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Note on Credibility & Lack of Impartiality of Those Making Anti-Syria Allegations

In Gaza,

August 25, 2015

by Eva Bartlett

So today, coming across yet another tool of the Imperialist/Zionist war on Syria who is sharing propaganda photos and posts which purport the depicted people to be victims of the Syrian Army, we dug a little deeper.

Who was the photographer? Are these photos *actually* from Syria or elsewhere? *If* in Syria, when were the photos taken, where, what context…?

This would be a gargantuan investigation, if one is to look at every MSM allegation against Syria and follow the photo trail. It needs to be done, but will certainly take much time, as there is SO much mis-information and outright LIES out there on Syria (for example, Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch tweeting a video of zionist-bombed and flattened al-Shujayee, Gaza, summer 2014, and claiming it to be Aleppo under “Assad’s barrel bombs”… that is just one of Roth’s many deceitful tweets. Due to outcry, he had to retract his tweet, but that hasn’t stopped his further lies.).

However, let’s take the case of Khaled Khatib, a photographer in Aleppo whose photos many MSM publications have used.

His photos put hearts on sleeves of easily-duped, perhaps well-intended viewers… But where is he photographing from, and with whom?

Khatib, a member of the Imperialist-founded “White Helmets” is embedded in terrorist territory in Aleppo.

khaled khatib white helmets

This excerpt is from a February 2015 Guardian article, calling for the US to release radar information of Syrian airspace to the terrorists (Oh, sorry, “civilians” and “rescue workers”) in terrorist-held districts of Aleppo.

Who are the Syrian Civil Defence/White Helmets Khatib is a member of and propagates for?

An April 2015 article by Rick Sterling sheds critical light on these nefarious “Human Rights” actors:

WHITE HELMETS / SYRIAN CIVIL DEFENCE – This is a new organization, highly publicized as civilian rescue workers in Syria. Their video and reports have influenced Avaaz and other humanitarian groups. Avaaz refers to the White Helmets as “Syria’s respected and non-partisan civil protection force.”

 

In reality the White Helmets is a project created by the UK and USA. Training of civilians in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier. Promotion of the program is done by “The Syria Campaign” supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. The White Helmets is clearly a public relations project which has received glowing publicity from HuffPo to Nicholas Kristof at the NYT. White Helmets have been heavily promoted by the U.S. Institute of Peace (U.S.IP) whose leader began the press conference by declaring “U.S.IP has been working for the Syrian Revolution from the beginning”.

 

Apart from the PR work, White Helmets work in areas of Aleppo and Idlib controlled by Nusra (Al Queda). The video from a medical clinic on March 16 starts with a White Helmets logo. The next video of same date and place continues with the Nusra logo.

 

US and UK tax dollars pay for a program which has an appealing rescue component and is then used to market and promote the USA and UK policy of regime change in Syria in de facto alliance with Nusra.

 

The fake “independence and neutrality” of White Helmets is shown by their active promotion of a No Fly Zone.”

In his article (and it is imperative reading!), Sterling illuminates on the other HR actors (HRW, Avaaz, MSF, PHR…) and rightly notes:

“The humanitarians pushing for intervention in Syria are not R2P (responsible to protect). They are R4W (responsible for war).”

So, when you see a heart-tugging photo by Khatib or any other White Helmet, step back and question: whose agenda do these photos serve? The answer, if you are open to knowing it, is clear.

Hint: it isn’t the Syrian people.

FLASHBACK | Beasts in Blue Berets –The Reality Of The United Nations

New American

September 1997

by William Norman Grigg

According to Gould, “UN women describe a godfather-like institution” — a network of cronyism and corruption. “This is compounded by the fact that in some UN member countries, women are treated as chattel instead of as equals.”

UN “peacekeepers” torture a Somali child over fire

“We are not going to achieve a new world order without paying for it in blood as well as in words and money,” warned Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in the July/August 1995 issue of Foreign Affairs. Schlesinger had taken to the pages of the flagship journal of the Council on Foreign Relations to vindicate the dubious proposition that the United Nations military represents the thin blue line dividing peaceful civilization from savagery — in short, our planetary police. But what happens when the planetary police run amok and become the agents of bloodshed? When local police abuse their power, the abused have avenues of redress. From what body can those abused by the planetary police seek justice? The escalating scandal of unpunished atrocities committed by UN “peacekeepers” illustrates that the planetary police are beyond accountability.
“Perhaps our leaders should put the question to the people: what do we want the United Nations to be?” Schlesinger wrote. “Do we want it to avert more killing fields around the planet? Or do we want it to dwindle into impotence, leaving the world to the anarchy of nation-states?” Critics of the UN should eagerly embrace such a debate — provided that a copy of the above photograph is made available to all participants. First published in the United States on the cover of the June 24th issue of the left-wing weekly Village Voice, the photograph depicts two Belgian paladins of the new world order giddily holding a Somali child over an open flame. Other series of photographs depict UN soldiers kicking and stabbing a Somali, and another soldier apparently urinating on the Somali’s dead body; yet another shows a Somali child being forced to drink salt water, vomit, and worms. A second group of photos published in the July 15th Village Voice shows the dead bodies of bound Somalis — what appears to be the work of a death squad.One atrocity not caught on camera involved the “punishment” of a Somali child by placing him in a metal container and withholding water from him for two days; predictably, the relentless African heat killed the child. One Belgian UN soldier testified that it was a regular practice to use metal boxes as prison cells, and that other Somalis probably died similarly gruesome deaths.

Strangely Silent

One might expect the photographs and first-person accounts of such atrocities to arouse public indignation against the UN’s “planetary police,” just as the endlessly replayed videotape of the Rodney King arrest turned public opinion against the Los Angeles Police Department. Perhaps this is why the photographs have been all but invisible in the United States, and precious little media attention has been devoted to an examination of UN atrocities.

Village Voice reporter Jennifer Gould came across the accounts of the Belgian atrocities while doing an earlier story about sexual harassment of female employees at UN headquarters. “When I spoke with people at the UN, time after time I was told, ‘If you think it’s bad here, you ought to see what happens in peacekeeping operations,’” Gould told The New American. “I started looking into that issue and found that the abuses I reported were well-known and easily documented. They were all over the media abroad, and I was really surprised it hadn’t been written about over here.”

Belgian military authorities launched an investigation into the atrocities following publication of a front-page story by Belgium’s Het Laatste Nieuws. In early July, Privates Claude Baert and Kurt Coelus, the two paratroopers photographed dangling the Somali child over a flame, were acquitted by a military court, which ruled that the incident — described by Baert and Coelus as a punishment for stealing — was “a form of playing without violence,” according to prosecutor Luc Walleyn. And what of discipline from the UN, whose “Code of Personal Conduct for Blue Helmets” requires that peacekeepers “respect and regard the human rights of all”? Gould reports that a UN spokesman dismissed the acquittal of Baert and Coelus by insisting that “the UN is not in the habit of embarrassing governments that contribute peacekeeping troops.”

For its diligence in reporting unwelcome news, Het Laatste Nieuws was rewarded with a bomb threat. Reporter Lieve Van Bastelaere informed The New American that the man arrested for making the threat owned a local bar that is frequented by many people in the military, including veterans of “peacekeeping” missions. “He apparently had been angered by what he had read,” Bastelaere observed dryly. “We’ve enhanced our security here at the paper, and the police took the threat seriously, even though he may have been drunk when he made it. He claimed not to remember phoning in the threat when he was arrested.”

In September, another military tribunal will be held to investigate the actions of Sergeant Dirk Nassel, the soldier photographed forcing a Somali boy to ingest worms and vomit. However, the Belgian military system — which is deeply entwined with the UN “peacekeeping” apparatus — has yet to inflict substantive penalties for abuses committed in the service of the UN. Several years ago, according to Gould, “Belgian soldiers were also accused of holding mock executions for Somali children and forcing them to dig their own graves; though their officer was given a suspended sentence, the soldiers were acquitted.” It is thus firmly established in Belgian military jurisprudence that service in the new world army is a license to commit barbarities with impunity.

