PBS uses right-wing racist xenophobes as authorities on immigration

It’s bad enough PBS uses David “Poop-for-Brains” Brooks for regular commentary but today they had Jessica Vaughan from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) on as counterpoint in a discussion on immigrants. One researcher discussed how innumerable studies going back a century show Mexicans & immigrants in general, legal or undocumented, have lower crime rates than people born in the US. A tense, glum-faced Vaughan responded that everything Donald Trump said was true. Of course, Vaughan is on a mission: to vilify immigrants as uneducated criminal lowlifes. Because CIS is not a research institute at all but a right-wing propaganda apparatus.

CIS does lots of studies–most of which are regularly debunked by reputable researchers. One study they did was on “Third World gold-diggers” that claimed foreign women marry US citizens to get work permits so that means bogus marriages are prevalent among terrorists. Non sequiturs are inevitable when you’re racist & not working with a full deck–& when you’re getting paid big bucks to invent whole studies slandering immigrants.

This is still a democratic society so racists are free to invent & spew bile. That’s their right. But we have to ask PBS why they insist on treating right-wing lowlife ideologues like reputable research institutes & thinkers when they know damn well they are not. Could it be all that corporate funding PBS depends on?

Solidarity with the oppressed is unconditional. Period.

When activists speak of solidarity & unconditional support for the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, & everywhere else, that doesn’t mean we anoint them all as saints or think they don’t have social divisions & problems as great as our own societies. War & occupation aggravate these & by no means ameliorate social conflicts.

Every society has its tough guys, hustlers, petty & grand thieves; every political movement has its extremists, goofballs, & clueless hangers-on. These don’t determine or affect our solidarity one iota. We keep our eyes on those struggling to end oppression, occupation, & war by whatever means they deem necessary (even if we’re not always in full agreement with their methods)–& we keep our eyes on the children.

Solidarity doesn’t mean turning a blind eye & playing stupid; it means recognizing that military intervention is to control, not to manage social conflicts. It means trusting other peoples don’t need outside intervention to address their conflicts, that they’re capable of handling their own problems if they’re not being bombed to smithereens.

For political activists, the debates among occupied & persecuted peoples are of great interest because how they conduct their struggles have the ability to change the world or at least to affect our struggles against our own regimes. Those under fire have lots to teach the rest of us. It isn’t up to us to parse political distinctions in these countries & publicly excoriate those we think lacking so some can weasel their way out of solidarity. Solidarity with the oppressed is unconditional. Period. No caveats, no addenda, no ulterior motives. Only the recognition that solidarity is the iron law of social transformation.

Israeli prisons hold 6,582 Palestinians hostage

Avraham Mengistu (AFP:Getty Images)  July 10 2015

Media is in orbit today, doing a freak-out about two Israelis “being held hostage by Hamas” after crossing illegally into Gaza. Avraham Mangisto, a 29-year-old man who–with completely unconscious racism–they identify as Ethiopian Israeli (though his ethnicity has no relevance to the story) was seen crossing the apartheid barrier fence into Gaza in September 2014.

The second “hostage” is an unidentified Israeli Palestinian, a Bedouin from the Negev desert area. Israeli officials provide no details as to how or when this second man got into Gaza or why he went there. But they claim somebody somewhere in Gaza has him in custody. Other than the accusation, they offer no evidence at all. That’s a charge that wouldn’t hold up in small claims court.

According to an unnamed Palestinian official in Gaza, Mangisto was arrested after entering Gaza illegally. He crossed just a few weeks after Israel’s carpet bombing siege so Hamas would have been on red alert for Israeli military operatives. When Hamas officials realized he wasn’t a soldier & that he had likely mental health issues, they released him. But Israeli officials claim that “according to credible intelligence,” Mangisto is being held against his will by Hamas.

It’s entirely possible Hamas has Mangisto in custody & if the fellow has mental health problems that would make it a human rights problem. If he’s being held, he should surely be released to his family. Because Hamas may have political problems but it has never stooped to the degraded levels of Israel. Of course, only a political fool would take Israel’s word as “credible intelligence.” Nothing that comes out of Israel’s propaganda office is either credible or intelligent but makes a mockery of both.

So why is this alleged “hostage crisis” over two guys in Gaza banner headlines all over the world when according to Btselem, the Israeli human rights group, there are now 5,554 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, 357 of them from Gaza? Another 1,028 Palestinians are in Israeli prisons for crossing into Israel illegally, 16 of them from Gaza. Israel considers all of them criminal offenders. And not only that, but Israel arrests & imprisons between 500 to 700 Palestinian kids every year in the West Bank & East Jerusalem. Hundreds of Palestinians are held years in administrative detention without charges; many are subjected to torture. Why isn’t all that banner headlines!? Don’t Palestinian lives matter? Is Israel exempt from human rights standards in who, why, & for how long they incarcerate Palestinians, & under what conditions prisoners are held?

