USA Today Sports has found another reason to attack President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, with the story of a Texas golf course that was cut in half by a border fence erected to prevent people from crossing into the U.S. illegally.

The Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course in Brownsville, Texas, was shut down several years after the border fence was erected across a portion of the former owner’s property, the paper reported.

The paper lamented the closing of the course saying, “It remains to be seen whether President Trump will be successful in delivering on his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, but such a barrier has already made this historic golf course in Texas’ deepest south unworkable and doomed.”

The fence was erected after the passing of the Secure Fence Act passed in 2006, long before Donald Trump jumped into politics.

“I had a business, the community had a place people could meet and socialize and enjoy life, and golf had an affordable spot,” the course’s former owner, Bob Lucio, told USA TODAY Sports. “Now it is like it never even existed.”

Lucio added that he began losing customers in 2009 when the government began to erect the fence on his property which butted up against the Rio Grande River.

“The government did what they did — they forced it on everybody,” Lucio told the paper. “In 2009 they actually started building the fence. It hurt our business right away. We slowly started to lose our membership.”

While USA Today focused heavily on the U.S. government as the reason the golf course finally closed in 2015, there was one other hint tucked down in the article.

Some customers stopped going to the golf course because, “they could sometimes hear gunfire from a drug cartel turf war raging on the Matamoros side.” From the article, “I didn’t know what war sounded like. I never went to war,” former member Bob Prepejchal said, remembering a wild Thursday afternoon when a peaceful round was interrupted by sounds of carnage. “When the (Mexican military) helicopters (were) flying and hovering over and let go of these rockets, it was unbelievable what it sounded like. Then there are those electronic Gatling guns … they were just raining down shells like crazy, and it went on for a while.”

Along with the drug war came skyrocketing insurance costs for his golf course and it all eventually forced him to declare bankruptcy.

Despite the drug gangs chasing customers away and the impossibly expensive insurance costs, the paper and the course owner felt it was all more about politics.

“I don’t get it,” Lucio said. “I didn’t get it then, and I still don’t. I have lived here all my life, and we used to celebrate our joint history with Mexico. When I put my time into the course, it was because I thought I’d be here forever.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Ripped Teen Sex Slaves From Schools and Forced Citizens to Watch Executions, Defector Says

Daily Mirror this week.” data-reactid=”22″>Kim Jong Un’s depravity and abuses of power have no bounds, extending even to North Korea’s upper echelon. The North’s authoritarian regime snatches teenagers out of school to be his sex slaves, forces members of the country’s upper class to watch executions and Kim is perfectly content to eat expensive lunches while his people subsist on grass, a defector told the Daily Mirror this week.

Hee claimed supreme leader Kim forces those in the walled-off country’s “upper-class elite” to watch executions, and said she was witness to a mass execution of 11 musicians who were put to death by an anti-aircraft gun shortly after Kim took over for his late father Kim Jong Il in 2011. The musicians were killed over allegedly making a pornographic video, and Hee said 10,000 people witnessed their execution.

Bernie Sanders Warns of Rise in ‘Right Wing Extremism’ in Speech Blasting War on Terror, Neo-Nazis, Trump” data-reactid=”25″>Trending: Bernie Sanders Warns of Rise in ‘Right Wing Extremism’ in Speech Blasting War on Terror, Neo-Nazis, Trump

Though she was considered privileged compared to millions of the North’s other citizens, Hee was standing 200 feet away from the kill site.

“The musicians were brought out, tied up, hooded and apparently gagged, so they could not make a noise, not beg for mercy or even scream,” she said. “What I saw that day made me sick in my stomach. They were lashed to the end of anti-aircraft guns.”

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The musicians’ bodies “disappeared” and then tanks ran over their remains “repeatedly,” Hee said.

Over the years, and well before Kim Jong Un came to power around 2011, defectors have managed to escape the North’s violent regime and tell their stories.

USA Today. He’s now in Seoul running an iPhone repair shop after defecting in 2013, and instead of Kim’s picture hanging in his shop, he’s put up one of Apple founder Steve Jobs, whose biography has inspired him.” data-reactid=”32″>Earlier this month, 30-year-old Hak Min recounted the brainwashing tactics used to strike fear into citizens to USA Today. He’s now in Seoul running an iPhone repair shop after defecting in 2013, and instead of Kim’s picture hanging in his shop, he’s put up one of Apple founder Steve Jobs, whose biography has inspired him.

Amid Confederate Statue Controversy, Slave Uprising Leader Nat Turner Included on Richmond Monument” data-reactid=”33″>Most popular: Amid Confederate Statue Controversy, Slave Uprising Leader Nat Turner Included on Richmond Monument

“When they brainwash students in North Korea they say: ‘We can read your words, actions and thoughts,’” Hak said. “If you have bad thoughts about the Kim family they will know. But in the book, Jobs said: Do not let others’ thoughts rule over you. Do what you want. Be yourself.”

a recent 12.7 percent decrease in the number of defectors leaving the North to the South between January and August of this year, with 780 fleeing compared to 1,417 throughout 2016.” data-reactid=”35″>Defectors have provided significant information about Kim’s regime and helped shed light on the human rights atrocities occurring in the North, but their numbers slipped recently. This week, South Korea reported a recent 12.7 percent decrease in the number of defectors leaving the North to the South between January and August of this year, with 780 fleeing compared to 1,417 throughout 2016.

Donald Trump, much to his chagrin, never won an Emmy for “The Apprentice,” but he can now take indirect credit for a clutch of the awards.

The Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale” won eight Emmys on Sunday night, a sweep fueled, in part, by the widely accepted belief in liberal America that the show tells us something about the Trump era.

Based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, the series depicts a misogynist dystopia. Christian fundamentalists have established a theocracy that — after an environmental debacle craters the birth rate — forces fertile women, called handmaids, into sexual slavery.

Set in contemporary America, the show combines the atmosphere of “The Scarlet Letter” with “1984.” It is bleak, plodding, heavy-handed and occasionally gripping. What has given it extra oomph is the trope that it is relevant to Trump’s America. This is a staple of the commentary, and everyone involved in the show’s production pushes the notion.

According to Atwood, people woke up after Trump’s election “and said we’re no longer in a fantasy fiction.” The series is indeed highly relevant — as a statement on the fevered mind of progressives.

The president doesn’t want to impose his traditional sexual morality because, for starters, he doesn’t have any to impose. His critics are mistaking a thrice-married real estate mogul who has done cameos in Playboy videos and extensive interviews on “The Howard Stern Show” with Cotton Mather. He isn’t censorious; he’s boorish.

“I thought this could be a great cautionary tale,” director Reed Morano says of the show. “We don’t think about how women are treated in other countries as much as we should, and I guess I thought this would raise awareness.” Fair enough. “The Handmaid’s Tale” does have something to tell us about, say, Saudi Arabia. But, in an uncomfortable fact for Christian-fearing feminists, none of the world’s women-hating theocracies are Christian.

Elisabeth Moss, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of handmaid Offred, warns of “things happening with women’s reproductive rights in our own country that make me feel like this book is bleeding over into reality.”

What this means is that Republicans want to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and roll back Obamacare’s contraception mandate. If they succeed, this would mean less government intervention in matters of sexual morality, rather than more.

The progressive mind is unable to process that it has won the culture war in a rout (except for abortion, where conservatives are trying to chip away at our extremely liberal laws at the margins). We live in a country where Christian bakers get harried by government for politely declining to bake cakes for gay weddings, yet progressives still believe we are a few steps away from enslaving women.

For sheer obtuseness, it’s hard to beat executive producer Bruce Miller’s comment about a protest scene from the show that has been compared to the anti-Trump Women’s March. “You’re seeing exactly the same signs,” he told Vanity Fair, “exactly the same images, and you’re also seeing Capitol police with guns, not firing them, thank God, but it’s the same image.”

Actually, it’s the opposite image. There’s a vast difference between the forces of a totalitarian state crushing a protest, as happens in the show, and police maintaining the peace during a demonstration in a robustly free country, as occurred right here in Donald Trump’s USA.

According to Atwood: “If you’re going to get women back into the home, which some people still firmly believe is where they belong, how would you do that? All you have to do is remove the rights and freedoms that [women] have fought for and accumulated over the [past] 200 years.”

Yeah, that’s all you have to do. Atwood doesn’t explain who, straw men aside, actually wants to do this, or how they’d go about it. She wrote a book that, despite her intentions, has become a cautionary tale about how sophisticated people lose their minds.

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review.

CLOSE

A golf course owner lost everything when the border wall trapped his course in a no-man’s land. USA TODAY Sports

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – You can stroll down a dusty track and stand on the first tee box at Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course, where golfers fired drives on the same strip that 19th-century soldiers exchanged cannon fire.

The view is a bit different these days though. Weeds and shoulder-high grass grow unimpeded on the once-pristine fairways. To your left is a fence designed to keep illegal immigrants out of the United States, manned by patrol agents.

It remains to be seen whether President Trump will be successful in delivering on his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, but such a barrier has already made this historic golf course in Texas’ deepest south unworkable and doomed.

More: They come from Mexico to play at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

More: Rising U.S. soccer prospect Jesse Gonzalez chooses Mexico national team

More: Boxer Ray Beltran in another fight to stay in U.S.

The imposing 18-foot fence, built as part of the Secure Fence Act passed in 2006, is made of iron columns. It is situated within the U.S. and near the border that runs along the Rio Grande. The golf course is stuck between the two. 

“I had a business, the community had a place people could meet and socialize and enjoy life, and golf had an affordable spot,” Bob Lucio, the course’s former owner, told USA TODAY Sports as he walked along an overgrown path and remembered what once was. “Now it is like it never even existed.”

It did exist for more than 50 years but was stuck in what is quite literally a no man’s land for nearly a decade before going out of business in 2015.

The fence couldn’t be built in the middle of the Rio Grande, and Mexico had no reason to take it on its side the border. Lucio’s property butted up against the river. If there was going to be a fence, his course was going to end up behind it. And that’s exactly what happened.

“The government did what they did — they forced it on everybody,” Lucio said. “In 2009 they actually started building the fence. It hurt our business right away. We slowly started to lose our membership.

“People would say, ‘We don’t know what they are going to do with the fence.’ I don’t blame them for that. I wouldn’t want to pay for advance (membership) for maybe a place where you may not have access to it.”

BUILD A WALL?: A 2,000-mile search for answers

BORDER WALL: 2,000-mile journey in the shadow of the wall

Fort Brown was taken over by Lucio in 1987. The site was a cut-price alternative to the nearby country club set. High school teams played there. Locals remember it as a deceptive challenge. Lucio upgraded, put in a new clubhouse and spent hundreds of thousands in renovations.

But when the fence came in, it was a deterrent. Patrons had to drive through a gap in the fence to reach the clubhouse, and when they did, in 2011 at least, they could sometimes hear gunfire from a drug cartel turf war raging on the Matamoros side.

“I didn’t know what war sounded like. I never went to war,” former member Bob Prepejchal said, remembering a wild Thursday afternoon when a peaceful round was interrupted by sounds of carnage. “When the (Mexican military) helicopters (were) flying and hovering over and let go of these rockets, it was unbelievable what it sounded like. Then there are those electronic Gatling guns … they were just raining down shells like crazy, and it went on for a while.”

