Category Archives: United States

The South and the Death Penalty

by KurtFF8

The recent execution of Troy Davis has caused many to again discuss the merits of the death penalty in the United States.  (It also sparked a mass march in New York City that was met with a heavy handed police response). According to the Daily Beast, the South has the highest execution rate in the country, as well as the highest murder rate.  On top of that, the incarceration capital of the world is a southern city: New Orleans.

These renewed debates not only bring into question broad topics like the death penalty itself, but they should also let us contextualize them in a regional sense.  We should begin asking why is the South the home to so many problems still (to throw yet another one in there: the South is “bearing the brunt” of the US’s raising poverty rate).  There are plenty of answers to the question of why the South faces these problems.  But one thing should be quite clear, it is something often repeated on this site: the South remains an important part of the country to organize progressive forces.

Amongst the many lessons we learned from the Troy Davis incident (to steal the ANSWER coalition’s article title), we should also add the lesson that the world pays attention to the South, not only to the injustices that happen there but to the folks that organize against those injustices.

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Filed under African Americans, ANSWER Coalition, Atlanta, Georgia, inmates, Leftists in the U.S. South, National Oppression, New Orleans, Prisoners, prisons, racism, Southern Identity, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, United States

America’s Right Wing: YES to Quran-burning, NO to Flag-Burning

Originally posted to Islamaphobia Today, May 14, 2011

 

 

When LSU graduate student Benjamin Haas planned to burn the U.S. flag to protest the clamping down of civil liberties and the right of due process for “students and suspected terrorists alike”, an angry mob of over 1,000 people came out to stop him.  Haas “sustained physical and verbal taunting”and in fact received numerous death threats.  Had the police not been there to protect him, Haas might have been seriously hurt.  (Haas backed down from burning the flag.)

 

Here’s a video of the despicable mob (hint: any time you see Americans wrapped in the flag chanting “USA! USA! USA!” more often than not they are war-mongers):

  Continue reading

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Filed under Anti-Imperialism, Anti-War, Education, Imperialism, Islam, Louisiana, Middle East, racism, Southern United States, Students, Uncategorized, United States

The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV

[This originally appeared on Common Dreams]

It’s become a TV ritual: Every year on April 4, as Americans commemorate Martin Luther King’s death, we get perfunctory network news reports about “the slain civil rights leader.”

The remarkable thing about these reviews of King’s life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn’t take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they’re not shown today on TV.

Why?

It’s because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without “human rights” — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.

“True compassion,” King declared, “is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

By 1967, King had also become the country’s most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was murdered — King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” (Full text/audio here. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm)

From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was “on the wrong side of a world revolution.” King questioned “our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America,” and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions “of the shirtless and barefoot people” in the Third World, instead of supporting them.

In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about “capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries.”

You haven’t heard the “Beyond Vietnam” speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 — and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” The Washington Post patronized that “King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People’s Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble “a multiracial army of the poor” that would descend on Washington — engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be — until Congress enacted a poor people’s bill of rights. Reader’s Digest warned of an “insurrection.”

King’s economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America’s cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its “hostility to the poor” — appropriating “military funds with alacrity and generosity,” but providing “poverty funds with miserliness.”

How familiar that sounds today, nearly 40 years after King’s efforts on behalf of the poor people’s mobilization were cut short by an assassin’s bullet.

In 2007, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House and most in Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. They fund foreign wars with “alacrity and generosity,” while being miserly in dispensing funds for education and healthcare and environmental cleanup.

And those priorities are largely unquestioned by mainstream media. No surprise that they tell us so little about the last years of Martin Luther King’s life.

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Filed under African Americans, class struggle, Human Rights, Imperialism, labor movement, Leftists in the U.S. South, Race, Southern Identity, Southern Strategy, United States

Workers and Students in North Carolina, Virginia and Throughout the South: Follow the Lead of Wisconsin Workers and Students!

Posted by hastenawait, taken from Fight Back! News

Analysis by Saladin Muhammad |
February 17, 2011
Read more articles in

Resistance in the U.S. to attacks on the public sector is growing.  Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is unleashing a major assault, seeking to take away collective bargaining rights from state and possibly all public sector workers, including threatening to call out the National Guard against worker resistance.

The labor movement and the students are fighting back.  Labor, including public and private sector unions held a rally in Madison at the State Capital, turning out 30,000 people, demanding that the Governor’s bill be defeated.

