Friday, July 18, 2014

Channelling Grief, Despair and Rage

This haunting photo shows volunteers sitting in the lobby of Al-Wafa orthopedic hospital in Gaza, acting as human shields after the hospital received warning shots from the IDF. A day or two later, the hospital was leveled by Israel.

At the start of the Israeli offensive against Gaza I promised my comrades I would write something about Gaza. As the days went by I found myself paralyzed. The rage at what was unfolding flowed through me, but the words jumped around inside my head like little wounds that wouldn't congeal.

I have never had such a difficult time writing anything before in my life. The past week has filled me with grief and despair. Beyond the horror of what's being done to virtually defenseless human beings is my sense of disgust at the people rationalizing the murder of children: all these defenders of Israel, whether politicians or just heartless regular people. But what's happening now is so important. This is a test of our humanity.

We as human beings cannot afford to look away from what is happening. It's ugly but it's really happening. The question is what will we do about it. So this is my article on the tragic affairs in Gaza. Finally last night the words came together and I was able to finish the article I had promised at 1 in the morning. I'm proud of it. I hope you'll read it.

What is happening in Gaza is not a conflict, it's a massacre. What is happening is not a war, but a pogrom, the herding together and culling of the captive Palestinian population.

Israel and its supporters have crafted a brutal narrative absolving themselves of all guilt for the mass murder they are committing. From the Israeli government, and the legions of Zionist agents spouting officially approved “hasbara,” or “explanations” in the media and on the internet, down through the echelons of politicians in countries far and wide — here in the US including conservative and liberal alike — we hear that Israel is just “defending itself” and “trying to prevent civilian casualties.” Nothing could be further from the truth. 
Read all of "Terror & Lies: Israel unleashed brutal pogrom against Gaza."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

OWS Veterans Organizing Gaza Solidarity Action in NYC

Activists who cut their teeth in NYC's Occupy Wall Street movement are organizing a "Funeral March" in solidarity with the people of Gaza on Friday. There's a facebook page for the event. I'm proud to have contributed the flyer design for the event. There's even a version in Arabic. The event is being organized by the in-formation "Direct Action Front for Palestine." I'm almost paralyzed with rage at the brutality of Israel's action; I'm really glad to be a part of an action here in New York.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Because somebody needs to say it

Trigger warning, I'm just gonna say something and not argue it out: sometimes life is really fucking rough. Capitalism sucks. Get the fuck over it and do something about it, or not. Stop treating people like assholes for also being imperfect. If you can't handle something, walk away. Also TRIGGER WARNINGS ARE REACTIONARY NARCISSISTIC BULLSHIT.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

About that Supreme Court Ruling

I've written a quick piece on this week's wretched Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby  and women's right to healthcare. It's entitled "Supreme Court to women workers: 'Make me a sandwich'" and it's over at Kasama. It begins,

The religious beliefs of business owners are more important than the health of women workers. That was the gist of a ruling out of the US Supreme Court on Monday, on the last day of the court's annual session. The court pretty much told women they should put up with whatever their bosses think is best for them, because the bosses have "sincerely held" beliefs about what is best for the health of their female employees.

In a familiar 5 to 4 vote, the court divided along conservative and liberal lines, with the court's three female justices leading the dissent. The ruling was on a case brought by the Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft-supply stores run by right-wing fundamentalist Christians. Forced by Obamacare to offer standardized health insurance to their employees, Hobby Lobby's owners objected to having to cover birth control expenses, supposedly against their religious beliefs. No allowances for the religious beliefs or non-beliefs of the covered employees were made, and, ironically, the Hobby Lobby owners raised no objection to insurance coverage of erectile-dysfunction drugs like Viagra. Women's gynecological health was completely trivialized as something entirely subject to whim. Previously, religious organizations were granted exemptions to birth-control coverage; this ruling was the first to extend those exemptions to “family” or “closely-held” businesses. Hobby Lobby may be family-owned, but it has almost 600 locations and over 20,000 employees. The ruling is also considered a blow to Obamacare, though in truth it just seems to make make it even more obvious what a pathetically pale imitation of actual universal healthcare Obamacare actually is.

