Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinnon Talks to PressTV about AIPAC

September 29, 2018

Cynthia McKinnon is another Black female politico that the Israel lobby has tried to silence. She was an American congresswoman, whose career was targeted and destroyed by AIPAC, the very well-funded and powerful pro-Israel lobby group in the US, because she refused to sign the pledge they foist on American politicians. This pledge is an agreement that they’ll support Israel in return for funding from AIPAC. She was also targeted because she tried to reach out to the Muslim community in the US.

In this video, she talks to Press TV’s Marzieh Hashemi. McKinnon states that she went to Congress simply to concentrate on the Black community, who were in need, and America’s policy towards Africa, which she describes as abhorrent. She wasn’t interested in any other areas. But she bumped into special interests at every turn, and none of them have more influence than the pro-Israel lobby. She states that she bumped into the Israel lobby when she tried to reach out to the Muslims, because what they really didn’t want was a politicised Muslim community, which is as large and as wealthy as the pro-Israel lobby. She said that the political assaults on her were so bad that he father had to ask publicly ‘What does Stone Mountain, Georgia, have to do with Israel?’ She says with justifiable passion that she was prevented from serving her community because she did not toe the line on America’s policy towards Israel.

She describes how every candidate for Congress was given a pledge to sign, including herself. The pledge had Jerusalem as the capital city and the military superiority of Israel. She said that this was almost like water-torture for her. She would receive a phone call from someone saying that they wanted to organize a fund-raiser for her, she’d get excited about it, and then two or three weeks into the planning they’d ask her if she signed the pledge. And when she admitted she hadn’t, the fundraiser would go ‘kaput!’

She also says that the pledge also commits you to voting to support the economic assistance the country wants. Hashemi makes the obvious point that this means that American politicians, who are supposed to be representing their country, are pledging allegiance to a foreign state. McKinnon agrees, and says that she made it public, which nobody had probably done before. And then came the excuses that this was just overzealous advocates for Israel.

After she did this, the tactics changed. But this is what is done for the 535 members of Congress, 100 senators, 435 representatives, now have to write a paragraph, more or less amounting to the same thing. You are also expected to attend forums at the synagogues. If you don’t perform, you don’t get the money to run your campaign. It doesn’t matter if this is women’s organization or an environmental organization. She says that you can read about this on the internet, and directs the viewers to Thomas.loc.gov, the official US website, and put in the name ‘Gus Savage’, because Savage was a Black member of Congress, who was targeted by the Israel lobby. He had the foresight to put his experience on the Congressional record. Savage wrote that it was the Garden Club of New Jersey that gave his opponent $5,000. But it wasn’t really the Garden Club of New Jersey, but the activists associated with AIPAC.

McKinnon then moves on to talking about how she represented many different districts over her career, as her opponents used re-districting to try to eliminate her from Congress. Her original district comprised rural Blacks in what she describes as the Black belt of Georgia. These are people, who have never had access to equal opportunity at all. She said that when she went into that district, she found such poverty that she didn’t know existed in her own country. There were people in that district, in 1992, who didn’t have running water in their homes. She says that in the four years she was in Congress, she was able to bring Blacks into areas of power, which they never thought they could possess. And then the district was dismantled. It was challenged in the Supreme Court with the assistance of the Anti-Defamation League.

Hashemi notes that she lost the last election, thanks to the Zionist lobby, and asks her what her plans are. McKinnon states that she has a target on her forehead for taking the political positions she did, for supporting human rights and the Palestinians. This means that the Israel lobby will use whatever means to stop her occupying a position of authority. She states that fortunately for her, there is a very large peace community that is interested in change, that would like to have a tested, experienced voice in Congress so that at least they could have their voices heard, even if they can’t get the policy changed. The problem for her is that it will require an awful lot of money. She doesn’t have to match the others, because she is able to amass and organize people power. But even with that you need a lot of money to cover the basis of a political campaign – this is a minimum of $500,000 and could do great things with a million.

This video has much to say about the rotten state of contemporary American politics, quite apart from the pernicious influence of AIPAC. It’s disgusting enough that this clearly capable and efficient woman was prevented from serving her constituency and the Black American community because she dared to defy the Israel lobby and support American Muslims and the Palestinians.

