The third Women’s March in Brownsville begins at 10 am on Sunday. Anyone interested in attending what has always been an impressive & inclusive event focusing especially on reproductive rights, immigrant & refugee rights?

You better believe that the sight of over 7-million women marching on every continent the day after Trump’s inauguration on January 21st, 2017 scared the living daylights out of the elites who run this planet. What scared them even more is that march organizers in the US included a young Black woman named Tamika Mallory, a Latino woman named Carmen Perez, & Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour & that in her speech Angela Davis called for “freedom & justice for Palestine.” Just as it did in the 1960s, the NY Times went into high gear to discredit the movement. Then it used lesbians & spinsters to mock feminism. Feminists of my generation made chopped liver out of that crap by solidifying with lesbians as sisters, entirely part & parcel of our movement. In 2017, Zionism & Black Lives Matter have added a whole new dimension to the NY Times’ hit job against the Women’s March. Erstwhile progressives had a field day demeaning the Women’s March as a “pussy parade.” Blinded by misogyny, they didn’t notice that some of the most reactionary & dangerous forces in world politics were circling like vultures.

It was just a few months after that march that the NY Times set its Pit Bulls into motion. Bari Weiss became an op-ed writer at the NY Times in 2017 but was already well-known as a pro-Israel activist at Columbia who formally charged pro-Palestinian professors like Joseph Massad with anti-Semitic harassment of Zionist students. (The teachers were eventually exonerated.) On August 1st, 2017, she wrote “When Progressives Embrace Hate,” which is a hatchet job particularly on Linda Sarsour for alleged anti-Semitism & on Tamika Mallory for her association with Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.

Farrakhan is deranged in his anti-Semitism but because the Nation of Islam runs effective social service programs in the Black community, many activists do not take issue or distance from his hate-mongering rants against Jews. That nonchalance toward anti-Semitism is intolerable politically. First, because it’s hate & second, because it drives a wedge between the Black community & Jewish civil rights supporters. Mallory is a young woman with a lot to learn & quite frankly it is not out of line to ask her to resign if she will not repudiate the views of Farrakhan. She’s way over her head politically. In interviews on national TV, she gave a garbled explanation of the cause of Palestinians against Israel & said pro-Trump & anti-abortion rights speakers would be allowed as speakers at the Women’s Marches. But Bari Weiss & other NY Times writers like Farah Stockman are using Mallory’s ignorance to smear the Women’s March leadership as anti-Semitic.

Farah Stockman gave a NY Times interview today titled “A Rift over Power & Privilege in the Women’s March” where she entirely misrepresents the role of Black women in the 1970s women’s movement by excluding their participation & actually blames Black women for the present conflict over tomorrow’s Women’s March saying they’re involved in a power grab with white women, especially Jewish women, over who should lead the women’s movement. This is lower than pond scum stuff.

There are now three political organizations claiming ownership of the Women’s March who are actually holding competing marches on the same day in the same cities. The confusion has led many cities to cancel rallies. There is the Sarsour/Mallory group called Women’s March, Inc.; there is March On, organized by a Zionist activist named Vanessa Wruble who initiated the claims of anti-Semitism; & there is Women’s March Alliance, a group led by corporate figures & more likely an anti-feminist or Zionist front group. No one owns the women’s movement. Sarsour, who is a Democrat, & Mallory with her associations with Al Sharpton & Farrakhan do not represent the majority of women in this country. If they want to salvage what they have built, they will have to restructure their organization to make it democratic. If they don’t restructure, it will be destroyed by this campaign to vilify them.

Today NY Times columnist writer Michelle Goldberg weighed in on the controversy with an article titled “The Heartbreak of the 2019 Women’s March: It’s fracturing over anti-Semitism, but maybe implosion was inevitable” where she tries to sound like the voice of reason compared to rabid Bari Weiss. Movement-building is hard; forging unity is a complex, protracted endeavor in every freedom struggle when there are differences in class, ethnic, & political perspectives. But Goldberg, who has never spent a moment trying to build a movement, damn well knows that the movement is not fracturing or imploding primarily over anti-Semitism but over racism toward Blacks & Palestinians. It is not conspiracy-mongering to claim beyond a shadow of a doubt that Zionists combined with anti-feminists are behind this attack on the Women’s March. It’s a very effective campaign which at once divides Black activists from whites, Jews from everybody, attempts to not just exclude but vilify supporters of Palestinians, & destroys the women’s movement.

How do we deal with this fracture? What should New York & other cities do with two competing marches going on? Whoever leads these marches, for whatever reasons, does not necessarily represent the thousands who will be attending. Activists in large contingents should attend both marches with banners calling for unity in the struggle for women’s rights & engage in unity-mongering up a storm on social media. By no means should support for Palestinians be mitigated or toned down in any way whatsoever. If there ends up being two movements, one under the flag of apartheid Israel & one demanding justice for all women including Palestinians, so be it. Some differences cannot be resolved. Racism & support for genocide would be chief among them.

(Photo is Women’s March 2018 in NYC by Stephanie Keith/Getty)

My mom & I once talked about those vivid dreams you get about someone you love just after they’ve died. We talked about how much we loved those dreams because we could feel the presence of the deceased & how sad we were when the dreams no longer came. That holding on is such a part of grieving. But eventually we must move on. When your beloved has been forcibly disappeared, you can’t move on, you can’t resolve the grief because hope & horror combine in such a crushing way.
So many people have no idea how much they mean to others, how much they’re loved & admired, how much they’ll be missed, what an impact they made on others. I say all this because I had one of those dreams about my deceased brother last night where I could feel his presence. You never really lose them in forgetfulness because they live in your heart forever. It’s as if you came from the same star.

