Put Away The Flags (Howard Zinn)

(via The Progressive, 4th July 2006)

US soldier holding flag that says: "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking — cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on — have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours — huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction — what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early.

When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession.”

When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: “It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day.”

On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our “Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence.” After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: “We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country.”

It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.

We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, “to civilize and Christianize” the Filipino people.

As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: “The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness.”

We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.

Yet they are victims, too, of our government’s lies.

How many times have we heard President Bush tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for “liberty,” for “democracy”?

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail in 2004 that God speaks through him.

We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

43 Missing Students, State Crimes & Resistance in Mexico

(by Dawn Paley, via Media Co-op)

Guerrero's state congress burns during the widespread protests that took place in response to the police kidnapping/murders of the students from Ayotzinapa.  Tuesday, October 13. (Photo: El Universal)
Guerrero’s state congress burns during the widespread protests that took place in response to the police kidnapping/murders of the students from Ayotzinapa.
Tuesday, October 13. (Photo: El Universal)

The story of the 43 young men, students at a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, who were disappeared in Iguala, Mexico on September 26th is one that isn’t going to go away.

Recall that they were kidnapped by police and nothing has been heard from them since. The Mexican government and mainstream media are relying heavily on the narrative that the responsible party in these crimes is a “drug gang” called Guerreros Unidos. That narrative distorts and distracts from despicable state crimes by pointing to organized crime and corrupt cops as being solely responsible.

This is a short update meant to demystify official claims, which are (as usual) finding great echo in the media, as well as to bring folks up to date on ongoing acts of resistance in Mexico.

On the day the students were detained by police before also being disappeared by them, six people were killed by gunshot wounds when cops opened fire on various vehicles. There are now ample survivors who have bravely told media what took place that day, and they’re not talking about attacks by Guerreros Unidos or some other crime group. They describe how police fired directly on groups clearly identified as students. Here’s a snippet from an excellent piece by Vice Mexico:

“When it started, one of us said, ‘Don’t be afraid, friends, they are firing to the sky’,” Mario went on. “The buses stopped, and that’s when I saw the bullets were coming toward us.”

The young men began panicking. Mario and three other friends got off, each also wearing the red jacket of their Ayotzinapa uniforms. They saw that the gunfire was coming from men inside two municipal police cruisers. Trying to defend himself, Mario threw rocks in their direction.

As bullets kept hitting the buses, they ran to the first bus. “But then we saw that they were ten police cars, surrounding us. We had no where to run and no rocks to defend ourselves,” Mario said.

“One of the bullets hit Aldo, who fell right next to me. I saw how a pool of blood formed. I yelled at them that they already hit one of us, and they began firing more,” he went on. “If you moved, they fired, if you yelled or talked, they fired. They fired so much, from in front, and from behind, that us, the ones who got off, we hid in between the first and second bus.”

mass of riot pigs and angry students who hate killer cops
Anti-riot policemen are on guard as students try to get into Government palace, in Chilpancingo (Photo: Jose Luis de la Cruz)

Yesterday it was revealed that the 9-10 mass graves that were found outside of Iguala almost two weeks ago do not contain the bodies of the 43 missing students. We now know that at least 28 more people were killed around that time, they were tortured, cut into pieces, and burned before being buried outside of Iguala. We must now speak of various massacres in Iguala (not to mention mass graves containing nine bodies found in April and another nine in May of this year on the outskirts of the city).

But the government of Mexico’s involvement in these crimes goes beyond police actions and their collaboration with paramilitary groups in the region. It was reported that authorities also impeded the work of an Argentine Forensic team tasked with identifying the remains in the graves.

“There were two days of agnoy and complications, and on the third day things were normalized,” [according to a lawyer on the scene].

Because of the loss of those initial hours, they arrived at the first five graves–out of which they took 28 bodies–once the exhumations were already done. “They didn’t have the opportunity to participate in that.”

The mayor of Iguala, who belongs to the sham leftist PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution), is on the run with his wife. Note that governor of Guerrero is also a member of the PRD.

I guess that’s my lead in to update on the resistance and organization taking place in the face of this massive, ongoing tragedy.

