Category Archives: Solidarity

George Galloway prevented from Entering U.S., addresses Louisianians via Skype

 
 
 

By hastenawait, December 14, 2010

 

The Muslim Legal Fund of America is a non-profit organization which has existed since 2001. It supports legal cases across the country which impact civil rights, freedoms, liberties and principles of justice in America, particularly where Muslims are concerned. The organization focuses on important cases which affect the Muslim community and public policy. Their decisions about which cases to take up, therefore, are strategic.

Last night the MLFA hosted a benefit dinner in Kenner, Louisiana . Kenner is a smaller city that borders New Orleans. The benefit was intended to raise funds for the organization’s work and to raise awareness about ongoing injustices facing Muslims in the United States. Around 100 people attended, with the majority being Louisiana Muslim community members. A handful of non-Muslims were there as well.

Speakers included Adulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born New Orleans businessman who has achieved a degree of fame because he rode out hurricane Katrina and then went around rescuing people in his canoe. For his good work he was arrested, labeled a terrorist and imprisoned for 23 days.

The daughter of Shukri Abu Baker also spoke. Baker was the president of the Holy Land Foundation, which was the largest Muslim charity in the United States. In the aftermath of September 11, the Bush regime charged the organization with supporting Hamas in Palestine. The organization was subsequently shut down and Baker is now serving a 65-year prison sentence, essentially for providing charitable aid to victims of the ongoing genocide in Palestine. All of the speakers gave powerful and moving presentations.

The keynote speaker was former U.K.-parliamentarian and long-time activist, George Galloway. Galloway is known for his activist work in support of Palestine. He is a founding member of a charitable organization called Viva Palestina, whose mission is to break the blockade of the Gaza strip by bringing badly-needed aid. For these activities, he was denied entry into Canada from March of 2009 until October 2010. He has not, however, been officially blocked from entering the United States.

You can imagine the surprise of the audience last night when it was announced that Galloway would not be speaking with them in person, as he had been denied entry into the United States over the weekend. He was supposed to be traveling the country for a multi-city speaking tour, but was told by airline officials that he would not be able to enter the U.S. because there were problems with his visa.

Undeterred, Galloway instead addressed the crowd in Kenner via the computer program Skype. A laptop was hooked up to a projector, and a live video could be seen on two large screens in a convention room of the Crown Plaza hotel, where the event was held. During his talk Galloway stated that it is not clear whether his being denied entry was the result of a technical or bureaucratic glitch, or whether it was a political measure carried out in secrecy. He explained that efforts were made to resolve the situation throughout the weekend, but that nothing came of it.

 
 
 

Galloway addressing audience in Kenner, Louisiana

 

The main body of his talk concerned human rights violations carried out by the U.S. government against Muslims worldwide, and particularly the grave humanitarian situation in Palestine, which has resulted from Israeli-U.S. imperialist settler policies.

Because his being denied entry to the U.S. may be an instance of political repression (and we know that this is not unlikely) he reiterated his resolve to not be silenced. He said boldly : “Nothing will stop me. Not the government of what they call Israel; not the government of Canada or the U.S.” He continued: “I cannot be silenced…I hope the U.S. government understands that. We live in the age of Skype, YouTube and Facebook. There will always be a way for me to speak.”

He went on to describe his speaking visit to New Orleans last year. He said that New Orleans is a city which he loves deeply, and that he has every intention of visiting it again, and speaking to New Orleanians again. He vowed that he would fight to get back into the United States and that this event would be rescheduled.

When speaking about the Muslims, solidarity activists and charitable workers who have been the target of political repression in the United States since 9/11, he argued: “Anyone of you as I look around this hall could be the next one to hear the knock on the door, to be unjustly accused…even because you’re doing charitable work for a country that has been wiped off the map.” He was referring to Palestine.

Galloway’s provocative statement that he “cannot be silenced” because “we live in the age of Skype, YouTube and Facebook” is particularly pertinent at this time. People have been talking about the political implications of the digital revolution since it began, just as people in other eras discussed the political implications of other media and technological shifts. But in the wake of the WikiLeaks revelations and other events this year (such as FBI raids on anti-war activists) the contradictions implicit in this social revolution are perhaps clearer than ever – and they are certainly heightened. These contradictions are increasingly characterizing the contemporary world, and, broadly speaking, they boil down to this: the new digital media open up the way for new democratic transformations and unprecedented levels of openness in public institutions on the one hand; on the other, they open up possibilities for frightening forms of surveillance, opacity and authoritarianism. A resume of U.S. government activities since the Bush administration should leave no doubt about the latter tendency.

