the internet, this interview would not be possible. The internet has opened a very big window for me, and without it the mainstream Western media would have never published my work. Western media loves representing Israel as the victim, and as a result people see no difference between the Taliban and the PFLP! But I don’t have a Facebook account. There is a Facebook profile of an impersonator, but that’s not me.

NOX: Do you see a change in the West’s outlook with alternative media providing a slightly more balanced view?

CL: Absolutely. I think that people’s perception of the Palestinian cause is slowly changing. For example, Brazilian magazine Istoé, which is equivalent to Newsweek, had “Terrorismo de Israel” on their cover with an image of a Palestinian woman crying in front of her ravaged house.

I would have never thought in a million years I’d see the day when a mainstream Brazilian magazine would have the Palestinian cause on the cover!

Israel cannot keep convincing people that the 410 children who died in Gaza were killed for security reasons. Yes, Israel is losing ground, and I hope to help erode the credibility of Israel.

NOX: In a world where even air is packaged and sold, why do you encourage people to freely print and reproduce your work?

CL: It is very important for people all over the world to feel free to print out, reproduce and distribute my work however they wish. In a capitalist system, everything is produced for money, but my artwork is not for sale, they are made to be spread around, to counter the Western media war against Palestine. They are also to fight Islamophobia, although I am not Muslim myself. This isn’t about money, or cartooning, or anything like that. It is about love. I love the Palestinian people! I dedicate my art to Khalid Idriss, I know you are in Hebron and you can’t hear me, and I know that I can’t visit you because Israel has blacklisted me, but I am here in Amman, and I have kept my promise.

Carlos Latuff’s work can be seen at his deviant art websites here and here. He also has a comic series named Tales of Iraq War, where his superhero, Juba, is a Baghdad sniper.

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ALERT: Please Support Alternative News

Activist Post Special Announcement

We are at the crossroads of a very important time in history. Free humanity is waking up globally to the designs of a corporate-government fusion, and an overarching agenda which does not place individual liberty as a priority. Each day it seems that a new piece of the puzzle is revealed, and previous shadow dealings see the light of day. This is due in no small part to the pioneers of liberty such as InfoWars who have used their passion for the truth to research and investigate how this system of control came to be.

As the mainstream media continues to mislead the public, alternative news sites have gained popularity simply by exposing the truth. However, the truth tends to be pretty damning to the Corporate State. Therefore, alternative news organizations rarely get large sponsorship — they require viewer support.

Like many alternative news Web sites, it would be very unlikely that Activist Post could have gained the attention it has in such a short time without Alex Jones and Infowars. Infowars consistently publishes our articles, and for that we are grateful.

InfoWars has initiated a Moneybomb for October 14th. The Activist Post is pledging $500 to their goal of reaching $500,000. Naturally, with the state of the global economy, we urge you only to give the amount that is comfortable, but it only takes 999 more equal donations to help them topple their goal.

We want to be clear that we are not affiliated with Alex Jones; not paid by Infowars; and they have not requested that we issue any type of endorsement. We are, however, of like mind and purpose in exposing the truth. If you prefer another alternative news site, then please donate to them and visit their sponsors, as we all need your support to continue our work.

Please watch Alex’s video tour of his new studio, which promises to take the InfoWar to a whole new level. We are more than happy to contribute to such an important undertaking; we hope that you are as well.

Kind regards,
Eric Blair and Michael Edwards
Activist Post

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Activist Gilad Atzmon says ‘The Tide Has Changed’

The Muffin Post

Jazz saxophonist, novelist and anti-Zionist political activist Gilad Atzmon’s album “The Tide Has Changed” addresses how his support of Palestinian right of return and the one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has brought meaning to his music and his life.

To Gilad, the fact that more people from all walks of life are now willing to confront Israel and Zionism represents that the tide has changed to favor the Palestinians’ struggle. Born in Israel, his criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism have led to allegations of antisemitism from both Zionists and anti-Zionists.

More about Gilad Atzmon and his new album can be visited here.

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Surveillance, America’s Pastime

Stephan Salisbury

TomDispatch

The dried blood on the concrete floor is there for all to see, a stain forever marking the spot on a Memphis motel balcony where Martin Luther King Jr. lay mortally wounded by a sniper’s bullet.

It is a stark and ghostly image speaking to the sharp pain of absence. King is gone. His aides are gone. Only the stain remains. What now?

That image is, of course, a photograph taken by Ernest C. Withers, Memphis born and bred, and known as the photographer of the civil rights movement. He was there at the Lorraine Motel, as he had been at so many other critical places, recording iconic images of those tumultuous years.

In addition to photographing moments large and small in the struggle for black civil rights in the South, Withers had another job. He was an informer for the FBI, passing along information on the doings of King, Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, Ben Hooks, and other leaders of the movement. He reported on meetings he attended as a photographer, welcomed in by those he knew so intimately. He passed along photos of events and gatherings to his handler, Special Agent William H. Lawrence of the FBI’s Memphis office. He named names and sketched out plans.

In an exhaustive recent report, the Memphis Commercial Appeal detailed Withers’s undercover activities, provoking a pained and complex response from the many who knew him and were involved in the civil rights movement. His family simply refuses to believe that the paper’s report could be accurate. On the other hand, Andrew Young, with King during those last moments, accepts Withers’s career as an informant, saying it just doesn’t bother him. Civil rights leaders, including King, viewed Withers as crucial to the movement’s struggle to portray itself accurately in Jet, Ebony, and other black journals. In that Withers was successful – and the rest, Young suggests, doesn’t matter. Besides, he told the Commercial Appeal, they had nothing to hide. “I don’t think Dr. King would have minded him making a little money on the side.”

