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Acts of Resistance: A Nightingale, the Cream Pie and Two Flying Shoes August 23, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy.
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Tuesday 23 August 2011
by: Shahid Mahmood, Truthout         | Op-Ed    

                                                                       (Image: JR / t r u t h o u t)

In developing countries, any attempts to raise an awareness of wrongdoing usually results in imprisonment or death. In the West, unless an individual has clear access to money and power, the system itself stonewalls any recourse. As a political cartoonist, trying to remove himself from the US no-fly list, it has proven very difficult to affect systemic change. Over the years, I was told by lawyers my phone was likely tapped and my garbage was being sifted through; my political leanings were questioned by the ministry of transportation; I was lied to by the deputy prime minister, while police officers surreptitiously questioned a carpenter – asking him how he was being paid for his service during my house renovation. I was sent on multiple goose chases to different government ministries, each claiming ignorance and blaming other ministries for Canada’s post 9-11 quagmire.

A six-year process, which culminated at a hearing with the Canadian Human Rights Commission last year has, to date, yielded no clear remedy. The Canadian government’s no-fly list is a serious infringement on the rights of Canadian travelers. Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart once said the no-fly list “represents a serious incursion into the rights of travelers in Canada, rights of privacy and rights of freedom of movement.”

Seeking public remedy for a wrongdoing is a near impossibility anywhere in the world. More than 300 people have died this past week in Syria during the uprising against the wrongdoings of President Bashir Assad’s regime. Individuals attempting to raise public awareness are killed. The Syrian poet and songwriter Ibrahim Qashoush was found dead in a river with his larynx ripped out. He was abducted and killed by Syrian security forces in a manner only a brute would metaphorically illustrate. Qashoush was known as the “nightingale of the revolution,” who composed political songs that criticized Syrian authority. Since his death, Qashoush’s songs have spread across Syria, where anti-government protesters chant them as their own. When individual actions resonate with the greater public, they become part of our daily lexicon – helping us verbalize and protest at societal iniquities and inequalities.

JonathBowlesan May-, the man who threw a pie at media baron Rupert Murdoch, was also sentenced last week. Bowles pleaded guilty to pieing Murdoch during a commission hearing regarding the phone-hacking scandal. Leaving court, after pieing Murdoch, Bowles cheekily quoted Murdoch when providing evidence, telling reporters: “I would just like to say this has been the most humble day of my life.” Pieing, as defined by the group Entartistes, symbolizes human freedom and is an act of defiance that gives the power back to those people who feel helpless and powerless in the face of authority.

Murdoch who claims he paid little attention to, “maybe a call on a Saturday night once a month,” has now been caught. Murdoch denies any responsibility in the current phone-tapping fiasco. When asked who was responsible he said, “People I trusted and people they trusted.” He then confirmed that he was invited to the prime minister’s residence after the election through the back door and was personally thanked for supporting the ruling Tories. He said, “I was invited within a couple of days (of the election) for a cup of tea, to be thanked for my support of Prime Minister Cameron.” This journalistic rot, on full display in the United Kingdom, mirrors the incestuous relationship enjoyed between the political and business elite. The general public has a perception that laws, rules and regulations are routinely bent for those who live and breath within this rarified environment. The perception follows that those responsible in this current scandal got away and knowingly violated the law. Murdoch’s editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were both questioned regarding their roles in the ongoing phone tapping and corruption charges. This proved rather embarrassing for Prime Minister Cameron, who had employed Coulson as his media chief. Henry Kissinger, famously said in an interview with The Washington Post, “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” Kissinger has never been pied, except in an episode of the animated TV series, “Family Guy.”

During a press conference in 2008 in Iraq, MunZaidi tadhar al-threw both of his shoes at George W. Bush as an act of protest and extreme disrespect. He yelled, “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog,” as he threw his first shoe toward the US president. He then shouted, as he threw his second shoe, “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.” There was no acknowledgement by President Bush to the legitimacy of the public frustration in Iraq for the occupying forces. Bush’s response to the shoe throwing was dismissive – he said, “It’s a way for people to draw attention. I don’t know what the guy’s cause was. I didn’t feel the least bit threatened by him.” Al-Zaidi was dragged out of the room and severely beaten following the shoe-throwing incident and shouting above the man’s screams, Bush quipped, “That’s what people do in a free society, draw attention to them.” A large blood trail was photographed where security agents dragged al-Zaidi – beaten within an inch of his life.

There are two methods of removing the causes of protest: the first, by destroying the freedoms which are essential to its existence; and the second, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions and the same interests. Al-Zaidi later testified he was moved to throw his shoes because he did not know what achievements Bush was praising in Iraq. “The achievements I could see were the more than 1 million martyrs and a sea of blood. There are more than 5 million Iraqi orphans because of the occupation. More than a million widows and more than 3 million displaced because of the occupation,” said al-Zaidi. “I wanted to restore the pride of the Iraqis in any way possible, apart from using weapons.” In Tikrit, a copper monument, three meters in height, was dedicated to his shoe-throwing action. Meanwhile, an online game, “Sock and Awe” inspired by al-Zaidi’s actions, has been played by tens of thousands of people around the world – with 100,000,000 shoes smacking George W. Bush in the face.

As of this evening. that number is now 100,000,002.

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This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.     



Shahid Mahmood grew up in Pakistan. He was the editorial cartoonist for the national newspaper in Pakistan, Dawn. His work has appeared in numerous international publications including The Guardian UK, Huffington Post and Courrier International. Shahid’s work was viewed by world leaders at the 1997 APEC Conference, enjoyed by John F. Kennedy Jr. and managed to continuously enrage Benazir Bhutto. Shahid is internationally syndicated with The New York Times Press Syndicate, has work archived at the Museum of Contemporary History in Paris and has been “Designated High-Profile” on the US government’s no-fly list.

Throw a shoe at Obama’s betrayal May 24, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Democracy, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
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23 May 2011

Palestinians protest after Obama’s Middle East policy speech, Qalandiya checkpoint, occupied West Bank, 20 May 2011.(Anne Paq/ActiveStills)

At 4:17pm GMT on Sunday, I threw a shoe at my television screen, aimed at US President Barack Obama, precisely at the moment he began to explain that the reference in his Thursday speech at the State Department to the 1967 borders was in accordance with the Israeli interpretation of these borders.

Not that I was thrilled with that speech either but it was at least as meaningless as his previous speeches on the topic. But at 4:17 he said there will be “no return to the borders of June 4, 1967” and the thousands who attended the AIPAC convention cheered wildly. Annexation of Israeli settlement blocs built illegally in the occupied West Bank and the creation of a small Palestinian bantustan in the spaces in between was the essence of Obama’s real vision for peace.

It was a soft shoe and all it did was to bounce off the screen. Being such a harmless weapon it was also directed at my Palestinian friends who since Friday explained, publicly, how unusual and important was Obama’s speech at the State Department.

It is tough enough to know that in the White House sits someone who betrayed not only the Palestinians, but all the oppressed people in the world and in the US he promised to engage and represent.

But I have turned on my TV set and moved to Puerta del Sol in Madrid — there where thousands of young people were reformulating the powerful message that came from Tahrir Square in Cairo and which was also heard on the borders of Palestine on Nakba Day and in London’s Trafalgar Square during recent student demonstrations.

It was a call of defiance against such political discourse and its poisonous effects. Yes, they say in Madrid as they did on Palestine’s borders, our lives are ruled and affected by smug, cynical and indifferent Western politicians who hold immense power to maintain the unjust world for years to come, but we have had enough of this and will resist it.

Wherever one is affected by this political and economic Western elite, one faces two options. Either to accept fatalistically that the only thing one can do is retire to small, personal gardens of Eden and try to ignore them as much as one can and sustain oneself without them, within the limits of what is possible. Or if one does not possess this inclination or luxury, one can instead join all those who are unwilling to succumb and are telling this elite that its world and agenda is not theirs.

In some places the authorities shoot at massive demonstrations carrying such a message; in others they just ignore them. These are early days to judge the failure or success of such endeavours but it is clear that so far the protest is expanding. It defies the hegemonic political dictates of governments and it displays growing impatience with, and resentment toward, the manipulative corporate games and macro-economic ploys.

The people of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip were a victim of such politics and economics under the guise of the so-called peace process. However, recently, in Palestine, the local politicians have at last heeded the popular demand for unity and assertiveness after years of ignoring it.

As a result, the support for the people’s effort in commencing a new phase in the popular resistance against the Israeli occupation is galvanizing the global Palestine solidarity movement with the similar energy generated before by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The regaining of the initiative by the common people in the Arab world and Europe should help us to avoid sinking too deeply into paralysis and inaction in the face of such cynicism. So much can still be done, in total disregard of the hegemonic discourse and inaction of western political elites on Palestine. So much has already been done in the continued resistance against the Israeli destruction of the land and its people.

One can continue to boycott Israeli goods and cultural representatives in France, even if there is a new law against it. If Palestinians in Israel can defy Israeli laws against Nakba commemoration, insidious European laws and regulations should be ignored as well. One can curb any academic institutional connection between British universities and Israel despite the embarrassed Foreign Office’s and official academia’s position on it. And finally, one can continue to spread through the alternative media the truthful and expanded picture despite the shameful way in which “liberal” American and European media is portraying the reality on the ground.

The world after Obama’s two speeches is a bizarre place. The gap between Obama, Berlusconi, Netanyahu, Cameron, Merkel and their ilk has disappeared. For a while there was a danger that one could count some Palestinian leaders within this undignified group of western leaders. But hopefully this danger has waned.

Very much as in the case of Israel, so it is in the case of the western political systems, the option of change from within the political systems is doubtful and vesting too much energy in it may be useless. But everything which is not there — churches, mosques, progressive synagogues, ashrams with a worldview, community centers, social networks and the world of nongovernmental organizations — indicate the existence of an alternative.

A relentless struggle against the ethnic cleansing of Palestine will continue outside the realm of the western corridors of power. What we learned from Egypt and Tunisia, even if we are not sure what would be the endgame there, is that struggles outside corridors of power do not wait for leaders, well-oiled organizations and people who speak in other people’s names.

If you are part of that struggle be counted today and do what you can regardless of the unfortunate Obamafication of our world.

Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter. His most recent book is Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel(Pluto Press, 2010).

Over Two Thousand Six Hundred Activists Arrested in US Protests May 24, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Nuclear weapons/power, Torture, War.
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Roger’s note: Just prior to posting the article below about those arrested for protesting various areas of injustice, I had posted an article entitled “Too Big to Jail,” an article decrying the fact that no one has been arrested or jailed for the economic crimes committed by various sectors of the banking and finance community, which lead to thousands of Americans losing their homes.  This juxtaposition (justaposition?) was not planned, it just happened.

Published on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

  by  Bill Quigley

Since President Obama was inaugurated, there have been over two thousand six hundred arrests of activists protesting in the US.   Research shows over 670 people have been arrested in protests inside the US already in 2011, over 1290 were arrested in 2010, and 665 arrested in 2009.   These figures are certainly underestimate the number actually arrested as arrests in US protests are rarely covered by the mainstream media outlets which focus so intently on arrests of protestors in other countries.

Daniel Ellsberg flashes a pair of peace signs as he’s led away by capitol police on December 16, 2010.

One hundred thirty one protestors, including numerous veterans, gathered in the snow outside the White House challenging the war in Afghanistan. (CommonDreams)

Arrests at protest have been increasing each year since 2009.  Those arrested include people protesting US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Guantanamo, strip mining, home foreclosures, nuclear weapons, immigration policies, police brutality, mistreatment of hotel workers, budget cutbacks, Blackwater, the mistreatment of Bradley Manning, and right wing efforts to cut back collective bargaining.

These arrests illustrate that resistance to the injustices in and committed by the US is alive and well.  Certainly there could and should be more, but it is important to recognize that people are fighting back against injustice.

Information on these arrests has been taken primarily from the newsletter The Nuclear Resister, which has been publishing reports of anti-nuclear resistance arrests since 1980, and anti-war actions since 1990.

Jack Cohen-Joppa, who with his partner Felice, edits The Nuclear Resister, told me “Over the last three decades, in the course of chronicling more than 100,000 arrests for nonviolent protest and resistance to nuclear power, nuclear weapons, torture, and war, we’ve noted a quadrennial decline as support for protest and resistance gets swallowed up by Presidential politicking. It has taken a couple of years, but the Hopeium addicts of 2008 are finally getting into recovery. We’re again reporting a steady if slow rise in the numbers willing to risk arrest and imprisonment for acts of civil resistance. Today, for instance, there are more Americans serving time in prison for nuclear weapons protest than at any time in more than a decade.”

In the list below I give the date of the protest arrest and a brief summary of the reason for the protest.   After each date I have included the name of the organization which sponsored the protest. Check them out.  Remember, they can jail the resisters but they cannot jail the resistance!


January 1, 2011.  Nine women, ages 40 to 91, who brought solar panels to the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor were arrested for blocking the driveway at Entergy Corporation.  Shut It Down.

January 5, 2011 and February 2, 2011.  Five arrests were made of peace activists protesting at Vandenberg Air Force base, including a veteran of WWII.  Vandenberg Witness.

January 11, 2011.  Ten people protesting against the continued human rights violation of Guantanamo prison trying to deliver a letter to a federal judge were arrested at the federal building in Chicago, Illinois.

January 11, 2011.  A sixty one year old grandmother protesting against excessive radiation was arrested for blocking the path of a utility truck in Sonoma County, California.

January 15, 2011.  Twelve people protesting against Trident nuclear weapons at the Kitsap-Bangor naval base outside of Seattle, Washington were arrested – six on state charges of blocking the highway and six others on federal charges of trespass for crossing onto the base.  Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

January 17, 2011.  Marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, people protested outside the Lockheed Martin Valley Forge Pennsylvania office where eight people were arrested.  Brandywine Peace Community.

January 17, 2011.  Three people protesting the US use of armed drones and depleted uranium were arrested at the Davis-Monthan air force base near Tucson Arizona.

January 29, 2011.  Eight peace activists marking the 60th anniversary of the testing of the atom bomb were arrested at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site.   Nevada Desert Experience.

February 10, 2011.  Twenty three hotel workers were arrested after protesting management abuses at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco.  UNITE Here Local 2.

February 15, 2011.  A former CIA agent turned whistleblower was arrested and battered by police for standing silently and turning his back during a speech on the need for human rights in Egypt delivered by the US Secretary of State.   Veterans for Peace.