 

Typically, when shots were fired, American border agents collected not near the actual border but at the fence line. As far as Lucio and most of the course visitors were concerned, that was a clear indication that if you played at Fort Brown, the government considered you to be inside the U.S. but outside of its protection.

Insurance premiums skyrocketed. And people just stopped coming. By the end of 2015, Lucio had filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Much of the golf business in this area has always come from “Winter Texans,” visitors from chillier climes who would come chasing reasonably priced rounds and warmer weather. For the most part, they wanted no part of Fort Brown once the difficulties kicked in.

“It is pretty sad,” said Celso Medina, who runs Golf Headquarters, an impressive golf store in Brownsville. “It’s a personal thing, (it was) one of my favorite golf courses. That’s where I really learned to play the game actually.

“(It was) very affordable mostly for the average person that couldn’t afford to play at a country club. It really hurt.”

Lucio gets emotional when he sees the site now. Like Medina and Prepejchal, he remembers fun nights with the guys, when dozens of players would sit and barbecue and knock back beers hours after darkness called a halt to play.

No longer. It has taken just a few years for derelict course equipment to get swallowed by nature. A large pond that once needed to be avoided by players is now dry, with the balls of so many errant shots wedged in the dried mud.

Lucio tried to disguise the fence by putting up a course sign on it, tried to make it look like an entrance and not a stark reminder of political divisions. Perception is king, though, and it didn’t have much impact.

Yet here is the puzzling thing about the course and the border and just the odd nature of the U.S. and its interactions with Mexico. You can easily get onto the course from Mexico by crossing the river. The river is less than 50 feet across in some spots, and the water is usually slow moving.

The fence is there, but there is a gap in it you can drive through. At times the border agents are there, at others they are not, either patrolling the scrubland or just off duty. At those unattended moments, anyone can just walk through and be on the streets of Brownsville within a minute or so.

As Bob Lucio moves through it, he first takes a look back, then across to the fence. He gives a deep sigh and a small shake of his head.

“I don’t get it,” he said. “I didn’t get it then, and I still don’t. I have lived here all my life, and we used to celebrate our joint history with Mexico. When I put my time into the course, it was because I thought I’d be here forever.”

He moves away sadly, both he, his course and its patrons victims of a political conundrum that’s no nearer to being solved.

CLOSE

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has the highest population of Mexican-American students in the country. The campus is often unkindly known as “Taco Tech” due to its demographic make-up. USA TODAY Sports

 

Donald Trump, much to his chagrin, never won an Emmy for “The Apprentice,” but he can now take indirect credit for a clutch of the awards.

The Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale” won eight Emmys on Sunday night, a sweep fueled, in part, by the widely accepted belief in liberal America that the show tells us something about the Trump era.

Based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, the series depicts a misogynist dystopia. Christian fundamentalists have established a theocracy that — after an environmental debacle craters the birth rate — forces fertile women, called handmaids, into sexual slavery.

Set in contemporary America, the show combines the atmosphere of “The Scarlet Letter” with “1984.” It is bleak, plodding, heavy-handed and occasionally gripping. What has given it extra oomph is the trope that it is relevant to Trump’s America. This is a staple of the commentary, and everyone involved in the show’s production pushes the notion.

According to Atwood, people woke up after Trump’s election “and said we’re no longer in a fantasy fiction.” The series is indeed highly relevant — as a statement on the fevered mind of progressives.

The president doesn’t want to impose his traditional sexual morality because, for starters, he doesn’t have any to impose. His critics are mistaking a thrice-married real estate mogul who has done cameos in Playboy videos and extensive interviews on “The Howard Stern Show” with Cotton Mather. He isn’t censorious; he’s boorish.

“I thought this could be a great cautionary tale,” director Reed Morano says of the show. “We don’t think about how women are treated in other countries as much as we should, and I guess I thought this would raise awareness.” Fair enough. “The Handmaid’s Tale” does have something to tell us about, say, Saudi Arabia. But, in an uncomfortable fact for Christian-fearing feminists, none of the world’s women-hating theocracies are Christian.

Elisabeth Moss, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of handmaid Offred, warns of “things happening with women’s reproductive rights in our own country that make me feel like this book is bleeding over into reality.”

What this means is that Republicans want to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and roll back Obamacare’s contraception mandate. If they succeed, this would mean less government intervention in matters of sexual morality, rather than more.

The progressive mind is unable to process that it has won the culture war in a rout (except for abortion, where conservatives are trying to chip away at our extremely liberal laws at the margins). We live in a country where Christian bakers get harried by government for politely declining to bake cakes for gay weddings, yet progressives still believe we are a few steps away from enslaving women.

For sheer obtuseness, it’s hard to beat executive producer Bruce Miller’s comment about a protest scene from the show that has been compared to the anti-Trump Women’s March. “You’re seeing exactly the same signs,” he told Vanity Fair, “exactly the same images, and you’re also seeing Capitol police with guns, not firing them, thank God, but it’s the same image.”

Actually, it’s the opposite image. There’s a vast difference between the forces of a totalitarian state crushing a protest, as happens in the show, and police maintaining the peace during a demonstration in a robustly free country, as occurred right here in Donald Trump’s USA.

According to Atwood: “If you’re going to get women back into the home, which some people still firmly believe is where they belong, how would you do that? All you have to do is remove the rights and freedoms that [women] have fought for and accumulated over the [past] 200 years.”

Yeah, that’s all you have to do. Atwood doesn’t explain who, straw men aside, actually wants to do this, or how they’d go about it. She wrote a book that, despite her intentions, has become a cautionary tale about how sophisticated people lose their minds.

Hundreds turned up see Ben Shapiro at UC Berkeley on Sept. 14. Hundreds of others were there to protest his appearance. Photo: Pete Rosos

Amid a massive police presence and tight security that cost Cal an estimated $600,000, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro spoke to an enthusiastic audience at Zellerbach Hall on Thursday night while hundreds of protesters were cordoned off on Bancroft Avenue.

Hundreds of people who had passed through metal detectors, bag and ID checks came to hear the 33-year-old conservative political commenter talk, and hundreds also showed up to protest his presence on campus — demonstrating for up to six hours in the area of Bancroft and Telegraph. But there was hardly any violence and no reported vandalism. Berkeley Police reported there had been nine arrests, many for attempts to bring prohibited weapons into the secured area.

Antifa was a no-show.

The orderliness of the evening was in sharp contrast to that of Feb. 1 when a group of about 150 black-clad masked demonstrators surged onto Sproul Plaza and stormed the metal barricades, hurled incendiary devices and broke windows, forcing the cancellation of a talk by then-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who was set to speak about illegal immigration. That evening set off a string of rallies that have roiled Berkeley and the campus since then.

Carol Christ, who took over as UC Berkeley chancellor in the summer, vowed to allow a year of “free speech” on campus. The university even took the unusual step of paying the rental costs of Zellerbach to ensure that Shapiro’s talk, hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans, could go on.

At a press conference held on campus after the Shapiro talk ended, around 9 p.m., UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said “there was a sense of relief and satisfaction” among administrators with the way the evening had played out. UC Police Chief Margo Bennett said the police presence on campus was “similar to Coulter” — referring to the heavy deployment for what turned out to be the non-appearance of the conservative pundit — and much larger than for Yiannopoulos. Mogulof said there were “no regrets” about the extraordinary measures taken, though earlier in the day he had said the security tab for the university would likely be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

People in line under the eye of police to see Ben Shapiro on the UC Berkeley campus on Sept. 14. Photo: Pete Rosos
A man engages with a police officer on Sept. 14 near the Cal campus. Photo: Pete Rosos

The university may only have a short time to process the lessons it learned Thursday, as Yiannopoulos has announced he is returning to Cal for his own “Free Speech Week,” from Sept. 24 to Sept. 27. Yiannopoulos has said he is bringing a bevy of far-right stars, including former White House advisor Steve Bannon, conservative commentators Ann Coulter and Mike Cernovich, David Horowitz and more. Yiannopoulos has said those speakers will talk in Zellerbach Hall in events sponsored by the newly revived publication, the Berkeley Patriot.

But Mogulof said Thursday night that the university has not received the proper notification or paperwork to set Yiannopoulos’ vision in motion. He added that he had received a call this week from a confused speaker who had no idea why they had been included on Yiannopoulos’ list.

Protesting for six hours straight

Protests against Shapiro on Thursday started close to 5 p.m., when Refuse Fascism, a communist-oriented group, set up an amplification system on the sidewalk on Bancroft Way near Telegraph Avenue. The group had people talk for almost six hours straight about President Trump, how Shapiro was a fascist even though he was Jewish, the repeal of DACA, and how police are protecting the right.

At times they chanted, “How do you spell violence? CHP,” or “No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA.”

A group of about 30 students who had remained inside the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union building after Cal officials shut the building at 4 p.m. came out onto a walkway during the protests to declare they were conducting a “sit-in.” There was a back and forth between them and the protesters. The students finally left the building, after some negotiations with police.

The protests stayed on Bancroft Avenue for the entire evening. As a security precaution, Cal had blocked access to Sproul Plaza, Lower Sproul, Sproul Hall, the student union building and other buildings. White concrete and plastic orange barriers known as K-rails formed a perimeter between the south side of campus and the street. Hundreds of police officers from around the state, including contingents from all nine UC campuses, the Berkeley and Oakland police departments, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and the California Highway Patrol, stood all night facing the crowd. Dressed in bulletproof vests, helmets, and carrying batons, plastic handcuffs, and other items, they were an intimidating presence.

Three shirtless young men from Santa Clarita came to Berkeley on Sept. 14 because they “wanted to see what antifa action was about.” Photo: Pete Rosos

Three young men from Santa Clarita had driven north because they were curious to see antifa and because they wanted to support free speech. They were shirtless and had “USA” painted on their chests in red, silver and blue. Landon, 19, said they had all grown up pampered in Los Angeles and wanted to “come to the epicenter.”

“”We wanted to see what was going down,” he said. He declined to give his last name. The trio acknowledged that they were testing political waters by attending and had only attended one other demonstration before, an anti-Trump rally.

Ken Rothmel, 61, had driven down from Reno for the event. He said he had heard Shapiro debate Piers Morgan on television once and was impressed by his smarts and his “ability to get right to the point,” even if he hurts people’s feelings. Rothmel said he was a libertarian and did not fully agree with Shapiro. While he liked Shapiro’s thoughts on the right to carry guns, he disagrees with his assessment that transgender people are mentally defective.

