US troops need safety and care, not symbolic gestures

By George Ciccariello-Maher (March 30, 2017)

Two days after U.S. airstrikes incinerated an estimated 200 civilians in the Iraqi city of Mosul, I sent a personal tweet in reaction to what I considered a smug and self-congratulatory gesture by a first-class passenger toward a uniformed soldier. Maybe predictably, my tweet has since been fed into and misrepresented by the outrage machine that is right-wing media. Needless to say, my personal views expressed off-campus have absolutely nothing to do with those of my employer, Drexel University.

I respect anyone who makes difficult and dangerous decisions out of economic necessity — whether they are public school teachers, construction workers, economic migrants, or young soldiers. What I don’t respect is a brutal invasion and occupation of Iraq that has not made our world any safer — a war that has taken advantage of economically disadvantaged Americans, a war that has given the world ISIS, and a war that has wrought carnage like that seen in Mosul and elsewhere.

The best way to support troops is not with symbolic gestures and first-class seats, but by bringing them home safely, by ensuring that women in uniform are not subjected to what is an epidemic of sexual assault, and by providing dignified medical and psychological care. Those who today claim to demand respect for the troops show little in the way of respect for how they are treated in and out of the military.

Letter to White Progressive America: The Design of Modern Imperialism

By Caroline Randall (March 30, 2017)


In the fear and loathing that followed Trump’s election, my frustration and contempt for my fellow progressive white Americans has transcended a level I ever thought possible.  I can’t physically stomach their attempts to be consoling, blaming the victory of hate and violence on the uneducated and conservative voters. This false assertion conveniently absolves us, the progressive white population, for the state of our nation, and allows us to continue preening ourselves on a pedestal of privilege- actively engaging in and greatly benefiting from the modern colonization we philosophically oppose. While conservative populations openly advocate for the unconstitutional policies we are seeing pass, the state of our nation isn’t completely their fault; it can largely be attributed to us. Most progressive white Americans are unaware that we support through action the colonial paradigm, and are often indifferent to the behaviors we engage in that hold the weight of systemic oppression, hatred, and violence. We are beneficiaries of over 400 years of white supremacy, whether we understand it or not. If we are going to actually penetrate this supremacy, those of us that benefit from privilege or occupy positions of institutional and systemic power have a moral obligation to publically and actively dismantle our oppressive foundations.


Upon examination of the power structures in every single institution in the United States, be it the criminal justice system, congress, public education, religious institutions, media, or business, we see that the membership of these institutions are at minimum 80% white. Since Eugenics is no longer a viable theory, it is clear that racism is supported systemically and runs our nation. Many of us progressive white American’s have the self-righteous and misguided view that we are the “good” ones, the ones that aren’t racist, and that aren’t a part of the problem. While in general, as a group, we don’t harbor active and overt racist, classist, or homophobic ideologies, we do as a group lack an active or authentic engagement with systemic oppression, making us complicit. To remain neutral, or choose to not actively fight an oppressive force is to side with the oppressor. Having anti-racist ideals without acting on them is supportive of systemic racism.  This letter is a call to action inviting the progressive white to mobilize as a group and use our privilege to bring meaningful and systemic change.


When a white person looks at me and says, “don’t worry, we will get through Trump’s America” I want to scream. This statement demonstrates absolute ignorance in regards to power and privilege, and the institutionalization of racism in our nation. Marginalized populations face systemic barriers that are very real despite their “invisibility” to those that benefit from dominant culture privileges.  To ignore these structural inequities is to support them and to encourage their thriving. Of course we will make it. We are white. This world was created for us to thrive. How can we look at our friends of color, and into their children’s eyes, knowing the oppression they have and will face will increase; knowing that the threat of violence both literally and metaphorically will increase? How can we look into a young girls eyes, knowing that she is growing up in a nation that positively reinforces racist violence and rape culture? How can we live with ourselves being secure in this reality knowing that her psyche is going to be shaped in ways that can and will permanently damage her? It’s superfluous that I am going to make it through safe, and I refuse to be complicit in a force that darkens her reality.