February 17, 2011.  Nine people protesting against the attack on collective bargaining in Wisconsin were arrested at the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison.

February 25, 2011.  Eleven people protesting federal budget cuts against the poor, including one person in a wheelchair were arrested charged with blocking traffic in Chicago.

March 4, 2011.  Three people were arrested in Seattle after a protest against police abuse.

March 4, 2011.  Sixteen people were arrested at a protest against tuition increases at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

March 10, 2011.  Fifty people protesting the removal of collective bargaining rights were arrested after being carried out of the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison.

March 16, 2011.  Seven union supporters protesting proposals to strip collective bargaining from teachers were arrested in Nashville Tennessee.

March 19, 2011.  One hundred thirteen people protesting the eighth anniversary of the war in Iraq, lead by Veterans for Peace, were arrested at White House. Veterans for Peace.

March 19, 2011.  Eleven military family members and veterans were arrested in Hollywood California after staging a sit protesting the 8th anniversary of the war in Iraq.  Veterans for Peace.

March 20, 2011.  Thirty five people were arrested protesting outside the Quantico brig where Bradley Manning was being held.  Bradley Manning Support Network.

March 28, 2011. Seven people defending a family against eviction and protesting home foreclosures were arrested in Rochester, NY, including a 70 year old neighbor in her pajamas.  Take Back the Land.

April 4, 2011.  Seven people protesting against unjust immigration legislation barring undocumented immigrants from Georgia colleges were arrested for blocking traffic in Atlanta Georgia.

April 7, 2011. Seventeen people were arrested protesting budget cuts in assistance for the poor and elderly and calling for an end to corporate tax exemptions in Olympia Washington.

April 10, 2011.  Twenty seven people calling attention to the thousands of murders of people in Latin America by graduates of the US Army School of the Americas/WHINSEC were arrested outside the White House. School of Americas Watch.

April 11, 2011.  Forty one people, including the Mayor and many of the members of the District of Columbia city council, protesting Congressional action limiting how the District of Columbia could spend its own money were arrested in Washington DC.

April 15, 2011.  Eight teenage girl students, some as young as fourteen, were arrested after they refused to leave their public school Catherine Ferguson Academy, which is specially designated for pregnant and mothering teens in Detroit.  Also with the young women were children and teachers.  The school is targeted for closure due to budget cutbacks.

April 22, 2011.  Thirty seven people were arrested protesting the use of drones outside the Hancock Air Force base near Syracuse New York.  Syracuse Peace Council.  Ithaca Catholic Worker.

April 22, 2011.  Eleven women chained and locked the gate at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon Vermont before being arrested.

April 22, 2011.  Thirty three people protesting at the Livermore Lab which designs nuclear weapons at an interfaith peace service were arrested for trespassing in California.

April 22, 2011.  Four people were arrested at the Pentagon after they held up a banner and read from a leaflet outside of the designated protest zone.  Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.

April 24, 2011.  Sixteen protestors against nuclear weapons at the Nevada National Security Site were arrested after a sixty mile sacred walk from Las Vegas.  Nevada Desert Experience.  Pace e Bene.

May 2, 2011.  Fifty two protestors against a nuclear weapons plant in Kansas City Missouri were arrested after blocking a gate to the construction site.  Holy Family Catholic Worker.

May 9, 2011.  Five people protesting against draconian immigration laws were arrested in the governor’s office in Indianapolis, Indiana.

May 7, 2011.  Seven people celebrating Mothers Day and protesting nuclear weapons were arrested outside the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor twenty miles from Seattle.  Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

May 9, 2011.  Sixty five people protesting cutbacks in education funding were arrested in Sacramento California.


January 6, 2010.  Over one hundred people protesting for union recognition of hotel workers at Hyatt San Francisco were arrested.  UNITE Here Local 2.

January 15, 2010.  A man who served nearly six months in jail and who was still on probation for hammering windows at a military recruiting center in Lancaster Pennsylvania was arrested at the recruiting center after insisting that recruiters and recruits to leave the army.

January 18, 2010.  Seven people commemorating Martin Luther King’s birthday wore sandwich board messages saying “Make War No More,” “It’s about Justice,”  and “its About Peace,” outside of Lockheed Martin’s main entrance in Merion Pennsylvania until they were arrested.  Brandywine Peace Community.

January 21, 2010.  Forty-two people protesting the ongoing human rights violations of Guantanamo prison were arrested at the US Capitol building.  Twenty-eight were arrested on the steps of the Capitol and fourteen inside the rotunda.  Witness Against Torture.

January 26, 2010.  Thirteen people from Minnesota lobbying to stop funding for war were arrested after holding a die-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House.  Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

January 31, 2010.  Eight people were arrested trying to protest at Vandenberg Air Force base in California, one of those arrested, an octogenarian, was brought to the hospital for injuries suffered in the arrest.  A few days later, seven protestors were arrested at the same spot.   A month later, four more protestors were arrested.  Vandenberg Witness.

February 22, 2010.  Five people protesting against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were arrested inside US Senators’ offices in the Des Moines Iowa federal building.  Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  Des Moines Catholic Worker.

March 4, 2010.  Four students protesting against rape were arrested after they refused to leave the administration building at Michigan State University in East Lansing Michigan.

March 20, 2010.  Nine peace activists were arrested in Washington DC for lying down beside mock coffins outside the White House.

March 21, 2010.  Two people protesting at the Aerospace and Arizona Days air show at Monthan Air Force base held a banner declaring “War is not a Show” in front of a Predator Unmanned Air Vehicle (drone) were arrested.

March 30, 2010.  Eight protestors were arrested during a march against police brutality in Portland Oregon.

April 2, 2010.  Eleven people on a Good Friday walk for peace and justice were arrested outside the USS Intrepid in New York city after they began reading the names of 250 Iraqi, American and Afghan war dead.  Pax Christi New York.

April 2, 2010. Nine people carrying a banner “Lockheed Martin Weapons + War = The Crucifixion Today” in the 34th annual Good Friday protest at Lockheed Martin were arrested in Valley Forge Pennsylvania.  Brandywine Peace Community.

April 4, 2010. Twenty two people protesting against nuclear weapons after the Sacred Walk from Las Vegas to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site were arrested after the Western Shoshone sunrise ceremony and Easter Mass.  Nevada Desert Experience.

April 7, 2010.  Three people, including a 12 year old girl, were arrested inside a US Senators office in Des Moines, Iowa with a banner “No More $$$ For War.”  The mother of the 12 year old girl was called into the police station and issued a citation the next day for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  Voices for Creative Nonviolence and Des Moines Catholic Worker.

April 15, 2010.  A man protesting nuclear weapons was arrested inside the security fence of a nuclear missile silo near Parshall, North Dakota.

April 16, 2010.  Twelve people protesting against Sodexho mistreatment of workers were arrested in Montgomery County Maryland.  Service Employees International Union.

April 20, 2010.  A woman was arrested for standing in the path of a bulldozer to try to prevent mining in Marquette County, Michigan.

April 26, 2010.  Seventeen people protesting war and poverty inside and outside the federal building in Chicago were arrested.  Midwest Catholic Worker.

April 26, 2010.  Boulder Colorado police arrested five people protesting at Valmont coal power plant.

May 3, 2010.  Three people protesting nuclear weapons were arrested at Bangor Naval Base outside of Seattle Washington.  Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

May 3, 2010.  Twenty two people protesting nuclear weapons were arrested at Grand Central Station in New York city after unfurling banners saying “Nuclear Weapons = Terrorism,” and “Talk Less, Disarm More.” War Resisters League.

May 9, 2010.  Seven people trying to stop a foreclosure-driven eviction were arrested in Toledo Ohio.  Take Back the Land.

May 15, 2010.  Thirty four people protesting against Arizona’s draconian immigration laws were arrested outside the White House.

May 17, 2010.  Sixteen people were arrested in NYC protesting against unjust immigration policies.

May 20, 2010.  A woman US Army specialist who served as a Military Police applied for conscientious objector status while serving in Iraq and who later left her unit was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

May 24, 2010.  Thirty seven people protesting against unjust immigration policies were arrests in New York City.

June 1, 2010.  Fifty six people protesting against unjust immigration policies were arrested in NYC.

June 8, 2010.  Six peace advocates were arraigned in federal court in Des Moines, Iowa for numerous actions protesting in US Senators offices for the previous several months.  One activist, a grandmother and hog farmer, held weekly die-ins in Senators’  offices and was arrested frequently.  Once, when police asked her to leave, she replied that she was dead and couldn’t leave.  Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

June 15, 2010.  Several people protesting against evictions caused by bank foreclosure were arrested in Miami Florida.  Take Back the Land.

June 23, 2010.  Twenty two people protesting in favor of immigration reform singing “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land,” were arrested and charged with blocking traffic in Seattle.

July 5, 2010.  Thirty six people protesting for a nuclear free future were arrested at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – thirteen of federal trespass charges and twenty-three on state charges for blocking a highway.  Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance.

July 6, 2010.  Seventy eight people protesting against police brutality in Oakland California and the trial involving a shooting by a BART police office.

July 23, 2010.  One hundred fifty two hotel workers protesting against management at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco were arrested.  UNITE Here Local 2.

July 29, 2010.  Thirteen people were arrested in Tucson Arizona protesting against the state’s illegal immigration laws.

August 9, 2010.  On Nagasaki day, three people protesting against the US commitment to nuclear weapons were arrested outside the US Strategic Air Command in Omaha Nebraska.  Omaha Catholic Worker.

August 15, 2010.   A twenty two year old female student at Michigan State University who pitched an apple pie at a US Senator during an anti-war protest was arrested and charged with federal felony charges of forcible assault on a federal officer.  Another anti-war activist was also arrested and charged with the same crime.

September 9, 2010.  Twelve people protesting for equality for gay people in the workplace were arrested in San Francisco.

September 27, 2010.  One hundred fourteen people protesting mountaintop removal coal mining were arrested at the White House after a conference of people from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.  Prior to this protest, forty-nine activists in the Climate Ground Zero Campaign have served jail time for taking action against strip-mining in Appalachia.  Climate Ground Zero.

November 5, 2010.  One hundred fifty two people protesting police killings were arrested in Oakland, California.

November 8, 2010.  Five people protesting wind turbines in Lincoln, Maine were arrested including an 82 year old native of Maine.

November 21, 2010.  Three people were arrested on federal charges and twenty-four more on state charges at the School of Americas/WHINSEC protest in Columbus Georgia outside the gates of Fort Benning. Six others were arrested at a protest against a private prison housing immigrants in rural Georgia. School of Americas Watch. ACLU Immigrant Rights Project.

December 1, 2010.  Three people protesting against unjust immigration policies were arrested at the office of a Congress rep in Racine Wisconsin.  Voces de la Frontera.

December 16, 2010.  One hundred thirty one protestors, including numerous veterans, gathered in the snow outside the White House challenging the war in Afghanistan, the cover-up of war crimes and the prosecution of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks were arrested for failing to clear the sidewalk.  In a parallel New York City protest, several others were also arrested.  Veterans for Peace.

December 17, 2010.  Twenty two people protesting against unfair home foreclosures were arrested when they blocked an entrance to a Chase bank branch in Los Angeles.   Alliance Californians for Community Empowerment.

December 20, 2010.  Six people were arrested after protesting at Bank of America against the foreclosure of an elderly couple in South Saint Louis.  Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

December 28, 2010.  Three parents asking for the abolition of all nuclear weapons were arrested for leafleting at the Pentagon.  Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.


January 2009, seventeen people, clad in black mourning clothes and white masks, were arrested in the US Senate Building for reading the names of the dead in ongoing US wars and unfurling banners stating “The Audacity of War Crimes,”  “Iraq,” “Afghanistan,” “Palestine,” and “We Will Not Be Silent.”

January 26, 2009, six human rights advocates were sentenced to two to six months of federal prison or home arrest in federal court in Columbus Georgia for challenging training of Latin American human rights abusers at the US Army School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) by walking onto Fort Benning. School of Americas Watch.

January 2009, a former Army specialist who refused to graduate with his Airborne Division because he realized he could not kill anybody was arrested and jailed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  The former soldier had been ordered home in May 2002 to await discharge papers.  Courage to Resist.

February 2009.  There were fifteen arrests of activists protesting mountain top removal by Massey in West Virginia.  Climate Ground Zero.

February 2009, five peace activists in Salem Oregon fasting on the steps of the state capitol building so that National Guard soldiers would not be sent to Iraq and Afghanistan were cited for trespass by state police.

March 1, 2009, six anti-nuclear activists protesting the 55th anniversary of the US nuclear  bomb detonation at Bikini Atoll were arrested at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Kitsap, Washington after they knelt in the roadway.  Ground Zero Community and Pacific Life Community.

March 4, 2009, nine people seeking to present a letter to CEO of Alliant Technologies outlining how weapons manufacturers were prosecuted as war criminals at the end of WWII were arrested in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  Alliant Action.

March 12, 2009, four people who were arrested during a protest at Vandenberg Air Force base were fined between $500 and $2500 by federal authorities.  California Peace Action.

March 17, 2009, seven people seeking a meeting with US Defense Secretary to challenge the legality of the war in Iraq were arrested at the Pentagon.  National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.

March 18, 2009, seven women, ranging in ages from 65 to 89, some in wheelchairs and walkers, were arrested protesting the war in Iraq after wrapping yellow crime scene tape around a military recruiting center and blocking the entrance for an hour in New York City.  Grannie Peace Brigade.

March 19, 2009, three people protesting the war in Iraq were arrested in Washington DC.  In one instance a US Army veteran scaled the front of the Veterans Administration building and unfurled a banner saying “Veterans Say NO to War and Occupation.”  Protests against the war in Iraq in Chicago resulted in an arrest there after banner drop.

March 19-21, 2009, protests against the war in Iraq in San Francisco resulted in twenty-two arrests at a die-in in the financial district, eleven more for blocking a street outside the Civic Center, and ten more at the Saturday march when Palestinian marchers were confronted by pro-Israel counter protestors resulting in police using batons and tear gas.

March 31, 2009, four people were arrested in Brattleboro, Vermont, for standing in silent opposition to the Vermont Yankee nuclear power reactor.

March 31, 2009, an anti-nuclear protestor was convicted of trespassing at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons facility and sentenced to two days in jail, community service and probation.  Trinity House Catholic Worker.

