Friday, October 13, 2017

Anti-blackness and the core logic of Zionism

from mondoweiss
Devyn Springer on October 12, 2017

Students for Justice in Palestine and the African Students’ Association at John Jay College in collaboration with Students for Justice in Palestine at Hunter and City Colleges and CUNY RSCC hold a Die-In/Vigil in solidarity from Ferguson to Palestine as racism, injustice and human rights violations are being committed against people of color. (Photo: John Jay SJP)

In 2012, Pulitzer Prize winning Black author, Alice Walker, came under fire by Zionists when she refused to allow her internationally acclaimed book The Color Purple be translated, published, and sold by an Israeli publishing company. When asked about her decision, Walker compared what she’d seen on her multiple trips to Palestine to the Jim Crow south that she grew up in, stating, “the unfairness of it is so much like the South. It’s so much like the South of 50 years ago, really, and actually more brutal, because in Palestine so many more people are wounded, shot, killed, imprisoned.” Following this decision and her statements, outrage flowed as the Anti-Defamation League and other Israeli-backed organizations issued a statements against her. Several journalists, including Alan Dershowitz, referred to her as “bigoted,” and compared her choice to use her book to support the BDS cultural boycott to “the moral and legal equivalent of neo-Nazi author David Duke disallowing his books to be sold to Black and Jewish readers.”

The underlying assumption in the overwhelmingly angry responses to Walker’s decision to support BDS were ironically simple: she is ignorant, and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Lambasted by writers and pro-Israel activists alike, the common notion dwelling underneath the responses and critiques is the assumption of Black people’s ignorance, inferiority, and lack ability to relate to Palestinians. By invoking the notion of the Jim Crow era South as a proper comparison for Israeli apartheid, Walker is making a concise comparison on violence: state violence and structured violence. During Jim Crow, much like Palestine, Walker describes having to use different walking paths than white citizens, not being allowed in certain stores and restaurants, and segregation as an extension of structured violence. Along with this similarity, we know that Jim Crow was a time of extreme police brutality and police presence, a condition easily related to the experiences of Palestinians under constant threat of violence from Israel’s military occupation.

Then once again, in 2016 and 2017, we have watched as a new wave of high profile Black leaders have come under fire for their choices to support the BDS movement. Most notably, rappers Princess Nokia and Lauryn Hill, and several NFL players cancelling tour dates within Israel. Following an open letter cosigned by several activists including Angela Davis, Alice Walker, Marc Lamont Hill, Alicia Garza, and Jasiri X, NFL players announced they refused to go on the propaganda tour of Israel. Noting Apartheid violence, segregation, and propaganda manipulation as some of these reasons, one football player stated he wants to “see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives. I want to be a voice for the voiceless, and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.”

Much like what occurred with Alice Walker’s high profile support of BDS, the NFL players were met with harsh criticism and, unsurprisingly, the assumption of ignorance as a basis for their refusal of participation. Atlanta Jewish Times writer Michael Jacobs called the open letter to the NFL players rife with “emphasizing false parallels between Palestinians and black Americans.” He then continues to use coded language with purpose of insinuating ignorance, stating that several of the NFL players “fell for” the “anti-Israel propaganda.” What about their decision assumes they they “fell for” anything, rather they learned and were educated on the human rights violations of Israel, and the collectives struggles Palestinians and Black Americans similarly face, and made their own decision to pull out of the trip.

What we see is a clear pattern, whether it is local rabbis blasting Black Lives Matter activists as “ignorant” for including support of BDS in their demands, Zionist white feminists attacking the women’s movement for standing against Zionism, or the coded language against Alice Walker and NFL players that assumes they simply ‘don’t know what they’re talking about.’ The pattern is the use of anti-Black rhetoric and, in turn, anti-Blackness in whole, to perpetuate the assumption of Black ignorance to silence and belittle Black BDS advocates.

The idea that Black people, particularly Black Americans, can be elaborately educated on global politics and the intricacies of the Palestinian conflict seems foreign to them, because anti-Blackness is an inherent result of Zionism. To assume that folks like Angela Davis and Alice Walker, Black women who were raised in the Jim Crow South, surrounded by church bombings, segregation, police violence, and systemic poverty are unable to make clear connections between their experiences and those of Palestinians is nothing less of a racist assumption of ignorance.

The latest in this trend of anti-Black rhetoric as a means of Zionism comes from director of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) Robbie Friedmann, whose recent article is an anti-Black assault on the praxes of intersectionality and Black activism masked underneath a defense of BDS and the GILEE program. GILEE is a law enforcement exchange program, which writer Anna Simonton describes as a “Georgia-based program that has sent thousands of American law enforcement officials to Israel for counter-terrorism training.” Conjuring a fear-mongering tone in the beginning of the article by evoking remembrance of the famous September 11th terrorist attacks, his first mistake is stating that this was the “worst terrorist atrocity in the world’s history.” Given the context of the conversation Friedmann is putting forth on policing and Black activism, it seems dubious to position the events of September 11th as the “worst terrorist atrocity in the world’s history” despite the Transatlantic Slave Trade, systemic lynchings and police killings, Black church bombings, and dozens of other actions which call for us to redefine the notion of terrorism and the word’s use altogether. One must ask: in framing his piece with such a statement, is he setting up to invalidate and challenge Black and Palestinian oppression, respectively?

He then continues to describe terrorism in the following paragraphs in great;y opinionated detail, slipping into islamophobia to paint the anti-Semitic rants of a singular person as the voice of majority Muslims around the world. The purpose of this terrorism discussions seems to be nothing more than setting up to compare BDS to a form of terrorism, much like Republican state Senator Leah Vukmir’s reference of BDS as “economic terrorism,” and Marco Rubio’s “economic warfare” comments from last year. This positioning, which is espoused throughout the duration of the article, is purposefully steeped in facetious language, and while Friedmann mentions criticism of Israel are “valid,” not once does he list any of those criticisms or their magnitude.

