Tuesday, February 28, 2012

He Talks! Hear Me on Candy Samples' Latest Podcast!

As regular readers of this blog know, Candy Samples makes regular music videos and I'm proud to be an extra in all of them. She's my favorite drag queen! But Candy does more than sing and act: she has a regular podcast, called The Candy Show. She talks to a variety of guests, and dishes on all sorts of subjects from gossip to politics. Candy likes to use her powers for good; The Candy Show is a fun listen with a lot of heart.

Well I am honored beyond belief to announce that I am Candy's featured guest on her latest edition! Season 6, Episode 6 of The Candy Show is available as a FREE download from iTunes. Just click here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-candy-show/id253279135.

We talk about The Cahokian and blogging, and about the Occupy movement and activism, and all sorts of stuff. And you get to hear my voice in all its Midwestern accented glory! Yes, I only live in Brooklyn. Download the podcast, I'd love to hear what you think. Maybe I'll start up my own!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The New York Post: The Der Stürmer of Our Time

Sean Delonas, ultra-racist and anti-gay cartoonist from the racist New York Murdoch tabloid "The New York Post" has proved once again that the spirit of the Nazi propaganda rag Der Stürmer is alive and well in today's New York City. Anyone who doubts that Islamophobia is racism should view this latest outrage and compare it to the vile ouevre of classic 1930s Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher. (I posted a previous Delonas cartoon equating Obama to a dead chimpanzee here on The Cahokian back in 2009. Good As You blog features an incredible roundup of some of his previous racist and anti-gay vitriol here.)

Delonas' cartoon was the response to complaints from New York City's Muslim community upon the discovery that the corrupt and deeply racist New York Police (NPYD) have been spying on the Muslim community mosques and organizations via in-depth surveillance and infiltration, even spying on things like hiking trips. Of course in Delonas' fevered imagination, all Muslims are terrorists, and all are hook-nosed, bearded and be-turbaned.

Delonas, fully encouraged and promoted by his employers in the Rupert Murdoch empire, seeks the same thing as Streicher and Der Stürmer: the dehumanization and demonization of people determined to be "other" into icons of derision and disgust. Never mind that the NYPD has been spying on peaceful men, women and children, American citizen and immigrant alike, the hateful bigots of the Post think they're all subhumans without the same rights as other people.

The printed equivalent of cable TV's ignorance-promoting Fox News, The New York Post is the voice of rightwing white racial resentment. Viciously pro-war and pro-repression, the Post is low on facts and information and high on bigotry. The New York Post deserves to be thrown into the trash; it's probably too toxic even to be used to absorb pet urine.

Here's a couple classic anti-Semitic Der Stürmer originals for comparison, snagged from the online German Propaganda Archive. A sense of familiarity is striking.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Without Comment: Williamsburg, Brooklyn 2012

Posted on a wall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Get ready for May first. Spring is coming!

(Thanks David!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Convergence: Occupy & Anti-Pinkwashing Movements, March 3 NYC

In a striking convergence of movements, NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid are marking Israeli Apartheid Week with an occupation of the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Community Center. As I have reported here several times, the NYC gay center has banned any discussion of solidarity with queer Palestinians, and banned any group intending to do so from using its meeting rooms, betraying the sense of openness and inclusion on which the Center was founded decades ago. It's clear that a handful of wealthy contributors and influential politicians are bound and determined to decide what part of the gay community is welcome at the Center, and the well-paid staff of the Center have heeded their master's voices.

The March 3 action is being called to end these policies of censorship. The action's demands include: End the ban on Palestine solidarity organizing at the Center; Open the Center to all who respect its stated mission; and Open the Center's board meetings and decision-making process to the community. As a fact sheet for NYC-QAIA says: The Center's “haven” then is for Zionist, not Arab, Muslim or especially Palestinian, queers as the ban brands anyone who even discusses the racism and violence of the Israeli government as a terrorist sympathizer, and a threat to the safety of “good” and “normal” queers. The Center’s Board has hidden behind closed-door meetings, flatly ignored calls, letters and requests to dialogue, and has refused to come forth with a promised policy on who can rent rooms at the center. They have failed the diverse LGBTQ communities and must be held accountable. A year has passed and it’s time to renew our action."