Canadian, Italian Atrocities

Nor was the Belgian component of the UN’s “Operation Restore Hope” uniquely barbarous. Three members of a now-disbanded elite Canadian paratroop regiment were tried and convicted of criminal charges in the beating death of a 16-year-old Somali boy named Shidane Arone; the three “peacekeepers” had been photographed smiling beside the bloody corpse of the boy, whose hands had been bound. The incident prompted the creation of a Canadian government commission to review that nation’s military and its involvement in “peacekeeping” missions; however, the inquiry foundered on the obstructionism of political and military bodies and produced what Canadian critics call an incomplete and inadequate report.

On August 8th, Italian military officials admitted that Italian soldiers assigned to UN duty in Somalia had also tortured and otherwise abused Somali civilians. According to the Washington Post, “Two generals who led the Italian forces to Somalia resigned in June following publication of graphic reports of sexual violence against a Somali woman, electric torture of a young man and allegations that an officer had murdered a young boy.” Drugs and prostitutes also were allowed to circulate freely among Italian UN troops.

The Italian government assembled a five-member commission of inquiry, which interviewed 145 people and traveled to Africa to interview Somalis who had been tormented by UN troops or witnessed the bestial acts firsthand. The panel’s 46-page report documented that “the criminal events were not just the result of ‘rotten apples’ that you may find in any structure, but were rather the consequence of a stretched line of command and amused compliance toward such high jinks by some junior officers.”

“Shocking as it is, the UN scandal in Somalia is no anomaly,” wrote Gould in the Village Voice. “[An analysis] of documents and reports relating to recent UN peacekeeping operations has uncovered incidents ranging from murder and torture to sexual exploitation, harassment of and discrimination against local women and children.”

The January 18th New York Times reported that 47 Canadian UN troops who served in Bosnia were accused of “drunkenness, sex, black marketeering and patient abuse at a mental hospital they were guarding.” The soldiers had been assigned the “humanitarian” chore of guarding a mental hospital at Bakovici in order to secure it for the staff’s return. “The hospital instead became the setting for heavy drinking; sex between soldiers, nurses and interpreters that violated regulations; black-market sales; and harassment of the patients….”

During the “frenzy of looting” that broke out in Liberia in the spring of 1996, peacekeepers used UN vehicles to make off with pilfered goods, according to the April 12, 1996 issue of USA Today. UN vehicles — and the troops responsible for them — have also been a boon to Balkan drug smugglers. The August 9, 1996 Washington Times reported that “U.S. and Bosnian officials suspect that high-ranking UN officials from Jordan based in the central Bosnian towns of Bugojno and Travnik have routinely provided UN vehicles to help smugglers get contraband past checkpoints. The officers appear to have received money and the services of prostitutes from the smugglers, led by Islamic foreigners who entered Bosnia with U.S. approval to defend the Muslim government.”

Significantly, the Bosnian narco-ring apparently received critical support from UN police monitors, who were stationed in the Balkans in order to facilitate the creation of a civilian police force dedicated to upholding “world law.” A Pentagon official told the Washington Times that such problems are predictable, given that “the international police task force [in Bosnia] is a compendium of people from diverse countries with different degrees of professionalism and training and different backgrounds in operations and ethics” — a fairly compelling explanation of why UN-style “world law” cannot work.

The UN’s “nation-building” mission in Cambodia — long touted as among the world body’s proudest achievements — added to that unfortunate land’s abundant history of lawlessness. In 1993, 170 residents of Cambodia protested the abusive behavior of blue helmet troops in a letter to Yasushi Akashi, who served as then-Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s representative in Cambodia. Prominent among the complaints was the mistreatment of women, who were treated to abuse and harassment by UN officials “regularly in public restaurants, hotels and bars, banks, markets, and shops.”

New York Times correspondent Barbara Crossette, whose primary beat is the UN, elaborated: “The bad behavior [of UN forces in Cambodia] was not limited to abuse of women. There were bar fights, brawls, and shootouts and a proliferation of brothels, stolen vehicles and general drunken boorishness. Geographical origins were no indicator of what to expect. While some Asian and African troops got out of line, it was the soldiers of a Bulgarian battalion who had the worst reputation. They went down in local legend as ‘the Vulgarians.’” Cambodia has descended again into murderous chaos, and Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, believes that “the mess that Cambodia finds itself in today is in large part a product of the UN’s failure to uphold the rule of law” in the course of its “nation-building” mission.

Nightmare in Rwanda

The same lawlessness infected the UN mission to Rwanda, which suffered a Cambodia-style genocide earlier this decade. Crossette noted that Rwandans accused UN troops “of illicit trading, hit-and-run driving, sexual harassment and criminal abuse of diplomatic immunity they have bestowed on themselves. The disruptive personal behavior of some troops has been a factor in Rwanda’s demand that all peacekeepers be withdrawn from the country….”

Also contributing to that demand is the fact that UN forces in Rwanda actually abetted the worst bloodletting in recent memory — the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which a half-million Tutsis were annihilated in approximately 100 days. “Many of the mass murderers were employees of the international relief agencies,” testified Peter Hammond of Frontline Fellowship in Holocaust in Rwanda. In one incident recounted by Hammond, Belgian UN troops stationed in a heavily fortified compound in Kigali “deceived the [Tutsi] refugees by assembling them for a meal in the dining hall and then [they] evacuated the base while the refugees were eating. Literally two minutes after the Belgians had driven out of their base, the Presidential Guard poured into the buildings annihilating the defenceless Tutsi refugees.”

When the Tutsi-organized Rwandan Patriotic Front drove many of the worst Hutu murderers from Rwanda into the Congo (then called Zaire), the UN intervened militarily — on the side of the murderers. One year after the genocide, wrote Peter Beinart in the October 30, 1995 issue of The New Republic, “former [Rwandan] government militias, often armed and sometimes in uniform, control many UN refugee camps, terrorizing civilians and plotting to reinvade.” Janet Fleischmann of Human Rights Watch-Africa reported, “The UN clearly took the lead in assisting these refugees who were in uniform and armed … and that helped them establish control over the refugee camps.” This development provoked the renowned French humanitarian group Medecins sans Frontieres and several other charitable organizations to withdraw from militia-controlled UN refugee camps.

When the UN “peacekeeping” mission to Rwanda finally furled its blue banner in March 1996, the reaction on the part of Rwandans was one of unalloyed relief. “Hundreds of genocide survivors protesting outside the UN headquarters in Kigali cheered … as the UN flag was lowered to mark the end of the United Nations’ peacekeeping mandate,” reported a March 3, 1996 Reuters wire service report. Apparently, Rwandans would rather face the prospect of bloody anarchy than submit to the variety of “peace” administered by UN troops.

Follow the Brothels

The market in prostitution — including child prostitution — thrives wherever blue berets decamp. According to Gould, records of UN peacekeeping missions document that “brothels have sprouted nearby — and in one case allegedly inside — UN compounds. In the latter case, prostitutes were allegedly employed by the UN and were reportedly even shipped on UN planes to fornicate with a UN staff member in hotels paid for by the UN.”

Last December a UN study on children in war reported that blue berets had been involved in child prostitution in six of the 12 countries which had been studied. In country after country unfortunate enough to attract the UN’s “humanitarian” intervention, “the arrival of peacekeeping troops has been accompanied with a rapid rise in child prostitution,” the document reported. Following the signing of a peace treaty in Mozambique in 1992, for example, “soldiers of the United Nations operation … recruited girls aged 12 to 18 years into prostitution.”