The second portion of Friedmann’s piece rests solely on the same anti-Black rhetoric that was used against aforementioned Alice Walker, the NFL players, and countless other Black people who have publicly supported the BDS movement. Referring to the GILEE program, he states: “In Atlanta, as in other cities, BDS is focusing on cutting the ties between local police and the Israel Police through the efforts of a coalition of pro-Palestinian groups joining forces as strange bedfellows driven by “intersectionality.”” True to the nature of anti-Blackness, this statement is tied to the assumption that Black activists lack to intellectual agency to come to Palestine-related conclusions ourselves. I was in the room last year when Activists from the Black organizing coalition ATLisReady decided to demand an end to the GILEE program, and I can tell you with certainty it was a swiftly supported decision we’d all naturally come to agree on. We were not persuaded by any form of anti-Semitism, nor mesmerized by some ”pro-Palestinian group” as Friedmann vaguely claims; we were educated on the ways the IDF create, reinforce, and sustain violence against both Palestinians and Israelis of color. Many in the room had been to Palestine before and witnessed the police violence with their own eyes, and many of us had experienced police violence in some form here, in Atlanta, and the connection became unavoidable.

What becomes clear when proponents of Zionism and the GILEE program argue against Black activists demand their cities cut ties with the program is the extent to which anti-Blackness actually is a core result of Zionism, even for those liberal Zionists who claim to be progressive. It would be an ahistoricism to argue that US policing has not always been a constant antagonism to the Black identity, with our criminalization dating back to the slave patrol origins of policing in the US. Thus, this criminalization has been one one of both rhetoric and actions, the former often leading to the ladder; terms like ‘terrorist action’ and ‘counterterrorism’ which the GILEE programs boasts have historically been used against Black people to justify police oversight and violence. Our mistrust of the GILEE program does not lie in anti-Semitism or lack of understanding, to the contrary, it lies within our positional similarity to the violence enacted against Palestinians, and how our material conditions let us know the same violence will be used against us. To argue with this is to deny both the history and current conditions of police brutality, and to essentially slap us in the face while claiming to care about ‘human rights’ and ‘safety.’

Friedmann also manages to purposefully misconstrue intersectionality in the process of his argument, saying Palestinians and Black people are “strange bedfellows” driven by intersectionality. This seems to be in line with the recent trend of Zionists attacking intersectionality, the theory turned praxis first created by Kimberl√© Crenshaw to describe the ways oppressive structures are interconnected and cannot be examined separately. In June of this year Fern Oppenheim of the Brand Israel Group named “intersectionality” and coalition-creating on campuses as responsible for young Jewish people’s waning interest in Israel, stating they need to “deal with intersectionality” by “hiring conservative professors to offset the toxic culture” of diversity-building on campuses.

Because intersectionality calls for us to examine the commonality and interconnected nature of oppressive systems, it becomes antithetical to the core logic of Zionism, which assumes Israel, as well as oppression within Israel, stands independent of other structures. Along with this logic, we are taught in such an unquestionable way that the oppression that Palestinians face also stands independent of structures of racism, islamophobia, and settler-colonialism, not relative to the oppression that Black Americans may face, and not similar to the experiences of others. This is because the reality of Palestinian oppression intersecting with the oppression of others around the world is frightening to the Zionist movement, as it marks an unavoidable full acceptance of pro-Palestinian politics into major movements all around the world.

Furthermore, the constant conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism has recently been used as a gaslighting bedrock to continue the dismissal and misuse of intersectionality. In March of this year, Benjamin Goldstone wrote “It’s Time For Intersectionality To Include The Jews,” a piece in which he builds the bulk of his argument on the false notion that intersectional movements have been manipulated by anti-Zionists to “exclude Jewish issues from pro-justice movements.” To date, all organization-coalitions that have been created in Atlanta, for example, have featured various Jewish and Jewish-led groups, including Jewish Voices For Peace and Interfaith Peace Builders. Moreover, movements which claim to be intersectional identify structures of oppression based on identity and challenge them through coalition organizing, and the bulk of work underneath intersectional movements has been addressing issues of racism, religious bigotry, and where the two collide. Anti-Semitism, as a form of ethno-religious bigotry and prejudice, certainly falls underneath the confines of racial and religious oppression, so at what point has this exclusion occurred? Excluding the marginal, few anti-Semitic intersectional activists that this exist and hold power, this seems to be an inflation of intersectionality’s lack of room for Zionism, not Jewish people.

Gladstone doubles down on the misconceptions, stating:

“Finally, it must be emphasized that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, although not one and the same, are inextricably linked. It is not enough for pro-justice activists to accept Jews on the condition that we are docile, individualistic, American, and at their mercy […] When activists condemn ‘Zionists,’ they are more often than not, consciously or unconsciously, drawing on a Soviet tradition of leftist anti-Semitism that uses the term ‘Zionist’ as a code for Jews in general. Most American Jews feel attached to Israel and believe it has a right to exist, and therefore are vulnerable to the exclusion of Zionists from pro-justice action. Hatred of “Zionists” is wielded again and again as a mechanism for excluding the activists and institutions that are more representative of American Jewry from the intersectional conversation.”

I agree with Gladstone that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are inextricably linked, but only to the extent that anti-Zionism will always be silenced and dismissed due to empty cries of anti-Semitism so long as the conflict exists. And while Gladstone’s red-baiting use of drawing on Soviet-era examples and assumption that “Zionist” is used interchangeably with “Jewish” may seem sound, it falls flat of truth, and still exists within the same space of anti-Blackness that denies Black people our own agency and ability of information. When Black organizers and activists say we are against Zionism, we are not Soviet rhetoric nor perpetuating subconscious anti-Semitic dogma; we mean exactly what we say, and the assumption that we unknowingly are saying something otherwise is offensive. This assumption, and the larger assault on intersectionality as a whole, should be seen as misogynoir, as the intersectional movement is overwhelmingly lead by Black women, and intersectionality itself is a framework for praxis created for Black women.

