Saturday, May 4, 2024

The War Comes Home

 The Gaza Solidarity Encampment at our local state college, about a half-mile from where I live was so new, so quiet and so relatively small compared to the scenes at other schools, that I didn't even know it existed. Not, that it is, until I started hearing the ominous droning sound at around 10:30 Thursday night.

Since we don't live below any flight paths, my first naive thought was that the waxing and waning noise above us was a small plane making helpless circles and that its pilot was either incapacitated or dead. It seemed that it would only be a matter of time before it ran out of fuel and crashed in a blazing fireball somewhere in the immediate vicinity. I almost called  the town police to report the noise - before it dawned on me that there was probably nothing they could do to bring the plane's distressed pilot safely down to earth.

It's a good thing I decided not to bother them because it turned out that they were otherwise occupied, with more than a hundred state, county and local police in riot gear and armed with nightsticks and zip ties  arresting more than a hundred State University of New York demonstrators right down the road. The sounds I heard were surveillance drones and perhaps a helicopter sweeping relentlessly back and forth for over an hour the dark skies above.

Everything I later learned about the police crackdown on campus came from the excellent student newspaper, The Oracle. It is the best source of local news around. What still remains of local mainstream media in this area (and in most of the rest of the United States) is behind a paywall. And anyway, what little information that could be obtained from a larger-circulation daily in Kingston came from a New York State Police press release. Just the facts, ma'm, with all the details and local color professionally omitted for your protection.

They were so professional, in fact, that they herded the arrested students, some of whom were injured, straight  into the parking lot of the Student Health and Wellness Center for initial processing. Because the local town court and lockup was too small to host them all, they were transported to facilities far away from the actual scene in order to to be formally arraigned.

By the next day, the number of student demonstrators had swelled and hundreds more of them walked out en masse from classes at noon Friday, bringing the protest directly to the office of the college president.  

 Participants chanted “40,000 people dead, you’re arresting kids instead” and sang the protest song Solidarity Forever. 

First-year education major Soph Rullo said, “I wasn’t too involved in what was going on. I saw what happened last night, and it was completely unnecessary and disgusting. Now, I feel like I need to get involved.

 Another first-year student who attended the walk-out said, “I’m here for the people who were arrested last night and couldn’t come here today. I want to stand for Palestine but also for the students that were taken.” 

Although The Oracle reports that students at the New Paltz campus were inspired by the protests at Columbia University, this was not their first protest gainst Israel's genocide of the Palestinians. 

In February, they'd demonstrated against the presence of three IDF soldiers, who had been brought on campus by the  Students Supporting Israel, an international group which is not an officially recognized group at the school.

Anticipating violence among students that never occurred,  college officials had limited attendance at the SSI lecture and slideshow to 60 ticket-holders, whose bags were checked and whose bodies were canned  before admittance. The barricaded event was guarded by state troopers, both inside and outside the venue. The anti-genocide protesters outside were peaceful and vocal.

So much for politicians like Joe Biden decrying the non-existent violence and "chaos" of student protesters rising up throughout the country. Although of an age to have participated in the youth demonstrations against the Vietnam War more than 50 years ago, Biden was too busy studying to land near the bottom of his Syracuse University law school class to have participated. No wonder he always brags that his wars will entail no American boots on the ground, when he hiimself had  balked at ruining his Weejuns in the antiwar protests he found so annoying.

The preppie college boy with the sweater wrapped strategically around his neck has ungracefully aged into a president whose strategic foreign policy is endangering and killing people all over the world.  So says career diplomat Hala Rharrit, who just publicly resigned from the State Department to protest the genocide of Palestinians.. In a devastating interview on Democracy Now!, she effectively and accurately called Biden a war criminal who is making everybody less safe, both at home and abroad.

As disgusting and maniacal he and his merry group of war profiteers are, however, they're doing us a pretty big favor. They are radicalizing a whole generation of young people, whose protests are already expanding from fighting against one genocide into fighting the whole corrupt military industrial complex. As I watch these young people, I feel the knot in my stomach relax,  knowing that the current gerontocratic regime will not last forever despite all the concierge health care their ill-gotten money can buy. Biden, far from squelching the righteous outrage on college campuses and in the streets, is only feeding it. His piecemeal loan forgiveness crumbs are blowing away on the hot air of his own sneering bombast.

Solidarity is rearing its lovely head. And the empty rhetoric of powers-that-be is falling into a million little pieces. 