Raphael Kadaris of Refuse Fascism gets protesters to raise their fists during a rally against an appearance by conservative writer Ben Shapiro at UC Berkeley on Thursday, Sept. 14. Photo: David Yee
There was a heavy police presence with many agencies represented. Photo: Ted Friedman. See more of Friedman’s photos from the evening of Sept. 14.
Police monitoring protesters on Sept. 14 near UC Berkeley. Photo: Pete Rosos

Inside Zellerbach Hall, an audience of about 600-700 erupted in cheers when Shapiro entered the stage and continued to cheer throughout his talk. The attendees appeared to be mostly students, along with a number of community members. There were some well-known Bay Area right-wing residents there, including Kyle Chapman, also known as Based Stickman. In his speech, Shapiro aimed to discredit a number of foundational liberal ideas, like the continued existence of institutional racism and white privilege after Jim Crow, and the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. He praised the audience for “braving the idiots outside” to come to his talk. During a question-and-answer period at the end of the night, he debated with several attendees.

Several students in attendance said they were simply curious about what Shapiro would say, or interested in his ideas after watching video clips of him speak.

An audience member in a “Make American Great Again” hat asks Ben Shapiro a question in Zellerbach Hall on . Sept. 14. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

Elliot Kovnick, 20, said he was certainly not a fan of Shapiro, in part because “he’s more of a pundit than an academic.” But the Cal junior said he is “interested in being in the middle of things,” so he grabbed a ticket before they sold out in 45 minutes.

A Berkeley High School student made his way up to Cal because, “I’m a liberal, but I’m very much free speech focused.” The senior, who did not want to give his name, said he changes his political orientation almost monthly, as he learns more. Shapiro, he said, “is mischaracterized. He’s not alt-right.”

At the end of Shapiro’s talk, police directed those who had attended to exit through the southwestern side of Lower Sproul Plaza in the opposite direction of the protests. The process was so smooth that the protesters in charge of the microphone on Bancroft didn’t seem to notice that the talk was over.

Kyle Chapman and Amber Cummings, both known right-wing organizers, march after Ben Shapiro’s talk on Sept. 14. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Around 10 p.m. the crowd moved east up Bancroft, and activists from By Any Means Necessary, including Berkeley middle school teacher Yvette Felarca, seemed to take over control of the crowd. At that point, Chapman, Lauren Southern, a conservative Canadian media personality, and Amber Cummings, who organized and then canceled a rally in Berkeley on Aug. 27, became the target of the crowd’s wrath. People surrounded the pair and started to march with them down Telegraph and then Durant. Police set up a line on Durant and Ellsworth and then whisked Chapman and Southern out of the crowd. The lack of a target sapped the energy of the crowd (although Felarca continued to try to speak) and the protest was over by 11 p.m.

One woman was taken away in an ambulance around 10 p.m. A bystander told Berkeleyside she had been carrying a sign supporting free speech and when someone tried to take it from her she was pushed to the ground. However, a Berkeley police officer said she had just had a medical emergency.  There are many tweets saying the woman was stabbed, but that is incorrect, Berkeley police said via twitter. Police said the woman told them she fell.

Police announced the following arrests: Hannah Benjamin, 20, of Fremont on suspicion of battery of a police officer and carrying a banned weapon; Sarah Roark, 44, of San Francisco, on suspicion of carrying a banned weapon; Kerem Celik, 18, of Saratoga, on suspicion of disturbing the peace, and Eddy Robinson, 44, of Oakland, on suspicion of carrying a banned weapon; Michael Paul Sullivan, 29, of Hayward, on suspicion of carrying a banned weapon; Noe Gonzalez Gudino, 24, of Richmond, on suspicion of disturbing the peace and being intoxicated in public; Miguel Reyes, 21, of Colton; Jorge Cabanillas, 20, of Rialto, on suspicion of assault and battery; and Darin Bauer, 45, of Berkeley, on suspicion of assault and battery, according to a Berkeley Police Nixle alert.

Numerous police agencies provided assistance. In addition to the Berkeley and UC Berkeley police departments, the California Highway Patrol, the Oakland Police Department, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, the Solano County Agencies, the Fremont Police Department, the California State Police, the Stanford University Police Department, the Citrus Heights Police Department, and police departments from eight other UC campuses sent officers.

Send in the clowns.

Washington is a circus most days, but on Saturday, the nation’s capital had an exceptionally carnival-like atmosphere.

Thousands of protesters — including a massive contingent of fans of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse and a small group of right-wing conservatives — descended on D.C. for a diverse set of demonstrations.

Portions of the National Mall were sectioned off for the different groups.

Pro-Trump rally set for showdown with Juggalo march in D.C.

In front of the Lincoln Memorial, a swelling crowd of so-called Juggalos, super-devoted Insane Clown Posse fans, held a rally demanding the FBI rescind its classification of the group as a “loosely organized hybrid gang.”

Face paint-wearing fans lofted signs that read “Juggalo lives matter” and “Justice for Juggalos” as the scent of marijuana wafted over the crowd.

Fans of the Insane Clown Posse, more commonly known as Juggalos gather on the Washington Mall in Washington DC on Saturday September 16, 2017 to protest their label as a gang.

Juggalos protest gang label in Washington D.C.

A 2011 report by the Justice Department’s gang task force compared the fanatic fan base to violent gangs like the Bloods and the Crips.

The report said the fans have committed assaults and vandalism, and a “small number” of them have engaged in more serious crimes.

Wis. Juggalo sentenced for amputating woman’s pinky

Juggalos say they’ve been profiled, lost jobs and even the custody of their children due to the FBI’s label.

“I am not a gang member. I have never been convicted of a crime. I do not have a speeding ticket or failed a drug test,” said Crystal Guerrero, of Albuquerque, N.M. “My children were taken from me, physical custody, because I showed up to one concert.”

Guerrero, 26, told the Daily News that her sons, now 6 and 2, were taken away from her in 2015 after their father argued that listening to Insane Clown Posse made her an unsuitable mother.

Juggalos of all ages participated in Saturday's rally.

Juggalos of all ages participated in Saturday’s rally.

(Nick Karp for New York Daily News)

The group, which formed in Detroit nearly 25 years ago, performs wearing clown makeup and is known for its dark lyrics.

Insane Clown Posse details protest over FBI gang designation

“You know in your hearts that we’re the good guys,” Violent J, half of the duo, told the crowd. “Maybe they look at us and think, ‘Man, those are the most hated people supporting the world’s most hated band and they’ll be easy to pick on.’ ”

The group, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the FBI in 2014, seeking to have the gang classification scratched.

“What kind of gang sells music instead of guns and drugs?” asked Juggalo Jake Jones.

“Those who don’t listen to (Insane Clown Posse) only hear the cusswords and violence,” said the Orlando native.

Insane Clown Posse performs wearing clown makeup and is known for its dark lyrics.

Insane Clown Posse performs wearing clown makeup and is known for its dark lyrics.

(Nick Karp for New York Daily News)

Across the National Mall, near the Washington Monument, a smattering of supporters of President Trump gathered for an event dubbed the “Mother of All Rallies.”

The demonstration, which organizers also called “Woodstock for the silent majority,” drew only about 500 people.

Many in the crowd were decked out in red, white and blue or carrying American flags.

A small group of men in militia uniforms stood by as Republican candidates supporting the President’s platform spoke to the crowd.

“As soon as they announced it, I knew I had to be here,” Dana Robinson of Pittsburgh told USA Today.

Violent J of the Insane Clown Posse at the Juggalo March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on Saturday Sept. 16, 2017.

Violent J of the Insane Clown Posse at the Juggalo March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on Saturday Sept. 16, 2017.

(Nick Karp for New York Daily News)

Robinson wore a patchwork dress of Trump photos.

Trump is “one of us,” she said. “He’s an everyman’s President. . . . He’s doing great with no help from any of the Republicans.”

Counterprotesters tried to confront some of the Trump supporters, but were led out of the rally by U.S. Park Police.

Earlier in the day, two dozen protesters also gathered in Lafayette Square, across Pennsylvania Ave. from the White House.

The group called on Trump to take stronger actions against Russian leader Vladimir Putin in retaliation for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

They carried signs that said, “We’re not PUTIN up with it!” and “Protect American Democracy.”

Trump spent the weekend at his Bedminster, N.J., golf resort.

With News Wire Services

Tags:
washington dc
protests
insane clown posse
gangs

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Sat Sep 16th, 2017
Abia

THE HOMICIDAL RYTHM OF THE PYTHON DANCE

On the 15th September 2016, one year ago today, I wrote the following.

“You bathed in the blood of Biafrans, you crushed their bones and stripped away their dignity and self-respect just to keep Nigeria one.

Now you say their children have no right to ask for self-determination simply because you killed their fathers and mothers during the war and shattered their homes

If you want the Igbo or any other southerner to stay and if you want Nigeria to remain one then treat us all as equals, offer our children and our people equal opportunities and a public apology and pay full compensation for all the atrocities that you and your people have committed against the people of the south and the northern minorities over the last two hundred years.

In addition to that you must defeat, destroy and dismantle Boko Haram, decommission your Fulani militias and herdsmen and put a stop to the marginalisation, threats, genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass murder of our people.

It is after you have done all these things that you can make an appeal to us for the continued unity of Nigeria.

Outside of that the Nigerian baby you are carrying and saying that you killed and died for during the civil war is already dead. It is only waiting to be buried”.

These words, written one year ago, remain relevant and true till today. What we are witnessing in the east in the name of Operation Python is barbaric and unacceptable. It ought to be condemned by every self-respecting person.

The behaviour of the military against a defenceless and unarmed civilian population in Abia state particularly is simply reprehensible.

What has Nnamdi Kanu or indeed the Igbo people done to warrant this primitive show of barbarism and force? We are on the brink of a total breakdown of law and order and a prolonged and bloody armed conflict.

I urge restraint on all sides and I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the army from the east and leave Nnamdi Kanu alone.

Terrorising your own people with soldiers is not the act of a courageous man but rather the act of a tyrant, a coward and a bully.

We call on the international community to bear witness to what is unfolding in eastern Nigeria.

The slaughter of innocent civilians by soldiers must stop. Yesterday it was the Shiite Muslims. Today it is the Igbo. Tomorrow it could be you.

Anyone that believes that a separatist movement or the quest for self-determination can be stopped by the force of arms alone has no knowledge of world history.

The more people people are killed the more the agitation will blossom and grow. The shedding of innocent blood energises, spreads and fortifies the cause for which it was shed.

This is a spiritual principle with practical consequences. It is a deep and mystical truism. The blood of martyrs is never shed in vain.

It cries to God in heaven for vengeance and it haunts and torments those that shed it from generation to generation.

The following questions must be answered. Who is fanning embers of hate if not this administration? Who is killing and locking up innocent people if not them? Who hates Christians, Middle Belters and southerners if not them?

And nothing reflects this disposition today more than the words of President Buhari’s spokesman, Mr. Shehu Garba, who in response to Mrs. Oby Ezekwezile’s laudable though belated observation that Buhari is nothing but a tribal leader who has been unfair to the people of the east, said the following:

“there is a deliberate sinister agenda by IPOB to provoke the soldiers into killing innocent people in retaliation so that Nnamdi Kanu would use the pictures of the victims for international propaganda by accusing the government of ethnic cleansing against the Igbos with the sole purpose of gaining sympathy”.

The question is this: why should the Buhari government feel provoked to murder anyone simply because they say that they want a referendum to determine their own future and simply because they want their own country? Is Nigeria a giant prison that no-one must question or dare to break out of? Did the British Army slaughter the Scots when they asked for a referendum?

