Rollie Mukherjee locked out of Facebook because they can’t confirm her age? Yeah right!

Rollie's art

Rollie Mukherjee’s FB account is on lockdown. Neither she nor we can access her wall.

She emailed to tell me they are asking her to submit ID proof to confirm her age or they will delete her FB account within 28 days. For not knowing how old she is, they’ll lock down her account? Yeah right!

What this is really all about is petty-assed nationalist harassment. She has been dealing for a while with a nationalist troll denouncing her for “supporting stone pelters & azadi of Kashmir” & calling her “a shameless spineless bengali.”

Anyone who follows her posts knows she is a highly respected artist, a remarkable, peaceful, committed supporter of justice everywhere & four-square on the side of Kashmiri self-determination.

She is respected by Kashmiris & all others for her fearlessness, kindness & commitment to making this world a better place.

Our patience won’t last too long to see what happens with Rollie’s account. If a petition is required, it will be forthcoming.

(Photo is Rollie’s art from the cover of Kashmir Mirage journal)

Jairus Banaji on Egyptian surrealists & revolutionists

Albert Cossery

The appeal of Assadism seems so obscurantist, so anti-intellectual & ignorant, almost cultish, & in fact large tendencies within Assadism are all of those. The dominant currents of Assadism, represented in the Hands Off Syria Coalition, are of course practitioners of realpolitik & defenders of dictatorship.

The essence of support for Assadist ideology is profound ignorance & prejudice of most westerners against Arabs & against Islam. US public schools still don’t teach Black & Native American history & until the civil rights movement even colleges didn’t teach those histories without lies & degradations.

So when it comes to Middle East history, the simple-minded misrepresentations used in Islamophobia found receptivity among liberals & socialists alike. Portraying Muslim women as beaten down & needing emancipation by US Marines became a rallying cry even among feminists & the veil became a symbol of their oppression. But if you go to the local University of Texas library, the section on Arab & Muslim feminism is a mile long–not just about them, but by them.

Islamophobes are so simple-minded in their portrayals that they need only a one-size-fits-all formula of regime-change to explain Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria. With such degraded understanding, they cannot conceive of popular struggles & revolutions for democracy as represented by the Arab Spring uprisings.

Like the portrayal of Blacks & Native Americans in pre-civil rights history & literature, the portrayal of Arabs & Muslims in popular culture is a travesty of social reality. It’s a straight shot from the racist & demeaning depictions of Arabs & Muslims in “Law & Order” episodes or in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” & its sequels to US Islamophobic war propaganda & Assadism.

That’s why it matters that we inform ourselves about the immeasurable political, social, intellectual, cultural, artistic, architectural contributions Arabs & Muslims have made, about their debates, their writings, the individuals who represented different eras.
Sharing this post from Jairus Banaji as part of that education because, believe me, most Americans have no idea about the Arab & Muslim societies which are determining the future of humanity. This essay is about the period roughly between WWI & WWII.

(The German Dadaists he mentions are my favorite era in art; I loved them for their iconoclasm & outrage at the excesses of German capitalism. To be frank, most surrealism in art & literature leaves me cold but they were an important artistic & political current.)


By Jairus Banaji:

April 10th, 2017

“Vienna has been left to a rabble that has torn Renoir’s paintings and burned the writings of Freud in public places. The best works by great German painters such as Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Karl Hoffer, Kokoschka, George Grosz and Kandinsky have been confiscated and replaced by Nazi art of no value. The same recently took place in Rome where a committee was formed to purge literature, and, performing its duties, decided to eliminate works that went against nationalism and race, as well as any work raising pessimism.”

So says “Long live degenerate art!”, manifesto of the Egyptian surrealists dated December 1938.

The signatories included Georges Henein and Albert Cossery, both active in Jama’at al-fann wa al-hurriyyah (JFH) or the Art & Liberty Group, a surrealist collective based in Cairo and part of the International Federation of Independent Revolutionary Art (French acronym FIARI), a network of revolutionary artists conceived and launched by Breton and Trotsky in Mexico (in Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera’s home) in 1938. When most parts of that network disintegrated in the 1940s, the Cairo surrealists remained active and ‘stubbornly promoted the FIARI programme’.