However, as Jennifer Gould learned, the mistreatment of women is something of a UN tradition — the world body’s enthusiastic support for radical feminism notwithstanding. In a report published in the May 20th Village Voice, Gould described the plight of Catherine Claxon, a UN employee who filed the first-ever sexual harassment complaint against the UN in 1991. After Claxon filed her complaint, “Someone fired a shot through the glass window of a coffee shop by the United Nations” — just above Claxon’s head. “Another bullet shattered Claxon’s windshield as she drove home from her job at the UN one night on the Long Island Expressway.” On three other occasions, Claxon was nearly run off the road — at the same spot where she was nearly killed by the gunshot. According to Gould, “UN women describe a godfather-like institution” — a network of cronyism and corruption. “This is compounded by the fact that in some UN member countries, women are treated as chattel instead of as equals.”

Haunting Prophecy

Gould described the UN as “a bizarre universe of intrigue and outrage, where diplomats from 185 countries — stuffed suits simmering with regional, religious, and class-bred hatreds — try to promote world peace.” Such is the character of the institution whose masters crave the power to enforce “world law.” The essence of that abstraction is captured in the photograph of “peacekeepers” Baert and Coelus playfully swinging a Somali child over a fire: Unaccountable power employed mercilessly against the helpless.

More than seven decades ago, while the U.S. Senate was debating ratification of the League of Nations Covenant, Senator William Borah (R-ID) sought to cool the ardor of the League’s supporters by dousing it with a bracing shower of cold reality. Those who believed that a world army would consist of stainless champions of “world peace” were ignoring the unyielding facts about human nature. A world army, Borah declared, would consist of “the gathered scum of the nations organized into a conglomerate international police force ordered hither and thither by the most heterogeneous and irresponsible body or court that ever confused or confounded the natural instincts and noble passions of a people.” Can there be any doubt that the UN has vindicated Borah’s dismal prophecy?

[William Norman Grigg is the author of several books from a constitutionalist perspective. He was formerly a senior editor of The New American magazine, the official publication of the John Birch Society.]

How to manufacture consent in the sex trade debate

Feminist Current

August 18, 2015

by Raquel Rosario Sanchez

So Amnesty International voted in favour of adopting a policy that calls for the full decriminalization of the sex trade. Hurray? Once the celebration or despair subsides we are left we a troubling picture… And what that picture reveals is one of deceitful propaganda and misleading rhetoric.

Amnesty International has claimed that this decision was made in the interest of protecting the safety and human rights of sex workers and included a thoughtful and thorough consultation process that explored all viable alternatives. Salil Shetti, Secretary-General of AI states, “The research and consultation carried out in the development of this policy in the past two years concluded that this was the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights and lessen the risk of abuse and violations they face.” He adds, “We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world.”

On its face, these efforts and intentions sound noble. Yet Amnesty International has concealed the cynical origins of the policy they are now selling to the masses.

Their press releases frame the conversation as one that happened as part of a “global movement,” when in fact only about 40 per cent of their own membership participated in the process (most members, in fact, weren’t initially made aware this policy was in development). Not only that, the organization has gone to great lengths to obscure the role that brothel owner, Douglas Fox, the man who crafted the original proposal on sex trade decriminalization and lobbied the organization to this effect, played in this process.

If you look beyond the façade of human rights for “sex workers,” what is revealed is a perfect example of an organization choosing ideology and profit over the well-being and human rights of women and girls.

Fox is the owner of England’s largest escort agency, Christony Companions Escort Services. It was during one of Amnesty International’s internal debates in Newcastle in 2008 that he drafted the original policy resolution which was subsequently leaked to Julie Bindel, who exposed the draft proposal-in-process. The outrage that ensued forced Amnesty International to distance itself from Fox. But regardless of the fact that the organization does not want to be connected to Fox — a man who attacks anti-violence activists and feminists for allegedly stigmatizing people in prostitution yet insists on referring to people in prostitution as “whores” — he continues to take credit for the policy that AI has implemented.

John Dockerty and Douglas Fox, owners of Christony Companions.
John Dockerty and Douglas Fox, owners of Christony Companions.

Fox is quoted as saying that Amnesty International’s internal violence against women campaign group was the key opposition to a decriminalization policy. He saw one of the “problems” within Amnesty as being that the organization has “(in some ways very effectively) campaigned against violence against women. The people and one woman in particular who has headed this campaign has taken what effectively is an anti-escorting stance and has quoted Melissa farley and Julie Bindel heavily in their literature.” Fox brags that he “challenged this position and the statistics used both on the Amnesty web site and at the conference where I basically caused a rumpus at the violence against women stall.”

Regarding concerns about decriminalization resulting in an increase in human trafficking, supported by evidence and research, he claims, “I was asked over and over and over again about fears that supporting sex workers would increase trafficking. I won them over very easily, however, which does show that getting the press/media on our side to give counter arguments is so important.” Fox then rallied his supporters to join Amnesty International as members in order to lobby for this policy. He said, “Getting Amnesty on side will be a huge boost to our morale… We need to pursue them mercilessly and get them on side.”

And it seems Fox was successful in pushing feminist anti-violence groups aside in order to convince Amnesty to advocate on behalf of men’s right to buy and profit from the sale of women and girls.

After the policy was approved, Fox was, naturally, thrilled. “It is exactly what I hoped for,” he said. “I am very, very pleased that Amnesty has taken this position.”

As an anti-violence and anti-trafficking activist, I find the callousness of Fox’s statements and the fact that the policy proposed and lobbied for by a brothel owner was eventually passed chilling and sickening.

And how was he able to get away with it? By adopting the term “sex worker.”

See, “sex work” rhetoric means that owning a large brothel in England and allegedly doing occasional sex work on the side qualifies people like Douglas Fox to speak on behalf of prostituted people worldwide.

Welcome to the dangerously deluded world of Amnesty International, an organization that did an about face on women’s rights. A world where brothel owners and pimps are equated with prostituted people (who are overwhelmingly women and girls) in order to ignore the voices and expertise of survivors, survivor-led organizations, anti-violence organizations and sex industry scholars, as well as evidence and research that shows their new policy supporting the full decriminalization of the sex industry leads to more trafficking.

But, in fact, throwing women under the bus is not new for Amnesty International. The former head of the gender unit in the organization, Gita Sahgal, told the Observer, after she was fired, that an “atmosphere of terror” prevailed inside the organization, that “debate is suppressed,” and that staff are cowed into accepting the party line. She also called the leadership of the organization “ideologically corrupt”, saying “there is a deep misogyny in the human rights movement and the kinds of issues that women have to face tend to bring that out.”

Now that we have this dubiously-concocted policy, initiated by a pimp and funded by a billionaire, the marginalization of survivor’s voices and feminists, an unwillingness to acknowledge the real meaning of this policy, and outright lies about the evidence behind their claims, what’s next?

What’s next is the silencing of critiques of the sex industry by implying that only “sex workers” can speak in this debate. Yet this policy was not approved by prostituted women and girls, but by Amnesty International, a so-called human rights organization run by people privileged enough not to have to prostitute themselves.

The policy states, “Many sex workers feel the term ‘prostitute’ is demeaning or misogynistic, and organized sex worker groups generally prefer the term ‘sex worker’ or ‘person in the sex industry.’” What they’ve failed to mention is that many more activists who have been in the sex industry reject the term. In fact, “sex work” is a very political term that intentionally erases the reality of who is prostituted and why, allowing men like Fox, who run the largest prostitution ring in north-east England, to call themselves “sex workers.”

By arguing that only “sex workers” can speak about “sex work,” you are effectively saying that only people who are in favor of decriminalizing pimps and johns have a valid opinion about policy, as it is only those who advocate for the full decriminalization of prostitution who use the term “sex work.” That is to say, sex industry advocates use the term intentionally as part of their efforts to normalize and degender the system of prostitution. If the sentence was altered to read “listen to survivors”, “listen to prostituted people,” or “listen to people who have been commercially exploited,” Amnesty International would have ended up with a different policy.

This argument narrows the debate to ensure an individual, tit-for-tat approach in which participants are forced into an Oppression Olympics-style rhetorical contest that ignores intersectionality in order to compete to see who is marginalized enough to have a voice. Experience and personal narrative can be crucial in many instances but also they, conversely, lack the broader contextual frameworks that a systems-level analysis requires. This kind of argument also erases the fact that the sex industry is not at all some sort of grassroots organization or collective but is, instead, a billion dollar industry driven entirely by male demand.

