Gaeton Fonzi: Supremely Gifted Investigator, Journalist, Author

Gaeton Fonzi PHOTO: Marie Fonzi
Gaeton Fonzi in his home office in Miami. Photo courtesy of Marie Fonzi

“Gaeton was a man of extraordinary courage, integrity and talent. In a significant and unique manner he has contributed to history. His journalistic and historical work will endure as the very finest. As an investigative reporter he had no peer.” —Vincent Salandria

“Gaeton was fearless, a warrior whose only weapons were eloquent words based on intensive, unbiased research. Throughout his career as a journalist, he exposed crooked union bosses, corrupt newsmen and politicians, deviant intelligence operatives, and cold-blooded killers, without any fear of possible retaliation. He was reminded of his dangerous path as neighbors familiar with his work expressed a hope that a bomber would find the right house. But neither the possibility of physical violence nor the reality of multi-million dollar lawsuits frightened him as he responded to critics with even more powerful words. Following publication of his Washingtonian article, this soft-spoken gentleman treated threats from both David Atlee Phillips and Bob Blakey as only a warrior would: He expanded the magazine article into a book, The Last Investigation.” —Marie Fonzi

An archive of some of Gaeton Fonzi’s work is now available at: <https://ratical.org/GaetonFonzi>.


The Occupation of the American Mind - Israel's Public Relations War in the United States

Despite receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from those who have actually seen it, The Occupation of the American Mind has been repeatedly attacked and misrepresented by right-wing pressure groups and outright ignored by virtually all mainstream media outlets and North American film festivals. To bypass this campaign of misrepresentation and suppression, we’ve decided to make the film available for FREE online so that people can make up their own minds about its analysis of U.S. media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Please watch and share widely!

WATCH THE FILM FOR FREE (at https://www.occupationmovie.org/)

FULL LENGTH FILM     21 MIN LENGTH FILM     45 MIN LENGTH FILM     TRAILER     BUY THE DVD

FILMMAKERS' STATEMENT

Over the past 25 years, the Media Education Foundation has produced dozens of educational films that examine how mainstream media narratives shape our understanding of the world. A number of these films have focused explicitly on mainstream news coverage of crucial policy issues. THE OCCUPATION OF THE AMERICAN MIND is the sixth film we’ve done to look specifically at mainstream media narratives about U.S. policy in the Middle East.

HIJACKING CATASTROPHE, 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire (2004) examined how mainstream media outlets uncritically disseminated false information from U.S. officials in the run-up to the war in Iraq. PEACE, PROPAGANDA & THE PROMISED LAND (2004), released the same year, revealed how U.S. news media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict downplayed the reality of Palestinian life under Israeli military occupation. REEL BAD ARABS (2006) explored how negative Arab stereotypes in U.S. American film and television shaped public attitudes about the Iraq war and other real-world events. WAR MADE EASY (2007) surveyed U.S. government war propaganda from Vietnam to Iraq, showing how U.S. news media have been complicit in disseminating it. And BLOOD AND OIL (2008) detailed how U.S. officials have used mainstream news media to conceal the role oil has played in multiple U.S. military interventions in the Middle East.

With THE OCCUPATION OF THE AMERICAN MIND, we decided to revisit news media narratives about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, guided by polls that show the American people have far lower levels of sympathy for Palestinians than for Israelis. We began by poring through hundreds of hours of U.S. news reporting on the conflict, carefully examining stories about everything from Palestinian terrorism and Hamas extremism to Israel's ongoing occupation of Palestinian land, its illegal settlement expansion, and its siege, blockade, and successive military invasions of Gaza. When we started out, we fully expected to find pro-Israel bias in these stories given the U.S. alliance with Israel, U.S. American interests in the region, and how corporate news media tend to reproduce the official government line. But the level of imbalance we found was even more dramatic than we anticipated.

In story after story, Israeli spokespeople far outnumbered Palestinian spokespeople. U.S. political leaders of both parties uniformly and uncritically repeated official Israeli talking points. And U.S. American news media commentators repeatedly did the same, with very few exceptions failing to question the official line or provide even the most basic and uncontroversial rendering of Palestinian grievances. At the same time, we discovered that when Palestinian spokespeople did appear in mainstream news coverage, they were routinely subjected to harsh questioning and even vilification, treatment pro-Israel spokespeople rarely if ever experienced. When we compared what we were seeing in U.S. news media to coverage of identical events in Great Britain and other democratic countries, we saw nothing approaching this level of pro-Israel bias.

In an attempt to make sense of what we were seeing, we were led deep into the history of pro-Israel public relations efforts in the United States, a four-decade campaign to manage negative perceptions of Israeli human rights violations. THE OCCUPATION OF THE AMERICAN MIND tells the story of these PR and propaganda efforts – detailing how they work, how they developed, whose interests they serve, and why they have been so successful in shaping media coverage of the conflict here in the U.S.

We made this film for a very simple reason: because we believe government officials and mainstream media elites are denying the U.S. American people the basic information they need to make sense of one of the most consequential conflicts in the world. Regardless of where the people in the U.S. stand on this conflict, we believe they deserve better. We believe U.S. American democracy deserves better. And we believe in the democratic imperative of holding our political leaders — and our news media — accountable. Given the huge stakes in the region, and the sheer amount of military, economic, and diplomatic support the United States gives Israel, we believe people in the United States have a right and a responsibility to make up their own minds about this conflict.

Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp, Co-Directors
Sut Jhally, Executive Producer

 


Sir! No Sir! The G.I. Revolt

The suppressed story of the GI movement to end the War in Vietnam

“We truly believed what would stop that war was when soldiers stopped fighting it.”
Sir! No Sir! 12 Minute Trailer

During the Vietnam War, the Pentagon documented 550,000 “incidents of desertion”.

In the 1960’s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. This movement didn’t take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. Yet today few people know about the GI movement against the war in Vietnam.

Sir No Sir (2005) Complete Documentary Film (49:27)

Excerpts from the complete documentary (above):

“They were finally listening to us man. That’s the first time I can ever remember anybody listening to us while I was in the military.” (13:21)

13:30: “The commanding general of the 6th army—which was the jurisdiction—he said that they thought that the revolution was about to start and that they really had to set an example, you know, come down hard. And we were the guys that they decided to do that with. And they did. I mean we were on trial for our life. I kind of came in as an AWOL and within two days of hitting the [San Francisco Presidio] Stockade I was I was facing the death sentence for singing We Shall Overcome.”

35:24:“But then people decided to change it to Armed Farces Day because you know we thought making fun of your enemy was as valuable as yelling.”

This feature-length documentary focuses on the efforts by troops in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to oppose the war effort by peaceful demonstration and subversion. It speaks mainly to veterans, but serves as a ready reminder to civilians that soldiers may oppose war as stridently as any civilian, and at greater personal peril.

Buy the movie, more information at: <http://www.displacedfilms.com/films/sir-no-sir/>

The Sir! No Sir! GI Movement Archives: <http://displacedfilms.com/sir-no-sir-archive/>


Amazon and the CIA: Corporate State Interlock - What is Our Responsibility as Human Beings?

Discovering isbn.nu last year prompted the urge to update a version of this story written in 2016 about Amazon getting into bed with the CIA. The previous work led off with the following summary:

With the advent of the partnership between the commercial world’s largest retailer and the Central Intelligence Agency, it is critical for every person to answer the question, ‘What is my responsibility as a human being, to support and participate with or resist and not cooperate with this association?’ Buckminster Fuller called the “invisibly operating CIA...Capitalism’s Invisible Army”.[Critical Path, pg.116] The brainchild of such Wall Street bankers as Allen Welsh Dulles, the CIA was established to ensure and further the control of corporate empire state interests over what are deemed “resources” throughout Mother Earth, for the benefit of the few over all Life.