Jaime Omar Yassin wrote recently, that “If gender is shared by all racial groups, feminism cannot be Zionist, just as it cannot be neo-Nazi—feminism that doesn’t have an understanding of how it intersects with racial and ethnic oppression is simply a diversification of white supremacy.” If Yassin is correct, then the Zionist assault on intersectionality, just like the assault on Alice Walker’s “Democratic Womanism,” is no different—it is just a new manifestation of anti-Blackness and misogynoir, tucked away within purposefully misreading and misuse of theory. As these many examples show, Zionism is a logic of anti-Blackness, with specific forms of misogynoir that accompany it, which doesn’t accept the agency of Black people who own valid critiques of its function.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pollster: Abbas would lose in elections, Fatah still safe


Daoud Kuttab October 10, 2017

Based on recent polling, should President Mahmoud Abbas decide to run for re-election, his chances of winning would be slim, while Fatah would fare better in legislative elections.
REUTERS/Eduardo MunozPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the 72nd UN General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York, Sept. 19, 2017.
Khalil Shikaki, leading Palestinian pollster and director of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), has told Al-Monitor that based on current polling, the Fatah movement would do well in parliamentary elections, but that President Mahmoud Abbas would not win. According to Shikaki, the only Fatah leader at present who could win an election is Marwan Barghouti, who is serving a long sentence in an Israeli prison.

Shikaki said polling data reveal that Abbas’ troubles go back to 2014. According to the PCPSR's most recent poll, conducted Sept. 14-16, and surveying 1,270 West Bank and Gaza residents, the PCPSR reported, “67% of Palestinians want President Abbas to resign and only 31% are satisfied with his performance.” If a presidential election was held between Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, the Hamas leader would receive 50% of the vote compared to 42% for Abbas. Like Abbas, Haniyeh would also lose to Barghouti, who would garner 59% to his 36%. In parliamentary elections, Fatah would garner 36% of the vote, while Hamas would come in second, with 29%, with third parties winning a combined 10%.

Shikaki believes that if the ongoing attempt at reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas succeeds, Abbas’ fortunes could improve, but only slightly. “Instead of two-thirds of polled Palestinians wanting him to resign, maybe the percentage will be closer to 60% or 55%,” he said. “There is still strong frustration with the performance of President Abbas among the majority of Palestinians.”

The pollster does not believe that Palestinians' frustration only relates to the punitive measures that Abbas has applied against Gaza. Rather, he said, “There are three reasons for this frustration. In addition to Palestinian anger over the reduced support to Gazans, there is frustration that his rule is becoming more autocratic and at the same time that Abbas is weak in standing up to the Israelis.”

Abbas has repeatedly said that he does not plan to run for president, but according to Shikaki, only Barghouti fares better in head-to-head competition against Hamas’ Haniyeh. “All other Fatah leaders — including every member of the Fatah Central Committee — are seen as too connected to Abbas, and not independent from him, and therefore they don’t fare any differently from Abbas in polls.”

Shikaki believes that if Abbas is definitely not running for re-election, he should “move quickly to provide an opportunity for a new leadership to emerge that will be seen as independent from [him] and will be able to forge a different direction and strategy for Palestinian independence.”

While Abbas’ numbers are not encouraging, consecutive polls indicate that support for Fatah remains more or less stable. The movement Abbas leads would fare better in parliamentary elections. “Their numbers are stable in the West Bank, but Fatah will need to do something about [Mohammed] Dahlan in Gaza,” Shikaki said.

Dahlan, who was expelled from Fatah, is likely to split the faction's vote in Gaza, which could spell trouble for the movement there, Shikaki contends. “A lot of work will be needed to improve Fatah’s position in Gaza,” he said. “The reconciliation could help Fatah, but the years of Hamas rule have left their mark, and the Fatah movement is weak and not unified.”

After 10 years of total control over Gaza, Hamas has agreed to a wide range of measures allowing the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza and unify the divided Palestinian community. New elections are part of the agreement. The younger generation constituting the majority of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank is largely indifferent and apathetic toward current leaders, but Shikaki says there is no organized alternative to the long-standing factions.

“As of now, there is no sign that anyone outside the two established groups, Fatah or Hamas, will be able to put forward a candidate with a credible chance of winning the presidency or has a list that could win enough votes and can impact the balance in the Palestinian Legislative Council,” Shikaki said.

The position of the Palestinian electorate as assessed by Shikaki is similar to the results of other recent public opinion polls. A poll published Sept. 6 by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC) reflected this high degree of apathy and produced similar negative results for Abbas but relatively better results for Fatah at the parliamentary level. The JMCC poll, conducted Aug. 13-21, showed “an unprecedented increase in the percentage of those who do not trust any political faction, reaching 42.8%.”

If general elections were held and Abbas did not run, the JMCC poll found, Barghouti would receive the most support. According to a JMCC press release, “26.1%, said they would vote for Marwan Barghouthi — 25.8% in the West Bank and 26.7 % in Gaza — while 12.1% said they would vote for Ismail Haniyeh — 9.3% in the West Bank and 16.7% in Gaza. Another 7.7% said they would vote for Mohammed Dahlan — 1.5% in the West Bank and 18% in Gaza.”

The JMCC findings differ slightly from the PCPSR poll for head-to-head results between the Fatah and Hamas leaders. “If Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh ran, 34.8% said they would vote for Abbas, while 27.0% would vote for Haniyeh,” the JMCC poll found.

Although the polling results do not look so good for the current Fatah leadership, it is unlikely that the leadership will indefinitely delay elections, especially since they have for years been demanding that elections take place. The most likely scenario will be for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to test the waters by conducting municipal local elections in Gaza. (Municipal elections were held in May on the West Bank, but not in Gaza.) Another factor will be whether Hamas plans to nominate one of its high-profile leaders to compete for the presidency. Winning control of the executive would be a major burden for Hamas, so it is doubtful that the weakened movement, with few regional sponsors, is of a mind to even consider nominating a candidate for president and again assuming the challenge and liability of governing.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

FBI Terrorism Unit Says 'Black Identity Extremists' Pose a Violent Threat

Sam Levin
October 7, 2017
The Guardian

Leaked report, citing concerns of retaliation over ‘perceptions of police brutality against African Americans’, prompts fears of crackdown on activists

An FBI report describes a likely ‘increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement’. , Michael Sohn/Associated Press ,

The US government has declared “black identity extremists” a violent threat, according to a leaked report from the FBI’s counter-terrorism division.