Build the hell out of the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel (BDS)!

(Photo is Avraham Mangisto from AFP/Getty Images)

10th year commemoration of the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement

July 9th should not pass without tipping our hats to the 10 year anniversary of BDS–a call issued by Palestinian groups on July 9th 2005. It was a brilliant strategy that changed the political landscape internationally, educating hundreds of thousands about Israeli apartheid & the character of Palestinian Intifada & recruiting activists to solidarity work. It is a powerful tool that gives people around the world a concrete way to render solidarity in deed, not just in sentiment. Our deepest respect to the Palestinian organizers of BDS.

ISIS to the left of us, ISIS to the right of us, stuck in the middle with fools

According to CBS news, the FBI chief wants us to remain on high alert for ISIS recruiters. They claim ten people were arrested over the weekend for ISIS activity. Oh yeah!? Are they sure it wasn’t ordinary hooligans with firecrackers? Or maybe errant Boy Scouts up to no good?

They want us to call in suspicious activity in our neighborhoods. But likely that would only lead to high-speed chases where elderly drivers on scenic tours were carted off to Guantanamo for espionage. Who wants to risk that?

ISIS to the left of us, ISIS to the right of us, stuck in the middle with the clowns & jokers.

South Carolina takes down ugly-assed Confederate flag

South Carolina’s governor signed a bill removing the Confederate flag from in front of the capital building & says she will make sure the flag is “put in its rightful place.” She said this signifies the time for forgiveness for the massacre of nine worshippers. Forgiveness has nothing to do with justice. Forgiveness is a personal matter; justice is a political one that isn’t even close to being addressed. So let’s all have a moment of forgiveness for hanging that ugly-assed thing up there for over 50 years & then we can move on to justice.

As for its “rightful place”? Where the sun don’t shine.

Rising tide of anti-BDS machinations

Palestinians on West Bank (Hamza Burnat) July 9 2015

The recent allegations from organizers of the 1st Israeli Feis, a traditional Irish dance troupe, against the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) are something that need to be taken very seriously. They cancelled their performances in Israel claiming IPSC activists threatened to kill everyone participating in the event by shooting them in the head.

The growth of BDS & Palestinian solidarity around the world is an alarming development not just to Israel but to neoliberal plans for the entire Middle East. Zionist forces are mobilizing to counter BDS in a many-pronged assault. Big money & big political forces are involved. The Israeli law firm, Shurat HaDin, is planning a legal offensive against BDS activists & organizations to tie up resources & activists; campus anti-BDS groups are being organized & bankrolled with big money; state legislatures are formulating anti-BDS bills; politicians & candidates like Obama & Hillary Clinton are publicly committing to oppose BDS; Bono & other celebrity shills for neoliberalism are staging extravaganza tributes to the likes of Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel during Operation Ethnic Cleansing; & the Irish dance ensemble are fabricating accusations, for which they haven’t a shred of evidence, to discredit BDS campaigns.

If in fact the Irish dancers were threatened as they claim, they ought to prosecute. No one should be subject to death threats for dancing the Irish jig in Israel or for anything else. But for criminal prosecution, evidence is required. And that doesn’t exist because it never happened–unless Mossad operatives impersonated IPSC activists, which is a possibility. But it’s enough to discredit BDS by circulating slanderous accusations–accusations which have the hand of the Israeli Embassy in Ireland written all over them.

This is the time to review or google COINTELPRO, the FBI program used for decades to spy on & cause dissension in political movements in the US. There’s no trick too loathsome, too lowdown for police agents to use to discredit & destroy social justice movements. These police programs exist in every country. The only reason we know about COINTELPRO is because activists went after them in the courts & at a weak moment in judiciary history, the FBI was exposed.

BDS is touching a central nerve in Israeli apartheid & in neoliberal control of the planet. Of course it will set off a furious offensive. When these accusations are made, they must be exposed for the horse manure they are against Palestinian solidarity.

This photo is Palestinians in the occupied West Bank fleeing Israeli tear gas & asking 1st Israeli Feis to do the right thing. There’s no hint of a threat to the dancers nor did IPSC activists issue ultimatums. Asking insistently on a FB wall or in a picket line is not a threat; it’s called democracy.

The only worthy political response to this barrage is to build the hell out of the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel & continue to defend Palestinian justice.