The question posed above is more pressing than ever. Before expanding on the background of the Amazon-CIA corporate-state interlock, it is useful to highlight one area of information that is available beyond the Amazon straight-jacket: the field of books.

Discovering significant books to study as sources to cite in research about our collective history is an on-going process. While the subject matter is largely buried in a so called national security establishment classification system, there is a highly informative sphere of research by many dedicated people and communities providing coherent critical analysis with which to understand where we’ve come from and where we are going.

isbn.nu affords a quick way to compare the prices of books at over a dozen online bookstores. Initial use revealed that more often than not, other booksellers prices beat the costs at Amazon. In addition to this, one can also tap into worldcat.org, “the world’s largest network of library content and services” as well as lookup services like IndieBound.org providing a range of services dedicated to connecting with Independent Local Bookstores.

Beyond the book market, Amazon’s reach and increasing domination of virtually every dimension of the economic system that drives this society is disturbing far beyond the most compelling Hollywood thrillers such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Birds, Psycho, or The Silence of the Lambs. Background of this corporate-state interlock is a highly relevant “text-book” (pun intended) example to understand the dynamic of the expanding surveillance state and proceed with making choices based on this awareness.

Coming up on 4 years ago and beating out IBM and Microsoft, the $600 million contract Amazon Web Services (AWS) was awarded to provide secure cloud services to the Central Intelligence Agency positioned the dominant U.S. corporate flagship to merge domestic corporate (private) and state (public) economic and military hegemony. As reported on August 1, 2014:

Less than 10 months after a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge ended a public battle between AWS and IBM for the CIA’s commercial cloud contract valued at up to $600 million, the AWS-built cloud for the intelligence community went online last week for the first time, according to a source familiar with the deal.

The cloud—best thought of as a public cloud computing environment built on private premises—is yet far from its peak operational capabilities when it will provide all 17 intelligence agencies unprecedented access to an untold number of computers for various on-demand computing, analytic, storage, collaboration and other services....

In time, the cloud’s full capabilities are expected to usher in a new era of intelligence sharing and cooperation even as the IC [Intelligence Community] collects ever-greater amounts of data from sensors, satellites, surveillance efforts and other sources.

Importantly, the CIA believes the IC cloud will be as safe as—or safer—than security on its current data centers, having met IC standards that govern the handling of classified information. Each intelligence agency has a say in the accreditation process, according to intelligence officials. The AWS-built cloud launch essentially means the entire IC has vouched for its security....

The massive effort, led by the CIA and the National Security Agency, which built its own private cloud, culminated in a CIA contract awarded to AWS in February 2013 that was held up in court until October 2013 by competitor IBM.

The IC’s decision to tap a commercial cloud provider allows it to only pay for services it uses as opposed to costly internal data centers. The IC will also benefit through private sector innovation. Amazon, for example, made 200 incremental improvements last year to its platform; the IC will be able to implement those kinds of improvements as it sees fit.

CIA’s Amazon-Built Cloud Just Went Live, Frank Konkel, DefenseOne.com, 1 Aug 2014

Prior to AWS-CIA secure cloud services going online at the beginning of August, Project Censored published a story in May titled, “Is Amazon About to Help Obama Assassinate an American Citizen?” The focus included the prospect that Amazon’s, “‘cloud’ computing services, which can be used even to launch drone attacks ... could make Amazon an accessory in the assassination....

Furthermore, the man whom President Obama suspects of terrorism overseas is the American-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. The New York Times and The Washington Post confirm that the White House has confirmed the assassination. The assassination was ordered to take place no matter where the subject was found, no matter his distance from a battlefield.

But how can this be justified? The Executive Branch’s power to assassinate U.S citizens away from the battlefield allows no due process at all. The United States government believes that this is for the greater good, when in reality, it is violating American citizens’ constitutional right to due process as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; let alone using the web’s largest retail company to help it do so.

In January 2014, prior to the Project Censored article, Norman Solomon wrote about the unprecedented conflict of interest of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who also exercises sole ownership of the Washington Post (Why the Washington Post’s New Ties to the CIA Are So Ominous). Solomon pointed out how the $600 million contract with the CIA, “puts Bezos’ two entities at cross-purposes: The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. Amazon is under contract to keep them.... Both Amazon and the CIA enjoy digital prowess at collecting global data and keeping secrets, and the two institutions have only just begun to explore how to work together more effectively.”

Zooming ahead to November 2017 Business Insider writer Matt Weinberger reported in Amazon is launching a ‘Secret’ cloud service for the CIA leading off with the following points summarizing the deepening relationship between Amazon and the CIA:

  • Amazon Web Services introduced Secret Region, a new service specifically for the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community.
  • It’s not really a secret service: It’s name just indicates it can handle data that’s been classified at the “secret” level.
  • Amazon has offered the CIA a Top Secret Region since 2014 as part of a $600 million deal.
  • The extension of that older CIA deal with this new Secret service underlines the market dominance of AWS.

...A key difference is that the Secret Region will be available to non-intelligence government agencies, assuming they file the right paperwork. The government and Amazon are promoting the new service as a way for the US intelligence community to modernize its infrastructure and more quickly get more information to the appropriate people.

The synergistic integration of the 17 intelligence agencies comprising the U.S. Intelligence Community, with a new dimension of government agencies outside the IC, indicates the increasing “federal market share” corporate hegemon Amazon is accruing to itself. The most significant segment beyond the IC is the military as reported by Nextgov:

Amazon Web Services is the most profitable division of business giant Amazon, and it is recognized as the dominant private-sector commercial cloud services provider, serving major customers like Netflix. AWS further signaled its intent to corner the growing $8.5 billion federal cloud computing market in opening a new East Coast corporate headquarters in Fairfax County and unveiling a new computing region for government customers. The company also recently announced it can host the Defense Department’s most sensitive, unclassified data.

The AWS Secret Region strengthens AWS’ position as “a dominant player” in the federal cloud computing market, according to Katell Thielemann, research vice president at Gartner, Inc.

The Defense Department, which spends some $40 billion on IT each year, has the most unlocked potential in cloud computing spend[ing], and AWS, Microsoft and IBM each have early contracts in place to serve military agencies.

It is critical to recognize the alternatives to this centralizing model that offer the greatest creative prospects for the future of the human project.

Michael Shuman is the author of Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age (1998). Read the transcript of his talk, Going Local: New Opportunities for Community Economies, presented at the Community Land Trust of the Southern Berkshires January 2002 meeting.

As we consider the fate of the next generation on our planet, we can say with confidence that the future lies with a woman. The question is: Which one? There are two I’d like to introduce you to, one of whom will determine the future of our economy: TINA and LOIS. TINA comes from Maggie Thatcher, who said “There Is No Alternative” to global economy—T-I-N-A. Local elected officials, economic developers, and community planners have embraced TINA through two types of strategies. The first is to convince a company like Toyota to locate in your backyard; the second is to export your goods as far and wide as possible. But there is an alternative, and that alternative is LOIS, which stands for “Local Ownership and Import Substitution.”

This evening I would like to make four basic points: 1) LOIS is a better woman for economic development than TINA; 2) LOIS is more competitive than most of us think; 3) If we take LOIS seriously, she can help us make the term “economic development” worthy of the name; and 4) There are several practical steps you can and should take here and now, beyond the many groundbreaking activities you are already involved in.