The assessment, obtained by Foreign Policy, has raised fears about federal authorities racially profiling activists and aggressively prosecuting civil rights protesters.

The report, dated August 2017 and compiled by the Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit, said: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” Incidents of “alleged police abuse” have “continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement”.

The FBI’s dedicated surveillance of black activists follows a long history of the US government aggressively monitoring protest movements and working to disrupt civil rights groups, but the scrutiny of African Americans by a domestic terrorism unit was particularly alarming to some free speech campaigners.

“When we talk about enemies of the state and terrorists, with that comes an automatic stripping of those people’s rights to speak and protest,” said Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “It marginalizes what are legitimate voices within the political debate that are calling for racial and economic justice.”

The document has emerged at a time of growing concerns about Donald Trump’s links to the far right and white nationalists, and increasing anxieties about his administration’s efforts to further criminalize communities of color and shield police from scrutiny. Anti-Trump protesters and Black Lives Matter activists have continued to face harsh prosecutions and close federal monitoring.

The FBI did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request for comment on Friday, but defended its tracking of “black identity extremists” in a statement to Foreign Policy, claiming the “FBI cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights”.

The FBI’s report noted specific cases of recent violence against police, most notably Micah Johnson, a 25-year-old shooter in Dallas who killed five officers and said he was targeting white people and law enforcement. Black Lives Matter – a movement protesting the disproportionate killings of black citizens by police in the US – had no ties to Johnson or other targeted killings of police and has condemned those shootings.

The number of police officers killed on the job also remains a fraction of the number of citizens killed by officers each year, and statistics suggest that more white offenders than black offenders kill officers.

The new FBI report said “BIE violence” peaked in the 1960s and 1970s “in response to changing socioeconomic attitudes and treatment of blacks”, adding that possible indicators today for “BIEs posing a violent threat to law enforcement” include “violent anti-white rhetoric” and “attempts to acquire illegal weapons or explosives”. BIE appears to be a very new term within law enforcement, Foreign Policy noted.

Elsa Waithe, a comedian and activist with Black Lives Matter, said she feared the FBI’s classification could deter people from joining protests and further “criminalize anyone who is already in the movement”.

She noted that she often wears a “black power” button and could easily see the FBI labeling her as a threat as a result: “The term ‘black identity extremist’ is so vague on purpose … If I wanted to do a picnic for black folks, is this now some sort of terrorist activity?”

But law enforcement threats would not discourage her, she said. “This changes nothing. For some people, this means we fight harder.”

Some reports have suggested that the Trump administration has also pushed to focus counter-terrorism efforts solely on Islamist extremism and no longer target white supremacist groups. The president further faced significant backlash in August for saying there were “very fine people” on both sides of a neo-Nazi rally where a civil rights activist was killed by an alleged white nationalist.

The FBI document seemed to be aligned with far-right figures who have increasingly called Black Lives Matter a terrorist group, some comparing it to the Ku Klux Klan, noted Tajsar.

DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, likened the “black identity extremist” monitoring to the FBI’s highly controversial domestic counterintelligence program known as Cointelpro, which was used to target political groups and activists like the NAACP, Martin Luther King Jr, socialist and communist groups and anti-war protesters.

“We knew that we were likely being watched,” said Mckesson, who has spoken out about being monitored by the US government and FBI. “This is confirmation that the work of social justice continues to threaten those in power.”

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The End of Empire

by Chris Hedge on Truthdig

The American empire is coming to an end. The U.S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U.S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.

The empire will limp along, steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, plunging the United States into a crippling depression and instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine.

Short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt, which does not seem likely, the death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two. The global vacuum we leave behind will be filled by China, already establishing itself as an economic and military juggernaut, or perhaps there will be a multipolar world carved up among Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and a few other states. Or maybe the void will be filled, as the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,” by “a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and an international financial leadership self-selected at Davos and Bilderberg” that will “forge a supranational nexus to supersede any nation or empire.”

Under every measurement, from financial growth and infrastructure investment to advanced technology, including supercomputers, space weaponry and cyberwarfare, we are being rapidly overtaken by the Chinese. “In April 2015 the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested that the American economy would grow by nearly 50 percent over the next 15 years, while China’s would triple and come close to surpassing America’s in 2030,” McCoy noted. China became the world’s second largest economy in 2010, the same year it became the world’s leading manufacturing nation, pushing aside a United States that had dominated the world’s manufacturing for a century. The Department of Defense issued a sober report titled “At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World.” It found that the U.S. military “no longer enjoys an unassailable position versus state competitors,” and “it no longer can … automatically generate consistent and sustained local military superiority at range.” McCoy predicts the collapse will come by 2030.

Empires in decay embrace an almost willful suicide. Blinded by their hubris and unable to face the reality of their diminishing power, they retreat into a fantasy world where hard and unpleasant facts no longer intrude. They replace diplomacy, multilateralism and politics with unilateral threats and the blunt instrument of war.

This collective self-delusion saw the United States make the greatest strategic blunder in its history, one that sounded the death knell of the empire—the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. The architects of the war in the George W. Bush White House, and the array of useful idiots in the press and academia who were cheerleaders for it, knew very little about the countries being invaded, were stunningly naive about the effects of industrial warfare and were blindsided by the ferocious blowback. They stated, and probably believed, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, although they had no valid evidence to support this claim. They insisted that democracy would be implanted in Baghdad and spread across the Middle East. They assured the public that U.S. troops would be greeted by grateful Iraqis and Afghans as liberators. They promised that oil revenues would cover the cost of reconstruction. They insisted that the bold and quick military strike—“shock and awe”—would restore American hegemony in the region and dominance in the world. It did the opposite. As Zbigniew Brzezinski noted, this “unilateral war of choice against Iraq precipitated a widespread delegitimation of U.S. foreign policy.”

Historians of empire call these military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, examples of “micro-militarism.” The Athenians engaged in micro-militarism when during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) they invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers and triggering revolts throughout the empire. Britain did so in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal and then quickly had to withdraw in humiliation, empowering a string of Arab nationalist leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and dooming British rule over the nation’s few remaining colonies. Neither of these empires recovered.