April 3, 2009, four people protesting injustices on Wall Street and in Afghanistan and Iraq were arrested in New York, NY, for marching down the center of the street.  Bail Out the People Movement.

April 9, 2009, fourteen people were arrested at Creech Air Force outside Las Vegas Nevada base protesting against the US use of drones in lethal attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.  Nevada Desert Experience.

April 10, 2009, eight people were arrested while kneeling and praying for peace at the Pentagon.  Another, clad in an orange jumpsuit and black hood, was arrested at the White House where he was chained to the fence protesting the human rights abuses of Guantanamo.   Jonah House.

April 10, 2009, sixteen people were arrested while protesting the war profiteer Lockheed Martin in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  Brandywine Peace Community.

April 12, 2009, twenty one people were arrested while protesting the use of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site on Western Shoshone tribal lands.  Nevada Desert Experience.

April 17, 2009.  A man protesting US polices of violence, racism and poverty-production was sentenced to six months in prison for hammering out some windows in the US Military Recruiting Center in Lancaster Pennsylvania.

April 23, 2009, four people protesting lies by military recruiters were arrested after locking themselves to the door at the military recruiting center in Minnesota.  Three others were arrested at the Knollwood Plaza  after disrupting the recruitment center so much it had to be closed.  Another woman was arrested near a recruiting center after placing a “Don’t Enlist”  sticker on a police car.  Antiwar committee.

April 24, 2009, a woman calling for the return of the National Guard from Iraq was arrested in the US House Appropriations during testimony by US Generals in Washington DC. Code Pink.

April 28, 2009, a US Army veteran who refused to fight in Iraq was court-martialed in Fort Stewart, Georgia and sentenced to one year in prison.  Courage to Resist.

April 29, 2009, twenty-two people were arrested after trying to serve a Notice of Foreclosure for Moral Bankruptcy on Blackwater/Xe, the mercenary company responsible for so many deaths in Iraq, at its compound in Mount Carmel, Illinois.  Des Moines Catholic Worker Community.

April 30, 2009, sixty three people were arrested at the White House protesting against illegal detention and torture at Guantanamo prison.   Witness Against Torture.

May 20, 2009.  Twenty one people protesting against the war in Iraq were arrested outside a military recruiting center in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

July 22, 2009, four people protesting against Boeing’s role in the production of drones, which have killed more than 700 people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, were arrested inside the Boeing lobby in Chicago, Illinois.  Christian Peacemaker Teams.

August 4, 2009, four shareholders who sought to speak at the shareholders meeting of depleted uranium munitions producer Alliant Techsystems were arrested when they approached the microphone in Eden Prairie Minnesota.  Alliant Action.

August 5, 2009, a US Army specialist who refused to deploy to Afghanistan was sentenced to 30 days in jail and given a less than honorable discharge in Killeen Texas.  Courage to Resist.

August 6, 2009, a 75 year old priest, protesting the 64th anniversary of the US dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima, was arrested outside of Greeley Colorado where he cut the fence around a nuclear missile silo, hung peace banners, prayed and tried to break open the hatch on the silo.

August 6, 2009, nine antiwar activists were arrested at Fort McCoy Wisconsin after a three day peace walk protesting against US nuclear weapons and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Nuke Watch.

August 6, 2009, two people were arrested at the Pentagon entrance on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing carrying a banner stating “Remember the Pain, Remember the Sin, Reclaim the Future.” Jonah House.

August 6, 2009, twenty two people protesting the horror of Hiroshima were arrested in Livermore California when they blocked the entrance to the Lawrence Livermore weapons lab. Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment.

August 6, 2009, nine people at a vigil for peace and nonviolence were arrested for walking onto Lockheed Martin property at Valley Forge Pennsylvania and spreading sunflower seeds, an international symbol for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  Brandywine Peace Community.

August 6, 2009, two people were arrested when they refused to stop praying at the gates of the Davis-Monthan Air Force base in Tucson Arizona.  Rose of the Desert Catholic Worker.

August 10, 2009, nine persons calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons were arrested at Bangor Naval base, home to the Trident submarine, twenty miles from Seattle Washington.  Ground Zero Community.

August 14, 2009, a US Army Sergeant who refused to go to Afghanistan and who asked for conscientious objector status was found guilty of disobeying lawful orders and going AWOL at a trial in Fort Hood.  He was sentenced to one year in prison and given a bad conduct discharge.

August 17, 2009.  Four people were arrested outside the Boalt Hall classroom where they were protesting John Yoo, who coauthored the memos authorizing torture on people in Guantanamo during the Bush administration.

August 22, 2009, two people protesting against nuclear missile testing were arrested at Vandenberg Air Force base and cited for trespass.

September 9, 2009.  Four people protesting against Massey Energy mountain top removal were arrested in Madison West Virginia.  Climate Ground Zero.

September 12, 2009, seven people who were protesting against the use of the high-tech bloodless arcade Army Experience Center in Philadelphia were arrested.  Seven other protestors were arrested there earlier in the year.  Shut Down the AEC.

September 24, 2009, ninety two people protesting management disregard for union rights of hotel workers were arrested at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Francisco.  UNITE Here Local 2.

September 27, 2009, twenty one people protesting against the Nevada Test Site were arrested at the Mercury gate.  At an action to “Ground the Drones”  protesting the increasing use of lethal drones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, another eleven people were arrested.  Code Pink.  Pace e Bene.  Nevada Desert Experience.

September 28, 2009, four women, ages 66 to 90, walked past security guards at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant protesting inadequate safety at the plant.  Carrying signs saying “Yom Kippur, September 28, Time to Atone, Shut Down Vermont Yankee,” this was the seventh set of arrests at the nuclear plant or its corporate headquarters since 2005.

September, 2009, the US Army accepted the resignation of Lieutenant, who refused to fight in Iraq because he believed the war violates international law, and gave him a discharge under other than honorable conditions.   Courage to Resist.

October 1, 2009.  A well known mixed martial arts fighter was sentenced to 90 days of work release and a fine of $28,000 for spraying symbols on an Army recruiting center and the Washington State Capitol building to help raise consciousness about the illegal war in Iraq.

October 2, 2009.  Four people trying to deliver a document titled “Employee Liabilities of Weapons Manufacturers under International Law” to the weapons manufacturer Alliant Technologies were arrested in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  Alliant Action.

October 5, 2009, a couple, who married the day before and who were carrying a banner saying “Just Married; Love Disarms,” were arrested during a peace protest at Lockheed-Martin in Sunnyvale California.  A priest was also arrested as the three gave out leaflets to workers entering the war contractor work site.  Albuquerque New Mexico Catholic Worker.

October 5, 2009, sixty one people were arrested while protesting the ninth year of the US war in Afghanistan in front of the White House.  Some of the arrested were in orange jumpsuits and chained to the fence.  Secret Service officers assaulted other protestors, pushing and pulling them away from the protest site, bruising some.  No Good War and Jonah House.

October 7, 2009, twelve protestors against the war in Afghanistan were arrested in Rochester, NY.  Some of the arrested were treated at the hospital after being struck by police.  Rochester Students for a Democratic Society.

October 7, 2009.  Two people were arrested in Grand Central Station after unfurling banners which said “Afghanistan Enough!”  War Resisters League.

October 11, 2009.  Two women who held up banners when Tiger Woods was ready to putt, saying “President Obama – End Bush’s War,” and “End the Afghan Quagmire,” were handcuffed and escorted away from the President’s Cup golf tournament in San Francisco.

November 2, 2009.  Five people calling for nuclear disarmament cut through the fence around the Naval Base Kitsap which houses the Trident nuclear submarines and nuclear warheads outside of Seattle Washington.  The five walked through the base until they found the storage area for nuclear weapons and cut two more fences to get inside where they put up banners and spread sunflower seeds until they were arrested.  Disarm Now Plowshares.

November 4, 2009.  Two people were arrested while protesting outside Vandenberg Air Force base in California.  Vandenberg Witness.

November 4, 2009.  Eight protestors, including one who was 91 years old, were arrested at the Strategic Space Symposium in Omaha Nebraska while holding a “Space Weapons=Death” banner.  Des Moines and Omaha Catholic Worker.

November 15, 2009.  Five people protesting against US torture practices at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where military interrogators are trained were arrested.  Torture on Trial.

November 22, 2009.  Four people protesting the training of human rights abusers by the US Army at their School of Americas/WHINSEC were arrested in Columbus, Georgia.  School of Americas Watch.

November 23, 2009.  A longtime war tax resister pled guilty to avoiding paying taxes for war at court in Bangor Maine.  National War Tax Resistance Coordination Committee.

December 1, 2009.  Protestors at 100 cities across the country challenged President Obama’s talk at West Point to escalate the war in Afghanistan.  Six were arrested at West Point, eleven in Minneapolis, and three in Madison Wisconsin.

December 9, 2009.  Six people protesting that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize were arrested outside the federal building in Los Angeles.  Los Angeles Catholic Worker.

December 10, 2009.  Six people protesting the use of lethal drones were forcibly escorted out of the 11th Annual Unmanned Aerial Systems Conference outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Trinity Nuclear Abolition and Code Pink.

More information about many of these arrests can be found at www.nukeresister.org.

Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

Represent Our Resistance March 20, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Education, Race, Racism.
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The significance of the hegemonic domain of power lies in its ability to shape consciousness via the manipulation of ideas, images, symbols, and ideologies.
I would never have imagined that history was connected to art, that philosophy was connected to science, and so on. The usual way that people are taught to think in amerika is that each subject is in a little compartment and has no relation to any other subject. For the most part, we receive fragments of unrelated knowledge, and our education follows no logical format or pattern. It is exactly this kind of education that produces people who don’t have the ability to think for themselves and who are easily manipulated.
-Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
What would the coming dawn bring and what would we build after the storm?

It is not enough that Black and Brown children are subjected to the school-to-prison “programs” called “education in America. We have Arne Duncan, Education Chief, who specializes in establishing military schools for Black and Brown children.

From white liberals we hear this question: how do we (the city, the state, the nation) provide schooling for children growing up in urban America? The question should be, how do we (Black, Brown parents, citizens, intellectuals, teachers, activists, and students) provide schooling for our children growing up in capitalist America?

In “The Duncan Doctrine: The Military-Corporate Legacy of the New Secretary of Education,” independent journalist Andy Kroll looked at Arne Duncan’s performance as Superintendent of Public Schools in Chicago. He turned to the military! According to Kroll, Duncan’s solution for “educating” Black and Brown children in Chicago included the establishment of military academies in low income areas or areas with a dense population of single parents. It was no surprise that Duncan’s military school solution to achieving equitable education for all American children didn’t target suburban children.

No, the military school solution will teach obedience. But obedience to what end? What is the product if not docile citizens who won’t resist and who will accept their place as commodities and consumers? Who benefits from surrounding Black and Brown children in the walls of a military academy? What will these children learn? To remember and honor their ancestors? Or will they learn to love a country and an economic system that refuses to even engage a dialogue on reparations? Will they learn to love a country and an economic system that has little regard for Black and Brown life? What does Duncan care about our ancestors?

But, it will provide structure in the lives of these children! All Black and Brown children are without structure in their lives? For even those without familial structure, the question should be what in this nation’s ideology of the “American Dream” destroyed the “structure” in these children’s lives?

Kroll added that the Chicago military academies, if not explicitly a military recruitment tool, certainly offer deals to graduates, encouraging their entrance into the military.

Under Duncan’s “education” solution, children come to associate education with monetary reward. Students receive money for high grades. The higher the grade the more money! Education is also associated with “getting the job.” In corporate America that means becoming a content cog in the machinery. Education means money and a job that makes you “worthy!” Being “worthy” in the eyes of others depends on how much money you have in your bank account, if you can trust the banks to keep your account.

Love capitalism; hate yourself!

Kroll writes that Duncan’s Chicago legacy emphasized “a business-mined, market-driven model for education. If he is a ‘reformer,’ his style of management is distinctly top-down, corporate, and privatizing.” Teachers are “expendable,” unions are “unnecessary,” and students are “customers.” But since Arne Duncan plays basketball and his managerial style mirrors President Obama, his friend, he finds himself in Washington D.C., rewarded for his “good job” in Chicago.


Encouraging students to be critical thinkers, to question accepted beliefs and norms, remains key to a teacher’s role at any grade level.

And? Black and Brown critical thinkers would question the status quo of a U.S. corporate-lead government, and such people would certainly come to “question” capitalism itself? Do we remember Malcolm and King?  Thinkers are not welcome now and they certainly won’t be welcome within Duncan’s “educational” scheme! 

Sheep are easier to control and manipulate.  Sheep look to the leadership of an oligarchy.  Sheep obey orders.  They chew on the dribble from corporate media without understanding the difference between their interests as “sheep” and the interests of the leadership.



A student who learns to play the cello, who studies how to read music, will learn discipline too, without a military-themed learning environment. But what use are Black and Brown cello players within a market-driven, corporate-militaristic government?

Why it’s hard to beat Hamas January 8, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
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From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

Many analogies are being made between the Israeli attack against Hamas in Gaza and the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Here are the most important ones.

The first is about provenance: Hamas and Hezbollah did not exist before 1982. They are the ideological stepchildren of the Likud party and Ariel Sharon, whose embrace of violence, racism and colonization as the means of dealing with occupied Arab populations ultimately generated a will to resist. The trio carrying on Mr. Sharon’s legacy – Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni – seem blind to the fact that the more force Israel uses, the greater the response in the form of more effective resistance.

The second analogy is about technical proficiency. Hamas and Hezbollah have both increased their ability to use assorted rockets to harass Israel. And they are better able to protect their launchers from pre-emptive Israeli attacks.

The number of Israeli dead in recent years is in the low hundreds, compared with the thousands of Palestinians killed by Israel. But body counts are not the most useful criteria in this analysis. The real measure is the nagging Israeli sense of vulnerability and the Palestinian sense of empowerment and defiance.

It is a gruesome but tangible victory for Hamas simply to be able to keep firing 30 or 40 rockets a day at southern Israel, while Israel destroys much of the security and civilian infrastructure in Gaza.

The frustration in Israel is reflected in its bombing attacks on the Islamic University and the Palestinian parliament building in Gaza – symbols of the sort of modernity and democracy that Israel and the U.S. claim they seek to promote in the Arab world. Palestinians and Lebanese pay a high price for their “victories” – but until someone offers a more cost-effective way of dealing with Israel’s violence, we will see this cycle of warfare continue for some time.