Riane Eisler is a social and systems scientist, attorney, and author whose work on cultural transformation has inspired both scholars and social activists. Dr. Eisler is the only woman among 20 great thinkers including Hegel, Adam Smith, Marx, and Toynbee selected for inclusion in Macrohistory and Macrohistorians: Perspectives on Individual, Social and Civilizational Change (summary, analysis) in recognition of the lasting importance of her work as a cultural historian and evolutionary theorist. She has received many honors, including honorary Ph.D. degrees, the Alice Paul ERA Education Award, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2009 Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, and is included in the award-winning book Great Peacemakers as one of 20 leaders for world peace, along with Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King.

Success and Survival in the post industrial world requires an accelerated shift towards partnership. Each one of us can contribute to the partnership movement. We can change by example, education, and advocacy. We can shift our relations from domination to partnership -- starting with our day-to-day relations all the way to how we relate to our mother earth. Shifting from Domination to Partnership


Real Democracy in the Belly of the Beast

by John Judge
1 September 2001

John Judge composed this e-mail 10 days before the so-called New Pearl Harbor of September 11. He was always thinking of decentralization as the cornerstone of a genuine unified post-industrial civilization. The original letter in full is here. It begins with the following, laying out the framework that is then followed by 20 crucial steps as he saw things then:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said there are three pillars that hold up the current system of domestic oppression: poverty, racism and militarism. In order to have real democracy, economic justice, peace and a unified society, we have to both envision our own liberation in our time and take back our history, power and moral integrity.

The reason Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King were both loved and hated, both followed and murdered had to do with their use of "satygraha" or truth force and "ahimsa" or nonviolent harmlessness. These powerful tools moved them outside the control game that has secured privilege for a few over millenia. These systems of privilege, which are the real, deep violence of society, cannot be challenged or defeated using their own violent methods. Nor can they be changed by substituting a new elite in the seat of power, or by reforming them.

As I see it, the crucial steps that must be taken now to stop the current trend to global corporatization, fascism and genocide/ecocide/ethnocide include the following, here in the belly of the beast:

After the 20 steps he describes additional elements to establish a real democracy citing some of Thomas Jefferson thinking, framed 250 years ago. In 2002 and 2005, in different talks John gave, he expanded what he touches upon concerning Jefferson and the later 18th century mind-set described in his 1 September 2001 mail message:

from 2005:

But in order to build that world you have to have the imagination to understand not only what your enemy is and what form it takes—of this global fascism and these international relations and the economic relation that capitalism forces all of us into with each other and how that could be broken; how you pull back aspects of human community that have been stolen from you and then sold back to you in their most distorted form by this system.

But you also have to have the imagination to see what a real democracy would look like. I would submit to you that the democracy envisioned by Thomas Jefferson was not adequate in his mind for the following generation and he said it himself. He said there will probably have to be a revolution in this country every 20 years to make sure that power doesn’t aggregate again in the hands of the few.

from 2002:

Well it’s been over 200 folks and nobody has been re-envisioning that liberation, re-envisioning what their democracy is, what kind of world they live in. And now we have the technology to actually create a world that takes human value into account and gives people back the thing at the bottom that’s stolen from them and that really, I think, it’s the source of all the violence in the world: which is the whole idea of social privilege however it plays itself out, along race, along gender, along caste, or on class.

Privilege is the first and most basic violence asserted in a society. It kills the human spirit. It creates the rage that leads to all the other violence, historically. So if you end that privilege, if you restore justice, then you restore hope. And you know that from a family argument. I don’t have to go to an international argument with you. You don’t resolve it by fighting back, you don’t get even with somebody. All that does is create a feud and it makes the violence cycle into yet another generation. The Paris attack bombings were done in part by young kids whose parents had been murdered by the French and the Algerian freedom fighting wars from 20 years before.

If you get a veteran honest enough to talk about their war experience they will tell you the dirty secret is that they take the dead with them. I learned that from the Vietnam vets. Violence is no resolution to an issue....

from 2005:

[Jefferson] said he wouldn’t expect his children to wear a threadbare coat that he owned just because he liked to wear it. He said if he built a fort around them to protect them from a threat and the threat went away he wouldn’t force them to live in the fort any longer. He said that even if he planted a tree so they could have fruit to eat and they didn’t like the fruit he wouldn’t force them to eat it. These are his metaphors for—he knew that his imagination only stretched so far and that then every subsequent generation would have to imagine and realize its own freedom, it’s own sense of democracy.

The other thing Jefferson realized, and Washington as well, is that parties, political parties are inimical to democracy. Jefferson said that in any given society you can only have two parties no matter what they call themselves. Those who want to take power from the people and put it in the hands of the few, he called the aristocrats. Those who want to do the reverse and put power in the hands of the people he called the democrats. But he said if you build a democratic government machinery and you build a constitution that’s actually democratic and a social contract that’s democratic, you don’t need a democratic party. Washington, when he left office, said that policies belong to the people as a whole and that parties put those decisions back in the hands of a few.

When you lived in the 1700s your only method of communication and travel was either a horse or a boat. When the meeting you had to go to was going to be two days away by horse, the whole community couldn’t go so you picked a representative to go; smaller community, maybe not too far fallen from the tree; probably picked the guy you wanted around the least and sent him off for two weeks to listen and be your representative and then bring back the report.

We’re in the 21st century. We don’t rely on a horse and a boat. We have mass communication. It’s a common wealth. You’ll say, The corporations own the media. They don’t own the media. They monopolize the licenses. The licenses are issued on the basis of it being a common wealth and they’re issued by the public to the broadcasters. They own some of the broadcasting equipment. That hardly seems insurmountable. But it is still a common wealth that belongs to all of us and it’s our public media so we should take back sufficient time to raise issues with each other and debate them in an open way and then everyone participate in the decision-making power that we should have. Because that’s a power that belongs to all of us.

We know by now—don’t we?—that any representative that we would put in our stead can be blackmailed or bullied or bulleted or bribed. It’s not so hard to control four or five hundred people. It’s a little harder when the decisions rest in the hands of us all. And it can be done in a fair way, it can be done in open way. You also have to break open the common wealth of the educational system here so that people get real information.

See government..... Jefferson said given a choice between a government without a newspaper and a newspaper without a government he would always choose the latter. Because he understood that the flow of information is more central to democratic process than the machinery you set up to carry it out. But that’s all that is—is machinery that you set up to carry out your vision of democracy. And if it ain’t working then you dismantle it and you put some machinery together that makes it happen in the right way.

And, I mean, I don’t vote for representatives. I have two buttons. One says: If Voting Worked It Would Be Illegal. And the other says: Don’t Vote It Only Encourages Them. I would gladly vote for referenda but not the kind of referenda they have out—and in issues they have in many of the places out here because those are rigged so that only the rich can get enough signatures to get over the hump. But if you made voting registration automatic, if you made it very simple to put something on the ballot and then maybe chose what were the most popular ones for each month and ran them, then you could debate them and you could choose by them. But there’s no reason not to be making those decisions—especially when they affect lots of people—and no reason not to be making them on a decentralized level. Not all on some kind of a national or state level but a decentralized level that thinks globally and acts locally but also does the reverse: that when it acts globally it thinks locally. And you can put those two things together.

Then if you’re going to pay taxes—and there are alternatives of alternate money and not having a money or a tax system and all that—but if you’re going to pay taxes, we have a bumper sticker in DC that says Taxation Without Representation because we don’t even have a voting representative. We have Eleanor Holmes Norton who can go and sit on a committee but she can’t vote. My version of representation with taxes is not Eleanor Holmes Norton voting for me because she doesn’t represent me. I doubt I could represent anyone else in the room here much less all of you. Why would I want to try? I can represent myself perfectly well. As can you.

