Outside of melting glaciers and global warming discussions, Kalaallit Nunaat does not often find itself in the spotlight, and when it does, it is usually referred to as Greenland. United States president Donald Trump’s real-estate aspirations have given Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland prominence in recent news. It seems Trump is serious about the US purchasing Greenland. Judging by history, if Trump could swing such a purchase, he would certainly garner severe gravitas as a big-time deal-maker. And there is a precedent to such a real estate transaction between the US and Denmark. In 1917, Denmark sold the Danish West Indies to the US for $25 million. The islands were subsequently renamed the US Virgin Islands.
$25 million check for purchase of Danish West Indies
Said Trump about the proposed acquisition of Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland:
It’s just something we’ve talked about. Denmark essentially owns it. We’re very good allies with Denmark. We’ve protected Denmark like we protect large portions of the world, so the concept came up. Strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested, but we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not No. 1 on the burner, I can tell you that, Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal.
A lot of things can be done. It’s hurting Denmark very badly, because they’re losing almost $700 million a year carrying it. So they carry it at a great loss.
Trump, commander-in-chief of the nation responsible for “protect[ing] large portions of the world” was ostensibly unaware that the per capita GDP (2018) in economically “badly” “hurting” Denmark is $62888.7 while the US has a per capita GDP (2018) of $54541.7. Neither did Trump mention that the projected US deficit for 2019 is $896 billion.
Moreover, in conducting such a mega-real estate transaction in the media, Trump does not come across as consummate or skilled in the art of a deal.
Some Kalaallit were not impressed.
“We are not for sale and are not a commodity. If Trump really thinks so, he can only dream of it. And it also finally shows his distorted view of his fellow humans,” said Muté B. Egede, a leader of the Inuit Ataqatigiit (Community of the People), a separatist party in Kalaallit Nunaat.1
Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, was of similar opinion:
Greenland is not for sale. It’s an absurd discussion, and Kim Kielsen [Greenland’s current prime minister] has of course made it clear that Greenland is not for sale, and that is the end of this discussion.”2
Forbesstates the sale of Kalaallit Nunaat is a matter for Denmark to decide.
But as the name Kalaallit Nunaat makes clear in translation, the world’s largest island is the “Home of the Kalaallit.” Denmark is the European home country of the Danes; Kalaallit Nunaat, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, is the home country of the Kalaallit. Few would dispute this. Consequently, on might wonder what moral or rightful basis would people from one country have to sell the country of another people to a third country?
Tillie Martinussen, Kalaallit Nunaat member of parliament with the Samarbejdspartiet (Cooperation Party) responded:
That’s just completely crazy from Donald Trump. I wonder if he doesn’t do it to draw attention to the Arctic. He can’t be serious. Colonial times are over, and Donald Trump is harming the good relations Greenland and Denmark have to the US by saying something like this.
Martinussen playfully came back with a counter-offer:
We think Donald Trump should drop the plans and start by figuring out how much California, Florida and Alaska cost, as we want to buy them.1
Imagine if the deal did go through, Denmark sells Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland to the US; then, following the sale, the Kalaallit hold a binding plebiscite whereby the result shows people voted overwhelmingly to become independent.
In the central interior of the Canadian province of British Columbia is the unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. A corporate entity, Coastal GasLink (CGL), abetted by colonial-government structures, is preparing to lay a pipeline in this territory. The Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’ (hereditary chiefs) did not grant consent for this; in fact, the proposal from CGL was unanimously rejected.
On 22 July, the Gidimt’en (Wolf and Bear) Clan of the Wet’suwet’en filed a lawsuit against CGL in the BC Supreme Court connected to the enforcement on 7 January when 14 people were arrested resisting a BC Supreme Court injunction granting CGL access to the pipeline right-of-way through Wet’suwet’en territory.1
Given the state of siege and corporate Canada’s unwelcome intrusion onto Wet’suwet’en territory, what is crystal clear is that colonialism continues unabated.
Ongoing colonialism and ongoing genocide remain a reprehensible and undeniable fact in “British Columbia.”2
Overcoming Colonialism and Genocide: The Bolivian Template
To combat the insidious effects of colonialism the colonialism must be undone. South of Turtle Island is the landlocked nation of Bolivia where decolonization has been underway. Author Benjamin Dangl chronicles this in The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia (AK Press, 2019). The brilliance of The Five Hundred Year Rebellion is that it lays out one actionable template for reclaiming what settler-colonists robbed from Indigenous peoples.
There are 38 different Indigenous groups in Bolivia; populous among them are the Aymara, Quechua, and Gurani. Indigenous peoples in Bolivia have mobilized en masse to reclaim their history and empower themselves through grassroots activism. The movements were labor-, union-, academic-, and politic-oriented.
Dangl writes that after the Spanish destroyed Incan society, the Indigenous-led National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ) sought to reconstitute and solidify Bolivian ayllus (a centuries old community structure in the Andes). The Andean Oral History Workshop (THOA) reconstructed the historical narrative of Indigenous Bolivians.
Important in restoring the historical Indigenous narrative was Katarismo organized by campesino movements in the 1960s and 1970s. Kararismo is named after the Aymara martyr Túpac Katari. In 1781, Katari with his wife Bartolina Sisa (women were an important part of the movement; p 71-78) and thousands of campesinos used road blocks (an effective tactic often used by the Indigenous resistance movements) to lay siege to La Paz, the seat of government in Bolivia. However, this uprising failed and Katari was brutally quartered by the Spanish. Katari, subsequently, has been used as a icon of the resistance against the police state and military regimes. (p 49, 61)
Out of Katarismo arose the Unified Syndical Confederation of Rural Workers in Bolivia (CSUTCB). The Kataristas resisted the military governments in Bolivia and the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) that overthrew a military government in 1951. While the MNR brought in some land reforms, it sought to erase Indigenous identity. (p 25-28) The Kataristas, however, reinvoked Indigenous memory.
The CSUTCB indigenized the Bolivian Workers’ Central by, for example, recognizing Indigenous sartorial. (p 65) The solidarity was important in overthrowing military regimes.
Dangl details the importance of THOA in bringing Indigenous history to the forefront after years of being suppressed by colonialism, academia — and even Marxism (p 93). After the ayllu network was reconstructed by CONAMAQ, Indigenous surnames were retained, Indigenous narratives were incorporated into education, and Indigenous languages and culture were promoted. (p 94-104)
One particular history recovered by THOA was of the Indigenous resistance leader Santos Marka T’ula: “T’ula’s life is the vehicle of the narrative, positioned as a crucial step in a much longer journey toward justice.” (p 126)
Notable in the history of the Indigenous peoples has been a strong socialist component from the days of the Incan empire, Tawantinsuyu, to the Movement toward Socialism (MAS) governing Bolivia today. The ayllus are communal, featuring sharing and mutual aid (p 139- 140) — and even anarchistic in that leadership is rotational and decision-making consensus-based. (p 153)
Dangl describes the election of an Indigenous leader, Evo Morales, as a “watershed moment” in Bolivia. (p 163) Morales is currently standing for election to a fourth term as president of Bolivia. This is hardly rotational, but his MAS governments have made great strides for the people of Bolivia while continuing to face challenges and criticisms.
The Five Hundred Year Rebellion traces the historical path of colonial repression, historiographical and cultural destruction which was met with Indigenous resistance and the struggle for decolonization.
Solidarity is a key, and the Wet’suwet’en have reached out in their fight against colonialism.
Bolivia offers a template that might be useful in Indigenous contexts elsewhere. As such, Dangl’s book is an important source to consider for carrying out a successful resistance and achieving justice.
See Kerry Coast, author of The Colonial Present: The Rule of Ignorance and the Role of Law in British Columbia (Clarity Press and International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, 2013). Review; Tamara Starblanket, Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State (Clarity Press, 2018). Review; Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance (Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). Review; James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press, 2013); Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada (Black Rose, 1973).
concentration camp: a guarded compound for the detention or imprisonment of aliens, members of ethnic minorities, political opponents, etc., especially any of the camps established by the Nazis prior to and during World War II for the confinement and persecution of prisoners.1
The people seeking a new life in the United States are mainly an ethnic group commonly referred to as Latinos. Many of these migrants/asylum seekers are being fenced in detention centers with decidedly spartan conditions. Ergo, the affixation of the term concentration camp to the ICE detention centers seems unassailable according to dictionary definition. As to why Dictionary.com would inexplicably state “especially” Nazi camps is puzzling given that the Brits set up concentration camps during the Boer War at the end of the 19th century and the United States broke treaties and interred Indigenous peoples. In fact, many countries, Canada included, operated concentration camps contemporaneously with or prior to Nazi Germany.
To argue about which camps are/were concentration camps and which camps are/were most horrible is nugatory. To be explicit, all concentration camps are an abomination, including the ICE detention centers filled with outside-the-US arrivals.