A sure sign that they're losing their messaging war is that  they interrupted Friday's White House press briefing with Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame playing "Joe-E-Wan-Kenobe" in Biden's trademark aviator shades.

The fawning Guardian reporter gave the performance a rave review, even detailing the hilarious and supportive and appreciative reactions of the supporting players in the press corps.The writer further noted that Biden has enlisted both the dollar and performative help of Hollywood in an effort to boost his sagging poll numbers.

So it was a bit jarring to read at the end of the piece that actor Robert De Niro had gone on MSNBC to apparently commit the heresy of fuming  “The guy’s a monster. He is beyond wrong. It’s almost like he wants to do the most horrible things that he can think of in order to get a rise out of us. I don’t know what it is but he’s been doing it and doing it, and it’s fucking scary.”

It turns out he fooled you. He was talking about Trump, you utterly silly people!

I think I'd better stick with reading student newspapers, the last bastion of a free and independent press.


someofparts said...

Just had a conversation with a friend saying that I could see the potential of all the campus activism to be teaching a new generation how to come together to organize and resist. I'm with you Karen in hoping that this is just what happens. Power to the people baby.

Mark Thomason said...

Anonymous Erik Roth -- "The reason for the cancellation, he said, is that my critiques of Biden, especially for the genocide in Gaza, jeopardizes his nonprofit status."

Do you know if they were threatened? If so, do you know who made the threat?

That is how the "news" was censored in the recent past.

Mario said...

Many of us now have to confess to the nostalgia we've felt for the activism of the sixties. Revolutions don't have to be violent, but the potentially deposed will make it so. The mind of the NYPD and the IDF have much in common. Thanks for all the great links coming with these comments. Here's another

You don't need to study much to be impressed with the vast quantity of sequelea (aftermath) of the Jewish holocaust. That capitalizing drive seems to now have one of its culminations in what will likely be described as one of history's great ironies: How an ethnostate created by genocide evolved into an agent for genocide.

That holocaust spawned several famed careers. One, that of Eli Wiesel, whose oeuvre can be summed up with his conclusion that indifference to genocide is an equal crime to genocide itself. Much of the world is familiar with his permanently grieving visage. It's his admonition against indifference that the student uprisings are in heed of. They are the vanguard of the yet amorphous solidarity (pardon the oxymoron) of conscience that many of us are anticipating somehow becoming active in. Action in the service of this is the challenge. From our President down to College Administrators and Trustees, the response is a Nixonian "Law and Order" message. The advertisement is always contrary to the reality. Protest is a right, they assert, as long as its completely innocuous. At some point rules have to be broken.

The year after the 1968 Columbia uprising and assassination of MLK, Nixon was elected on a "Law and Order" message, and then again by a landslide. The U S is a deeply conservative nation when it comes to anything that does not augment capitalism. What the U S and its allies have deployed to protect the status quo; military power, civil enforcement, think tank strategists, anti terrorism, diplomatic coercion, Israel, the likes of NY Times and CNN, etc., is to me beyond imagining. That great irony of history will have another part to it, that the nation that committed its "greatest generation" to the vanquishing of Nazism, is complicit in its resurgence.

So, these activist events can't be only about Gaza. The 60's led to Nixon, which led to Reagan, which facilitated plutocracy, and now there's Donny "poisoning of the blood" Trump on the horizon again. The past does suggest that as activism increases so will the likelihood of another Trump presidency. The 60's civil rights and anti war movements had their mainstream party candidates: RFK, McCarthy, Dukakis, Muskie, McGovern. We have Jill Stein. This November they won't have to contest any results really, either way they win.

Erik Roth said...

Hardly "anonymous" I state and stand by my name.
All I know of Chris Hedges's cancellation by "The Real News Network" is this follow-up from him:

There is less and less space for dissent. The courageous students in our universities show us this. There is less and less room to write the truth. I have clashed with institutions before, most notably The New York Times, where I was pushed out for denouncing the invasion of Iraq, and Truthdig, where, after I organized a strike of all but two of the staff to protest the ousting of Truthdig editor Bob Scheer by the site’s wealthy publisher, the strikers were fired. This act of defiance meant a nearly 50 percent drop in my income.

The principal funder of The Real News, T.M. Scruggs, once demanded Bob Scheer delete from Scheerpost a column I wrote defending the writer Alice Walker from charges of antisemitism. When Bob refused, Scruggs said he would no longer support Scheerpost, of which he was a major donor. His animus towards me, also apparently driven by my critiques of the Democratic Party and support for third party candidates, did not go away once RT, where I hosted a show, was shut down, my six years of archives were disappeared from YouTube, and I arranged to move to The Real News.