If your response to this is, Yeah but people are too stupid. Jefferson thought of that too. He said the only safe repository for power is in the hands of the people. He said if you think them unable to exercise their discretion in a wholesome fashion—that means you think they’re idiots—he said the solution is not to take the power from them and put it in the hands of an elite. The solution is to inform their discretion; that you have to trust rationality, you have to trust communication, and the ability that we can educate each other and ourselves about things. (from 2002: Jefferson said, There are those who say that men are not capable of governing themselves. His response to that was, Are they then capable of governing others?) Does it mean we’d never be wrong? No. But I would tell you we will fix a mistake sooner than this system will fix a mistake and we won’t vote for things that are obviously not in our own self-interest on a broader scale. Will there be differences? Of course there will be. But breaking through some of those other things would make it possible.

But if I was going to pay tax to the federal government I think that I would want the last page of the Tax Form to be an allocation form. Now that would be taxation with representation. Because I would directly allocate the tax that I paid. And I even want to just send a three-part carbon out to everybody that pays taxes in my community and show them a brochure with a pie: here’s where your money’s currently being spent. Here’s your blank pie. Fill it in. Put one in with your tax form—doesn’t have any legal weight but tell them how you’d like the money to go. Send one to your representative or put it in the drawer. And send one back to me. I’ll take the results. I’ll put them into a people’s tax pie. I’ll go to the voting record and put up the representatives tax pie. I can guarantee you they won’t be the same pie. And then I’ll ask the representative to come out and explain who it is that they’re representing.

Now it’s very simple but it plants that seed. You’ve got Bush running around saying, It’s your money. It’s your money. And I said, Yes it is my money and I want to allocate it. I don’t want the chump change back that’s left for social services after you overfund the Pentagon and the CIA. I want to spend the money myself. Okay? And it’s a process.

I’m not saying these are magical solutions. But if you don’t start thinking of a different way to invent democracy this late then we are going to go on the nightmare path. And if you don’t understand that your loyalty belongs to the human race and not to a flag, not to a country that’s supposedly under attack from some mystical force that’s out there that you can’t even identify—I mean, these terrorists, the way they’re presented to us, it’s as if they dropped in from outer space. All you know about them is that they hate you and they want to kill you. You can’t negotiate with them. You can’t talk to them. You can’t understand them. All you can do is kill them. And you got to kill every last one except, you never know.... It’s like the pod people, you know, maybe it’s spread to somebody else and then you got to start killing them. And how long is it before you start fingering each other? Well, I think you’re one of them.

It’s just dead end. It’s the 21st century. We know what war does. And now the weapons that make it happen are so bad that the planet is not going to survive. If we don’t make war obsolete, we’re going to make ourselves obsolete....

I do these things because I’m hoping that a little bit of humor, a little bit of perspective, it’ll open up something for you that you’ll look at the paradigm in a different way. In fact I wanted to write a memoir, and thinking about a title of a memoir would be Brother Can You Paradigm? Because if you can’t paradigm you’re in trouble. It’s not that everything they’re telling you is a lie. But the focus, the lens, they’ve got is a little skewered so that you don’t see it straight when you look at it.

conclusion from 2002:

If violent response to terrorism, which is as they say asymmetrical warfare—it means a smaller weaker group, a certain party of people that use violence and then they’re backed by other people who feel a long string of abuses—if you respond violently to that—Israel and Palestine is a pretty good example that that’s not the way to resolve the matter or Israel would be one of the safest countries in the world.

It’s obvious to anybody that thinks about it that you have to go the other direction. That the way you end what you’re calling terrorism is to restore justice, is to restore hope and then the sanction and the support for violence in those communities diminishes and it goes away. Because instead you have the sort of natural, civil and community structure that all of us would have were it not for the fact that we live under the demands of capital and its accumulation. We live under a situation that mis-educates and under-educates us. A situation where it’s hard for us to find out what the truth is about our society or our world. And a situation that values us the same way that miners in the 1930s were told that when the mine begins to collapse you push the mules out first because it costs money to replace a mule.

That’s the position we’re in in relation to the people that hold the wealth in this world. We are expendable and they’re going to escalate that expendability. The choice and the power is there. But the choice to recognize that power, and take responsibility for it, and make this into a world where all of us can live, sits right here.

conclusion from 2005:

... If we approach our belief systems as religions then we’re going to put people out in the street and away from us. But if we approach it as respect between two people and let’s see if we can’t get to the truth; in my lectures people come up afterwards and say, Gee, you talked about this and my uncle did that. The little piece of a woman at the picnic table.

If we told the stories of our own families, the whole system would break. They do what they’re doing because they are deathly afraid of us. They need for us to be in denial. They need for us to try to protect the little bit of privilege we have over somebody else rather than sharing. They need us to keep the needle in our arm, the television on, the consumer mentality going; keep quiet, consume and die; and they’re afraid of us. And they need us to feel that we are powerless.

But we are the least powerless people on the planet. And there might be a way for the whole rest of the world to stand up to this juggernaut but it wouldn’t be easy. But where the potential is to stand up for it is right here, among us. And the moral responsibility to stand up to it is right here because it’s being done in our name and it’s being done each day. And we can build another world. We can invent another world. We can include each other. We can build community. We don’t have to be afraid of each other. But we have to tell the truth. And once we tell the truth to ourselves and to others, once we pull the needle out of our arm and say I’m not playing anymore, that’s it. Game’s over.

In the conclusion of John’s 1 September letter he invites those he was connecting with to communicate with him and like-minded souls he was working with on this endeavor:

There are many brilliant people and communities thinking about, practicing and expanding these ideas and actions that are the answer to the current global dilemma. If you are inspired, if you wish to share your vision of them, if you want to learn more, please contact us.

P.S.   See Michael Schuman's book Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age (1998) for a review of decentralized alternatives that I have been promoting for 40 years now - JJ

In 2002, Michael Schuman gave a talk at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics on Going Local: New Opportunities for Community Economies. The complete presentation is available as a transcript and is as relevant and illuminating today as it was then.


US Settler Colonialism and Its Inseparable Offspring, Attempted Genocide

Annotated Transcript: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz speaking in October 2017

Historian and author, Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz presents a detailed critique of the historical roots of the United States. Complete text is here.

Excerpts:

Introduced by Nick Estes:

From the first time I met Roxanne we have talked about Amilkar Cabral’s concept of Return to the Source, the source of oppression and resistance. For these Settler States of America, it is settler colonialism. Those who have thwarted the finality of settlement in the United States have been Indigenous Peoples. Roxanne instructs us that history and resistance are two pillars of liberation. The terms of history, in this way, are not hashed out in dusty archives or in academic debate alone. As we see in St. Louis right now, or at Standing Rock, or right here in this colonial settlement called Santa Fe, history is an active element of our current moment being fought for in the streets and primarily led by Indigenous and Black People.

Roxanne has been a comrade in that struggle and we are the product of that work. People have given their lives or currently sit behind bars, such as Leonard Peltier, for us to be here today.

So what are the stakes of history? It is to say, as Roxanne and those like her have been saying for more than five centuries, colonialism and capitalism are not naturally occurring systems nor are the ills that they bring such as slavery, genocide, imperialism, racism, hetero-patriarchy and white supremacy. So we should be turning to those Indigenous Societies who have resisted colonialism and capitalism for centuries to imagine a world otherwise. Because the mandate is to return to the source as Roxanne constantly reminds me. We are the source. We are the past and we are the future.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:

The Doctrine of Discovery

So what is the Doctrine of Discovery? According to this Medieval Canon Law, European Christian monarchies acquired title to the lands they discovered and Indigenous inhabitants lost their natural right to that land after Christian Europeans had arrived and claimed it. Under this legalistic cover for theft, European and Euro-American wars of conquest and settler colonialism in the Western hemisphere devastated Indigenous nations and communities, ripping their territories away from them, and transforming the land into private property, or real estate, along with another form of private property, enslaved African bodies.