To be empowered as a sex worker in an industry that relies on the dehumanization and constant influx of the ever-younger bodies of mainly women and girls is a privilege. As an anti-violence worker and sex industry researcher, hearing people talk about how violence-free their experiences in the sex industry have been is encouraging. But even sex industry advocates know that this experience represents a very small minority of people in the sex trade. To use these few stories to promote a policy that has been proven to further marginalize and endanger women and girls globally is inhumane, oppressive, and counter to the purported goals of a human rights organization.

 

[Raquel Rosario Sanchez is an activist and advocate from the Dominican Republic. Her efforts center around violence against women and girls, anti-human trafficking efforts, and death penalty abolition. She is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies in Oregon.]

Non-Profits and the Pacification of the Black Lives Matter Movement

Counterpunch

August 14, 2015

By Brendan McQuade

Killer Police

Above: Mo. Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson hugged Adrian (who wouldn’t give his last name) in Ferguson on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 17, 2014, on W. Florissant. [Source]

Rebellions aren’t simply repressed. They’re pacified. While repression—the iron hand—is useful to terrorize a population into submission, the issues animating a rebellion must be partially redressed—the velvet glove—to forestall a further reaching revolutionary upsurge. The most effective way to defeat rebellion is to blunt its grievances and overtake its leaders. This is precisely what is happening with the Black Lives Matter movement.

For the past year, much attention has focused on the most dramatic responses to the Black Lives Matter movement: the militarized police and smoke grenades, states of emergency and curfews, government surveillance and fears of infiltration. While these forms of repression should not be discounted, they should be properly understood. Heavy-handed responses polarize the struggle. The middle ground disappears and both sides radicalize. For those seeking to maintain the status quo, this is not the best outcome.

It’s much better to co-opt moderates and divide the opposition. After the initial explosion in Ferguson following Mike Brown’s death, Governor Jay Nixon put a black officer, Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ronald S. Johnson, in charge. Johnson immediately won praise, when he ordered his officers shed their riot gear and started walking with marching demonstrators. In this new context, liberal organizations began to separate themselves from more radical demonstrators. The NAACP organized events “to channel the anger over Brown’s death into positive action such as getting people to register to vote and to obtain college grants.” Johnson and other police executives marched at the head of a NAACP demonstration. The response to the Ferguson Rebellion had shifted from crude repression to subtle pacification.

Established non-profit organizations are essential to this work. They bring needed legitimacy to the state’s efforts to contain dissent. In Ferguson, the NAACP and local religious groups have sought to temper protests, limit property damage, and redirect discontent toward institutional channels. Despite their best intentions, these groups become potent weapons to mollify discontent and moderate change.

The same dynamic was recently at work in Chicago, where the ACLU of Illinois sold out grassroots movements, who had been working to curtail stop and frisk by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). In the summer of 2014, the CPD conducted a quarter million stops that did not lead to an arrest, four times the rate of New York City. Nearly three quarters of those stopped were black. In response to this systemic racial profiling, We Charge Genocide, a grassroots abolitionist organization, wrote the Stop, Transparency, Oversight and Protection (STOP) Act. This municipal ordinance would have required the CPD to collect and share comprehensive data on police stops.

The We Charge Genocide (WCG) name is an allusion to a 1951 report that Civil Rights Congress presented to the UN. The study cited lynching, police brutality, legal disenfranchisement, and systemic inequality as evidence that the US government was engaged in genocide against its black citizens. In September 2014, WCG presented its own report to the UN Committee Against Torture that detailed the Chicago police’s systemic harassment and abuse of minority communities, the failure of existing redressive mechanisms, and the resultant impunity of the Chicago police. For the past ten months, WCG has worked to educate and mobilize youth of color about the CPD’s racially discriminatory stop and frisk practices.

While grassroots activists were mobilizing support for the ordinance among Chicago’s communities and alderman, the ACLU entered secret negotiations with the CPD and mayor’s office to broker an alternative agreement. On the very day that the STOP Act was to be filed by three aldermen, the ACLU announced the details of their agreement with city government. Instead of public disclosure, the ACLU-CPD “settlement” names an independent consultant, former US magistrate Arlander Keys, who will issue biannual reports on the CPD’s street stops and recommend policy changes. This is sharp contrast from the STOP ACT, which would have required quarterly public reporting of more comprehensive stop and frisk data: demographic information of those stopped, the badge numbers of officers involved, as well as the location, reason, and result of the stop

In effect, the ACLU used WCG and STOP Act as bargaining chip to advance a narrow policy goal. As the WCG’s public letter put it:

What you have “won” is fundamentally different from the STOP Act, both in its means and in its ends. Our goals are rooted in the experiences of those most directly impacted; yours are not. Our movement is rooted in a political analysis that recognizes the need to shift power away from police and into our communities; your policy “victory” is not. Our motivation is rooted in a theory of change that prioritizes movement building and centering the leadership of those most affected; yours is not. Now, because of your self-serving interest in pushing simplistic policy changes, we and our allies face a much harder task pushing the critical package of reforms included in the STOP Act but ignored in your settlement. There is no such thing as an easy victory, and yours has come at a high cost.

The ACLU agreement shifted the terrain of struggle. Their agreement is a half measure that allows the CPD and city government to show that they are doing something, while, at the same time, undercutting a more radical plan that would have subjected the CPD to more meaningful public accountability.

More importantly, the ACLU-CPD agreement denies WCG and the larger Black Lives Movement an important victory. In their letter, WCG acknowledged that the ACLU “settlement represents just one of many efforts… to co-opt our movement by engaging with less threatening groups. Passage of the STOP Act would be public recognition of the real, grassroots power of young Black and Brown Chicagoans; instead the City wisely sought to settle into an ongoing relationship with a legal organization that poses no real threat to the status quo.” In other words, the ACLU is not an ally. It works to pacify the Black Lives Matter movement by blunting its grievances and overtaking its solutions with half measures.

The ACLU did not become complicit in the pacification of the radical movements because they are part of some crude conspiracy. It’s more subtle. The ACLU is a foundation funded non-profit. It’s part of the web of elite institutions that exercise political power in the United States. By class background, socialization, and worldview, the ACLU’s lawyers and administers have more in common with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy than they have with WCG activists.

The overlapping interests of elites in the ACLU and city government highlight the importance the idea of pacification. In the recent years, critical scholars have recuperated the term “pacification” from military jargon to highlight continuities between warfare and policing. Both are class projects to eliminate enemies and fabricate social order. The iron hand and the velvet glove work together. To pacify “communists” in Vietnam or “terrorists” in Iraq, you need to build a government that enough people can abide. The same dynamic is at work in Chicago, where the ACLU just helped the city government efforts to pacify ongoing black insurgency.

 

[Brendan McQuade is a visiting assistant professor of international studies at Depaul Univeristy.]

United Nations Covers Up Child Rape in Africa and the Buying of Sex in Haiti

InnerCity Press

June 18, 2015

by Mathew Russell Lee

With scandals surrounding UN Peacekeeping, from covering up child rape by French “peacekeepers” in the Central African Republic to buying sex in Haiti and selling UN Police jobs in the DR Congo, on June 18 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was scheduled to give a speech to UN Force Commanders in Conference Room 9 of UN Headquarters in an open meeting, following a public photo-op with the commanders.

But when Inner City Press showed up for the photo op, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous directed one of his officials to tell Inner City Press to leave.

Inner City Press refused, noting that Ban Ki-moon’s appearance was listed in the online Media Alert of the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU). Nevertheless, Ladsous’ official insisted, and Ladsous himself began to film Inner City Press with his phone.

When Ban Ki-moon and his security detail of at least four arrived, they proceeded into Conference Room 9, as did Inner City Press accompanied by a MALU staff member and a staffer from UN Photo. But just as Ban Ki-moon began speaking, two of his security officers came over and told Inner City Press to leave. In the hall they said that “the organizer” — Ladsous — had ordered it.