Did the Spanish army butcher the people of Catalan for asking for their own country?

I do not think it is right or proper for innocent souls to be killed simply because they are exercising their right of free speech. No sane or civilised person should remain silent when such wickedness is unleashed on others.

When our soldiers force young men to bury their faces in pools of muddy water and drink it we know that we are dealing with animals and barbarians. When they shoot these young men in the back of the head and line up their bodies on the side of the road we know that this is not OUR army but rather army of occupation which seeks to dehumanise, humiliate, murder, subjugate and enslave our people.

I watched that horrific video and I cried for Nigeria. And after the tears came rage. Is this what our nation has been turned into What a shame and what a tragedy

There is only one side to this ugly story. Torture is torture. Murder is murder. Children are children. Blood is blood. And it is God’s will that we condemn evil and refuse to tolerate it.

Permit me to conclude this contribution with the following observatons about the abomination called the python dance from a handful of insightful and courageous commentators.

Adetilewa Adetomiwa wrote:

“You see young Igbo men standing in front of military tanks with stone, bottle and sticks. You are calling them stupid people because they are not afraid.

They are not stupid, you just don’t know what is going on.

When u see human standing firm in front of a greater power, it’s not stupidity, but a psychological state of mind that is very dangerous to any society.

It’s a state of mind that represent hopelessness and all or nothing attitude. It is the same state of mind that ensured there is no peace in Middle East today. It’s a fanatical state of mind than can’t be conquered by any amount of military operations.

As it is today, only dialogue can settle the war created by buhari in Igbo land. Else the rest of Nigeria will not have peace.

The earlier we prevent total breakdown of law and order with restructuring, the better”.

Again Chika Udenkwo wrote:

“A Country’s Unity is not determined by guns, sticks, wires, hate speech or restructuring. It is determined by a collective will of the people to forge a future that is beneficial to ALL”.

Again Aniefom Udoabasi wrote:

“Boko haram is deadly. They are armed to the teeth. They have killed military men in their hundreds. They have killed civilians in their tens of thousands. They have burned down houses and villages. They have burned down churches and mosques. They have threatened to blow up Nigeria. They even blew up the United Nations building in Abuja.

Yet northern elders/leaders, including Buhari, opposed any attempt by the military to invade any Northern community as a result of boko haram’s presence. Northern elders,again and again, asked the government to withdraw the army from Borno ,the headquarters of Boko Haram.

In fact, Buhari publicly said that it was wrong for the military to move against boko haram. He specifically said that any attack against boko haram should be viewed as an attack against the North as a whole. I’m not talking about a century or even a decade ago. I am talking about a few years ago.

Also Lai Mohammed, speaking for APC, Buhari’s party, said that it was wrong for the government to label boko haram as an unlawful organisation. This was immediately after the Nigerian government had declared boko haram an unlawful organization. APC said that declaring boko haram an unlawful organization in Nigeria is unconstitutional .
I also remember that when the United States government wanted to declare boko haram a terrorist organisation, the North vehemently opposed it. The Sultan of Sokoto led the opposition. He openly canvassed that the USA should not label boko haram a terrorist organisation.

Only CAN ,as led by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor ,canvassed for the United States to pencil boko haram down as a terrorist organisation. I remember that when pastor Ayo traveled to the United States to lobby its government to declare boko haram a terrorist organisation, he was ridiculed by Northern leaders for daring to cause their boko haram to be called a

Nnamdi Kanu, hate him or love him, has not killed a single soul. You may be irritated by the conduct of some of his followers ,but the fact remains that they are not armed.

They have not burned communities, have not blown up mosques or churches. They are just a group armed with social media and a radio station.

And yet you say that the army should clamp down ,attack and kill them. Same you who said that boko haram should not be attacked because that would mean an attack against the North!
Same you who said that boko haram should not be declared an unlawful organization by the Nigerian government!

Same you who pleaded that boko haram should not be declared a terrorist organisation by the United States government! Shame on you!”

Finally Jude Ndukwe wrote:

“Boko Haram killed UNIMAID lecturers, NNPC Geologists, soldiers, students, market men and women recently; just last week, Fulani herdsmen killed about 30 people in Plateau State with their killing of farmers and raping of even old women causing demonstrations in Ondo State, you said nothing, there was no outrage from you. But your preoccupation is an IPOB that has never killed or kidnapped or taken up arms against anyone except that their only weapon is their usual massive PEACEFUL rallies which makes you convulse out of jealousy.

While you are busy clapping for the military for their misplaced priority in the so called “show of force” against Nnamdi Kanu, the herdsmen are busy killing your fathers and raping your mothers freely, unchallenged and unhindered over two years or more now.

Common sense should tell you to focus your energy on telling the military to leave the peaceful south east alone and focus on your real enemies”.

I could not have put it better than any of these distinguished and respected individuals and I commend them for their courage, foresight, compassion, humanity and sense of decency.
They have spoken the minds of millions.

Finally let me end with the words of two of the greatest writers and literary icons that have ever lived.

Professor Wole Soyina wrote , “the man x
dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” whilst Franz Fanon wrote:

“The future will have no pity for those men who, possessing the exceptional privilege of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have instead, taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference, and sometimes, of cold complicity. We are nothing on earth if we are not slaves to a cause, the cause of the people and the cause of justice, liberty and free ideas that are made available to all. Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”

The Nigerian people have much to learn from these famous words. May the souls of all those that were ruthlessly butchered and martyred by the army in Abia state rest in peace.





Reactions

source:
Vanguard

by Femi Fani-Kayode

On the 15th September 2016, one year ago today, I wrote the following.

“You bathed in the blood of Biafrans, you crushed their bones and stripped away their dignity and self-respect just to keep Nigeria one.

Now you say their children have no right to ask for self-determination simply because you killed their fathers and mothers during the war and shattered their dreams.

Shame on you. If Nigeria was a normal country by now you would have been at the International Criminal Court (ICC) answering charges of genocide and crimes against humanity at the Hague instead of being President.

If you want the Igbo or any other southerner to stay and if you want Nigeria to remain one then treat us all as equals, offer our children and our people equal opportunities and a public apology and pay full compensation for all the atrocities that you, your people and your forefathers have committed against the people of the south and the northern minorities over the last two hundred years.

In addition to that, you must defeat, destroy and dismantle Boko Haram, decommission your Fulani militias and herdsmen and put a stop to the marginalisation, threats, genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass murder of our people.

It is after you have done all these things that you can make an appeal to us for the continued unity of Nigeria.

Outside of that, the Nigerian baby you are carrying and saying that you killed and died for during the civil war is already dead. It is only waiting to be buried”.

These words, written one year ago, remain relevant and true till today.

What we are witnessing in the east in the name of Operation Python is barbaric and unacceptable. It ought to be condemned by every self-respecting person.

The behaviour of the military against a defenceless and unarmed civilian population in Abia state particularly is simply reprehensible.

What has Nnamdi Kanu or indeed the Igbo people done to warrant this primitive show of barbarism and force? We are on the brink of a total breakdown of law and order and a prolonged and bloody armed conflict.

I urge restraint on all sides and I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the army from the east and leave Nnamdi Kanu alone.

Terrorising your own people with soldiers is not the act of a courageous man but rather the act of a tyrant, a coward and a bully.

We call on the international community to bear witness to what is unfolding in eastern Nigeria and we hold Buhari responsible and accountable for the premeditated and tragic loss of life.

The slaughter of innocent civilians by soldiers must stop. Yesterday it was the Shiite Muslims. Today it is the Igbo. Tomorrow it could be you.

Anyone that believes that a separatist movement or the quest for self-determination can be stopped by the force of arms alone has no knowledge of world history.

The more people you torture and kill, the more the agitation will blossom and grow. The shedding of innocent blood energises, spreads and fortifies the cause for which it was shed.

This is a spiritual principle with practical consequences. It is a deep and mystical truism. The blood of martyrs is never shed in vain.

It cries to God in heaven for vengeance and it haunts and torments those that shed it from generation to generation.

The following questions must be answered. Who is fanning embers of hate if not the Buhari administration? Who is killing and locking up innocent people if not them? Who hates Christians, Middle Belters and southerners if not them?

And nothing reflects the murderous and homicidal disposition of those in power today more than the words of President Buhari’s spokesman, Mr. Shehu Garba, who in response to Mrs. Oby Ezekwezile’s laudable though belated observation that Buhari is nothing but a tribal leader who has been unfair to the people of the east, said the following:

“There is a deliberate sinister agenda by IPOB to provoke the soldiers into killing innocent people in retaliation so that Nnamdi Kanu would use the pictures of the victims of international propaganda by accusing the government of ethnic cleansing against the Igbos with the sole purpose of gaining sympathy”.

The question is this: why should the Buhari government feel provoked to murder anyone simply because they say that they want a referendum to determine their own future and simply because they want their own country? Is Nigeria a giant prison that no-one must question or dare to break out of? Did the British Army slaughter the Scots when they asked for a referendum?

Did the Spanish army butcher the people of Catalan for asking for their own country? What is wrong with our President and our government? Why should we be saddled with a murderous regime who are shameless enough to admit that they are easily provoked to slaughtering their own citizens?

I do not think it is right or proper for innocent souls to be killed simply because they are exercising their right of free speech. No sane or civilised person should remain silent when such wickedness is unleashed on others.

When our soldiers force young men to bury their faces in pools of muddy water and drink it we know that we are dealing with animals and barbarians. When they shoot these young men in the back of the head and line up their bodies on the side of the road we know that this is not OUR army but rather Buhari’s army of occupation which seeks to dehumanise, humiliate, murder, subjugate and enslave our people.

I watched that horrific video and I cried for Nigeria. And after the tears came rage. Is this what our nation has been turned into in the last two years by this ailing tyrant and his murderous security forces? What a shame and what a tragedy. If it had been your child that was subjected to such indignity and treated in this way how would you have felt?

There is only one side to this ugly story. Torture is torture. Murder is murder. Children are children. Blood is blood. And it is God’s will that we condemn evil and refuse to tolerate it.

Permit me to conclude this contribution with the following observations about the abomination called the python dance from a handful of insightful and courageous commentators.

Adetilewa Adetomiwa wrote:

“You see young Igbo men standing in front of military tanks with stone, bottle and sticks. You are calling them stupid people because they are not afraid.

They are not stupid, you just don’t know what is going on.

When you see human beings standing firm in front of a greater power, it’s not stupidity, but a psychological state of mind that is very dangerous to any society.

It’s a state of mind that represent hopelessness and all or nothing attitude. It is the same state of mind that ensured there is no peace in Middle East today. It’s a fanatical state of mind than can’t be conquered by any amount of military operations.

As it is today, only dialogue can settle the war created by Buhari in Igbo land. Else the rest of Nigeria will not have peace.

The earlier we prevent total breakdown of law and order with restructuring, the better”. Chika Udenkwo wrote:

Chika Udenkwo also wrote:

“A Country’s Unity is not determined by guns, sticks, wires, hate speech or restructuring. It is determined by a collective will of the people to forge a future that is beneficial to ALL”.