There were marches throughout the country a week ago today, as well as in cities around the world, including Vancouver and Montreal. Coming back to my segue-way, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the so called “moral leader” of the sham-left PRD party, was attacked during the October 8th demo by protestors in Mexico City who threw garbage and yelled at him and his entourage. But the marches were big, and there were lots of them, and the attack on Cárdenas was just a bit of a sideshow that demonstrates how pissed people are at all of the political parties in this country. Of the main protest slogans in the marches is: ¡Vivos los llevaron, vivos los queremos! which translates as: They were taken alive, we want them back alive!

Militant highway blockades have been taking place in various locations. There was one this morning on a major highway in the south of Mexico City.

Also today the National University (UNAM) and various other large universities in Mexico City (UAM, IPN and UACM) entered their second day of a two day student strike, with another two day strike proposed for next week.

Lastly, for the moment, on October 13th the State Congress of Guerrero was burned by protesters. The building will not re-open for some time and government activities have been suspended until an alternative seat of government is found. Chilpancingo’s City Hall was also set on fire.

(An unpleasant endnote, but over the weekend a leader who has been active in resisting a dam in Sinaloa state was killed while he broadcasted live during his weekly radio show. More on that soon.)

Cops and Paramilitaries Tortured, Burned, Massacred Mexico Students

poster for october 8 march against state disappearances(by Dawn Paley, via Media Co-op)

It appears that a mass grave found near Iguala, Guerrero, over the weekend which is said to contain up to 34 bodies, contains the remains of at least some of the 43 students who were kidnapped by police on Friday.

The students were rural youth studying to become teachers. Their student association is known to be one of the most organized and combative in the country. They were brothers, sons, and friends, and some of them were fathers. They were tortured, dismembered and burned before being buried.

This isn’t the first grave of its kind to be dug in Mexico, far from it.

There have been hundreds of clandestine mass graves dug and filled with corpses since Felipe Calderón declared the war on drugs in December, 2006. The discovery of some of these graves garnered international attention, while others went under the radar almost completely. There’s no solid, reliable count of bodies, or of graves. Then there are those which have yet to be discovered. Migrant activists go so far as to call Mexico a giant cemetary, claiming that as many as 120,000 migrants could be secretly buried across the country.

The US media is struggling to tell the story of the bad Guerrero police who passed detained students off to crime gangs. The first thing we can do to break the silence about what is happening in Mexico is call things by their name.

The killers in Iguala were not drug gangs. They were cops and paramilitaries. Paramilitaries are non-state armed groups who work with state forces. There can be no clearer example of the horrors of state and paramilitary violence than what has happened to these students.

Parts of Mexico are deeply paramilitarized, a process which was accelerated and fortified by the Merida Initiative as well as internationally sponsored police professionalization programs.

I’m a grad student in Mexico, and in talking with my peers over the past couple days, the fear and the rage is tangible. On Wednesday, students around the country will bravely march against this barbarity, this terror at the hands of the state. The worst thing we can do is to be silent about this.

World watches idly as Israel bombs Gaza school and market

Via Electronic Intifada:

“As each day brings new horror in Gaza, Palestinians in the besieged Strip have become largely cut off from the outside world as Israeli bombing has badly damaged the electricity infrastructure and telecommunications network.

The bodies of at least sixteen Palestinians were pulled from the rubble after an Israeli strike hit a United Nations school in Jabaliya refugee camp on Wednesday. Approximately 3,300 displaced people were taking refuge in the school.

flames and black smoke, people watching the power plant burn ... gaza
Flames engulf the fuel tanks of the Gaza Strip’s only power plant on 29 July after it was hit by Israeli shelling overnight. (Photo credit: Ashraf Amra, APA Images)

Later that same day, Israeli forces shelled an open market in the Shujaiya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City, the site of a terrible massacre last week, killing at least seventeen. Residents had ventured out to the market during a four-hour humanitarian truce unilaterally declared by Israel. The victims included a journalist — the seventh media worker killed in Gaza since the onslaught began on 7 July — and emergency health care workers.

Monday night was one of the heaviest nights of shelling during the last three weeks of Israel’s all-out military offensive on Gaza. On that night alone, dozens of Palestinians were killed.

Many areas across the Gaza Strip came under random tank shelling, and Israel bombed the only power plant, leaving much of Gaza without electricity. Most households in Gaza City currently receive only up to two hours of electricity per day, according to the United Nations, and other areas in central Gaza are receiving no electricity at all.