High school students throughout Wisconsin walked out of their schools to protest against this attack, which also affects their teachers and education. The Madison School Superintendent was forced to close the schools on Tuesday after 40 percent out of 2,600 members of the teachers union called in sick. The students see their actions as part of the growing struggles for people’s democracy that took center stage by the mass actions of the youth and workers in Tunisia and Egypt.  

The U.S. South is been a bastion of right-to-work laws, denying public sector workers the right to collective bargaining.  Dr. Martin L. Kings lost his life supporting the struggle of the Memphis, Tennessee sanitation workers who were fighting for this right, which he saw as a next phase of the Civil Rights struggle.

North Carolina and Virginia have specific laws making it illegal for workers and state and local governments to bargain for union contracts. Most of these laws were enacted during the period of Jim Crow, when Blacks were denied the right to vote and had no representatives in Southern state legislatures. When the state and local governments deny their own workers this basic right, it sends a message to all workers in the region, that the governments are hostile to unions.  

The lack of a concerted movement to organize public sector workers throughout the South based on a program that includes winning collective bargaining rights, has been a major factor weakening the few efforts to organize unions in the South.  

The major restructuring of the core industries of the U.S. economy over the past 30 years, resulted in shifting more than 1/3 of the auto industry and other formerly unionized manufacturing to the South. There are more union members in the state of New York, than in all of the 11 Southern states combined.

The largely un-unionized South has undermined labor’s strength as a national movement.  Organizing labor in the South must be addressed, if the U.S. labor movement is to survive and be a powerful force for workers in the U.S. and global economy.  

The economic crisis is increasing the competition between the states for industries and investments, in their efforts at economic recovery.  The unionized states outside of the South, in their efforts to shift more public resources to private corporations through privatizations, tax breaks and major incentives, are sharpening their attacks on public sector unions to compete with the Southern states and low wage labor internationally. Attempts to roll back collective bargaining are now occurring in Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota, as well as Wisconsin. Right to work bills are pending in about a dozen Northern states. Public service jobs, wages and benefits are under attack just about everywhere.

National resistance to the attacks on public sector, must therefore link the struggles against attacks to eliminate existing public sector rights to collective bargaining, with the struggles of public sector workers concentrated in the South, who are denied this right.

The NC Public Service Workers Union UE-Local 150 has been in the forefront of the movement to repeal the ban on collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in North Carolina. Through its International Worker Justice Campaign, it has won a ruling from the International Labor Organization finding the U.S. and North Carolina out of compliance with international laws.

In addition to fighting for collective bargaining rights, UE150 is initiating campaigns for legislative and local government workers bill of rights, pressing to make the terms and conditions of public sector workers a part of the political agendas.

Public sector workers and unions throughout the South must form a Southern Alliance for Collective Bargaining Rights, to launch a region-wide movement.  The South must become a strategic battleground for the U.S. and international labor movement, demanding that the U.S. and the South comply with international human rights standards.

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Filed under class struggle, Human Rights, labor movement, labor unions, Middle East, North Carolina, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, United States, Virginia, workers

North Carolina – Regional Organizing Conference

This was passed along to us by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. Follow this link to register for the conference. – hastenawait

Published on Thu, 2011-01-27 15:08
Date: 

Sat, 2011-02-19 10:00 – 17:00

Location: 
UNC School of Law 160 Ridge Rd Room 5052

Chapel Hill, NC United States

See map: Google Maps

Southern regional organizing conference of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression.

The conference will be held Saturday Feb. 19 at the UNC Law School in Chapel Hill, NC, from 10:00AM to 5:00pm. Please register now.

You can make an online donation to support the conference – please put “FBI Conference” in the “designation” section of the donate form.

Directions and parking information are available on the UNC School of Law website.

Agenda

9:30am – 10:00am Registration

10am – 10:10am Opening remarks from conference organizers

10:10am – 10:30am Subpoenaed activists Meredith Aby and Steff Yorek give overview of case

10:30am – 10:45am Call for donations to the legal support fund

11:00am – 12:15pm Panel

History of FBI and Political Repression Against People’s Movements.

  • Moderated by Elena Everett from Raleigh FIST.
  • Lewis Pitts; Raleigh NC.
  • Efia Nwangaza, US Human Rights Network; Atlanta GA.
  • Theresa El-Amin, Southern Anti Racism Network; Columbus GA
  • Dianne Mathiowetz, International Action Center, Atlanta GA.

