Welcome to The Cahokian... A thousand years ago Cahokia — across the Mississippi from what is now St. Louis — was one of the biggest cities in the world. Now it's an empty green spot next to the highway. I'm a middle-aged gay man living in New York City, center of the world, future footnote on somebody's future map. Welcome to the new world.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Iraq: Ten Years Ago the Massacre Began
I have featured this photo, by the late photojournalist Chris Hondros, before on this blog. It is the quintessential image of the Iraq war, which marks its shameful tenth anniversary today.
That's not her blood.
It's the blood of her parents, with whom she had been riding as they drove through nighttime Baghdad. The American soldiers claimed they had ordered the car to stop, as though they had that right in the first place, and the parents failed to do so. So they opened up their automatic weapons.
The child survived, the parents did not. This child survived a horror of light and sound and screams and splashing blood. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be that child. I wish I could not imagine what it was like to live in the country that did that to her. But I do.
Ten years ago the U.S. attacked the sovereign state of Iraq unprovoked, having spent the ten years previous trying to starve the country into submission through blockade. The blood of hundreds of thousands, like this little girl's parents, is on the hands of every rightwinger and neocon who promoted, lied, and cheated to make that war happen. It's also on the hands of every cruise missile liberal who enabled them. Hillary Clinton and the New York Times are as guilty as Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz and George W. Bush. I'm not holding my breath waiting for well-deserved war crimes trials.
Some people are trying very hard to forget what they did.
I doubt this girl will ever forget it, and neither will I.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Report on East Flatbush
|Memorial for Kimani Gray in East Flatbush. Photo by me.|
I've written up a report of last week's events in East Flatbush in the aftermath of the police murder of Kimani "KiKi" Gray.
"Last Saturday night Kimani was in the neighborhood hanging out with friends. At 16, he was learning to navigate some tough turf. There's not an African-American kid his age in Brooklyn who doesn't understand the way things are: staying in school seems pointless, finding work will be hard, being pushed around or thrown up against a wall by cops is the price of leaving your house, and sticking with your friends or even a gang is the way to keep it together.
That night two plainclothes cops decided Kimani looked suspicious. They claim he pulled a gun on them from his waistband as they approached him. Two menacing strangers walking toward a kid who was just out on the street with his friends...."
Read the whole report at Kasama.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Brooklyn: Justice for KiKi!
I helped produce this flyer for Fire Next Time network: it was created in a small palm-sized version to pass out at the neighborhood vigils which have frequently morphed into rebellious confrontations with the legion of cops occupying the neighborhood. I'll be writing a longer piece on the week's events soon.
WHEN NOT EVEN CHILDREN ARE SAFE,
IT’S TIME TO FIGHT BACK!
This week the people of Brooklyn reclaimed their streets. We should be proud of all the sisters and brothers who rebelled against the NYPD lockdown of our neighborhood. But this is just the beginning. The cops have always and will always continue to brutalize and murder our people. What are we going to do next?
The NYPD rolls with crews from all over NYC. We need to roll with all the brothers and sisters from Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, Jackson Heights, Harlem, and the Bronx. The NYPD has unity. We need unity in order to stop this bullshit once and for all: to make revolution possible.
We must win all the poor and working people of New York City. They are on our side. We must stop the war inside our communities and instead focus on our real enemies: The NYPD and all those who protect a state that oppresses the black, brown and poor people of this country. Until justice has been served, peace is not an option.
And to Jumaane Williams and all other politicians who claim to represent our communities: Don’t blame us for our anger! The cops are the outside agitators!
JUSTICE FOR KIKI! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
UNITE THE BLOCKS!
FREE THE STREETS!
