This Independence Day, Thank a Protester

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/this_independence_day_thank_a_protester_20130703/

By Amy Goodman
Jul 3, 2013

More than 160 years ago, the greatest abolitionist in U.S. history, the escaped slave Frederick Douglass, addressed the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. Douglass asked those gathered, “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” His words bear repeating this Independence Day, as the United States asserts unprecedented authority to wage war globally, to spy on everyone, everywhere. Independence Day should serve not as a blind celebration of the government, but as a moment to reflect on the central place in our history of grass-roots democracy movements, which have preserved and expanded the rights proclaimed in the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Douglass answered his question about the Fourth of July, to those gathered abolitionists: “To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”

Douglass not only denounced the hypocrisy of slavery in a democracy, but worked diligently to build the abolitionist movement. He fought for women’s suffrage as well. These were movements that have shaped the United States. The civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s set a permanent example of what can be achieved by grass-roots action, even in the face of systemic, violent repression.

Today, movements continue to shape our society. The trial of George Zimmerman, accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, would not be happening now in Florida were it not for a mass movement. Sparked by the seeming official indifference to the shooting death of yet another young, African-American male, nationwide protests erupted, leading to the appointment of a special prosecutor. A month and a half after Martin was killed, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.

Gay men and lesbians have seen sweeping changes in their legal rights, as same-sex marriage become legal in state after state, the U.S. military has dropped its official discrimination against homosexuality, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act was recently judged unconstitutional. Again, undergirding this progress are the decades of movement-building and grass-roots organizing.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/this_independence_day_thank_a_protester_20130703/

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on This Independence Day, Thank a Protester

This Land is Your Land – Woody Guthrie

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on This Land is Your Land – Woody Guthrie

James Earl Jones Reads Frederick Douglass (4th of July Speech)

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on James Earl Jones Reads Frederick Douglass (4th of July Speech)

Put Away The Flags by Howard Zinn

By Howard Zinn
July 4, 2006

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking — cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on — have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours — huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction — what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early.

When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession.”

When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: “It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day.”

On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our “Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence.” After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: “We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country.”

It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.

We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, “to civilize and Christianize” the Filipino people.

As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: “The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness.”

We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.

Yet they are victims, too, of our government’s lies.

How many times have we heard President Bush tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for “liberty,” for “democracy”?

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail in 2004 that God speaks through him.

We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

© 2010 The Progressive

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Put Away The Flags by Howard Zinn

Lady Gaga Singing the National Anthem @ the NYC Pride Rally 2013

Happy Fourth of July, Y’all!

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Lady Gaga Singing the National Anthem @ the NYC Pride Rally 2013

Pro-choice Women Should Take On Republican Govs

From The Progressive:  http://www.progressive.org/pro-choice-women-should-take-on-republican-govs

By Ruth Conniff
July 2, 2013

After losing the Presidential election in 2012 thanks to the biggest gender gap in history, Republicans are redoubling their “war on women” program in 2013.

Republican governors Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and John Kasich–all of whom have Presidential ambitions–are competing to outdo each other with mandatory ultrasound requirements, onerous new regulations that will force abortion clinics to close, and special sessions and hidden bill signings to ram these provisions through despite majority opposition in their states.

What is going on here?

Do the Republicans have a death wish?

After all, women voters–including independent and Republican women–have proven over and over that they can and will vote against Republican candidates who aggressively curtail access to abortion, birth control, and women’s health.

The arrogance of power, combined with a desire to curry favor with Republican primary voters, seems to have overcome good political sense.

Which opens the door to an exciting possibility: strong, pro-choice women candidates could give the Republican Neanderthals a run for their money.

In Texas, state senator Wendy Davis became a national star overnight when she filibustered Rick Perry’s abortion-restricting legislation. Her courageous stand kicked off massive protests in Austin, and provoked Perry into calling a special session to try to force the issue. (It also prompted him into making impolitic personal attacks.)

Now there is speculation that Davis might run for governor.

Continue reading at:  http://www.progressive.org/pro-choice-women-should-take-on-republican-govs

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Pro-choice Women Should Take On Republican Govs

Evo Morales, Bolivia President, Leaves Europe After Flight Delayed Over Snowden Suspicions

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/03/bolivia-snowden_n_3539179.html

By ANGELA CHARLTON and ANDRES GUTIERREZ
07/03/13

LAS PALMAS, Canary Islands — Bolivia’s president left Europe for home on Wednesday in a diplomatic drama after his flight was rerouted and delayed overnight in Austria, allegedly because of suspicions he was trying to spirit NSA leaker Edward Snowden to Latin America.

Bolivia accused the United States of ordering European countries to block President Evo Morales’ flight from their airspace, and accused European governments of “aggression” by thwarting the flight.

However it’s still unclear whether European countries did block the plane and, if so, why. French, Spanish and Portuguese officials all said Wednesday the plane was allowed to cross their territory.

Snowden himself remains out of public view, believed to be stuck in a Moscow airport transit area, seeking asylum from one of more than a dozen countries.

Bolivia’s president sparked speculation that he might try to help Snowden get out during a visit to Russia after he said that his country would be willing to consider granting him asylum.

The plane carrying Morales home from a Moscow summit was rerouted to Vienna on Tuesday night, adding a new twist to the international uproar over Snowden’s revelations of widespread U.S. surveillance. The plane took off again shortly before noon Wednesday after sitting overnight at the airport.

The emergency stop in Austria may have been caused by a dispute over where the plane could refuel and whether European authorities could inspect it for signs of Snowden.

Austrian officials said Morales’ plane was searched early Wednesday by Austrian border police after Morales gave permission. Bolivian and Austrian officials both say Snowden was not on board.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/03/bolivia-snowden_n_3539179.html

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Evo Morales, Bolivia President, Leaves Europe After Flight Delayed Over Snowden Suspicions