Officials say the damage done to the power plant could take up to one year to repair — that is if Israel allows Gaza to import the necessary spare parts and allows engineering experts to enter.

These power outages mean that water pumps and sewage stations have stopped functioning, leading to a serious humanitarian and environmental crisis in terms of lack of clean drinking water and basic sanitation.

The only mobile network in some areas failed as well, not only due to power cuts but because many transmission towers have been damaged since the start of Israel’s military aggression against Gaza on 7 July.

Meanwhile, hospitals and other vital facilities remain at serious risk as their generators cannot provide safe, sustainable electricity and power. Twenty-three health care facilities have been damaged by the Israeli military, according to the UN.

“We have been suffering from frequent power cuts since 2006, and now the bombing of the power station will worsen our miserable life given that we cannot find fuel to power small electrical generators,” said Nader Daher, a 35-year-old who was displaced from his home in Gaza City.

“Everyone tries to conserve his mobile battery; we also can’t keep food in the freezer and [we’re] running out of canned food,” he added.

More than 240,000 residents from different cities and towns across Gaza have become internally displaced, many of them seeking shelter at United Nations-run schools, according to the UN. Some are staying at relatives’ homes, dozens packed into one house.

“We do not have electricity nor water,” Khamis Jabali, 27, a displaced resident of Gaza City, said. “We wait for the water tanker to come to this school to fill our bottles. It’s hot, and we have not had showers for weeks now. Hundreds of us here we share water and toilets. […]”

Read the rest of the article here.

Bloody Friday: 12 children among dozens killed in Israel’s merciless slaughter

People weeping and solemnly kneeling near the pale, lifeless body of a 5-month old baby killed by the Israeli military
Palestinian mourners gather around the body of five-month-old baby Faris al-Mahmoum during his funeral on 18 July in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

via Electronic Intifada:

At least 61 people, at least 12 of them children, were killed on Friday alone, the second day of Israel’s ground invasion of parts of the Gaza Strip, and the twelfth and bloodiest day since Israel began bombarding the territory with airstrikes and land-based and naval artillery. Eight members of a single family, the youngest six months old, were killed when a missile struck their home. By Friday evening Gaza time, 296 people had been killed and more than 2,200 injured since the Israeli bombardment began […]

On this day in history – December 22, 1997: The Acteal Massacre

On This Day: In 1997 armed paramilitary troops with assault rifles entered and attacked the unarmed Tzotzil Maya village of Acteal in Chiapas, Mexico in what has come to be known as the Acteal Massacre. The Tzotzil were attending a prayer meeting when the troops entered the village and massacred 45 people, including pregnant women and children. The paramilitary troops were retaliating against the Zapatista National Liberation Army, whom the Tzotzil had supported.

Mourners in the aftermath of the 1997 Acteal massacre.

Declassified documents reveal the role of the Mexican government and military in this massacre: The documents describe a clandestine network of “human intelligence teams,” created in mid-1994 with approval from then-President Carlos Salinas, working inside Indian communities to gather intelligence information on Zapatista “sympathizers.” In order to promote anti-Zapatista armed groups, the teams provided “training and protection from arrests by law enforcement agencies and military units patrolling the region.”

(Text from: Indigenous People’s Issues & Resources, Facebook)

 

 

On this day in history: The El Mozote Massacre

On this day in history, December 11, 1981: Units from the U.S. trained/funded Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army killed more than 800 civilians (over half of whom were children) in the village of El Mozote, El Salvador and the surrounding area.

Victims Of The Mozote Massacre, Morazán, El Salvador, January 1982  Photo: Susan Meiselas
Victims Of The Mozote Massacre, Morazán, El Salvador, January 1982
Photo: Susan Meiselas

The Atlacatl was a “Rapid Deployment Infantry Battalion” specially trained for counter-insurgency warfare, trained by United States military advisors. The U.S. government, under Jimmy Carter (a Nobel Peace Prize winner, like fellow mass murderer Obama), was funneling enormous amounts of military aid to the Salvadoran military at the time.