Although Max Alvarez at The Real News insists that the reason for canceling the show was that it jeopardized his nonprofit status, I find it hard to believe that Scruggs’ hostility towards me did not play a significant factor in his decision. Scruggs, according to Alvarez, has made it clear that if The Real News does anything, in his eyes, that contributes to the election of Donald Trump, he will pull the funding. This is an inverted way of saying, support Joe Biden and the Democrats. That such a stance is anathema to journalism is obvious.

I did not endorse Dennis Kucinich in the last show I did on The Real News, but he is running for Congress in Ohio as an independent, and is critical of the two ruling parties. I did not violate guidelines for nonprofits. Nevertheless, the episode with Kucinich was removed from the site, and immediately afterwards my program was terminated.

The model of wealthy people and corporations owning and funding news organizations does not work. The wealthy patrons who own sites such as Salon or Truthdig, or control sites such as The Real News, or the corporations that own news outlets such as CNN and MSNBC, too often interfere in ways that cripple honest inquiry and reporting.

As A.J. Liebling said, “Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.”

mjb said...

It is encouraging to see the activism on college campuses against the genocide in Gaza. Although it may be reminiscent of the sixties activism, times have changed dramatically. And the powers that be are in a hurry to shut down the protests before they can develop into a sustainable movement.

The repression of free speech, surveillance of everything and desperation to maintain control over the population is a lot stronger than in the sixties. At least that's how it appears to me, someone who became of age during the mid sixties. There's also the desperation to maintain power by a crumbling empire. Maybe the campus protests can grow into a movement for justice and change to our increasingly unjust and repressive 'Homeland'.

Thought Criminal said...

The war has come home and the young justice warriors on campuses are our heroes fighting the good fight. Booyah! More power to them.

I'm so relieved and grateful but also apprehensive. I know the price these kids will pay as a result of taking on the Anglo-American Empire within the very belly of the brutal, heartless Beast.

I salute them for doing this and being smart about it, including demands for Disclosure and Divestments. These kids are coming from a full realization of the Empire's betrayal to themselves, Palestinians, and all of humanity.

University corporations' endowments are huge, with the larger ones having billion$ each. They're essentially hedge funds partnered with the MIC.

MIC is also deeply embedded in colleges by providing them funds for research and special projects/ programs. Full disclosures are the last thing they want and Empire has its ways of pressuring college administrators. They're called Billionaires. And Congressclowns.

It's not 'Our Democracy' or 'National Security' they worry about, it's Empire $ecurity.

Mario said...

Every morning the first thought that occurs to me is the question of how much more desperate can it get for the Gazans herded into a starvation pen called Rafah. It's about to become another mass grave. If ever the living envied the dead, this is it. The minds of many of us will not have peace until the profiteers from death and suffering are flushed out, shamed and condemned. That guilt of slavers, genociders, torturers and mass abusers will infect the waking hours and nightmares of Americans who choose to elect either of the two psychopaths in November.

The worst imaginable is starting to happen in Gaza. The complicity is incomprehensible. The servility to mass murder glaringly a clinical derangement. We're in a moral crisis that has gone beyond language to describe and puts the moral legitimacy of the human species in question. Feeling violated and betrayed is the basic minimum and starting point for a profound resistance that has to coalesce around and beyond the bravery of protesting students.

Whenever the final version of a moral crisis is told, The morally outraged and repressed are always right. The point has passed when the equivocators, the "it's complicated" postured, are complicit. Along with the powerful manipulators of institutions, they're giving the Gaza experiment the thumbs up. It's the trial run. It's a lab for the effectiveness of weapons. It's a lab for the limitlessness of impunity, seemingly in preparation since 1948, with an eye on Lebensraum.

The mass murder at Babi Yar in 1941 was followed by the Nazi "final solution" conference at Wannsee Jan 20, 1942, where that experiment in impunity was declared a success. The conclusions of Wannsee 1942 are about to recur.

If there's one expression that merits being outlawed, that deserves repression as hate speech, is any reference at all of any kind that refers to "the other" as a target for vilification and dehumanization. We are one humanity. We've been under a rhetorical pandemic of reference to a politically expedient "threat" by some other, declared by those who are the actual threat. The NYPD has declared that it is hunting for the instigators, the fomenters of the student protests, the result of alien infiltrators.