Again Aniefok Udoabasi wrote:

“Boko Haram is deadly. They are armed to the teeth. They have killed military men in their hundreds. They have killed civilians in their tens of thousands. They have burned down houses and villages. They have burned down churches and mosques. They have threatened to blow up Nigeria. They even blew up the United Nations building in Abuja.

Yet northern elders/leaders, including Buhari, opposed any attempt by the military to invade any Northern community as a result of Boko Haram’s presence. Northern elders, again and again, asked the government to withdraw the army from Borno, the headquarters of Boko Haram.

In fact, Buhari publicly said that it was wrong for the military to move against Boko Haram. He specifically said that any attack against Boko Haram should be viewed as an attack against the North as a whole. I’m not talking about a century or even a decade ago. I am talking about a few years ago.

Also Lai Mohammed, speaking for APC, Buhari’s party, said that it was wrong for the government to label Boko Haram as an unlawful organisation. This was immediately after the Nigerian government had declared Boko Haram an unlawful organization. APC said that declaring Boko Haram an unlawful organization in Nigeria is unconstitutional .
I also remember that when the United States government wanted to declare Boko haram a terrorist organisation, the North vehemently opposed it. The Sultan of Sokoto led the opposition. He openly canvassed that the USA should not label Boko haram a terrorist organisation.

Only CAN ,as led by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor ,canvassed for the United States to pencil Boko Haram down as a terrorist organisation. I remember that when pastor Ayo traveled to the United States to lobby its government to declare Boko Haram a terrorist organisation, he was ridiculed by Northern leaders for daring to cause their Boko Haram to be called a terrorist organisation.

The point is this: if an organization as murderous and satanic like Boko Haram could have northern leaders and APC leaders, including Buhari, as open supporters, why should the unarmed and harmless civilians in the south East not be supported and protected? Why are southern leaders acting dumb? Why are south East governors behaving like house boys?

Nnamdi Kanu, hate him or love him, has not killed a single soul. You may be irritated by the conduct of some of his followers, but the fact remains that they are not armed.

They have not burned communities, have not blown up mosques or churches. They are just a group armed with social media and a radio station.

And yet you say that the army should clamp down, attack and kill them. The same you who said that Boko Haram should not be attacked because that would mean an attack against the North! Same you who said that Boko Haram should not be declared an unlawful organization by the Nigerian government! Same you who pleaded that Boko Haram should not be declared a terrorist organisation by the United States government! Shame on you!”

Finally Jude Ndukwe wrote:

“Boko Haram killed UNIMAID lecturers, NNPC Geologists, soldiers, students, market men and women recently. Just last week, Fulani herdsmen killed about 30 people in Plateau State with their killing of farmers and raping of even old women causing demonstrations in Ondo State.

You said nothing, there was no outrage from you.

But your preoccupation is an IPOB that has never killed or kidnapped or taken up arms against anyone except that their only weapon is their usual massive PEACEFUL rallies which makes you convulse out of jealousy.

While you are busy clapping for the military for their misplaced priority in the so called “show of force” against Nnamdi Kanu, the herdsmen are busy killing your fathers and raping your mothers freely, unchallenged and unhindered over two years or more now.

Common sense should tell you to focus your energy on telling the military to leave the peaceful south east alone and focus on your real enemies”.

I could not have put it better than any of these distinguished and respected individuals and I commend them for their courage, foresight, compassion, humanity and sense of decency. They have spoken the minds of millions.

Finally, let me end with the words of two of the greatest writers and literary icons that have ever lived.

Professor Wole Soyinka wrote , “the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” whilst Franz Fanon wrote:

“The future will have no pity for those men who, possessing the exceptional privilege of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have instead, taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference, and sometimes, of cold complicity. We are nothing on earth if we are not slaves to a cause, the cause of the people and the cause of justice, liberty and free ideas that are made available to all. Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”

The Nigerian people have much to learn from these famous words. May the souls of all those that were ruthlessly butchered and martyred by the army in Abia state rest in peace.


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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What It Would Take to End Racism and War?

Remarks at
George Mason University on September 13, 2017, by David
Swanson

What It Would Take to End Racism and War

Thank
you very much for inviting me.

May I see a show of hands
of those who believe we should eliminate all racism?

Thank
you, and now those who think we should eliminate all
war?

Thank you.

In a typical U.S. crowd, I suspect, many
more will raise their hands for ending all racism than for
ending all war.

Despite the notion that we live in a
democracy being largely fraudulent, I think those shows of
hands represent very roughly how far along we are in
abolishing what we think of as racism and war. That is to
say, I find some significance in the studies that have found
the U.S. government to be in reality an oligarchy. The
policies favored by wealthy elites are generally acted upon.
The views of the broader public hardly matter at the
national level (a bit more so at the state level and much
more so locally) unless they are accompanied by intense
activism and/or they line up with those of some wealthy
elites. If we had direct democracy, government by public
referendum, then, based on the trends of opinion polls, by
definition reflecting the miserable state of our
communications systems but not reflecting any heavily funded
campaigns to sway any public votes, we would have less
investment in wars, more in education, more in clean energy,
more taxes paid by big corporations, less taxes paid by
struggling working people, a higher minimum wage, an end to
mass surveillance, more mass transit, strict restrictions on
carbon emissions, a ban on weapons in space, a ban on
nuclear weapons anywhere, current wars ended, public
financing of election campaigns, gerrymandering banned,
voter registration made automatic, citizenship application
open to immigrants, et cetera.

And yet, I think that
public opinion reflects roughly where the U.S. is headed on
racism and war, in part because public activism can
influence government, in part because government propaganda
influences public opinion, and in part because education —
both formal and through the general presence of ideas
throughout a popular culture — can influence both
government behavior and public opinion.

Let’s try this.
Raise your hand if you think we should eliminate all child
abuse. Thank you.

How about all rape? Thank you.

How
about all torture of kittens? Thank you.

There are things
that most people believe should be entirely eliminated. And
they are often things that few powerful interests teach us
are ineliminable.

But, remember that I said that I was
talking about how far along we are in abolishing what we
think of as racism and war. What happens when we look
closely at what we think of as, for example, child abuse.
There is a single nation on earth that has not ratified the
Convention on the Rights of the Child. There are parties to
the convention that are violating it. But only one country
has, as a matter of principle, refused to join it and at
least claim to be making an effort to respect children’s
rights. I don’t think I’m being very sneaky here: who
can tell me which country it is?

Now, if the United States
were party to the convention, it would be forbidden to give
life prison sentences to minors no matter what horrible
things they had done. It might be forbidden to use its
military recruitment techniques to prepare children for
later recruitment. It would have to respect the rights of
child refugees and the children of immigrants. It would have
to ensure that children all have healthcare, and good
nutrition, and housing, and education including access to
higher education, and a safe environment. Its corporations
would be further barred, as they already are, from using
child labor. The U.S. government might even be bound to
weigh the rights of children in the balance when subsidizing
the use of fossil fuels. There have been a number of
class-action lawsuits already filed by children against the
U.S. and state governments on the grounds that their public
commons are being willfully destroyed. Those suits have been
unable to appeal to a treaty that the U.S. hasn’t
ratified. And then, of course, there is the reason you’re
more likely to hear articulated by opponents of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child, namely that neither a
bunch of foreigners nor even the U.S. government should say
anything about children, as children are the sole and sacred
responsibility of the — guess what? — the F word, but
the good F word, what is it? Right, the Family.

So, now,
if refusing to join the Convention on the Rights of the
Child is child abuse, but joining it is an affront to the
beloved institution called the family, should we end all
child abuse? Are you against families? Do you want liberal
foreigners determining U.S. law enforcement policies and
impeding military recruitment in the good old USA? Do you
want anyone questioning the honor of uniformed generals
visiting elementary schools? Should evil international law
be allowed to prevent toxic waste dumps near schools if
Congress says they’re perfectly safe?

OK, raise your
hand if you still want to end all child abuse when refusing
to ratify this treaty counts as child abuse.

Thank you. If
you still raised your hand, please understand that my point
is that some people will not, that it depends how we define
our terms.

I want to argue that it’s possible to favor
ending all racism but not realize all the places racism
exists, and that it’s possible to oppose ending all war by
failing to recognize alternatives to war. I also want to
argue that, while racism or war could be ended while leaving
the other in place, the two are so closely interlocked that
one without the other would look very different from how it
looks today.

I drove up here from where I live in
Charlottesville, a town lately overrun by Nazis and other
racists from around the country come to defend a giant
heroic statue of Robert E. Lee on a horse that stands in the
middle of town, as well as a similar one nearby of Stonewall
Jackson. Those statues are now covered with giant black
tarps but remain standing.

Raise your hand if you know why
they remain standing.

It’s not because of a public vote.
It’s not because their defenders own more guns than their
opponents. It’s not because Charlottesville City Council
wants them there. Those fine people have voted to take the
statues down and sell them. So, why are they still standing
there, albeit covered with giant garbage bags of
shame?

Some of you have heard but many of you may not
have, because the reason they are still there is something
thoughtlessly accepted by all parties. It has nothing to do
with the case being made by the Nazis or the KKK, and
nothing to do with the case being made by Black Lives Matter
or any of the opponents of the statues. When something is
universally accepted, it isn’t much talked about. Most of
the world’s nations are just now putting together a treaty
to ban nuclear weapons. How much debate have you heard on
that in the U.S. Congress? Or go back to the war that Lee
and Jackson fought in. The North and the South had a
disagreement over slavery, but not primarily over slavery in
existing territories. It was largely because all sides
universally assumed without question that the United States
had to be an expanding empire, that a disagreement over how
to ban or allow slavery in new territories was disastrously
developed into an escapade of mass killing and
destruction.

Now, because I said that, I have no choice
but to speak briefly about the U.S. Civil War before
returning to the statues that were put up 60 years after the
Civil War in the cause of racism and against the wishes of
at least some of the then-dead people depicted in the
statues. Attaching a just and urgent cause like ending
slavery to a war, as Lincoln really did mid-war, when
killing and dying for the Union had worn thin, doesn’t
actually make a war just. Slavery was ended more effectively
without war—through compensated emancipation, for
example—in the colonies of Britain, Denmark, France, and
the Netherlands, and in most of South America and the
Caribbean. That model also worked in Washington, D.C. And of
course the Northern U.S. states had ended slavery without
war.

On June 20, 2013, the Atlantic Magazine published an
article called “No, Lincoln Could Not Have ‘Bought the
Slaves’.” Why not? Well, the slave owners didn’t want
to sell. That’s perfectly true. They didn’t, not at all.
But The Atlantic focuses on another argument, namely that it
would have just been too expensive, costing as much as $3
billion (in 1860s money). Yet, if you read closely—it’s
easy to miss it—the author admits that the war cost more
than twice that amount. So, the cost of freeing everyone
enslaved in the South was not unaffordable, especially when
compared to the cost of the Civil War. If—radically
contrary to actual history—U.S. enslavers had opted to end
slavery without war, it’s hard to imagine that as a bad
decision for them or for anyone concerned.