El Mozote consisted of about twenty houses situated on open ground around a square. Facing onto the square was a church and, behind it, a small building known as “the convent”, used by the priest to change into his vestments when he came to the village to celebrate mass. Near the village was a small schoolhouse. Upon arrival, the soldiers found not only the residents of the village but also campesinos who had sought refuge from the surrounding area. The soldiers ordered everyone out of their houses and into the square. They made them lie face down, searched them, and questioned them about the guerrillas. They then ordered the villagers to lock themselves in their houses until the next day, warning that anyone coming out would be shot. The soldiers remained in the village during the night.

Early the next morning, the soldiers reassembled the entire village in the square. They separated the men from the women and children and locked them in separate groups in the church, the convent, and various houses. During the morning, they proceeded to interrogate, torture, and execute the men in several locations. Around noon, they began taking the women and older girls in groups, separating them from their children and machine gunning them after raping them. Girls as young as 10 were raped, with some soldiers reportedly heard bragging that they especially liked the twelve-year-old girls. Finally, they killed the children, often by slitting their throats … sometimes hanging them from trees. After killing the entire population, the soldiers set fire to the buildings.

El Playon, Well-Known Location Where Bodies of the “Disappeared” Are Often Found, Sonsonate  Photo: John Hoagland
El Playon, Well-Known Location Where Bodies of the “Disappeared” Are Often Found (Sonsonate)
Photo: John Hoagland

The US officially praised the efficiency of the Atlacatl Batallion on several occasions. During a Senate hearing on El Salvador which took place on 8 February 1992, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Elliott Abrams stated that ‘the battalion to which you refer [Atlacatl] has been complimented at various times in the past over its professionalism and over the command structure and the close control in which the troops are held when they go into battle’.

The perpetrators of the El Mozote and other equally vicious massacres – along with their supporters in the Carter and Reagan administrations (including the Presidents themselves) – were never charged, as authorities granted all forces a general pardon following the peace accords of 1992 which put an end to the war.

Families Looking for “Disappeared” Relatives in the “Book of the Missing,” Human Rights Commission Office, San Salvador  Photo: Eli Reed
Families Looking for “Disappeared” Relatives in the “Book of the Missing,” Human Rights Commission Office, San Salvador
Photo: Eli Reed
Unearthing of Three Assasinated American Nuns and a Layworker from Unmarked Grave, Santiago Nonualco, December 4, 1980  Photo: Susan Meiselas  Two Young Girls Found Alongside the Highway to Comalapa Airport  Photo: John Hoagland National Guardsmen Arresting a Suspected Guerrilla, Chalatenango  Photo: Kenneth Silverman
Soldiers With Their Mutilated Victims, Chalatenango  Photo: Harry Mattison Soldiers Check University Workers for Identification Following Skirmish with Students, San Salvador, March 1980  Photo: Etienne Montes National Guard Arresting Members of Popular Political Organizations Who Had Occupied the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) Headquarters, San Salvador  Photo: Michel Philippot
Guerrilla Dragged Through the Streets of Cuscatlancingo, March 1982  Photo: Susan Meiselas Female Victims of Death Squad, Apopa  Photo: Chris Steele-Perkins Arrest for Failure to Carry an ID Card, San Salvador  Photo: John Hoagland

 

[These photos from the U.S. backed dirty war in El Salvador were taken from the book “El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers (1983)” … keep this fresh in your mind, because this is, no doubt, how your tax dollars are being spent in Afghanistan and Iraq right now.]

On this day in history (March 8, 1782): The Gnadenhutten massacre

On this day in history — March 8, 1782 the Gnadenhutten massacre (also known as the Moravian massacre) took place. It was the killing of ninety-six Lenape (Delaware) by colonial American militia from Pennsylvania during the American Revolutionary War. The incident took place at the Moravian missionary village of Gnadenhütten, Ohio, near present-day Gnadenhutten. The Lenape were going hungry because of insufficient rations, so in February 1782, more than 100 returned to their old Moravian villages to harvest the crops and collect stored food they had been forced to leave behind. In early March, the Lenape were surprised by a raiding party of 160 Pennsylvania militia led by Lieutenant Colonel David Williamson. The militia rounded up the Lenape and accused them of taking part in raids into Pennsylvania. Although the Lenape denied the charges, the militia held a council and voted to kill them. The next morning on March 8, the militia tied the Lenape, stunned them with mallet blows to the head, and killed them with fatal scalping cuts. In all, the militia murdered and scalped 28 men, 29 women, and 39 children. They piled the bodies in the mission buildings and burned the village down.