At one level these contradictions are overdetermined by another prevailing social contradiction which is inherent to capitalism, and that is the contradiction between massively-socialized production and economic life generally, on the one hand, and private ownership on the other. (The struggles over intellectual property, file sharing etc. all take place within the trajectory of this contradiction.) At its base, this contradiction is about who has power in society and who does not.

It is increasingly clear that the new digital technologies make governments, corporations and other powerful entities newly powerful but at the same time newly vulnerable (just look at the attacks on the websites of Visa and MasterCard by “hacktivists” following the latest round of leaks by WikiLeaks). The same is true of the people who are resisting the powerful. For example, these technologies make it easier for governments to spy on activists, but they also provide the means of organization for those activists. It should be noted, in regard to the 2010 FBI raids on anti-war activists, that because of social networking sites like Facebook, an organized response was beginning the very day that the raids were taking place. Within hours there were videos on YouTube. Press conferences, demonstrations and the like were all in the works.

Galloway’s appearance via Skype last night highlights the liberatory dimension opened up by these technologies. Whether the U.S. government is in fact preventing him from entering the country, or whether there was a technical glitch does not change this. The fact is that his lack of physical presence did not prevent him from addressing Louisiana community members. He was not prevented from speaking.

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Filed under Anti-Imperialism, Anti-War, Censorship, Digital Media, Human Rights, Imperialism, Islam, Leftist media, Middle East, National Oppression, New Orleans, Palestine, Race, Solidarity, Southern United States, Technology, The Left, Theory, Uncategorized, United States, Wikileaks

Wikileaks Rally at CNN Center (Atlanta, Georgia)

Time: Wednesday, December 15 · 5:00pm – 6:30pm

Location: CNN Center, corner of Centennial Olympic Park Dr. and Marietta St. , ATL, GA

Defend Julian Assange and the right to dissent! Information about global, imperialist, governmental corruption has been disclosed from diplomatic cables leaked to the public by WikiLeaks. This information brings new light to the war abroad, and at home. On September 24th, the homes of seven activists and an anti-war office were simultaneously raided by the FBI. In total, fourteen activists from Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan …have been handed subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury. These activists and many others came together to organize the 2008 anti-war marches during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

These are attacks on dissent in general, and free speech in particular and it is our duty to respond!

We will be meeting at the corner of Centennial and Marietta St. in front of the CNN center.

At 5:30, there will be a public reading of selected WikiLeaks cables.

Let’s show em who’s boss (we are). Be there!

EL PUEBLO UNIDO JAMAS SERA VENCIDO.
THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED.

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Filed under Event Announcement, Georgia, Gulf States, Human Rights, Imperialism, other announcements, Solidarity, Southern United States, Technology, Uncategorized, United States, Upcoming Events, Wikileaks

GA Prisoner Strike Continues a Second Day, Corporate Media Mostly Ignores Them, Corrections Officials Decline Comment

[Originally posted to blackagendareport.com, Saturday, September 11, 2010]

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The peaceful strike begun by inmates of several Georgia state prisons continued for a second day on Friday, according to family members of some of the participants. Copyrighted news stories by AP, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and local TV stations in Macon and Atlanta quote state corrections who say several institutions were placed on lockdown beginning Thursday in anticipation of the inmate protest, on the initiative of wardens of those prisons.

GA Prisoner Strike Continues a Second Day, Corporate Media Mostly Ignores Them, Corrections Officials Decline Comment

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Offices of the wardens at Hay’s, Macon State, Telfair, and Augusta state all referred our inquiries to the Department of Corrections public affairs officer, who so far has declined to return our repeated calls.

The prisoner strike in Georgia is unique, sources among inmates and their families say, because it includes not just black prisoners, but Latinos and whites too, a departure from the usual sharp racial divisions that exist behind prison walls. Inmate families and other sources claim that when thousands of prisoners remained in their cells Thursday, authorities responded with violence and intimidation. Tactical officers rampaged through Telfair State Prison destroying inmate personal effects and severely beating at least six prisoners. Inmates in Macon State Prison say authorities cut the prisoners’ hot water, and at Telfair the administration shut off heat Thursday when daytime temperatures were in the 30s. Prisoners responded by screening their cells with blankets, keeping prison authorities from performing an accurate count, a crucial aspect of prison operations.

As of Friday, inmates at several prisons say they are committed to continuing the strike. “We are going to ride it,” the inmate press release quotes one, “till the wheels fall off. We want our human rights.”

The peaceful inmate strike is being led from within the prison. Some of those thought to be its leaders have been placed under close confinement.