Had Congress
found the decency to end slavery through legislation alone
(it did pass the relevant legislation after fighting a war),
perhaps the nation would have ended slavery without
division. Or had the U.S. South been permitted to secede in
peace, and the Fugitive Slave Law been easily repealed by
the North, it seems unlikely slavery would have lasted much
longer. The pressures of international morality and of
industrialization were against it.

The war did not, in
fact, end slavery. As documented in Douglas Blackmon’s
book, Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black
Americans from the Civil War to World War II, the
institution of slavery in the U.S. South largely ended for
as long as 20 years in some places upon completion of the
U.S. Civil War. And then it was back again, in a slightly
different form, widespread, controlling, publicly known and
accepted—right up to World War II. No statute prohibited
slavery until 1950, and the 13th Amendment permits slavery
for convicts to this day. This is not to say that the
emancipation at the end of the war was not a very positive
step, only that it did not end all slavery, and some of the
slavery that persisted was actually worse than what had gone
before.

Five days after the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor, the U.S. government took legal actions to end
slavery, to counter possible criticism from Germany or
Japan. Five years after World War II, a group of former
Nazis, some of whom had used slave labor in caves in
Germany, were invited to set up shop in Alabama to work on
creating new weapons technologies. They found the people of
Alabama extremely forgiving of their past deeds. This team
of rocket scientists would later become the core of
NASA.

Of course a nonviolent movement was needed to end
Jim Crow.

Had the United States ended slavery without the
war and without division, it would have avoided the bitter
post-war resentment that has yet to die down. Ending racism
would likely have been a very lengthy process, regardless.
But that process might have been given a head start rather
than an enormous hurdle.

My point is not so much that our
ancestors could have made a different choice (they were
nowhere near doing so, the North could not have done so
without the South, et cetera), but that their choice looks
foolish as one to emulate in the future, knowing what we
know of the costs and risks of war, and knowing what we now
know about the tools of nonviolence. If tomorrow we were to
wake up and discover a large majority of the populace
appropriately outraged over the horror of mass
incarceration, would it help to find some large fields in
which to kill each other off in large numbers, after which
we would pass legislation? Or would it make more sense to
skip right ahead to passing the legislation?

Now back to
those miseducational statues.

The reason the statues are
still there in Charlottesville is that a state law in
Virginia bans taking down any war memorials, and courts have
yet to rule on whether that law applies retroactively to
memorials put up before the law was passed. And no movement
has developed to overturn that law. Nobody’s even talking
about it. We do not, by the way, have a law banning the
removal of peace monuments. It would also be pretty hard to
find a peace monument to take down if you wanted
to.

Charlottesville has several monuments around town and
on the campus of UVA, and they are almost all war monuments.
Ninety-nine percent of our history, all of our activism,
artistry, scholarship, athletics, music, industry,
architecture, education, and all of our non-war glories and
tragedies are missing.

Now, if you look around
Charlottesville for the racist war monuments to take down
and the non-racist war monuments to leave up, you run into
another big problem, other than the law. Who can tell me
what it is?

That’s right. There aren’t any non-racist
war monuments. We have monuments to the wars on the Native
Americans. We have a memorial to the war that killed almost
4 million Vietnamese plus hundreds of thousands of Laotians
and Cambodians — though “Vietnamese” was not the most
common word used to designate the people being killed in
Vietnam. We have a monument from World War I, a war promoted
as a race war against the evil race of Huns. In fact, it
turns out that racism is a very effective tool for building
war support, and it’s quite difficult to find any war that
did not make use of racism or related types of bigotry.
It’s simply too difficult to get people to kill large
numbers of human beings, and far far easier to get them to
kill something subhuman.

So, if any of you raised your
hands to say we should end racism but not to say we should
end war, you may effectively be proposing a new kind of war
unlike anything we’ve seen before.

When former Secretary
of State Madeline Albright said that killing a half a
million children was “worth it,” whatever the it may
have been, she meant a half a million dark-skinned,
Arabic-speaking, Muslim children. When President Obama said
he was really good at killing people, as he bombed eight
different countries, as candidate Donald Trump promised to
kill more of those people’s families, and as a debate
moderator last year asked candidates for U.S. president
whether they’d be willing to kill hundreds and thousands
of innocent children, everybody meant and understood foreign
people, dark children, creatures of the wrong religion and
language and dress. Not because the U.S. government wants to
pursue genocide (although sometimes it or parts of it
clearly do — see John McCain’s threat of
“extinction” for North Korea earlier this week), and not
because the weapons companies make more money if non-white
people die, but because public support for bombing and
shooting and torturing human beings is much harder to
generate than is public support for waging war on those who
are not thought of as human.

Look at how the war on
Afghanistan is labeled the longest U.S. war, as though wars
on Native Americans were not real wars because those killed
were not real people. I just watched a documentary about the
1893 Chicago World’s Fair that noted that at the time,
Germany and France were great friends, and the U.S. was
great friends with the Muslim nations of the Middle East,
and the U.S. was not engaged in any “multi-national
wars.” What, you may ask, is a non-multi-national war?
Presumably it is a war against people who don’t count as
having a nation. The massacre of Wounded Knee happened
during the planning of the World’s Fair. The Apache also
were far from giving up. The Apache, like many other Native
Americans, by the way, are now the name of a U.S. military
weapon used to attack new enemies often described as natives
and Indians. Killing Osama bin Laden was called Operation
Geronimo.

The U.S. Senate voted down today 61-31 a
proposal to repeal the so-called authorization for the use
of military force that has served as a legalistic excuse for
16 years of war in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The racism
of these wars comes home through media and entertainment,
through the actions of some returning veterans, through the
military training given to police departments. The racism at
home fuels the wars through public support, through torture
techniques exported from U.S. prisons, and through
willingness to give up rights in the name of pursuing
enemies.

So it makes perfect sense for those pursuing
peace to also pursue the end of racism. Similarly it makes
sense for those opposing racism to address the problem of
war — something addressed very well in the platform of
Black Lives Matter, which I recommend everyone read.

Raise
your hand if you know something, anything at all, about Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Thank you.

He said that we needed
to go after three evil things together. One of them was
racism. One was militarism. What was the third? Raise your
hand if you know.

This is more important than knowing that
he had a dream. This is more important than knowing that his
dream was not for immigrants to become citizens if they
either found enough money for college or participated in
fighting wars. The so-called Dream Act, in my humble
opinion, should be called the Well It Could Be Worse
Act.

But what was the third thing?

Extreme
materialism.

What is that? Who can tell me?

I’d say
pursuing riches over friendships. Conspicuous consumption.
Brand consciousness. Shopping as fun or therapy. Honoring
the hoarding of vast filthy piles of wealth. Electing people
president who claim to be better than you because they’re
rich. Allowing a concentration of wealth beyond medieval
levels. Letting single individuals hoard money that could
otherwise transform the world for the better, and praising
them for it. Shunning any collective good even when more
efficient, even when it makes everyone better off, things
like universal healthcare and education and retirement and
everything else shunned by the Mercatus Center of George
Mason University and formerly of UVA. Or, how about this,
the willful destruction of the earth’s climate, air, soil,
and water for the short-term monetary profits of a small
number of people? If that’s not extreme materialism, I
don’t know what is. How about tax cuts for billionaires as
an answer to hurricanes?

And how do King’s evil triplets
relate to each other? Wars are fought for, among other
things, profits. Racism is fueled by, among other things,
economic insecurity and greed. Extreme materialism seeps in
to fill a void in lives lacking the pursuit of peace,
justice, community, generosity, and the curiosity needed to
learn from those who are different, and its worst impacts
are imposed on people and communities with the least wealth
and power.

Is it possible to get rid of all racism and
war? What about extreme materialism?

While we can point to
numerous hunter-gatherer societies that have lived without
war or extreme materialism, for obvious reasons of their
isolation we cannot claim they have lived without racism.
Yet we can point to countless examples of people living
without apparent racism, and of people of every description
risking their lives to help end racism. There has never been
anything found in human biology to mandate racism for all or
any segment of our population. Children are not born blind
to superficial features of human appearance any more than
they are to behavioral differences. But whether they
attribute racist significance to those features depends
entirely on whether anyone teaches them to do so. Therefore,
there is no reason grounded in our genetics to prevent our
living without racism.

The same is true for war. War has
only been around for the most recent fraction of the
existence of our species. We did not evolve with it. During
this most recent 10,000 years or so, war has been sporadic.
Some societies have not known war. Some have known it and
then abandoned it.

Just as some of us find it hard to
imagine a world without war or murder, some human societies
have found it hard to imagine a world with those things. A
man in Malaysia, asked why he wouldn’t shoot an arrow at
slave raiders, replied “Because it would kill them.” He
was unable to comprehend that anyone could choose to kill.
It’s easy to suspect him of lacking imagination, but how
easy is it for us to imagine a culture in which virtually
nobody would ever choose to kill and war would be unknown?
Whether easy or hard to imagine, or to create, this is
decidedly a matter of culture and not of DNA.

According to
myth, war is “natural.” Yet a great deal of conditioning
is needed to prepare most people to take part in war, and a
great deal of mental suffering is common among those who
have taken part. In contrast, not a single person is known
to have suffered deep moral regret or post-traumatic stress
disorder from war deprivation.

War in human history up to
this point has not correlated with population density or
resource scarcity. It’s not simply created by powers
beyond our easy control. The idea that climate change and
the resulting catastrophes will inevitably generate wars
could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is not a prediction
based on facts. The growing and looming climate crisis is a
good reason for us to outgrow our culture of war, so that we
are prepared to handle crises by other, less destructive
means. And redirecting some or all of the vast sums of money
and energy that go into war and war preparation to the
urgent work of protecting the climate could make a
significant difference, both by ending one of our most
environmentally destructive activities and by funding a
transition to sustainable practices. In contrast, the
mistaken belief that wars must follow climate chaos will
encourage investment in military preparedness, thus
exacerbating the climate crisis and making more likely the
compounding of one type of catastrophe with another.

Human
societies have been known to abolish institutions that were
widely considered permanent. These have included human
sacrifice, trial by ordeal, blood feuds, duelling, slavery,
the death penalty, and many others. In some societies some
of these practices have been largely eradicated, but remain
illicitly in the shadows and on the margins. Those
exceptions don’t tend to convince most people that
complete eradication is impossible, only that it hasn’t
yet been achieved in that society. The idea of eliminating
hunger from the globe was once considered ludicrous. Now it
is widely understood that hunger could be abolished — and
for a tiny fraction of what is spent on war. While nuclear
weapons have not all been dismantled and eliminated, there
exists a popular movement working to do just that.