Inner City Press asked, if some UN official tells you to throw out the media, you just do it? “If he told you to throw me on the ground, would you throw me on the ground?”

“Somebody doesn’t have to tell me to throw you on the ground, if I’ve got to put you on the ground, I put you on the ground,” came the response. Audio here. Periscope video here. Now YouTube video permalink here.



Another security officer said, at this point the media is not coming in. That’s it.

This is called censorship. And it happened right in front of Ban Ki-moon.  When Ban came out of Conference Room 9, he had a discussion with Ladsous – what about? – then walked on by. Periscope Video II here. This is Ban’s UN, UNtransparent, descended to censorship.

Inner City Press has reported not only on Ladsous’ cover up of rapes in CAR (and before that in Minova in the DRC and Tabit in Darfur), but also on a growing lack of transparency in Ban Ki-moon’s UN, including the reported use of Ban’s name by his nephew “Dennis” Bahn while purporting to sell real estate in Vietnam to the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar. (Bahn works for Colliers International, which rents office space to and for Ban’s UN system.) Now, outright censorship.

The old UN Correspondents Association has said nothing, just as they said nothing and more when Ladsous said he would not answer Inner City Press and Ban’s spokesman decided not to call on Inner City Press to put a question to Ladsous, on the CAR rapes and cover up. The new Free UN Coalition for Access has demanded an explanation and response from MALU and the Department of Public Information above it. A senior UN official told Inner City Press, “There is no court.”

This use of UN Security is ironic, given that as Inner City Press reported on June 17 and asked Ban’s deputy spokesman about on June 18, Ban shook hands in the UN in Geneva with a person on the US Al-Qaeda terrorist list, photo here. But today’s UN has become the source of lawless censorship, amid its scandals. Watch this site.

August 11, 2015: On rapes by UN peacekeeping in Central African Republic (CAR), InnerCity Press asks UN if Ban Ki-moon will disclose findings and punish men:


 

August 13, 2015: When InnerCity Press asks US Samantha Power about UN rapes and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) cover up in Tabit, Darfur, she ignores the question and walks off the podium:

 

Liberals and the New McCarthyism

Counterpunch

August 10, 2015

By Derrick Jensen

McCarthy Roy Cohn

Sen. McCarthy covers the microphones with his hands while having a whispered discussion with his chief counsel Roy Cohn during a committee hearing, April 26, 1954. (AP)

It’s easy enough, some sixty years after the fact, for us to cluck our tongues at the cowardice and stupidity of those who went along with McCarthyism. It’s especially easy for liberals and academics to say that had they been alive back then, they would certainly have had the courage to stand up for discourse and to stand up for those being blacklisted. That’s partly because universities like to present themselves as bastions of free thought and discourse, where students, faculty, and guests discuss the most important issues of the day. Liberal academics especially like to present themselves as encouraging of these discussions.

Bullshit.

A new McCarthyism—complete with blacklisting—has overtaken universities, and discourse in general, and far from opposing it, liberal academics are its most active and ardent perpetrators, demanding a hegemony of thought and discourse that rivals the original.

For the past decade or so, deplatforming—the disinvitation of a speaker at the insistence of a special interest group—and blacklisting have been, to use the word of an organization that tracks the erosion of academic freedom through the increased use of deplatforming, “exploding.” Between 2002 and 2013, disinvitations from universities went up six times. And no longer are the primary blacklisters the capitalists (as was the case in the 1950s) or the pro-Israel lobby (as it has been for the past few decades). The pro-Israel lobby is still blacklisting like mad, but it’s been overtaken these days in the anti-free-speech sweepstakes by those who often consider themselves the brave heirs of Mario Savio: the liberals and leftists. And the targets of the liberals and leftists are not confined to the right (although they do certainly target right-wingers as well). Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges was recently deplatformed because he speaks out against prostitution as exploitative of women. Only outcry by women forced the college to reinstate him. Writer and activist Gail Dines was recently deplatformed because she speaks out against pornography. Last year an anarchist organization called “Civil Liberties Defense Center” lent its efforts to attempts to deplatform writer and activist Lierre Keith from the University of Oregon because she’s a radical feminist. The irony of an organization with “civil liberties” in its title attempting to deplatform someone because her ideology doesn’t fit its own doesn’t escape me, and probably won’t escape anyone outside of anarchist/liberal/leftist circles. Last year, female genital mutilation survivor, child bride survivor, and feminist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali was disinvited from receiving an honorary degree at Brandeis because she writes, from unspeakably painful experience, about how millions of women are treated under Islam.

Capitalists used the rhetoric of “communism” to blacklist. The pro-Israel lobby uses the rhetoric of “Anti-Semitism.” And the modern-day McCarthys use the rhetoric of “oppression” and “trauma.”

Things have gotten bad enough that comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Larry the Cable Guy have all said they can’t or won’t play colleges any more. As fellow-comedian Bill Maher commented, “When Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Larry the Cable Guy say you have a stick up your ass, you don’t have to wait for the X-rays to come back. That’s right, a black, a Jew and a redneck all walk onto a college campus and they all can’t wait to leave.”

Things have gotten bad enough that this spring The Onion put out a satirical piece titled, “College Encourages Lively Exchange of Idea: Students, Faculty, Invited to Freely Express Single Viewpoint.” The article concludes with fictitious college President Kevin Abrams stating, “‘Whether it’s a discussion of a national political issue or a concern here on campus, an open forum in which one argument is uniformly reinforced is crucial for maintaining the exceptional learning environment we have cultivated here.’ Abrams told reporters that counseling resources were available for any student made uncomfortable by the viewpoint.”

Things are much worse than I’ve so far made them seem. Brown University recently held a debate about sexual assault on campus. In response to the very existence of this debate—and this time it’s not The Onion reporting, but rather The New York Times—the college set up a “safe space” where those who might be made uncomfortable, or to use the politically correct parlance, “triggered,” by the debate could remove to relax with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.” A student gave her reason for using the safe room: “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs.”

Silly me. I thought being challenged was a primary point of college.

Over the past few years I’ve talked to several university instructors (especially adjuncts) who’ve told me they’re afraid of their students. Not physically, as in their students killing them, but rather they fear that uttering any opinion that any of their students—either conservative or liberal: it swings both ways—find objectionable will lead to that student complaining to the administration, after which the instructor may lose her or his classes, in effect be fired. And I just read an essay by an instructor in which he mentions an adjunct whose contract was not “renewed after students complained that he exposed them to ‘offensive’ texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students’ ire and sealed his fate.”

The political correctness posse has started coming after me. I’ve been deplatformed twice this year, by liberals at Appalachian State and Oregon State Universities. The logic behind the deplatformings makes an interesting case study in the McCarthyism and circular firing squad mentality of the liberal academic class.

Part of what’s interesting to me about these deplatformings is that given what I write about—my work more or less constantly calls for revolution—I always thought it was inevitable that I’d start getting deplatformed, just as I’m always detained when I cross international borders, but I thought this deplatforming would come from the right. Not so. It’s come from the left, and, well, to use a cliché, it’s come out of left field.

To be clear, I’ve never been deplatformed because I’ve written scores of lines like, “Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write or blow up a dam.” I’ve never been deplatformed because I’ve written about the necessity of using any means necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet. I’ve never been deplatformed because I’ve written about taking down capitalism. I’ve never been deplatformed for making the satirical modest proposal that a way to stop environmental destruction is to attach remote controlled cigar cutters to the genitals of CEOs, politicians, and land managers who claim their decisions won’t harm the land (let them put their genitals where their mouths are, I say (which is something they’ve probably already tried to do)) and when their decisions harm the land, well, bzzzt, and I guarantee the next CEO, politician, or land manager won’t be quite so quick to make false promises. I’ve never been deplatformed for calling in all seriousness for Tony Hayward, ex-CEO of BP, to be tried and if found guilty executed for murdering workers in the Gulf of Mexico, and for murdering the Gulf itself. I can say all of those things, and not have the slightest fear of deplatforming.

