As U.S. left continues to degenerate, they wonder why working people continue to ignore them

Let’s go straight to the point here: the furor over the two Black women interrupting Sanders at the Seattle rally is way out of proportion to the “offense” & that’s the tip-off that something else is going on here–i.e., racism. And I don’t hesitate to add, misogyny that two Black women would have such chutzpah as to interrupt a white man. Wow! Speak of intersectionality!

As Alice Bach pointed out, the women asked for a moment of silence for the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s murder. They couldn’t even get a moment of silence in a four-minute interruption because everybody was so eager to hear Sanders drone on about social security.

Once again, their little faux-pas, their little violation of good manners was no big deal; the only big deal is the ferocity of the racism expressed against these women by white progressives.

White radicals fear of Black power reflected in Sanders campaign

Ferguson protest (Rick Wilking:Reuters) August 10 2015

At this point in time, most of us don’t know if BlackLivesMatter (BLM) is just a hashtag, a rallying cry, a social movement, a network, or just a FB wall & website. All we know is that it isn’t a formal organization but seems to represent activists & organizations from the Black community trying to forge a broader civil rights & Black power movement. Veteran political activists understand how inchoate & chaotic that process can be. That’s the character of social movements–particularly when they’re trying to organize those sustaining violent political repression, like the Black community in the US.

So it’s quite disturbing to see what a political firestorm was set off when two Black women in Seattle, identified as BLM activists, interrupted an outdoor rally where Bernie Sanders was speaking. There’s a veritable witch-hunt against them. In the furor going on, the two women are accused of being Clinton agents, Sarah Palin supporters, or Republicans in disguise & not genuine civil rights activists. Who gives a rat’s ass who they are!? Interrupting Sanders is no big deal. I personally have been in auditoriums & watched politicians booed to the rafters, including at Harvard, Columbia, & NYU Universities.

Shouting down or interrupting speakers is not my preferred method of protest because those being shouted down always turn the discussion from their rancid ideas to the denial of their right to free speech. And civil liberties should never be mangled in that way. But what the two BLM activists did in Seattle is no big deal unless you are an uncritical supporter of Sanders or want a chance to go after Black power activists & make it look respectable.

Sanders stinks on civil rights & is trying to recover ground he lost so publicly & shamefully at the Netroots conference in July. When BLM activists (or the two who claim they are) in Seattle confronted him, his supporters go ape. Because that is how debased lesser evil politics goes. Some suggest it’s a COINTELPRO/FBI operation to divide Blacks from white progressives like Sanders. Sanders doesn’t need the FBI to discredit him. His support for Israel & a Jewish-only state, his identification of Palestinians with Hamas (only one of their political organizations); his xenophobic opposition to immigrant rights; & his massive fumbles at Netroots around BlackLivesMatter are worse than even the FBI could come up with.

Sanders is a political supernova & a flunky to the Clinton campaign. After the Democratic Party convention, he’ll be a has-been, his role as shill exhausted. No matter how fervent his supporters, his campaign amounts to nothing–& just feeds the politicians as saviors mythology. Everybody’s looking for another Jesus.

It apparently doesn’t take much for BLM activists to whip up a firestorm. Twitter was aflame when Black activists wanted to close the BLM conference in Cleveland (in late July) to whites so that Black activists could convene in privacy. This was denounced as an expression of toxic identity politics. And that might give us a clue to what’s really going on here.

What does matter to the future of US politics is not what two-bit hustler is elected president but the emerging civil rights & Black power movement. It appears those who despise identity politics are having serious problems with that emerging movement & want to discredit & thwart it. So let us be frank: white supremacy is a multi-faceted, Hydra-monster. Racism against Black people can strut itself as progressive, universal, unwilling to recognize boundaries between humans when what it really masks is a distrust in Blacks & in their leadership. So it bears repeating, there will be no social transformation in this country without the political leadership of Black men & women. How will that be won when so many people are racist? Through the exercise of Black political power.