But “their publications delved into other subjects: antifascist action, anti-imperialism, radical educational reform, Freudian theory, women’s emancipation. Each issue of their newspaper al-Tatawwur (“Evolution”)—the first socialist journal in Egypt since Marxism was outlawed there in 1924 and the first socialist paper to publish completely in Arabic—affirmed some of its concerns in its editorial statement: ‘This review fights against the reactionary spirit, protects the rights of the individual and insists on the right of women to live in freedom. This review fights for modern art and free thought, and presents to young Egypt the movements of today.’ In the second issue of al-Tatawwur, a short statement by Tawfiq Hana’ Allah called “A School of Discontent” summed up the group’s goals: ‘Our primary task is to establish a school where we can teach people how and why they should be discontented, discontented with the chains that bind them and the society whose values are set in stone.’ In one police spy report filed with the Egyptian prime minister, al-Tatawwur was described as a publication dedicated to ‘spread anarchy, destroy morals and religion, and bring about the collapse of the pillars of the social and legal establishment necessary for the running of the country’”.

The photo shows the Egyptian writer Albert Cossery (1913–2008) whose first novel Les Hommes oubliés de Dieu (Men God Forgot) had a profound influence on the great Edwar al-Kharrat and through him on the beginnings of the modernist revolution in Arabic literature. Cossery (based in Paris for most of his life) boasted that he never wrote more than one phrase a day and would never write if he had nothing to say. He was fanatically dedicated to indolence which he described as ‘a form of living inwardly’ and of ‘reflection’.…/art-and-liberty-surreal… (more detailed)


What to do if anyone calls you a loser

If anyone calls you a loser meme
Got called a loser again by someone with elite academic credentials who thinks that’s a worthy way to talk to supposed inferiors. In my naive youth that smarted & got internalized & took its toll. But after feminism & decades of experience, I don’t take that crap personal anymore. Most women my age swat that stuff away like a gnat.

But I don’t forget how hurtful it’s meant & how disrespectful it’s felt by working class kids, by young women, Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, by the oppressed who don’t yet know how to stand against it–a skill the elite grow up with–or how it discourages by tapping into acculturated insecurities & sense of inferiorities. That’s why it still rankles me & pisses me off.

I once saw a group of Puerto Rican guys from the Bronx turn their backs on socialist politics because they hated inequality & wanted to fight against it but the other well-born, privileged socialists treated them with disdain. I plowed myself through that disdain because I believed in social transformation more than I was taught not to believe in myself & I was backed by the power of feminism. Forty years later, I still bristle when I think of losing those young guys because they would not tolerate disrespect from smug dilettantes.

Identity politics means something to the oppressed; those railing against it have a shallow experience of the weight social inequality bears because they know mostly privilege.

So when you me call me a loser or treat me with hauteur or in that passive-aggressive way elites have, it’s not endearing but doesn’t lay me waste any more, & I won’t forget my younger brothers & sisters still struggling & rebelling against socialization as inferiors but still not confident enough to kick its ass in no uncertain terms. Cause I want them to learn, with less struggle than my generation, that usually they put you down because competition is the only way they know how to relate to others. Social solidarity & collaboration are beyond them because that involves respect & equality. Those are the qualities the oppressed excel at which is why social transformation cannot happen without us.

So if anyone calls you a loser or treats you like one & you don’t know how to answer them, ask an older woman that you know. We’re all cornucopias of rebuttals that we learned the hard way. One thing we’re always good for till the day we die: knowing how to stop a sucker punch in its track. That’s the way civilized people teach good manners.

(Meme by Trista Hendren from The Girl God)

When my motherland is wrapped in barbed wires I take to stone-pelting

Stone pelter April 29 2017

When my motherland is wrapped in barbed wires
I take to stone-pelting.
When my dreams are shattered
I take to stone-pelting

When kids with a full set of milk-teeth are shot
My blood boils,
When a fresh bridegroom is lowered into the grave
I take to stone-pelting.

When a poor widow’s house is set on fire
As Jai Hind fills the air!
Whenever cruelty is thus crowned
I take to stone-pelting

When they strip Lal Ded (womanhood) naked
And throw her into the fire of shame
When Yousuf (lover) is killed under Zoon (beloved’s) gaze,
I take to stone-pelting

When the night is employed to throw into the Jhelum,
The brother of seven sisters
When murder is sung like a lullaby to Akanandun (Apple of everybody’s eyes)
I take to stone-pelting.