Why was I deplatformed? In both cases because I hold the evidently politically incorrect position that women, including those who have been sexually assaulted by males, should not be forced—as in, against their will—to share their most intimate spaces with men. I’ve been deplatformed because I believe that women have the right to bathe, sleep, gather, and organize free from the presence of men.

That’s it.

Yes, I think it’s ridiculous, too.

Even though I wasn’t going to talk about this right of women at all, but rather the murder of the planet, a small group of students—in this case those who identify as transgender—at Applachian State was given veto power over whether I would speak at the university. They said that my mere presence on campus would be “an offense” to their community. Bingo: disinvitation. I was likewise deplatformed from Oregon State because, in the words of the professors who deplatformed me, my presence would “hurt the feelings” of the students who identify as transgender. Never mind, once again, that I wasn’t going to talk about them at all.

Do we all see what’s wrong with deplatforming someone because he or she may hurt someone’s feelings? Once again, silly me: I thought I’d been invited to speak at a university, not a day care center.

My recollection of the universities I have attended or taught at is that a primary purpose was to foster critical thinking and the exploration of vital issues of the day, not to protect students from anything that might “hurt their feelings.” A purpose was to help them become functioning adults in a pluralistic society. Clearly, that’s gone by the boards. And I wasn’t even going to talk about transgender issues, which means it would be my mere presence that would hurt their feelings. Do we all see what is very wrong with basing campus and regional discourse on whether someone’s feelings will be hurt, and worse, on “hurt feelings” that won’t even be based on what the blacklisted speaker was actually going to talk about? What does it mean to our society and to discourse that one group of people—any group of people—is allowed to hold campus and regional discourse hostage by threatening that their feelings may be hurt? Should Christians be able to deplatform Richard Dawkins because he hurts their feelings? Should atheists be able to deplatform Christians because the Christians hurt their feelings? Capitalists are killing the planet. The murder of the planet certainly hurts my feelings. So let’s deplatform all the capitalists.

The kicker on me getting deplatformed because my presence would be an “offense” to, and “hurt the feelings” of, those students who identify as transgender, is that not only was I not going to talk about them, I barely even write about them. I’ve done the math, and out of the literally millions of words I’ve written for publication, only .14 percent (yes, that’s point 14 percent) of those words have to do with their issues: two short essays, only written after my female comrades began receiving a host of rape and death threats simply for wanting to sleep, bathe, gather, and organize free from the presence of males (and you’d think that rape and death threats by men who object to women wanting space away from men would be the end of the discussion: it is, but not in the way you think: it’s the end of the discussion because the men win and the women and their allies get deplatformed). .14 percent of my work is 1.4 words per every thousand. That’s the equivalent of five words in this entire essay. Even if it were worthwhile to deplatform me over the issue at all, they’re deplatforming me because they disagree with .14 percent of my work. Hell, I disagree with a lot more than that. The cult-like demand of loyalty on the part of the new McCarthyites is so rigid that 99.86 percent agreement does not suffice.

And the essays they object to weren’t even disrespectful (which is more than I can say for my treatment of, say, capitalists), just a political and philosophical disagreement.

Part of the problem is that a terrible (and manipulative) rhetorical coup has taken place in academia, where political and philosophical disagreement have been redefined as “disrespect” and “traumatizing” and “hurting their feelings,” such that the “victims” may have to dash off to a “safe space” to play with Play-Doh and watch videos of puppies. As the (highly problematical) professor and writer Laura Kipnis puts it, “Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated.” A fearful college instructor observed, “Hurting a student’s feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.”

That is a rhetorical coup because it makes discourse impossible. Those who perpetuate or support this coup have made it impossible to talk about the subject (or, clearly, any subject, including the murder of the planet), because any disagreement on any “triggering” subject is immediately labeled as a lack of acceptance and as disrespect.

To be clear, if no one is allowed to disagree with any one particular group of people—whether they be Christians or Muslims or capitalists or those who support (or oppose) Israel or those who identify as transgender, or, for that matter, members of the chess club—for fear their feelings will be hurt, then there can be no reasonable discourse. And if the purpose of a college lecture series is to make sure that no one’s feelings will be hurt, there can be no speakers. Allowing any group to hold discourse hostage to their feelings is the death knell for pluralistic society. It leads to fundamentalism. It is a fundamentalism.

It’s a classic trick used by despots and pocket despots everywhere: to ensure agreement with your position, make certain that all other positions are literally unspeakable. For the religiously minded, the epithet of choice has often been blasphemy. For the patriot, it’s traitor. For the capitalist, it’s commie. And for the liberal/leftist/anarchist, it’s oppressor.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

When I was a sophomore in college, the Colorado School of Mines invited Edward Teller to speak. One of my classes required attendance. The lecture was precisely what one would expect from one of the worst human beings of the twentieth century. But some thirty-five years later, the only thing I remember of that year-long class consisted of the great classroom discussion the next day, with some students hating him and others defending him. The professors—no fans of Teller’s insanity—used this as an opportunity to teach their twenty-year-old charges to build and defend an argument. Why did you find his views so offensive? Defend your position. Convince us.

To my mind, that is the point of college.

I once asked my friend the Okanagan activist Jeannette Armstrong what she thought of an attack by another writer on Jerry Mander’s book In the Absence of the Sacred. Her answer has guided my life and career: if he didn’t like the book, he should have written his own damn book.

And that is the point of writing.

So, if you disagree with me, great! If you think women don’t have the right to gather free from the presence of males, then make your argument. If you feel Israel is not committing atrocities, then make your argument. If you feel capitalism is the most just and desirable social arrangement possible and that communism is the devil’s handiwork, then make your argument. In each case make the best argument you can. Show that your position is correct. Make your argument so sound that no sane person could disagree with you (and lots of people—sane or otherwise—will still disagree with you: that’s the fucking point of living in a pluralistic society). And when somebody doesn’t agree with you, don’t fucking whine that your feelings are hurt or that you’re offended by an opinion different than your own, but instead use that disagreement to hone your own arguments for future disagreement. Or change your perspective based on that disagreement.

That is the point of college.

We’re not all going to get along. But no one is saying you have to invite every speaker into your home. No one is saying you have to accept them into your internet- or face-to-face-discussion groups. No one is saying you have to like them. No one is saying you have to listen to them. Hell, no one is even saying you have to acknowledge their existence. But if you fear a certain discussion or lecture is going to traumatize you such that you need to go blow bubbles and watch videos of puppies, then maybe you should just not attend that discussion or lecture, and later on maybe you should discuss those feelings with a therapist. Don’t project your triggers onto your fellow students. Don’t deprive everyone else of something because you object or because it might trigger you. It is not everyone else’s—or the world’s—responsibility to never make you uncomfortable.

That’s the point of living in a pluralistic society.

I blame society for this mess. Every indicator is that people are becoming significantly more narcissistic and less empathetic: as Scientific American reported back in 2010, “A study of 14,000 college students found that today’s young people are 40 percent less empathetic than college kids from 30 years ago,” and noted that “the sharpest drop in empathy occurred in the last nine years.” The article reports that “today’s students are less likely to agree with statements like, ‘I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective’ and ‘I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me [sic].’” So it should not come as a surprise that these students demand and expect that public discourse be formed so as to not “hurt their feelings.” Pretty much everything in this society—from capitalism to consumerism to incessant advertising and corporate culture to the selfish gene theory to neoliberalism to postmodernism to the superficiality of Internet culture—reinforces this narcissism. How many decades ago was “The Me Decade”? And how much worse has it become since then? Well, about 40 percent.

I also blame liberals/leftists/anarchists, who are in some ways merely replicating the Stanford Prison Experiment, in that having gained some power in the Academy, they’re using that power the same way that capitalists or anybody else who gains power so often does, by denying voice to anyone who disagrees with them.