On 18 July, the Real News’s Mark Steiner interviewed Molly Amster of Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) about “Jews across the country” organizing and protesting the detention of the people entering the US.
That is commendable. Equally commendable are the other people who identify just as people and not a particular religious, gender, ethnic affiliation and who demonstrate and speak out against injustices.
A fundamental principle of respect for human rights must be freedom of movement. National borders impinge on such a right. Everyone is a human being. For a nation to deny other human beings2 onto what it claims is its territory is fundamentally a rejection of the humanity of the Other; but more fundamentally, at its core, it is an overt denial of the rejecting nation’s own adherence to humanitarian principles.
This video, though, hints at a possible wider ethnocentrism. One might wonder why identify as “Jews United for Justice” and not “People United for Justice” or on a national level as “Americans United for Justice”?
At first blink, people concerned about the hideous treatment of those held in ICE detention centers will praise these Jews for their courage to protest. Because as one JUFJ protestor exhorts his cohort in the TRNN video, “We are calling on our people to put their bodies on the line to stop ICE.” (emphasis added)
Our people? Does that mean other people, non-Jews, are not invited to join and “put their bodies on the line”? JUFJ informed me by email that non-Jews are welcome to join their organization.
Absolutely, never again should one group of humans treat another group of humans inhumanely. Hence, anyone who identifies as a human and who believes in human rights should stand up for human rights applied to all humans.
On the homepage of Jews United for Justice is a slogan: “THINK JEWISHLY. ACT LOCALLY.” What does “Think Jewishly” mean? Do Zionist Jews think Jewishly? Do the rabbis think Jewishly? Does Benjamin Netanyahu think Jewishly? Does Noam Chomsky think Jewishly? Why not “Think humanely?” It is quite clear in its meaning: think like a human by showing compassion for other humans.
Rebecca Ennen of JUFJ replied:
For us, ‘Think Jewishly’ means that we’re driven, individually and organizationally, by a variety of Jewish traditions, identities, values, and commitments, as diverse as the range of people in our community. We draw on those traditions and values to motivate our local action and we show up proudly as Jews and a Jewish community. Obviously, ‘thinking Jewishly’ means different things to different people and we welcome the creativity and vitality this brings. For some (non-exhaustive!) examples of the Jewish that motivate our community, see pages 5-6 of our 2018 strategic plan (https://jufj.org/strategic-plan/), co-created by our leaders.
There is nothing inherently wrong with identifying with a group as long as the group one affiliates with does not discriminate against or denigrate out-group people, and as long as the in-group acts according to moral principles. The principles laid out in the strategic plan of JUFJ come across as well-intentioned.
So JUFJ acts on principle by demonstrating against the ICE detentions of non-Americans.
What about the Palestinians?
I asked, “I know your slogan is ‘Think Jewishly. Act Locally,’ but has Jews United for Justice a stated position regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine, especially in light of the ‘Never again’ (which I agree with) spoken at the demos against ICE detentions? If not, shouldn’t Jews United for Justice press the US government on this issue because it is deeply an American issue as well?”
JUFJ works at the local and state level in DC and Maryland on issues of racial, economic, and social justice. People in our community have a very wide range of views on the issues of Palestine and Israel, and many of our community members also take part in a wide range of other organizations that work on those issues.
For me, Ennen completely skirted the occupation of Palestine issue. Among the Jewish Values listed on page 5 of the strategic plan is “Emancipation from Oppression.” The occupation of historical Palestine is rooted in racism towards the indigenous people of Palestine. Professor Noam Chomsky wrote, “Contempt for the Arab population is deeply rooted in Zionist thought.”3 Chomsky is also clear that one should above all agitate against the violence of one’s own state.4 However, JUFJ identify overtly as Jews and not as Americans. Acting locally seems to provide an out for JUFJ. But at the local level, the JUFJ could, for example, pledge support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, or oppose the US government’s embassy move to Jerusalem in violation of UNGA 181, or oppose the US billions of dollars going to support an apartheid state.
Similar things happening
Molly Amster of JUFJ seems unaware of the atrocities being committed against Palestinians by Jews. Amster said of the ICE raids, “But to see these things happening that we actually really never thought would happen again to another group of people, and seeing it be so similar — the messages of other, the messages of, you know, these are not only other, but not human.” (emphasis added)
How can an otherwise informed Jew be unaware of state-sanctioned Jewish settler encroachment upon more and more Palestinian territory, destroying Palestinian agriculture, poisoning the water, etc.? About the illegal separation wall, much of it built on the Palestinian land? About the tens of thousands of Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel since 1967?5 About the intentional, indiscriminate killing of Palestinians?
These similar things have been happening ever since the drive to form a Jewish state in historical Palestine. By all means stand up and speak up for the humans arriving at the US border. But when Jews are mute about war crimes committed by a group that also identify as Jews, by a people living in the Jewish state, then it appears as if the good deeds performed under the same group affiliation serves as propagandistic and as a distraction from the occupation and horrific oppression heaped on the Other.
If you are opposed to oppression, then the principled stand is to oppose all oppression; especially, one has a duty to oppose oppression carried out in the name of a group one chooses to affiliate with.
There are certainly grounds for keeping certain individuals outside a society such as a record of having committed dangerous crimes.
Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (Pluto Press, 1999): 481.
“My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences.” In Noam Chomsky, On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures (South End Press, 1987).
President Donald Trump has once again stepped into the doggy-doo of comments that point to being a racist. Tweeted Trump:
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly……
….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how….
The House of Representatives voted 240-187 to condemn Trump’s tweets as racist. The vote largely followed party lines with the exception of four Republicans who voted against their president.
Elsewhere in the supposed Land of the Free, ICE raids are being carried out to apprehend any undocumented people. And migrants/asylum seekers are being detained in what are likened to concentration camps.
The charge of racism has plagued the entire duration of the Trump presidency.
In the run up to the 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton described half of Donald Trump’s base as “deplorables” holding racist attitudes. Indeed, many of Trump’s policies do negatively target people of color and leave working Americans worse off. But is the question of whether Trump is a racist not a distraction for a bigger elephant in the room?
On 11 January 2018 while discussing immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries United States president Donald Trump was quoted as asking, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville was quick to denounce Trump: “There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”
Democratic senator Dick Durbin – who was at the meeting with Trump – affirmed the quotation: “Shithole was the exact word used once not twice but repeatedly.”
Trump denied the quotation attributed to him, and he denied being a racist. Republican senator David Perdue, who was also at the meeting, called Durbin’s claim “a gross misrepresentation.”
Nonetheless, criticism of Trump was widespread. The effect will be minimal as Trump appeals to a different base. He plays the patriot’s card to curry favor with the working masses. Hence his nostalgic campaign slogan was “Making America Great, Again?”1
What was Trump’s plan to reestablish the greatness of America?
PolitiFact noted that Trump’s campaign promises were targeted at changes to immigration, trade, taxes and foreign policy.2 Of the top 10 campaign promises, five are clearly aimed against non-White countries.
The pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexican border hearkens to keeping brown-skinned Mexicans out; and to up the ante, Trump stated he’d even make Mexico pay for the wall. Mexico is a country that the US fought, defeated, and forced to cede over half its territory.
A second promise was to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US. And on 27 January 2017, Trump signed an executive order halting all refugee admissions and temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. All are countries that the US has attacked militarily in recent times.
Trump then called for tariffs on goods made in China and Mexico. China represents the largest trade deficit for the US. But why Mexico? The US’s trade deficit with Mexico is smaller than that with the European Union (or even just Germany). Hence, the call for imposing tariffs appears ethnically targeted, although Japan, the US’s third largest trade deficit partner, is excluded from the call for imposing tariffs.3 Japan, however, is a crucial lynchpin for US military objectives in East Asia, hosting several US bases.
Although Trump says he opposed the invasion of Iraq, he maintains that the US ought to have kept the oil fields in Iraq. Nonetheless, he desires another chance to get the oil.
Keeping the oil, however, would require an invasion, long-lasting occupation, and a costly reconstruction.
Trump’s Middle East policy has been intensely and unapologetically pro-Israel as demonstrated by the appointment of his son-in-law Jared Kushner as presidential advisor and assigning him responsibility for negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine. It is a questionable appointment beyond the apparent nepotism as the Jewish Kushner and his family is deeply connected with the Israeli government and Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu.4 Thus, it is unsurprising that Trump went against decades of US policy and United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 and recognized Jerusalem/Al Quds as the capital of Israel. UNGA 181 had designated Jerusalem as a corpus separatum to be governed by an international regime. The US embassy move was opposed by a 14 to 1 vote of the UN Security Council, the lone vote against being the US veto. The UNGA also weighed in against the embassy move by a vote of 128 to 9.
