Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"[T]his is a prime example of THE DISTORTION...." --Every1 of Us (as embodied by Debbie Almontaser dn2008-0429)

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Debbie Almontaser, who was the founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International School in New York until she stepped down before it actually opened. Debbie Almontaser is known as a builder of bridges between the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities in New York. But I wanted to turn now to neoconservative pundit Daniel Pipes. In April 2007, he wrote an op-ed for the New York Sun about Debbie Almontaser’s appointment that helped spark the campaign against her school. In an interview for the New York Times website, Pipes was questioned about some of his claims.

    DANIEL PIPES: I worry that the intensive instruction of Arabic brings with it, in many cases, political and religious or religious indoctrination.

    ANDREA ELLIOTT: You referred to it, in your first op-ed piece that ran in the New York Sun, as a “madrassa.” Was that a bit of a stretch?

    DANIEL PIPES: Yes, it was a bit of a stretch. It was intended to get attention. But basically, that was correct, in the sense that "madrassa" is a school where Islam is taught. And my fear was and is that the Khalil Gibran International Academy is a school where Islam is taught.

    ANDREA ELLIOTT: What have you learned about it that is concerning to you?

    DANIEL PIPES: One learned about the application for a halal dining room. One learned about the adviser board, which is exclusively made up of religious figures. One learned about the illustrations on the expectations of the school and its promoting Islamic culture, all of which left me feeling queasy. Then one later learned about the personnel, their connections to radical Islam. When I look at some of the proponents of the school, like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, like the Council on Islamic Education I see the standard Wahhabi lobby members promoting radical Islam in, now, a public school. And I say no.

That was it! Notice how Pipes here imbues his accusations with spurious objectivity by using the pronoun "One." And then he makes the switch: "One" learned of these things, so naturally D. Pipes, being a word-warrior of One--and there can be only One, y'know--says, I see terrorists!

He's using bad logic (Arabic = Wahabbi) to challenge the religious and political loyalties of our Sister. Later, he even has the insane hubris to claim to know whether or not lunatics like bin Laden have stolen Almontaser's identity and religion, even dictating to the accomplished educator the words she must use to repel his attack. And the oh-so logical Pipes bases that outrageous usurpation on precisely what evidence? Only Debbie Almontaser is qualified and competent to speak of her own beliefs. How dare he dictate to her?! I'll tell you how.

On the job sites, where Every1 of Us, as lil' ol' me, is embodying a house painter, we have a very graphic phrase for exactly this strategem:
mind-fucking. Daniel Pipes is the leader of the public gang-raping and usurpation of Principal Almontaser and her rightful fief, based on white male fears about her loyalties. This is feudalism! (as defined here on 24 April 08)

AMY GOODMAN: Daniel Pipes, being interviewed by the New York Times reporter who did the major piece on Sunday, Andrea Elliott. Debbie Almontaser, your response? “Madrassa”?

DEBBIE ALMONTASER: Well, “madrassa” is simply “school.” It is the translated word in Arabic, and it’s unfortunate that it’s developed a negative connotation in this day and age based on the fact that there are madrassas in Afghanistan and Pakistan and what have you that, you know, teach a certain ideology. And certainly the Khalil Gibran International Academy was not going to teach any ideology. It was a school that was going to be teaching young people to become global citizens, teaching them tolerance and cultural diversity, and helping them to develop for the twenty-first century work force, where there will be plenty of opportunities on an international level for them to compete for the most competitive jobs.

AMY GOODMAN: And the other allegations of Daniel Pipes?

DEBBIE ALMONTASER: Well, there are many that he was able to put together by distorting quotes that I was quoted in multiple newspapers; the award, you know, from CAIR; the allegation that I’m connected, you know, to a terrorist organization such as CAIR. And quite frankly, these are all allegations that are moot and really have no basis whatsoever.

CAIR New York is one of the most prominent civil rights organizations in New York City, as well as across the country. The president of CAIR sits on the Human Rights Commission of New York City. He was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg. So if Mayor Bloomberg has no issues with working closely with CAIR, I don’t see why anyone should have any issues. CAIR, unfortunately, has been targeted, because it is fighting for the civil rights of Arabs and Muslims. And, you know, this organization, as well as other organizations fighting for civil rights of Arabs and Muslims, is very much needed. There is a national growing trend of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment that is targeting, you know, Arabs and Muslims across the country. If I can be a target—you know, someone who has developed many relationships across the city, across the country—anybody could be a target.

AMY GOODMAN: In this clip on the New York Times website, the New York Times reporter Andrea Elliott questions Daniel Pipes about his accusations of calling you an apologist for the 9/11 attacks.

    DANIEL PIPES: I was worried about Ms. Almontaser because of statements she’d made and affiliations she had, all of which suggested to me that she is someone sympathetic to radical Islam or is herself an Islamist.

    ANDREA ELLIOTT: You have referred to her as a 9/11-denier on the basis of a quote she gave, which was, quote, “I don’t recognize the people who committed the attacks as Arabs or Muslims." You did not cite the second part of the quote, which was “Those people who did it have stolen my identity as an Arab and have stolen my religion.” Why didn’t you include the second part?

    DANIEL PIPES: I think—I’d be happy to include the second part. I think all of it is of a piece of denial. They have not stolen her identity. They have not stolen her religion. She needs—what she needs to do is denounce them and say that what they represent is Islam in its worst form. They are not non-Islam. To deny that Osama bin Laden is a Muslim is sheer hypocrisy. Osama bin Laden is a Muslim. And to say that he has stolen Islam or hijacked Islam or is not a Muslim is false.

    AMY GOODMAN: Debbie Almontaser, your response?

    DEBBIE ALMONTASER: My response to that is, I chose to be an educator, not a politician to create a platform that I need to condemn every little thing or huge thing that happens across the world. This school was about bringing young people together, providing them with a high-quality education to become global leaders.

    For Mr. Pipes to use that quote, as I had mentioned earlier, this is a prime example of the distortion, and to make it seem that I’m a sympathizer is quite ridiculous.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Today's Lesson in Myth-Jacking: Stephanopolous and Blitzer Show Us The Way to Ignorance


SCOTT RITTER: Well, first of all, we have to be concerned about the evidence. We have interior photographs and exterior shots and nothing that links the two. And so, on the surface, I would say that if you’re bringing this evidence to a court of law—it’s a strange dimension, the rule of law, when we speak of American foreign policy lately—you would have trouble having anybody say yes, this is definitive evidence that links the allegations to this specific site in question.

But let’s just assume for a second that the data is in fact accurate. I have to take exception with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he says that the alleged activities are against international conventions. Actually, they’re not. If Syria had in fact been constructing the reactor they’ve been accused of, they were in total conformity with international law. The nonproliferation treaty, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Syria is a signatory, requires that facilities be declared to the IAEA only when nuclear materials are to be introduced to these facilities, that a facility under construction is not a declarable item. And so, it’s absurd to sit there and say that just because Syria and North Korea were pouring concrete that they are somehow breaking the law.