But
what would a world without racism or war look like?
There’s no way to actually predict, but I can propose one
way it could look. Without racism, we’d have more
community, more security, more love and enlightenment, less
fear and resentment. But without racism people struggling
with poverty, injustice, and insignificance would have to
find somewhere else to vent their anger and blame, or some
way to overcome it, or they’d have to reinvent racism and
other similar hatreds. Without war, we’d have more global
community, more security, less fear and violence. But
without war we’d have a gigantic pile of money almost too
big to possibly figure out what to do with. We hear about
the wealth of the billionaires sometimes, when people make
enough noise in the streets. But you could tax all their
wealth away once, and it’d be gone — and we absolutely
should do that — but you wouldn’t have anything like the
kind of money you could take away from U.S. military
spending each and every year. Tiny fractions of it could
transform this country and the world. It was doubled after
the events of 16 years ago this week, and we’re much the
worse off for it.

People don’t engage in racism simply
because they are financially insecure, and such contributing
factors to racism don’t excuse it, but people who are
living well and securely in a relatively egalitarian society
don’t have to blame any problems they don’t have on
other racial groups. So if you’re going to end war, why
not also create universal healthcare, education through
college, retirement, vacation, unemployment insurance or
basic income, etc., and not create these things for whites
only as so many government programs were in the United
States in the last century, and not create them for other
groups only even as reparations, but create them equally for
all with no bureaucracy needed to identify the worthy.

The
fact that historical injustices have left us with a vast
racial wealth gap is a problem, and some form of reparations
is probably part of the best answer. Affirmative action as
it has been done is a problem as well, in so far as it
creates resentment among whites. Basic human rights like
education should not be parceled out as weak reparations.
Even aid to the poor creates vicious resentments, especially
when combined with racist thinking that falsely imagines the
poor as of a particular race, and especially when combined
with the ideology of a place like the Mercatus Center that
sees assistance as theft and suffering as irrelevant or
educational. All of this is transformed if we consider the
possibility of using all or part of the U.S. military budget
for something else. If college and healthcare were
guaranteed to all, and the land of opportunity offered the
opportunity to improve that some other nations do,
reparations of past wrongs would be less resisted, including
perhaps reparations to people like Iraqis whose countries
have been damaged or destroyed.

We are often distracted
from the fact that war is the primary thing our country
does. War and militarism and bases and ships and missiles
and sanctions and nuclear threats and hostility make up the
filter through which much of the other 96% of humanity
experiences this 4%. The U.S. Congress chooses how to spend
a great deal of money each year, and chooses to put 54% of
it into war and preparations for war. The wars demonstrably
increase rather than reduce or eliminate anti-U.S. sentiment
and violence. They endanger us rather than protect us —
and those dangers may last in foreign lands as long as the
U.S. Civil War is lasting here. Gallup polling finds the
U.S. widely considered the greatest threat to peace in the
world. The wars are a top cause of death and injury in the
world, and a top cause of famines and disease epidemics and
refugee crises that cause massive additional
suffering.

But war kills most by diverting resources.
Small fractions of U.S. military spending could end
starvation, provide clean water, end diseases, even make
major strides toward ending the use of fossil fuels
worldwide. Military spending also reduces jobs in comparison
to other spending or not taxing working people in the first
place.

The U.S. military consumes more petroleum than most
entire countries and has a bigger budget than most
governments and about the size of all other militaries
combined. The U.S. military destroys areas of the earth on
an unfathomable scale, including back home where it is
responsible for 69% of environmental disaster superfund
sites. Yes, the top destroyer of the U.S. natural
environment is the U.S. military.

By the way, we are
organizing a flotilla of kayaks to the Pentagon on September
17th to hold up giant banners in front of it protesting its
role in climate change. You don’t need your own kayak or
skills. You just need to sign up at WorldBeyondWar.org or
BackboneCampaign.org. And we’re planning a big conference
at American University on September 22-24 bringing together
top environmental and peace activists, and you can come if
you sign up at WorldBeyondWar.org.

While Trump threatens
nuclear war, scientists say that a single nuclear bomb could
cause climate catastrophe, and a small number of them could
block out the sun, kill crops, and starve us to death. There
is no such thing as threatening nuclear war on someone other
than yourself, and no the nukes are not less damaging if
Congress authorizes their use.

The erosion we are seeing
in our civil liberties, the mass surveillance, the
militarized police: these are symptoms of a criminal
enterprise called war. It fuels and is fueled by racism,
bigotry, hatred, and violence. The excuses made for it are
so weak and its horrors so inexcusable that the top killer
of U.S. participants in war is suicide.

And yet, Trump
proposes to move another $50 billion from just about
everything good and decent into war, and the Democrats run
around denouncing the supposed cuts without mentioning the
existence of the military or the fact that it’s not cuts
at all, but moving the money into war. The Democratic
Congressional candidates that have lost all their special
elections this year to warmongering Republicans have in each
case presented platforms that did not mention any foreign
policy whatsoever. The same goes for their new hero Randy
Bryce. The Progressive Caucus’s dream budget increases
military spending. And of course a certain former Senator
from New York who seems to still be running for the 2016
Democratic presidential nomination never met a war she
didn’t love.

Even Bernie Sanders, just went on Stephen
Colbert’s show and rattled off his list of progressive
goals three different times without ever mentioning war or
peace, just as he has done thousands of times. Even the
question of whether to end or continue current wars just
doesn’t come up. During the campaign, Senator Sanders said
that he thought Saudi Arabia should “get its hands
dirty” and pay for more of the wars, as if Saudi
Arabia’s hands weren’t drenched in blood, as if it
weren’t funding wars on the same and opposite side as the
U.S. already, and as if wars were some sort of philanthropy
the world depends upon. Senator Sanders falsely as well as
immorally defends the murderous F-35 airplane as a jobs
program for Vermont where it will damage the hearing and the
brains of the children in the school it takes off over. And
when Senator Sanders was asked “How will you pay for all
your ponies?” (Ponies is Hillary Clinton’s word for
basic human rights) he didn’t reply “I’m going to make
a slight reduction in military spending.” Instead he gave
a complex answer that produced endless media screaming about
tax increases. Contrast that with the popular performance of
the next prime minister of the United Kingdom Jeremy Corbyn
who explains that the wars are illegal and
counterproductive.

So, we have to move the best and the
worst of the politicians in the U.S., and we have to do so
with a popular movement that changes the culture.

But,
someone will object, there is a big difference between
ending war and ending racism. You can end racism one person
at a time. War you have to end in the whole world all at
once, or somebody else will wage war on you when you’re
not ready. Or as someone recently emailed me: if I’m not
willing to nuke North Korea I’d better get ready to learn
to speak North Korean.

That’s a statement that would
still be nonsense yet have a lot more sense to it if spoken
outside the United States. The United States so dominates
the field of war that the notion that it must wait for
someone else to end war doesn’t fit the facts. The U.S.
not only leads the sale of war weapons to the world,
including to the regions of the world with most of the wars
and where weapons are not manufactured at all, but also
leads the world in its own spending on wars and primarily on
war preparations, spending about as much as the rest of the
world put together. The U.S. spends close to $1 trillion per
year across numerous departments. Other countries that spend
$10 billion or more — that is, 1 percent of U.S. spending
— may number 19 or 20. Of those, eight are NATO members,
eight more are U.S. allies with U.S. troops stationed in
them. The U.S. actively lobbies these nations to spend more
on war, not less. Were the U.S. to take a lead in scaling
back military spending it would certainly spark a reverse
arms race.

The United States could also further that
agenda by scaling back its wars and its permanent basing. At
least 95% of the military bases in the world that are on
foreign soil are U.S. bases. Nobody else installs bases in
other countries.

Since World War II, the U.S. military has
directly killed some 20 million people, overthrown at least
36 governments, interfered in at least 82 foreign elections
(but obviously not in the bad Russian way), attempted to
assassinate over 50 foreign leaders, and dropped bombs on
people in over 30 countries. The United States is
responsible for the deaths of 5 million people in Vietnam,
Laos, and Cambodia, and over 1 million just since 2003 in
Iraq. For the past almost 16 years, the United States has
been systematically destroying a region of the globe,
bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen,
and Syria, not to mention the Philippines. The United States
has “special forces” operating in two-thirds of the
world’s countries and non-special forces in three-quarters
of them. For the U.S. to make a move toward scaling back the
war making would have a major impact. 122 countries are
trying to ban nuclear weapons. Only one nuclear country
voted to start that treaty process and it was not the U.S.,
and you wouldn’t believe me if I told you who it was. Were
the U.S. to scale all the way back to a military resembling
those of other countries, were it to do away with offensive
weapons, were it to guard its borders rather than the globe,
others would respond accordingly. And going the rest of the
way would look more and more realistic.

Doing so would
look even more realistic if we understood that war is not
needed for defense. Studies like Erica Chenoweth’s have
established that nonviolent resistance to tyranny is far
more likely to succeed, and the success far more likely to
be lasting, than with violent resistance. So if we look at
something like the nonviolent revolution in Tunisia in 2011,
we might find that it meets as many criteria as any other
situation for a so-called Just War, except that it wasn’t
a war at all. One wouldn’t go back in time and argue for a
strategy less likely to succeed but likely to cause a lot
more pain and death. Perhaps doing so might constitute a
Just War argument. Perhaps a Just War argument could even be
made, anachronistically, for a 2011 U.S. “intervention”
to bring democracy to Tunisia (apart from the United
States’ obvious inability to do such a thing, and the
guaranteed catastrophe that would have resulted). But once
you’ve done a revolution without all the killing and
dying, it can no longer makes sense to propose all the
killing and dying—not if a thousand new Geneva Conventions
were created, and no matter the imperfections of the
nonviolent success.

Despite the relative scarcity of
examples thus far of nonviolent resistance to foreign
occupation, there are those already beginning to claim a
pattern of success. Here’s Stephen Zunes:

“Nonviolent
resistance has also successfully challenged foreign military
occupation. During the first Palestinian intifada in the
1980s, much of the subjugated population effectively became
self-governing entities through massive noncooperation and
the creation of alternative institutions, forcing Israel to
allow for the creation of the Palestine Authority and
self-governance for most of the urban areas of the West
Bank. Nonviolent resistance in the occupied Western Sahara
has forced Morocco to offer an autonomy proposal
which—while still falling well short of Morocco’s
obligation to grant the Sahrawis their right of
self-determination—at least acknowledges that the
territory is not simply another part of Morocco.

“In the
final years of German occupation of Denmark and Norway
during WWII, the Nazis effectively no longer controlled the
population. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia freed themselves
from Soviet occupation through nonviolent resistance prior
to the USSR’s collapse. In Lebanon, a nation ravaged by
war for decades, thirty years of Syrian domination was ended
through a large-scale, nonviolent uprising in 2005. And . .
. Mariupol became the largest city to be liberated from
control by Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine, not by bombings
and artillery strikes by the Ukrainian military, but when
thousands of unarmed steelworkers marched peacefully into
occupied sections of its downtown area and drove out the
armed separatists.”

One might look for potential in
numerous examples of resistance to the Nazis, and in German
resistance to the French invasion of the Ruhr in 1923, or
perhaps in the one-time success of the Philippines and the
ongoing success of Ecuador in evicting U.S. military bases,
and of course the Gandhian example of booting the British
out of India. But the far more numerous examples of
nonviolent success over domestic tyranny also provide a
guide toward future action.