“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” McCoy writes. “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micromilitary operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”

Empires need more than force to dominate other nations. They need a mystique. This mystique—a mask for imperial plunder, repression and exploitation—seduces some native elites, who become willing to do the bidding of the imperial power or at least remain passive. And it provides a patina of civility and even nobility to justify to those at home the costs in blood and money needed to maintain empire. The parliamentary system of government that Britain replicated in appearance in the colonies, and the introduction of British sports such as polo, cricket and horse racing, along with elaborately uniformed viceroys and the pageantry of royalty, were buttressed by what the colonialists said was the invincibility of their navy and army. England was able to hold its empire together from 1815 to 1914 before being forced into a steady retreat. America’s high-blown rhetoric about democracy, liberty and equality, along with basketball, baseball and Hollywood, as well as our own deification of the military, entranced and cowed much of the globe in the wake of World War II. Behind the scenes, of course, the CIA used its bag of dirty tricks to orchestrate coups, fix elections and carry out assassinations, black propaganda campaigns, bribery, blackmail, intimidation and torture. But none of this works anymore.

The loss of the mystique is crippling. It makes it hard to find pliant surrogates to administer the empire, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photographs of physical abuse and sexual humiliation imposed on Arab prisoners at Abu Ghraib inflamed the Muslim world and fed al-Qaida and later Islamic State with new recruits. The assassination of Osama bin Laden and a host of other jihadist leaders, including the U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, openly mocked the concept of the rule of law. The hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees fleeing our debacles in the Middle East, along with the near-constant threat from militarized aerial drones, exposed us as state terrorists. We have exercised in the Middle East the U.S. military’s penchant for widespread atrocities, indiscriminate violence, lies and blundering miscalculations, actions that led to our defeat in Vietnam.

The brutality abroad is matched by a growing brutality at home. Militarized police gun down mostly unarmed, poor people of color and fill a system of penitentiaries and jails that hold a staggering 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although Americans represent only 5 percent of global population. Many of our cities are in ruins. Our public transportation system is a shambles. Our educational system is in steep decline and being privatized. Opioid addiction, suicide, mass shootings, depression and morbid obesity plague a population that has fallen into profound despair. The deep disillusionment and anger that led to Donald Trump’s election—a reaction to the corporate coup d’√©tat and the poverty afflicting at least half of the country—have destroyed the myth of a functioning democracy. Presidential tweets and rhetoric celebrate hate, racism and bigotry and taunt the weak and the vulnerable. The president in an address before the United Nations threatened to obliterate another nation in an act of genocide. We are worldwide objects of ridicule and hatred. The foreboding for the future is expressed in the rash of dystopian films, motion pictures that no longer perpetuate American virtue and exceptionalism or the myth of human progress.

“The demise of the United States as the preeminent global power could come far more quickly than anyone imagines,” McCoy writes. “Despite the aura of omnipotence empires often project, most are surprisingly fragile, lacking the inherent strength of even a modest nation-state. Indeed, a glance at their history should remind us that the greatest of them are susceptible to collapse from diverse causes, with fiscal pressures usually a prime factor. For the better part of two centuries, the security and prosperity of the homeland has been the main objective for most stable states, making foreign or imperial adventures an expendable option, usually allocated no more than 5 percent of the domestic budget. Without the financing that arises almost organically inside a sovereign nation, empires are famously predatory in their relentless hunt for plunder or profit—witness the Atlantic slave trade, Belgium’s rubber lust in the Congo, British India’s opium commerce, the Third Reich’s rape of Europe, or the Soviet exploitation of Eastern Europe.”

When revenues shrink or collapse, McCoy points out, “empires become brittle.”

“So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly wrong, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, eleven years for the Ottomans, seventeen for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, just twenty-seven years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003 [when the U.S. invaded Iraq],” he writes.

Many of the estimated 69 empires that have existed throughout history lacked competent leadership in their decline, having ceded power to monstrosities such as the Roman emperors Caligula and Nero. In the United States, the reins of authority may be in the grasp of the first in a line of depraved demagogues.

“For the majority of Americans, the 2020s will likely be remembered as a demoralizing decade of rising prices, stagnant wages, and fading international competitiveness,” McCoy writes. The loss of the dollar as the global reserve currency will see the U.S. unable to pay for its huge deficits by selling Treasury bonds, which will be drastically devalued at that point. There will be a massive rise in the cost of imports. Unemployment will explode. Domestic clashes over what McCoy calls “insubstantial issues” will fuel a dangerous hypernationalism that could morph into an American fascism.

A discredited elite, suspicious and even paranoid in an age of decline, will see enemies everywhere. The array of instruments created for global dominance—wholesale surveillance, the evisceration of civil liberties, sophisticated torture techniques, militarized police, the massive prison system, the thousands of militarized drones and satellites—will be employed in the homeland. The empire will collapse and the nation will consume itself within our lifetimes if we do not wrest power from those who rule the corporate state.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Why a leading Palestinian activist isn't fixated on a Palestinian state

from The Washington Post
By Ishaan Tharoor
October 6, 2017 at 1:00 AM
| Analysis

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In Washington, a generation of diplomats, politicos and wonks see the prospect of peace between Israelis and Palestinians entirely in the context of the "two-state solution," a scenario in which an independent Palestinian state emerges alongside Israel. It has been an article of faith for successive American administrations, even the current one. But on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories, the two-state solution is a mirage.

The right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu includes a number of politicians who emphatically reject the notion of an independent Palestine. Israeli settlers continue to expand across the West Bank, no matter the timid censure of the international community. And Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas finds himself tethered to a process that has no real future, while his support dwindles among the Palestinian public.

"We are not in the time to talk about solutions," said Issa Amro, a leading Palestinian activist who spoke to Today's WorldView while on a visit to Washington this week. "We are in the time to protect ourselves from settlements, from settler violence, from attacks on our cities and villages."

Amro, 38, has risen to prominence as a nonviolent dissident. Amro's organization, Youth Against Settlements, stages civil disobedience actions and monitors human rights violations in the West Bank. He comes from a generation of Palestinians who have grown up in the era that followed the 1993 Oslo peace accords and yet see no end to the military occupation that has defined their lives. That's perhaps especially true in the West Bank city of Hebron, Amro's hometown, where civic life is dominated by Israeli settlements.

