Hello, comrade subscribers, and welcome to the third installment of Prole Position. We’re going to start 2018 out strong so don’t forget to drop me a line here. I love reading your responses and the feedback has already vastly improved these newsletters.
As this is the last issue of 2017, it seems only appropriate to reflect on those who will not be joining us the new year. On a personal note, I still can’t believe that we lost my dear friend Jack Dugan, my former editor, and an accomplished photographer. Though Jack didn’t live long enough to see his son, he is also a father to Miles Arthur Dugan, who was born just a few weeks ago. He would have been a great father. He was a great friend.
Please also keep civil rights activist Erica Snipes Garner in your heart this weekend. We received the terribly sad news this week that she has suffered a severe asthma attack that lead to a cardiac episode. As of Thursday afternoon she was with her family at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, where she has been in a coma for several days. Her having fallen ill has inspired a conversation about how police violence is killing black women even when they are not the direct targets. (Please note there’s been a lot of confused reporting about the specifics of Erica’s condition, so keep in mind that the only source you should really trust for updates is her Twitter account, @es_snipes, which is now being run by her family and comrades.)
Erica has been a tireless advocate against police violence since the murder of her father, Eric Garner, at the hands of the NYPD in July 2014. Eric Garner is one of hundreds of black men who was killed in 2014 by police. There were 971 people murdered by police in the US in 2017 – so far.
We are living in a time of massive political violence across the globe. And I’m not talking about the things the bourgeois media feigns horror at: the lack of decorum demonstrated by President Trump, the “mob violence” of Antifa activists, and so on. Thousands are dead and many thousands more are starving in Yemen because of US-Saudi political violence. Chattel slavery has returned to Libya after the US and NATO violently toppled the government of Muammar Gaddafi. And here in the belly of the beast, Nazis are crawling out of their rats nests and slithering out onto our streets. The following people were all killed in the last ten months, murdered by avowed white supremacists in this country
- Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32
Olathe, Kansas Feb 22: An Indian-born man was murdered by a racist US Navy veteran, who shouted slurs and demanded he “get out of my country” before shooting him and Alok Madasani, who survived. Kuchibhotla’s wife, Sunayana Dumala, has since been threatened with deportation. The white supremacist has plead not guilty to first degree murder and his trial is set for May 2018.
- Timothy Caughman, 66
New York, New York March 20: Caughman was collecting cans for recycling in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan when a white supremacist from Maryland stabbed him to death with a sword. The murderer’s stated intention was to travel to New York to kill as many black men as possible to keep them from sleeping with white women, as interracial sex is a pathological obsession of the white supremacist mind. Caughman was a social worker. He collected cans for extra cash, but was not homeless as was reported initially.
- Richard Collins III, 23
University of Maryland May 20: Collins was stabbed to death by a fellow student, a racist piece of shit who belonged to Facebook groups like “Alt-Reich”. This lynching came after months of racist threats at UMD, including nooses being hung on campus.
- Taliesin Namkai Meche, 23
- Ricky Best, 53
Portland, Oregon May 26: When a Nazi on a Portland light rail train was harassing and threatening two young black girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab, Meche, Best, and Micah Fletcher stepped in to intervene and force him off the train. All three were seriously wounded by the Nazi when he slashed them with a knife, and Meche and Best died. Meche’s last words were, “Tell everyone on the train I love them.”
- Heather Heyer, 32
Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug 13: Heyer, an avowed socialist and member of the International Workers of the World, was brutally murdered by a Nazi motorist who ran her and dozens down with his car after activists successfully forced the “Unite the Right” rally into full retreat. The Nazis and white nationalists, organized by Richard Spencer, had come to Charlottesville to join with the Klan and other militias as a show of force on the streets. President Trump later condemned violence “on both sides” of the Unite the Right rally.
- Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, 43
- Scott Fricker, 48
Reston, Virginia, December 22nd: Mr. and Mrs. Fricker were gunned down by their daughter’s ex-boyfriend last week after insisting that she break up with him. They refused to allow their teenage daughter to associate with a Nazi. When Mrs. Fricker reported the boy’s hateful and dangerous rhetoric to the school, she said, “I would feel a little bad reporting him if his online access was to basically be a normal teen, but he is a monster, and I have no pity for people like that. He made these choices. He is spreading hate.”
Finally, we mourn the death of Ibrahim Abu Thurayya, a disabled Palestinian man who was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper. He joins the many Palestinians who have been murdered by the Israeli Defense Forces since the increased turmoil in Palestine since President Trump announced his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. .الله يرحمه
May all of these brothers, sisters, and siblings rest in power. For the theme of this week’s issue, we echo the immortal words of the Irish socialist leader and IWW founder, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones: “Mourn the dead. Fight like hell for the living.”
Okay. Let’s get started.
Sanctuary at the Church of the Advocate
You should definitely check out this profile about a Mexican family that found sanctuary in Philadelphia’s Church of the Advocate at 18th and Diamond. By opening its doors to families seeking shelter from the state and the climate, the Church of the Advocate continues its beautiful history; it has been a haven for women’s and civil rights activists for decades. It was the place that the Philadelphia Eleven were ordained, and was a working headquarters of the Black Panthers in Philadelphia. I was just there for the first time last month where I had the honor of meeting Pam Africa and William Cook, brother of Mumia Abu Jamal. Read the full story in The Intercept.
Mumia Abu Jamal speaks at the memorial to Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton at the Church of the Advocate, 1969
MSNBC Wages Class War, Against You
Never forget that the period of time we refer to as the “McCarthy Era” did not begin the dog-faced Wisconsin senator, Joseph McCarthy. It was Congressional Democrats who initiated the anti-Communist witch hunts to position themselves to not appear “weak” on Russia. (McCarthy himself was a Democrat up until 1944.) Similarly, it is the liberal Democrats today who sound like John Birchers and rail against “Russian interference” in the 2016 election. The same party that mocked Sarah Palin for saying Alaska shares a border with Russia, and laughed at Mitt Romney for saying in 2012 that Russia was the “greatest geopolitical foe” of the US, now sees Putin “rearing his head” around every corner. This Democrat-lead, neo-McCarthyite hysteria is now, tellingly, dedicating its efforts to targeting prominent, left-leaning Jews and insinuating that they are foreign agents scheming to undermine US democracy; Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders, Sam Sacks and Sam Knight of the District Sentinel, have all been accused of being “Kremlin agents”. This is all a preposterous distraction. MSNBC leads the charge in confusing liberals about Russia, and they do it at the expense of covering other stories of substance. Read what FAIR has to say about MSNBC’s coverage here.
The Tamimi family
The brutal Zionist occupiers of Palestine never cease to find new ways to terrorize, humiliate, and oppress the brave people who resist them. But the Tamimi family on the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh refuses to be cowed into subjugation. The Tamimis have resisted violent settler encroachments on their land and have faced down IDF brigands on numerous occasions. However the occupiers, emboldened by the Trump declaration visa vis Jerusalem, have only stepped up their violence. This month, occupation forces shot 14 year old Muhammad Fadel Tamimi in the head, leaving him in a coma. Sadistically, this attack was followed up with a nighttime raid on the Tamimi house, where Muhammad’s cousin, 21 year old Nour Naji Tamimi, was kidnapped. She was seen in a viral video arguing with occupation soldiers and demanding they get off her property. Another night, they arrested her 16 year old sister, Ahed Tamimi. The occupation forces then later returned again to arrest their mother, Nariman. Haaretz reported that at least 17 other people have been arrested from Nabi Saleh in recent days.