The nine specific demands made by Georgia’s striking prisoners in two press releases pointedly reflect many of the systemic failures of the U.S. regime of mass incarceration, and the utter disconnection of U.S. prisons from any notions of protecting or serving the public interest. Prisoners are demanding, in their own words, decent living conditions, adequate medical care and nutrition, educational and self-improvement opportunities, just parole decisions, just parole decisions, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and better access to their families.

It’s a fact that Georgia prisons skimp on medical care and nutrition behind the walls, and that in Georgia’s prisons recreational facilities are non-existent, and there are no educational programs available beyond GED, with the exception of a single program that trains inmates to be Baptist ministers. Inmates know that upon their release they will have no more education than they did when they went in, and will be legally excluded from Pell Grants and most kinds of educational assistance, they and their families potentially locked into a disadvantaged economic status for life.

Despite the single biggest predictor of successful reintegration into society being sustained contact with family and community, Georgia’s prison

authorities make visits and family contact needlessly difficult and expensive. Georgia no longer allows families to send funds via US postal money orders to inmates. It requires families to send money through J-Pay, a private company that rakes off nearly ten percent of all transfers. Telephone conversations between Georgia prisoners and their families are also a profit centers for another prison contractor, Global Tel-Link which extracts about $55 a month for a weekly 15 minute phone call from cash-strapped families. It’s hard to imagine why the state cannot operate reliable payment and phone systems for inmates and their families with public employees at lower cost, except that this would put contractors, who probably make hefty contributions to local politicians out of business.

Besides being big business, prisons are public policy. The U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, but accounts for almost a quarter of its prisoners. African Americans are one eighth this nation’s population, but make up almost half the locked down. The nation’s prison population increased more than 450% in a generation beginning about 1981. It wasn’t about crime rates, because those went up, and then back down. It wasn’t about rates of drug use, since African Americans have the same rates of drug use as whites and Latinos. Since the 1980s, the nation has undertaken a well-documented policy of mass incarceration, focused primarily though not exclusively on African Americans. The good news is that public policies are ultimately the responsibility of the public to alter, to change or do do away with. America’s policy of mass incarceration is overdue for real and sustained public scrutiny. A movement has to be built on both sides of the walls that will demand an end to the prison industry and to the American policy of mass incarceration. That movement will have to be outside the Republican and Democratic parties. Both are responsible for building this system, and both rely on it to sustain their careers. The best Democrats could do on the 100 to 1 crack to powder cocaine disparity this year, with a black president in the White House and thumping majorities in the House and Senate was to reduce it to 18 to 1, and then only by lengthening the sentences for powder cocaine. On this issue, Democrats and Republicans are part of the problem, not the solution.

As this article goes to print Saturday morning, it’s not known whether the strike will continue a third day. With prison officials not talking, and corporate media ignoring prisoners not just this week but every day, outlets like Black Agenda Report and the web site upon which you’re reading this are among the chief means inmates and their families have of communicating with the public. The prisoners are asking the public to continue to call the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the individual prisons listed below to express concern for the welfare of the prisoners.

Prison is about corruption, power and isolation. You can help break the isolation by calling the wardens’ offices at the following prisons. Prisons, naturally , are open Saturdays and Sundays too.

Macon State Prison is 478-472-3900.   Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400
Telfair State prison is 229-868-7721 Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218
Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900 Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000
The Georgia Department of Corrections is at http://www.dcor.state.ga.us and their phone number is 478-992-5246

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Filed under African Americans, class struggle, Georgia, Gulf States, Human Rights, National Oppression, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoners, prisons, Race, Solidarity, Southern United States, strike, Uncategorized, United States

FLOODLINES: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six

[From the author, Jordan Flaherty]

 

Dear Friends,

I wanted to let you know that from now through January 1, you can order Floodlines online from Haymarket Books and get 40% off the cover price, and free shipping for orders over $25.

