The US assassination of Iranian General Soleimani, leader of the paramilitary wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, puts millions of people at risk from violence, either retaliatory or from wider war. It represents an escalation and expansion of US aggression in the Middle East. On January 3, Trump’s forces used a drone to target and kill Soleimani as he rode in a car at the Iraqi airport, generating a vow of revenge from Iranian leaders. The US rationalized this killing as payback for Iranian attacks on US interests and as prevention of future attacks. Trump cited unproven accounts of impending Iranian actions to justify his decision. This certainly sounds like other US lies to sanction the invasion of Iraq because of their non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” and of Afghanistan because they allegedly tolerated Al Qaedas plotting of the 2001 crash into the World Trade Center towers. These are only two recent examples of US pretenses to wage wars, which are really designed to control resources.
It is the era of disavowal of
Trump. Long despised by anti-racists and
humanists of many stripes, his foreign policy has now even offended US empire
builders, leaving us with an overlap of interests between those who wish to
scuttle Trump’s overt policies of hate and those who hate to see US power
decrease in the world. Whether via impeachment or election, the time has come
for a new carrier of the torch. That person will almost certainly be a
Democrat, one who is “liberal” enough to appear to support human rights,
justice and democracy but who is also committed to the maximization of US economic
and political influence, just more nicely done.
What could be more ironic and
cruel than witnessing the increasingly racist and nationalist mistreatment and
expulsion of Haitians following the devastation wrought by hurricane Dorian in
the Bahamas? How does a former victim of British colonialism become a fount of
racist nationalism itself? How do the citizens of the only land to have
overthrown slavery in modern history deserve this treatment? Because,
unfortunately, racism and nationalism are the strategies with which governments
around the globe retain power.
On August 16, 1819, 60,000 men, women, and children gathered in St. Peter’s Field in the heavily industrial city of Manchester, England to demand political representation and better living conditions. It was the most massive assembly to have taken place at the time, amounting to roughly half the population of Manchester. Wearing their Sunday best and accompanied by musicians, they carried banners and signs calling for liberty, a parliament of the people and repeal of the Corn Laws. It was a peaceful, celebratory, yet emphatic crowd: little did they expect the brutal response of their “own” government. However, the ruling class was terrified of insurrection that would topple them from power, as had the French Revolution 30 years earlier. No sooner had the speeches begun than the rulers sent in the British cavalry, backed up by local volunteer militias, to strike them down, disperse the crowd, and arrest the leaders. The sabre-wielding forces wantonly murdered 18 men, women, and children, and injured 650. This pivotal incident became known as the Peterloo Massacre, and this year marks its bicentenary.
As Mike Leigh, director of the film, Peterloo, writes about its continuing significance:“Despite the spread of universal suffrage across large parts of the globe, poverty, inequality, suppression of press freedom, indiscriminate surveillance, and attacks on legitimate protest by brutal regimes are all on the rise… Peterloo is of seminal importance.” This article looks back on the events of 1819 and the lessons they hold for us today. It draws on the book, Peterloo by Jacqueline Riding and the film by Mike Leigh, as well as the contemporaneous commentary of several leaders and participants.
On July 11, 2019, President Trump scrapped his plan to place a citizenship question on the 2020 Decennial Census and instead ordered federal agencies to provide citizenship data to the Census Bureau. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile pursuing what such a question would have done, its purpose, and other related subjects.
A Vicious Betrayal
I used to work at the Census Bureau (1974-1979), and I processed the entire 1970 Decennial Census many times for many different projects. I was familiar with how the Decennial Census is collected and processed. While I was not directly involved in the collection of Census data, I worked with people who were involved with it. Despite all efforts at trying to convince vulnerable minorities that the Census Bureau, unlike Immigration and Naturalization, is not out to harm them, it is nevertheless treated with distrust. This distrust is well founded, as I found out. During my last years at the Bureau, there was a test of the Census questionnaires in a certain Texas city. This was essentially a dry run for the actual 1980 Census. The Census Bureau put out the word that they will treat your information with care and keep it confidential and so on and so forth. The day after the test, immigration ran massive raids on that same city.
As I write this, actual and potential wars threaten the lives and stability of millions, instigating massive migrations to seek peace. The United Nations reports that over 70 million people fled from wars and conflicts in 2018 (www.unhcr.org/576408cd7) while 258 million people migrated for political and economic reasons in 2017 (UN. International Migration Report, 2017). Armed conflicts continue in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria as Pakistan and India clash over control of Kashmir, and long term conflicts simmer in Gaza, Venezuela, the South China Sea and other places. Any one of these limited wars may trigger a world war, even a nuclear one. Continue reading “TURN the Guns Around! GI Resistance to War”
It is indeed gratifying to those of us
fighting the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to hear the
issue being brought into the open by new members of Congress, stimulating a greater
national debate on the issue. It is heartening that more Americans, including
more Jews, are beginning to question Israel’s extreme racism toward and
oppression of Palestinians and not assume that any criticism of Israel is
anti-Semitic. However, the view of the U.S. relationship to Israel espoused by
Ilhan Omar and her supporters is limited by its over-assessment of Israel’s
power over the U.S. and is associated with a view of American foreign policy in
other realms that is much too sanguine.