And this notion that the reactor was on the verge of becoming operational, again, is absurd. You know, there would have to be literally thousands of pounds of pure graphite that would have to be introduced to this facility, and there’s no evidence in the destruction. You know, there were a number of reporters who went to the site after it was blown up. If it had been bombed and there was graphite introduced, you would have a signature all over the area of destroyed graphite blocks. There would be graphite lying around, etc. This was not the case.

I don’t know what was going on at this site. If the images are accurate, it appears that Syria was producing a very, very small research reactor. But it is not a reactor usable in a nuclear weapons program. Syria was not violating the law.

And if there were concerns over this reactor, a simple referring of the material, these photographs, to the International Atomic Energy Agency would have produced an insistence on special inspections that would have had the inspectors on the site actually determining what was going on and a peaceful resolution of the problem. This shows that the United States and Israel have a wanton disregard for the rule of law. And this is especially critical when the United States is holding up the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a standard in which we hold Iran and North Korea accountable to.

AMY GOODMAN: Scott Ritter, the Washington Post reporting another senior official said US intelligence had formerly declared only “low confidence” that the site played in a Syrian nuclear program?

SCOTT RITTER: Well, I understand there’s people saying that. You know, we have John Bolton, who recently left the Bush administration, putting his marker on the table, saying that Syria was pursuing nuclear weapons. You have the Office of the Vice President carrying out a whispering campaign. But the bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter what the US government says was going on there or wasn’t going on there; the site was bombed. And the United States government has not condemned this bombing.

We are signatories to the Charter of the United Nations. We are a permanent member of the Security Council. And it is our responsibility to ensure that the sovereignty of member nations is protected. And what occurred in September of last year was that the sovereignty of Syria was violated by Israel in a preemptive, unprovoked attack against a site that was not in any way representative of a threat to Israel or a violation of international law. This is where people should be focused on, not, you know, the to-ing and fro-ing about what was or what wasn’t going on in Syria. What we’re talking about here is the violation of a nation’s sovereignty, an act of war, unprovoked, preemptive, by one nation against another. And the United States is remaining not only silent, but we’re actually siding with the aggressor.

To a WeeMan with a gun, Every1 of Us is a target

AMY GOODMAN: A New York State Supreme Court justice has acquitted three New York police detectives of all charges related to the fifty shots that killed Sean Bell, an unarmed African American man, on November 25, 2006. It was in the early morning before the twenty-three-year old Bell was to be married. He was sitting in a car with two friends outside a strip club in Jamaica, Queens.

Judge Arthur Cooperman said Friday the NYPD officers who trained their guns on Bell and his friends were not guilty of all charges of manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment. He said it was reasonable for the detectives to fear that someone might have had a gun. There was immediate relief within the New York Police Department.

    MICHAEL PALLADINO: And we are relieved today. And how do I spell “relief”? N-O-T-G-U-I-L-T-Y. Not guilty. That’s how I spell “relief.”

AMY GOODMAN: But for Sean Bell’s fiancee Nicole Paultre-Bell and many others who took to the streets this weekend, the verdict was a complete miscarriage of justice. Activists and community members organized a protest march outside the Queens District Attorney office Friday evening. Democracy Now! producer Jeffrey Hagerman spoke to some of those at the march.

CITY COUNCILMEMBER CHARLES BARON: I think the system stinks, and black people better protect themselves by any means necessary.

REPORTER: And why do you say that?

CITY COUNCILMEMBER CHARLES BARON: Because the system’s not protecting us. That judge just told us today we don’t mean nothing, that our lives aren’t worth anything.

REV. HERBERT DAUGHERTY: I made a note before I left home, and I said my heart cries out for justice, but my experience has taught me what to expect, and therefore the decision doesn’t come as any shock to me. I’ve been at this fifty years.

HERMAN HUBBARD: We should be tearing down the businesses in the Bronx, in Queens, in Harlem and all over America. They do nothing but appease us.

That last, I must say, is the stupidest response possible--no disrespect. There could be no better way to give the Feudalists more ammo for gunning more of Us down than by fulfilling their worst stereotypes of us as unreasoning savages, barely human if at all. What do those business owners in the Bronx, in Queens, have to do with it? How would creating more hate-fueled violent destruction actually HELP?

I don't understand his use of "appease," either. He doesn't look appeased to me. He's a WeeMan, advocating for a tantrum, spouting words that make him feel good about doing a stupid thing--no disrespect.

UNIDENTIFIED: They had no business pulling their guns out from the beginning. I mean, you can’t go out your house today without worrying what’s going to come the other way. This young man was having a good time. Why is he now six feet under the ground?

UNIDENTIFIED: Once I heard the verdict, I mean, I was like in tears, I mean, literally crying, because it is—I mean, it’s just so painful to know that these officers are able to shoot and kill us and get away with it. This system is not here to protect us. It doesn’t support us. I mean, it’s just sad that we have to be out here lobbying and protesting this injustice. It shouldn’t be like that. Our ancestors already fought for all of this. Why are we still out here doing this?

UNIDENTIFIED: I certainly think that there needs to be a shift from the militaristic type of policing that we see in communities of color and lower-income communities to more compassionate, respectful and community-based policing. The community needs to be more involved in the decisions of who’s policing their neighborhoods.

beloved / UNION / Beloved is a more perfect Union.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"We know about the Blue Wall of Silence that exists within the NYPD." --Every1 of Us (as embodied by Jessica Sanclemente dn2008-0428 @26:10-15)

[[[(Absolute Supremacy for White Patriarchy)/NO 1'S LAND, Our CommonWeal/// (((Absolute Subjugation)))]]]

GROOVALUJAH, SISTER! Listen to Jessica Sanclemente: from c.25:35 on, she's talking purely in terms of feudalism:

  • involving decisions made between mostly elite white men
  • involving relations of lords to vassals, serfs
  • in a militaristic context
  • regarding land
  • esp. the conversion of our Commonweal into private property
  • under the color of law: perverting legal rights and powers of life, imprisonment, and death to private gain

JESSICA SANCLEMENTE: Can I also just add onto that? Because I think it’s very important—


JESSICA SANCLEMENTE: —to highlight that the response that the judge had about how he came down with his decision was not only very eyebrow-raising, definitely, and should be, because it shows that there is a sense of some sort of race issues, there’s also some class issues, about where the location was, that maybe that was something to be thinking about, and also bringing up the witnesses’ rap sheets. I mean, this shows that this city is not willing to defend people of color nor people who are shot down by fifty bullets by police officers, regardless of their color or not. We know about the blue wall of silence that exists within the NYPD. And to think that this continues to happen and judges in this city are not willing to prosecute shows that there is not only a level of some—there’s a serious division within the city. We’re getting priced out continuously—poor people are being pushed out through many means, and one of them is being killed by the NYPD—and feeling as if we’re constantly being under some sort of oppressive iron fist, and this isn’t right.