(Photo by Hamza Burnat)

The clown show of U.S. electoral politics part of the game

International observers of US electoral politics can be forgiven for thinking Republican (GOP) candidates are just there for comedic relief since they provide no end of banal idiocies & hopelessly stupid remarks. They don’t come dumber. Just when you think Donald Trump takes the cake, Mike Huckabee pipes in, or Bobby Jindal–& all hell breaks lose in idiocy.

In fact, the Republicans play a central role in politics. Just as the Democrat’s purpose is to manage & control dissent from the left, the GOP’s is to manage crazies & reactionary ideologues on the right. Those who espouse ideas of the Confederacy, misogyny & mangled views on female anatomy, anti-immigration xenophobia represent big money forces in US politics who want white & male supremacy & social hatreds of all kinds written into the already dead-ass Constitution. The GOP provides a window into the gestalt of US rule.

It’s not that the Democratic Party represents the progressive wing of oligarchy; there is no such thing in the era of neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. The DP is there solely to manage dissent from liberals & the left.

Fast food joints are another kind of sweatshop economics

Fast food workers (Sarah Gilbert) July 8 2015

Fast-food joints are not much more than sweatshops. In terms of puny little wages, lack of benefits, & rights on the job, they’re indistinguishable. Workers are most often treated like serfs. In some places they’re expected to come in on time off for meetings without pay; they’re often promised raises & promotions that never materialize.

It’s no coincidence that most employees are young or senior, female, Black, brown, & immigrant. It is a thunderous rebuke to the US labor movement (now divided into two federations) that it didn’t long-ago organize these workers. But it’s just so damn busy sucking up to politicians & in internecine turf wars.

This is a group of fast-food workers from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen in Kansas City, Missouri: from left, Francie Marion, Sophia Steele, Marcus Washington, Marie Fry, Ronny Reed, & Robin Rhodes (kneeling). They are protesting (about a month ago) with hundreds of other fast-food workers outside the annual general meeting of McDonald’s in Oak Brook, Illinois. They were demanding an hourly wage increase to $15 across the US.

These young people are the faces of labor rebirth in the US which for decades has been led by pompous barrel-chested blowhards who reduced organized labor from over 30% in 1964 to less than 10% today because they’re unwilling to organize & unable to stand their ground against aggressive management policies.

Our fullest solidarity with these young workers. May they kick ass!

(Photo by Sarah Gilbert)

One year commemoration of Operation Ethnic Cleansing (Protective Edge) in Gaza

(Said Khatib:AFP:Getty Images) July 8 2015

Yesterday marked the 2014 beginning of Israel’s 51-day Operation Ethnic Cleansing (Protective Edge) in Gaza. Social media & photojournalism exposed the truth of Israeli barbarism for all the world to see: schools, mosques, hospitals, refugee centers, entire neighborhoods were bombed to smithereens. There are those, including erstwhile leftists, who shook their heads & said “Why did Hamas make Israel do that?” (Some cement-heads aren’t worth a grimace but we never cease efforts to persuade.)

This little guy is walking in the rubble that still exists in Gaza because Israel maintains the blockade & won’t allow removal of rubble or reconstruction. We can ask what happened to all the millions promised in international reconstruction aid but the Haitians, Afghans, & Iraqis are best able to answer that question: it ain’t happening–even without the machinations between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, & the UN.

Since photographic documentation doesn’t hold much water for cement-heads, maybe the authority of Mego Terzian, the president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), can cause some cracks. MSF operates in Gaza. Dr. Terzian issued a statement in August 2014 at the cessation of Israeli carpet bombing where he didn’t mince words: he said Israel left a “wasteland” behind & he called for ending the genocidal blockade.

Today, he issued another statement denouncing Israel. He said there were over 10,000 wounded Palestinians, including 7,000 women & children. One year later, “the majority of our patients who need surgical care or physical therapy for the wounds of war are under 18 years old.” According to the UN, there are “hundreds of thousands” of Gazans who need medical care & psychological support. But, Dr. Terzian pointed out, 70 health facilities were partially or totally destroyed by Israeli bombing under the guise of taking out Hamas rocket nests. He didn’t mention the ambulances that were also bombed.

MSF denounced “the unacceptable normality of decades of Israeli occupation marked by massacres” both in Gaza & in the West Bank: “The rhetoric of Israel on its right to defend itself is an excuse to always up the bloodiest offensive & a colonial policy that stifles the Palestinians & deprives them of a future.”

Israel got a bunch of generals & law professors (speaking of cement-heads) to testify that they were a model of humanitarian carpet bombing. Shouldn’t the doctors & medical personnel who treated the injured in Gaza carry more weight? Shouldn’t the people of Gaza be allowed to testify?

Build the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel. Let the cement-heads stand with Israel & the US Pentagon.

(Photo by Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images)

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