This is a protester at the Ferguson, Missouri commemoration of the murder of Michael Brown last August 9th. This young man represents BlackLivesMatter & the future of the US–not the likes of Bernie Sanders.

(Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Ferguson police department still denies civil liberties to Black community

Ferguson (Rick Wilking:Reuters) August 10 2015

It was only a few months ago the US Justice Department (that cleared the cop Darren Wilson in the murder of Michael Brown on August 9th 2014) issued a damning report on the systemic racism & unconstitutional policies of the Ferguson, Missouri police department toward the Black community. The report highlighted a low ratio of Black cops on the police force & a wide range of abuses, including denial of the Bill of Rights. Ferguson, after the death of Brown, was one of the first cities where the militarization of police departments became evident & alarming.

This phalanx of white riot police taken at the commemoration protests yesterday would suggest the Ferguson police department hasn’t learned a damn thing & doesn’t feel the least constrained by the federal investigation. Why create a provocation by showing up in riot gear at a commemoration? Because you want to incite peaceful protesters angered by your presence? Because you want to deny them their constitutional right to protest?

This little boy is 11-year-old Amarion Allen standing in front of a police line. Does this unarmed little kid under four feet tall & 70 pounds pose any threat whatsoever to law & order in Ferguson, Missouri? What about the right to assemble? Does that still not exist in Ferguson? Should Obama send federal troops to enforce the rulings of the US Justice Department? Or is there no way around building a new civil rights & Black power movement to ensure that the Bill of Rights prevails in Ferguson & every other Black community in the US?

(Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Social protest & water cannons

Srinaagar protest (Danish Ismail:Reuters) August 10 2015

Government workers in Srinagar, Kashmir have been protesting for years now to regularize their jobs from day-rated temporary workers & to raise the retirement age from 58 to 60 (since India has no social security). The government’s consistent response has been truncheons, tear gas, & water cannons of purple dye. The use of disproportionate force against striking & protesting workers is of a piece with the brutal methods of Indian military occupation in Kashmir.

This government worker at a recent protest was knocked off his feet by the high velocity of the water cannon & that’s one of its purposes. Water cannons are extremely dangerous in several ways, including knocking people down, damage to internal organs, eye injuries (including blindness), broken bones, panic, & death.

The history of water cannons against protesters is politically telling about the regimes that use them. They’re manufactured primarily in the US & UK & exported to oppressive regimes all over the world but they were first used for crowd control in 1930s Germany when Hitler came to power. The US used them most notably against the civil rights movement in the 1960s & England reportedly used them (including with purple dye) in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. They are no longer used in the US or UK–which doesn’t mean they won’t be again.

Water cannons with dye added–first experimented with in Northern Ireland–were made notorious against the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. At the now-named Purple Rain Protest in Cape Town in 1989, police turned purple water cannons on thousands of peaceful protesters who stood their ground politically by getting on their knees rather than back down against the assault. One of the protesters leapt onto the water cannon vehicle, seized the nozzle, & turned it away from protesters on to the facades of nearby buildings.

Many regimes use water cannons (including Argentina, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Hungary, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Egypt, South Korea, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Germany, South Africa, Israel, Turkey, Indonesia). The most repressive put additives, including dyes, in the water cannons. Deaths were reported in Indonesia (in 1996) when the regime added ammonia; in Zimbabwe (in 2007) when peaceful protesters panicked; in Turkey (in 2013) when liquid tear gas was added; in the Ukraine (2014) when a man got pneumonia from being sprayed in freezing temperatures. Israel routinely uses a foul-smelling additive called Skunk against Palestinians. One journalist exposed to Skunk said, “if you mixed dirty diapers with not-so-fresh road kill & left them all in the sun for a few days, you might get an idea.” The smell of Skunk stays for days despite repeated washing & scrubbing.

After the 1989 anti-apartheid protest in Cape Town, purple rain became a symbol of protest & the graffiti proclaiming “The Purple Shall Govern” appeared everywhere. Let the purple govern in Kashmir.