In essence, the US has picked sides, marginalized the UN, and is breaking international law by defying the special status of Jerusalem.
Trump has supported Israeli goals through US violence against the Syrian government.5 He also pleased Netanyahu by decertifying Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement. This he did despite it being contrary to the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the P5+1, and the US government that Tehran is in compliance.
Iran is being backed into an economic corner by sanctions. The worse case scenario is WWIII. Maladroit political posturing and military brinksmanship could foolishly unleash the forces of a war in the region that might spread to engulf the world.
Trump – chagrined that a nuclear deterrent, purportedly within range of continental America, has been achieved by the Democratic Republic of Korea – spoke ominously to the UNGA that “if it [the US] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” First, North Korea pledges a no-first-use of nuclear weapons. Second, no rational person would suggest for a moment that North Korea would initiate an attack against the US or its allies. Consequently, serious analysts look upon Trump’s genocidal threat as dangerous bloviating.
North Korea’s neighbor, the economic powerhouse China also engenders Trump’s undiplomatic scorn. From a Chinese viewpoint, Trump must be considered a mixed bag.6
The slights are many, from offering China’s Communist Party chairman Xi Jinping a burger dinner, side-stepping the one-China policy, haranguing China on North Korea, to complaining about the trade balance as “very unfair and one-sided.” Said Trump, “… what [Xi’s] done is sucked all of our jobs and he’s sucked the money right out of our country…”
Another flashpoint is the South China Sea where the US insists on causing waves by sending warships.7
Thus China felt the need, according to some reports, to intentionally unveil China’s most powerful ICBM, the Dongfeng-41, at the time of Trump’s inauguration. Konstantin Sivkov, president of the Moscow-based Academy of Geopolitical Problems, stated: “This is China’s response to threats pronounced by the new US president, Donald Trump.”8
Looming over the Pivot to Asia that Trump inherited from his predecessor, Barack Obama, are the dark economic clouds of Trump’s trade strategy that has the debt-ridden US mired in a trade war with China, a spat that is threatening the world economy.
On the Homefront
While honoring Navajo veterans of World War II at the White House, Trump caused a brouhaha by referencing “Pocahontas.” An op-ed in the New York Times excoriated Trump who “once again underscored the degree to which he is openly hostile to people of color — I call that racism and bigotry” … “The Trump Doctrine is White Supremacy.”9
Is “Pocahontas” a racial slur? For words to be a slur, then there must be intent. At worst, Trump is an open racist; at best, Trump comes across as blithely ignorant.
In the vein of actions speaking louder than words, Trump’s signing of the Dakota Access Order dismayed the Standing Rock Sioux, aligned Indigenous peoples, and environmentalists opposed to the pipeline project fearing it will contaminate drinking water. Tom B.K. Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, released a statement calling Trump’s actions “insane and extreme, and nothing short of attacks on our ancestral homelands as Indigenous peoples.”
That White supremacism flourishes among a segment of Americans was attested to by violence that flared between the extreme right and counter protestors in Charlottesville, VA that led to the killing of Heather Heyer and injury to 19 people. Trump condemned the murder saying, “I thought what took place was a horrible moment for the country, but there are two sides to a story.” Two days later he repeated his condemnation of “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”
Likeliest there was violence on both sides; seldom will one side remain completely passive in the face of violence against it. However, what critics were seeking was a clear-cut denunciation of racism from Trump without the obfuscation of which sides were involved in the violence.
Trump’s ire was also evoked by the peaceful protests of National Football League (predominantly Black) players who were taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. This was started by blackballed quarterback Colin Kaepernick (no pun intended, but Kaepernick has since been denied employment by the NFL’s all-White team ownership – excluding Pakistani-born owner Shahid Khan who showed solidarity with his players against Trump’s divisive comments) who took a public stand against systemic oppression, police brutality, and the lack of justice for people of color in the US. Right-wingers, however, transmogrified the protests into disrespect for the flag and the US military.
Trump had a suggestion: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired.’”
Trump called the taking of the knee “a total disrespect for our heritage; that’s a total disrespect for everything that we stand for.”
Among Trump’s “we” is a section of the working class whose “cultural anxiety”10 Trump successfully tapped into at the ballot box. But bolstering military spending and tax cuts that preponderantly reward the wealthy (right-wing Fortune magazine called it a win for big business11 do little to ease the economic plight of working Americans. The liberal magazine Nation argued that Trump has worsened the worker’s situation:
The rollback of labor rights and protections since Trump took office is staggering. It puts worker safety at risk and guarantees that many workers will earn less, but that’s not all. Measures to help victims of discrimination receive redress are on the scrap heap. Unions are running scared.12
Race and Politics
Aside from being ineloquent, is Trump appreciably worse than previous US presidents? A dozen US presidents, including so-called founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were slave owners.13
Moreover, is the US not a nation state established through warring against the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island14 and depriving them of their territories?
The first US president George Washington regarded Indigenous peoples as wolves: “both being beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.”15 The Haudenosaunee called Washington the “town destroyer” for demolishing their villages.16
Thomas Jefferson boasted: “in war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy all of them.”17
Andrew Jackson referred to the Indigenous peoples as “savage dogs” and bragged of preserving a scalp collection.18
Theodore Roosevelt’s racism was unabashed, “I suppose I should be ashamed to say that I take the western view of the Indian. I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indian is the dead Indian, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian.”19
Is Trump a Racist?
Trump denies being a racist. Orrin Hatch, the Republican senator for Utah, agreed, “I know Donald Trump. I don’t think there is a racist bone in his body.”
Trump’s policy plank seems to indicate a racially motivated policy. But does the policy substantially differ from that which the Democrats pursued during their days in political office?
The ICE raids of today hearken back to the Palmer Raids to round up immigrants in the early 20th century. Concentration camps are also not new to the US as Indigenous peoples and Japanese Americans found themselves interred in such facilities.
The focus on whether Trump is racist, and whether Trump has genuine concern for American workers, serves as distraction. A spotlight is usually shone on American leaders who will invariably claim that the US is a beacon on the hill, an indispensable nation, an exceptional nation. Leaders have a role, but they function within a system. History reveals that the US is a system born out of racism, a system whose Declaration of Independence derided the original occupants of Turtle Island as “merciless Indian savages” and removed them from their land, a system that exploited slave labor, a system that currently exploits wage slaves, and is a war-based economy.
Many countries in the world can be described as economic backwaters, yet much of the blame for this can be laid at the feet of the White world for, among other things, a history of colonialism, slavery, economic exploitation, support for dictators, corrupt lending practices, and odious debt.
Trump has had an embattled presidency. A section of the system is fighting Trump – who is also a part of the system. Removing Trump would change the face in the Oval Office, but the system would continue. Deplorable as Trump is, the biggest enemy of a moral universe is the system of militarist-capitalism.
Who should determine the designation of a continent: the people who have resided there since time immemorial or newcomers from the continent of Europe? Europeans chose the designation “North America” after one of their citizens. “Turtle Island” is a designation stemming from the legends of Indigenous peoples. See Kim Petersen, “America: The Morality of a Geopolitical Designation,” Dissident Voice, 6 August 2014.
David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (London: Oxford University Press, 1992): 119.
From Roland Bainton, Early Christianity (Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1960). Cited in Stannard, 120.
Hermann Hagedorn, Roosevelt in the Bad Lands (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1921): 355.
In February 2003, protest organizers estimated that nearly 2 million people took to the streets of London in opposition to going to war against Iraq. United States president George W. Bush came across as dismissive of the protestors, likening them to a “focus group.”1 The number of protestors did not deter Bush and United Kingdom prime minister Tony Blair from their path.
The aftermath was that the US, UK, and other allies initiated a lopsided war based on “intelligence and facts [that] were being fixed around the policy” of military action.2 Iraq did not possess weapons-of-mass destruction; it was as United Nations weapons inspector had warned beforehand that Iraq was “fundamentally disarmed.” What transpired was an act of aggression — which the Nuremberg Tribunal described thusly:
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
Furthermore, the US-led debacle against a sanctions-weakened Iraq is compellingly argued, by lawyers Abdul Haq al-Ani and Tarik al-Ani, as an act of genocide by the US, UK, allies, and the UN Security Council.3
Two Million Demonstrators Take to the Streets of Hong Kong
On 27 June, the Hong Kong Free Pressreported about 200 people protesting outside secretary for justice Teresa Cheng’s office. On the following day, a counter demonstration of around 200 people made the rounds of 19 foreign consulates demanding that foreign countries not interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong
Just days earlier, crowds estimated at one and two million people took to the streets to protest in Hong Kong. Protest against what?
Fingers point to a gruesome incident that occurred between a Hong Kong couple while on vacation in Taiwan. A young, pregnant woman was murdered, allegedly by her boyfriend. The boyfriend was jailed for the theft of her money and personal effects, but a trial for the killing outside of Hong Kong’s jurisdiction is prevented. And there is no extradition agreement between Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The possibility of a release as early as October of 2019 has been provided as a reason for the expedited passing of an extradition bill.