The link to order online is here:http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/Floodlines-Community-and-Resistance-from-Katrina-to-the-Jena-Six

Below are some reviews of the book:

As the floodwaters rose in New Orleans, Jordan Flaherty began to write, rescuing precious truths about the reality of racism and solidarity in his city that risked being washed away in the tide of formulaic corporate journalism. I can think of no journalist that writes with deeper knowledge or more love about this highly contested part of the United States. With a new flood threatening life on the Gulf Coast – this time made of oil, not water, but powered, as always, by greed and neglect – these remarkable stories of injustice and resistance must be heard.– Naomi Klein, author “The Shock Doctrine”

This is the most important book I’ve read about Katrina and what came after. In the tradition of Howard Zinn this could be called “The People’s History of the Storm.” Jordan Flaherty was there on the front lines. He compellingly documents the racism, poverty, and neglect at the core of this national failure and the brave, generous, grassroots revolutionaries who saved and continue to save a city and a people. It is my favorite kind of book – great storytelling, accurate accounting, a call for engagement and change.-Eve Ensler, playwright, The Vagina Monologues, activist and founder of V-Day

Jordan Flaherty is one of the best and most courageous writers in America today. Beyond his obvious writing skills, what I admire most about Jordan is his dedication to truth-telling, to bringing the real and whole America to the American people. At a time in our nation when there is so much distortion of current events and history, Jordan Flaherty represents the core of who we truly are. And what we are capable of being as citizens of this ever-changing world.-Kevin Powell, Author of Open Letters to America

Jordan Flaherty is an independent journalist for the Hip-Hop generation. As a white anti-imperialist who is committed to social and racial justice, Jordan brings out the voices of the victims and survivors of Hurricane Katrina and the levee breach in New Orleans. This book not only speaks truth to power but is a rallying cry for all of us to take action. With this definitive work, the voices of the grassroots, the communities resisting displacement, finally have a voice.– Rosa Clemente, 2008 Green Party VP Candidate, Hip Hop Activist and Journalist

Jordan Flaherty’s Floodlines takes us back into the path of the storm, evoking the almost unfathomable racism and hatred of the poor that the levee breach exposed, and exposing the continuing complicity with white supremacy of both state and nonprofit recovery efforts and of the white Left. His is an unrelenting narrative that manages to chronicle the multiple system failures after the storm yet uplift by passionately detailing the spirit and history of organizing by grassroots New Orleanians in the years since the storm. With millions of gallons of oil pumping into the ecosystem from the Gulf of Mexico, all of our lives could depend on the knowledge Flaherty’s friends and comrades wrestle from their history.- Mab Segrest, Author, “Memoir of a Race Traitor.”

The usual Katrina narrative tracks government incompetence during the emergency phase and and corporate greed — or inertia — in its aftermath. Jordan Flaherty tells a less well known story, centered on the boisterous infrastructure of left-leaning community groups and non-profits that were fired up by disaster and still struggle to shape New Orleans’ recovery. Flaherty is part of that movement. His vantage brings hands-on intimacy to this chronicle and poignancy to his conclusions.-Jed Horne, author, “Breach of Faith, Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City.”

Here’s the missing news from the Crescent City: folks are fighting back. Indeed, as Flaherty reminds us in this remarkable and noble book, the very soul of New Orleans is struggle. As southern Louisiana again faces a man-made catastrophe, his portraits of activism and hope could not be more timely.Mike Davis, Author, “Planet of Slums”

Jordan describes reality from the ground up. You’ve heard of the eagle’s eye view: this is the earthworm’s. Jordan knows who actually turns over the earth, and he follows them, even when most look away. His book brings us the good news of who’s working for change (and how) but also the reality about the price those people pay for our indifference.-Laura Flanders, Host, Grit TV, Author, “Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians”

Jordan Flaherty is a journalist who causes revolution with the printed word. This book is a testament to the power of the pen when its in the hand of a freedom fighter and a global thinker. While others are just writing these stories, Jordan Flaherty is living them.- Jesse Muhammad, Final Call Newspaper

Jordan Flaherty’s first calling is as a dedicated community organizer, but he’s also a top-rate investigative journalist. The oppressed communities of New Orleans and larger Louisiana are fortunate to have this talented and compassionate reporter in their midst. This book is invaluable to the United States’ social justice movement that relies on his expertise, honesty, and truth.-Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Author, “Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War”

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Filed under Hurricanes, Louisiana, New Orleans, other announcements, Race, Solidarity, Southern United States, The Left, Uncategorized, United States, workers

George Galloway to visit New Orleans

 

George Galloway is a British politician, author, broadcaster and former Member of Parliament. He is the founder of the Respect Party and is a peace advocate. He is most known for his outspoken views on Palestinian rights. Mr. Galloway is an avid supporter of MLFA and is coming to speak about important issues affecting you. Don’t miss this opportunity to listen to a world-renowned activist speak about his experiences on the front lines of the fight for peace, liberty and equal justice for all.

Monday, Dec. 13, 2010, at 6:00 PM

Crowne Plaza
New Orleans Airport
Salons 1-4
2829 Williams Blvd. 
Kenner, LA 70062

The Muslim Legal Fund of America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that supports legal cases across the country which impact civil rights, freedoms, liberties and principles of justice in America. MLFA is comprised of staff, volunteers and supporters from all walks of life who have one thing in common: the belief that treating people unfairly because of their religious beliefs undermines the core values that make America great.