Read the whole piece and let me know what you think!

Monday, June 16, 2014

New article on Iraq

The sudden victorious assault of the disturbing "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" on northern Iraq is the jumping off point for my new article on Iraq. It's over on the Kasama site. It begins:

"Imperialism's chickens are coming home to roost in Iraq, and once again it is the people of the region who will pay the price.
In a week of events that is in some ways shocking and in other ways not even slightly surprising, a radical Islamic fundamentalist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, sometimes translated as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or referred to by the Arabic name Da'ish) seized Iraq's second largest city of Mosul, and capturing more cities along the way, has advanced as far as Baquba, just 50 kilometers from Baghdad, the Iraqi capital."

The article gives background and history of ISIS, a hundred years of Middle East history, and ends with a discussion of why building an antiwar movement in the United States is such a crucial imperative. Check out the whole article and let me know what you think.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May Day 2014

Here's my yearly inspirational post on May Day. This is crossposted from the Kasama website:


It's May Day, the international workers' holiday, the communist holiday. (And you can read about the origins of the holiday here.)

It's not a holiday to give gifts, to eat a big meal with the family, to contemplate a trip to the beach. It's a holiday to remember what we're in this for, a holiday to go outside and shout about what's wrong with the world and what should be, can be, must be, fixed.

It's not a day to talk about which lying and cheating candidate to vote for in the next election: it's a day to talk about less voting and more revolution.

It's not a day to talk about begging the bosses for a few more crumbs: it's a day to talk about a world without bosses.

It's not a day to settle for a slightly higher minimum wage: it's a day to proclaim the principle of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

It's not a day to think about taxing the rich, it's a day to envision ending the system that perpetuates inequality once and for all, and shaking off that 1% for good.

It's not a day to be locked down by the pain of racism, of sexism, of heterosexism, of transphobia: it's a day to be proud of who we are, knowing that by struggling together we're building a better world in our own image; it's a day to treat each other with respect.

It's not a day to question the right of people to live where they want, on this day nobody is illegal. Or maybe, everybody is illegal: we're all rejecting the rotten terms of "citizenship" in this society together. It's a day to embrace our sisters and brothers regardless of documentation, to walk together in solidarity, to speak our many languages openly and equally, to demand a home for all.

It's not a day to fear the police and the government snoops and snitches. It's a day to remember our vast power as the majority, aware of our right to fight, conscious of the righteousness of our cause. It's a day for us to own the streets, a day for us not to fear the shadows behind us.

It's not a day to be locked inside: it's a day to talk about smashing open the prisons and freeing our loved ones, about re-imagining how a truly just world might wipe away injustice and heal selfish hearts.

It's not a day to listen to the words of our so-called leaders as they try to trick us into supporting — and fighting in — new wars. It's a day to call them on their bullshit, to openly oppose them, to denounce their plans for world domination. It's a day to talk about a different world free of imperialism.

It's not a day, here in the belly of the beast, to decorate with red, white and blue. It's a day to remember that the proletariat has no country — has all countries — and the troops we need to be supporting are the liberation warriors fighting in the forests and mountains of India, of Nepal, of the Philippines.

It's not a day to shoot down our dreams as unrealistic, it's a day to proudly proclaim our struggle for a just society liberated from capitalism once and for all. It's a day to unleash those dreams.

It's not a day to be silent, it's a day to talk about what we want and to plan how to get it; it's a day to demand what is right.

It's not a day to talk about hoping things get better, it's a day to fight to make things better.

It's not a day to be only a radical or a leftist, to moderate our language or worry about what people think: it's a day to be a communist, a red, a revolutionary fighter for human liberation.