What was unexpected was that so many Hong Kongers would oppose it.
The protests have been effective in first having amendments made to the bill, and subsequently sidelining the bill, but it may be resurrected for a vote at a later date. The Hong Kong government amended the extradition law to serious criminal offenses only, those carrying a minimum sentence of 7 years’ jail time, for those who committed a crime elsewhere and returned to Hong Kong. A person who commits an offense in Hong Kong would not be extradited to mainland China.
The Boogeyman of Fear
Why the hullabaloo over an extradition bill when Hong Kong already has extradition agreements with 20 countries, including the UK and US?
Why should an extradition agreement with other countries cause such a ruckus? If one peruses the corporate-state media, a clear answer emerges: fear; it is a perceived fear of what China may do to a person extradited to the mainland. Is this a rational or justifiable fear?
The South China Morning Poststates, “[C]ritics fear Beijing may abuse the new arrangement to target political activists.”
Germany’s DW cites critics who say China “has a poor legal and human rights record.”
“Protests have been raging in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill, which, if approved, would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.”
Al Jazeerawrites that people in Hong Kong fear China’s encroachment on their rights.
The Guardianhighlights a Hong Konger who was “waving a large Union Jack flag, a tribute to the British colonial era before the city was handed back to China’s rule, and implicit attack on Beijing.”
The Guardian article claims, “The alarm over the bill underscores many Hong Kong residents’ rising anxiety and frustration over the erosion of civil liberties that have set the city apart from the rest of China.”
The New York Timesdownplayed Chinese sovereignty over the semi-autonomous Hong Kong by pointing to a large, white banner which read, “This is Hong Kong, not China.”
The Financial Timeswrites, “Critics fear the law would allow Beijing to seize anyone it likes who sets foot in the territory — from a normal resident to the chief executive of a multinational in transit — and whisk them off to mainland China on trumped up charges.”
What about Edward Snowden?
Back in 2013, ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden left the US for Hong Kong with a thumb-drive stash of secret NSA documents, which he turned over to some hand-picked journalists. Snowden was not beyond the reach of the US in Hong Kong, and the American government sought his extradition. Snowden, however, was allowed to depart Hong Kong for Moscow. Apparently, the Americans “had mucked up the legal paperwork.”
Hong Kong had no choice but to let the 30-year-old leave for “a third country through a lawful and normal channel.”
Those refugees in Hong Kong who helped Snowden elude apprehension have not fared as well as Snowden. Human-rights lawyer Robert Tibbo described the situation bluntly: “Refugees are marginalized to such an extent, that they are Hong Kong’s own version of Untouchables.”
Yet, despite what is transpiring in their own backyard, Hong Kongers are in the streets saying they fear what might happen to those who might be extradited to mainland China.
What about Julian Assange?
Hong Kongers and the state-corporate media are expressing fear about what China may do. But what about two countries that Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with — the US and the UK? One only need point to the current egregious abuses meted out to Julian Assange to dispel any notion of justice. And why is Assange’s extradition being sought? For exposing US war crimes!
Relations with Mainland China
China’s chairman Xi Jinping is unremitting in his battle against corruption, but also his political platform includes “promot[ing] social fairness and justice as core values.”4 Is this something to fear?
There is the case of the disappearance of Hong Kong booksellers. There is also concern about the arrest of human rights lawyers in China. I am not about to state that the application of the law in China is perfect. But where is justice perfect? China does practice censorship, but freedom to speak has limits. One instance of when censorship is justified: to prevent the dissemination and spread of disinformation. Consider the image at left, while the actual size of the demonstrations were massive, the image was “heavily edited — cropped and mirrored — to multiply the size of the crowd.” It has gone viral with subsequent republications failing to mention the editing and cropping.
Then there is the omission of information, such as the purported funding of the protests in Hong Kong by the US government and a notorious CIA-affiliated NGO, the National Endowment for Democracy. This is backed by various western governments expressing sympathy for the Hong Kong protestors.
The often bandied-about criticisms concerning China are of authoritarianism, lack of democracy, and lack of freedom.
Is China authoritarian? China, through the Communist Party of China, defines itself as a state practicing socialism with Chinese characteristics. It promotes as its core values: prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, the rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendliness. China practices utilitarianism aiming its policies at what best benefits the majority of its citizens. China promotes peace and harmony; it emphasizes diplomacy and avoidance of war.
To allays fears, Xi said in a speech in Berlin:
As China continues to grow, some people start to worry. Some take a dark view of China and assume that it will inevitably become a threat as it develops further. They even portray China as being the terrifying Mephisto who will someday suck the soul of the world. Such absurdity couldn’t be more ridiculous, yet some people, regrettably, never tire of preaching it. This shows prejudice is indeed hard to overcome….
The pursuit of peace, amity and harmony is an integral part of the Chinese character which runs deep in the blood of the Chinese people. This can be evidenced by axioms from ancient China such as: “A warlike state, however big it may be, will eventually perish.”5
Democracy? Wei Ling Chua in his book, Democracy: What the West Can Learn from China, sought to compare and contrast the effectiveness of western and Chinese political systems scientifically. The assumption is that the well-being of the citizenry is the raison d’être of a government. To determine this, Chua gauged government responsiveness to the needs of the people during a disaster. The response of the Australian and American governments compared unfavorably with the Chinese government’s response to disasters. Chua writes this is because “… the culture and beliefs of the Communist Party in China is more people-oriented than those of the capitalist elites in the West.”6 Besides, what democracy did Hong Kong enjoy under British until the time of a handover approached? Is not the imposition of colonial status through war to facilitate opium exports a total abnegation of democracy and freedom?7
I have lived in China for a number of years, and I feel just as free here as anywhere. Of course, I wouldn’t stand on a soapbox with a megaphone and shout anti-China slogans, but I wouldn’t do that anywhere about that country’s government. The right to peaceful protest, however, should be respected. The Chinese people around me do not complain of feeling unfree. As already stated, there is censorship. Very few people here are aware of the protests taking place in Hong Kong. But freedom is not just about speech. What about freedom from poverty? One in five Hong Kongers live in poverty, a number that is on the increase in Hong Kong. Contrariwise, the year 2020 is targeted as the year that poverty is eliminated in China.
Charles Chow (pseudonym for an American who lives on and off in Hong Kong) gave his perspective:
The big issue isn’t the [extradition] bill at all or even the relative lack of democracy in Hong Kong…. It’s two fundamental issues that have existed since the colonial era, but worsened since the handover: a growing wealth gap and the lack of affordable housing. The government hasn’t done much to resolve them and neither has China. Their failure to tackle these problems has made Hong Kongers less trustful of them and more irritable overall. Therefore, even small controversies will point back to these bigger issues.
I agree with Chow’s identification of two fundamental issues. However, I fail to see why in a one country, two systems situation that Beijing should be held responsible for the resolution of problems associated with the Hong Kong system of governance. Moreover, the yawning chasm in the percentage of those living in poverty under the system in Hong Kong versus the system in mainland China (under 1%, for a much larger territory with a huge population, therefore, posing greater challenges for effective governance) suggests the Hong Kong system is majorly flawed in at least one important aspect.
Now it’s 22 years after the handover–an entire generation has passed. The legacy of colonialism will linger for a while, but the current government has had two decades to resolve any problem the British left behind. Hong Kong’s economy is still robust, but its gains have been unequally distributed.8
Its housing prices are just obscene–especially given the size and build quality of the properties they represent. Neither problem shows any sign of abating and both are, in fact, getting worse. Thus, even some Hong Kongers who are pro-Beijing have expressed concern over both problems because they know neither discriminates by political affiliation. Where they differ from the pro-democracy crowd is how to resolve them.
The pro-democracy folks believe giving more people a say in how Hong Kong operates (in other words, more democracy) is the solution. The pro-Beijing folks think the current government, along with China, should be able to do something. But this government, beholden as it is to the tycoons and China (such an odd couple), isn’t going to tackle these problems. Because it won’t, it has created a growing body of restless Hong Kongers, many of whom were once apolitical and probably even opposed Occupy in 2014.
It didn’t have to be this way. In a fairer world, Hong Kong would have a manageable wealth gap and be able to provide affordable housing for most of its people. In such a scenario, even most people who aren’t crazy about China would accept its sovereignty and foreign attempts to get them to protest Chinese rule would go nowhere.
Even if an extradition bill were proposed, there’d be fewer people showing a concern over it.
Imagine if a country were to invade and occupy Hawai’i for the next century9, after which Hawai’i would be semi-liberated from occupation. Would Hawaiians wish to rejoin the US? Might not new systems, cultures, and languages have been injected during the occupation/colonization have affected the mindset of the later generations?