SANFORD RUBINSTEIN: Let me add something to that also. Reverend Sharpton pointed out that in the judge’s decision, the judge talked about factors that influenced his decision. One was the criminal record. And Joe Guzman, who had a criminal record, said on the witness stand, “My criminal record wasn’t on my forehead the night that happened. The police officers didn’t even know.” But that shouldn’t matter. When you charge a jury in a criminal case, a criminal record of what happened in the past shouldn’t matter in this case and should not really be considered.

In addition, there was a comment about the demeanor of the witness. Demeanor of witnesses? That is something that is, in this case, the demeanor of Joe Guzman. Does that mean that if someone has an attitude, the police—and I’m not saying that he even had an attitude, but if someone’s attitude results in being shot sixteen times—he was shot sixteen times! Four bullets remain in his body. He was shot six times in his back as he was trying to crawl out of this car!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bombing of Guernica 27 April 1937

Students looking at Pablo Picasso's Guernica (1937) in the Queen Sofia Museum, Madrid, 1997.

Dominique Faget—AFP/Getty Images

1937: Bombing of Guernica.

During the Spanish Civil War, the Condor Legion of the German air force, supporting the Nationalists, bombed the Basque city of Guernica on this day in 1937, an event memorialized in Pablo Picasso's painting Guernica.

"Guernica; Picasso, Pablo" Encyclopædia Britannica. Standard Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008

From Common Dreams February 9, 2003

Published on Sunday, February 9, 2003 by the Toronto Star
The Lessons of Guernica
'Profound symbolism' as U.N. hides Picasso's anti-war masterpiece for Colin Powell's call to arms
Bush's `game over' remark makes it definite: U.S. will attack
by William Walker

UNITED NATIONS—On the second floor of the United Nations building in Manhattan, just outside the Security Council entrance, hangs a seminal piece of 20th-century artwork that offers a graphic and chilling reminder of the horrors of war.

A copy of Picasso's Guernica serves as a mute rebuttal to a pair of pro-war demonstrators calling for U.S. action against Saddam Hussein outside United Nations' headquarters in New York on Wednesday. (Photo/Graham Morrison)
But as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sat down last week to deliver an historic speech about why America must go to war with Iraq, Pablo Picasso's Guernica was concealed by a large blue drape.

To twist an old axiom, those who ignore the horrors of history — or cover them up — are doomed to repeat them.

"Columbia is more of a threat to the integrity of West Harlem and Harlem today than it ever was in 1968." --Every1 of Us ("Wm. Sales" dn2008-0425)

AMY GOODMAN: Well, as we talk about what’s happening today, I wanted to turn to the Columbia students today. Democracy Now! producers Anjali Kamat and Nicole Salazar went to Columbia University yesterday just before the big Columbia University ’68 event last night to speak with community members about the state of activism forty years after ’68. By coincidence, campus activists had organized a week of events around the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. It’s called “Five Years of Occupation, Five Days of Action.” Activists dropped a banner Thursday afternoon over the Butler Library building, calling for divestment from war profiteers and an end to the war. They also hooded the statue of the alma mater across the street. As hundreds of students were enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, a smaller group was reading aloud the names of Iraqis and Americans killed in Iraq since the start of the invasion.

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 1: Monday, April 3, 2006, one death, [inaudible], gunfire. Monday, April 3, 2006, one death, Baqubah, gunfire.

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 2: Back there, we’re reading names of—we’re reading the entire Iraq body count list, which is some 90,000 names of Iraqi civilians killed in the last five years in Iraq, plus the 4,000 names of American soldiers who have died. This, of course, is a tiny fraction of the civilian deaths in America. A more reliable estimate is put at 1.2, 1.4 million. But this is the list that we have.

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 3: Our week of action, perhaps by coincidence, has coincided with Columbia University’s appropriation of the legacy of 1968, where it has now become a matter of establishment. Now it’s a matter of celebration. There was a janitor here yesterday when we were having our name reading, who just came, and while I was giving him a flyer, he described how forty years ago he was here, and he was speaking about how there was blood on the stairs of the Low Library, the administration building, and he was asking, “How is it that this blood is forgotten, and now there is such a celebration of it?”

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 4: What bothers me most is that even if there were a situation as grave as in 1968, there would not be action, because we don’t relate personally to the war. You walk up to people, maybe ten percent will support the war. So why were only five percent of the entire campus at this rally? It should have been packed.

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 3: This is one significant contrast between 1968 and today, is the level of student involvement. I think it has to do with the invisibility of the occupation, in general, and of the continuing war.

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 2: One of the things that came out of 1968 was that Columbia disassociated itself from the idea and cut off its research—its research in terms of classified projects. By 1968, 48 percent of Columbia’s research budget was devoted to military-related research. What has essentially happened has been that Columbia has outsourced this research, so whereas Columbia once produced research for the government in exchange for, of course, enormous sums of government funding, today Columbia instead invests in private companies who carry out this research, and then those investment dollars are now what funds our non-military research.

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 3: There’s no talk of divestment. There’s no talk of Iraq. It is treated as a foregone era.

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 5: It’s forty years of ’68, five years of Iraq. It’s also sixty years of the Nakba in Palestine. And these are all—and it’s interesting that out of all of these, the ’68 is what is gaining, in some sense, the most traction. And I think on this campus, it is this sort of moment that we can look at and say this was possible, and not only to then be nostalgic about it, but then to create the conditions of possibility, where once again we can feel strongly enough to make it possible today on the issues that matter today.

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 3: Our overall aim is to reclaim this campus as a space where occupation, colonization and war are simply not acceptable.

    STUDENT ACTIVIST 5: We’ve received a lot of support. A lot of people have contacted us. And it’s very heartening. But I would also just urge people to think about not only what happened but what can happen and what we can make possible. And I think that is the legacy. If there is going to be a legacy, that should be the legacy.

AMY GOODMAN: Students at Columbia University yesterday, as all the commemoration activities of ’68 were taking place, talking about their concerns today. Throughout the week, they have been reading the names of the dead from the Iraq war. And yesterday, I think they had only made it up through 2006, yet they have been reading for days. Bill Sales?

WILLIAM SALES: Yes. I think it’s important to recognize that the community will speak this weekend, because Columbia is more of a threat to the integrity of West Harlem and Harlem today than it ever was in 1968, and we should understand that protest is alive and well, and there will be a march on the campus. This commemoration so far has included academicians and some, you know, superannuated activists, but it will, before the week is out, include a substantial number of very angry community people.

"[T]here was some transcendent issues involved." --Every1 of Us (as embodied by Judge G. Reichbach dn2008-0425)

AMY GOODMAN: Gus Reichbach.

GUSTIN REICHBACH: I would just add that while certainly the specific demands were what motivated people, there was some transcendent issues involved. We came together—Tom talked about the powerlessness that people felt, the powerlessness about being able to stop the war, the powerlessness in confronting an institution that had an incredibly paternalistic and controlling aspect to it. So, part of this coming together—and it’s really a spontaneous coming together—was because we thought in some small way that we could be agents or wanted to be agents in the course of history, and we shared this electric moment where collectively all our hearts were touched by a certain passion and fire.