The TV images of dead children in Gaza generate a tremendous will to fight among Palestinians and their supporters in the Arab world. Israelis remain blind to the fact that Arabs respond to brutality the same way they do. A majority of Israelis polled this week supports the continuation of attacks in Gaza. Israelis seem to feel they have the right to respond to attacks by using indiscriminate violence against Palestinians – but Palestinians do not have the right to respond when attacked by Israel. A consequence of this attitude has been the ability of Hamas and Hezbollah to fight with enough proficiency to force Israel to accept a ceasefire.

The third analogy is about the convergence between religion, nationalism, governance and politics. In both Palestine and Lebanon, the secular political systems proved unable to protect society against Israeli aggression or domestic strife and criminality. Movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah developed in large part to fill this vacuum. They have achieved mixed results, with success in some areas but also an intensification of warfare and destruction in others.

Accusing these movements of using terrorism or cozying up to Syria and Iran will not discredit them. This is because of the structural manner in which they fulfill multiple roles that respond to the needs of their constituents in the realms of governance, local security, national defence and basic service delivery – responsibilities their secular national governments failed to fulfill.

The combination of these attributes makes it very hard for Israel to “defeat” Hamas and Hezbollah in their current configuration, regardless of how much destruction Israel rains on their societies. These two Islamist nationalist movements reflect a long list of mostly legitimate grievances that must be addressed if peace and security are ever to reign in this region.

Rami Khouri is editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star and director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.

What is Hamas? January 4, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
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Although controversial and polemic, Sara Roy’s July 2007 reflections on Hamas present a picture of a complex organisation that should invite a sophisticated policy response.(Originally published in the Midlle East Policy Council Journal)


Book Review Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad by Matthew Levitt. Yale University Press, in cooperation with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2006. 324 pages, $26.00, hardcover.

At the beginning of the first Palestinian uprising, I was living in Gaza and spent much time in the refugee camps interviewing families about the political and socioeconomic changes taking place around them. Despite the harsh living situation, Palestinians were filled with a palpable sense of hope and possibility that has since evaporated. Hamas was then struggling to create a popular constituency, despite overwhelming support among Palestinians for secular nationalism. That was 18 years ago, and neither I nor anyone else ever thought that Hamas would one day emerge as a major political actor: democratically winning legislative elections, defeating the majority Fatah party and heading a Palestinian government.

In his recent book, Matthew Levitt, who is deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and an expert in financial counterterrorism, argues that Hamas is strictly a terrorist organization that is not only a domestic threat but a global one, a part of an international jihad network with links to al-Qaeda that must be met with force. He further argues — and this is the core of his book — that despite the existence of differentiated political, social and military sectors within Hamas, they are all part of the same “apparatus of terror.”

Levitt devotes significant attention to attacking the Islamist social sector (dawa) and Hamas’s charitable institutions. It is the principle aim of his book to show how Hamas uses its extensive social-service network-mosques, schools, kindergartens, orphanages, hospitals, clinics, sports clubs, youth clubs-to further its primary political agenda, which he claims is the destruction of Israel. He argues that through its social support structure and services, “Hamas leverages the appreciation (and indebtedness) it earns through social welfare activities to garner support — both political and logistical — for its terrorist activities.” Levitt summarizes his argument as follows: “The general deprivation of the Palestinian people in the Israeli-occupied territories predisposes them to favor the much-needed social support that Hamas provides.” He continues, “In addition to purchasing goodwill, charities also create a built-in logistical support umbrella underneath which terrorist operations are sheltered and operate.” He explains that the dawa network operationally supports terrorism through recruitment, employment and financing and by providing institutional legitimacy.

His evidence, at times interesting, particularly with regard to Hamas’s external sources of financing, is more often than not based on assumption, extrapolation and generalization. For example, as evidence for how religious organizations raise money for Palestinian terrorism, Levitt quotes from a pamphlet produced by a Quranic memorization center that was sponsored by the Ramallah-al Bireh charity committee. The pamphlet listed 30 ways to enter heaven, including “Jihad for the sake of Allah by fighting with one’s soul and money.”

In another example of how hospitals are used to support terrorism, Levitt briefly describes the Dar al-Salam Hospital: “According to information cited by the FBI,” the hospital is considered a Hamas institution because it was founded with “Hamas funds and protection.” But Levitt fails to provide any real evidence of these funds or how and why they are considered “Hamas.” The assumption is that these ties, even if they are shown to exist, are inherently evil and can be nothing else.

In a chapter on how the dawa teaches terror and radicalizes Palestinian society, Levitt writes, “Recipients of Hamas financial aid or social services are less likely to turn down requests from the organization such as allowing their homes to serve as safe houses for Hamas fugitives, ferrying fugitives, couriering funds or weapons, storing and maintaining explosives, and more.” He cites as evidence for this sweeping statement one resident of Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza who fed Hamas militants daily. The possibility that Palestinians receive support from Hamas institutions without preconditions or that popular support requires more than the lure of financial incentives and free social services does not enter Levitt’s argument. Levitt also claims, “When angry, frustrated or humiliated Palestinians regularly listen to sermons in mosques in which Jews, Israelis and even Americans are depicted as enemies of Islam and Palestine, Hamas’s official policy may not restrain individual enthusiasm.” One wonders how Mr. Levitt knows these things, given that he appears never to have stepped inside a Hamas institution in Gaza or the West Bank or to have conducted any fieldwork at all.

While these arguments are oft-repeated in today’s media, Levitt does little to address research that supports a very different conclusion regarding the Hamas dawa. Some of the key findings of this research point to institutional features that demonstrate no preference for religion or politics over other ideologies, particularly in programmatic work; an approach to institutional work that advocates incrementalism, moderation, order and stability; a philosophical and practical desire for productivity and professionalism that shuns radical change and emphasizes community development and civic restoration over political violence; and no evidence of any formal attempt to impose an Islamic model of political, social, legal or religious behavior, or to create an alternative Islamic or Islamist conception of society.

While there can be no doubt that, since its inception, Hamas has engaged in violence and armed struggle and has been the primary force behind the horrific suicide bombings inside Israel, Levitt’s presentation reduces this increasingly complex and sophisticated organization to an insular, one-dimensional and seemingly mindless entity dedicated solely to violence, terrorism and Israel’s destruction. To fully understand the current political stature of Hamas, it is necessary to closely examine the dramatic transitions that have occurred within the organization itself, among Palestinians with respect to their society, and in Palestine’s relationship with Israel.

From the point of view of Hamas, Palestine is an Arab and Islamic land that fell to colonial control with the demise of the Ottoman Empire. The establishment of the State of Israel is viewed as a way to perpetuate colonial authority over the Muslim homeland and is therefore illegitimate. As victims of colonialism, Hamas argues that Palestinians have the right to resist and struggle to regain their homeland and freedom, viewing this as a local and nationalist struggle. Now, almost two decades after its birth, Hamas has grown in size and popularity. While changes have not been made to its frame of reference or objectives, its political discourse has become more refined and streamlined, particularly with regard to its relations with local groups, political factions, other religious communities and other nations.

Unfortunately, Matthew Levitt’s book does not address the critical evolutionary processes — particularly with regard to its organizational structure and political, social and economic role in Palestinian society — that have characterized the Palestinian Islamist movement and Hamas’s rise to power. The ability of Hamas to reinterpret itself over time through processes of radicalization, de-radicalization, de-militarization and re-radicalization is a pronounced and common theme in its historical evolution. Levitt neglects to address the significance behind this commitment to reinterpretation. His analysis aims simply to demonize Hamas, and he discounts the critical connections between changing patterns of protest and structures of society, competing visions of a Palestinian social and political order, and contesting Islamic and secular definitions of meaning and legitimacy. The synergy among these forces has characterized the history and growth of Palestinian Islamism.

Israel’s military occupation, which has long been the defining context for Palestinian life, is almost absent from Levitt’s book. Hamas’s popularity and growing empowerment derive from its role as a resistance organization, fighting against an occupation that is now 40 years old. Israel’s steady expropriation, fragmentation and division of Palestinian lands; settlement construction and expansion; closure restrictions and destruction of the Palestinian economy are not part of Levitt’s discussion, nor is the right of the Palestinians to resist these measures. In those few instances where the occupation is mentioned, it is couched in terms that acknowledge Palestinian hardship — a reality exploited by Hamas — but justified as a response to terrorism. In the absence of any serious examination of Israel’s occupation, Levitt’s portrayal of the rise of Hamas is completely detached from the context within which it was produced and shaped.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the organization is also described as a movement incapable of transformation, ignoring the improvements in Hamas’s political discourse regarding political compromise with the State of Israel and resolution of the conflict. During the period of the Oslo peace process, for example, some dramatic changes occurred within Hamas. The organization was moving away from the extreme and a position of confrontation towards one that was more centrist and moderate. This shift was characterized by a reorientation in policy and strategic emphasis from political/military action to social works and community development. Accompanying this shift was a redefinition of the nature of the Palestinian struggle, which was no longer for political or military power per se but for defining new social arrangements and appropriate cultural and institutional models that would meet social needs without resort to violence. Similarly, the Islamist movement was not advancing a policy of isolation but was calling for greater accommodation and cooperation with both domestic and international actors.

Since Hamas’s victory in the January 2006 legislative elections, there has been a further evolution in its political thinking — as evidenced in some of its key political documents — characterized by a strong emphasis on state-building and programmatic work, greater refinement with regard to its position on a two-state solution and the role of resistance, and a progressive de-emphasis on religion. (See Khaled Hroub, “A ‘New Hamas’ Through Its New Documents,” Journal of Palestine Studies, 34 (4) (Summer 2006)). These are absent from Levitt’s discussion. Levitt also overlooks questions that are vital to any analysis of Hamas, especially at present. To name just a few, what were Hamas’s ideological, philosophical and structural boundaries? How and why were they reset and expanded? What is the role of religion as opposed to politics in Islamist thought and practice, particularly in the public sphere? Are religion and politics truly unified? Can Hamas reconcile faith and ideology with a demand for a place in the political system?

Levitt’s book has many serious flaws and merits a detailed critique that extends well beyond the scope of this review. His is not a work of analysis or scholarship, to say the least, and despite certain points that are interesting and accurate, anyone wishing to gain a substantive, reasoned and critical understanding of Hamas would do well to look elsewhere.

Israeli Government: Learned Its Lesson Well (from the Nazis?) January 2, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
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This will be brief.  When I think of the current situation in the Gaza Strip, two images come to mind:

1) Israeli troops poised to invade inovoke the term: BLITZKRIEG.

2) When the Resistance killed a Nazi soldier, the Nazis would retaliate by murdering by ratio: ten, fifteen, fifty, what have you, to the one Nazi killed.  There were times, I believe, when they wiped out entire towns in retaliation for one Nazi soldier kiled.  The Palestinian to Israeli killed ratio in the current “conflict” is somewhere around 200 to 1.  And that is not to mention the deaths caused by the blockade or the thousands seriously wounded.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: “So now the international community has a question, and I turn it back to the—to our critics, and I say you have to take a stand today. You have to tell the terrorists that this is an illegitimate operation. You cannot say both Israel and Hamas are symmetrically to blame. They’re not. One side is to blame, the side that targets civilians and hides behind civilians. That’s Hamas. The other side represents the rest of humanity. Now choose.”

Netanyahu, the head of the Likud Party and favorite to win the Israeli presidency, reminds us that Hamas “targets civilians and hide behind civilians.”  He might add, “but don’t worry, we — the side that represents the rest of  humanity —  have no compunction about killing those civilians behind which they hide.”

One might also wonder how it can be considered “hiding” to reside in your own community.

Please note that I am of Jewish heritage and have been a life-long opponent of anti-Semitism.  I do not support Hamas or their firing rockets into Israeli territory.  All lives have equal value.  I mourn every death.

Voices of Resistance Sing On January 1, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Peace.
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Dec 31, 2008, www.truthdig.com

By Amy Goodman

  Strong voices for peace have left us this year, people who used their art for social change, often at a high personal price.

  Odetta was a legendary folk singer of the civil rights movement.

  Considered the “Queen of American Folk Music,” Odetta introduced audiences worldwide to African-American folk, blues and gospel music.

  New Year’s Eve was her birthday. She would have been 78. When Rosa Parks was asked which songs meant the most to her, she replied, “All of the songs Odetta sings.”

  Odetta sang “Oh, Freedom,” an African-American slave spiritual, at the 1963 March on Washington. Early on, she attracted the interest of Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger. Her voice, her talent with the guitar and the natural style in which she maintained her hair—later to be dubbed “afro”—set her as an icon of the civil rights movement. She told an interviewer in 2003:

  “When I first started, I would sing these prison songs … it got to a point where doing the music actually healed me … it was music from those who went before. The music gave them strength, and the music gave us strength to carry it on.”

  She inspired Bernice Johnson Reagon, an early member of the SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) Freedom Singers. She had been suspended from college in Albany, Ga., for civil rights protests, then went on to Spelman College, where historian Howard Zinn and his wife, Roz, took her to folk music concerts by Joan Baez and Odetta.

  Reagon recalls the first time she heard Odetta:

  “In Georgia, where I grew up in the country, the roads were built by chain-gang labor. I knew the sound, because as the men worked, they sang. But I never thought I’d hear it coming from a concert stage … when she sang prison songs or work songs. … She was just what I needed to begin my life as a freedom fighter and as a Freedom Singer.”

  Reagon later went on to found the women’s a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock.

  Another great liberation singer we lost this year was Miriam Makeba of South Africa, known as “Mama Afrika.” She sang against apartheid, then went into exile for decades. Belafonte helped her, too, gain recognition.

  In 1968, she married SNCC-leader-turned-Black-Panther Stokely Carmichael, for which she was blacklisted in the U.S. until the 1980s.

  Soon after her death, I asked the Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu about Makeba. The South African archbishop smiled: “Her singing, her voice, helped many people to know a little bit more about the vicious apartheid system. She was just a tremendous human being, a great loss to us and to Africa.”

  Also blacklisted in 1968 was singer and actress Eartha Kitt, who died at age 81 on Christmas Day. In 1968, she was invited to a celebrity luncheon at the White House by Lady Bird Johnson, who asked Kitt about urban poverty. Kitt replied: “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the street. They don’t want to go to school because they’re going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.” The first lady reportedly burst into tears. For years afterward, Kitt performed almost exclusively overseas and was investigated by the FBI and CIA.