The roots of the opposition that many Hong Kongers feel toward the extradition bill arguably lies further back in history. Clear-minded logic leads to the realization that if Britain had not started the Opium Wars (a crime of aggression) and occupied Hong Kong, thus severing Hong Kong from Beijing’s rule, there never would have been a need for the difficulties that arise from the one country, two systems currently in place. A de facto city-state would never have been able to become a haven for fugitives from the central government. Hong Kong would have remained a part of China. The same logic holds true in the case of Taiwan. If Japan had not occupied Taiwan, and if the US had not intervened to protect the Guomindang remnants that fled across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan would likeliest have remained a part of China to this day.
The source of the current tensions in Hong Kong did not originate in Beijing (unless one blames Beijing for being too militarily weak to protect its territorial integrity and prevent its citizens from being transformed into drug addicts).
This is missing from much of the western corporate-state media news. While China seeks to safeguard sovereignty over its landmass, Britain holds fast to its enclave in Northern Ireland. It ignores justice and maintains an ethnic cleansing that it and the US imposed on the people of the Chagos archipelago. The US itself is a nation erected through the denationalization of Indigenous nations.10
How is it then that western nations and their western media have a moral leg to stand on when criticizing other nations, such as China, for fear of criminality that pale in comparison to those crimes that the western nations have committed?
Can two million marchers be wrong? They are not wrong about the right to march or the right to protest. Are they wrong to oppose the extradition of persons for serious offenses to China? Are they wrong to fear China? Do they genuinely fear China? This fear of mainland China is seemingly so negligible that 6.9 million of the 7.4 million Hong Kongers hold a Homeland Return Permit to ease travel to and from China. Is it sensible for people to travel to a jurisdiction that they fear?
The comparison is stark.
Compare protesting the launching of a war wherein upwards of 600,000 people were killed11 (now being killed that is something that most people fear) to protesting the upholding of law to ensure murderers should face justice. If, indeed, China is governed by a scofflaw government, then there is a justification for having fear. But before casting final judgement, western countries ought to look deeply into the mirror, the mirror that reflects the not-so-long-ago devastations of Palestine, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and other lands. China’s last battles were with India and Viet Nam many decades ago. The Communist Party of China (CPC) states an abhorrence of wars and promotes peaceful resolution of differences.5
The CPC acknowledges that it is dependent on the support of the people; without it the party will fall. The CPC’s raison d’être is the well-being of the people, what is called the Chinese Dream.
It would be foolish and contradictory for Beijing to upset Hong Kongers. Harmony is, after all, a core value of socialism. The one country, two systems is due to expire in 2047. Likewise, Hong Kong has nothing to gain from irritating Beijing. However, should Hong Kong integrate into the economic system of China, it stands to see the elimination of poverty in the former British colony.
Said Bush, “First of all, you know, size of protests–it’s like deciding, `Well, I’m going to decide policy based upon a focus group.’ The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon, in this case, the security of the people.”
As revealed in the Downing Street Memo. The website, however, no longer is accessible. The page reads: This Account has been suspended. The memo is available at this pdf.
See Abdul Haq al-Ani and Tarik al-Ani, Genocide in Iraq: The Case Against the UN Security Council and Member States. Review.
“We should address the people’s proper and lawful demands on matters affecting their interests, and improve the institutions that are important for safeguarding their vital interests.” Xi Jinping, The Governance of China (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014): 35%.
Xi Jinping, “China’s Commitment to Peaceful Development” in The Governance of China: 35%.
Wei Ling Chua, Democracy: What the West Can Learn from China (2013): location 1214. Review.
It could be construed as a badge of professional honor that a news broadcaster is open to presenting a wide range of views. This might especially be considered so when the corporate-state media is parochially aligned to portraying an unskeptical right-wing, warmongering bizzaro worldview where left-wing (defined as socialist, communist, anarchist… not Democrats or Liberals who frequently bang the drums of war and toe the neoliberal line), pro-peace types are absent or marginalized to the fringes.
A recent segment with RT America anchor Rick Sanchez led me to question again whether Sanchez is doing the news again or opining again? He opens by discussing the friendly, deepening relations between president Vladimir Putin’s Russia and chairman Xi Jinping’s China. He asks:
Here’s the question really, right? Is this a union of strength, convenience, of necessity, of revenge, or somehow all of the above?
Of convenience, of necessity, of revenge? Are these among the best speculations of Sanchez?
Rick Sanchez interviewed John Jordan, a frequent guest on RT America. Sanchez asked Jordan: “Can you, can you, can we, can anybody blame Russia for jumping into China’s … loving arms?” Really, where does a news anchor come up with such questions?
Jordan presented his bona fides. He stated he was an American patriot on air to present the American viewpoint. He said he has “studied Russian history and culture in excruciating detail” and that he speaks Russian. Such a background does, indeed, confer gravitas. But gravitas can be nullified by the bias of patriotism.
Jordan stated “that as a friend of Russia that Russia will rue the day it did this [more closely ally with China through accepting Huawei’s 5G].” Jordan provides as a rationale that the Chinese government, legally, has a right to access all made in China technology. Thus he fears that this will be “an enormous intelligence gathering tool for China.” He adds that this could have “a chilling effect of investment into Russia.”
Jordan points out that other countries need not be dependent on Huawei for 5G and neither on American 5G; there are companies in other countries besides the United States that sell 5G. This is a crucial point since, as revealed by ex-NSA official William Binney, ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden, and by WikiLeaks, the US is deeply involved in intelligence gathering, as are American companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and social media such as Facebook.
Time to do news? What is the evidence — beyond mere conjecture — that Huawei would be an intelligence gathering instrument? Have US corporations ever offered a no-spying pact with foreign governments as Huawei has done?
It is too easy to tear apart any thread of rationality to what Jordan says. Jordan professes to be an American patriot. First, it reeks of a double standard to demonize China for what the US, as is well-known by Jordan, also does. Second, why is it even necessary to wave a flag of patriotism? My country right or wrong? Does love of a geo-political entity triumph love of humanity? Love of morality? Love of truth?
And why shouldn’t Russia and China be close partners? That often happens when countries, like Russia and China, are neighbors that share a long border where transportation and communication are easier. First, it makes good economic sense to trade with a neighbor who has goods you want and who also wants your goods. Second, being populous countries, economies of scale also come into advantageous play. Third, the China-Russia union connects both to Europe and Asia. Fourth, both these countries find themselves surrounded by American military bases, navy ships, and weaponry. As such, it also makes clear military sense to create strength through a union.
The overarching question that Sanchez and Jordan do not deal with is why Huawei would shoot itself in its economic foot? 5G technology is poised to be a financial windmill in the near future for Huawei and China, and it seems the US is far behind in this technology. As far as speculation goes, this would be a strong motive for a hyper-American patriot to jump to the defense of US interests by demonizing an economic competitor that is outpacing US economic growth.
Foreign Affairs, a staunch brick in the establishment media edifice, just resurrected the events of Tiananmen Square from 30 years ago in “The New Tiananmen papers.”
… the number of demonstrators increased to perhaps as many as a million, including citizens from many walks of life. The students occupying the square declared a hunger strike, their demands grew more radical, and demonstrations spread to hundreds of other cities around the country. Deng decided to declare martial law, to take effect on May 20.
But the demonstrators dug in, and Deng ordered the use of force to commence on the night of June 3. Over the next 24 hours, hundreds were killed, if not more; the precise death toll is still unknown. The violence provoked widespread revulsion throughout Chinese society and led to international condemnation, …
Sounds like more of the same old from corporate-state entities.
Elsewhere comes the imposing figure of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who appears, as if on cue, with an “aggressive soundbite” about China that was reported by RT.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang dismissed the smear as “nonsense.”
RT America anchor Rick Sanchez characterized the Chinese response as, “You are gonna criticize us because of what happened at Tiananmen Square three decades ago?”
At this point my bullshit detector clicked into action.
Continued Sanchez, “This Tiananmen Square thing, um, that’s a heck of an insult right to go after something that is so sensitive to them?”
Tiananmen Square thing!? At least Sanchez didn’t utter the M word (massacre).
Sanchez’ protege, Michele Greenstein, however, had done her homework. She pointed out how effective the Tiananmen Square thing had been in demonizing China and that many had fallen for the “imperialist line.” Imagine that, hearing the word imperialist uttered on media? America’s imperialist line even! The Tiananmen Square thing she averred has been “thoroughly discredited.” She provided many examples of media people who had recanted their testimonies of that time, and added, “There’s still not a lot to prove it [a massacre] happened.”
Sanchez responded immediately. He, apparently, couldn’t let that stand. He asserted,
But we’re not gonna give them [China] a pass either because things that happened during that era in Tiananmen Square, whatever happened there was not good. It wasn’t exactly a glowing example of freedom in any country so.