In the United States most of that land ended up in the hands of land speculators who were also slavers and agribusiness operators called plantations, such as most of the US founding fathers, so-called, and most of the US Presidents and other government and military officials up to the Civil War. Arcane as it may seem, the Doctrine of Discovery remains the basis for US federal laws still in effect that control Indigenous peoples lives and destinies, maintaining a regimen of suffocating settler colonialism under the color of law.

From the mid-fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, most of the non-European world was colonized under the Doctrine of Discovery. This is the first principle of international law that Christian European monarchies promulgated to legitimize the investigating, mapping, and claiming lands belonging to non-Christian peoples outside of Europe.

It originated in a Papal Bull, issued in 1455, that permitted the Portuguese monarchy to seize West Africa for slave raiding. Following Columbus’s infamous exploratory voyage in 1492, sponsored by the king and queen of the infant Spanish state, another Papal Bull extended similar permission to Spain. Disputes between the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies led to the Papal initiated Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 which, besides dividing the globe equally between the two Iberian empires, clarified that only non-Christian lands fell under the Discovery Doctrine.

This Doctrine, on which all European states relied, originated with the arbitrary and unilateral establishment of the Iberian monarchies’ exclusive rights under Christian canon law to colonize foreign peoples, and this right was later seized, and absorbed, usually explicitly, if not by common law, by Protestant, Christian, European monarchical colonizing projects as well....

 

Indicating the intentions of the newly independent United States, in 1792, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson asserted that the Doctrine of Discovery, developed by European States, was international law, applicable to the new US government as well. Codifying the Doctrine of Discovery as domestic law in 1823, the US Supreme Court issued a decision, actually a collection of decisions, three decisions, concerning the Cherokee Nation in Georgia. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Marshall held that the Doctrine of Discovery had been an established principle of European Law and an English Law in effect in British North American colonies, and was also the law of the United States....

 

Parallel to and enabled by this ethnic cleansing was the rise of a cotton kingdom in the Mississippi Valley, and the Industrial forced-breeding of enslaved Africans in the older slaver states. The foundation and birth of United States capitalism burrowed into and destroying Indigenous sacred land and African sacred bodies as exchange commodities, and the source of wealth that built the richest nation state and largest and deadliest military in human history, the United States of America.

So the Doctrine of Discovery, at least in the United States, is so taken for granted that very few people even know it exists as a fundamental element of the United States law. Although we do know that the US purports to be a nation of laws, we don’t iterate this particular one in law schools or in conversation. The Doctrine of Discovery is rarely mentioned in any historical or legal texts although the Marshall Court Cherokee decisions are regularly the introduction to US Constitutional Law, after Marbury. Yet the Doctrine of Discovery is the legal basis upon which the United States government controls Indigenous Nations whose territories it claims under a continuing colonial system....

 

The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, along with the powerful Native, Chicano, Puerto Rican anti-war countercultural, Women’s Liberation, and Gay and Lesbian and Trans Movements, broke down the existing consensus and created a window of opportunity that institutionalized revisions through the bottom-up creation of Black, Native, Chicano, and Gender Studies. But that devolved into a kind of multiculturalism supporting the narrative of diversity and contributions to the greatness of the United States.

In achieving a new consensus the new narrative had to ignore Native issues of sovereignty and territorial rights and treaties. Rather, twisting the inclusion of indigeneity as a racial discrimination question rather than a question of sovereign Nations living under settler colonialism.

One of my favorite writers, late writers, William Burroughs, narrator in his 1984 novel which I highly recommend, The Place Of Dead Roads, observes that “people are not bribed to shut up about what they know. They are bribed not to find [it] out”. This is particularly true in the writing of US history, my profession. It’s not a free speech issue, but one of asking questions that challenge the core of the scripted narrative. Historians are validated to the extent that they remain guardians of the United States origin narrative with various tweaks to adjust to demands of the excluded, to prevent revolutions.

Even those flawed advances are currently in retreat and US gun violence, and endless wars are endemic. Various polls show that even the educated general public doesn’t know basic facts about the structure of the US government, the Constitution, the rights of states and the division of powers. Yet there is a widespread acceptance of the greatness and goodness of the United States along with the extreme mistrust of government. Except for the military.

Understanding Where the US Military Came From & What It Is

A recent tiny Associated Press story provided polling information of US American public regarding their confidence in federal government institutions. Reporting only six percent have confidence in Congress (probably zero in this [unintelligible]). Fourteen percent of people said they have confidence in the executive branch which includes the president and all of the cabinet agencies. Twenty-four percent say they have confidence in the Supreme Court. However eighty-four percent have confidence in the military.

The military is the only unifying government institution, the only one trusted. So we have to understand where that military has come from and what it is. Why is there so little information, analysis, or curiosity in the origins and development of the US military? In history and political science texts, it doesn’t exist. And teaching at any grade level [and] graduate school, the military history field, small as it is, is usually made up of war mongers and former military people and people who certainly never write about what actually happened to form that military.

The military isn’t even presented as a branch of government as we know there are only three branches of government. Rather it is placed under the formerly civilian, elected president and commander in chief of the armed forces. This is meant to scare you because Trump isn’t just president, he’s the commander in chief of the armed forces. And as he said, I heard him on TV tonight say, that he can do anything he wants, because he’s that.

However from the earliest settlements in the 1600s to the adhesion of the thirteen British colonies into an independent nation state and up to the present, the military has been the engine that drives US nationalism; that is, patriotism. Yet generations have little knowledge of interaction with the military. But the annals of military history reveal the architecture of its formation and function and dominance....

Deconstructing Consensus US History: Fort Bragg, CA

In fact, the majority of US Army Bases on the continent were initially outpost for wars against Indigenous Nations: Fort Snelling, Hayes, Kearney, Leavenworth, Sill, and Riley, the latter the base of George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry, now the First Infantry Division. All named after US Army Officers who commanded genocidal wars.

For most of the period from the US war of independence to the 1890s, the sole function of the US military was to kill, roundup refugees, relocate and confine Native Americans and appropriate their land and resources to replace with Anglo American settlers, and sometimes from other countries like Scandinavians. Particularly, slave-owning planters involved in mono cash production got most of that land. The Army Officers of both the Confederacy and the Union had made their careers in genocidal campaigns against Native Nations and against the Indigenous and Mestizo peoples of Mexico, which included where we are now, annexing half its territory and including three major declared wars against the Seminole Nation before the Civil War.

Both Union and Confederate Armies posted regiments west of the Mississippi to invade territories of the Dakota, Cheyenne, Navajo, Apache, and Comanche Nations among others.

Wars against the native peoples did not miss a beat during the Civil War which saw the military rounding up and deporting the entire Navajo population, that Kit Carson could round up, to a desert concentration camp where one-third succumbed to starvation, exposure, and disease. And the ethnic cleansing of the Dakota people in their traditional territory of Minnesota to be replaced by Scandinavian settlers.

After the Civil War, when the US Army was supposed to prioritize occupation of the defeated Confederate States, forcing a reconstruction in which liberated African Americans could become participating and leading citizens, the commander in chief of the armed forces, the President, kept shifting armed forces from the South to the West where a twenty-five year total war was waged to destroy the Native Nations in the Northern Plains, the Intermountain West and Southwest.