Activist and comedian Dick Gregory, hearing Young’s comments, turned on his old comrade. “We are talking about a guy hired by the FBI to destroy us, and the fact that Andy could say that means there must be a deep hatred down inside of him,” he said. “If he feels that way about King only God knows what he feels about the rest of us.”

This is the way it is with informers, so useful to reckless law enforcement authorities and employed by the tens of thousands as the secret shock troops of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. Surveillance has multiple uses, not the least of which is to sow mistrust, which in turn eats at the cohesion of families, social and political movements, and ultimately the fabric of community itself.

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Discovering the Activist Art of David Dees

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Discovering the Activist Art of David Dees

The Muffin Post

If there is to be power, let it vest with the people and not within the hands of a tyrannical government, and in the clutches of a few whose allegiance is to a foreign nation and a way of life that is un-American.

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FBI Raids Activists’ Homes in Sinister COINTELPRO Replay

Critics: Purpose was orchestrated and unlikely to find evidence of any ties to Hezbollah, PFLP and FARC.

Tom Burghardt

Global Research

In a replay of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s infamous COINTELPRO operations targeting the left during the 1960s and ’70s, America’s political police launched raids on the homes of antiwar and solidarity activists.

Heavily-armed SWAT teams smashed down doors and agents armed with search warrants carried out simultaneous raids in Minneapolis and Chicago early morning on September 24.

Rummaging through personal belongings, agents carted off boxes of files, documents, books, letters, photographs, computers and cell phones from Minneapolis antiwar activists Mick Kelly, Jessica Sundin, Meredith Aby, two others, as well as the office of that city’s Anti-War Committee.

Meanwhile, as federal snoops seized personal property in Minneapolis, FBI agents raided the Chicago homes of activists Stephanie Weiner and Joseph Iosbaker. According to the Chicago Tribune, “neighbors saw FBI agents carrying boxes from the apartment of community activist Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab American Action Network.”

“In addition,” the Tribune reported, “Chicago activist Thomas Burke said he was served a grand jury subpoena that requested records of any payments to Abudayyeh or his group.”

Amongst those targeted by the FBI were individuals who organized peaceful protests against the imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq and 2008 protests at the far-right Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

As Antifascist Calling reported in 2008 and 2009, citing documents published by the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks, state and local police, the FBI and agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon’s Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the United States Secret Service, the National Security Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency implemented an action plan designed to monitor and squelch dissent during the convention.

As part of that plan’s execution, activists and journalists were preemptively arrested, and cameras, recording equipment, computers and reporters’ confidential notes were seized. Demonstrations were broken up by riot cops who wielded batons, pepper spray and tasers and attacked peaceful protesters who had gathered to denounce the war criminals’ conclave in St. Paul.

With Friday’s raids, the federal government under “change” huckster Barack Obama, has taken their repressive program to a whole new level, threatening activists with the specter of being charged with providing “material support of terrorism.” A felony conviction under this draconian federal law (Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113B, § 2339B) carries a 15 year prison term.

State-Corporate Nexus

The trend by federal, state and corporate securocrats to situate antiwar and international solidarity activism along a bogus “terrorism continuum,” is an alarming sign that plans for building an American police state are well underway as I pointed out in my 2008 analysis of the FBI’s “Counterterrorism Analytical Lexicon.”

Recently, the secrecy-spilling web site Public Intelligence posted 137 bulletins produced by the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), an American-Israeli company, under terms of a $125,000 contract to the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security.

Billing itself as “the preeminent Israeli/American security firm providing training, intelligence and education to clients across the globe,” ITRR is part of a large, but little understood nexus of “public-private partnerships” fusing state and corporate surveillance against leftists and environmentalists.

Amongst the targets of ITRR’s alarmist screeds were anti-drilling and environmental activists, permanent quarry for corporate spies and provocateurs, as the web site Green Is The New Red (GNR) amply documents.

Earlier this month, GNR reported that while ITRR and their political paymasters have been monitoring non-violent activists, “including a film screening of Gasland,” Pennsylvania’s heimat security boss James Powers wrote in an email that his office intended to “continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.”

In the bizarre parallel universe inhabited by Powers and his Israeli cohorts, anti-drilling activists are “ecoterrorists,” while the mass-murdering neo-Nazi mastermind of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people including 19 children, Timothy McVeigh, was “just a person very angry with the U.S. government.”

While corporate polluters and criminals get a free pass from the federal government and an anti-Muslim and anti-Arab crusade is in full-swing, stoked by right-wing goons and their media shills, it is little wonder then, that Friday’s raids targeted supporters of the Palestinian solidarity movement.

Neo-McCarthyite Witchhunt

With a pretext that the raids were seeking “evidence related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation,” FBI spokesperson Steve Warfield told The New York Times that repressors are “looking at activities connected to the material support of terrorism.”

Attorney Ted Dooley who represents Mick Kelly, a union- and socialist activist targeted by the Bureau told the Times that the SWAT team broke down Kelly’s door at 7 a.m. on Friday and served a search warrant on his companion.

According to Dooley, the warrant claimed the secret state was searching for “evidence” that activist groups had provided “material support” to “Hezbollah, the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.”

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Activism in the Age of Tyranny and Terror – G20 Report

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