Greenstein deferred to her senior colleague, “You could certainly say that.”
At first blush, it seems as though Greenstein is in agreement with the sentiment expressed by Sanchez. But what exactly do her words mean? Those words by themselves are actually very non-committal on Greenstein’s part because, of course, people can certainly say whatever they want. That is what freedom of speech and freedom of expression are about.
Sanchez can often be heard on air to state, “This is the news with Rick Sanchez where we believe it is time to do news again.”
But what Sanchez did in this instance was opine; he did not do news. Probably no entity should be given a free pass. That would be contrary to investigative journalism and reporting the facts as the evidence points them out to be. But Sanchez singled China out specifically, and in so doing he cast an aspersion on China. He provided no evidence to substantiate his opinion. He failed to discuss what it was that was not good, so that was left hanging over China.
Should Disinformation be Allowed to Run Rampant?
Recently, ABC News ran a headline, “Tiananmen Square 30th anniversary: How China erased iconic ‘tank man’ image for young people.” My experience is that this is true. Very few Chinese people seem to know who the “tank man,” as the anonymous person has come to be known, is. Very few Chinese people seem to know much, if anything, about what happened in Tiananmen Square at that time. But for some reason people outside China deem that they know better.
A thought experiment is in order. Imagine someone puts out a false story about you that is very unflattering, downright embarrassing and damaging, and then spreads that lie far and wide and never lets up on spreading the lie. How would you feel? If you could stop the lie, even make it disappear, would you not do so?
By analogy, if the events surrounding the student-led protests from 30 years ago in Tiananmen Square have been twisted in an exceedingly Machiavellian manner to cast mendacious aspersions on the Chinese government, is the Chinese government not within its rights as an unfairly maligned party to remove and stymie the lies?
As for the tank man? What do you see in the below video? Do you see an evil government and vicious military at work?
Or do you see tanks concerned about harming another human being, stopping to avoid a collision, attempting to maneuver around the man? Do you agree, as the man in the video says, “They [the tank personnel] are showing a lot of restraint”?
How is it that this video clip carries such negative connotations in western monopoly media? Ask yourself if a person in the US had dared to step in front of a line of tanks, would he would have been escorted away with kid gloves?
The participants at the 2004 Halifax International Symposium on Media and Disinformation unanimously declared:
1. Disinformation—its creation and propagation—is a crime against humanity and a crime against peace;
2. Those responsible for the creation, propagation, and orchestration of disinformation campaigns should be indicted for crimes against humanity and peace.
Therefore, China, in blocking disinformation, is arguably acting in prevention of a crime against humanity.1
Doing the news again
What does Sanchez know about freedom in China? What does he know about freedom in China compared to other countries? What about freedom from poverty which China is on target to achieve in 2020?
RT is by far one of the best video news outlets. There are so many guests that appear on RT that would never or rarely be permitted to appear on corporate-state news outlets.
Rick Sanchez himself is usually quite, quite good. So please, Mr Sanchez, don’t opine. Do the news. Go ahead and dig into the “Tiananmen Square thing,” and bring the historical background information and facts to light. What was it that happened in Tiananmen Square (or thereabouts)? Whatever happening was it that was not good? Who was behind the “not good” happening?
I suggest a good place to start is with Wei Ling Chua who researched and wrote Tiananmen Square “Massacre”? The Power of Words vs. Silent Evidence.2 Chua has quite compellingly exposed the disinformation surrounding so many facets about what the corporate-state media first reported happening in Tiananmen Square 30 years ago.
Granted it can be a slippery slope when the boundaries of disinformation are breached by blocking information that someone doesn’t like.
Plutocracy V: Subterranean Fire, written and directed by Scott Noble, continues the run of quality documentaries by Metanoia Films. The film provides the historical context that allows the viewer to understand why inequality reigns while social justice and peace lag today. The, at first blink, curious title stems from a quotation by the American labor leader August Spies, who was one of four anarchists hanged in 1887 after being found guilty in the bomb explosion that wounded and killed several policemen and civilians in what became known as the Haymarket affair.
Said Spies to the court:
But, if you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement—the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil and live in want and misery, the wage slaves, expect salvation—if this is your opinion, then hang us!
Here you will tread upon a spark, but here, and there, and behind you, and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up.
It is a subterranean fire.
Subterranean Fire documents historically how the capitalist class have nefariously accumulated wealth and power for selfish purposes by depriving working people of dignity and rights.
Subterranean Fire details at the outset how strike actions and popular revolts were put down by corporations through their cronies, including police, private detectives, vigilantes, and even the National Guard. In the Homestead strike of 1892, after workers had defeated the Pinkerton agency’s private army, the National Guard was brought out.
According to data cited in the film, in 1929, 60 percent of the population lived well below the poverty line. Despite large increases in productivity, there was no trickle down of profits. Neither was there a social safety net.
Labor historian Peter Rachleff tells how organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army were enmeshed in the capitalist pattern, categorizing the poor into deserving and undeserving of assistance based on what their “interrogations” uncovered about one’s life style. The unemployed were often blamed for being without employment.
Violence against workers was rampant, and the government was complicit in the violence. The über-rich industrialist Henry Ford hired armed guards to crush disenchanted workers. These armed guards shot and killed hunger marchers from the River Rouge plant.
Finally in 1935, unions were legalized. There was hope. A crafts union, the AFL was formed; also formed was an industrial workers union, the CIO. These two were to merge years later into the AFL-CIO.
Subterranean Fire informs how unions sought to end prejudice — an obvious sine qua non in the battle between the moneyed power of the capitalist class and working class.
A message that is compelling and clearly conveyed is that government (and hence “democracy”) is not a force for the masses of workers. Especially prominent in pushing for the dignity of labor were communist leaders.
Communism and Social Justice
Rachleff identified the communists’ goal as developing workers as human beings.
Of particular importance to communists was the inclusion of the Black masses. The KKK, who were supported by state power, warned against Blacks attending communist meetings.
The Scottsboro Boys surrounded by Alabama National Guard, 20 March 1931
Communists played a prominent role in the scathingly egregious example of racism meted out to the Scottsboro boys. African-American Studies professor Carol Anderson lays out how nine Black teenagers were falsely accused of rape by two White prostitutes. This raised temperatures to boiling among racist Whites. In a one-day trial, eight youths were sentenced to the electric chair and the other youth to life imprisonment. Eventually one woman recanted her false testimony, but it was 17 years before the last prisoner was released for a crime never committed.
Immigrants were also targeted for exploitation.
Stoop labor, such as farm labor where the worker was often stooped over while working in the fields, was considered undesirable. This provided work opportunities for those more desperate; Mexican workers were attracted by the opportunity for work. As immigrant labor, they were without rights and often mistreated. To avoid a labor shortage during WWII, the US-Mexico had reached agreement on the Bracero program, a massive guest worker program that allowed over four million Mexican workers to migrate and work temporarily in the United States from 1942 to 1964. Scandalously, many Braceros still seek to collect unpaid wages from that time. As Justin Chacon, author of No One Is Illegal points out, this form of captive labor has continued into the present. The current backlash against immigrants supported by the Donald Trump government augurs back to the Bracero program.
Resistance in the Arts
Artists, writers, and actors were centers of unionization and resistance against exploitation of people. Such artistic expression was opposed by the capitalist class.
Subterranean Fire features an excerpt from director Tim Robbins’ movie Cradle Will Rock, where the capitalist Nelson Rockefeller is questioning the artist Diego Rivera who was commissioned by Rockefeller to produce a fresco for the Rockefeller Center in New York city. However, the pro-communist display was too much for Rockefeller to stomach; he subsequently had the fresco destroyed.
Diego Rivera, Man at the Crossroads, 1933, Rockefeller Center prior to destruction
The Importance of Solidarity
In Flint, Michigan, autoworkers occupied factories and conducted sit-down strikes. Historian Sharon Smith points out the ingenuity of such a tactic: while factory owners were readily willing to use violence against workers, they were loathe to damage their own factories.
Women of the epoch played an important role in supporting the labor rights actions of the men. Women auxiliaries sneaked food into the men; they broke windows to prevent men from being overcome by gas attacks; and they served as a distraction to police.
The strikers reached out to fellow autoworkers across the country and fostered much unity. These tactics helped workers win demands from Big Auto.
Sit-down strikes spread across the country. The film tells that in 1937 almost 5 million workers took part in sit-down strikes. It was a heady time for workers.
However, in the end, the grassroots organizing power of workers was undermined by the union leadership which sought an alliance between labor and capital. The Communist Party of America also failed the working class.
In another blow to workers, the Supreme Court ruled sit-down strikes illegal in 1939.
The demonized state of workers was epitomized in the summer of 1937 when Chicago police shot at a parade of striking steelworkers and their families. Fifty were shot and 10 died. President Franklin Roosevelt sat on the fence and blamed both sides for the violence.