While this letter is asking white allies to step up, it by no means supports the idea that marginalized populations need white people to fight for them. Every marginalized population has incredible strength, resilience and power, and by no means needs a savior, white or otherwise. Successful resistance movements are largely absent in our nations popular history because white supremacist culture benefits from a socially accepted view that these groups are weaker. Whether it is stories of successful slave revolts, or the fact that WIC was created by the Black Panther party to support families of color, the omissions are oppressive.Every thread that weaves our dominant culture ignores and silences a lifetime of history that points to the purposeful and well executed oppression of marginalized peoples. To point out in any room that we are standing on stolen ground, benefiting from stolen labor generally shocks people, as the genocide of North American indigenous populations has been overshadowed by stories of heroic Europeans that brought democracy and freedom to the new world. If I bring up the history of bank loans or redlining, and the racist intentions that excluded American’s of color in the flight from crime infested cities and the construction of white utopias known as the suburbs people think I am paranoid or radical. We cannot separate our current reality from our history, and it is our duty to reeducate ourselves, so we can more effectively combat modern colonization alongside our brothers and sisters that have spent 400 years actively engaged in the fight.


It is vital that we relearn our history because supporting change without urgency has historically resulted in a lack of change. It is easy for somebody who knows their body is safe from harm, whose job is safe from harm, and whose ability to navigate the imperial state we live in safely to say, “Change takes time.” The great Reverend Dr. King lived this struggle every day of his life, and in all of his sagacity he writes, “wait has almost always meant never.” in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” he said,

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was ‘well timed.’…For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This ‘wait’ has almost always meant “never” We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied”

To ask people to wait for justice, is to deny justice. White progressives must fight for justice with an urgency reflecting this understanding. If we truly care about justice and our brothers and sisters we will refuse to wait any longer.


To truly be an ally, and a warrior of social justice, we have to resist the stigma that comes with being labeled radical, and ask ourselves hard questions about the choices we make. If we are truly anti-racist, and against segregation, we must be ready to ask how our own life choices relate to historical structures. Many of my fellow progressive white Americans oppose segregation philosophically, but systematically choose to segregate themselves and live in predominantly white neighborhoods and send their kids to predominantly white schools, because they understand this is a “better” environment and education. This is also choosing to segregate and accept less opportunity for children of color and otherwise marginalized children. We cannot leave our anti-racist ideals in the office. We must bring them home, and live in authentic accordance of our values. Our current racist structures hold the weight of history, and all the trauma that comes in the untold history. The ubiquity and force of this oppression is suffocating.  It is the duty of all allies to utilize our privilege to leverage progress. We have a responsibility to actively engage in the dismantling of our racist social structures. The conservative white population that directly and openly support this racism is not going to enact any change in the system. The vast amount of systemic power and privilege we hold as a group is enormous, and we need to be agitated by the injustices our brothers and sisters’ face daily. We have a moral obligation to use our power and privilege to take on white supremacy as our highest and most urgent priority.


In the modern world, Media is the largest influence on the general population, and who controls the media, controls America’s consciousness. The current media paradigm is highly conservative, even when it is seen as moderate. Every time there is a story about a “marginal” or “radical” group like the Black Lives Matter movement covered on mainstream media, it is subject to discrediting attacks from conservative rhetoric. There are often very well-articulated arguments put forward by journalists of color, or otherwise marginalized voices, but we do not see nearly enough dominant culture allies stand up and say these attacks are wrong. White intellectuals with platforms of power have a responsibility to more visibly and openly dismantle these attacks and act in solidarity with any human rights movement. We need to change the narrative that demanding human rights is radical. The current narrative renders white supremacy as “a natural order” when it in fact is the radical paradigm. Equality is not radical. I do not give liberal white people a pass for not participating in change as they would if our own lives and comfort were at stake. I have watched liberal white Americans too often remain silent and allow white supremacy to prevail despite their intellectual understanding that it is wrong. If you are white, you benefit from white supremacy every day. If you do not fight this supremacy, you are part of it, progressive or not.


To make the jump from philosophically believing in justice to actively seeking it is an uncomfortable transition, but it is in this discomfort we have a choice. We can choose to seek comfort and find refuge in our fragility, (perpetuating racism) or we can choose to engage meaningfully with this discomfort, and examine what this fragility means. Resisting fragility and growing into an ally will teach us to use our privilege meaningfully rather than harmfully. To choose to engage despite our discomfort we are putting ourselves in danger as there are consequences to naming power.  However, it is also important to see nobody has an inherent right to the safety created and sustained on the oppression of another group. Naming the power that permeates our every breath triggers the majority of any institution we are a part of to silence us by any means necessary, and as quickly as possible. Naming power puts at risk of losing our jobs, opportunities for future jobs, and we can even face physical dangers such as rape and murder- more extreme versions of silencing tactics. However, we have to remind ourselves that the safety allotted to us due to our whiteness is unearned, and we don’t have a right to it. It is more important to do what is right than what is safe. Why do my children get to keep their mother more than another child? If I lose my job, my skin allows me to find a replacement job at a higher rate than that of my friends of color. My psyche developed within the ideals of white racial superiority, and I grew up seeing myself reflected positively in the power structures of our world. Web DuBois, “how does it feel to be the problem?”- white liberals can go home and forget about this. Our right to comfort is directly tied to the socialized collective and unconscious idea that white people are racially superior. I cannot separate my emotional and economic stability from the history and legacy of colonization.