"It's every day — house demolitions, land confiscation, building more and more settlements," he said. "If you tell a Palestinian, 'two-state' or 'one-state,' he'll say 'What are you talking about? They are burning my house, they are arresting my children.'"

For his pains, Amro has been detained numerous times by the Israeli military while staging nonviolent protests. This summer, he appeared in an Israeli military court on a series of charges mostly dating back more than three years, including supposedly spitting at a settler and "obstructing" soldiers. The trial is set to resume later this month.

"The right-wing government is pushing the Israeli military to take me down for being an activist who is opposing the settlement project in my own city peacefully," said Amro, who refers to the segregation enforced in Hebron as open "apartheid."

"If he is convicted, we will consider Issa Amro a prisoner of conscience," a spokeswoman from Amnesty International told Israeli media earlier this year, saying that the charges against Amro "don't stand up to scrutiny."

Adding to the chorus are a number of U.S. senators, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who penned a letter in August to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raising concerns about Amro's trial and urging the State Department to keep tabs on it. Amro called on Sanders while in Washington. Israeli military courts, though, have a 99 percent conviction rate in cases such as this.

Amro, who was born in Hebron and turned to activism as a college student, is one of the more well-known dissidents in the West Bank. He liaises with left-wing Jewish organizations, both in Israel and overseas, while his work has been highlighted by U.N. rapporteurs and defended by European diplomats.

Amro sees the struggle before him in stark and simple terms. He is not invested in notions of Palestinian statehood or independence, but in winning for the close to 5 million Palestinians living under occupation the same basic freedoms afforded to Israelis.

"We want Israelis to talk about our rights as equal human beings. But we see that they only talk about themselves and they just ignore this," he said. "Nobody cares about me waiting at a checkpoint for three hours for no reason. Nobody cares about a child being detained by Israeli occupation forces."

The repeated refrain from Netanyahu and other Israeli officials is that the main obstacle to peace is Palestinian violence. But that argument falls short with people like Amro, whose tactics include sit-ins and the monitoring of settlers and Israeli security forces with video cameras. "They see us as the main enemy," he told me. "They don't know how to deal with nonviolence."

"It is particularly people like him that Israel is most uncomfortable with, more than the militant carrying the weapon," said Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. "People often ask, 'Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?' You’ll often find many of them either in Israeli prisons or shot or killed or otherwise oppressed from engaging in activism."

Amro is cynical about the peace process, suggesting that Netanyahu and his allies are happy with the prevailing state of affairs and that talks will yield little for Palestinians. "Israel wants the status quo. It wants us to accept the occupation, to give up our rights," he said. "Negotiations haven't brought us anything on the ground. On the contrary, it gave settlers more time to build more settlements."

Amro argues with an Israeli settler in Hebron during a demonstration on Sept. 18. (Hazem Bader/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
Amro wants to encourage a campaign of mass civil disobedience across the West Bank. But such protests carry high costs; an estimated 40 percent of the total male Palestinian population has been detained at some time or the other by the Israeli military.

“The majority of the Palestinians are not using violence or nonviolence,” Amro said. “The majority are silent and are afraid to leave their homes.”

Nor do such movements win clear support from the Palestinian Authority led by Abbas, which in some instances has worked hand-in-glove with Israeli authorities to detain activists under loosely defined terror charges. Not long before arriving in the United States, Amro spent a week in Palestinian police custody after writing a Facebook post that called for the release of a detained Palestinian journalist who had written critically of Abbas.

"The international community unflinchingly supports Israel and the PA, even as both continue to demonstrate that they are repressive regimes," lamented Palestinian-Canadian lawyer Diana Buttu.

In his conversation with Today's WorldView, Amro said the Palestinian Authority — an institution that's supposed to be the vehicle through which Palestine becomes a state — was "an authority without authority," subservient, in his view, to an Israeli government that would rather it didn't exist.

"It's not about two states. It's not about peace," Amro said, referring to the aims of Netanyahu and his allies. "They believe that it's all for them."

Want smart analysis of the most important news in your inbox every weekday along with other global reads, interesting ideas and opinions to know? Sign up for the Today's WorldView newsletter.

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor and correspondent at Time magazine, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Germany’s new Nazis see Israel as role model

Ali Abunimah Power Suits 25 September 2017

Israel and its supporters have made alliances with racists, anti-Semites and Islamophobes all over Europe. (via Flickr)
“Unfortunately, our worst fears have come true,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said of the electoral success in Sunday’s general election of Alternative for Germany.

Known by its German initials AfD, the extreme nationalist party won almost 100 seats in Germany’s lower house.

“A party that tolerates far-right views in its ranks and incites hate against minorities in our country is today not only in almost all state parliaments but also represented in the Bundestag,” Schuster said.

The party is notorious for harboring all manner of racists and extremists, including apologists for Germany’s war record and Holocaust revisionists.

It was a disaster that Germany’s mainstream politicians saw coming.

Sigmar Gabriel, the country’s foreign minister, warned earlier this month that if AfD scored well at the ballot box, “then we will have real Nazis in the German Reichstag for the first time since the end of World War II.”

Pro-Israel funder backs new Nazis
While Germany needs no lessons in how to be racist, this catastrophe can in part be attributed to leaders in Israel and their fanatical supporters: for years they have made common cause with Europe’s far right, demonizing Muslims as alien invaders who must be rejected and even expelled to maintain a mythical European purity.

It can also be attributed to German leaders who for decades have strengthened this racist Israel by financing Israel’s military occupation and oppression of Palestinians.

What happened in Germany is another facet of the white supremacist-Zionist alliance that has found a home in Donald Trump’s White House.

In the past few weeks, liberal flagships The New York Times and The Washington Post have been hunting for the nonexistent shadows of Russian interference in the German election.

Meanwhile, as Lee Fang reported for The Intercept, the Gatestone Institute, the think tank of major Islamophobia industry funder Nina Rosenwald, was flooding German social media with “a steady flow of inflammatory content about the German election, focused on stoking fears about immigrants and Muslims.”