And so, that was really not that the demands were unimportant, not that the issues were unimportant, but there was this larger—and I don’t mean to reduce it to psychological terms, because I don’t think it was that. I think it was a fundamental political issue about powerlessness and the requirement of taking action, of doing something, of putting one’s body on the line, which I think now that I’ve reconnected with people, after many, many decades, have come to observe in terms of the lives we’ve led since that time, that, you know, this participation was this Sartrean moment of a fracture that really has altered, I think, for many of us the course of our entire lives since that time.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you become a judge after being a student leader?

GUSTIN REICHBACH: It’s very unlikely.

TOM HAYDEN: He went over to the law and order.

GUSTIN REICHBACH: Very unlikely. In fact, I had a lot of trouble getting admitted to the bar because of my participation. Law professors lined up to testify against my admission to the bar. Some testified in favor of my admission, so I guess I’m responsible for destroying the collegiality of the faculty, but I went through two years of loyalty hearings before the character committee. The thought of me becoming a judge was—it was unlikely I was going to become a lawyer, much less a judge.

But it actually—my becoming a judge is somewhat connected to ’68, in that I was brought into a local judicial race in Brooklyn to help elect the first Hispanic judge. There had never been an Hispanic elected to a judgeship in Brooklyn, and because of the peculiarity of the election law, they needed a second warm body in order to help elect Richie Rivera, who became the first Hispanic judge. But we organized, having learnt doing dorm organizing and going door to door. We ran a judicial campaign that was very similar, people knocking on doors, walking up flights. And at the end of the day, I won, beating—we ran—Richie and I ran as insurgents against the Democratic organization, and I won by the munificent total of 141 votes. So that’s how.

Feudalism in '68 and Today | Gonzales Heeds the Call to Adventure, Gets Arrested and Entombed

JUAN GONZALEZ: And interestingly, I mean, I think it was—the importance about the Columbia strike was that it brought together a variety of movements that had been developing not only against the Vietnam War and racism on campus, but the gymnasium was sort of a—it brought the whole battle beyond the university itself, because I remember—I actually was not a member of SDS at the time. I was actually more involved in some of the liberal student tutorial programs that were in West Harlem and in East Harlem, and I got involved actually in January, because there was a protest at the gym site. Columbia University was building a university gymnasium, but it was taking public park land, and it was going to create a backdoor entrance for the Harlem community to use from time to time when the university saw fit to give it some time. And there had been no real discussion about this in Harlem. It was a deal that the university did with the city. So the community group that I was working with was participating in a protest at the gym site in January, four months before the strike, so I went, because it was our community group that was involved.

And all of a sudden, this young African American minister, whose name I don’t know—I’d never met him before—came up to me and three other Columbia students who were standing around, Mark Nason, who was a part of Columbia CORE, and a guy by the name of Will Stein. They were both organizers of Columbia CORE. And the young minister said—pointed to the three of us and said, “Follow me.” So he was a minister. I’m respectful. I’ll follow a minister. So he goes around the back entrance of the construction site and sits down in front of the bulldozers, and he says, “Here, sit down with me.” So the three of us sat down with him, and we were all arrested.

AMY GOODMAN: I never knew you followed orders so easily, Juan.

JUAN GONZALEZ: So, well, a minister, you know, give him respect. So we ended up all being arrested and spending the day in jail in the Tombs, and so that was actually my introduction to protest movement, and from a complete stranger who—and I didn’t even know Mark Nason or Will Stein at the time, but I got to know them better over the period of time.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you end up at Columbia University, being a student there?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Oh, well, I was a scholarship student from out of Frank K. Lane High School in Brooklyn, and I don’t really know how—I guess my college adviser had never heard of Columbia before.

AMY GOODMAN: And what year were you?

JUAN GONZALEZ: I was class of ’68. That was my senior year.

AMY GOODMAN: So this was the senior year?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yeah, yeah. But I think the important thing is to understand that the land battle, because, as Bill and I were talking about this earlier, there has not been much of an analysis of the role of urban universities in their cities, and in—this university expansion is a huge problem in most major cities around the country where private universities exist, because they’re always gobbling up land for their own private interests that are cloaked as a public interest, an educational interest, but they are huge landowners, and they have enormous impact on what happens to the communities around them, whether it’s Johns Hopkins or University of Pennsylvania or Yale or any of these, Harvard, any of these universities. They’re all involved in the same thing.

And that same thing sounds like feudalism, to me.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Tom, also the impact of the Vietnam War obviously on the students, not only Columbia, but other universities—again, it was a particular moment in history. The Tet Offensive had just occurred earlier in the year. Lyndon Johnson had announced his resignation. The Eugene McCarthy campaign was building up. What was, again, the impact of the war on all of us, but the other young people at the time?

TOM HAYDEN: Well, there was a New York Times op-ed piece this week by somebody who was there in Columbia, which said essentially that the war had nothing to do with the demonstrations. He also said, in defense of his behavior, that he was crazy. He said it eleven times in the article. He said that the war made him crazy. I think that there’s some truth in that, that people were driven to extremes, felt devastated particularly by the murder of Dr. King. I had been a community organizer in Newark in ’67. We went through—watched the killings of twenty-five, twenty-six people. The war was ever-present, and it’s a big difference from Iraq, because you could be drafted, and many of the young people in the community or on the campus could not vote. So I wouldn’t call the response crazy.

The logic of it was like in the 1930s. Industrial workers occupied factories in Michigan, because they didn’t have union representation, they didn’t have any protection, they didn’t have living wages. In my experience in the South in the early 1960s, black students and whites, some whites, sat in at lunch counters and went to jail and refused bail, because powerless people sometimes have to do that in order to get any leverage or get any attention. And so, the occupation of buildings by students who had no rights, trying to fight for people in Harlem who had no representation on the campus—the campus was run autocratically under an eighteenth century regulation that gave the president all power, no due process; if you’re going to get kicked out, like yourself, there was no recourse, there was no appellate process—that was the situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Tom, can you explain the founding of SDS, Students for a Democratic Society?

TOM HAYDEN: I wish I could. SDS was a kind of a clearing house for discussion. It was in response to two things: one, the imperative to do something in support of the Southern students who were sitting in at lunch counters and going to jail; and secondly, there was a rising awareness of the fact that students themselves, everywhere in the country, had no rights, no real power on campus, were treated like children. So SDS was about student power, but it was power to make a difference on campus and in the community and in support or solidarity with other movements.

AMY GOODMAN: And it was founded where and when?

TOM HAYDEN: It was founded slowly in a two-year period, and most people would date it as ’61. And then the Port Huron Statement, which was named after a town that’s called Port Huron—in a recent Michael Moore movie, actually, you can see what Port Huron looks like—the Port Huron Statement called for participatory democracy, an end to the Cold War or the nuclear arms race, and a focus on the internal problems of the United States, starting with race, poverty and civil liberties. And so, it became associated with all the movements that were starting spontaneously. I don’t think it was necessary to those movements, but it became a kind of channel where people could form chapters, discuss the situation, come together. It had a short life. It was a catalytic organization, I would say, a life of six or eight years.

