Support research, reporting, and analysis. Contribute $10 or more and receive an essay on the historical roots of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

em·pire

ˈemˌpī(ə)r/

Noun

an extensive operation or sphere of activity controlled by one person or group

The largest empire today has amassed more foreign military bases than any other in world history, spends more seeking hegemonic domination than the rest of the world combined, and has overthrown or attempted to overthrow some 60 governments, most of which were elected by their populations.

Support research, reporting, and analysis. Contribute $10 or more and receive an essay on the historical roots of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

em·pire

ˈemˌpī(ə)r/

noun

an extensive operation or sphere of activity controlled by one person or group

The largest empire today has amassed more foreign military bases than any other in world history, spends more seeking hegemonic domination than the rest of the world combined, and has overthrown or attempted to overthrow some 60 governments, most of which were elected by their populations. - See more at: http://www.empireslayer.org/2016/01/second-most-biased-source-possible.html#sthash.Jn1BsTr6.dpuf

Friday, July 8, 2016

UN: Root of US Police Terror is ‘Lack of Accountability for Perpetrators’


Philando Castile, shot to death this week by a police officer.

US police kill approximately 1,000 people per year according to Federal statistics, disproportionately targeting African and Native Americans and other minority groups.  The UN expert panel on people of African descent observed this week that these killings “demonstrate a high level of structural and institutional racism. The United States is far from recognizing the same rights for all its citizens.”

The two men widely known to have been killed this week by police were both armed, though particularly in the case of Philando Castile, it is largely felt that choosing to shoot the men multiple times in the sternum from a distance of approximately three feet or less went beyond what an objective, reasonable person’s reaction would have been.

However, many have noted that US history and current culture leads the US public in general, including police officers, to be less than objective in dealing with African Americans and other minority groups.*  One way of addressing this issue has been to implement measures to improve various kinds of police training and monitoring, but the UN expert panel noted that “existing measures to address racist crimes motivated by prejudice are insufficient and have failed to stop the killings.”  Indeed, so far this year, US state forces have killed nearly 600 of their own people, largely targeting minorities.


The problem now, says the UN group, “lies in the lack of accountability for perpetrators of such killings despite overwhelming evidence against them, including video footage of the crime, being present.”

Thus the next step to decreasing police terror, the panel suggests, is for the US state apparatus to increase the consequences officers face; to begin taking clear, fair, publicly visible accountability measures for officers who cross the line from protecting and serving into murdering and terrorizing.

Since, as the UN notes, this has not yet occurred, some in the US, both in popular culture and academia, have argued that there may be times when the public must apply consequences for police terror that go beyond peaceful protest.

Rapper The Game wrote in response to the killings by police this week:

What happened to the generation of people who stood together, held hands and took to the streets peacefully or violently if it had to come to that…?  … We ain’t havin this shit no more!!!

In a recent lecture, attorney and history professor Gerald Horne was asked this question by a member of the audience:

Given that you argue in your book, Confronting Black Jacobins, that the Haitian revolution, which was decidedly a violent insurrection, precipitated the abolition of slavery in the United States, what is your opinion of violence as protest, and a vehicle for change in today’s political climate? For example, the riots that resulted from the murder of Freddie Gray, or uprisings in response to mass incarceration?

Horne’s response:


Professor Gerald Horne, JD, PhD

I find myself in strange agreement with US secretary of state John Kerry, who, during his visit to Hiroshima, the site of the first and hopefully only use of atomic weapons, was compelled to say that he saw war as the last resort that should be arrived at.  He did not exclude war altogether, just that it should be the last resort arrived at. And I would say something similar with regard to that very probing question that was just posed. That is to say that I don’t think, given the correlation of forces in North America, with many of our folks not being armed, only armed with strong lungs to yell in protest, and given the militarized nature of the police and the militarized nature of these police guards, who, by the way, in places like California and New York have very strong unions who make political contributions to politicians and therefore help to entrench their power even further, given the correlation of military forces, I don’t think that violence should be our first option with regard to pushing them back.  However, if you push people into a corner, and if you brutalize them, as has happened in this city of Baltimore, and if you have these examples like Freddie Gray, where a person enters into the custody of police alive and leaves dead, it’s perfectly understandable why there are forces in this city who refuse to accept that in a supine fashion, and I think that’s reasonable. Because they are trying to understand the lessons of history as well. And they recognize that unless you give a forceful rebuff to that kind of violence, then you are guaranteed to have a slew of Freddie Grays going forward, which I find wholly and totally unacceptable.

As has occurred in China in response to apparently far more rare killings by police officers, some in the US have responded to the lack of accountability for police terror by targeting police officers themselves.  This week, 5 officers were killed and 12 wounded by snipers after the killings of Castile and Sterling.