US: A Thoroughly Militarized Culture - Dangerous Because We Don’t Know It

The United States is a thoroughly militarized culture, all the more dangerous because we don’t know it. It’s subliminal. And it has been since it’s bloody birth. The blood being mainly that of Indigenous peoples in the path of the colonist’s relentless expansion during their Revolutionary War. We see the signs of militarism all around us and in the media. (Just take the NFL thing in the last few weeks.)

But as military historian John Grenier notes, the cultural aspects of militarization are not new. They have deep historical roots reaching into the nation’s racist settler past and continuing through unrelenting wars of conquest and ethnic cleansing over three centuries. Grenier writes,

Beyond its sheer military utility, Americans also found a use for the first way of war in the construction of “American identity”.... the enduring appeal of the romanticized myth of the “settlement” (not [calling it] conquest) of the frontier, either by actual men like Robert Rogers or Daniel Boone or fictitious ones like Nathaniel Bumppo of James Fenimore Cooper’s creation, [Last of the Mohicans, it all] points to what D.H. Lawrence called the “myth of the essential white American.” [The First Way of War, p.222]

US nationalism, its national narrative and origin story is white nationalism and any historical analysis or current social crisis cannot be comprehended without acknowledging US settler colonialism and colonial violence centering on Indigenous America, historically and in the present.

 

LISTEN TO RECORDING / READ COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT


50 Reasons - Postscript 1968

Len Osanic is to be commended. He has produced a concise and incisive summation of the elementary facts involving the 1968 state killings by our US military-intelligence system and its supporting civilian oligarchs of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. As Jim Douglass observes in King and the Cross, “The truth of the assassination of Martin Luther King is one issue on which the system will never retreat, any more than it would retreat from its lies on the interrelated assassinations of Malcolm X and the Kennedys.” It is through champions like Len Osanic and countless others supporting the creative evolution of the human project that we will take back our stolen history as well as our power and our moral integrity.

50 Reasons - Postscript 1968
by Len Osanic
BlackOpRadio.com, Apr-May 2018

Episode 1 - Who Was Martin Luther King? (11:44)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g5duA9nvzc&feature=youtu.be
Black Op Radio continues to investigate the 1960s political assassinations in America on the occasion of their 50th anniversary. Martin Luther King was a remarkable source of inspiration and an articulate radical voice speaking for our better natures. Black Op Radio has hosted numerous shows over the years featuring discussion of Dr. King's life and legacy. This video program features: Judge Joe Brown, Jim DiEugenio, David Ratcliffe, William Pepper
blackopradio.com
kennedysandking.com
ratical.org
williampepper.com

Episode 2 - Ambush at the Lorraine Motel (9:04)
https://youtu.be/B8XrnIZLPjM
Martin King's unscheduled return to Memphis in April 1968 coincided with a number of covert activities which served to reduce his personal security. This episode features excerpts from Black Op Radio appearances by Jim DiEugenio, James Douglass, William Pepper, Judge Joe Brown, and David Ratcliffe.
blackopradio.com
kennedysandking.com
https://ratical.org/ratville/JFK/index.html#MLK

Episode 3 - Who Was James Earl Ray? (11:01)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpajV8whlFo
Martin King's convicted assassin was a career criminal, but not previously a murderer. He claimed he did not shoot King, rather was framed by a man who had served as his handler for the preceding year. The evidence against him was never convincing. This episode features excerpts from Black Op Radio appearances by William Pepper, James Douglass, Jim DiEugenio, Larry Hancock, Judge Joe Brown, and David Ratcliffe.

Episode 4 - MLK: Trial and Coverup (9:49)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuNHxXCO11A
Attempts at a new judicial hearing into Martin King's assassination were thwarted or compromised, forcing the King family to use a civil trial as a means to get all the information on record. Featured speakers, from the Black Op Radio archives, are: David Ratcliffe, William Pepper, Jim DiEugenio, James Douglass, and Judge Joe Brown.
http://www.thekingcenter.org/civil-case-king-family-versus-jowers
kennedysandking.com ratical.org

Episode 5 - Who Was Robert Kennedy? (8:39)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQGSEeK28Kw
Robert Kennedy did not have plans to run for President in 1968, but fast moving events put him in such position. It is now known that, had they both lived, Martin King would have endorsed RFK and a powerful nexus in support of peace and the well-being of all peoples almost certainly would have captured the White House. This episode features excerpts of Black Op Radio appearances from Lisa Pease, William Pepper, and Jim DiEugenio.
blackopradio.com
kennedysandking.com

Episode 6 - Ambush at the Ambassador Hotel (10:19)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnFihDSA27Y
The shooting of Robert Kennedy appeared an open and shut case: the witnesses clearly identified Sirhan Sirhan as the man who approached while firing a gun. The forensic evidence, however, told another story. This program features appearances from Black Op Radio by Paul Schrade, Scott Enyart, Lisa Pease, and Jim DiEugenio.
blackopradio.com
kennedysandking.com

Episode 7 - Who Was Sirhan Sirhan? (11:17)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8Uwn-9TmEc
Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted for the shooting of Robert Kennedy, has no memory of the event. His strange demeanor at the Ambassador Hotel seems to have been abetted by two companions, who were seen fleeing shortly after the shooting. This episode features excerpts from Black Op Radio appearances by Lisa Pease and Jim DiEugenio.
blackopradio.com
kennedysandking.com

Episode 8 - TRIAL and COVERUP: The RFK Assassination (11:54)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg-wysdDH2k&t=50s
Sirhan Sirhan went on trial in 1969, some eight months after the assassination. He ended up facing the death penalty, even as his experienced legal team knew the forensic evidence said otherwise. Distinguished forensic pathologist Dr Cyril Wecht discussed this issue with Black Op Radio.

Episode 9 - The Legacy of the Assassinations of the 1960s (16:12)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg-wysdDH2k&t=50s
Four slayings of prominent political figures in less than five years in America. This episode examines later historical consequences in terms of what was prevented from happening as well as what did happen. Featuring Black Op Radio contributors Jim DiEugenio, Lisa Pease, Larry Hancock, Cyril Wecht, William Pepper, David Ratcliffe, and James Douglass.
See/read Taking Back Our History - Key Element of The Big Picture an annotated transcript of Episode 9.
blackopradio.com
kennedysandking.com
ratical.org


The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction - Artificial Intelligence

This is the beginning of an annotated transcript of Part One of Eight in a radio program mini-series by TUC (Time of Useful Consciousness) Radio focusing on the accelerating danger and likelihood of Artificial Intelligence and the Risk of Nuclear War.


The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction
Artificial Intelligence
by Maria Gilardin
TUC Radio Podcast Part One of Eight
15 April 2015

Broadcast quality mp3 of the 30 minute program is here: http://tucradio.org/DynamicOfExtinctionONE.mp3 (20.8 MB)

TUC aka Time of Useful Consciousness is an aeronautical term. The time between the onset of oxygen deficiency and the loss of consciousness, the brief moments in which a pilot may save the plane.

The anti nuclear campaigner and physician Dr. Helen Caldicott organized a two day symposium in February 2015. She had an international panel of leading experts in disarmament, political science, existential risk, anthropology, medicine, nuclear weapons, and artificial intelligence. MIT professor Noam Chomsky spoke on nuclear weapons as, “A Pathology That Could Yield to Catastrophe if Not Cured.” His presence—or absence at public events—usually makes a huge difference. Media, such as Democracy Now, came for his talk but did not stay for the other 20 plus speakers. It appears that the topic was just too scary for many.