  Born out of the Deep South and South Africa, these women’s voices sang out, from concert halls to protest rallies. Another voice we just lost sang out from the written page. Harold Pinter died on Christmas Eve in London. Though too sick to travel to Stockholm to collect his Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he sent a video address: “The majority of politicians … are interested not in truth but in power. … To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance. … What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies.” Pinter was referring to U.S. policy from Guantanamo to Iraq.

  As these icons are laid to rest, their voices continue to inspire millions. Barack Obama will soon take the reins of the most powerful nation on Earth, promising change. But it will now take the actions of those millions, heeding these echoes of the past and transforming them into their own voices, to effect real change.

  Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
  Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

© 2008 Amy Goodman

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

Charlie and Me December 29, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Autobiographical Essays (Roger), Charlie and Me.
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(I think I can say honestly that I loved both my parents equally, and I believe that their influence on my life and character was equal as well.  However it was Charlie, intellectually and politically oriented like myself, who could both inspire me and get under my skin.  He was clearly a less secure individual than my mother, and I don’t think I ever achieved anything of any significance whatsoever without thinking about how it would please my father.  I cannot vouch for all the historical facts in the “story” that follows, especially with reference to the year 1941.  What I know about the events of January 26/27, 1941 are all hearsay, my having been minus one day old at the time; but I was young then and had a good ear.) 




Hitler’s armies are in control of most of Western Europe, and the Japanese military is cooking up a secret plan to attack the main US naval base in Hawaii, which will represent a daring move to demolish in a single blow America’s capacity to wage war in the Pacific.  It is January 26, 1941, and it has just begun to snow in Newark, New Jersey.


At about 8:30 PM, Charles Hollander leaves the grocery store that is owned and operated by his cousin Morris where he earns the ten dollars a week that supports him, his wife, Anne, and their two year old son Neil.  He steps out onto Springfield Avenue and decides that the storm is not so bad that he cannot save five cents by walking to their Jacob Street flat instead of taking the bus.  Then he stops for a moment for a second thought.  He gives himself a mental kick in the pants for thinking of saving a nickel when his wife is in her ninth month and due at any moment.  He catches the first number five that passes going east and heads for home.


Charlie, as he is known to just about everyone, was “political” in his youth.  He presided over a reform-oriented Democratic “Club” whose political hero and inspiration was Jersey’s own Woodrow Wilson.  With his quick mind and law school background Charlie was considered by many to be an up and comer.  Instead, he chose to buck the party establishment by joining a reform ticket that opposed the party bosses in a primary election for the State Assembly.  To the injury of a losing campaign was added the insult of being blackballed from the party’s patronage (including WPA jobs).  For good.


Despite the sudden and rude termination of his dream for a career in party politics, Charlie had no lasting regrets.  For it was through his political involvement that he became good buddies with Max Korabiak, the husky son of a Ukrainian immigrant, who drove a truck making deliveries for his father’s burgeoning ice and coal business.  Ice boxes (before refrigerators could be found in most homes) demanded to be kept ice cold in the summer, and furnaces consumed tons of coal in the winter. Max was proud and ambitious, and a later business failure was to lead to what in those enlightened times was called a “nervous breakdown.”  Max ended up spending the rest of his adult life wheeling and dealing and outliving several generations of attendant staff at the same State Hospital for the Mentally Ill in upstate Overbrook, where he also was able to look after the well-being of his mother, Sadie, who had been confined several years before with the same amorphous diagnosis and where she also made her home until her very last days.


At one of their Democratic Club’s annual dances, Max had introduced Charlie to his younger sister, Anne; and though both Anne and Charlie had arrived at the dance with their own dates, they left together.  It was but a few weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, 1933, that Charlie borrowed his friend S. Donald “Red” Rappaport’s Model A Ford and eloped with Anne to the poor man’s Niagara Falls: Elkton, Maryland.  Red came along as a witness.


Whether Anne’s hard working old world style tyrannical father, William “Bill” (neé Vasily) Korabiak, had no use for Charlie because he was poor or because he was Jewish is hard to say.  Probably a little of both.  Upon their return from Elkton – it had been an overnight trip and they were back in time for the New Year’s Day party at the Korabiak home cum ice dock cum coal bin on Hunterdon Street, with no one being any the wiser about their new marital status – Anne continued to keep house and raise her three younger brothers (as she had done since she had “dropped out” of the sixth grade when her mother left the home for good) until Charlie could save up enough cash to rent the Jacob Street flat.  When months later she finally broke the news to her father and took leave for good, old Mister Korabiak now had another reason to hate Charlie, one that hit much closer to home.  Charlie had, in effect, signed Anne’s Emancipation Proclamation, thereby causing Bill the net loss of one full time domestic indentured servant.


Charlie arrives at the Jacob Street flat shortly after 9:00 PM.  He is exhausted, for his day at the grocery store is long and tedious, and the walk from the bus stop to the house is all uphill, but he is relieved to find everything ship shape.  Little Neil is crying, but what else is new. After grabbing a quick supper – Anne had already eaten – Charlie will now have to take over the seemingly endless task of getting the baby to sleep so that Anne can rest.  He says a silent and secular – for the religious part of his Judaism really never took root – prayer that the new baby will be a quieter one.  The law of averages, he thinks to himself, has got to be in our side on that score.  Charlie tries to put out of his mind the fact that once the recalcitrant Neil decides to trade weep for sleep, his kitchen duties – in the form of a sink full of dirty dishes and a hamper full of soiled diapers – await his attention.  His responsibility for these kinds of chores goes back beyond Anne’s pregnancy.   Having escaped from one slave master, she was not about to replace him with another, albeit a younger and more handsome one.  She was a grade six drop out, and the new wave of feminism was decades away from raising its unruly head, but Anne was ahead of her time.  Charlie was expected to pull some of the domestic weight.


As he sleepwalks through the dishes, Charlie’s mind drifts back to that last visit to Dr. Hautman’s office.  Hautman, a tall, dark haired handsome man, a half-generation older than Charlie, was a general practitioner, that’s about all there was in those days.  He charged only what you could afford, gave you all the time you needed, both in the examining room and with making payment.  He never sent a bill, and he never considered making house calls anything other than part of his job.


While Anne would be getting dressed in the doctor’s examining room, he and Charlie are talking about the war that day in the front office.  Two peace loving Jewish men agonizing over what seemed to be the inevitability despite Roosevelt’s apparent hesitancy of their country once again getting sucked into the middle of another European conflagration.  Although Hitler’s attitude toward Jews was well known by then, no one could have imagined the atrocities that were to follow, so it was not that unusual that many American Jews were blasé about getting involved.   Neither Charlie nor the good doctor would have considered themselves “isolationists,” yet both men were cynical about what would be achieved by fighting another World War.


“They said the last one was the ‘war to end all wars,’” the doctor reminded Charlie who had mentioned that he was starting to see no way the U.S. could not get involved again, “I don’t know about you, Charlie, but why is it that the big shots always call the tune, and it’s the young kids that go over and get shot at?  Sure Hitler’s a maniac, but who drove the Germans into his arms with the impossible reparations debt from the war?  Wilson tried with the League of Nations and where did it get him?  I’ve got two boys a lot closer to fighting age than your little Neil.  Those boys mean everything to me and Sarah, and I’ll be damned if I want to see them sent five thousand miles to die on foreign soil.”


Charlie nodded agreement.  “When will the fools that run this world ever learn, when will they ever learn?” he added, shaking his head.


Charlie had completed training with the Civilian Military Training Corps (CMTC), a sort of non-academic R.O.T.C. for civilians, and when called up would enter the army as a second lieutenant (unbeknownst to him at the time, however, he would never see active duty due to a bone deformity that caused him to fail his physical when he finally tried to enlist).


“Charlie, I want you to know something.  If somehow we get dragged into this thing, and when you are called up, I don’t want you to be worried about Anne and the kids.  I will take care to make sure they are in fine health when you get back, and you can take that to the bank.  And don’t worry about money, O.K.?  Right now everything is as it should be with Anne.  The baby’s gong to be as big and healthy as the last one.  She could be popping out any day now.  You understand what I’m telling you?  I’m counting on it being a girl.”






Here is how I became a city councilor.


For years I had resisted the temptation to run for political office in Toronto.  I was in my seventh year as Executive Director of the now legendary 519 Church Street Community Center, and I won’t deny that I wasn’t at times restless for a change.  But I had plenty to keep me happy right where I was.  I had had the opportunity to take a lead role in the development of City of Toronto policy toward city funded but independently run community centers, and therefore to a certain extent I knew my way around City Hall.  Of late, in reaction to the Mulroney Conservative government’s cuts and privatization of the student summer employment programs that had been initiated in the Trudeau era, which had a profoundly negative effect on the ability of non-profit organizations to provide a wide range of community and social services over the summer, I had helped to organize and was national coordinator of the Save our Summer Coalition (S.OS.).


Since emigrating to Canada in the summer of 1968 to avoid up to five years in a federal prison for my anti-Vietnam war activities, I had slowly gotten my feet back into the waters of political activism; and, since 1980 when I took the position at The 519, I was even drawing a decent salary, thanks in part to my friend Anna Furstenberg’s having convinced me that it is possible “to do well while doing good.”  It was not quite the same as the street level political activism I had known in Southern California. There I had been involved in helping to support the United Farm Workers, under Cesar Chavez, by organizing boycotts of non-union grapes and wine; I had gotten involved with the Black community in various Civil Right demonstrations and projects; and, of course, was involved in a wide range of anti-Vietnam War activities, including the picketing of local draft boards and military installations, demonstrating against Dow Chemical, the maker of the horrendous napalm bombs that was eating flesh of thousands of innocent Vietnamese civilians, and organizing and participating in teach-in and sit-ins at various campuses.


I had spent several frustrating years involved with the Democratic Party.  Although my inclination, which had taken root in my student years at Berkeley (1958-1962), was for direct action of the street variety, until the revolutionary gusts that swept the nation beginning in the mid-sixties, it seemed as if the Democrats were the only game in town for progressive political activists.  The final straw for me, however, came shortly after the 1964 presidential elections, where I had poured heart and soul into the campaign to elect “peace candidate” Lyndon Johnson in an Armageddon like battle against the war-mongering Barry Goldwater.  It was Johnson, of course, who, once elected, proceeded to escalate US involvement in Vietnam that lead eventually to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides and expansion of the conflict into Cambodia and Laos.


After leaving the Democratic Party, I had studied, adopted, then rejected anarchism and was beginning to become interested in the Marxist-Humanist movement founded by Raya Dunayevskaya.  When I got to Canada and learned that there was a third party — a socialist party! – I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  It wasn’t long, however, before I discovered that the New Democratic Party (NDP) had pretty much abandoned its socialist CCF roots.  It was socialist in name only, it was no longer looking to transform but rather to reform.  I soon saw the logic of whoever it was who had characterized the NDP as nothing more than “Liberals in a hurry” — that is, reformers with no desire to remake a system that was structurally flawed.


So, although I was under no illusions, and although I did not choose to join the Party, I could not deny, especially since I was directly involved via my work at the community center with city government, that on neighborhood-based issues, it was generally the NDP that could be counted on for support, both with respect to policy and practical assistance.  I therefore was quite willing to actively back NDP candidates in the old Ward 6 where I worked and especially in Ward 7 where I lived.  In so doing, I got to know, became friendly with, and worked side by side with a number of NDP grass roots activists as well as elected city councillors.


Nevertheless, when John Piper jogged into my office at The 519 at lunchtime one afternoon, and those who know John will know that I mean that literally, I outright rejected his suggestion that I seek to become the NDP candidate in the Ward 7 by-election to replace Joanne Campbell, who had resigned to accept an appointment from the Provincial Liberal government.  Joanne, a life-long New Democrat representing a Ward with a twenty year tradition of sending hard-working progressives to City Hall, had become somewhat of a controversial figure several months prior to her resignation when she announced that she would no longer participate in the NDP caucus at City Council but rather would sit as an “independent”.  Many Torontonians are under the illusion that party politics do not apply at the city level since the Liberals and Conservatives do not run under the party banner but rather call themselves “independents.”  However, a true independent at city council is as rare as a true idealist, and the same Liberal and Conservative organizations that support provincial and federal candidates are mobilized for the city level campaigns (in fact, city council has always served as the “minor leagues” for many a future Liberal and Conservative member of the provincial and federal parliaments).  The NDP, on the other hand, openly and formally nominates candidates who, when elected, participate in a caucus, albeit without the discipline that is exercised at the senior levels of government.


A couple of weeks before John’s appearance at my office, I had received a phone call from Joanne’s assistant at City Hall, Jeff Evanson, to inform me that Joanne would be resigning the next day, that he would be running in the by-election to fill the vacancy, and could he count on my support.  He neglected to mention to me that he would be running as an “independent” with the active, if clandestine, backing of the Liberal Party (who found him a Provincial job after losing the election).  Oblivious to the impossible to conceive of at the time fact that I would be Jeff’s opponent in that election, and although I assumed he would probably win the NDP nomination and get my eventual support, I told him (assuming that he was asking for my support for the NDP nomination) that I could not offer my public support until I knew who all the candidates were.  It had always bugged the hell out of me that so many people gave their public endorsements based upon the first person to ask for it; and I later came to find out as a city councilor that this was also the case amongst councilors when lobbying their colleagues for support for a particular council vote or appointment.  So much for principle in politics.


In any case, since I had long ago decided that it would be against my principles to be an NDP candidate for anything, it didn’t take any real consideration on my part to reject Piper’s suggestion.  John Piper is that unusual combination of intellectual and jock.  He is one of the most persistent and persuasive persons you will ever want to meet, or not want to, as the case may be.  He filled me in on what an Evanson victory would mean for Ward 7, that is, nothing less than a Liberal coup d’etat.  He told me that the NDP needed to come up with a strong candidate fast (this was June and the by-election was to be held in November), and that he was only asking me to participate as a candidate in the nominating process to help develop a strong field of candidates.  He showed me a list of people who were considering entering the race for the nomination, including the Labor Council’s Linda Torney, a person for whom I had and have tremendous respect.


Our meeting ended up with my withdrawal of an outright rejection in favor of my agreeing to at least consider the possibility.  This was a major step for me, one that showed that I was not immune to setting principle aside when it came to realizing a practical strategic objective, in this case, not letting the Liberals get away with the sleazy and dishonest attempt to “steal” Ward 7 with their “independent” candidate.