I am also not surprised by what she says about the grinding poverty she found in rural America. One of the alternative American news shows, I can’t remember whether it was the David Pakman Show or Sam Seder’s Majority Report a little while ago tore into Trump’s speech, where the Orange Buffoon said that if he wasn’t successful, America would become a ‘Third World country’. They said that there were areas of America that already had that level of poverty, and not even of the most developed and prosperous countries within the Developing World.

And these area’s aren’t always Black. One of the poorest, if not the poorest, is a southern country where the population is 98 per cent White. But these folks vote Republican, partly because the Repugs tell them that the Blacks are dependent on welfare and state intervention in the economy. And this needs to be stopped, in order to turn Black Americans into sturdy, self-reliant citizens. The result is that the aid that could also give these people work and jobs is also cut, throwing them on welfare as well.

As for redistricting, I’m not surprised to hear about this either. Both Democrats and Republicans have gone in for voter suppression, and the Tories in this country are following the Americans in introducing legislation to stop the poor, students and ethnic minorities from voting under the pretext of stopping voter fraud. And the Tories over here are also talking about redrawing constituency boundaries, just like they redrew them under Thatcher to stop Labour getting a bigger percentage of the vote.

The Israel lobby has to be opposed and fought. But there’s also a strong argument for getting corporate money out of politics, so politicians return to serving their constituents rather than donors. And also for uniting Black and White – seeing that the Republicans and Conservatives in America and Britain are using racial prejudice to divide working people and keeping them down.

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The Trump Statues: Nudity, Castration and the Punishment of Slaves

April 9, 2018

I sent this piece below off to the left-wing American website and magazine, Counterpunch. It’s a reply to a previous article they put up about the satirical statues of Trump, which appeared when he was campaigning for the presidency. These showed him naked, with a small penis and no testicles. One of their female writers compared this humiliating portrayal with the way nudity has been frequently historically used to punish women. She also cited the Fantasy series Game of Thrones and one of the punishments inflicted on a female character in that. But the statues’ genital deficiencies point to another way nudity was also used. Along with castration, it was also used in South American colonial society to punish captured runaway slaves. The Statues’ portrayal of Trump thus seems very fitting, given his aggressive masculinity and support for racists and White supremacists.

The magazine hasn’t used the article, and I don’t think they ever will. So here it is.

Nudity, Emasculation and the Humiliation of Slaves:
The Hidden Politics of the Anti-Trump Statues

Remember those statues of Trump which appeared in various cities across America about a year or so ago, when the Orange Generalissimo of reality TV was strutting about stadiums across America trying to get people to elect him? These were life-size statues of him, naked, with a tiny penis and no testicles. Today, Wednesday 28th March, the British papers reported that the last remaining one of a set that wasn’t destroyed, was put up for sale at Julien’s Auction in New Jersey. The statues were a subversive comment on a man, whose personal behaviour and style of government is one of aggressive masculinity and misogyny. One of the female contributors to Counterpunch published a piece a year or so ago when these statues first appeared. Written from a feminist perspective, it commented on this sculptural humiliation of the future president, and in particular its similarity to the methods used in the past to humiliate women. The statues’ nudity recalled the way errant women were also humiliated by being paraded naked.

It’s true that public nudity has been most used to humiliate women, but it wasn’t exclusively so. Men have also been humiliated on occasion by being exhibited naked by their enemies. In the culture of the Hebrew Bible, nudity was a badge of shame, and there’s a plaque from ancient Egypt showing a group of Asian prisoners being led, naked, by their Egyptian captors. And during the 18th century heyday of the transatlantic slave trade, public nudity and mutilation, including castration were used to humiliate enslaved Africans, who ran away or otherwise resisted their White masters. The slave societies of the New World was gripped by the fear of slave resistance, which itself took various forms. Enslaved Africans revolted in armed rebellions. They also ran away from their masters, or confined themselves to less dramatic forms of resistance, such as eating dirt, sabotage, or finding ways not to perform, or perform badly, their allotted work. To combat this, the slave masters punished their slaves with a variety of brutal measures, ranging from whipping to execution. These included various forms of mutilation, including castration.

This fear intensified during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, when the British and other European colonial nations feared that the slaves would follow Toussaint L’Ouverture and Black Jacobins of Haiti, and rise up against their masters to found free Black states. And so they resorted to increasingly brutal methods to discourage them. In one British Caribbean colony, one enslaved man was forced to sit on a cannon as it was fired, which understandably left him shaken and terrified. A female planter was also awarded five pounds by the local legislative assembly in another British colony, for having her male slaves castrated as a deterrent to further resistance.