What they missed was a huge offering of information and related questions on Artificial Intelligence and the Risk of Accidental Nuclear War, on recently proven facts about a global nuclear winter that can be caused by the unleashing of just a few nuclear weapons, the expanding Militarization of Space, the Power and Pathology of the US Military Industrial Complex, privatization of the US Nuclear Weapons Labs, nuclear war crimes in the Marshall Islands, as well as two of the vibrant movements to abolish nuclear weapons, a divestment effort under the title Don’t Bank on the Bomb as well as ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Efforts to abolish nuclear weapons and war began before the atom bombs were even built. A few of the scientists who went on to work on the Manhattan project recognized the unheard of explosive potential of atomic weapons and the risks of spreading radiation. In a TUC Radio program about the first nuclear chain reaction the historian Iain Boal mentioned Leo Szilard who witnessed the experiment by Enrico Fermi in an abandoned racquet court in Chicago on December second, 1942. Iain Boal:

Leo Szilard was on that balcony that day. It was very, very cold and they could see their breath. And they were standing there with a bottle of Chianti. And it was Szilard who in 1933 in London, as he walked across Southampton Road and the world cracked open, had been the first to consider at that moment how it might be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction and liberate energy on an industrial scale and to make a bomb. And he stayed behind on the racquets court. There was crowd there, he said later, and then Fermi and I stayed there alone. I shook hands with Fermi and I said I thought this day would go down as a black day in the history of mankind.

Leo Szilard later said that when he crossed Southampton Road in 1933 he suddenly knew in a flash of recognition that by his invention universal death might come into the world. The Hungarian American physicist was the first to conceive of the nuclear chain reaction and he patented the idea of a nuclear reactor along with Enrico Fermi.

Szilard participated in the Manhattan Project, but tried by all means available to him to convince US President Truman not to use atomic weapons on Japan. Szilard urged US policy-makers to demonstrate the power of these weapons to leaders of the world by exploding an atomic device in an uninhabited area.

READ/LISTEN TO COMPLETE PROGRAM


The Truth of The Children of Vietnam: A Way of Liberation

How Will We Challenge Militarism, Racism, and Extreme Materialism?

war is not healthy for children and other living things“The Children of Vietnam” provides an instance of truth force that is needed now more than ever to counter the fragmentation and doublethink being amplified by the demands of capital and its accumulation. Because, tragically and horrifically, what the United States caused to happen in Vietnam has not stopped. It continues to this day, magnified on a global scale within numerous theatres of U.S. military and covert operations including in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Yemen.

WAR IS TERRORISM

In denouncing the U.S. war in Vietnam at Riverside Church in 1967 Martin King posed the question on behalf of Vietnamese peasants: “What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe?” And this was a war that ended up being broadcast on nightly news television in the United States as it became evermore hellish in its results. Said King at Riverside, “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” His voice, love, compassion, and intelligence are as searingly relevant right now, half a century later, as in 1967.

This is an exposition of the photographic essay by William Pepper about the children of Vietnam that Martin King first saw on January l4, l967. Initially, while he hadn’t had a chance to read the text, it was the photographs that stopped him. As Bernard Lee who was present at the time said, “Martin had known about the [Vietnam] war before then, of course, and had spoken out against it. But it was then that he decided to commit himself to oppose it.” Pepper’s essay contains the most powerful creative energy on earth: truth force. It is as relevant 50 years later as it was in 1967. Martin King steadfastly exhorted all to confront and grapple with the triple prong sickness—lurking within the U.S. body politic from its inception—of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism. These evils require us to respond with life-giving intelligence, to change course away from the nightmare path we are pursuing, and towards, in Coretta King’s words, “a more excellent way, a more effective way, a creative rather than a destructive way.” All of us in the United States are the ones best positioned to challenge the destructiveness of the three prong sickness destroying our civilization and the Earth and change direction towards affirming life in all its variations and sacredness. We have choices and power here that the majority of humanity do not enjoy. The choice and the power resides within us. And the choice to recognize that power, and take responsibility for it to make this into a world where all of us can live together in peace and fellowship   s i t s   r i g h t   h e r e.

READ COMPLETE ESSAY


John Trudell: What It Means To Be A Human Being

Spoken Word presented at The Women’s Building, San Francisco
March 15, 2001
This is a moving, thought provoking spoken word and poetry address, given in honor of the U’wa and their resistance to oil drilling on their ancestral land in Columbia.John Trudell was a poet, musician, and an advocate for Native American rights. He did not set out to be a writer. His poetic gift developed out of the remarkable, sometimes horrifying circumstances of his life.

Trudell grew up on and around the Santee Sioux reservation near Omaha, Nebraska. In 1969 he participated in the Indians of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz. From 1973 to 1979, he served as national chairman of A.I.M., the American Indian Movement. The government response to A.I.M. was swift Trudell said, “They waged war against us. They hunted us down. They killed, jailed, destroyed us, by any means necessary.”

In 1979 that war took a terrible personal toll on John Trudell. On February 11, he led a march to the FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. Approximately 12 hours later, in the early morning hours, a fire “of suspicious origin” burned down Trudell’s home on the Shoshone Paiute reservation in Nevada, killing his wife Tina, their three children, and Tina’s mother. Devastated by the loss of his family, Trudell withdrew from the world; “writing words” became his way “to keep some sanity” and continue to survive.

An essential point to keep in mind is that this expression comes from the oral tradition. The written word is different. The spoken word transmits awareness and understanding in a more comprehensive and integrated form. While the transcript is available, the most thorough way of taking this in is to listen.

Audio recording and transcript is freely available. Summary excerpts follow:

 


 

In the reality
Of many realities
How we see what we see
Affects the quality
Of our reality

We are children of Earth and Sky
DNA descendant now ancestor
Human being physical spirit
Bone flesh blood as spirit
Metal mineral water as spirit

We are in time and space
But we’re from beyond time and space
The past is part of the present
The future is part of the present
Life and being are interwoven

We are the DNA of Earth, Moon, Planets, Stars
We are related to the universal
Creator created creation
Spirit and intelligence with clarity
Being and human as power

We are a part of the memories of evolution
These memories carry knowledge
These memories carry our identity
Beneath race, gender, class, age
Beneath citizen, business, state, religion
We are human beings
And these memories
Are trying to remind us
Human beings, human beings
It’s time to rise up
Remember who we are

... the being part of human is being mined through the logic of the human, alright, and the emotions of the human. The being of spirit, the spirit of being is what is being mined through the logics and emotions of the human, in order to run this system, see.

I mean this is the purpose of techno-logic civilization. They call it techno-logic for a very specific reason. This isn’t an accident, okay? You know, it truly isn’t. But the purpose of the civiliz[ation] – and so one of the civilizing processes is to erase memories. Alright?, to erase memories. Because we have ancestral memory. It’s encoded in the DNA – it’s a genetic memory.

You look at how techno-logic civilization – and everywhere that it goes, the longer it’s there, the more isolated the human beings – but they’re not called human beings, they’re workers and citizens, etc., alright? Alright? But the more isolated they feel, they no longer – you know, maybe they remember their grandparents or their great grandparents.

But see, you’ve got all that ancestral knowledge that’s encoded in the DNA, but it’s been cut off. So it can’t activate because if we’re not conscious that it’s there then we can’t – it just makes [things] difficult. See this is the memory that it’s very important for them to erase. Alright, and it’s about who we are – it’s memory of identity and self-reality.

So anyway, we, because we are, we come from where we come from, every one of us is the descendant of a tribe. Every person in this room is a descendant of a tribe at some point in our ancestral evolution. Common, collective, genetic memory that’s in there, you know, that’s encoded, like I say, in the DNA.