*Horne’s work explores many of the historical foundations on which the US’s “structural and institutional racism” (UN panel) stand.  Like John Kerry, Horne stresses that violence should always be a last resort, and that, indeed, the US peace and civil rights movements have, to their detriment, mirrored US culture in that they have grown increasingly insular, and have thus not in recent times fully utilized all of their options for peaceful protest:

If you are trying to understand the tribulations and trials and travails of black people in America over the centuries, particularly post 1776, you have to understand in the first place the reality that the United States of America was established as a slaveholding republic. … I can understand why lawyers, as a rhetorical device, will often speak warmly of the founders and their ‘noble documents’ and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and how they were so ‘flexible’ that they were able to expanded to all of the rest of us who were initially excluded.  I understand that as a rhetorical argument, but the reality of the matter is that the founders did not have people like myself in mind when this country was established, just like they did not have cattle or furniture in mind when this so-called republic was established. We were considered on the same level as cattle and furniture, but we have been able to fight a glorious struggle to overcome those Antediluvian points of view. But once again, we were able to fight that glorious struggle not least because we had support in the international community. And for those in the Black Lives Matter movement, for those in the anti-police terror movement, until and unless you ingest that basic lesson, that is to say that international solidarity is a prerequisite in order to achieve some success and victories in the United States of America, you’ll be left sprawling in the dust.

Horne’s works explore these points in depth.

Curtis Bunn, in the popular magazine Atlanta Black-Star, notes some other historical foundations that seem to remain relevant to killings by police in the US (particularly the killings this week):








Robert J. Barsocchini is an internationally published author who focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and acts as a cultural intermediary for the film and Television industry. Updates on Twitter. Author’s pamphlet ‘The Agility of Tyranny: Historical Roots of Black Lives Matter’.

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4th reflections from a man who may have experienced the US more fully than anyone in its history

Frederick Douglass portrait.jpg

Frederick Douglass, one of the most brilliant minds in history, had many praises for the US and its founders. However, he experienced the nation more fully than any of them, beginning his life a victim of the totalitarian fascism they practiced and promoted, which Douglass called “worse than death”, and ending it a statesman and a friend of President Lincoln. Thus his understanding and analysis of the complex country and its culture is more complete and balanced than most. Known as a dazzling orator, he had this to say in a 4th of July address in 1852:

[T]he character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July. Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. 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 denunciation 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 the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women and children, as slaves, remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the star-spangled banner, and American Christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman’s gun.

Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for men.

You hurl your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria and pride yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you yourselves consent to be the mere tools and body-guards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina. You invite to your shores fugitives of oppression from abroad, honor them with banquets, greet them with ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money to them like water; but the fugitives from oppression in your own land you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot, and kill. You glory in your refinement and your universal education; yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation-a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty. You shed tears over fallen Hungary, and make the sad story of her wrongs the theme of your poets, statesmen, and orators, till your gallant sons are ready to fly to arms to vindicate her cause against the oppressor; but, in regard to the ten thousand wrongs of the American slave, you would enforce the strictest silence, and would hail him as an enemy of the nation who dares to make those wrongs the subject of public discourse.

Soon after this speech and the tumult that followed, Douglass would note how the war against the South was almost entirely based on preventing division of the empire, with actual anti-slavery, humanitarian sentiment only inspiring a minuscule minority of whites. He cheered the destruction of chattel institutions, but his knowledge that this destruction was driven far less by humanitarianism than practicality regarding maintaining the empire meant he would be horrified and disheartened, but perhaps not entirely shocked, to see slavery continue, again with the official blessing and participation of the North, after the South was subdued and infrastructure was rebuilt.

Historian and Wall Street Journal contributor Douglas Blackmon documents how slavery remained official US policy up to the early 1940s, and Amnesty International and various scholars document how it continues today, with many black men still slaving on cotton fields under a provision of the 13th amendment that maintains slavery as a still ‘legal’, multi-billion-dollar per year industry.

As an example of the power of the religion of US nationalism, I cite an attorney friend and graduate of the nation’s number one top law-school, who in conversation mentioned that the 13th amendment ‘abolished slavery’, and that every law-school student studies this in depth. I interjected that the amendment abolished slavery with an exception for people convicted of ‘crimes’ (ie loitering or marijuana possession). The attorney’s response was: “I didn’t know that.”

The 13th amendment is two sentences. What does it say about US culture that a graduate from the single top law-school in the country today does not know that the 13th amendment carries an exception?

It says Frederick Douglass is right.

Full text of the 13th amendment:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Robert J. Barsocchini is an internationally published author who focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and acts as a cultural intermediary for the film and Television industry. Updates on Twitter. Author’s pamphlet ‘The Agility of Tyranny: Historical Roots of Black Lives Matter’.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Corporate Media Backing Clinton Exploits Orlando Shooting for Passive Holocaust Denial

Within hours of the mass shooting in Orlando, the corporate media backing neoconservative favorite Hillary Clinton began, almost unanimously, to exploit the opportunity to passively promote holocaust and genocide denial.