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Compañero Hugo Chavez: ¡Presente!
|Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, 1954-2013, Rest In Power!|
Via a friend on facebook:
POEM FOR HUGO CHAVEZ
Because you know
That pain is not
Is not our
That heaven is
What we make
Because you come
From the heart
Of the soil
And do not sprinkle us
With holy water
Pie-in-the-sky lies and
Ashes to ashes dust to dust
Because you know
That your big mouth
And your curly hair
And your brown skin
And dark eyes is Indian
Because you don’t point
To Europe for
Beauty or salvation
Because you know
As Che and Fidel and
Maurice Bishop and Roque Dalton
And Walter Rodney
And Neruda and Allende
And Patrice Lamumba
That life is what
We make with our
Because you know as Jesus
That it is not difficult to
Multiply bread and fish
That oil is not
Of the earth
That it should not
Run through our veins
Because you are David
In the shadow
And know that
The price of freedom
|Design celebrating the "Perfect Victory" of Chavez in the recent presidential election|
There is surely much to be said about the inadequacies of Chavez's revolution. I'm a person who believes in the need for the people themselves to create vehicles of people's power that can challenge state power: I'm for broad, mass, horizontal organizing not condescending saviors. I'm for revolutions that are unequivocal when it comes to tossing out old regimes and corporate structures and state powers. But somehow, despite all that, I came to love and admire Hugo Chavez.
I read the paper. I follow the news. I remember when the CIA tried to overthrow him, nearly successfully, and it's been impossible to miss how much every institution of capitalist power from the government to the liberal media have despised him for dodging that bullet ever since. But I regretfully confess I haven't studied the Bolivarian revolution, and I'm only peripherally aware of how deep the institutions of popular power run; how integral the Venezuelan people are to their revolution.
But I remember when Chavez visited the United Nations in 2006. Alone among the leaders of the world he told the truth about George Bush and the American reign of terror across the globe. With wit, humor, and gentle bravado he won my heart when he told the truth about the reek of sulfur left over from the U.S. delegation.
This world is mad. This carnivorous monster of neoliberalism and imperialism, the United States of America, steals from the entire planet so that its corporations can acquire obscene quantities of cash. Armed to the teeth with obscene invisible weapons that deal random death from the skies abroad, and lined wall to wall with prisons that beat its poor black and brown citizens into fine filaments of submission; this so-called free world is the great beast that Chavez dared challenge. Obscenely, the liberal echo chamber in this country yells "Dictator!" at Chavez while tightly closing their memory to the thousands of people arrested during the mass coordinated repression of the Occupy movement. While pretending not to wonder where all those African-American men might be since they know there are no jobs for them. While averting their eyes to the pictures, not so hard to find, of dead children killed by American drones in an ever lengthening list of countries. (Yes, there's drone base in Africa, in Niger, now. shutupidon'twanttohearabout that). ICBMs tucked safely out of sight at their backs, the liberals rattle off the list, larger now than George Bush's axis of evil, of all the little countries bullying the poor United States. It begins to sound desperate. Chavez....dictator. ...terrorists....Hezbollah is active in Venezuela! A mantra for all occasions requiring neocolonial reassurance. Paranoid fantasism from the most powerful, dangerously aggressive nation on earth.
Calmly, coolly, Chavez faced that beast down. "Like Allende, we're pacifists and democrats. Unlike Allende, we're armed," he said.
I hate that we have lost him now. It's our duty to prove him right, that the world doesn't have to be this way, that people have the power to right the wrongs of this world. I don't know what would have happened in Venezuela had he stayed in power. And I don't know what will happen in the whole world, or even here in Brooklyn, now that he's gone. Whatever the faults of who he was, the limitations of what he tried to do, the realpolitik that all too often clouded his message, his loss to the world revolutionary struggle is immense. But the struggle is not lost, and what inspires us about him will continue to do so. All we have to do is...the right thing. As Assata says. "It is our duty to fight, it is our duty to win."
If you've not seen it, watch this absolutely incredible film about the rightwing/CIA coup that Chavez defeated in 2002. It's more exciting than any fictional political thriller. Watch this film and know right from wrong.
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