Our nation needs to change the narrative that being an ally is radical. When this happens modern colonization will be exposed as the actually radical existence and not a natural phenomenon. If we are authentically committed to racial equity, we won’t censure our voices or actions no matter how precarious of a position it leaves us in professionally or personally. Hesitation for the sake of self-preservation evokes racial privilege, and holding onto the security many populations have never had. Let’s align our actions with our ideologies and make some of the healthiest and healing revolutions this earth has seen.

The Link Between Broken Windows Policing and Deportation

By Mark Naison (March 30, 2017)

Of all the new information presented during last nights forum on Defending Bronx Communities at Fordham University, what I found most disturbing was the revelation of how the DeBlasio Administration’s imposition of “Broken Windows” policing- arrests for minor offenses such as jaywalking, drinking in public and jumping over turnstiles- has led to deportation of many undocumented immigrants.

Apparently, all arrests for misdemeanors are automatically recorded in all national law enforcement data bases including those of the FBI and Homeland Security and if the person arrested is undocumented, can trigger deportation proceedings

The head of the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, Zeinab Eyega, gave a chilling example of how this could work. One of the families her organization worked with consisted of a woman from Chad and her teenage sons living in a shelter after they escaped a domestic violence situation. Although the shelter was in the Bronx, her two sons attended school in Queens One day, one of her sons lost his metro card and had no way to get home. So he decided to jump over the turnstile at the subway station nearest his school There he was arrested and taken to the local police station, where the mother was told she needed $150 dollars to get him released. The mother didn’t have the money and the Sauti Yetu Center had to give it to her. But that wasn’t the worst outcome. Six month later, Homeland Security began deportation proceedings against her son for committing a crime while having undocumented status and at age 17, he was deported back to Chad, by himself. To this say, Sauti Yetu lawyers have been unable to arrange for his return.

This story is horrible in many respects. First, that Homeland Security would start deportation proceedings against a teenage boy, separating him from his family. But second, that an official policy of the NYPD, overwhelming targeting youth of color, would put large numbers of undocumented immigrants at risk

There are many, many others features of “Broken windows policing” which are questionable, including its contribution to gentrification of neighborhoods, but its role in facilitating deportations suggest that the practice is so morally compromised that it needs to be ended, or at least modified so that none of the arrests lead to more than a traffic ticket.

Anarchism is Romantic

By Beth Durruti (March 28, 2017)

At its best and worst, anarchism is romantic.

I love the passion of our songs and writing, the rejection of limitations on our abilities, the drive to build better and more beautiful things out of ashes and suffering, and the undying belief in our ability to determine our own futures.

But I hate that our desire for a utopian future manifests as us throwing away our friends, lovers, and comrades when they’re hurt and struggling. I hate that anarchist culture engages in witch hunts and purity trials, and so openly accepts our own irrelevancy as a subculture within the real world, because we accept the idea that interpersonal conflict can be resolved by simply pushing people “out” of our immediate circles.

How can we call ourselves prison abolitionists when we have no capacity to rehabilitate or find compassion for each other? How can we call for a world without cops when we are so willing to step up as judge, jury, and executioner? What kind of future are we building where no one will be safe enough to be honest about their trauma, and nobody will be loyal enough to work together to be better? Why can we only find accountability within the safety of mobs, and never in using our bonds to teach the people we love not to hurt each other?

I don’t want to live in the world we’re building if what it means is that people are disposable. Anarchism is romantic, to a fault. I don’t want to build castles in the clouds, I’m here to build something I can actually live in.

Herein the Poet Contemplates the Power of the Word “Fascism”

By Ana Castillo (March 2, 2017)


Herein, while the poet considers ending her long vocation as a wordsmith, she contemplates the power of language, specifically a 20th century political term bandied about by the president’s arch-enemies, that is, the free press, two rogue Republicans, all Democrats (or any woman who wears white), and all who undermine the new Nationalist Agenda, such as suspected criminals, i.e. brown people—that term being FASCISM.


In the mid-80s I accepted an invitation to keynote the German Association of Americanists annual conference, which that year was held in Bremen. It was only a few years before Reagan, as ‘leader of the free world,’ made famous his legacy and challenged General Secretary Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.