What about claims that we
need, not just defensive wars, but humanitarian wars? Well,
we have yet to see one that benefited humanity. And
supporters of humanitarian wars are still far outnumbered by
supporters of racist wars. The fact that both groups support
the same wars should worry both groups, by the way.

Well,
if not war, then what? Diplomacy, cooperation, aid, the rule
of law, arbitration, mediation, truth and reconciliation,
conversion to prosperous peaceful economies. We’ve started
building the needed institutions and practices. Much more is
needed.

Raise your hand if you think war is sometimes
legal?

War was banned in 1928, and again but with
loopholes in 1945, but none of the current wars qualify for
the loopholes. Developing an understanding of this is a
necessary step. Also illegal is threatening war, even if you
call it “fire and fury.”

There’s a medieval doctrine
called Just War Theory that has held on in the West beyond
any of the rest of the worldview of the people who created
it. Its criteria for making a war just are each either
unmeasurable, impossible, or amoral. For some future war to
actually be just, it would have to be so just as to outweigh
all the killing and destruction it did, plus all the unjust
wars inevitably created by keeping the institution of war
around, plus the risk of nuclear apocalypse maintained by
the institution of war, plus the murderous impact of the
diversion of trillions of dollars every year in military
spending, trillions more in lost economic opportunities, and
trillions more in property destruction by war, plus all the
environmental destruction, the government secrecy, the
erosion of civil liberties, the corrosion of culture with
violence and bigotry, etc. Nothing in the history of the
world has ever been that just and nothing can be.

I think
in many cases it does not take much to dissuade racists,
which is why Trump’s apparent sanctioning of racist
violence, promising to pay legal bills for thugs at rallies
etc., is so damaging. People can be shown directly that
others they despise are intelligent, generous, friendly, and
on their side. People can be taught that racism is
unacceptable. That can be all it takes.

We need greater
efforts put into anti-racist, pro-humanist education and
rallies and counter-rallies. We need the right to assemble
and speak unarmed and without threats of violence. We need a
major nonviolent and disciplined movement that invites
supporters of racism to dialogue, even while insisting that
they disarm and be held to the rule of law. Just today,
Charlottesville’s daily paper finally acknowledged that
the First Amendment might not include the right to speak and
assemble while armed to the teeth.

People can be shown
similar things about war. Every time we’re told we
urgently need a war on Iran, and public pressure helps
prevent it, and the world does not end, we can ask people to
notice that and to question the urgent cries to start that
war the next time they arise. And yet some will still
imagine that a war might be needed, or that once an unneeded
war is begun they must cheer for it or be on the side of the
enemy. So when we think of ending war, people imagine ending
it only by defeating enemies, not by turning enemies into
friends. This won’t work any more than punching Nazis will
work to end Nazism, or shooting guns at hurricanes will turn
climate change into a liberal myth.

Now, I’ve said that
you cannot have a just war, and our entire culture is
founded on the myth of the Justest War Ever, World War II,
so before I take questions I have to say a few words about
that. Here are 12 points that can help begin challenging
what we’ve learned:

World War II could not have happened
without World War I, without the stupid manner of starting
World War I and the even stupider manner of ending World War
I which led numerous wise people to predict World War II on
the spot, or without Wall Street’s funding of Nazi Germany
for decades (as preferable to communists), or without the
arms race and numerous bad decisions that do not need to be
repeated in the future.

The U.S. government was not hit
with a surprise attack. President Franklin Roosevelt had
quietly promised Churchill that the United States would work
hard to provoke Japan into staging an attack. FDR knew the
attack was coming, and initially drafted a declaration of
war against both Germany and Japan on the evening of Pearl
Harbor. Prior to Pearl Harbor, FDR had built up bases in the
U.S. and multiple oceans, traded weapons to the Brits for
bases, started the draft, created a list of every Japanese
American person in the country, provided planes, trainers,
and pilots to China, imposed harsh sanctions on Japan, and
advised the U.S. military that a war with Japan was
beginning. He told his top advisers he expected an attack on
December 1st, which was six days off.

The war was not
humanitarian and was not even marketed as such until after
it was over. There was no poster asking you to help Uncle
Sam save the Jews. A ship of Jewish refugees from Germany
was chased away from Miami by the Coast Guard. The U.S. and
other nations refused to accept Jewish refugees, and the
majority of the U.S. public supported that position. Peace
groups that questioned Prime Minister Winston Churchill and
his foreign secretary about shipping Jews out of Germany to
save them were told that, while Hitler might very well agree
to the plan, it would be too much trouble and require too
many ships. The U.S. engaged in no diplomatic or military
effort to save the victims in the Nazi concentration camps.
Anne Frank was denied a U.S. visa. Although this point has
nothing to do with a serious historian’s case for WWII as
a Just War, it is so central to U.S. mythology that I’ll
include here a key passage from Nicholson
Baker:

“Anthony Eden, Britain’s foreign secretary,
who’d been tasked by Churchill with handling queries about
refugees, dealt coldly with one of many important
delegations, saying that any diplomatic effort to obtain the
release of the Jews from Hitler was ‘fantastically
impossible.’ On a trip to the United States, Eden candidly
told Cordell Hull, the secretary of state, that the real
difficulty with asking Hitler for the Jews was that
‘Hitler might well take us up on any such offer, and there
simply are not enough ships and means of transportation in
the world to handle them.’ Churchill agreed. ‘Even were
we to obtain permission to withdraw all the Jews,’ he
wrote in reply to one pleading letter, ‘transport alone
presents a problem which will be difficult of solution.’
Not enough shipping and transport? Two years earlier, the
British had evacuated nearly 340,000 men from the beaches of
Dunkirk in just nine days. The U.S. Air Force had many
thousands of new planes. During even a brief armistice, the
Allies could have airlifted and transported refugees in very
large numbers out of the German sphere.”[i]

The war was
not defensive. FDR lied that he had a map of Nazi plans to
carve up South America, that he had a Nazi plan to eliminate
religion, that U.S. ships (covertly assisting British war
planes) were innocently attacked by Nazis, that Germany was
a threat to the United States.[ii] A case can be made that
the U.S. needed to enter the war in Europe to defend other
nations, which had entered to defend yet other nations, but
a case could also be made that the U.S. escalated the
targeting of civilians, extended the war, and inflicted more
damage than might have occurred, had the U.S. done nothing,
attempted diplomacy, or invested in nonviolence. To claim
that a Nazi empire could have grown to someday include an
occupation of the United States is wildly far fetched and
not borne out by any earlier or later examples from other
wars.

We now know much more widely and with much more data
that nonviolent resistance to occupation and injustice is
more likely to succeed—and that success more likely to
last—than violent resistance. With this knowledge, we can
look back at the stunning successes of nonviolent actions
against the Nazis that were not well organized or built on
beyond their initial successes.[iii]

The Good War was not
good for the troops. Lacking intense modern training and
psychological conditioning to prepare soldiers to engage in
the unnatural act of murder, some 80 percent of U.S. and
other troops in World War II did not fire their weapons at
“the enemy.”[iv] The fact that veterans of WWII were
treated better after the war than other soldiers before or
since, was the result of the pressure created by the Bonus
Army after the previous war. That veterans were given free
college, healthcare, and pensions was not due to the merits
of the war or in some way a result of the war. Without the
war, everyone could have been given free college for many
years. If we provided free college to everyone today, it
would then require much more than Hollywoodized World War II
stories to get many people into military recruiting
stations.

Several times the number of people killed in
German camps were killed outside of them in the war. The
majority of those people were civilians. The scale of the
killing, wounding, and destroying made WWII the single worst
thing humanity has ever done to itself in a short space of
time. We imagine the allies were somehow “opposed” to
the far lesser killing in the camps. But that can’t
justify the cure that was worse than the
disease.

Escalating the war to include the all-out
destruction of civilians and cities, culminating in the
completely indefensible nuking of cities took WWII out of
the realm of defensible projects for many who had defended
its initiation—and rightly so. Demanding unconditional
surrender and seeking to maximize death and suffering did
immense damage and left a grim and foreboding
legacy.

Killing huge numbers of people is supposedly
defensible for the “good” side in a war, but not for the
“bad” side. The distinction between the two is never as
stark as fantasized. The United States had a long history as
an apartheid state. U.S. traditions of oppressing African
Americans, practicing genocide against Native Americans, and
now interning Japanese Americans also gave rise to specific
programs that inspired Germany’s Nazis—these included
camps for Native Americans, and programs of eugenics and
human experimentation that existed before, during, and after
the war. One of these programs included giving syphilis to
people in Guatemala at the same time the Nuremberg trials
were taking place.[v] The U.S. military hired hundreds of
top Nazis at the end of the war.[vi] The U.S. aimed for a
wider world empire, before the war, during it, and ever
since. German neo-Nazis today, forbidden to wave the Nazi
flag, sometimes wave the flag of the Confederate States of
America instead.

The “good” side of the “good
war,” the party that did most of the killing and dying for
the winning side, was the communist Soviet Union. That
doesn’t make the war a triumph for communism, but it does
tarnish Washington’s and Hollywood’s tales of triumph
for “democracy.”[vii]

World War II still hasn’t
ended. Ordinary people in the United States didn’t have
their incomes taxed until World War II and that’s never
stopped. It was supposed to be temporary.[viii] WWII-era
bases built around the world have never closed. U.S. troops
have never left Germany or Japan.[ix] There are more than
100,000 U.S. and British bombs still in the ground in
Germany, still killing.[x]

Going back 75 years to a
nuclear-free, colonial world of completely different
structures, laws, and habits to justify what has been the
greatest expense of the United States in each of the years
since is a bizarre feat of self-deception that isn’t
attempted in the justification of any lesser enterprise.
Assume I’ve got numbers 1 through 11 totally wrong, and
you’ve still got to explain how an event from the early
1940s justifies dumping a trillion 2017 dollars into war
funding that could have been spent to feed, clothe, cure,
and shelter millions of people, and to environmentally
protect the earth.

**************

[i] War No More: Three
Centuries of American Antiwar and Peace Writing, edited by
Lawrence Rosendwald.

[ii] David Swanson, War Is A Lie,
Second Edition (Charlottesville: Just World Books,
2016).

[iii] Book and Film: A Force More Powerful,
http://aforcemorepowerful.org

[iv] Dave Grossman, On
Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War
and Society(Back Bay Books: 1996).

[v] Donald G. McNeil
Jr., The New York Times, “U.S. Apologizes for Syphilis
Tests in Guatemala,” October 1, 2010,
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/02/health/research/02infect.html

[vi]
Annie Jacobsen, Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence
Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America (Little,
Brown and Company, 2014).

[vii] Oliver Stone and Peter
Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States (Gallery
Books, 2013).

[viii] Steven A. Bank, Kirk J. Stark, and
Joseph J. Thorndike, War and Taxes (Urban Institute Press,
2008).

[ix] RootsAction.org, “Move Away from Nonstop
War. Close the Ramstein Air
Base,”http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12254

[x]
David Swanson, “The United States Just Bombed Germany,”
http://davidswanson.org/node/5134

David Swanson is an
author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director
of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for
RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He
blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk
Nation Radio.He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize
Nominee.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and
FaceBook.

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