Their father Bassem, who was himself formerly a prisoner of conscience in Israeli jails, has been called in for questioning. He told reporters that he and the Tamimi women have refused to cooperate with Israeli authorities. Ahed, the sixteen year old, has been held in solitary confinement in freezing cold conditions, and may have fallen ill while in captivity. She has become a symbol of resistance to the occupation. You can read more about the Tamimi family in the Electronic Intifada and also in The Intercept. I also recommend reading this infuriating article in Mondoweiss, about how the New York Times is actively suppressing the Tamimi family story in the US media.
A defiant Ahed Tamimi is taken into Israeli custody. The young icon of Palestinian resistance has been transferred to five different detention facilities since her kidnapping last week, a common torture tactic meant to exhaust and bewilder detainees. Photo: Associated Press
- Shout out to South Africa and the African National Congress, who has formally downgraded their diplomatic relationship with Israel because of its apartheid-like occupation of Palestine. This is a very encouraging step in the further isolation of the Zionist regime, just as the international community (barring the United States, of course) isolated the white supremacist South African government decades ago.
- And another shout out to singer-songwriter Lorde, who responded to calls for her to join the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement against Israel by cancelling her concert dates in Tel Aviv. Lorde humbly thanked the activists across the world for bringing the cause of Palestine to her attention, adding, “I pride myself on being an informed young citizen, and I had done a lot of reading and sought a lot of opinions before deciding to book a show in Tel Aviv, but I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one.” After the 21 year old musician announced she would not being going to Tel Aviv on tour, the Israeli ambassador to Lorde’s home country of New Zealand demanded an audience with her. Lorde has not yet responded to that “request”.
Auckland-born singer, Lorde. Photo: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images
“Do you know what it means to be able to read?”
For Christmas this year I got my mom a copy of Michael Parenti’s “The Assassination of Julius Caesar,” which is a history of Rome told from the people’s perspective. Parenti is an excellent Marxist writer and lecturer. For anyone unfamiliar with his work, I highly recommend you check out this clip of him talking about revolution and what our realistic demands should be about post-revolutionary societies–namely, literacy, healthcare, and dignity.
Response to TS Piper Darling’s piece: “Every Mother is a Working Mother”
Just wanted to say the TS Piper Darling piece is very much needed and was beautifully written. I’ve gone to training from Project SAFE (they rock!) and have heard talks from international pro-sex worker groups (i.e. groups for decriminalization). One thing that was briefly touched upon in the piece that really needs more light on it is the harmful idea that many individuals who are sex workers are deemed as trafficked and that the number of individuals who are trafficked is grossly inflated, to make it seem like much more of an issue than it is. This isn’t to downplay the horrific atrocity that is the international sex trade, but until we live in a world wherein people are able to find employment and earn a living wage doing whatever they choose, people who’re forced into the sex trade industry are often put at the most risk and given absolutely zero protection. A lot of the numbers/estimates/”aid” comes from conservative christian groups, which, like was said, do more harm than good in most cases. BUT there are some positive stories of individuals being saved from the sex traffic industry, so I don’t want to make rash generalizations.
On that note, though, the other issue that makes it even harder to allow for legalization is that no politician would ever want to come out and say they are for legalization. Until we have people marching in the streets and can change overall public opinion about the issue: millions of individuals are being put at risk while they’re trying to do their best to work for any amount of money to sustain life. That’s not a society that I want to live in.
Second-to-lastly, as a reflection on the subject, Kendrick Lamar’s “Keisha’s Song” is absolutely painful to listen to and brings me to tears, but it’s something that I think about often.
And lastly, one of my favorite buttons that I own reads “Every mother is a working mother”. The majority of women in the sex trade industry are mothers. Sex trade workers are workers and they are our comrades and allies. Mothers are workers, too, and they are our comrades and allies. Once again, (white) men prove to be abusers culturally, politically, and in practice.
Thank you so much, comrade, for that brilliant comment and song recommendation. In fact I think this white man has already said more than enough for one issue, so you have the last word for the week, dear reader.
A prosperous New Year to you and yours,