Outlets including the NY Times, CBS News, NBC News, CNN, Newsweek, USA Today, and so on, all referred to the Orlando massacre unequivocally as the worst shooting and/or worst act of gun violence in US history. (CBS News, at the time it was accessed for this piece, was running a large "I'm With Her" ad for Hillary Clinton at the top of its page.) A useful comparison to the corporate assessment might be to imagine if a German civilian gassed a group of people to death and the German press reported it as the worst gassing in German history. After the Paris shooting, the Western press likewise reported that as the worst shooting in recent Parisian history, despite that the Parisian police not long ago massacred some 300 peaceful marchers protesting the French dictatorship in Algeria and dumped their bodies in the river that runs through the city (more info in previous piece).

Native News Online quickly pointed out that the corporate media was almost completely whitewashing "mass killings of American Indians in its reporting" on Orlando. It gave two well-known (as far as these go) examples of worse gun-violence and mass-shootings: some 300 Native men, women, and children, were massacred at Wounded Knee, and 70 to 180 were massacred at Sand Creek.

One commenter on the Native News piece shared that she "wrote to every single news outlet yesterday from the New York Times, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, and Salon to CNN, NBC, and the BBC. I have yet to receive a reply from any of them with the exception of the Oregonian, who changed its language immediately. They also informed me that the Associated Press has just begun to change its language. I’m hoping the Guardian and BBC begin to do the same too."

Another commenter on the Native News piece gave a short list of some acts of gun-violence, mass-shootings, or mass killings perpetrated in US history, by US forces:

1864 – 300 Yana in California
1863 – 280 Shoshone in Idaho
1861 – 240 Wilakis in California
1860 – 250 Wiyot in California
1859 – 150 Yuki in California
1853 – 450 Tolowa in California
1852 – 150 Wintu in California
1851 – 300 Wintu in California
1850 – 100 Pomo in California
1840 – 140 Comanches in Colorado
1833 – 150 Kiowa in Oklahoma
1813 – 200 Creek in Alabama
1813 – 200 Creek in Alabama
1782 – 100 Lanape in Pennsylvania
1730 – 500 Fox in Illinois
1713 – 1000 Tuscarora in North Carolina
1712 – 1000 Fox in Michigan
1712 – 300 Tuscarora in North Carolina
1704 – 1000 Apalachee killed & 2000 sold into slavery in North Carolina
1676 – 100 Algonquian and Nipmuc in Massachusetts.
1676 – 100 Occaneechi in Virginia
1675 – 340 Narragansett in Rhode Island
1644 – 500 Lanape in New York
1640 – 129 Massapeag in New York
1637 – 700 Pequot in Connecticut
1623 – 200 Powhatan & Pamunkey in Virginia with “poison wine”

Professor David E. Stannard describes one such massacre, wherein US forces weakened a Delaware group of Native men, women, children, and elders through starvation, convinced them it would be in their best interest to disarm, then tied them up and exterminated them and mutilated their dead bodies. Stannard notes that such massacres by US forces "were so numerous and routine that recording them eventually becomes numbing". (American Holocaust, pp. 125/6)

A couple of corporate news outlets used somewhat more precise language to describe the Orlando massacre, editorializing (while again presenting it as fact) that it was the 'worst shooting in modern US history'.

However, this still leaves unstated the writer's opinion of what constitutes 'modern'. The wounded knee massacre took place in 1898, and the Black Wall Street massacre, for example, in which 55-400 people were murdered and a wealthy black community in Oklahoma ethnically cleansed, took place in 1921. (More examples.)

And, of course, the US has massacred millions of people, many of them with rifles and other types of guns, but also in far worse ways, outside the territory it officially claims, and continues to do so. Obama recently massacred almost a hundred people at one time with what could be viewed as an AR-15 on steroids. Is any of this part of 'modern US history'? Why or why not? The qualifications are unstated and thus subjective. The vague language from the neoliberal, government-linked corporate outlets may lead readers to believe that all of US history is included in their 'factual' statements, and that the US has never massacred more than fifty people anywhere.

In some cases, this impression will have been intentional on the part of the oligarch mouthpiece outlets, which have an interest in fostering a benevolent image of the US to help elites further capture global markets . In others, it will have been a result of conveniently self-aggrandizing ignorance on behalf of the writers and editors - an ignorance that makes an important contribution to their job security.

As some of them partially or belatedly demonstrated, all of the corporate outlets could have easily avoided any holocaust/genocide-denial by calling the shooting the worst by a single civilian on US territory in at least the last thirty years, or any number of other obvious, simple, direct phrasings, which are supposed to be integral to journalism, anyway.

But as John Ralston Saul points out, the neoliberal/neoconservative ideology relies on the 'whitewashing of memory'. That doesn't always work, though, especially on survivors of US and Western genocides, which is why, as Ralston Saul further notes, the West and its proxies are behind most of the global murders of writers, who may try to expose facts and evidence that interfere with the West's historical whitewashing.

Since the Orlando massacre, both Clinton and Trump have called for further escalation of Western aggression in the Middle East.

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published author who focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and also writes professionally for the film industry. Updates on Twitter. Author’s pamphlet ‘The Agility of Tyranny: Historical Roots of Black Lives Matter’.