Getting a lot of nasty-grams–even more than from Zionists–for considering Assad a dictator. Do me a favor: forget the hate mail & just unfriend me & go away. When you get insulting with me, my adrenalin goes into orbit, & it’s not a pretty sight. I need to save adrenalin for the things that matter & your disagreements with me are not among those.
Bernie Sanders was on the Stephen Colbert show last night. Hard to put two more boring guys together. When Colbert baited him about being a socialist, Sanders responded that he preferred to be called a “progressive.” Whew, is that a relief! There’s too many skeletons in the socialist crowd & we don’t need another.
The Daily Beast, the online cousin of Vanity Fair & often as banal, just published an article entitled “Bullying Experts: Trump Is an Eighth-Grade Girl.” It doesn’t get more misogynist than that–with the exception of the Facebook site “Meantrots” which has fun at the expense of young girls.
It’s questionable young girls are bigger bullies than boys when statistics show one in five high school girls are physically & sexually abused by dating partners, including rape & murder. The focus on aggression in girls (including ridicule) may be in vogue but it’s a classic case of psychological displacement. Violence in society is primarily directed against females. Statistics around the world make your hair stand on end. The issue should be male violence against females & systemic exclusion of women, not aggression in young girls. Bullying is despicable no matter who does it but there’s nothing young girls need to learn more than how to handle threats & violence.
There are disturbing things in female social psychology–like the tendency to groupie-ism & hero worship–which feminists have tried to analyze & conclude it is a lack of social power that creates such phenomena. But none of this is a laughing matter. The lives of women & girls are at stake. And it’s even less tolerable among radicals than it is in lowbrow journalism.
This is a Palestinian protest near the Ofer prison in the West Bank. Ofer is an Israeli military prison that warehouses Palestinian political protesters. There are no criminals in the gulag. Built for 800 political prisoners, it houses over 1,100, including children, & is notorious for torture & abuse of Palestinian internees. It is of course the site of frequent Palestinian protests.
This protest last week was after a march in defense of al-Aqsa mosque & the Noble Sanctuary in East Jerusalem, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967 & now under military siege to destroy the mosque which has stood there since 705 CE–1,310 years. It’s a monumental religious site which belies Israel’s historic & religious claims to Palestine.
The Guardian-UK caption to this photo included this non sequitur: “Three days of clashes between Israeli police & Muslim protesters rocked Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound this week as Jews celebrated their new year.” What the hell does the Jewish new year have to do with the military siege of al-Aqsa? Zilch! But it has everything to do with the Israeli campaign to destroy the mosque so a synagogue can be built there. It’s a centerpiece of myth-making to create a history for an invented people who came from all over Kingdom Come with different cultures & traditions & need to forge a national identity.
Defend the al-Aqsa mosque & Palestinian religious freedom by building the economic, cultural, & academic boycott (BDS) of apartheid Israel & demand no aid of any kind to Israeli military aggression.
(Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)
CBS news reports that Russian war planes are deployed against ISIS & to support the Assad regime in Syria. (So much for those who claim Putin is a champion of the oppressed!) US war planes have been (ostensibly) going after ISIS for a year operating out of an airbase in Turkey.
Are we staring another war in the face? This time it won’t be the US against unarmed civilians but against the combined might of Syrian & Russian militarism. And then there is Israeli militarism in the region. Not to mention Turkish.
Nothing is more imperative than re-building the international antiwar movement
In preparing a post about the struggle in Kashmir against India’s brutal occupation, I found a Sept. 2013 report about a concert scheduled in Srinagar organized by the Indian government & German embassy in India where Zubin Mehta was going to conduct the Bavarian State Orchestra–the first concert of its kind in Kashmir.
Activists & political organizations demanding independence from India called on Mehta to cancel his concert because the event would be used to whitewash the Indian occupation of 700,000 troops & paramilitaries & human rights crimes which at that time included over 50,000 deaths, 8,000 disappearances, & hundreds of incarcerated. Activists said, quite rightly, that the concert would be used to render normality to a brutal military occupation.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, an independence leader, said “We are under occupation. The majority of people here are suffering from state terrorism; people are being killed. People are suffering. There is no relevance for a music program. India, with the help of the German government, is trying to say the situation should be forgotten.”
Several activists, writers, academics, & religious leaders wrote to the German embassy in India asking them to cancel the concert. Their letter said, “Legitimizing an occupation via a musical concert is completely unacceptable. Art as propaganda, as abundantly documented, was put to horrific use in Nazi Germany. We are sure you will understand that we cannot welcome anything even remotely analogous in Jammu & Kashmir.”
The German ambassador replied: “Music is a universal language. Music connects. With the magic power of music, crossing geographical, political & cultural borders, we want to reach the hearts of Kashmiris with a message of hope & encouragement.”
That’s the same baloney peddled by Israel against the cultural boycott (BDS) asking musicians to cancel performances due to apartheid. It may not mean anything–but then again it may mean a lot given the military relationship & political affinities between Israel & India–that Mehta is associated with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.
But even the sounds of Beethoven, Haydn & Tchaikovsky conducted by a world-famous conductor cannot drown out the voices of justice. Not only were there protests by activists against the concert but India had to beef up its security just to hold the damn thing.