After consulting with family, friends and confidants, I decided I would take the plunge.  Since I would be running, if nominated, not simply to carry the NDP banner but rather to stop Jeff Evanson, i.e., actually to win; once I made the fateful decision, I put every ounce of my energy into it.  When it became finally known who would be seeking the NDP nomination, it became clear both to me and to the Ward 7 NDP executive, that because of my history of community involvement I was the only one with a chance, albeit an outside one (given Evanson’s virtual “incumbency” and head start), to actually win the seat (Linda Torney had decided not to seek the nomination).


Although I freely admit, and did so at the time, that my decision to join the NDP and run for a city council seat as an NDP candidate was a compromise with a previously held principled position, I was determined that when it came to issues and matters of policy, the NDP was going to have to live with my political radicalism and independence of thought, which was not negotiable.  Since there is no policy “platform” and no disciplined caucus at the city level, it seemed to me that I could do this without deceiving either the Party, the electorate or myself.  But could the NDP live with me?


I met with the members of the local executive informally.  Piper had been their emissary, and although they were prevented from making a formal endorsement, they wanted to give behind the scenes encouragement to the person they considered to be the strongest candidate for the nomination.  A couple of the members of the executive were excited to have an unabashedly “left” candidate, others were glad just to find someone who had a bit more than a hope in hell to beat Jeff Evanson.  Everyone was worried about my past radicalism, especially since I made it, as that intellectual giant Richard Nixon would say, “perfectly clear” that I did not intend to move one inch closer to the NDP mainstream from where I stood about six and a half miles to its left.  “Is it true that you were a draft dodger,” I was asked.  “No,” I replied – sighs of relief all around – “actually I was more like a deserter.” 


Largely through the efforts of a few dedicated friends and associates and the amazing organizational efforts of my then wife, Cathy Crowe, I won the nomination with a comfortable margin, even though one of the other candidates, University of Toronto campus chaplain Eilert Freirichs, gave a speech at the nominating meeting that was ten times better than my own.  With the nomination in hand, in the general by-election it was me against Jeff Evanson and a handful of fringe candidates with no organizational backing (including an ex-landlord of mine and a drag queen).


The campaign was one of the most salient experiences of my life.  I don’t think I ever worker harder over a sustained period of time.  Because of what Jeff had done in using his NDP job as a springboard to running as an “independent”, secretly supported by the Liberals, against an NDP nominated candidate, the race took on the aura of internecine warfare.  Many NDP supporters had no idea of what Jeff had done and gave him their support believing that he was going to be like Joanne, a more independent minded NDP’er.  Although I had years of community organizing and he had basically done only party work, Jeff was now the “community” candidate and I was the “party hack.”  Oh, sweet irony.  Former NDP allies were now on opposite sides of the fence, and life long friendships were strained (Piper, for example, had grown up with Joanne Campbell and is best friends with her and her husband, ex-NDP councilor Gordon Cressy; the friendship weathered the storm; the first thing I did when I won the election was to work to mend fences; Ron Kaplansky, a graphic designer who did Evanson’s campaign sign and literature designs, is now a good friend of mine; Jeff, however, did not give me the traditional courtesy of conceding defeat on election night).


We had a hell of a lot of ground to make up.  We spent tons of money to hire the best NDP organizers available (the debt incurred remains unpaid to this day).  Piper served as interim Campaign Manager until we were able to bring on the incomparable Sherril Game; a future Provincial Consumer Affairs Minister in the Rae government, Marilyn Churley, was the campaign secretary.  Piper, who was later to become Ontario Premier Bob Rae’s public relations director and was subsequently forced to resign in disgrace when he made a serious tactical error in an attempt to protect a Cabinet Minister who had been falsely accused of sexual abuse, designed an unbeatable campaign strategy, but one that would only work if there was enough time.


I won by 222 votes.  If the campaign had lasted another week, I think I would have won by 2000.  We had a lot to overcome, but we had all the momentum.  Victory, to use a cliché, was sweet.  The first thing I did, of course, upon being confirmed as the winner, was to phone my dad with the good news.


You know, my father had been in politics for a short time in his youth.  He too was something of a maverick.  He had been President of a Democratic Party “Club” and had unsuccessfully bucked the Party establishment, which cost him any chance of further advancement.  He was never nearly as radical in his beliefs as I am, but much of what I have learned about principled behavior in politics I have learned from him, more from his actions than his stated beliefs.  It’s funny for me to say this, because my father is always preaching pragmatism to me.  “You have to stoop to conquer,” is one of his favorite sayings.


My father graduated from Mercer Beasley School of Law in Newark (long since, I believe, absorbed into Rutgers University) but never practiced law.  For some reason, after his first unsuccessful attempt at passing the New Jersey bar, he lost heart.  He had lost both his parents before he was twenty, and in his teens took off riding the rails hobo style to California, where, had he been a little more shrewd, would have landed a bit part in a John Wayne movie.  His ultimate destination was Japan, which he never made.  After losing his one and only election and his betrayal of the party bosses, he dropped out of political activism never to return.  He remains more or less progressive in his outlook, and I am sure he never voted Republican.  Maybe because of being so seriously burned when he ventured outside the boundaries of the established order of the world where he thought he saw his future (i.e., the New Jersey Democratic Party), he became a strong advocate of “working within the system.”  He could never fully endorse my decisions to work outside the system, although at some level I know he understands my uncompromising idealism and my “impractical” obsession with principle.


Although my Dad left politics for good after his defeat, he kept in touch with some of his old buddies, one of whom, Isaiah “Ike” Turner, was the first Black elected to Newark’s city council.  How many times has he told me the (possibly Apocryphal) following story about Ike’s first council meeting: It would goes without saying that the white incumbents were not apt to give a cordial welcome to this “uppity Nigger” who dared to think he had a right to elected office.  So how does old Ike deal with the cold shoulder he receives when he takes his place at his very first council meeting?  He introduces a motion to give members of council a significant raise in pay (something that almost all politicians lust after but have to be careful about proposing).  The motion passes unanimously, and from that day forward Isaiah “Ike” Turner is one of the boys.


Would you like to know what I did at my first council meeting?


In Council procedures there is something called an “Order Paper motion” which any member of Council can put on the Council agenda in order to get an issue directly before the Council.  It is used when there is no time to follow the normal laborious committee process on a particular matter of urgency; or – and this is what I often found advantageous — when there would be no hope to get a recommendation passed by a committee and put before the Council (Council committees are notorious for killing controversial initiatives before they can reach the Council as a whole for debate).


At my first Council meeting I put a motion on the Order Paper to the effect that the Council declare Toronto a “disaster area” with respect to the problem of homelessness and request immediate emergency assistance from the provincial and federal governments.  Order Paper motions are debated after the Council has disposed with all its committee vetted business, so that it was late in the evening when it came up, and the members were tired and grouchy.  Those who did not consider my motion a scandal treated it as a joke.  I was made fun of and ridiculed – who is this rookie councilor with this screwball motion?  Nevertheless, the Council was forced to take its collective head out of the sand, and a two-hour debate, the first of its kind, took place in Council chambers on the city’s crisis in housing.  Needless to say, the motion did not carry.  The vote was something like 35-4.  Not even all my NDP colleagues voted for it.


The Ghost of Ike Turner was not pleased, and I never became one of the boys.


(Twelve years later, in response to the tireless organizing and lobbying by Cathy Crowe and the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, the Toronto City Council, and then municipal council’s across Canada, passed similar motions, calling for federal intervention in the housing crisis.)


And yet, despite the fact I was not prone to follow in the hallowed footprints left by Ike Turner’s fancy footwork in the council chambers of Newark, New Jersey, no one was more proud of me for my seven years as perpetual outsider and a constant thorn in the side of Toronto Council …than my dad.







I first became seriously aware of the US involvement in Vietnam while I spent the summer months of 1964 as an intern at the National Council of Churches’ (NCC) Washington, D.C. office on Maryland Avenue, a hop, skip and jump from the Capitol building.  In many ways it was an idyllic summer for me.  We house-sat for a wealthy union bureaucrat in his posh mansion off of Connecticut Avenue, sharing it with Djawah, an Indonesian graduate student.  Linda and I were at that time in our second year of marriage and still childless.  She had landed a summer job in the State Department.  We were invited to attend the celebration for the independence of Malawi, and I danced with Miriam Makeba.  During the day, I mostly hung out in the Capitol building drifting from committee room to committee room.  I had virtually no responsibilities as an intern; there was no supervision to speak of.  I saw liberal Senator Yarborough from Texas get into a near fist-fight with ultra-conservative Strom Thurmond outside a Senate hearing room.


In another hearing room I heard some strange phrases I didn’t fully understand: “military advisors, limited engagement … dominos”.  It was the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discussing the country’s involvement in a small country in Southeast Asia, a former French colony that almost nobody had ever heard of, where some kind of a civil war was going on that for some strange reason former Presidents and the current president, Lyndon Johnson had been worried about enough to send United States soldiers, excuse me, advisors, over to help out the good guys in the south but in a “non-combatant” capacity.




This was just before the war between the Viet Cong and the corrupt South Vietnam puppet regime had entered into the consciousness of the average American, but mountains of information passed through the NCC Washington office including some disturbing criticism of U.S. intervention in Vietnam by apparently well-informed critics.  Although Civil Rights was foremost on my and almost everyone else’s mind that fateful summer (the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 was before the Congress, and Linda and I spent as much time as we could at the twenty-four hour prayer vigil in front of the White House), I decided to follow up on what had been suggested by the Vietnam critics and began to look for more information about a war in a country that I had not previously known existed.


At summer’s end, having made my decision, after one year of graduate studies in theology (at Princeton Theological Seminary), to become a theological seminary drop-out, Linda and I went back to Southern California, and I resumed teaching at a Lutheran private school where I had previously taught for a year after my graduation from Berkeley.  While in Washington I had introduced myself to Jim Corman, a young progressive/liberal Democrat who represented the 22nd Congressional District in California where we would be taking up residence.  I was impressed with him and accepted his request that I work as a volunteer in his campaign for re-election in the November elections.  However, it was not the congressional races that were front and center in that election. 


In San Francisco’s Cow Palace earlier in the year, what many considered to be the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party had gained control of the convention and nominated as there presidential candidate the right-wing “extremist” ideologue, Barry Goldwater (who in today’s Republican Party would fall somewhere well left of center!).  “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” he intoned.  The Republican theme was “In your heart, you know he’s right,” In my heart I knew he was wrong!  You have to remember that this was in the middle of the Cold War, and to my thinking putting the nuclear trigger in the hands of an avowed Hawk was to risk the very survival of the planet.  Most of the nation agreed, and, thanks to some pretty nifty television scare commercials connecting Goldwater with nuclear holocaust, Lyndon Johnson was re-elected in a landslide.


What also slid, however, was Johnson’s commitment to keep the peace.  When he assumed the presidency following the Kennedy assassination, he had kept in tack most of the Kennedy Cabinet, including such shinning lights as Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.  With the counsel and support of these men, Johnson took the nation into the morass of Vietnam and what turned out to be the United States’ first great military defeat in history.  It would appear that the boys of Camelot were out for more than a friendly joust.


The sinking of an American battleship in the Gulf of Tonkin was all the pretext that was needed to win the support of the Congress (only two out of a hundred voted against the Bay of Tonkin Resolution in the Senate, Barry Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska) and the bulk of the American public for a major expansion of the United States participation in the war.  By that time I had read much of the early anti-war literature (Howard Zinn, Robert Scheer, etc.), which was overwhelmingly convincing.  I had learned that after the final defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu, it was the US government that set up the puppet regime in South Vietnam that broke the peace treaty that would have unified the country (I was shocked to learn that then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had lobbied the Cabinet and President to help the French out of their jam at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 by dropping the Atomic Bomb on the Vietnamese.  Eisenhower vetoed this plan.  The same Eisenhower, who spent as much time during his presidency playing golf as Ronald Reagan did nodding off, also warned the nation in his Farewell Address, a warning absolutely unheeded, of the dangers of the “military industrial complex.”  For these two events old Ike still holds a warm spot –albeit a small one — in my heart).


My intuition and reading told me that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a phony one designed by the U.S. military and government to get public and political support for a dramatic escalation of U.S. commitment in the civil war.  This was subsequently confirmed years later.  I therefore participated in the earliest of the anti-war activities, which consisted initially mostly of “teach-ins” as high school and university campuses.


My personal history as an anti-war activist pretty much followed the course of the anti-war movement itself, which escalated in intensity parallel to the government’s taking the nation deeper into the Vietnam quagmire. I was still a “believer” (that is, an evangelical Christian) at the time, and along with a handful close comrades, was involved in a Congregational Church in Pacoima, a transitional community in the San Fernando Valley of northeast Los Angeles, where an influx of Blacks and Chicanos were transforming the nature of a previously white neighborhood.  I therefore concentrated much of my anti-war activism within the confines of the “faith community.”  We offered educational programs on the Vietnam War to local Christian congregations, and when they refused to even listen, we would picket them for their un-Christian like refusal to get involved in the greatest moral issue of the day.  As delegates representing our local congregation, we took an anti-war resolution to the regional conference of the Congregational Church, and when it was defeated after a vigorous debate, we donned sack cloth and ashes and sat-in at the alter of the Pasadena United Church at which the meeting was held.  We were cursed, threatened and spat upon at many of the churches we picketed and accused of being everything from unpatriotic to Communist.  When our own Pacoima congregation ultimately refused to take a public position against the war, we picketed outside our own church (one of our gang, Lew Fretz, eventually left the States and has been living and teaching in at Hamilton University in New Zealand, where he has preserved our original picket signs showing Vietnamese children being burned with napalm and uses them as illustrations in the course he teaches on U.S. History).  I think the congregation finally got fed up with us and asked us to look for a “more compatible fellowship” after one Sunday evening worship service where we had volunteered to lead the “Bible study.”  Instead of the traditional exposition of a particular Biblical text, we put on a skit in which a series of the poor and suffering individuals approached a student of the Bible asking for help and were rewarded with quotes from the Bible.  We ended the skit by tearing pages from the Bible, igniting them with a match, and singing a popular Christian hymn: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”  Our minister, the Reverend Paul Kittlaus, with all the majesty of the British queen, was not amused.