This tribute to Dalit activist Rohith Vemula was written one year ago, January 17th, on the first anniversary of his suicide. Suicide is common among oppressed castes as it is among all oppressed people. I repost it to commemorate his life & so that we may better understand the social character of most suicides when inequality & injustice make life unbearable to sensitive human beings. It is not a weakness to defy the instinct for survival in order to quell the suffering we cannot endure.
It’s been one year today since Rohith Vemula took his own life. The loss of someone to suicide is a grief filled with questions that cannot be answered, confusions over what might have been, guilt and recriminations about who’s at fault and what could have been done to prevent it if only we’d known. In the end, it was his decision long in the making that he, “a glorious thing made up of star dust,” as he so beautifully described human beings, could not live without the freedom of spirit he needed so burdened was he with the dead weight of inequality.
We may grieve for a very long time but we have to trust he understood something about himself that he would not let others see: “My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.” That spiritual melancholy he expressed so poignantly is the isolation and humiliation of oppression, of being disrespected and looked down upon for who you are. It is human beings, so strong and yet so vulnerable, who bear the weight of social and political inequality which devour the soul & sometimes exhaust the psychic energies to resist them.
He was a man keenly sensitive to nature, human love, pain, life, death, and the distinctions between the sincere and artificial. The sensitivity and insight are what made him a fighter and yet kept him so vulnerable. Oppression weighs heavier on some, on the thinkers, the ones who care about others the deepest. But for himself, he felt empty and believed in others more than he believed in himself. He gave others respect because he knew its value and its power and probably never understood his own. Those are the confusions that come from inequality.
No one holds education in greater esteem than the oppressed, not as a matter of status but of empowerment, and there are remarkable stories of the lengths the oppressed have gone just to learn. Intellectual aspirations are discouraged, often mocked, and always made difficult to achieve by those in power. That’s why in US history, it was newly freed slaves in the south who first introduced free public education available to all.
Rohith was a naturally intellectual person, curious and eager to understand. University officials probably well understood that about him and detested that in him, which is why they took away his stipend and suspended him. It was the place they knew he was most committed and therefore most vulnerable. That makes them culpable in his death. He was an embodiment of what Gramsci awkwardly called the “organic intellectual.” His intellectual commitments derived energy from being oppressed and from identifying with his caste. His unique ability to educate and inspire others was because he did not place himself above them nor seek to rise above others but only to rise with the oppressed to end inequality once and for all.
We shall always regret the choice he made in death though we trust he knew best when he had reached the limits of his endurance. We wish we could tell him we would never judge him selfish, stupid, or a coward as he thought but will always honor the choices he made in life to stand resolutely against inequality and thus be part of ending it.
When asked what could Rohith Vemula possibly mean to an American socialist and activist the answer is, the same as he means to Dalits and other oppressed castes. He was one of ours, he stood with us, fought for us and with us, believed in our capacities to change the world. For that we honor him. May he Rest In Peace, at one now with the star he came from.

This is such an important article addressing the psychological trauma of Palestinians under occupation. It of course applies also to Kashmiris, Rohingyas, Uyghurs, Blacks, Latinos, & Native Americans in the US, indigenous peoples facing genocide as in Latin America, Africa, North America, Asia, & South Asia. Sustaining profound psychological trauma is a human, sane reaction to oppression & daily violence & should not glibly be described as mental illness.

From the always incisive Thamina Faiz in response to Tulsi Gabbard saying she is “conflicted” about CIA torture techniques:
“Does ‘conflicted’ now mean ‘up the morally bankrupt creek without a principle to paddle with’?”

There is nothing better than an uncompromising polemicist & the Kashmiri struggle against occupation & for self-determination has produced quite a few of them. This article by Parvaiz Bukhari addresses how India is trying to manipulate the Intifada of Kashmiri youth through a born-again politician. Its insights are quite applicable to how the Democratic Party manipulates the lesser evil con game in US politics.

How come so many people are dumping me? Couldn’t be my halitosis since none of them are close enough to know. Is it my politics? Those won’t change. Or is it my smart mouth? That’s beyond redemption. No hard feelings because I have nearly 500 friend requests from people I would love to collaborate with. Thank you to my Facebook friends who continue to bear with me.

There’s no question that the term “Islamophobia” is an awkward one. In a recent discussion, Javed Hassan pointed out its inadequacy, saying: “It is translated into killing Muslim children from Kashmir through Burma, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, to Palestine.” We might also add from Bosnia, Chechnya, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, India, China, to the Central African Republic & elsewhere. Unfortunately, awkward or not, that is the term now used for the new Cold War against Muslims–although the persecution is not new at all, not by a long shot. It’s important for us to study why Muslims are targeted. In some places it’s ethnic, some places it’s religious, in other places (like Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Palestine, Kashmir, Burma) it’s because those Muslim-majority places have shown the most powerful resistance to tyranny & foreign control. Sometimes it is the legacy of colonialism.

Standing with Muslims against persecution of any & every kind is the imperative in modern day politics. No concessions of any kind can be made to Islamophobia–or more aptly, as Javed pointed out, the hatred of Muslims.

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