"We now deny we no longer have a say in decisions that affect our lives.." --Every1 of Us (as embodied by STUDENT ORGANIZER, dn2008-0425)

JUAN GONZALEZ: Forty years ago this week, hundreds of students at Columbia University started a revolt on campus. Students went on strike. They occupied five buildings, including the president’s office in Low Library. The students barricaded themselves inside the buildings for days. They were protesting Columbia’s ties to military research and plans to build a university gymnasium in a public park in Harlem.

The protests began less than three weeks after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The 1968 Columbia uprising inspired student protests across the country.

Today, we’ll spend the rest of the hour looking back at this pivotal moment as part of our ongoing series, “1968: Forty Years Later.” Several of the student organizers are joining us in a moment, but first we begin with excerpts from the documentary Columbia Revolt by Third World Newsreel.

STUDENT ORGANIZER: We now deny we no longer have a say in decisions that affect our lives. We call on all students, faculty, staff and workers of the university to support our strike. We ask that all students and faculty not meet or have classes inside buildings.

We have taken the power away from an irresponsible and illegitimate administration. We have taken power away from a board of self-perpetuating businessmen who call themselves trustees of this university.

We are demanding an end to the construction of the gymnasium, the gymnasium being built against the will of the people of the community of Harlem, a decision that was made unilaterally by powers of the university without consultation of people whose lives it affects.

We are no longer asking but demanding an end to all affiliation and ties with the Institute for Defense Analysis, a Defense Department venture that collaborates the university into studies of kill and overkill that has resulted in the slaughter and maiming of thousands of Vietnamese and Americans.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Students at Columbia moved to take over buildings despite warnings from campus officials.

STUDENT ORGANIZER: In order to show solidarity of people with six strike leaders who they had tried to suspend, they decided to take Hamilton once again.

CAMPUS OFFICIAL: You are hereby directed to clear out of this building. I’ll give you further instructions if this building is not cleared out within the next ten minutes.

STRIKE LEADER: I’m asking how many of you here are willing now to stay with me, sit-in here, until…

STUDENT ORGANIZER: After three votes, a majority decided to stay.

STUDENTS: Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike!

CAMPUS OFFICIAL: If you do not choose to leave this building, I have to inform you that we have no alternative but to call the police, and each student who is arrested will be immediately suspended.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The students then set up barricades inside the administration buildings.

STUDENT ORGANIZER: The first day in Math, we set up a defense committee, which took care of putting up the barricades. We decided what our policy would be toward police, toward jocks. We soaped some of the stairs. We taped the windows. We emptied bookcases and put them up in front of the windows in case teargas canisters did get through the tape.

STUDENT ORGANIZER: And it hung up a lot of people when there would be a little scratch or mar on the marble-top desks or something. And the second time we built barricades, these hang-ups disappeared, and we had decided that barricades were necessary politically and strategically, and anything went in making strong and, this time, permanent-type barricades.

STUDENT ORGANIZER: Defense is all taken care of. Security is a problem, letting people in and out of the buildings. Watches—we need people to watch the windows every night.

STUDENT ORGANIZER: We had a walkie-talkie setup, citizens’ band walkie-talkies, plus there were telephone communications to every building, which the university tapped. We had three mimeographs at work constantly, and there were people who did nothing during the strike but relate to the mimeograph machine. And there was a big sign on the wall, a quote from somebody in Berkeley, who says five students and a mimeograph machine can do more harm to a university than an army.

JUAN GONZALEZ: A week later, New York City police stormed the campus. Hundreds of students were injured, and 700 were arrested. Images of the police assault were broadcast around the country.

STUDENT STRIKER: Over 700 of us on charges of criminal trespass, resisting arrest, all kinds of other [inaudible], some of which was real and some of which was completely fake.

STUDENT STRIKER: I know of nurses and doctors that pleaded with the police not to proceed, to please let these men alone, and they would say, “No, no. Get away. This is our job.”

STUDENT STRIKER: I was arrested. They would not allow me to see a doctor. I had broken ribs. My face was cut. I got hit with a pistol under the eye and was bleeding there. And I wasn’t allowed to see a doctor ’til I got out of court, which was approximately ten hours later.

STUDENT STRIKER: I was awarded a fellowship for next year. What the hell does—I’m sorry, what does it mean? I’m going to strike. I hope every—I don’t see how any teacher, I don’t see how any student can attend this school anymore. And I was completely liberal about the whole thing. But this bust has radicalized everybody, and me very personally.

STUDENT: I was a nonviolent student. I was completely passive. I didn’t care what happened. I was completely neutral. I’m not neutral any longer. I’ll occupy buildings tomorrow.

Campbell's Supernormal Sign Stimuli, Pt. 2: The first axiom of all creative art, cont'd

The axiom is worth recalling here, because mythology was his­torically the mother of the arts and yet, like so many mythological mothers, the daughter, equally, of her own birth. Mythology is not invented rationally; mythology cannot be rationally understood. Theological interpreters render it ridiculous. Literary criticism reduces it to metaphor. A new and very promising approach is opened, however, when it is viewed in the light of biological psychology as a function of the human nervous system, precisely homologous to the innate and learned sign stimuli that release and direct the energies of nature--of which our brain itself is but the most amazing flower.

One further lesson may be taken from animals There is a phe­nomenon known to the students of animal behavior as the "super­normal sign stimulus," which has never been considered, as far as I know, in relation either to art and poetry or to myth; yet which, in the end, may be our surest guide to the seat of their force, and to an appreciation of their function in the quickening of the human dream of life.

"The innate releasing mechanism," Tinbergen declares, "usu­-


ally seems to correspond more or less with the properties of the environmental object or situation at which the reaction is aimed. . . . However, close study of IRMs reveals the remarkable fact that it is sometimes possible to offer stimulus situations that are even more effective than the natural situation. In other words, the natural situation is not always optimal."

It was found, for instance, that the male of a certain butterfly known as the grayling (Eumenis semele), which assumes the ini­tiative in mating by pursuing a passing female in flight, generally prefers females of darker hue to those of lighter--and to such a degree that if a model of even darker hue than anything known in nature is presented, the sexually motivated male will pursue it in preference even to the darkest female of the species.

"Here we find," writes Professor Portmann, in comment, "an `inclination' that is not satisfied in nature, but which perhaps, one day, if inheritable darker mutations should appear, would play a role in the selection of mating partners. Who knows whether such anticipations of particular sign stimuli may not play their part in the support and furthering of new variants, inasmuch as they may represent one of the factors in the process of selection that determines the direction of evolution?"