NYC-QAIA argues that here is a microcosm of society as a whole: the 1% are trying to use their wealth and power to silence the 99%.

It seems appropriate then that NYC-QAIA would apply the direct action tactics of the Occupy movement. I urge support of this protest!

The attempt by the State of Israel and its supporters to use pinkwashing to leverage support for Zionism in the gay community continues. Articles in the media lauding Israel for being some kind of "gay haven" bear the unmistakable stamp of official Israeli government manufacture. Take for instance this Associated Press article from January 24, 2012 syndicated widely including by the New York Times (though since scrubbed from the NYT site): "Tel Aviv Emerges as Top Gay Tourist Destination." While dropping tidbits of supposed balance, the article maintains an overall laudatory tone to Israel. But careful readers will not be fooled. Check out this sentence: "Omer Gershon, 37, a veteran of the Tel Aviv gay club scene, said tourists are drawn to the city's "crazy" night life." Wait, just a veteran of the Tel Aviv club scene? Flashback to last year: Omer Gershon was the paid agent of the Israeli government propaganda ministry who last year made a video under an assumed name falsely claiming that he had been the victim of alleged anti-gay attitudes of the Peace flotilla. His video was exposed as being a clumsy bit of pinkwashing propaganda. That the same name turns up in a "news article" as just another gay Israeli shows that it's just another clumsy lie dictated by Israeli government disinformation agencies. And it's outrageous that it was presented by AP as news. The only question is whether its author "Aron Heller" is a dupe or a paid employee of the Israeli government.

To counter all the nonsense hasbara propaganda being so clumsily disseminated, the first-ever U.S. LGBTQ delegation to Palestine went on a fact-finding mission to Palestine in January. They documented the systematic apartheid-style repression of the Palestinian people, and issued a strongly worded statement, which includes a section against Pinkwashing: "We call out and reject the state of Israel’s practice of pinkwashing, that is, a well-funded, cynical publicity campaign marketing a purportedly gay-friendly Israel to an international audience so as to distract attention from the devastating human rights abuses it commits on a daily basis against the Palestinian people. Key to Israel’s pinkwashing campaign is the manipulative and false labeling of Israeli culture as gay-friendly and Palestinian culture as homophobic. It is our view that comparisons of this sort are both inaccurate – homophobia and transphobia are to be found throughout Palestinian and Israeli society – and that this is beside the point: Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine cannot be somehow justified or excused by its purportedly tolerant treatment of some sectors of its own population. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian queer organizations like Al Qaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (PQBDS) whose work continues to impact queer Palestinians and all Palestinians....

"We stand in solidarity with queer Palestinian activists who are working to end the occupation, and also with Israeli activists, both queer and others, who are resisting the occupation that is being maintained and extended in their name....

"We name the complicity of the United States in this human rights catastrophe and call on our government to end its participation in an unjust regime that places it and us on the wrong side of peace and justice."
Read the whole statement; it's crystal clear and inspiring.

This convergence of movements is auspicious. We are indeed all together. If you're in NYC, see you on March 3rd!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spring Is Coming: May Day 2012

These beautiful images are from Occupy May 1st General Strike! Los Angeles, part of the nationwide campaign from the Occupy movement to make a big showing this upcoming May Day. Across the country in both big cities and small neighborhoods, local assemblies are laying plans for actions to show the world that the Occupy movement is not gone or defeated, despite the successful repression of nearly all the physical "Occupy" encampments. Occupy Wall Street in New York has voted to stand in solidarity with the call for a day without the 99%, a general strike and more. "No work, no chores, no banking, no shopping, no school."

To be sure the General Strike on May Day is being organized by Occupy's more leftwing elements, but it rests on a solid tradition of activism by working people. Indeed it's the kind of action that anyone who is part of the 99% can participate in. From the May 1st website:

"How can I participate?