And I blame the groundlessness of postmodernism, with its assertion that meaning is not inherent in anything, that there are no truths, and that each person’s perception of reality is equally valid. As well as destroying class consciousness—which is one reason modern blacklisting is often based on claims of how some speaker will supposedly hurt or trigger the individual, rather than emphasizing harm or gain to society as a whole—postmodernism has led to much of the insanity we’re discussing. As philosopher Daniel Dennett commented, “Postmodernism, the school of ‘thought’ that proclaimed ‘There are no truths, only interpretations’ has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for ‘conversations’ in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster.” And if all you’ve got is rhetoric, that is, “interpretations” and “assertions,” as opposed to, say, factual evidence, then the only way, or at least the most tempting way, to conclusively win an argument is through rhetorical manipulations. If you can’t say, “Your opinion is wrong, and here are facts showing your opinion is wrong,” you’re pretty much stuck with, “Your opinion is oppressing me, triggering me, hurting my feelings.” And that’s precisely what we see. And of course we can’t argue back, in part because nobody can verify or falsify your feelings, and in part because by then we’ve already been deplatformed.

Among other problems, this is all very bad thinking.

And finally I blame the professors themselves. The word education comes from the root e-ducere, and means “to lead forth” or “draw out.” Originally it was a Greek midwife’s term meaning “to be present at the birth of.” The implication is that the educator is an adult, who is helping to give birth to the student’s capacity for critical thinking, and to the student’s adult form. This is not accomplished by making certain that no one be allowed to speak who might “hurt their feelings.” This is not accomplished by protecting students from “viewpoints that go against . . . dearly and closely held beliefs.” It’s accomplished by challenging students at every moment to be better thinkers, challenging them to question their own assumptions, challenging them to defend their positions with far more intellectual rigor than merely stating, “That hurt my feelings.”

I blame the professors also for not standing up for discourse itself. If you’re going to be a professor, if you’re going to be a midwife present at the birth of the critical minds of your students, then defending free and open discourse should be a calling and a duty. It should be a passion. It takes no courage whatsoever to fail to stand up to attempts to destroy discourse, whether the blacklisters are capitalists, the pro-Israel lobby, leftists, liberals, or students who perceive themselves (and who are evidently perceived by professors) as so fragile their feelings will be hurt by dissenting opinions, their feelings which must be protected no matter the cost to society and to discourse. This failure of courage does great injury to everyone, including the students perceived as needing protection from disagreement. I wish the professors understood that their job is to be educators, not baby-sitters (and codependent baby-sitters, at that). I wish the professors were defenders of discourse.

 

[Derrick Jensen is numerous books, including Endgame, Listening to the Land, Walking on Water: Reading, Writing and Revolution, and co-author of Deep Green Resistance.]

Real Men Don’t Prostitute Women

August 18, 2015

Running time: 2:38

“To understand patriarchy is to understand that free choice is a fairytale.” — Dr Meagan Tyler

“Prostitution – We Don’t Buy It” – Speakers: Tom Meagher and sex trade survivor Rachel Moran

 

Report: Upworthy’s Lefty Owners Scared Employees Out of Unionization

Gawker

August 10, 2015

By Sam Biddle

Report: Upworthy's Lefty Owners Scared Employees Out of Unionization

Upworthy bet millions of venture capital dollars that progressive values are the ultimate viral content. But after being forsaken by Facebook and facing layoffs, we’re told the site’s left-wing leadership has successfully fought off a staff unionization drive.

Over the weekend, I received the following anonymous message, alleging that Upworthy recently laid off six staffers and derailed an attempt by the site’s employees to form a union (Gawker Media’s editorial employees recently voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America- East):

While Gawker, Guardian, Salon and Vice have made headlines in the media world by allowing their editorial staffs to unionize, Upworthy the feel-good rarara human rights viral website has not. The staff decided to try to unionize after 6 former Upworthy employees were laid off suddenly on a Sunday over the phone. The cofounders of Upworthy, Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley, pushed back against the staff that tried to unionize claiming that Upworthy would lose its venture capital money if people tried to unionize.

Upworthy is in big trouble but it’s done a good job of keeping out of the spotlight by saying it’s “shifting its editorial direction.” Fact: After Facebook’s algorithm messed up Upworthy’s monthly uniques, the company could no longer fall back on “We give attention to stuff that matters.” They laid off 6 people without any warning, privately telling them their pageviews weren’t enough while publicly telling the media that the laid-off employees didn’t have the storytelling abilities Upworthy needed. Now the rest of the staff is scared and disillusioned. So they tried to unionize. Upworthy, the media company that says it tries to make the world a better place, said no.

Upworthy co-founder Eli Pariser has been part of the left-wing internet vanguard for almost fifteen years. For the same web activist who until June served as board president of MoveOn.org to scuttle a union drive by his own workers in defense of Silicon Valley investors would undermine his image as liberal wunderkind, to say the least. According to a source, Upworthy counts the AFL-CIO among its largest editorial clients.

Over email, Pariser told me he hadn’t “said no,” as the tipster claimed, but acknowledged that he discouraged the effort because capitalists don’t like unions and things are touch-and-go right now for the site:

No, we didn’t say it wouldn’t be allowed at all — Peter [Koechley] and I told our writers we support their right to form a union, and believe unions are an important force for economic equality, but that doing this now at Upworthy could come at a cost to the company in terms of our ability to raise capital.

Upworthy editor-at-large Adam Mordecai echoed Pariser’s account:

Gawker’s unionization drive sparked the idea with our writers, the layoffs were obviously a factor too.

No one said that it wasn’t going to be allowed. Everyone was given the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons, and the writers decided against taking a vote for now, as unlike the other companies that have unionized, we’re still a startup and there was concern that it might affect our ability to raise more money down the road.

The site is admittedly struggling after getting pushed off a traffic cliff by Facebook’s ever-inscrutable newsfeed algorithm: The site’s traffic plummeted 48% between December 2014 and January of this year. Its readership has declined by roughly half since then, according to Quantcast. The realization that you’ve hitched the entire future of your media startup to a third-party algorithm over which you have no control is bad enough—scaring away your Silicon Valley patrons could be fatal. Never mind that Vice, with hundreds of millions in VC cash, just voted to unionize.

 

The Climate Chief, the Summit, and the Silence

We Suspect Silence

May 20, 2015

by Michael Swifte

Last week Christiana Figueres spoke at the 2nd annual Australian Emissions Reduction Summit. While she did not include carbon capture and storage in the body of her speech she did take the opportunity during the Q&A section to speak to the importance of investment in fossil fuel based carbon capture and storage. Strangely her statements were in response to a question about the urgency of beginning “draw down” using “natural” methods including BioCCS.

Christiana Figueres' comments place her on record with the majority of energy secretaries, CEO's, and climate negotiation leaders as being in favour of expansion of CCS.

Given that fossil fuel based carbon capture, storage, and utilisation threatens to give fossil fools and rampant consumption a promising future, it’s worth asking who took notice of the climate chief’s comments and who met them with silence?

CO2 CRC is chaired by former Australian Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson.

Of the legions of staffers, public servants, and politicians who are traded with the mining, extraction, and energy generation industries in Australia, Martin Ferguson is clearly the highest profile. His controversial move to join the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association was followed early this year with his appointment as chair of leading carbon capture and storage research centre (which he opened as minister in 2008) CO2 CRC.

So who was silent? From what I can gather, everyone. Nothing from the BigGreen pundits, and the Guardian and Fairfax reported that the climate chief signaled an end for coal?

Here’s a link to the video of the UN chief’s address titled: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres’ address to the 2nd Australian Emissions Reduction Summit. Go to 44.50 for CCS comments.

UPDATE: Friday June 19, 2015

The Christiana Figueres CCS meme above was recently posted by @SaskPowerCCS I’m happy for them to use my meme without credit. They represent the only commercial CCS with CO2 for EOR complex in the world. Their enthusiastic support for the UNFCCC chief’s comments speaks volumes.

screenshot.827

To me it is clear that the UN climate chief’s comments were tailored for the people who know that the real game lies in the continuation of coal mining, and sucking oil and gas under the nebulous cloak of “clean energy”.