12:15 – 1:15pm Lunch

1:15pm – 2:45pm Panel

Grand Juries, Material Support of Terrorism, the Legal and Political Context of the September 24 Raids

  • Peter Gilbert, National Lawyers Guild; Durham NC.
  • Representative of In the Name of Humanity; Rocky Mount NC.
  • Khalilah Sabra, MAS Freedom; Raleigh NC.
  • Maureen Murphy, Palestine Solidarity Group; Chicago IL.
  • Steff Yorek, Freedom Road Socialist Organization; Minneapolis MN.
  • Jennifer Rudinger, ACLU; Durham NC.

2:45pm – 3:00pm Break

3:00pm – 3:45pm Organizing reports from around the South

3:45pm – 4:30pm Discussion of upcoming actions and protests

4:30pm – 5:00pm Summing up the conference

Sponsors of this conference include

  • ACLU of North Carolina
  • Asheville Committee to Stop FBI Repression
  • Atlanta International Action Center
  • Balance & Accuracy in Journalism (BAJ)
  • Blackwater Watch
  • Durham Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Durham County Libertarian Party
  • Freedom Road Socialist Organization
  • Freedom Road Socialist Organization/OSCL
  • Green Party of the US
  • Internationalist Books
  • Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD-USA)
  • Jews for a Just Peace
  • Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
  • National Lawyers Guild at UNC Chapel Hill
  • NC Stop Torture Now
  • North Carolina Peace Action
  • Orange County Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Orange County Peace Coalition
  • Peace and Justice Committee, Community Church of Chapel Hill UU
  • Raleigh F.I.S.T.
  • Raleigh Fruitcakes
  • SDS – Asheville
  • SDS – Tuscaloosa
  • SDS – UNC Chapel Hill
  • Southern Anti-Racism Network
  • Triangle Committee to Stop FBI Repression
  • UE Local 150
  • US Human Rights Network
  • Veterans for Peace, Eisenhower Chapter
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom–Triangle Branch

Registration

  • Conference is free and open to the public, but we are asking for $5-20 sliding scale donation to help cover costs.
  • Lunch is $5, no one will be turned away.
  • Need childcare? Let us know the number of kids and their ages.
  • Need housing? Contact housing coordinator ncstopfbi@gmail.com

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Filed under Event Announcement, North Carolina, other announcements, Uncategorized, United States, Upcoming Events

Rally for the Brave People of Egypt, New Orleans, Louisiana

By hastenawait

Signs from yesterday's rally

Hundreds took to the streets of New Orleans yesterday to march in solidarity with the revolutionary peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. A rally was held in front of the steps of the federal building before protesters began winding down the streets of downtown New Orleans.

 Protesters not only challenged dictatorships in other parts of the world and U.S. imperialism – many made the connection between the inspiring struggles going on elswhere and what is happening here in Louisiana, the South and the United States. The signs which read, “New Orleans, walk like an Egyptian,” and “Egypt -1; Tunisia – 1; New Orleans, ?” distilled this popular sentiment. Among others, chants of, “One solution: Revolution!” could be heard echoing through the streets of of the Crescent City.

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Filed under Anti-Imperialism, class struggle, Gulf States, Human Rights, Imperialism, Louisiana, Solidarity, Southern United States, Uncategorized, United States

DNC and RNC to be held in the South

by KurtFF8

Recently it was announced that the Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina.  This means that both the DNC and the Republican National Convention (RNC) will both be held in the Southern United States (with the RNC being held in Tampa, Florida).  The importance of the region is clearly highlighted with both major political parties holding their conventions in North Carolina and Florida respectively.

The interesting thing about this, for the “radical Left,” however will be to see how grassroots organizing against these conventions will take shape.  Over the past decade or so, Leftists have organized large demonstrations at both conventions, and while many who attend come from out of town, the majority of organizing is done by grassroots organizations.  What could be demonstrated by that kind of organizing is a show of progressive Southern politics that runs counter to the idea of Southern passivity or conservatism.  This is what could make these conventions important, not the plans of the two parties of capital.

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Filed under Corporations, Florida, Leftists in the U.S. South, North Carolina, other announcements, Southern Identity, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, The Left, United States