Obviously the human female, with her talent for play, recog­nized many millenniums ago the power of the supernormal sign stimulus: cosmetics for the heightening of the lines of her eyes have been found among the earliest remains of the Neolithic Age. And from there to an appreciation of the force of ritualization, hieratic art, masks, gladiatorial vestments, kingly robes, and every other humanly conceived and realized improvement of nature, is but a step--or a natural series of steps.

Evidence will appear, in the course of our natural history of the gods, of the gods themselves as supernormal sign stimuli; of the ritual forms deriving from their supernatural inspiration acting as catalysts to convert men into gods; and of civilization--this new environment of man that has grown from his own interior and has pressed back the bounds of nature as far as the moon--as a distil­late of ritual, and consequently of the gods: that is to say, as an


organization of supernormal sign stimuli playing on a set of IRMs never met by nature and yet most properly nature's own, inasmuch as man is her son.

But for the present, it suffices to remark that one cannot assume out of hand that simply because a certain culturally developed sign stimulus appeared late in the course of history, man's response to it must represent a learned reaction. The reaction may be, in fact, spontaneous, though never shown before. For the creative imagination may have released precisely here one of those innate "inclinations" of the human organism that have nowhere been fully matched by nature. Hence, not only the ritual arts and the develop­ment from them of the archaic civilizations, but also--and even more richly--the later shattering of those arts by the modern ar­rows of man's flight beyond his own highest dream, would per­haps best be interpreted psychologically, as a history of the super­normal sign stimuli that have released--to our own fright, joy, and amazement--the deepest secrets of our being. Indeed, the depths of the mystery of our subject--which are the depths not only of man but of the living world--have not been plumbed.

In sum, then: Within the field of the study of animal behavior ­which is the only area in which controlled experiments have made it possible to arrive at dependable conclusions in the observation of instinct--two orders of innate releasing mechanisms have been identified, namely, the stereotyped, and the open, subject to im­print. In the case of the first, a precise lock-key relationship exists between the inner readiness of the nervous system and the external sign stimulus triggering response; so that, if there exist in the human inheritance many--or even any--IRMs of this order, we may justly speak of "inherited images" in the psyche. The mere fact that no one can yet explain how such lock-key relationships are established does not invalidate the observation of their exist­ence: no one knows how the hawk got into the nervous system of our barnyard fowl, yet numerous tests have shown it to be, de facto, there. However, the human psyche has not yet been, to any great extent, satisfactorily tested for such stereotypes, and so, I am afraid, pending further study, we must simply admit that we do not know how far the principle of the inherited image can


be carried when interpreting mythological universals. It is no less premature to deny its possibility than to announce it as anything more than a considered opinion.

Nor are we ready, yet, to say whether the obvious, and some­times very striking, physical differences of the human races repre­sent significant variations of their innate releasing mechanisms. Among the animals such differences do exist--in fact, changes in the IRMs of the major instincts appear to be among the first things affected by mutation.

For example, as Tinbergen observes:

The herring gull (Larus argentatus) and the lesser black­-backed gull (L. fuscus) in north-western Europe are con­sidered to be extremely diverged geographical races of one species, which, having developed by geographical isolation, have come into contact again by expansion of their ranges. The two forms show many differences in behavior; L. fuscus is a definite migrant, traveling to south-western Europe in autumn, whereas L. argentatus is of a much more resident habit. L. fuscus is much more a bird of the open sea than L, argentatus. The breeding-seasons are different. One be­havior difference is specially interesting. Both forms have two alarm calls, one expressing alarm of relatively low intensity, the other indicative of extreme alarm. L. argentatus gives the high-intensity alarm call much more rarely than L. fuscus. The result is that most disturbances are reacted to differently by the two forms. When a human intruder enters a mixed colony, the herring gulls will almost always utter the low-intensity call, while L. fuscus utters the high-intensity call. This difference, based upon a shift of degree in the threshold of alarm calls, gives the impression of a qualitative difference in the alarm calls of the two forms, such as might well lead to the total dis­appearance of one call in one species, of the other in the second species, and thus result in a qualitative difference in the motor-equipment. Apart from this difference in threshold, there is a difference in the pitch of each call.

Between the various human races differences have been noted that suggest psychological as well as merely physiological varia­tion; differences, for example, in their rates of maturing, as Géza Róheim has indicated in his vigorous work on Psychoanalysis and Anthropology. However, it is still far from legitimate, on the


basis of the mere scraps of controlled observation that have been recorded, to make any such broad generalizations about intellectual ability and moral character as are common in discussions of this subject. Furthermore, within the human species there is such broad variation of innate capacity from individual to individual that gen­eralizations on a racial basis lose much of their point.

[Joseph Campbell. (1968). Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, pp.42-46. New York: Penguin.]

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mr. BigMedia Tells Lady Liberty He Just Gave Her Herpes (@1:39-55, as embodied by Jason Jones and a Stunned Pennsylvania voter)

No audio? Click "Links to this post," scroll up. Only Comedy Central videos seem to be missing the audio track--for now. Don't have a clue why.

Message Force Multipliers are Giving Us the Goering Treatment

No audio? Click "Links to this post," scroll up. Only Comedy Central videos seem to be missing the audio track--for now. Don't have a clue why.

During the April 22 edition of The Daily Show, Stewart said:

STEWART: Now, another event making a recent cameo, the Iraq war. Remember? Remember when it started and it was kind of a big deal that some journalists were embedded with the troops? Well, this is great. As it turns out, it was more of an exchange program, because they actually also had troops embedded with the journalists. It's the subject of tonight's "The Less You Know."

[begin video clip]

STEWART: Look at these sweet, kindly former killing machines. The networks hire them to give expert analysis and insight into our country's war effort.

FMR. MAJ. GEN. PAUL VALLELY: We're winning the war on terror.

FMR. LT. GEN. THOMAS McINERNEY: This was the best-trained force we have ever had.

FMR. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS: This is the best leadership our military has had in its history.

FMR. GEN. MONTGOMERY MEIGS: And when I ask senior army officials who are longtime friends who aren't going to give me a B.S. answer how we're doing, are we winning or losing? They're saying we're winning.

[end video clip]

STEWART: These people are old and trustworthy, like my grandpa who served in the war. They wouldn't lie to me -- right, Grandpa? You killed Hitler. And never cheated on my grandma with a French whore. Why would he? He was in love.

STEWART: Well, it turns out many of these ex-military were not so "ex" -- working on behalf of defense contractors and the Pentagon itself. And while the news networks called them "military analysts," the Pentagon, in just released memos, referred to them as "message force multipliers" -- which sounds so much cooler than sneaky old guys. Message force multipliers. What are they, machine guns that shoot Post-it notes? By the way, message force multipliers? Worst Steven Seagal movie ever. They say he couldn't stay on message. They were wrong. They said he couldn't read prompter. All right. But have there been any reports about the broader war on terror that don't come in unreliable old-man form? Well, we're in luck, if by in luck you mean [bleeped out].