Later, however, FDR appeared to have a change of heart, and in 1944 he backed a second Bill of Rights for all. Among the rights were such basics as “a right to a useful and remunerative job,” “the right of every family to a decent home,” and “the right to adequate medical care.” According the the documentary, FDR was no true friend of labor, and his expressed views were in anticipation of the United States entering WWII. Nonetheless, FDR died a year later.
Demonizing Workers and the Left
Capitalists, with media in tow, demonized communists and anarchists. The Alien Registration Act of 1940 aimed to preserve the status quo. Japanese-Americans were interred. Communists were targeted.
The FBI was involved. Edgar Hoover had leftists monitored and surveilled by tactics including wiretaps and break-ins. The anti-leftism was so extreme that a section of corporate America supported fascism. The fascists supported Nazi Germany in WWII.1
Post-WWII the top income tax rate was 91% until 1964. One-third of workers belonged to a union. From 1940 to 1967 real wages doubled. Living standards doubled.
However, the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 would attack workers, banning many types of strikes, closed union shops, union political contributions, communists and radicals in union leadership, and the compelled payment of union dues. The Supreme Court upheld Taft-Hartley, and it remains in force today.
The film also examines McCarthyism, a witch hunt against communists or communist-leaning types, as a psychological attack against Americans. No one was safe. Blacklisting was in vogue and among the first blacklisted were the so-called Hollywood 10 for either communist sympathies or refusal to aid Congress’ House Un-American Activities Committee investigations into the Communist party or having fought for the rights of Blacks and workers. The list expanded much past 10. One celebrity given in-depth prominence in Subterranean Fire was singer Paul Robeson who refused to back down before Congress, stated he was for Negro and worker rights, and accused Congress of neo-fascism.
McCarthyism hit hysterical heights as exemplified by Texas proposing the death penalty for communist membership and Indiana calling for the banning of Robin Hood.
McCarthyism was foiled when it bit off more than it could chew. When McCarthyism took on the establishment, in particular the military, its impetus ground to an inglorious halt. The Alien Registration Act was ruled unconstitutional, and the First Amendment right to political beliefs was upheld.
Subterranean Fire notes that the damage to the labor movement was already done. A permanent war economy was established: overtly through the military and covertly through the CIA. Come 2001, union membership had dropped to 13.5%. Radicals were disconnected from their communities; union democracy was subverted by a top-down leadership which avoided the tactic of striking for collective bargaining; the court system was heavily backlogged with labor-management issues, which usually were ruled in favor of management.
Some outcomes noted in the film,
In the early 21st century, Americans took on the dubious distinction of working more hours than any other country….
There is no single county in America where a minimum wage earner can support a family.
Grotesque income and wealth disparity signifies the current state of neoliberalism. Yet Subterranean Fire finds glimmers of change for working men and women.
Despite relating the historical trampling of the working class, the film concludes on a sanguine note. Union strength appears to be on the rebound with solidarity being a linchpin. Labor strikes were on the upswing in the US, with teachers leading the way. Fast-food workers are fighting for a decent wage. Labor, which has seen real wages stagnate in the age of neoliberalism, is fighting back worldwide. Autoworkers in Matamoros, Mexico are striking and colleagues in Detroit, Michigan have expressed support for their sisters and brothers. The Gilet Jaunes in France have been joined by labor. A huge general strike took place in India. The uptick of resistance was not just pro-labor but anti-global warming in Manchester, UK; Tokyo, Japan; Cape Town, South Africa; Helsinki, Finland; Genoa, Italy; and, Nelson, Aotearoa (New Zealand).
All this, however, must be considered through the lens of the current political context. A virulent anti-socialist president and his hawkish administration occupy the White House in Washington. Despite the nationwide strike actions, the right-wing BJP and prime minister Narendra Modi won a recent huge re-election in India. The purportedly centrist Liberal Party in Canada, rhetoric aside, has been, in large part, in virtual lockstep with the US administration.2
The Importance of Metanoia Films
Today, people with access to the internet have little excuse for continuing to depend on state-corporate media sources. Why would anyone willingly subject himself to disinformation and propaganda? Not too mention paying for access to such unreliable information and the soul-sapping advertisements that accompany it.
It is important that we be cognizant of the search engine manipulations of Google, the biased opinions parlayed by moneyed corporate media, and the censorship of social media data-mining sites. The corporate-state media nexus wants to limit and shape what we know. The current war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange is proof positive of this. Assange and WikiLeaks exposed horrific war crimes. It is a no-brainer that a person should be congratulated for bringing such evil perpetrated by the state to the public awareness. Instead the establishment seeks to destroy WikiLeaks, the publisher Assange, and Chelsea Manning who is accused of providing the information to WikiLeaks.
Given the corporate-state power structure’s ideological opposition to WikiLeaks and freedom on information as well as the preponderance of disinformation that emanates from monopoly media, it seems eminently responsible that people seek out credible independent sources of information. Metanoia Films stands out as a credible source.
There are plenty of independent news and information sites that provide analysis that treat the reader/viewer with respect by substantiating information provided in reports and articles with evidence, logic, and even morality. The reader/viewer who seeks veracity has an obligation to consider the facts, sources, and reasoning offered and arrive at her own conclusions.
Metanoia documentaries lay out a historical context that helps us understand how we arrived at the state of affairs we find ourselves in today. It is an understanding that is crucial to come up with solutions for a world in which far too many languish in poverty, suffer in war zones, and are degraded by the cruelties of inequality. It is an understanding that is crucial for communicating, planning, and organizing the establishment of new societies in which all may flourish and of which all may be proud.
Independent media is meant for independent thinkers and those who aspire to a better world. Watch Plutocracy V: Subterranean Fire and the first four parts in the Plutocracy series and become informed.
For an in-depth history, read Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War (Toronto: Lorimer, 2015), a book which exposes US motivations during WWII as serving corporate interests.
Note Canadian prime minister Trudeau’s stand on Assad in Syria, Maduro in Venezuela, Huawei and the extradition hearings on Meng Wanzhou, antagonisms with China, and antagonism with Russia’s Putin. Also consider Canada’s poor record on effectively taking on climate change. These actions differ little from president Trump south of the border.
Several headlines have blared “Julian Assange Arrested.” This is misleading because Assange has been under de facto arrest ever since the Swedish authorities sought his extradition regarding sex-related allegations. Assange always stated that he was amenable to going to Sweden with a guarantee of no-further extradition to the United States. Sweden refused to accede to such a guarantee. Assange was also open to being interviewed in England. Finally, after having interviewed Assange in England, half-a-year later Sweden dropped its case against the man who has never been charged with any crimes.
Nonetheless, the United Kingdom behaved as any obedient lapdog would to its master, it stated that it would arrest Assange. Why? Because of the relatively benign charge of having breached bail. Note that this a breach of bail for something that he was never charged. That should put to rest any patina of legitimacy to the UK’s legal posturing. Will Assange get a fair trial in the UK, something he has said he did not receive previously. The remarks of the district judge Michael Snow foreshadow blatant partiality. Snow said of Assange: “His assertion that he has not had a fair hearing is laughable. And his behavior is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests.”
So what is the Assange case really about? It’s about power: the power to wage wars, the power to kill, the power to commit war crimes, and the power to silence or control narratives. The video “Collateral Murder” exposed the US power structure’s killing, warring, and monstrous criminality. Is it not a morbid hypocrisy that the people (Assange and Chelsea Manning) who expose the grotesquerie of killing are targeted for retribution through the so-called justice system while the killers go unpunished.1
WikiLeaks, however, is a publisher not controlled or cowed by the power structure.
Now that Assange has had his asylum revoked by Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno (something that is held to be illegal, including by former Ecuadorian foreign minister Guillaume Long) that casts great shame on himself and his nation. Former president Rafael Correa called Moreno corrupt and “a traitor.”
So the question is what now? What do people who care about the right-to-know do? What do people who care about exposing war crimes and government corruption do? What do people who care about protecting whistleblowers do?
This is not just about protecting Julian Assange, the person. There are many political prisoners and persons unjustly persecuted in the world. Assange is one of too many victims of the Establishment. But Assange has garnered prominence, and this is because he and WikiLeaks had the skill, courage, and audacity to bring to light the nefarious deeds of the power structure that it intended to keep in the dark.
Protecting Julian Assange means not just preventing the extradition of the Australian citizen (shame also to Australia) to the US, but freeing Assange. As a strict elementary principle, people should not be arrested, persecuted, or denigrated for having the moral integrity to expose criminality. Instead they deserve plaudits and should be regarded as great role models for others.
What can be done?