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Filed under Event Announcement, Gulf States, Human Rights, immigration, Imperialism, Islam, Louisiana, Middle East, National Oppression, other announcements, Palestine, Solidarity, Southern United States, The Left, Uncategorized, United States, Upcoming Events

The Mountains Tremble: A Reportback from the Revolution in Nepal

Friday, November 12 · 1:00pm – 2:30pm

Southeastern Louisiana University Student Union (room 223)

N. Oak Street

Hammond, Louisiana

 

Nepal is a small land-locked country where communist revolution is changing everything. People are rising up against kings, castes and imperialism. Women are rising to lead. The revolution is related to the revolution unfolding in India.

In the first half of 2010, two revolutionary journalists, Eric Ribellarsi and Jed Brandt of the Kasama Project traveled to Nepal to report on these events. Their presentation will tell the story of this revolution, the current situation in Nepal, and feature video and photography from their journey.

Presented by the Southeastern Sociological Association (SSA) and the National Organization for Change (NOC) at Southeastern Louisiana University (SELU).

Click here for the flyer.

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Filed under class struggle, Communism, Event Announcement, Louisiana, Maoism, Nepal, Revolution, Solidarity, Southern United States, The Left, Uncategorized, United States, Upcoming Events

The Mosque Controversy and Tolerance

By KurtFF8

I originally posted this on an Alternet Blog I created the other day:

There has been quite a bit of controversy over the proposed community center/mosque that is “right by ground zero” in the media lately, it’s gotten to the point where after Barack Obama decided to come out and defend the right to build a Mosque in the location, the White House had to come out and defend the fact that Obama is a Christian and prays daily.  The White House continues to be on the defensive against the far-right of America (their apparent favorite group to try to appease).  Although the far-right is gaining steam with more and more conspiracy theories introduced to the main stream by folks like Beck (a recent poll suggests that 46% of the GOP thinks that Obama is a Muslim)

So this controversy has made it “to the top” and has turned from a local issue for one city to a national debate.  However, the framework of this debate is a sad site to see.  Top Democrats (Howard Dean, Reid, etc.) have come out in opposition to this community center in an apparent attempt to continue the Democrats turn to the right.  Even those Democrats like Pelosi and Obama who have supported the right for it to be built, have also made it clear that they don’t want to comment “on whether they support it being built or not specifically” but just that they support “the right” for it to be built (this emphasis is theirs).

Those who have come out to support it, do so for reasons that are just as ideologically loaded as the bigots who want “no more mosques” in America.  The common line is that we should be preaching “tolerance” in the US.  We want to demonstrate that “we’re better” than intolerant nations like Saudi Arabia, goes the line of the tolerance promoters (which to me reeks of American Exceptionalism).  But is promoting tolerance problematic?

Absolutely.  The idea that we should just “tolerate” groups like Muslim-Americans or “Illegal Immigrants” contains in it the idea that there is something uneasy about these groups, yet we are going to “put up with” them to achieve a moral high ground.  Such idealism doesn’t come from a genuine attempt to help to change the status of the most marginalized of this society to become less marginalized, but instead is the notion that we should treat “the Other” well.  This doesn’t challenge their position in society in the least.  This “anti-tolerance” stance, of course, comes mainly from the Slovenian philosopher (and intellectual “rock star”) Slajov Zizek, who has written extensively on the problems of “liberal tolerance.”

Perhaps we should try to promote tolerance to those who are the most “intolerant” in society: the far-right.  Their intolerance is obviously quite problematic: based on xenophobia, bigotry, etc.  But does that mean that we want to promote the idea of “we should tolerate the ‘Other’ groups of society” in general?

This kind of logic leads to comments like Howard Dean’s on Muslim Americans:

There’s a growing number of American Muslims. I think most of those Muslims are moderate. I hope that they’ll have an influence on Islam throughout the world, because Islam is really back in the twelfth century in some of these countries, like Iran and Afghanistan, where they’re stoning people to death.

This is based on the idea that “we can promote an Islam that fits American culture throughout the world” which is just as imperialistic as the overt hawks who are trying to promote war in places like Iran.

Instead of preaching the idea that we should tolerate groups that are considered by some to not be “mainstream,” perhaps we should be building real solidarity with the most marginalized of society.  After all, those are the groups that need to be on board to build a real alternative to the insane system we currently live under.

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