Our fullest solidarity with government workers in Kashmir.

(Photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters)

The right-wing patriotism of Wounded Warrior Project

Wounded Warrior Project puts on impressive, moving fund appeals full of patriotic fervor showing veterans missing limbs, with incapacitating brain injuries, needing lifelong rehabilitation. All that patriotism being shilled by movie stars who never went to war; all that fervor & never a reproach to the Pentagon who sent those young people to war whole, brought them back in pieces, & doesn’t think it has any responsibility to provide for them completely without having to beg for charity.

Rationalization versus theoretical explanation: gibberish marks the spot!

If you want to study the art of rationalization–more importantly, if you want to distinguish rationalization from theoretical elaboration–there’s no better place right now than reading the volumes of crap pumped out by half-assed radicals endorsing Bernie Sanders. They pumped the same crap out about George McGovern & Jesse Jackson & actually believe they’re being original. Much of it is petulant, all of it is recycled, most of it is just hilarious.

The magazine New Politics is a cornucopia of the stuff. One writer named Jason Schulman says “It’s an unfortunate fact that class-struggle politics in the electoral arena has become far more complex in the United States than it is anywhere else in the world.” Really!? Even more complex than India that has nearly 2,000 political parties? More complex than Egypt that has one party (the military junta) & if you try to run against it you’ll get put in jail & tortured?

Schulman goes on to explain there are “Democrats who represent the ruling class & Democrats who (imperfectly – they’re very rarely revolutionaries) represent the working class. I see nothing class-collaborationist in opposing the former & (critically) supporting the latter. Yes, ruling class politicians usually win Democratic primaries simply because they raise more campaign funds, have name recognition, & are incumbents, etc. – but not always.” Our man Schulman’s got all the lingo down but he’s still talking through his ass. Presumably he thinks Sanders represents the working class & that may be true. But only the most backward, xenophobic, provincial, racist part of the working class. Those who are international in their views, who oppose war, support Black power & immigrant rights think Sanders is a windbag & a loser.

Gibberish is the linguistic hallmark of rationalization. But it’s most rancid character is the xenophobia & racism. And its substitution of maneuvering for politics.

War is the preeminent issue, not just one of many social issues

Women's antiwar contingent poster (Library of Congress)

War is not just another issue in a litany of social crises created by capitalism. It doesn’t “rank” equally with movements opposing social hatreds but is of preeminent importance because it always incorporates racism, misogyny, & every other political malignancy.

For that reason, it is a call to arms that cannot be ignored–& for that reason, beginning with opposition to WWI & continuing with the anti-Vietnam War movement, trade unionists, feminists (the ones now so maligned as racist & sex-negative), Black activists, LGBT activists, immigrant rights activists, students, incorporated their particular concerns into the antiwar movement by building opposition within their organizations & constituents & forming contingents at demonstrations. That was true around the world, not just in the US.

War is where unbearable tensions in the system erupt, where armies merge to crush resistance & maintain the iron rule of tyranny: Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Yemen, Syria, & increasingly, African countries like Somalia. People of good will cannot simply turn away from all this because they’re busy or because the antiwar movement isn’t radical enough. That’s where all the bad-mouthing of liberals proves itself outrageous ignorance–since many liberals have sustained activism & financed antiwar protest every single war while many socialists abstain because the movement doesn’t meet their standards of radicalism (or today because they’re working on the Sanders campaign).

There is no political question more urgent than re-building the international antiwar movement, including Palestinian solidarity, & educating our constituents on the meaning of war. As neoliberalism spirals into unending war all over the planet, our historic mission is to create opposition to that if humanity is to stand a chance of survival.

Photo is poster from anti-Vietnam War movement women’s contingent at April 24, 1971 protest in Washington, DC which drew over one million people. Anita Bennett was one of the lead organizers of the contingent.

(Photo from Library of Congress)