1. Western state/corporate media needs to reverse its path and step to the forefront of protecting the public’s right-to-know. It seems highly unlikely, as it would be a massive reversal for a media that has thoroughly discredited itself. It is in the self-interest of the monopoly media. It would be self-preservation of its publishers and journalists who would now be subject to legal reproach when the power structure is dissatisfied with the news.2 Although the monopoly media would be coming extremely late to the game, protecting the right-to-publish (and the First Amendment in the US) would be pure self-interest.
Expecting a new tune in the monopoly media, however, is not about to happen because the monopoly media is part of the power structure seeking to make an example through Assange of the maltreatment that other potential whistleblowers would face.
Abusing law to prosecute Assange, even in secret (as would be expected given the power structure’s aversion to transparency) should cast an even brighter spotlight on what Assange and WikiLeaks are about, and why the US is seeking to silence the publisher.
2. Award Assange and WikiLeaks the Nobel Peace Prize. While the Nobel Peace Prize may still hold luster for some people, given its questionable awards to dubious recipients, its image has become quite tarnished. Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a whistleblower who exposed the malignancy of war would be right in line with the sentiments and intention of Alfred Nobel. People should make their views known to the Nobel Committee. It would be much more difficult to extradite a current Nobel peace laureate, wouldn’t it? It would be a reversal for the Nobel Committee in Norway.
3. The United Nations. Given that UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Assange’s detention was arbitrary and called on the UK to allow Assange to leave the Ecuadorian embassy without fear of arrest or extradition, the latest arrest in the UK is the UK further thumbing its nose at the world. What if the UN panel along with other diplomats and dignitaries were to hold vigils outside the British Gitmo where Assange is being held?
4. People power. The force to challenge the establishment power structure is people power — the power of the masses. This should take on many forms. The obvious one is masses taking to the streets. Unless this is of enormous size and sustained, it will only be a resistance blip on the radar. Depending on how much people value their right-to-know; how much they are opposed to killing people living far away who have never lifted a finger against them, their family, their neighbors, their countrymen and women; how much they are dedicated to justice for all humans … they will be willing to engage in further sacrifice: general strike. This will hurt corporations and send a signal to politicians who fear losing political influence. And as an additional measure, people should consider abandoning reader- and viewer-ship of monopoly media, hurting the bottom line and spooking investors.
This is another fight people must not lose. The protection of Assange would be a victory for all those who are unjustly incarcerated everywhere; a victory for people’s right-to-know and empowerment of the people (knowledge, they say, is power); a victory for the anti-war crowd; a victory for freedom of the press; and, of course, a victory-of-sorts for Assange and WikiLeaks.
Most importantly, it would be a victory for humanity.
Indeed, they were exculpated in a book as The Good Soldiers by Washington Post writer David Finkel. As interpreted in The New Yorker: “The soldiers are callous, as you would expect young men caught up in a particularly ugly and confusing kind of war to be. Callous and angry—and also, in other moments, hopeful, generous, capable of friendliness toward Iraqis.” The New Yorker article proffers as excuse, “bad judgement” and that such acts are “absolutely inevitable in wars”: “Does it reveal a war crime? I don’t think so. This isn’t Abu Ghraib, or the rape atrocity in the Triangle of Death, or the Haditha massacre. The Apache crews make a series of bad judgments—some of them understandable, like mistaking the photographer’s long lens as it pokes around the corner of a building for an RPG; others much less defensible, like firing repeatedly at a van that has stopped to pick up a wounded man—but they aren’t shooting indiscriminately like in a free-fire zone. The video is important because it shows the kind of tragedy that is absolutely inevitable in wars likes the ones America has been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan…”
As an aside, the attempt to belittle Assange’s credentials as a journalist or publisher are risible given the flawless publication record of WikiLeaks, which stands as the envy of every publishing entity.
A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told Wikileaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within ‘hours to days.’
— WikiLeaks on Twitter.
The Mueller investigation of an alleged collusion between Donald Trump and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election has come to its drawn-out end — or not. US monopoly media reported incessantly on the affair, dubbed Russiagate, despite the paucity of evidence.
The monopoly media has apparently learned little from its misreporting of the possession of WMD by the Saddam Hussein government in Iraq. The wording “alleged” was absent from the reporting as were the WMD in Iraq. Nonetheless, such monopoly media reporting of alleged acts as though they were facts has continued over the use of poison gas by the Assad government in Syria and an assassination attempt on the Skripals in England, attributed to Russian agents. Having not learned, the New York Times and Washington Post seek to perpetuate the Mueller “Witch Hunt,” as Trump has ridiculed it.
In an age when educational institutions call for sharpening critical thinking skills, the corporate and state media scribes show a paucity of critical thinking. It should be apparent that when a journalist, anchor, reporter reports on a claim s/he has an immediate first duty to verify factuality by demanding evidence to back any claims. Do these media people purchase bridges in Brooklyn without checking the deed of ownership?
This media disinformation can have serious consequences, even criminal or genocidal consequences. The monopoly media was heavily complicit in bolstering the US government rush-to-war, basing its reporting on false stories and dubious sources. The war which claimed perhaps upwards of a million Iraqi lives1 was argued to be a genocide by Abdul Haq al-Ani and Tarik al-Ani in their legal tour de force: Genocide in Iraq: The Case against the UN Security Council and Member States (Clarity Press). In their book, the authors make known the destruction of critical infrastructure (e.g., Iraqi power systems, roads, railroads, and domestic petroleum production) and the commission of war crimes (e.g., bombing civilian defense shelters) by the US and its collaborators.2
Wikileaks published evidence of the war crimes carried out in Iraq when it released the “Collateral Murder” video of US military in an Apache helicopter shooting an unarmed group of adults and children. Julian Assange is the founder of Wikileaks, and as such has been identified as an enemy of the governmental-media-military industrial complex. Sexual allegations were raised against Assange in Sweden, but he was never charged, and the case was closed by Sweden. Assange was on record as willing to go to Sweden and face the allegations, but he could not receive a guarantee that he would not be turned over to the United States. Britain keeps him confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy, what a United Nations panel calls “arbitrary detention,” with the threat of arrest and likely extradition.
I wrote an article last summer that cited reports that Ecuador’s president Lenín Moreno was about to renege on asylum that the government of previous Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa had granted Assange.
Now the specter of Assange being evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy is again at the forefront of news. The Associated Press wrote that Moreno complained that WikiLeaks was intercepting his communications and invading his privacy. Importantly, AP noted that Moreno provided no evidence for his claims.
Wikileaks issued a tweet: “BREAKING: A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told @WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within “hours to days” using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext–and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.”
BREAKING: A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told @WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within "hours to days" using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext–and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.https://t.co/adnJph79wq
Assange’s “great crime” is revealing the crimes of US empire. War is peace. And revealing the crimes of Empire is deemed criminal by Empire.
Others, not beholden to Empire, but followers-of-conscience are indebted to Assange who as a publisher, performed a massive service to humanity by informing people about acts their governments are involved in, support, or are silent about. WikiLeaks respects “our” right to know. It allows us to know of corruption and criminality in our governments so that society can organize to denounce and put an end to such corruption and criminality.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire recognized such service when she wrote the Nobel Peace Committee to nominate Assange:
Julian Assange and his colleagues in Wikileaks have shown on numerous occasions that they are one of the last outlets of true democracy and their work for our freedom and speech. Their work for true peace by making public our governments’ actions at home and abroad has enlightened us to their atrocities carried out in the name of so-called democracy around the world. This included footage of inhumanity carried out by NATO/Military, the release of email correspondence revealing the plotting of regime change in Eastern Middle countries, and the parts our elected officials paid in deceiving the public. This is a huge step in our work for disarmament and nonviolence worldwide.
After criticism for awarding the prize to dubious types such as Barack Obama, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is being pressured from Nobel Peace Prize Watch to adhere to Alfred Nobel’s testament and his anti-militarism. Such an award may be the Nobel committee’s greatest opening to celebrate Alfred Nobel’s legacy and garner new luster for the Nobel Peace Prize’s tarnished reputation.
A Nobel Peace Prize should confer some kind of protection and immunity from further political persecution should Assange leave or be forced to vacate the Ecuadorian embassy — should it not? What kind of embassy would kick out a Nobel Peace Prize winner? And would Britain arrest a current Nobel Peace Prize winner? And would the Trump administration seek to persecute a Nobel Peace Prize winner given that Trump has been pining for his own Nobel, risible as that sounds.
Despite Assange’s sacrifice to humanity, he has ruffled the feathers of the power structure. Again, it is clear that Assange must be protected. The Nobel committee must come through for humanity and for peace.
People power needs to mobilize. If people care deeply about their right to be informed, to be apprised of their government partaking in war crimes, then millions must take to the streets and squares, especially in Norway and Britain.
John Hopkins University epidemiologists corroborated an initial study and in the second study reported “654,965 additional deaths in Iraq between March 2003 and July 2006.”