– Arish Mushtaq

(Thanks to Shahid Mehmood Mughal)

“I have accessed Internet from ten different countries since the banning of social media in Kashmir. #VPN Zindabad!”

–Irfan Mehraj, in Kashmir

Rita Pal, who’s on top of these things, is reporting India ended the internet ban in Kashmir. Is that true?

Better for India to call “uncle” sooner than later since tech savvy Kashmiri youth weren’t doing that tough-guy fascist image any good.

(Even I knew enough to ask my 7-year-old neighbor kid how to work a new cell phone.)

Occupied Kashmir or occupied West Bank? Scenarios of occupation indistinguishable

Palestinian protesters  (AP Photo:Nasser Shiyoukhi) Apr 29 2017

Occupied Kashmir or occupied West Bank? The scenarios of occupation all look the same: military violence & unarmed resistance.

This Palestinian in Hebron in the occupied West Bank is throwing back a tear gas canister lobbed by soldiers against unarmed protesters standing in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike.

Honor the cultural & economic boycott of Israel. Buy nothing with barcode beginning 729. International solidarity is the best way to “arm” the oppressed.

(Photo by Nasser ShiyoukhiAP)

Palestinian kids protest in support of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails

Palestinian boy for hunger strikers (AP Photo:Nasser Shiyoukhi)  Apr 29 2017

Hebron, West Bank: a Palestinian kid, not even in his teens, lobbing a stone at the occupying Israeli army trying to stop protesters from standing in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike.

Where are his parents? Maybe in jail. Maybe murdered by occupation forces. Maybe showing him how to stand fearlessly against oppression.

Build & honor the cultural & economic boycott of Israel (BDS); buy nothing with barcode beginning 729 & check every label.

(Photo by Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP)

Once again in defense of Palestinian & Kashmiri stone throwers

Israeli soldier with tear gas (AP Photo:Nasser Shiyoukhi) Apr 29 2017

Once again in defense of stone throwers:

This is an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron (on Thursday) lobbing a tear gas grenade & attempting to stop protests in solidarity with 1,500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails.

There are about 6,500 Palestinians currently serving time in Israeli jails, 500 of them held under administrative detention (which means indefinitely without charges) & including 250 Palestinian children & teens (mostly for stone throwing).

According to Middle East Children’s Alliance, Palestinian children are subject to violent attacks by the occupying forces & Zionist settlers “on an almost daily basis.” Hundreds have been killed at the rate of one every three days for 13 years with almost complete impunity for the soldiers. Palestinian children who throw stones get longer jail sentences than Israeli soldiers who execute incapacitated Palestinians lying on the ground. Gideon Levy said, “There is nothing more Israeli than a court that gives a soldier who killed a Palestinian in cold blood a sentence fit for a bicycle thief.” It’s what he calls “Israeli army justice.”

If you were a child, if this were your reality squeezing the life energy right out of you to ethnically cleanse you & your entire community, a rock is the least of your defense.

International solidarity provides the “rockets” necessary to end the occupation & fight for a democratic secular state where Palestinians & Jews can live as brothers & sisters. Build & honor the cultural & economic boycott of Israel. Buy nothing with a barcode beginning 729 & check every damn label on every product.

(Photo by Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP)

Pope Francis has state visit with General al-Sisi in Egypt: what’s up with that?

Pope Francis & General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Reuters from sisi handout) Apr 29 2017

Pope Francis has his own vision of how to stand for human rights–making his commitment somewhat doubtful. There should not be any affable state visits with General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt whilst human rights groups are denouncing him for political repression & for forcibly disappearing, incarcerating, torturing, executing tens of thousands of political opponents to military rule.

There would much less ambiguity if Pope Francis would stand on the balcony in St. Pater’s Square denouncing the general & military junta for its crimes.

To some it may look all ecumenical & diplomatic to go to Egypt & meet with Muslim & Christian leaders & visit with the general but to others it looks more like playing both sides of the street. If you’re a spiritual leader & moral teacher, straightforward support for human & democratic rights is the only thing that cuts it. So which side is Pope Francis on?

(Photo is Pope Francis meeting General al-Sisi on his recent trip in photo released from President’s office via Reuters)