It wasn’t just in the British colonies that emasculation was used to crush rebellious slaves. The Spanish slave code provided that runaway male slaves should be punished through the amputation of their member, and then exhibited naked to the public, a further punishment intended to humiliate them further after the horror of the mutilation itself, as well as dire warning to others also considering absconding. And it is this punishment, which the Trump statues, with their nudity and lack of genital endowment most closely resemble.

As a caricature of the President, it’s very appropriate indeed. Not only is Trump keen to project aggressive masculinity and sexuality, his regime is also notorious for its racism and connection to White supremacism. Trump tried and failed to pass legislation banning Muslim immigration from specific countries, largely those where he has no business dealings. He’s promised to build a wall to stop Mexicans and other Latino/as getting into the country illegally. And his supporters and staff have included members of the Alt Right, determined to preserve White dominance as America rapidly becomes racially diverse. One of the most notorious examples of this racist support base came when Richard Spencer, the founder and leader of the Alt Right, greeted Trump’s election at a meeting at the Ronald Reagan room with the cry of ‘Hail Trump! Hail our race!’ and a raised right arm in something that looked very much like the Fascist salute, despite his claims to the contrary later.

And some right-wing extremists in the Republicans have gone further. Not only do they defend slavery, but some of them have advocated it, or something close to it. A few years ago, one Republican politician recommended that illegal Mexican immigrants should be held captive by the state, and forced to work on public works. This is forced labour, which comes under the UN definition of slavery. Michelle Bachman, during her 2011 presidential campaign recommended a biography of General Robert E. Lee by J. Stephen Wilkins, which blamed the ‘radical abolitionists’ of the north for starting the Civil War, claimed that Southern slave masters treated their slaves with respect, and gave them enough food and personal possession to live a ‘comfortable but spare’ existence. The book even claimed that American slaves were fortunate in being brought out of their own, pagan homelands, and their godless brutality to Christian America. The Victorian English explorer, Sir Richard Burton, made the same argument nearly 250 years ago in his Wanderings in West Africa. It was also repeated by a number of Trump supporters during his presidential campaign back in 2016.

The disgraced former anchor of Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, also repeated it, claiming that the slaves, who worked on the White House were well treated and fed. The Texas school board also tried indoctrinating their children with a carefully sanitized view of it. Back in 2015 one Texas mom was horrified to find that her child’s geography textbook described the enslaved people ripped from their homes in Africa to toil in American plantations as ‘workers’. The protestors, who turned up to demonstrate against the removal of the statue to Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, also argued that slavery had been beneficial. And some Libertarians also resent anti-slavery legislation. One confused Libertarian caller to Sam Seder’s internet news show back in 2013 also tried arguing that the anti-slavery laws were a tyrannical infringement of his liberty. Why? Because they deprived him of his right to own slaves. It’s an argument which shows how dangerous and demented at least some Libertarians are.

This shows there’s considerable nostalgia for slavery amongst some Republican supporters, who were very encouraged by Trump’s election and his racist policies. It’s true that during the 18th century some paternalistic slave masters, like George Washington, were concerned to treat their slaves well. Archaeologists working on Benjamin Franklin’s estate found that many of his slaves had very good material possessions. Some had fine china, and played the violin, for example. But for others, the reality was grinding poverty and the tyranny of the whip. In the British Caribbean, the slave codes provided only that male slaves should be given a pair of drawers, and women shifts once a year. Even in the 19th century visitors to these colonies remarked on seeing slaves toiling naked in the fields. As for benefiting from being taken to America, many Africans instead naturally desperately yearned to return to their homes. Some threw themselves into the sea on their arrival in the Caribbean in attempts to swim back to Africa. And if they couldn’t return to Africa, some of them dreamed of recreating an African society in the New World. In one late sixteenth century rebellion in the British Caribbean, the slaves planned on creating a new social order based on the type of monarchies, with a king and queen mother, they had known in Africa.

The subversive statues of Trump not only comment on and invert his projected image of potent masculine leadership. They also attack and undermine the racism at the heart of his administration by subjecting him in image to the humiliation meted out to runaways in the Latin south. Since then, the statues have nearly all vanished, while unfortunately their real-life model remains at large in his occupancy of the White House.