It's a good day to raise a red flag. It's a good day to link arms with your comrades, to take the streets, to act like we own those streets, which, in fact we do. It's a good day to talk to your neighbor about what needs to be changed in the world. It's a good day to help open the eyes of a friend to the reality of the world we live in. It's a good day to recommit to the struggle's long haul, to remember the martyrs we have lost, and to remember the words of the brilliant thinkers who help us to make sense and strategy of the world and its challenges. It's a good day to be inspired and reinvigorated.

As the dawn breaks red on the horizon, wake up and celebrate. And may tomorrow be as good as today. It's right to rebel!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

#myNYPD #ftp

Had some great fun this week participating in the hijacking of the #myNYPD hashtag on Twitter. In a PR move, the NYPD issued an innocuous call to submit pictures of kindly cops helping out New Yorkers by submitting photos under the #myNYPD tag. Activists quickly took advantage of the NYPD's offer, and flooded Twitter with tweets and pics of police terrorism. The hashtag quickly trended, rocketing to the top after thousands and thousands of tweets.

I've written up the story on Kasama: "#MyNYPD: The people turn the tables on the pigs": "This was a victory for the people. This act of rebellion showed creativity and spontaneity, and more than anything it showed how corporate social media can be co-opted and harnessed to our own purposes. It may have been a minor skirmish against the armed thugs in blue, but we won this one." Head over there to read the whole piece.

Here are some of the tweets I sent out. I tend to tweet only on special occasions, but you can follow me @CahokianISH. The first pic was a random incident I witnessed walking through the 42nd Street Subway Station.

This one was from the one-year anniversary of OWS, S17 2012. The cops were pretty brutal that day. I also wrote about it on Kasama.
This was from a big demo in November of 2011, I think right after Zuccotti had been retaken by the cops. This was a moment when the crowd started to throw down all the police barricades. It only lasted a minute but it was exhilarating.
Michael Stewart was a graffiti artist killed by the cops in the early 1980s. Somewhat randomly I mentioned him here on The Cahokian

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March Writings

I have a couple new pieces up on the Kasama site.

First up I wrote a short piece for International Women's Day. Entitled "International Women's Day: Oppression transformed into revolutionary power," it's a brief survey of some of the history behind the March 8 holiday:
"Today women are a significant part of the revolutionary movement: whether in the rural regions of India where armed women Maoist rebels challenge Indian capitalism (photo at top), or in the mass movements of the squares from Egypt to Wall Street, or in the spheres of theoretical exploration and debate necessary to take the communist movement to its next stage, women's voices are a crucial part of grounding the struggle in the reality of experiencing and challenging oppression. Revolutionary sisterhood is indeed powerful. Let's see what it can do next."
But what I'm really happy with is a short survey of some of my favorite radical songs. "Urban rebel music subverting your earwaves" takes a look at a handful of songs from Jill Scott, Ursula Rucker, Erykah Badu, Boots Riley and the Coup, and Welfare Poets. Faithful readers of The Cahokian will recognize a couple of these: I've written about the Rucker song and about Erykah Badu before.

I've combined a little bit of cultural critique, music appreciation, lots of song lyrics, and music clips and videos to discuss some surprisingly radical songs outside the more expected realms:
"When people start talking about radical or political music, I'm always surprised how the topic of conversation rarely moves outside the genres of hardcore head-banging punk or earnest sing-along folk. Sometimes talk moves on to the well-worn populism of mass-appeal pop-rock, the Springsteen/Mellencamp/Fleetwood Mac tunes so beloved by bourgeois politicians trying to put something over on voters, and there's the counterpoint of classic hip-hop with its righteous anger against cops and sometimes problematic derision of women and gays. Without disparaging any of these rich genres of music, I want to recommend some really great and really radical tunes from genre-busting urban musicians who sometimes defy easy categorization but whose visionary art is something that revolutionaries can really embrace."
There's some really great songs discussed. The Jill Scott number "My Petition" is a must-listen, and it really is amazingly subversive. The article was set off by re-listening to this song while riding the bus and paying attention to the lyrics. I hadn't noticed before how slyly Scott hooks you in to a critique of America while assuming at first she's talking about her love life. There's a song clip provided. Check it out!