The Government Accountability Office just put out a report on America's progress pursuing the non-Iraqi perpetrators of 9-11, or as many of us refer to them, the perpetrators of 9-11. Now, the name of the report -- and this is admittedly a little coy -- is The United States Lacks Comprehensive Plan to Destroy the Terrorist Threat and Close the Safe Haven in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Or, for you anagram fans, TUSLCPTDTTTACTSHIPFATA. The report stated that despite all that has occurred these last seven years, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border now has vast unpoliced regions attractive to extremists and terrorists seeking a safe haven. Well, thank God someone's safe.

For more, we turn to our own message force multiplier, senior military analyst Rob Riggle. Rob, thank you so much for joining us. Rob, this is serious revelations -- serious revelations coming out of the Pentagon and the Government Accounting Office about progress in the war on terror. What is your take on these reports?

RIGGLE: My take?


RIGGLE: My take is that in the United States war on terror, we've been walking in a [bleep] circle.

STEWART: Really?

RIGGLE: I mean, have you read this report?

STEWART: I read the, I saw the title.

RIGGLE: Well, let me just give you the Cliff Notes, OK? In 2001, there was a memo: Bin Laden determined to attack the United States from a safe haven in Afghanistan. Now, seven years and $700 billion later, we get a new memo saying, bin Laden determined to attack United States from a safe haven somewhere around Afghanistan. We're right back where we started. We could have gotten here by doing nothing.

STEWART: It is discouraging to see that -- it is discouraging. You know what's interesting, Rob? It is discouraging --

RIGGLE: I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. I knew this [bleep] didn't know where he was going. I mean, all of us, we were all in the backseat. America was just in the backseat. You know, you know, acting like, "I don't think this is the way to defeat Al Qaeda." And he's like, he's like, "I know what I'm doing. I know a shortcut through Iraq. Everybody, come on now, just trust me." And we're all like, "I don't know, maybe we should ask for directions. You know, I'm pretty sure Al Qaeda is the other way." And he's like, "Shut up, shut up. What the hell. I'll dump your ass in Yemen. You're just like your mother. Keep your hand off the radio, [bleep]."

STEWART: That's an interesting, that's an interesting -- Rob, that's an interesting metaphor.

RIGGLE: Man, shut the (bleep) up, all right?

STEWART: OK. So, do you think the president's going to make any changes based on these reports?

RIGGLE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, this will be a wake-up call. If there's anything this president responds to, it's written criticism.

STEWART: Well, thanks, Rob. That was a great report.

RIGGLE: Whatever. Whatever.

STEWART: Rob Riggle, everybody. We'll be right back.

"Planet Earth has suffered a death wound." --Every1 of the Indigenous Peoples (as embodied by Evo Morales dn2008-0424 32:22-30)

PEASANT UNION LEADER/PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Thank you very much for the invitation and for this kind interview. I’m very pleased, as always, to talk with you and share our proposals on behalf of life.

I’ve come at the invitation of the Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples of the United Nations. I was, as a union—to share experiences on climate change, first as a peasant union leader and second as a president. Unfortunately, the so-called developing countries are the hardest hit by natural phenomena. These natural phenomena are a result of the unbridled industrialization of the Western countries. I think that the countries of the West are under an obligation to see how they can pay the environmental debt to reduce harm to the planet earth. [@32:22-30] The planet earth has suffered a death WOUND and must be saved, and that means saving planet earth is to save life and to save humankind.

But there are other factors that are leading to the inflation in prices for some agricultural goods, particularly biofuels and programs implemented by some presidents for some movements called biofuels or agrofuels. They are setting aside millions and millions of hectares to produce agricultural goods which are earmarked for biofuels. And it’s not possible to understand in this new millennium how there are governments, presidents, institutions that are more interested in a heap of metal than in life. They’re more interested in fueling luxury cars than in feeding human beings.

That’s where we raise a question. First, land is to be for life and not land for scrap metal or a heap of metal. And while some presidents and some international organizations want to implement measures of this sort, well, I believe very much in the social movements. So, for example, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, well, there’s been an international movement, and we’ve put a halt to it. In addition, there are major movements against biofuels or agrofuels, and we need to wake up some presidents and international organizations before this problem of hunger that’s suffered by families and hectares of land being earmarked to cars rather than people goes any further.

Sounds like a flat-out rejection of Mechanism, to me! Go go Evo!

Why are WE Here NOW? "[T]o literally save our mother, the earth." --Every1 of Us (as embodied by Casey Camp-Horinek dn2008-0424 @24:00-30)

Now there's a goddess who knows how to dress for success! Look at the mandalas she wears in her hair!

AMY GOODMAN: Casey Camp-Horinek is a member of the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma. A lifelong political and environmental activist, she founded the Coyote Creek Center for Environmental Justice. She is a delegate to the UN on behalf of the indigenous environmental network. She joins us now here in our firehouse studio in New York.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! Why are you at the UN? What do you hope to accomplish?

@24:00 CASEY CAMP-HORINEK: In the long-term effect, I hope to accomplish zero emissions by 2050. I’m hoping that the fossil fuel regime will pay attention to the indigenous knowledge of the peoples globally, so that we’ll be able to make less impact as fossil fuel-burning people and more impact as people who were born this generation to literally save our mother, the earth.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the focus especially on climate change and its impact on indigenous people, as you’re mentioning, why that particular focus this year?

CASEY CAMP-HORINEK: There is no choice. It’s now is the time and the only time that we have in order to allow the human being to continue to live on Mother Earth. Mother Earth will continue to exist, but with a shrug of her shoulders, she will simply shake us off if we don’t align ourselves with the natural laws.

Right at this time, the disproportional impact of fossil fuels on our lands—and I’m speaking here of the North American natives from Alaska down into the Mexicos—has been such that we are noticing and have been noticing for a full generation the change in the weather patterns, the change in the animals. The ability for our people to sustain themselves in their own traditional areas is becoming less and less. And we simply have had no choice about these giant corporations that come to exist on our lands, with or without our consent.

Our people in the Northern Hemisphere, those up in Alaska and on the Arctic Circle, the permafrost is melting. We hear about the polar bear all the time. And, of course, they’re our relatives, and we do care about them, and their continued existence is coexisting with us. We see our people are dying. We see that their way of life is gone. The caribou trails are gone. And, of course, each of us has our own story.

What does "to endorse" mean?

Feudalism term that emerged in the 17th century and has been used to describe European economic, legal, political, and social relationships that existed in the Middle Ages. Derived from the Latin word feudum (fief) but unknown to people of the Middle Ages, the term feudalism has been used most broadly to refer to medieval society as a whole and most narrowly to describe relations between lords and vassals. It also has been applied, often inappropriately, to non-Western societies where institutions similar to those of medieval Europe are thought to have existed. The many ways feudalism has been used have drained it of specific meaning, however, and caused some scholars to reject it as a useful concept for understanding medieval society.