One evening, in the midst of a discussion with a couple of the German Americanists the word ‘fascist,” slipped from me in regard to my sentiments about the president of the United States and his party, who were clearly, in my view, fore most invested in the interests of the wealthy. One German scholar sat up at the mention of the word. He had been a child during the Third Reich. “You do not know what fascism is,” he said to me, “and hopefully, you never will.”


With great respect to that moment, I have not and do not use that term in association with anything that we have experienced thus far in this country. I lived through Nixon, Reagan and both Bush presidents with great trepidation. Many a time I left the country to my mother’s homeland, Mexico, and each time returned to el Norte, specifically Chicago, city of my birth.


It is only now that I watch, listen, and take note of my early activism, academic lessons as a social scientist, and like the farmer who watches her cows move to a corner of the field and knows rain is on the horizon, I will say that the terrible time the German survivor of fascism warned me about is not far off.


Last night, during his address to Congress and the world–sounding as if Bannon or maybe Miller may have slipped an ecstasy pill in their boss’s Scotch, thereby assuring he would not go off-script from the tele-prompted speech they wrote–my ears perked up when I heard him actually pronounced the word, “fascism.” He was crediting NATO for having helped rid the world of it.

This is not the time or place, or more specifically, I don’t have the time nor consider social media a forum to further drive home my point; I will just say this: The current admin will soon take the air out of the term’s sails. It will not only drop the word here and there as a reassurance that the State is dissociated from such a proven abhorrent form of governing. But, I say a rose by any other name, or in the case, maybe a better example is: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, his name must be Donald.


What I won’t do right now is use fascism for what we are experiencing today, March 1, 2017. Don’t get me wrong, I am counting the sunrises and sunsets now. I’m that farmer headed to the corner of the field with my cows. But as a poet, I learned that the fuse of powerful language is dampened when overused or misused. The Republicans will take power that way. They may well turn such words and use them on the protestors, Democrats, or the free press—as in ‘groups’ who want to dictate and oppress our free trade freedoms. Or, ‘racists’ who want war with the Russians and Chinese. Or, not so new a ploy: Feminists are “Man haters” and “baby killers.”


They will then use a different term, those who are darkly leading this country –something that will take some of the nefarious ring from the imminent bloodshed and economic crisis we will undergo. But make no mistake, it will be defined as nothing short of corporate-motivated fascism. Those of us, the majority, in the trenches, on the side lines, in the soup lines, online, and fettered by the multiple identifies most live metaphorically crossing more than just one kind of socially maligned Border—we all must know and heed history.


If there is one thing that unifies his entire agenda, it is the romantic view of a mid-twentieth century USA, and his yearning for the glory of the return of once unrivaled Yankee enterprises here at the ‘homeland’ and throughout what we once called Mother Earth.


With love,

Ana Castillo

The Attacks on Jewish Centers are at the Heart of Authoritarianism in the US

By Chris Crass (February 28, 2017)

Antisemitism positions Jews as socially acceptable targets for working and middle class Christians (religiously and culturally) to unleash violence and hatred, to release the anger and resentments of crushing economic and political inequality.

Antisemitism instructs and encourages working and middle class Christians to see Jews as the conspiratorial puppet masters of society, all the while obscuring the actual functioning of ruling class power, and strengthening despots who traffic in hatred of Jews, hatred of Muslims, hatred of people of color, hatred of disabled people, hatred of queers, hatred of women, hatred of the Left. 

Just like white supremacy, it isn’t that ruling class people aren’t racist and antisemitic, it’s that we must understand how racism, antisemitism, sexism and systems of oppression operate to divide, conquer and rule the vast majority of us, while consolidating, protecting, and mystifying power at the top.

All of us raised religiously or culturally as Christian have a responsibility to boldly and repeatedly denounce antisemitism, unite with our Jewish friends, comrades and family, both because it’s the right thing to do, and because we are the ones antisemitism is trying to turn into soldiers and/or Nazi-era “Good Germans” to further and go along with supremacy systems and despotism.

The vandalism and attacks on Jewish cemeteries, community centers, and synagogues are not archaic fringe acts, they are a cornerstone of authoritarian regimes and their agendas against the majority of humanity.

With deep gratitude for Jewish leaders and organizations rising up against this hate. With deep gratitude for Muslim and Christian leaders and organizations refusing the antisemitic strategy of hate and division and instead are uniting in solidarity. With deep gratitude to everyone building up the Left as a force for powerful change rooted in love and collective liberation. We build together, to all get free.