If you are part of unionized labor, and your contract is up for negotiation, you can officially strike on May 1st. If you are not – call in sick. Take a holiday. Don’t show up to school. March with us, or join in one of the many events that will be taking place on May 1st, either in the day or in the evening. Block parties, rallies, protests, marches, family BBQ’s – this is a day when we take a stand against the way the system has enslaved us and burdened us with unmanageable debt, incredibly long working weeks, unfeasibly expensive healthcare — by taking a day for ourselves, being human again, spending time with our families and friends. Our bosses dictate everything to us — but not our holiday. The holiday of the working class, the 99%."

I love the Queer Liberation poster for May Day that uses a classic image of the late Divine, the iconic heroine of 1970s underground alternative culture.

My local Brooklyn Occupy assembly is still discussing its plans for the day. I'm really excited about the possibilities.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Right Wing's Prescription for Women

Planned Parenthood has been a target of the right wing for years. The current congress has gone to great lengths to demonize the private non-profit agency which provides millions of women, poor and otherwise, with health services including contraception and abortion. For all the insistence on the part of the rightwingers that the issue is preventing government-funding of abortion, the facts show that this is a smokescreen. There's a pie-chart floating around that clearly shows that abortions represent a small portion of Planned Parenthood's services. Given the legal hostility from many Republican and Democratic congresspeople in recent years, Planned Parenthood has worked very hard to follow the letter of the law and isolate the federal funding it gets from those abortion services. But it's futile to present either of these facts to the foes of Planned Parenthood, because the truth is that abortion is only the tip of the iceberg of their objections.

The rightwingers claim they are waging a battle based on moral and religious opposition to abortion based on the "sanctity of life." But what is actually quite clear is that these right wingers are actually waging a battle against something much bigger. And this is revealed by the current controversy over the initial Obama administration insistence that healthcare reform means that religious employers must include access to contraception in the insurance plans they offer to non-clerical employees like the teaching and medical professionals who work for churches and hospitals run by religious institutions. While it seems tragically likely that the Obama administration will concede this argument, the current controversy forces the right wing to admit that contraception itself is their actual problem, even knowing that contraception is a proven abortion preventative. Yes, that's right, the right wing does not want women to have access to the means to control their own bodies.

The right wing wants to defund Planned Parenthood not out of concern for some moral abstraction, but because it wants to preserve the dependency of women, especially poor and working-class women. The Sarah Palins and Michel Bachmanns of the far-right fringe notwithstanding, independent women who are not dependent on men are societal threat to the way the far right wants the world to look. And more fundamentally working-class women who rely on the affordability that government-funded healthcare provides are to them simply expendable.

The recent flap over the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure's shameful temporary plan to withdraw financial support of Planned Parenthood is illustrative. The Komen Foundation is less an institution concerned with women's health than a money-making scheme, a front for fake concern about the inadequate funding of women's healthcare. Forget how an organization allegedly concerned about women's health could sponsor pink buckets of the Colonel's greasy chicken, how could an organization allegedly concerned about women's health, full of smart people who know every last detail of those financial distribution pie-charts, claim that pulling the plug on poor women getting breast screenings could have anything to do with abortion at all? Who actually believes that? Only right wing ideologues with an agenda, that's who.

Here's the truth: This is yet another front on the class war being waged by the privileged classes on regular people. They don't want to pay for abortion, for contraception, for breast screenings, because they don't want to fucking pay for anyone's healthcare at all. Well, except their own.

Funny, it always comes down to the same problem....and the same solution.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Battle of Oakland

The Battle of Oakland from brandon jourdan on Vimeo.

Here's a thought-provoking video on the events in Oakland. Required viewing. Let's reconsider where exactly the violence that is so readily being condemned is actually coming from.

I've been super busy with Occupy Sunset Park and various city-wide and Brooklyn-wide Occupy meetings and activities. I started this blog when I didn't have much to do with myself in the evenings; now that I am out there and participating, I'm finding it's a struggle to reserve the time and energy to gather my thoughts here on The Cahokian. But don't give up on me! I have a bunch of things I'm working on. I probably won't make it back to daily posts anytime soon, but I'm gonna try hard not to skip a whole week like I just did. --ISH