The Gatestone Institute is chaired by John Bolton, the neoconservative former US diplomat notorious for his hawkish support of the invasion of Iraq.

Gatestone articles making claims about Christianity becoming “extinct” and warning about the construction of mosques in Germany were regularly translated into German and posted by AfD politicians and sympathizers.

Story after story claimed that migrants and refugees were raping German women and bringing dangerous diseases to the country, classic themes of the Nazi propaganda once used to incite genocidal hatred of Jews.

In a tragic irony, Rosenwald’s father, an heir to the Sears department store fortune, used his wealth to help Jewish refugees flee persecution in Europe.

His daughter took a different path. Journalist Max Blumenthal has called Nina Rosenwald the “sugar mama of anti-Muslim hate.”

Blumenthal reported in 2012 that Rosenwald “used her millions to cement the alliance between the pro-Israel lobby and the Islamophobic fringe.”

In addition to funding a host of the most notorious anti-Muslim demagogues, Blumenthal reported that Rosenwald “served on the board of AIPAC, the central arm of America’s Israel lobby, and holds leadership roles in a host of mainstream pro-Israel organizations.”

The party of Anders Breivik
In a profile the day after the election, The Jerusalem Report, published by the right-wing Jerusalem Post, gave AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch a platform to set out the party’s anti-Muslim ideology.

The Jerusalem Report also quotes German political scientist Marcel Lewandowsky explaining that “AfD members view the European Union as a traitor to Europe’s Christian heritage because they let in the Muslims. The view is that the Islamization of Europe was caused by the EU.”

“Replacement” by Muslims, Lewandowsky explained, “is the core of the fear of AfD voters.”

This means that the core ideology of the party is indistinguishable from that of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who murdered 77 of his fellow citizens, mostly teenagers at a Labor Party youth camp, in July 2011, in the name of stopping the “Islamization” of Europe.

One of the biggest benefactors of Rosenwald’s largesse, according to Blumenthal, has been Daniel Pipes, the influential pro-Israel, anti-Muslim demagogue who Breivik cited 18 times in his notorious manifesto.

Admiration for Israel
AfD deputy leader von Storch, who sits in the European Parliament, also uses The Jerusalem Report interview to lay out her party’s pro-Israel stance, comparing its German nationalism to Israel’s Zionist ideology.

According to the The Jerusalem Report, von Storch is a founder of “Friends of Judea and Samaria,” a far-right European Parliament grouping that supports Israel’s illegal colonization of occupied Palestinian land.

Bizarrely, that group lists as one of its contact persons the head of the “Shomron Regional Council,” a settler organization in the occupied West Bank.

“Israel could be a role model for Germany,” von Storch told The Jerusalem Report. “Israel is a democracy that has a free and pluralistic society. Israel also makes efforts to preserve its unique culture and traditions. The same should be possible for Germany and any other nation.”

Von Storch’s identification with Israel echoes that of US Nazi demagogue Richard Spencer, who has described his vision of an Aryan “ethno-state” as “white Zionism.”

AfD chair Frauke Petry has also expressed support for Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In February, she told the right-wing Jewish publication Tablet that her only visit to Israel gave her a positive view of the country.

“Suddenly the picture you get is somewhat different than what you got when you live far away,” she said.

These views, again, echo those of Anders Breivik. He was a strong admirer of Zionism, and advocated an alliance with Israel to fight against Muslims and their “culturalMarxists/multiculturalists” supporters.

Israel’s settler leaders have taken note of AfD’s support. As the world reeled from AfD’s electoral success, Yehuda Glick, a lawmaker in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, tweeted that all those who were “in a panic” about AfD should rest assured that Petry was working “intensively” to expel any anti-Semitic elements.

Glick, a leader in the apocalyptic movement that seeks to destroy Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque and replace it with a Jewish temple, also recommended an article outlining AfD’s pro-Israel stance.

According to Tablet, Petry’s visit also led her to believe “that Europe should be learning more from Israel in its fight against terrorism.”

According to a recent survey, this strong support for Israel is felt across the ranks of AfD’s leadership.

Alliance with Zionism
There is a clear logic for AfD leaders to join the newly invigorated alliance between far-right, traditionally anti-Semitic forces on the one hand, and Israel and Zionists on the other.

Party chair Petry has argued that Jews should should be willing to talk to AfD over supposedly common interests, explaining, according to Tablet, that “it is the left wing in Germany and new Muslim immigrants who are leading her country’s anti-Israel movement.”

“Both anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are strongest in the Islamic community, as well as the left,” von Storch said. “They reject the fact that the Judeo-Christian foundations of European civilization are instrumental to its success. We recognize the threat they pose to both Israel and Germany’s Jewish community and their safety is a high priority for us.”

This is of course the most brazen revisionism: for centuries Europe’s Christian authorities not only did not consider Jews as a foundational part of their “civilization,” but persecuted them mercilessly, eventually attempting genocide.

But such facts are glossed over in the interests of a present-day anti-Muslim alliance that is prepared to torch the increasingly frayed fabric of pluralistic societies for the sake of Israel and German national purification.

Israel’s support for fascists
Critically, as Glick’s tweets indicate, this has not been a one-way affair. It has been encouraged by Israel and its lobby groups.

The notion that Israel is the spearhead of a Western civilizational battlefront against Islam has been a key claim of Netanyahu.

He and other Israeli leaders have exploited every terrorist outrage in Europe to advance the poisonous message that Israel is “fighting the same fight.”

And powerful Israel lobby groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League, that are now expressing alarm at the electoral success of the AfD, are far from innocent.

For years, the Anti-Defamation League – which poses as an “anti-hate” group – courted and whitewashed influential anti-Muslim hate-preachers because they supported its pro-Israel agenda.

This embrace between Zionists and their supposed opposites continues to thrive in the welcome former Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka have found from Israel and its lobby groups.

Bannon will speak at the Zionist Organization of America’s upcoming gala, while Gorka, who has ties to Nazis and violent anti-Semitic militias, was recently welcomed in Israel.

It can be seen in the Israeli government’s long and conspicuous silence while the rest of the world condemned August’s neo-Nazi rampage in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It can also be seen in Netanyahu’s embrace of far-right European leaders including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has attempted to rehabilitate his country’s Hitler-allied wartime leadership.