And for every individual, encoded in our individual DNA, alright?, is the experience of our lineage from the very beginning. Whose whole perceptional reality was what I was just saying: all things have being, we’re made up of the Earth – all my relations, pray to spirits. See, and they didn’t pray to man or human form. The closest they came to it was they prayed to spirits that were called ancestors.

Alright? And because they were praying to those ancestors for help and guidance, they understood that we were borrowing today from the past and the future. We’re borrowing it from both places.

So they had this understanding of reality. So they knew that to keep the balance was the purpose. That was the purpose. The reason for being was to keep the balance.

So this was like, you know, what I will call a spiritual perception of reality. And so because of the spiritual perception of reality they understood that life was about responsibility. It wasn’t about the abstraction of freedom – it was about responsibility. That life was about responsibility.

So the spiritual perception of reality was based upon that: we were the Children of the Earth, the Earth was our Mother. The Sky, the Sun and the Sky – these were our fathers. Alright, but this was – and our reality worked for us....

So in our collective, genetic, ancestral memory, we had the experience of encountering the techno-logic perceptional reality. Because somewhere as this thing unfolded and refined itself, as it was spreading over the planet, a religious perceptional reality was used to replace a spiritual perceptional reality. Alright?

Because [with] a spiritual sense of reality you’re connected to everything man, you know, you’re connected. But in the religious perceptional reality, see, you committed a crime for being born, see you’re BLEEP forgettin’ here. [laughter] I didn’t make this up. And I’m not making it up now, alright? [applause]

And so anyway, in order to be – justify being here – to get to stay [laughter] – you had to submit to the male dominator chain of command, the authoritarian system. See, in this new religious reality[, it] said that, you know, well now there’s one god. The gods battled it out amongst themselves, see.

See I can’t envision, to me I’ve never been able to envision gods or goddesses. I can’t imagine the Creator in a human form. I mean no – you know, I can’t. And I think our road, our path to trouble started when we started to do it that way. Alright, you know, looking at the Earth as the Mother and these things, you know, call it a goddess, whatever, and this and that.

See, but I don’t go with god because I know that’s a limited perceptional reality. See, they forced it on us. But the trouble came see, when, when we decided that the Creator entity had a human form. See because then, that, that rationalized and justified mistreating the rest of the natural world.

Alright? I mean, sexism and racism came out of this perceptional change because once the Earth – you know under the new god thing, see, the Earth was no longer the Mother. The Earth was the property of this new god. And all god’s children – see god didn’t have a lot then, but they were very mean [laughter] so their numbers expanded through terror – see but god’s children was the – their job and objective was to subdue the Earth for this god.

So in order to achieve that objective they had to create sexism. See, sexism has got to do with how we live with the Earth. And racism, because now that the Earth was property, you know and all spiritual value was away, was away from the Earth, you know. Real spiritual value was now a religious perceptional thing, and, right, so it wasn’t all encompassing, it wasn’t just a part of the reality anymore.

So not a one of our people really went for this. Because it’s like, you know this is a major perceptional reality change. But anyway we committed a moral crime forgetting here, so now we had to submit to that world view.

To me, coherently to me, it’s clearly a blatant, a blatant, a very blatant perceptional altering how one perceives reality. I mean it’s brainwashing intensified at its maximum, right? Because our ancestors were forced to see life differently in order to remain just physically alive....

Alright – we know there was an inquisition. And this inquisition went on for 4 or 500 years in Europe. The purpose of the inquisition was to alter the perceptional reality of the descendants of the tribes of Europe. To make them believe and see reality the way the church wanted them to believe and see reality.

The church called it – they waged a war for possession – for possession, this is important – they waged a war for the possession of the souls of the godless heathens. And to be a godless heathen you just didn’t believe in god. It wasn’t a part of your reality. Or another way [of] becoming a godless heathen was to question the authority of the church to do this.

See now, again, I’m not making this up. You know, this did transpire. These things did happen. And they killed as many people as they could – I guarantee it – in order to get the other ones to submit. So they killed as efficiently as they could with the technology they had at their disposal at that time, alright? And because they created a rationalization as to why to do it, so it just became as efficient as they could do.

And at some point, the descendants of the tribes of Europe no longer knew what it meant to be a human being. They just didn’t know – they didn’t want to know. So the descendants of the tribes of Europe, in the end, had to love what they feared which was there to possess them. See, and I think it messed up love in a lot of ways, you know that they haven’t unsorted yet. You know, no offense, but .....

But anyway, all of this took place through our intelligence. Our intelligence. Now whoever it is we pray to, right?, whoever it is we pray to, however we pray, whatever, however we do that, alright?, I think that we have an obligation and a responsibility and it’s about respect. If we respect our Creator, then we should use our intelligence as intelligently as we can as often as we can. And that means with clarity and coherence. That means to activate and respect our intelligence and activate the thinking process so that it’s going the way we want it to be because that’s why it was given to us.

Our intelligence – as the human being part of all of this reality that’s going on, we were given intelligence, this is what was there to help us through the evolutionary reality – to ride the balance, so to speak, of the evolution with our intelligence. It’s our medicine, it’s our protection, it’s our self-defense.

Those fears and doubts and insecurity in one’s daily mind and reality – how much do they affect one’s daily mind and reality? How much do they affect the ones of the people around them that they’re connected to and that they care about? What’s the repercussions of the fears and the doubts and insecurity? Because I guarantee you, every day when we get up, we use our intelligence to create those effects.

So it isn’t that we’re not using our intelligence, or we can’t use our intelligence – we can’t stop using our intelligence. But it’s about as human beings, taking the responsibility to be as clear as one possibly can be about it and use our intelligence the way our Creator gave it to us to use.

Keep the balance, our intelligence. So this is – everything that ever happened – had, to change the perceptional reality, this – the battle ground had to take place. The real battle ground may have been the bleeding and the dying, but it has to do with the intelligence, to alter the perceptional reality....

But if we would look at ourselves clearly, the Dineh, the Navaho have a way of saying, I’m going to the fourth mind. Which means to look at everything. But you, you rise out of it. You look at it from outside, from the top, the bottom, all the way around, from the inside. You look at it from under it. You look at it, that that thing for it – every way that you can and you see it for what it is. And then you, you act....

The first act, the first act of being free and liberation, alright?, is the act of taking our intelligence back, taking our imagination back, our ability to think. That’s the first act of liberation. That is the very first act, alright?, of conscious liberation. The first steps towards respect for the Creator is understanding that we have that intelligence and doing the second act. It’s our intelligence. And for our next generation, you know, we have a responsibility to direct as much intelligence into that as we can.

Because this thing about life and death – you know, this techno-logic reality has been around for 3 or 4,000 years – I don’t know however long it’s been around, you know. But its whole reality is based upon death so therefore, at some point it must die. Our whole objective as human beings is to stay alive. Do you get it? I mean really alive. Not surviving and existing, I’m talking about alive. Connected to life and living. See, we have to outlast it because we can’t outfight it because its violence and its aggressive mindset, alright?, is beyond parallel.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s powerful. That just means that it’s violent and it’s aggressive and it’s without parallel and you better be damned careful of it. But that’s what that means, about power – our relationship to clarity and coherency and the use of our intelligence is our relationship to power and we can outthink it....

Your descendants and my descendants depend upon us, alright?, to keep the reality of the living alive. And we are going to influence the outcome, no matter what we do. So [what] I’m talking about is, well let’s take some responsibility, alright?, and let’s influence it in a more clear and coherent way. Outthink them. Trust ourselves and our ability to think. And each and every one of us was given just as much intelligence as we need. It’s not a contest.

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