Our core group consisted of Pete Flint, our moral leader and political guide, who had been drafted into the Marines during the Korean War and who had received a dishonorable discharge for his anti-war activities; Lew Fretz, who had just received his doctorate in History from Stanford; Lew’s wife, Margaret Fretz, a schoolteacher; Dick Bunce, a friend from and recent graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary; Linda Page, my wife, who was working on her doctoral thesis in Sociology for Princeton University and teaching at San Fernando Valley State College (today know as California State University at Northridge); and me.


We attended all the protest demonstrations.  We organized anti-war activities at Valley State in cooperation with Tom Lasswell, a campus chaplain and member of our Pacoima congregation, and with the local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).  We recruited John Buchanan, a Professor of Speech at Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys to run as an anti-war candidate for the Democratic Party nomination in the 43rd State Assembly District.  We picketed Dow Chemical, the maker of the infamous napalm.  We demonstrated at local draft boards and the local National Guard headquarters at the Van Nuys Airport.


I cannot tell you how many times I burned my draft card.  This was before the days of photocopy machines, so there was a technical problem.  I cannot remember how we solved it, but I ended up with a supply of draft cards and even made Newsweek Magazine where a photo shows me along with two others in front of the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles, draft-card torch in hand. 


And what was my draft status?  1-0, if that means anything to you.  I had been 1-A, that is, prime draft material.  However, I applied to my local draft board for “conscientious objector” status, as I had been counseling many others to do, and – only because of my religious background – it was granted to me.  [Note: insert here something of the history of conscious objection, Quakers, etc.]  This did not protect me from the draft, rather it meant that if drafted, I would be able to do “civilian public service” at home rather than go into the armed forces either as a soldier or a medic (conscientious objectors with 1-A-0 status serve as medics on the battlefield).


Aware of the fact that I was likely to be drafted (I was twenty-four years old in 1965, and young men were drafted up to the age of twenty-six), I looked for work that would qualify as civilian service and was hired by the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) to do venereal disease epidemiology with the Los Angeles County Health Department.  Sure enough, I was drafted in 1966 and was successful in having my health department work qualify as my civilian service. My job was to interview patients diagnosed with Syphilis and to bring in their sexual contacts for examination and possible treatment.  I worked out of health centers in Watts (South Central Los Angeles), which was predominantly Black, West Hollywood, which was predominantly Gay, San Fernando, which was predominantly Latino, and Van Nuys, which was predominately white middle class.  If you ever need a survey course on the sexual habits of a broad spectrum of society, I’m your guy.


It was sometime in 1967 that I went to UCLA to listen to a talk given by David Harris, who had formed a movement, which he called “The Resistance.”  David had first made news when, as Student Body President at Stanford, he was kidnapped by members of the football team who proceeded to cut off his long hair.  He went on to become seriously involved in anti-war activities and married the popular folk singer, Joan Baez.  His message to young men of draft age was that using their draft deferments (e.g., student deferments, conscious objection, etc.) to keep out of the war was in effect a form of collaboration with the war effort.  He called for total non-complicity with the Selective Service System (i.e., the draft).  I was struck by the logic of his position, which also underscored the fact that it was uneducated poor whites and Black men who were making up a disproportionate part of the waves of soldiers sent over to slaughter and be slaughtered in the jungles and swamps of Vietnam.  David himself was eventually drafted, refused to be inducted, and was given a five-year prison sentence, which he served until paroled.


For me, becoming a part of the Resistance meant giving up the “privilege” of my conscious objector status.  I was helped along with this by my employer, who at that same time ordered me to shave my beard and transferred me out of the “field” and into the downtown administrative offices of the USPHS.  Rebel that I was (and am), I refused on both counts and was unceremoniously fired.  Rather than finding other suitable “civilian service” work, I ignored this obligation.  Instead, I helped found and taught at the “I-Thou University of Young People” (Guinness world record for most pretentious Name of School), an alternative school in the tradition of A.S. Neill’s Summerhill.  In effect, I had gone AWOL.


Soon I received a visit from two FBI agents who wanted to know about my anti-war organizing and my non-compliance with my obligatory civilian service.  I refused to speak with them.  Several months later, in June of 1968, I was indicted by a federal grand jury for the crime of refusing to perform civilian service as a conscious objector, and I was arrested by the same two agents.  I was home one afternoon having lunch with Alex, a huge brooding sixteen year old who was living with us a foster child and attending the school.  I answered the door, and before I could swallow what was left of the baloney sandwich I was still chewing in my mouth, I was handcuffed and ushered out to a car where I was transported to the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.


This was the first time I had been arrested since I was ten years old and caught by the local police throwing rocks through the window of an abandoned house (haunted no doubt) on Halloween night in Irvington, New Jersey.  At that time I was roughly sat down in the back seat of a squad car, given a stern lecture, let go with a warning, and stumbled home shaking in my boots (I have a vague recollection that I may also have wet my pants).  This time I felt an intense vulnerability with the cuffs on, and began to imagine myself the victim of police brutality.  But the two agents were professionals, they realized that my alleged “crime” was of a political rather than a violent or anti-social nature, and on the ride downtown in their beat up and aging Plymouth (was the FBI having budget problems?) we engaged in a lively and heated argument about the moral imperative to commit civil disobedience in the face of your government committing crimes against humanity.  I got as far as having them admit that they would have resisted under Hitler (sure they would have), but Vietnam, they insisted, was not the same thing.


At the L.A. Courthouse I was given the traditional one phone call, which I used to call home, and arranged for Linda to be notified at the college so she could drive downtown and bail me out.  I had male friends who had been arrested during demonstrations who had been raped at the infamous L.A. County Jail, and I had no desire to put myself in that position.  It turned out that I was released by signing what is called a “Personal Surety Bond,” in my case in the amount of one hundred dollars.  This was the simplest and most innocuous way of being released once arrested, and I admit that I felt cheated and undervalued.  I didn’t even have to put up any money.  It just meant that if I jumped bond, I owed the government one hundred dollars (in 1973, when from Canada I plea bargained with the U.S. Attorney to be able to return to the States – this was before the general amnesty – the charges of “interstate flight to avoid prosecution” were dropped, and I pled guilty to the main charge of failing to perform civilian service and was given eighteen months probation.  But no one ever thought to dun me for the hundred bucks!).


Out on bond I had a life-changing decision to make: stand trial where conviction was assured and serve up to five years in a federal prison (plus a $5000 fine), or flee.  I was married at the time and the father of a one-year old daughter.  I did not have the courage or the strength of principle of a David Harris, who was also married with a child, and I decided, in consultation with my family, to leave the States and start a new life in a foreign haven.  I did some research, and, although we would have preferred to settle somewhere in Latin America, it seemed as if the only countries where there was absolute safety from being extradited were Sweden and Canada (Canada will not extradite to the United States a person accused of a crime that is not a crime in Canada).


Linda and I decided that we had no desire to exile ourselves as far away from home as Sweden, and Canada offered the opportunity to live in a French culture.  We opted to settle in Montreal.  I had draft counseled a student of Linda’s, Jim Falconi, who had fled to and was living in Vancouver.  I would “slip out” of the country by flying to Vancouver to stay with Jim until Linda finished the school year and could drive up with our daughter, Malika, and join me before heading east to La Belle Province (Quebec). Falconi shortly thereafter also moved to Montreal, changed his first Name to Giacamo, and we ended up managing together the Montreal Paperback Bookstore, whose owner was the eccentric Julian Wedgwood, heir to the Wedgwood china fortune (Julian once showed me an elaborate chart of his family tree, with Josiah Wedgwood, the founder of Wedgwood China at the center, and he pointed out that one of his ancestors was Charles Darwin.  I was duly impressed).  Today Giacomo Falconi, who adopted the separatist politics of Quebec, owns and operates a prosperous rare book shop in Old Montreal.


The hardest part of going into exile, of course, was going to be the leaving behind of family and friends.  For security reasons no one could know about our plans except my political group and my parents.  The discussion with my parents was heart rending.  They “understood” and did not understand at the same time.  My father was caught between his pragmatic ethic and, I believe, the knowledge that what I was doing was moral and right.  My parents have gone through all kinds of “stages” with me over the years, from my conversion to rabidly evangelical Christianity, to my student shit-disturbing (including locking horns with Clark Kerr, the illustrious President of the University of California), to my political radicalism, to the Hippie days, and to my present life in South America (my fourteen years as a community center administrator — salaried! — and city councilor in Toronto, I think were the only ones that were really easy on their souls).  They have not always agreed with me, but never once have they withdrawn their moral and emotional support.  My mother told the FBI where they could go (and it wasn’t a very nice place) when they came looking for me; and my father, who worked in the aerospace industry, was put in an awkward position by my actions.


As my father had watched my escalating radical activities – we were living in the same general area of the San Fernando Valley – I could sense a growing uneasiness on his part.  This was based entirely, I realize mostly in retrospect, on his concern for my personal safety.  But he used all the ammunition he had at his disposal to dissuade me from taking so many risks.  He argued that I could achieve more by “working within the system,” that, yes, you have to “stoop to conquer.”  I can remember some pretty heated arguments.  But, as I say, there were never threats, ultimatums, or withdrawal of friendship and emotional support.  In spite of his fears for me, I know that my father never ceased to be proud of what I was doing.  He later (while I was living in “exile” in Canada) went downtown to the federal courthouse for the Los Angeles trial of Daniel Ellsberg, the government researcher who had leaked the infamous “Pentagon Papers,” which revealed much of the government’s lies and treachery.  He introduced himself to Ellsberg and proudly told him about my having had to go into exile because of my opposition to the war.  When Vietnam era Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, published his book admitting that Vietnam was a huge mistake, my dad phoned to congratulate me “on being right all along.”


It was a typical smoggy morning in early June as my parents, accompanied by Linda and one year old Malika, drove me to the Burbank Airport where I would fly to San Francisco and connect to Vancouver.  I thought I saw FBI agents everywhere.  The farewells in Burbank were, of course, highly emotional. I thought I would never again be able to set foot on United States soil.  You can imagine how my parents must have felt as I boarded the aircraft that would take me thousands of miles away, possibly never to be able to return.


It is the only time in my life I have ever seen my father cry.







Charlie would later joke to Neil and me that his secret weapon in getting us to sleep at night when we were babies was to sing to us, because we immediately would fall asleep so as to not have to listen to his operatic interpretations.  But the fact of the matter is that Charlie actually has a pleasant tenor voice, and he did succeed in lilting both Neil and himself into dreamland that night on the studio couch in the living room at about ten o’clock.


He awoke just after midnight to the sounds of the snowstorm lashing against the windowpane just above his head.  Apart from the howl of the angry winds, the house remained in complete silence.  Anne had gone to bed who knows what time, and must be sleeping comfortably in the adjacent bedroom.  Charlie looked outside and thought to himself, “better that it not be tonight with the storm raging as it is.”  Anne was still suffering with the remnants of her flu, and although Dr. Hautman said not to worry, going out in this weather certainly was not what the doctor ordered.


Everything was set for the big moment.  The old ’34 Packard that Anne’s brother Ernie had loaned them was parked downstairs a half a block south on Jacob Street, and there was gas in the tank.  When the moment came, they would drive Neil to Charlie’s sister Molly’s to be left in her care, and phone Dr. Hautman from there since they had no phone in the house on Jacob Street. 


Charlie thought to himself, with a smile, about Dr. Hautman’s prediction of a girl.  He really didn’t care that much, as long as Anne and the baby come out of it O.K. either sex would do.  A girl would be nice, however, maybe one a little quieter than Neil, although apart from his nightly colic, Neil was really a pretty cute baby, and Charlie thought to himself I really have nothing to complain about.  He had a lovely and devoted wife, a half decent roof over his head, and the country seemed to be about to pull itself out of the depression.  Although what he earned in Morris’ grocery was barely enough to get by on, it was a job, and in those times simply having a job was everything.


But the ominous possibility of another war crept again into his thoughts and put something of a crimp into his reveries.  He already had one potential future soldier, and the thought of that cuddly dark haired toddling noise maker someday going off to kill and, what would be unthinkably horrendous, be killed himself, was not something any parent should ever have to contemplate.  Yeah, maybe a girl after all.


Charlie took a long and loving glance at Neil, who was by now deeply and safely into sleep.  He gently lifted himself up and carried the baby to the crib in their bedroom at the foot of the second hand maple wood bed that he shared with Anne.  Upon looking up he saw to his surprise that she was not asleep, but rather sitting up with her back against the headboard.  Although the room was mostly in darkness, enough light peeked through the bedroom window from the lamp-post outside so that he was able to make out the expression on his pregnant wife’s face.  What he saw left no doubt in his mind.


It was time.


With hardly a word said between them, Charlie began to dress Neil as rapidly as he could without waking him.  Although Neil fought bedtime with stubbornness that sometime drove both Charlie and Anne to despair, once he was gone he was gone.  Thank god for that.  Anne’s “overnight” case for the hospital was already packed and ready to go.  As Charlie dealt with the baby, Anne slowly got up from the bed and began to dress herself.  She hadn’t mentioned it to Charlie, but the contractions had actually begun in the mid afternoon.  Since they were sporadic and spaced widely apart, she hadn’t been sure it was the real thing, and it was right in character with her stoicism that she didn’t bother to say anything.  But now that her water had broken and the contractions were beginning for real, there was no doubt about the imminent arrival of number two.


Charlie sat with Neil in his lap, the baby fully dressed and ready to go.  Heavy woolen pants, sweater and jacket, all hand me downs from one of his sister Rose’s boys.  The tiny watch cap, scarf and mittens that Anne had knitted and the cheap rubber boots they had picked up in the second hand shop.  He watched Anne as she was in the final stages of putting on her winter clothes, and he urged her to put on a second sweater as he could see what the wind was doing outside.  He couldn’t help thinking again, for the millionth time since they were married how lucky he was.  Anne was a real beauty.  He thought of the way she looked when he first met her eight years ago.  With her hazel green eyes, her radiant skin, and her flapper hair-do she could have passed for Mary Pickford.  According to her brother Max she had had tons of “suitors,” and Charlie still couldn’t really understand why she had picked him.