I've also written a few short introductions for re-purposed content on Kasama. You can follow my postings there at this link.

Finally let me put in a plug for my daily work at the "Anti-Imperialist League" on Facebook. Every day I've been posting a picture with a first-person quote from a huge spectrum of revolutionaries. Each Saturday I post a quote about a little-known or forgotten episode of rebellion.

It's been really educational and rewarding. I've come to realize the importance of letting people speak on their own, and seeing how much traditional history actually disparages the record of oppressed people themselves. I don't find myself agreeing 100% with every analysis of imperialism offered, but the people featured, a worldwide mix of women and men, are all actual fighters or theoreticians against empire. And I've been able to feature some of the struggles that have always interested me, like the tragically brave Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP) May Day rally of 1976 featured in the graphic above.

My goal is to continue the anti-imperialist quote of the day project for at least an entire year.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Remember the Charge of the Light Brigade!

In a war between Russian and US imperialism, the only side the people should be on is their own. 

President Obama got on TV last night to say that there would be "consequences" to Russian military involvement in Crimea. While the Ukraine is certainly a complicated issue what with the involvement of a host of fascists and right-wing fake communists, opposing American saber-rattling must be key for those of us in the United States. 

No to Obama's Crimean Adventure! The main enemy is at home — Down with US imperialism!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Recent Writings

Supporters of GEHO in Jinja, Uganda

After a long dry spell, I've been doing some more writing, all of it over on the Kasama website. Working with other members of the editorial collective, I've been helping to flag and introduce interesting articles from outside websites, as well as generating original content.

First up, I'm most proud of a long piece I spent a week researching and writing. Entitled "Real Enemies, False Friends: Imperialism and Homophobia in Africa," it covers the causes behind the wave of terrifying anti-gay repression in Africa. I've coined the phrase "weaponization of gay rights" to describe the hypocritical embrace of LGBT rights by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as a neocolonialist cudgel in the arsenal of US imperialism. It's pretty timely in the context of the orgy of hypocrisy during the Sochi Olympics in which anti-gay, repressive Russia is being pilloried by the professedly pro-gay, but still repressive US. I take aim at local demagogues, American evangelicals like Scott Lively, imperialist politicians, and the worst alleged gay rights organization ever, the Human Rights Campaign.

Next up are a bunch of short introductions meant to frame and introduce articles for discussion:

"Sochi Olympics — stop anti-gay violence in Russia" is a Human Rights Watch report  on the disturbing increase in antigay violence following the passage of Russia's gay propaganda law. My introduction just presents some of the issues for those not familiar. I'd like to follow this up with a discussion of the attempted gay boycott of Sochi and its corporate sponsors, addressing some of the same issues of hypocritical imperialism as in my Uganda/Nigeria piece.

"East Baltimore — What the fuck is a selfie?" is an article about life in a world where social media doesn't reign supreme. My introduction is a call to examine the bubbles and presumptions leftists inhabit when thinking about interacting with the real world.

"Atlanta, unfit rulers should get out of the way" is an article about the calamitously unusual snowstorm that swept the south. My introduction talks about the clash of extreme weather and capitalist crisis.

"American Studies Association penalized by NY Senate for Israel boycott" talks about the attempted retaliation against supporters of the BDS movement in New York. My introduction introduces the BDS movement as a way of materially supporting the Palestinian struggle.

Since Kasama front paged my fairly critical piece on Peter Seeger, we chose another article that was more personally laudatory as a counterpoint. I introduced "Music journalist Dave Marsh remembers Pete Seeger" in the hopes of keeping a discussion going.

My personal life is still quite unsettled, but it feels good to be speaking my mind again and keeping up with the writing. I'd love feedback from readers.