 

Don’t get confused, in Ecuador the people support Correa and the Citizens’ Revolution

August 18, 2015

By Santiago Escobar

Ecuador Article

Photo: On April 15, the coordinator of Pachakutik, the political front of CONAIE movement,
met with banker and right-wing politician, Guillermo Lasso. Pachakutik and Lasso
agreed to rally against the government.

On August 13th, 2015 bankers, right-wing groups, few indigenous people, foreign funded NGOs, “radical leftists”, local and international corporate media, called to a general strike against the government of President Rafael Correa, but did not succeed in their destabilization attempts.

This plot started as a “marcha indigena” (“indigenous rally”) during which people supposedly marched over 700 kilometers across several provinces to finally reach the capital of Ecuador, Quito. However, in fact most participants traveled by SUV and gas-guzzling trucks owned by infamous CONAIE and Ecuarunari members. ‘Infamous’ because all their glory and revolutionary past vanished when these historic indigenous organizations succumbed to the old elites and joined the right wing agenda lead by banker Guillermo Lasso, who according to Wikileaks is a key contact and has strong ties to the US Embassy in Ecuador.

Don’t get confused the current CONAIE and Ecuarunari are no longer the same from the 1990s and 2000s when they stood up and fought against neo liberal governments.

Why they protest

In June 2015 wealthy elites claimed that two new bills aimed at addressing inequality and the concentration of wealth, would affect small business, families assets and all kind of entrepreneurship. In fact however, these bills would only impact less than 2% of the Ecuadorian population and no poor and middle class families. President Correa opted to temporarily withdraw the bills in an effort to promote a national debate around the pressing problem of inequality.

In this context the leadership of CONAIE and Ecuarunari not just met with banker Lasso, but also got public support from the notorious far-right mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot, the leader of Partido Social Cristiano (PSC). His PSC party has been linked to the disappearance and torture of labor, indigenous and student activists in the 90s. Part of the opposition group is also Andres Paez who has strong ties to Chevron Oil Corporation.

In this hodgepodge, Jorge Herrera head of CONAIE and Carlos Perez of Ecuarunari, both have used the same rhetoric as the ultra-reactionary Venezuelan opposition, calling to defend “freedom”, and fighting against a supposed dictatorship of Correa and to avoid becoming as Venezuela. Furthermore, both Herrera and Perez made statements against the proposed two new bills. Carlos Perez even stated that Ecuador and Venezuela are ‘like Germany and Italy’ (alluding to fascism), and that all current progressive governments in Latin America especially Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia are ‘fake leftists who are only making people poorer’.

Furthermore, these opposition groups have not accepted the invitation by Correa’s government to have an open and public dialogue, only confirming that this is part of a regional plan aiming to topple the revolutionary governments across Latin America. This real objective is also revealed by the opposition now calling the “marcha indigena” to become an indefinite general strike, which includes road blocks and violent rioters, perfectly synchronized on the heels of right-wing demonstrations against taxes on the ultra-rich.

Already in 2014 the president correctly identified that “People must prevail over capital,” adding that politics is about whose interest governments serve, asking the questions: “Elites or the majority? Capital or humankind? The market or society?

Policies and programs depend on who holds the balance of power.”

What the Correa administration has achieved

Ecuador now collects three times more in taxes than it did in 2006 (when tax evasion was rampant), allowing the government to invest in much needed infrastructure and services. As a result of this social change, President Correa has been rated as one of the most popular presidents in Latin America throughout his administration. Furthermore, political stability has returned to the Andean nation.

Correa and his supporters have won 10 elections since 2007. Promoting equality and tackling discrimination has also been given greater emphasis than in the country’s past.

This has boosted the use of different native languages, which were formerly endangered. Laws to protect minorities have also been implemented, including a law which compels companies to reserve four percent of jobs for people with disabilities, and other quotas for minority ethnic groups – such as indigenous communities and Afro-Ecuadorians – in order to narrow inequality gaps. The same has been applied in the country’s higher education system, where indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorean community inclusion has soared.

The government has also invested more than $200 million in Intercultural Bilingual Education in order to maintain and encourage indigenous languages since the start of the Citizen’s Revolution.
Also, with the new Media Law – approved in 2013 – the indigenous communities have greater access to community media. The law assigns 34 percent of the country’s radio and TV frequencies to community media. So far, 14 radio frequencies have been assigned to each of the country’s indigenous groups.

As an Ecuadorian migrant living in Canada for the past 6 years, every time I visit Ecuador I am able to see the massive re-distribution of wealth that has taken place. Now the majority of people have access to quality services. Especially the access to health and education needs to be highlighted, as 8 years ago this was only a privilege of the few. After decades of being one of the poorest countries in the region, the current government has undertaken a series of deep reforms, which have delivered remarkable changes for Ecuador’s long-excluded majority, particularly for indigenous peoples.

Before the citizen’s revolution, the Ecuadorian economy was collapsed forcing many to migrate, but today all Ecuadorian migrants are again part of the country being able to elect members of Parliament to represent our particular needs and create policies to make our lives better while living abroad. This allows us to maintain a real connection and participation with our homeland; and with numerous benefits in place for returning migrants, many are finally able to return home.

Ecuador’s fight for sovereignty has come at a price

Ecuador has shown an anti- colonial/imperialist foreign policy in order to tackle Western domination. The Correa government shut down the U.S. military base in Manta, asserted control over the country’s oil and other natural resources, taking them away from domination by multinationals, and canceled the punishing international debt. In the past three times as much was spent on debt repayment than on social services. Affecting big players in the financial world, specially US and European elites.

However, this fight for sovereignty has come at a price. On Sept. 30th 2010, a police strike ended up in a violent revolt against President Correa, who was held hostage and fenced in a hospital for several hours. Policemen openly called to assassinate President Correa the outcome of the clashes resulted in 10 deaths. Documents emerged showing massive U.S. funding for policemen and opposition groups, through USAID.

Despite this direct threat, Correa continued to assert an independent foreign policy; one of his boldest moves was granting Julian Assange asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012, a move that angered the U.K., Swedish and US governments.

Today the right wing opposition continues to receive funding from NGOs protecting US interests. According to the Bolivian and Ecuadorian heads of state, the “empire” is attacking Latin American nations with “soft coups”.

Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the Ecuadorean right of using Indigenous movements to topple President Rafael Correa, and urged them not to be treated like instruments.
“I want to tell my Indigenous brothers in Ecuador to not allow themselves to be used against the Ecuadorean government,” said President Morales

Today the rich fight against the government of the poor

When you have a well-organized plot implemented by small indigenous groups, bankers, right wing parties, “radical leftists”, local and international corporate media and the US Embassy against a revolutionary government of the people, you clearly have to choose a side.

During the coup against Allende in Chile there were only two sides. During the coup against Chavez in Venezuela there were only 2 sides. During the coup against Zelaya in Honduras there were only 2 sides.

Today in Ecuador, there are only 2 sides. The side of the people and the citizen’s revolution or the side of the right wing indigenous traitors that share the same ideas, speech and demands as the bankers and the elites.

As president Correa put it: “Before the poor had to fight against the government of the bankers. Today, the rich fight against the government of the poor, for the ‘crime’ of seeking a bit of social justice”.

 

[Santiago Escobar is an Ecuadorian citizen living in Canada since 2009. He has spent the last 4 years working on migrant workers’ rights with migrant farm workers in the Niagara region. Prior to this Escobar organized with Social Movements in both Ecuador and Venezuela implementing People’s Media platforms. In 2009 Escobar became a whistleblower in the environmental law suit against the Oil giant Chevron exposing Chevron’s corruption and dirty tricks operations in Ecuador. The evidence provided have been used in international courts exposing Chevron’s corruption. Escobar also serves as the coordinator of http://www.antichevron.ca/ campaign in Canada.]