Alice Walker, the author of “The Color Purple”, is praised & often asked to speak because of her support for Palestinians despite her public, unapologetic association with David Icke & his anti-Semitic political ideas. Icke believes the world is run by extraterrestrial reptiles incarnated as Jewish bankers called the Illuminati. Apparently Walker agrees with that rubbish. To my mind, Palestinian solidarity should disassociate from Walker just as it does from David Duke, the KKK white supremacist who publishes videos supporting Palestine. He is motivated solely by hatred for Jews. We don’t know what Walker’s problem is but it doesn’t matter. She compromises Palestinian solidarity with the political syphilis of anti-Semitism. She should be told to take a hike until she severs her relations with Icke, his hatred for Jews, & his association with fascism.
A distinct snobbery more than evident on social media is that academics, including socialist academics, only participate in discussions with other academics or prestigious people. They don’t lower themselves to discussion with lesser beings who don’t have advanced degrees. Activists & working people in general have great respect for intellectuals who contribute understanding to our struggles. But it’s not a respect that goes both ways. That dislocation between academics & activists is central to the crisis in transformational politics today & speaks to the alienation of academics from actual political struggle. If you don’t respect the actual struggles of working people, how can you make any useful theoretical contributions? More importantly, what’s the point of your politics?
A Texas school called police to accuse a 6-year-old Muslim boy with Down Syndrome of being a terrorist. A substitute teacher reported to the principal that little Mohammad, who cannot speak, said “Allah” & “boom boom boom.” This prompted a police investigation & child protective services were called in. The father, who is not taking this lying down, said his family has been turned upside down because of this. This is not the first instance of a Muslim school child being called a terrorist. It should be considered child abuse & the school, police, & child protective authorities involved should be prosecuted.
Documentary filmmaker Shafiur Rahman has played a remarkable role documenting the Rohingya genocide without an iota of compromise & fully on the side of the Rohingya people. He recently completed a film about the Burmese military & nationalist death squad massacre in the Arakan village of Tula Toli. The massacre began August 30th when Burmese soldiers surrounded the village, shot every adult & teen & threw infants & children into the nearby river. It went on until the village was demolished & every resident was murdered or managed to flee.
This photo is Tula Toli survivors & other Rohingya refugees in a Bangladeshi refugee camp watching a screening of Shafiur Rahman’s film about the massacre. Part of refugees coping psychologically with the horrors of losing many loved ones & feeling helpless to defend them is acknowledgement by others of the massacre. The film will be released to the public soon.
(Photo from Shafiur Rahman @shafiur)
It’s so inspiring to see the number of men getting up on their high horse about due process for the schmucks getting nailed for sexual assault. Golly, it speaks so well against reckless disregard for law. Unfortunately, the real problem is the lack of due process for women–& not just the lack of due process but the lack of laws that protect women & children. The legal parameters of “he said, she said” & statutes of limitations on sexual crimes exclude justice, especially when children are involved. Legal protections for women & children need to be rethought & instituted so that concern for due process for the accused doesn’t become another way to brush off justice.
Reposting this on the 33rd anniversary of the Union Carbide chemical leak in Bhopal, India–one of the worst industrial accidents in history. The thousands of victims are still denied justice despite years of litigation, protests, campaigns & regardless of the deaths, disabilities, & environmental contamination which have not been addressed.
Today is the 33rd anniversary of the 1984 Union Carbide catastrophe in Bhopal, India. US-owned Dow is now the owner of Union Carbide whose neglect of equipment & safety maintenance to save money caused the pesticide plant to leak the toxic chemical methyl isocyanate, an ingredient in pesticides. The explosion killed an estimated 25,000, injured half a million, & permanently contaminated the environment & water supply, which has created new generations of children suffering chemically-induced illness & neurological disabilities.
The petitions to Union Carbide by victims & human rights groups received little help from the Indian government since it is collusive in this criminal travesty. In June 2010, an Indian court indicted seven former managers at Union Carbide for negligence & sentenced them to two years in jail & a fine of $2,100–a sentence that makes a slap on the wrist look draconian. Despite public outrage in India, the Supreme Court upheld corporate impunity & turned down an appeal for harsher sentences.
It’s not yet clear how civil & criminal litigation against Dow/Union Carbide will proceed since in June 2012 a US court absolved the company of all liability in the Bhopal disaster which means they are not liable for compensation, remediation or pollution-related claims. It’s not certain that legal appeals are exhausted. But what a surprise that a US court beholden to corporations rejected the appeals of victims of one of the worst chemical catastrophes ever.
As of now, Dow refuses compensation to the second & third generation of victims, many seriously disfigured & disabled, & poor families are forced to care for them with little assistance. Dow refuses to contain chemical efflux from that explosion which for now 30 years has poisoned the underground water reservoirs. The 50,000 people who still live in the area due to extreme poverty are forced to use the contaminated water for cooking, laundry, & bathing.
Dow will forever stand indicted but that is not sufficient. Justice is demanded & the survivors of Bhopal continue to fight. This is an instance when human solidarity means the difference between unimaginable & unmitigated human suffering & just a bit of justice & relief. Veterans of the anti-Vietnam War movement will remember that Monsanto & Dow were the manufacturers of Agent Orange, the herbicide that caused numerous health problems & death among US veterans & their offspring & continuing, catastrophic health problems for the people of Vietnam. Dioxin was the primary toxic agent in Agent Orange & at the time it was used in Vietnam was known to be life-threatening & was banned in several countries. At a certain point, solidarity becomes a matter of survival & is entirely reciprocal.
This little girl suffers from hearing & speech disorders. She is at a rehab center supported by Bhopal Medical Appeal (a UK charity) for children born with disabilities. The center only treats families they believe have been affected by the Union Carbide catastrophe. In reporting on the anniversary, news reports say “There has, however, been no long-term epidemiological research which conclusively proves that birth defects are directly related to the drinking of the contaminated water.” Apparently its red color is not persuasive of contamination. So the people of Bhopal should invite the editors of such rubbish for a little water tasting event.
(Photo by Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)
This will become known in history as the Apology Era. The era when politicians, comedians, TV personalities get caught in criminal misconduct & come out swinging in their defense with apologies while at the same time feigning ignorance about their crimes: the victims misunderstood their warm & huggy nature; their hands just accidentally fell down to women’s backsides; it was just a joke gone wrong–but golly they’re sorry the women took it wrong or can’t take a joke. Now the pope apologizes for legitimizing a fascist regime engaged in genocide as if an apology makes it all better.
Apologies are endearing. It means a man knows how to play humble-pie when he’s caught dead to right. But the best apologies come with prosecution–just so we know contrition isn’t a cynical career-saving move; just so we know that you know how it feels to be humiliated. Just so there’s a modicum of justice. Without accountability, stuff the apologies.