They really didn’t know one another when they ran off to Maryland that New Year’s Eve of ‘33.  Charlie was so smitten that he would have driven to the moon and back if that was what it would have taken to make her his wife.  Anne was impressed with Charlie, he was the first one bright and serious enough for her to even consider marriage, and marriage for Anne was her Underground Railroad to freedom.  She could tell he was a good man, an honest and kind man.  He was Jewish but she didn’t care, and that was something for a Ukrainian girl.  She might not yet have been in love, but when he proposed, she didn’t hesitate.  She knew her father would be furious, but she never imagined it would take a full five years before his stubbornness would wear down and break the wall of silence he had built between them (William Korabiak and Charlie would eventually become great friends, and Charlie loves to tell how Bill once told him, “Charlie, you a good man, I like you; only thing, you is poor.”  Neil and Roger as children never experienced either a hint of their grandfather’s anti-Semitism or any antipathy toward their father.  Nor had they a clue about the tyrannical character of his younger days.  To them “Pop” was always a sweet white haired affectionate grandpa; and, when as adults they heard the stories about his tyranny, intolerance and philandering from their parents and aunts and uncles, it couldn’t have come as more of a surprise).


With the overnight case safely placed on the back seat of the car, Charlie went back to the flat to fetch his wife and child.  With Neil in one arm, he used the other to guide Anne gently down the steps from their second floor flat, out the front door and onto the front porch, which by now was almost completely covered with snow.  He was treating her as if she were a breakable antique which prompted her to say, “It’s O.K., Charlie, I’m all right, I won’t fall, just get me into the Packard and for god’s sake drive carefully.”


It was just before one in the morning when they got to Molly’s.  Molly and Morris were first cousins so Molly’s maiden name and married name were one in the same (if she had been Latin American where they use both parents’  surnames, she would have been called Molly Hollander Hollander).  The sad thing was that their daughter, Lorna, was born deaf, and in those days schools for the deaf did not teach American Sign Language, so that Lorna’s ability to communicate was always limited.  Morris and Molly, groggy eyed from sleep, took a minute to come alive.  Mollie fussed over Neil while Morris attempted to get Dr. Hautman on the phone.  Anne was starting to have stronger and closer contractions, and Charlie was beginning to worry that they might not get to the hospital on time. Morris finally got through to the doctor, who asked a few questions then said he would be on his way to the Presbyterian Hospital.  He was a lot closer than they were, so he would be sure to be there when they arrived.  He told Morris to tell Charlie that there was plenty of time, that he shouldn’t tarry, but that there was no need to rush.  Charlie didn’t need to be reminded that driving conditions were getting worse by the minute.  Morris volunteered to accompany them to the hospital, but Charlie said no, someone has to be rested to take care of the store tomorrow, that Morris should get some sleep.  He would call from the hospital as soon as there is news.


It would normally have been about a fifteen-minute drive from Molly’s house in the nearby suburb of Irvington to Newark Presbyterian.  In this weather it was going to be a half hour or more.  Anne sat in the front seat next to Charlie, endured the contractions with her characteristic stoicism, and on the whole was calmer than Charlie, who couldn’t refrain from asking her how she was doing every thirty seconds.  “Don’t worry, stop talking, and keep your eyes on the damn road.”


It was close to two a.m. when they entered the emergency, were interviewed by the receptionist, filled out forms, etcetera.  It was close to two thirty when Anne was finally admitted.  Charlie was nodding off as they waited in the reception area, and when they came for Anne, she was halfway down the long hallway before he realized they were taking her up to the maternity ward.  He had to run to catch up and barely got to where she was sitting in a wheel chair before the elevator arrived.  This was the last he would see of her until after the delivery.  He gave her a peck on the cheek, told her to be brave, and had a forlorn look on his face as the elevator door opened and the nurse pushed his about to deliver wife into it.  As the door shut in his face, Charlie felt moisture running down his cheek. 


He stood immobilized for a minute, then he wiped his face with his handkerchief and then went back to the emergency reception area to ask how he could find Dr. Hautman.  He was told to wait, and in a matter of a few minutes the doctor appeared with a smile on his face.  “Hi, Charlie, didn’t I see you here just two years ago?”


“It seems like yesterday,” Charlie answered, “She just went up, I guess we’ve both got a long night ahead of us.”


Hautman nodded, and they discussed the routine.  He promised Charlie he would periodically brief him on how things were going, but that if he could find a way to make himself comfortable on one of the hard waiting room chairs, he should try to get some sleep.


“You still putting your money on a girl?” Charlie asked as the doctor started away toward the elevator.


“Do we need another putz in this world?” he quipped as he strode away without looking back.


Charlie dozed on and off through the night, waking with a start whenever the doctor or a nurse nudged him to give him the news that the delivery was proceeding as it should.  “What about her cold?” he asked Dr. Hautman, who had come into the waiting room at just after seven o’clock to inform Charlie that Anne was ready and going into the delivery room. 


“It’s not a problem,” the doctor answered, “the delivery is going smoothly, and her general health is excellent.  She is a strong woman, don’t worry.  It’s going to be just fine; I’ll see you in less than a half hour.”


That half hour lasted longer than all the previous half hours put together. Did Charlie pace?  Is the Rabbi kosher?


At last Dr. Hautman strode into the waiting room with a broad grin written across his face.  He spoke before Charlie had a chance to say anything.  “You are a father again, my friend.  Everything went perfectly.  Anne and the baby are fine.  A real scrapper, over eight pounds.”


“And?” said Charlie.


“And what?” A pause.


“Oh, yeah,” said the doctor, almost as an afterthought and with a wry smile, “cannon fodder.”


The Walk of Our Word: Colombia Will Walk the Minga November 26, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Colombia, Human Rights, Latin America.
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Written by Social and Community Minga in Colombia   
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Translation of the Final Working Document from the Social and Community Minga in Colombia

The Minga LIVES, may the MINGA LIVE! We call for a Colombia of the people without owners; all the wisdom, all the pain, all the experience, all the words, all our grandmothers and our memories guide us. We are going to live because we are forever tired of the pain, death and greed of those that continue to rob us of a life of peace.


The following document is the follow-up proposal, presented in the Plaza Simón Bolívar in Bogotá on Friday, November 21, 2008, as part of the conclusion of the march and rally that brought the Social and Popular Minga to the country’s capital. This strategic proposal of ongoing work expresses the decision of many sectors to accompany the Minga in its walk, so as to convert it into the responsibility and the commitment of everybody in Colombia. This will allow the Minga to walk openly and with liberty, emerging from the people, in order to construct the country that we urgently need. 

The Word: The Challenge That We Face and That We Share

Today, November 21, 2008, the Social and Community Minga has a life of its own. But those of us who proposed it and continue to proclaim its points must share the work of raising it in its infancy, so that the Minga reaches its maturity, and begins to walk its own steps, which are the steps of each and every one of us.

With these words, we assume the simultaneous commitment, on the one hand, to protect the Minga, being a fundamental part of her, but on the other hand, to let her walk freely, so that she moves in the direction that all of us provide her. This is because she that was born here, she that wants to continue to live – that is, the Minga of the People – is much, much more than what we individually can offer her based on our own particular capacities. This is what makes us enthusiastic, but at the same time nervous. There is no simple way to carry out the Minga. This is the truth, and for us it is a tremendous challenge.

What were simply ideas, dreams and desires just a short while back are today concrete and immediate imperatives. The countless letters of solidarity, the many manifestations of support, the various interpretations of the minga, the perceived opportunities that have emerged, along with the many inherent contradictions, are now confronted by a demand for a concrete reality.

From the point of view of the Minga of the People, the hour of truth has arrived. We call on a conscientious mobilization and offer generously our capacities as a people to work to protect and promote the struggle for life and dignity in Colombia. Either we confront the established order, expose it for what it is, and resist it, or we act within that order, and thereby help consolidate it. The established social and political order will not change with the latest phase of our organizing and mobilization, which ends here today, after a long march over the past six weeks. However, this Minga of the People is meant to fundamentally change that order.

The principal challenge we face consists of us having the wisdom to share with the people the underlying sense of the Minga (that is, the five point agenda that we include here), and not sacrifice its overall purpose and fundamental objectives while we obtain some concrete gains in the process towards social transformation, towards unity and a comprehensive coordination of our peoples.

Today, from the Plaza Simón Bolívar, we proclaim and hand over the Minga to everyone in order to confront the development model that has been imposed on us by actors of greed. We take this action in order to knock down the laws that displace us from our lands, and rob us of our collective resources. We do this in order to establish resistance and solidarity as concrete mechanisms to defend us all from a state that has been hijacked, one that permanently persecutes us. We do this to make sure that the state keeps its word, one that has cost us in blood. We do this to weave a path where all of us stop being considered ‘nothing’ at the service of the very few, to convert us into creators of a society where justice, liberty and the defense of Mother Earth become realities and principles.

The Walk: The Fabric of Colombia Walking the Minga of the People

We thereby proclaim our commitment to weave for all of Colombia a cloth of unity, one for all Colombia, such that:

We call on the establishment of the CONGRESS OF THE MINGA OF THE PEOPLE, one that should be held, at the latest, on October 12, 2009.

Beginning today, we will initiate the work needed to weave unity throughout Colombia, to construct in the public conscience, and in the actions of the people, a sense of consequent solidarity with the agenda of the people. We are committed to organizing ourselves, and to carry out an ongoing debate throughout the country, in order to convert the “Program for the Country that is Necessary and Possible” into something that can be further debated and approved in the Congress of the Minga, with a concrete plan of action, what ultimately would be the result of the common efforts of weaving the dignity of the people.

The word will continue to walk, informing us all, which will allow us to reflect, make decisions and take action.

Call to Action:

1. Starting today, we will construct on the march, a public pact of social processes, people and popular organizations;

2. We propose certain parameters to guarantee that the process of the Minga remains inclusive, participatory and democratic. We call on everybody to feel a part of this open process. The minimum requirements for active participation in the Minga include the following:
a. That we commit ourselves to working tirelessly, based on the five point agenda, which were part of the Minga de los Pueblos ever since it began in September 2004. That is, to convert Colombia from a country of owners without people into a country of peoples without owners;

b. That we commit ourselves to mobilizing all the necessary resources in order to advance the Minga, and contribute to constructing proposals, build alliances and work towards supporting the process leading up to the Congress of the Minga, so that this Congress becomes a reality;

c. We assume our obligations to support the coordination of the Minga, so that it does not become only something for us – that is, it is not ours only – but that it becomes something for everybody and anybody truly committed to the process.


We call on all Colombia to:

1. Feel a part of this process, and to sign up as individuals, organizations, collectives, communities or other groups to the Social and Community Minga (for now, we offer our organizations, the ONIC, CRIC, ACIN, and the other indigenous organizations of the country, as the facilitator), such that:

a. The Minga will prepare a text, which will contain our Commitment to Act, and will make it available to all peoples, processes and social organizations in the entire country;

b. The Act will include a space that will allow participants to leave information; the collection of this necessary information will facilitate communication and coordination;

c. Organizations and groups that participate in this process will inform themselves, will reflect with one another, and will make decisions related to the long-term commitment of being a part of the Minga. Considering this, all participants will be able to sign onto the Act in the name of their respective organizations and/or groups.

d. The signed acts of commitment will be made public as an expression of recognition of your presence and participation;

e. A working group of the Minga, with representation of all participating sectors, will be charged with collecting and coordinating information during the first stages of the process, with the long-term commitment of broadening outreach in order to respond to the many specific demands of the participants in the Minga as it expands.

The coordination, in response to the Mandate of the People on the March, will be responsible for promoting the outreach effort, compile the Acts, make contact with the respective processes and/or diverse social organizations who respond to the call, and create a comprehensive map of the processes according to region and sectors. This coordination will also respond to the many challenges that might come up, always in consultation with the people based on the established criteria and with utmost transparency.

Logistical and political coordination of the Minga will continue to grow from within the process itself, according to the necessities and capacities of the participants. The Minga is basically calling on people to walk together in order to build alliances, and weave a fabric of social and popular resistance.

f. We will organize a process of planning in order to come up with a working strategy to broaden the call to action and the reach of the social fabric we are weaving.

2. With our agenda we will work with a disciplined pedagogy, with all the necessary materials and appropriate methodologies in order to reach the people and continue to weave in Minga, always looking to deepen the reach of our work and spread out to other areas. Every town, every neighborhood, every street, café, factory and home, each and every space and person will be a target of our call to action and proposal to weave in community.

a. We will create and design methodologies, content, and mechanisms of sharing, of listening and of weaving;

b. We will carry out a comprehensive process of collection of the many diverse voices of the people, in order to weave through the word of the communities;

c. The path of our march will serve as our school and our experience, so that the wisdom of the people will be converted into movement;

3. We will then synthesize the results with individual commissions focused on planning, analysis and follow-up, respecting the word of everybody because all of us will be collecting and synthesizing this information.

Mobilization and Conscience

This process requires numerous events, mobilizations, and actions of struggle and resistance that must be much more coordinated and shared amongst different sectors. This also goes for the work of constructing an agenda for debate and for practice. To weave is to walk the word. To weave is to learn to struggle in unity. To weave is to prevent the Minga from becoming exhausted, and to commit ourselves to begin the work that begins here, from now on! For this reason, in proposing this path, we respect the liberty of actions and the rhythm of our reality. The wisdom of the Minga consists of it not being a single recipe with one order, but a flexible response, a proposal that will grow depending on what we do and what may occur in the future.

Hunger, the humanitarian crisis, war and terror, the illegitimacy of the state, the struggles for our rights and liberties, the dynamics of the march of history are all a part of the Minga. We are committed to collecting all of this along the way in order to construct a country of peoples without owners. Every issue is a cause, and every cause is our cause as we march in this Minga. In order to change this reality of terror and greed, we must understand this. Our conscience will make us free to struggle. Rebellion is a right that we will exercise, without the authoritarianism of sectarianism, and without impositions.

Learning through action, this is the Minga. We must not be detoured by egoisms, nor should we drown in over-enthusiasm. Our objective is to struggle, to mobilize and to advance towards some shared goals. For now, we must join forces, resources, and capacities in order to achieve even a minimum advance in terms of convocation and action, to confront a regime and a model of which we all say “enough is enough, no more!” In our words and in our deeds, this call comes from all our struggles and pains. We work so that this demand “enough is enough” remains firm, concrete and sufficient. We will never again ask for a public audience with anybody, because we, the Minga of the People, are the country and the authority. Those who represent us must obey our demands, otherwise they should go.


For a Colombia of the people without owners, all the wisdom, all the pain, all the experience, all the words, all our grandmothers and our memories guide us. We are going to live because we are forever tired of the pain, death and greed of those that continue to rob us of a life of peace!

Santafe de Bogotá, Colombia. BAKATÁ.

Plaza de Bolívar

November 21st, 2008.