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Is Progressive Dissent Public Enemy #1?

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/10/05-8 Wednesday, October 6, 2010 by
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6 7:40 PM
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Wednesday, October 6, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
      Is Progressive Dissent Public Enemy #1?
      by Lydia Howell

      Is free speech worth the constitutional paper it’s written on?

      After the September 26 FBI raids on peace activists’ homes in
      Minneapolis, Chicago and North Carolina, it appears to depend on who’s
      speaking and what they’re saying.

      The pretext for the raids was investigating “material aide to
      terrorists”, resulting in grand jury subpoenas and confiscation of
      computers, books, music CDs and from one home, a Martin Luther King
      poster. The targeted Minneapolis activists have openly protested US
      military policy since the 1980s. The FBI certainly knows they have
      nothing to do with terrorism. These activists simply have the audacity
      to challenge bi-partisan US invasions, occupations and support for
      dictatorships and human rights abusers. Dissent on the left has long
      been seen as ‘criminal behavior’. Where once “the communist threat" was
      the argument for such repression, now, “terrorism” is.

      When it comes to war, US government sees three roles for the American
      people: 1. Pay hundreds of billions for the largest military on Earth 2.
      Kill and possibly die or be maimed for US military and corporate
      dominance of other countries 3. Cheerlead war. The US government --
      bought and paid for by weapons-makers and mercenaries (‘contractors’) --
      does not think that We The People have the right to even question, much
      less challenge and resist permanent war, which is bankrupting our
      country and civilian deaths ignite more violence.

      Just days before the raids, the Department of Justice Inspector General
      released a report about FBI abuses of peace groups under the Bush
      Administration -- abuses that President Obama continues. Republicans and
      Democrats rubberstamp domestic spying on peace organizations, Quakers,
      and solidarity groups visiting countries that the US bombs or subsidizes
      death squads in.

      In June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-to-4 in Holder v. Humanitarian Law
      Center that peace groups who talked about non-violent, democratic
      practices and international human rights law -- that is, alternatives to
      terrorism -- with organizations on the State Department’s “Terrorist
      Watch List” may be charged with ‘material aid to terrorists’. If ending
      terrorism is actually the goal, then, why make working to end violence a
      crime? In his dissent, SCOTUS Justice Stephen Breyer warned that
      political speech -- the most protected speech under the First Amendment
      -- was being criminalized.

      President Bill Clinton’s 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty
      Act made “material aid" a crime, was expanded under George W. Bush’s
      PATRIOT Act and is broadening to Orwellian vagueness under the President
      Obama. He made campaign promises to close Guantanamo, yet the Obama
      Administration is defending Bush-era torture and imprisonment without
      charges, trial or conviction in court. Obama claims further powers: to
      assassinate anyone labeled a “terrorist’ overseas -- including American

      Billions of dollars have simply disappeared in Iraq and Afghanistan.
      Contractors like KBR/Halliburton reap billions for work not done and
      services not provided. The US government bribes Taliban, warlords and
      “insurgents” with over $2B.

      Dissidents educate the American public about these policies as much as
      they protest them.

      As the FBI raided American dissidents’ homes, Secretary of State Hillary
      Clinton announced economic sanctions against Iran for human rights
      abuses, including “suppression of dissent”. What hypocrisy!

      Since WWI, the FBI has targeted peace activists; most infamously labor
      leader Eugene Debs was sentenced to ten years in prison for an anti-war
      speech. The FBI’s COINTEL program subjected the civil rights movement to
      domestic spying while the Klux Klux Klan burned churches and homes, beat
      and murdered with near-total impunity. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X
      and other leaders of color had thick FBI files. The Black Panther Party,
      American Indian Movement and Puerto Rican Independence movement were
      subjected to FBI assaults, murders and frame-ups. Congress’ 1978 Church
      Committee investigated these abuses and ended them until 9/11 loosened
      all rules.

      Almost always it is progressive/Leftist non-violent groups and activists
      that the FBI spies on, harasses and tries to jail.

      Anti-choice groups post hit lists of doctors with their addresses,
      commit arson on and mail anthrax-like powder to clinics -- without being
      investigated. White supremacists and militias threaten and commit
      violence against people of color, Muslims and progressives. Violent
      rhetoric infuses many right-wing groups -- with no grand jury subpoenas.
      Supporting racism, corporate rule and war -- that is, rightwing ideology
      -- even with a call for violence, is protected speech.

      The Supreme Court will hear the case of homophobic preacher, Fred
      Phelps, who protests military funerals. Likely Phelps will win, as
      “unpopular speech" -- especially if it's bigotry -- gets protection.
      This is the same court that made talking about international human
      rights law a crime.

      Bigots are held up as "victims" whose First Amendment rights are
      threatened, yet hatred has no problem being heard. No one is harassed
      for suggesting that the US nuke other countries who have not attacked
      us. Instead, the government targets those who uphold values of equal
      justice under the law, human rights, democracy and peace.

      Nine years after the September 11 attacks, the US government has done
      more damage to fundamental American freedoms than Al-Qaeda ever did.
      With progressive dissent, censored from corporate media, increasingly
      treated like a crime, it’s time to ask: what is being protected?

      Lydia Howell is a Minneapolis activist, journalist and producer-host of
      CATALYST: Politics and Culture on KFAI Radio.

      Dan Clore

      New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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