It ended on a sour note when Nikolaus Bachler, the general manager of the Bavarian State Orchestra, learned the audience was only invited guests–business leaders, government officials, & diplomats. He said the 80 members of the orchestra waived their fees because they were under the impression they would be playing for the Kashmiri people & not at an elite embassy event with restricted access. Herr Bachler said, “We were misled by the German embassy. We will raise this issue with the German government that art can’t be exploited by anyone, be it governments or by embassies or any political groups.”
Don’t you just love it when chickens come home to roost!?
Photo is Mehta with the Bavarian State Orchestra at the Srinagar concert. Bravo to the orchestra & a Bronx cheer for Mehta.
(Photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters)
“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives & him that takes.” –Shakespeare
It isn’t just mercy that refugees require because that has a sense of noblesse oblige & solidarity is a very different thing. But if you substitute mercy with solidarity in this beautiful passage from The Merchant of Venice, the message is the same.
Solidarity is not an act of charity but a recognition that our fates are tied together, that we are bound by economics, politics, colonialism & war–& that social transformation is forged only by our unity as brothers & sisters to end tyranny & make this world suitable for children to live & love in.
This little girl is in Serbia at a locked down Hungarian border crossing. Children may be the future but we are the present & have every obligation to fight for them so their lives are blessed.
(Photo by Darko Vojinovic/AP)
Someone recently told me I was posting too much about the refugee crisis, that it was tedious. Certainly for none so much as the refugees themselves. Most of my Facebook friends understand the singular importance of this crisis, its relationship to US-NATO military operations & wars in the Middle East, & the imperative need for immigrant rights & antiwar activities. For those who don’t, tough noogies. You’ll have to go elsewhere for sports & celebrity news.
The refugee crisis–now referred to in some media as “migrant & refugee” crisis–on the Hungarian border has become something of an Armageddon scenario. Thousands of refugees are confronted now by razor wire barriers, water cannons, tear gas & pepper spray, & Hungarian special forces.
Yesterday the Croatian government agreed to open their borders saying they lacked capacity to register refugees except women & children but would allow refugees to transit through to northern Europe. Hungarian riot police helped refugees board buses to Croatia, dividing women & children from men so that already deeply traumatized people are now separated from their families.
Today, Croatia re-sealed its eight road border crossings after thousands of desperate refugees pushed through police cordons to enter–& of course in such panic & chaos, many fell, were trampled & injured. An estimated 2,000 people were stuck for hours in blazing heat at the train station in Tovarnik, Croatia waiting for transportation to refugee centers. The only heartening part of the story is the Croatian volunteers who set up tables at the station to feed the refugees.
Croatia is now not just directing refugees back to the Hungarian border but is busing them back where they will again be confronted with violence. If this isn’t a confrontation between good & evil, then what is it?
There are now many photos like this of crying infants & children. The chaos, tension, & violence must overwhelm their nervous systems in ways that cause permanent harm. This woman & child are at the Tovarnik station.
We need to do more than have welcome rallies for the refugees; we need to march to the Hungarian border by the millions & demand they end the barbarism. And we need to take those barbarous governments down that do not serve human needs & rights but flout them along with the highest achievements of human civilization.
Immigration is a human right. Open the borders.
(Photo by Marko Drobnjakovic/AP)
CBS news showed live footage tonight of phalanxes of Hungarian riot police charging refugees, including women & children. They beat on them & used water cannons, tear gas & pepper spray against them, requiring many including small children to receive medical care. This photo shows a riot cop spraying pepper spray directly into someone’s face. When a similar incident happened at the University of California during student protests in 2011, it went viral & people went ballistic because of its utter & gratuitous viciousness.
The reporter was assured by medical personnel that the children would recover from tear gas exposure but research in fact links both tear gas & pepper spray to serious illness & even death. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) prohibits both tear gas & pepper spray in warfare for a reason but they are still considered legitimate in repressive policing. Of course no CWC ban is going to deter the US Pentagon from using illegal chemicals nor Israel which used white phosphorus on the people of Gaza.
Unfortunately we know from almost daily exposure to tear gas & pepper spray against the uprisings in Bahrain, Egypt, & Palestine that serious health problems are associated with these chemical agents, especially for those with respiratory problems. Some of the health problems include coughing, shortness of breath, other lung-related disorders, delayed menses, miscarriages, stillbirths, heart & liver damage. And that doesn’t even count the extreme psychological trauma children experience being attacked by groups of riot cops.
The photos show the refugees–who must be starving, exhausted, & stressed to the max–protesting & fighting back against the outrageous human rights crimes being committed against them. It is not irrelevant that before Assad’s bombing, US covert intervention, & ISIS turned Syria into a killing field, there was a revolutionary movement against the the Assad regime which many of these refugees may have participated in.
Neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, is in profound international crisis. It is driven to countless wars by inexorable pressures & conflicts but it is not equipped to deal with the carnage it leaves in its wake. Actually, they don’t give a rat’s ass about the human suffering they create. We saw that in the Greek austerity program imposed on the backs of working people, with pensioners taking it in the jugular, & we see it now with their callous barbarism against desperate refugees.
Immigration is a human right & we need to shout “Open the borders!” from the rooftops. But the most important political responsibility of our era is to re-build the international antiwar movement to stay the hand of barbarism & militarism.
This photo is taken at Horgos, on the Hungarian-Serbian border.
Horgos, Hungarian-Serbian border
(Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)