While the brazenness of this alliance may be shocking, it dates back to the early years of both the Zionist and Nazi movements. As Columbia University professor Joseph Massad has pointed out, Zionists and European anti-Semites historically shared the same analysis: that Jews were alien to Europe and had to be moved elsewhere.

And it continues: Israeli commentators are noting that Israel has not rushed to condemn AfD.

Netanyahu – always quick to pounce on the alleged anti-Semitism of Israel’s critics – took to Twitter to congratulate Chancellor Angela Merkel on her victory, but has so far remained silent about the subject that everyone else is talking about.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that AfD hired the same US political consultancy, Harris Media, previously used by Trump and Netanyahu’s Likud Party to spread its anti-Muslim message.

Going mainstream
Despite its electoral success, AfD is riven by splits: its chair Frauke Petry made the surprise announcement on Monday that she won’t join her party’s parliamentary caucus.

One strategy party leaders are deploying to make AfD more palatable is to try to assuage the fears of the Jewish community.

Undoubtedly, it will continue to attempt to do so by expressing admiration and support for Israel – the same approach as France’s historically anti-Semitic Front National.

We can expect to see AfD double down on its support of Israel, including its colonial settlements in “Judea and Samaria.”

But this is indeed a mark of its mainstreaming. Historically, Germany’s postwar establishment, including the governments led by Merkel, has “atoned” for the country’s genocide of Jews by supporting Israel to commit crimes against Palestinians.

Billions of dollars of German “reparations” went not to helping Holocaust survivors, but to arming Israel to carry out military occupation and colonization.

For Palestinians, then, Merkel’s “moderate” centrism and AfD’s overt bigotry and racism, are little different in effect.

Just as Donald Trump presents the unvarnished face of the American militarism and imperialism that has victimized people around the world for decades, AfD is in some ways a more honest voice of a Germany that speaks of “human rights,” while unconditionally supporting an Israel whose main export is extremism and Islamophobia.

Europe’s nativist racism joined with this ill-wind from Israel produces a toxic mix.

This article has been updated since initial pu

Monday, September 25, 2017

No free speech for fascists? Is free speech negotiable? Who decides?

Ever since I reached an age where I could read newspapers or understand what was on the radio (which we had years before we had a TV) I heard about 1st Amendment issues and censorship. When I was in elementary school and later on, high school(in the 1950s), some politicians or government authority was always trying to make someone calling for equality shut up.

When I was 15 years old laws were on the books that made it illegal to be a member of the Communist Party. If someone was labeled (truthfully or not) a red (of any shade) they lost their job. While attending my Indianapolis high school we had to go to assemblies to hear the ravings of Dr.Fred Schwartz of the Christian Anti-Communist League, and watch the movie "Operation Abolition" about the diabolical plot of world Communism and the ACLU to eliminate the House Un-American Activities Committee. HUAC was loaded with southern segregationist members of the House whose main goal was to accuse Labor Unions, atheists, Martin Luther King and the whole civil rights movement of being directed by the USSR.

Censorship, denial of the right to express "contrary ideas," such as socialism, racial equality, homosexual rights: this was the norm. The radicalization of the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement and feminism pushed back against attempts to repress free speech and the right to protest and blew these restrictions away.

Back then it was the reactionaries and rightist, the theocratic nut cases, who wanted to censor ideas from the left they didn't like, to make them illegal. They were forced into retreat in the 1960s and 70s. But they regrouped and kept chipping away... at women's rights, voting rights, any kind of social equality. Under Reagan they began making a comeback with attacking voting rights and women's reproductive rights. With Trump there is an all out assault on all fronts.

Fortunately, most people still believe that free speech and the right to assemble and protest is a basic right for all of us.

Groups like the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) among others have been important in fighting for free speech for all.

When those who pose as radical leftists and champions of the oppressed call for denial of free speech for those they deem as "fascists" it is not a plus. It damages the left and abandons the moral hight ground.

Free speech isn't divisible, something that can be rationed out. Either everyone has it or no one has it. Antifa is the latest iteration of the Black Block, an organization that specialized in leaching off of mass protests and then leading splinter group attacks on property and the police. Like the Black Block it is certain to be infiltrated with police agents whose goal is to escalate violence to discredit the protesters. Their assertion that there is no free speech for fascists and inclination to wade into street fighting is a trap. The Antifa are suckers who give the cops and the fascists what they want. The cops and authorities want to paint the far left and the far right as the same thing: crazy violent people who deserve no rights. The actual fascists and white nationalist want to inspire their ranks and potential recruits that they are taking on the left and beating them up in the streets.

Those who want to deny free speech and assembly to the far right, fascists, KKK and their ilk give them a cause to use to rally support: "Hey we white people are being victimized by these leftist thugs."

In the wake of Charlotte, the Boston events showed the way to fight back against fascists. Tens of thousand of peaceful counter-protesters demoralized the handful of racists who showed up and they slinked away. Other racists rallies called for in the San Francisco Bay Area fizzled and were called off due to fear of a big counter mobilization from the left.

When you support free speech for all and the right to assemble to demand change for everyone there is no issue of enforcement. It's the law. It's in the Constitution. Case Closed! If one class of the population is to be denied these rights because of their ideology or intent how do you decide who is to be denied?

Can people on the left be stupid enough that they themselves have the right or, more importantly, the power to enforce a ban on the far right? Will the local police say to Antifa: "Yes sir, boss. If you say the Klan can't march here in our city then we will obey you?"

Only the state (last time I checked it's a capitalist state that doesn't care much for the left) can enforce a ban on fascists. Do you want to give them that authority? Who gets to define the term "fascist?" Will a campus administration, a city or state or the federal government ask Antifa to advise then on who is a fascist and what should be done with them?

It's time to get real. The mass protests in St. Louis against police getting away with the murder of young black men are real. There are many other struggle where we should take to the streets in protest. And build the protests where we are not playing childish games and dressing up in costumes. We need serious mass mobilizations over DACA, Trump's appalling in-your-face racism, travel bans, warmongering saber rattling and endless war in name a few issues.