Feudalism in its broadest sense has been understood as the entire interwoven fabric of medieval society. As described by Karl Marx and subsequent Marxist scholars, it is the stage in history that preceded capitalism and, as such, involved the entire social and economic structure of medieval Europe. Also known as manorialism or seignorialism, feudalism in this sense is a mode of agricultural production based on the relation between lords and the peasants who worked their own land and that of the lord. The peasants owed labour service to the lords, who provided military protection and also had extensive police, judicial, and other rights over the peasants. In this view, feudalism came to encompass all aspects of social organization and was characterized as a system that was both oppressive and hierarchical.

According to a narrower and more technical definition that is, nonetheless, more widely used, feudalism involves the exchange of allegiance for a grant of land (fief) between two people, usually men, of noble status. Although its roots have been traced to practices that existed in the Roman Empire and during the age of Charlemagne (742–814), feudalism thus defined may be said to have emerged in the 11th century. At that time, public authority broke down, traditional institutions were unable to maintain order, and private castles were built. During this so-called feudal anarchy, private relationships were established among the nobility in which weaker nobles attached themselves to stronger ones. To forge an alliance or settle a dispute, a fief was granted to the lesser noble in exchange for a vow of homage and service, often military. Feudalism was therefore a means to restore social order or at least limit the excesses that resulted from the collapse of public authority.
[Source: "Feudalism." Encyclopedia Britannica, Standard Edition. Chicago: 2008.]

Some seem to think it means "to swear allegiance." Back in the day, "subinfeudation" was the process by which one swapped loyalties in wars for protections and land. So "to endorse" certainly has echoes of feudalism.

Bill Fletcher speaks for himself, and you can hear it in his concision and bluntness. Kim Gandy talked circles around herself, when she tried to make sense of her candidate's incoherent pronouncements on the war, eventually spending more time talking about what Obama might've done had he been in the US Senate and listening to COLIN POWELL, ooh, scary man.

Fletcher again shines the light on the Clinton campaign's duplicity in claiming--and disclaiming--White House policy decisions. This is a core theme of the junior senator from New York's campaign. Prof. Harris-Lacewell nailed it, too, during her heated debate with Gloria Steinem back in January (01/14/2008): how can a feminist claim marrying her way into the White House as her own accomplishment?

After 35 years of subinfeudating herself to The Right People, does Sen. Clinton's argument boil down to, America, you owe me?

AMY GOODMAN: Bill Fletcher, let me ask you the question of single-payer, as well, why Barack Obama, you think, has not endorsed a single-payer healthcare system, which takes out the insurance industry and their profits from the healthcare equation.

BILL FLETCHER: Well, Amy, I can give this answer, but very bluntly, in part because I’m not speaking for the campaign, I actually think he’s been playing it too safe. I think that—and in that sense, I agree very much with what my friend Ted Glick was saying. I think that—you know, that there needs to be much more of a push on the issues, and I think that, unfortunately, Senator Obama has thought that this might hurt his coalition. So I do think he needs to be pushed.

But I want to say one other thing, Amy. I’m trying to figure out whether we’re in the same country when I hear these comments about Senator Obama’s alleged negativity. I mean, let’s be clear about who it was that kept the issue of Reverend Wright alive, who it was that implied that there was a problem with the relationship between Senator Obama and Bill Ayers in Chicago. I mean, there has been this undercurrent that comes very close to red-baiting that has been coming out of the campaign, which I think does a disservice to the Clinton campaign. So I think that there really is a time where people need to pull up and be a little bit more humble in their approach.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Kim Gandy, let me put that issue back to you, the issue of Hillary Clinton on negativity around Reverend Wright, on raising other issues that aren’t to do with basic issues in the campaign around healthcare, around war.

KIM GANDY: Certainly, my experience with the campaign was that they stayed away from the Reverend Wright issue. The first I recall Hillary Clinton saying anything about it was when she was asked what would she have done if this had been her pastor or if her pastor had said such things, and she said that she wouldn’t have continued going to that church. I don’t consider that a negative attack.

On the other hand, you know, Senator Obama ran ads saying that Hillary Clinton had advocated for NAFTA, which was, according to the—including her detractors, who were not—who were around at the time, even they say that she not only didn’t advocate for it, but actually argued against it inside the White House and urged that NAFTA not be undertaken. She said, “If we do this, we’ll never get healthcare.”

AMY GOODMAN: Bill Fletcher?

BILL FLETCHER: Senator Clinton can’t have it both ways, Amy. You know, she goes after Senator Obama about his associations with Reverend Wright and with Bill Ayers, yet wants people to see her as distinct from the Clinton White House, yet claiming that she’s ready to assume the presidency precisely because of her years in the Clinton White House. You simply cannot have it both ways.

See, what this really speaks to, Amy, is, bottom line, Senator Clinton cannot significantly distinguish herself on the issues from Senator Obama. And in that situation, unfortunately, what happens is that many people turn to issues that are a bit inflammatory, that are provocative, rather than getting to the issues. Again, I want to go back to what Ted was raising. This campaign should be focusing on the issues. The media should be focusing on the issues, and they should be pushing the candidates, including the candidate I support, Senator Obama, on them, and push them so that they’re specific about each of these questions.


January 14, 2008

Race and Gender in Presidential Politics: A Debate Between Gloria Steinem and Melissa Harris-Lacewell

GLORIA STEINEM: No, my first column on this subject was essentially taking to task the media, who were asking us, trying to force us to choose prematurely and asking me, “Are you supporting Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?” And I would always just say yes, because it seemed to me wrong that they were, you know, so forced on—so focused on this long before the primaries.

AMY GOODMAN: Melissa Harris-Lacewell, your thoughts on this discussion about race and gender?

MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, I mean, honestly, I’m appalled by the parallel that Ms. Steinem draws in the beginning part of the New York Times article. What she’s trying to do there is to make a claim towards sort of bringing in black women into a coalition around questions of gender and asking us to ignore the ways in which race and gender intersect. This is actually a standard problem of second-wave feminism, which, although there have been twenty-five years now—oh, going on forty years, actually, of African American women pushing back against this, have really failed to think about the ways in which trying to appropriate black women’s lives’ experience in that way is really offensive, actually.

And so, when Steinem suggests, for example, in that article that Obama is a lawyer married to another lawyer and to suggest that, for example, Hillary Clinton represents some kind of sort of breakthrough in questions of gender, I think that ignores an entire history in which white women have in fact been in the White House. They’ve been there as an attachment to white male patriarchal power. It’s the same way that Hillary Clinton is now making a claim towards experience. It’s not her experience. It’s her experience married to, connected to, climbing up on white male patriarchy. This is exactly the ways in which this kind of system actually silences questions of gender that are more complicated than simply sort of putting white women in positions of power and then claiming women’s issues are cared for.

Now, what I know from the work that I’ve done on the Obama campaign is that there are tens of thousands of extremely hard-working white men and women, as well as black men and women, as well as actually a huge multiracial and interethnic coalition of people working for Barack Obama. And so, for Steinem to sort of make this very clear race and gender dichotomy that she does in that New York Times op-ed piece, I think it’s the very worst of second-wave feminism.