Between Bushnell and Biden/Blinken there's a spectrum of conscience, the center of which will shift in the right direction if the voices for justice are loud and persistent enough. The land of the brave and the home of the free will have to test the repressive capacity of their state.

mjb said...

Did somebody just throw some money into Tulsi Gabbard's mouth? She just appeared on Fox railing against the student protests against the genocide being conducted in Gaza, treating it like some evil islamic conspiracy. I haven't followed her political views but from what I have read about her I would have thought she would be for the protests (free speech). Little did I know. Guess she's got a little Islamophobia in her blood or she's making some good money spouting this crap. So long Tulsi.

mjb said...

Oops. Just did some checking. I wasn't aware that Tulsi Gabbard was hired as a "Fox Contributor". That pretty much says it all.

stranger in a strange land said...

Hi mjb, check out this article from 2019 friendly to Gabbard and promoting her proximity to Sheldon Adelson (sorry, I have long forgotten how to do the html link thing):

Valerie said...

Very disappointing to read that Tulsi Gabbard is trashing the student protesters who have both morality and a conscience. All these political figures that I am drawn to, have feet of clay - all except Jill Stein. I was listening to The Duran's latest interview with Jeffrey Sachs and at the end, he openly says he is voting for Stein.

I just read in Consortium News that the majority of Democrats see the slaughter in Palestine as a genocide. At least, that was the headline. It turns out that it was a small sample (just over 1200) and only 56% thought, after over six months of shooting fish in a barrel, that it was indeed a genocide. I realise that the media is to blame - and the Military, Industrial, Congressional Complex - but still, how can people turn a blind eye to this? How can they not see the hypocrisy of Israeli Jews, whose whole identity is that of Holocaust Victims, murdering tens of thousands of people - because I believe the ones we know of are only the tip of the iceberg.

I'm back to not sleeping. The misinformation/propaganda is driving me to frustration - and all of us in the West, who have such good lives, cannot spare a little compassion for a truly vulnerable group of people.

I don't know if any of you have seen it, but it was the writings on the wall of Al Shifa hospital - It made me weep in despair.

I haven't been able to bring myself to comment here because I am so incredibly sad.

Thought Criminal said...

@Valerie - I hear you. Hang in there.

In one way or another, those of us with compassion for humanity are all victims of Genocide Joe. The Palestinian children he's killing are our children. The student protesters he's ordering brutalized and arrested are our children. His other murderous policies exemplified by boasting that "Wars are good for the economy!" hurt everyone but the war profiteers.

Biden is now warning, in his Dark Brandon vicious visage and squinty eyes, that there's a "surge of ferocious antisemitism!" Ferocious! If his threat hyperbole and incitement continues, there won't be an election in Nov. There will be martial law, lockdowns, and lockups.

Congress is hearing Biden's dogwhistles and crafting legislation to label anti-genocide protesters who are arrested (not just students) as Terrorists and putting them on the No Fly List. Others are crafting laws to ban student protesters from student debt relief. The media has been drowning us with anti-protester agi-prop. This is becoming overkill and it's still just the beginning.

Why the overkill? It's existential. As the CEO Alex Karp of war profiteer Palentir said today with Gen'l Milley agreeing, essentially the entire Western war machine depends on protesters losing because "If we lose the intellectual debate, you will not be able to deploy any army in the West, ever."

So that's the crux of it. It's "Humanity hanging from a cross of iron" as Eisenhower warned regarding the increasing arms sales/war profiteering leading to the rise of the Military-Industrial Complex that he named.

[It's well worth (re)reading his Chance for Peace/Cross of Iron and his Farewell Address speeches.]

Now we have Biden crucifying Palestinians on an (ironclad) Cross of Iron in real life/death, exemplified by photos online of a young Palestinian girl, minus several limbs, snagged on and hanging from an iron girder after her building was hit by BidenBombs.

As the protesting students say, nothing is more important, not their degrees, arrests, jobs, or futures. This is the calling of their/our lives because it's a fight to end the War Against Humanity (h/t WCK's Jose Andres), waged by Empire, centered in Palestine. It's almost Biblical.

Keep the Faith. That's what we used to say to each other back in the days of Vietnam protests. What a long, strange trip it's been.

stranger in a strange land said...

Hi Valerie,

I’m saddened by the sorry state of things, too - and I’m not trying to pile on Jill Stein because I still support her… but I remember feeling a tinge of betrayal after voting for her in 2016 when she (seemingly eagerly) allied w/ Hillary Clinton after the election to challenge vote counts:

stranger in a strange land said...

I seem to remember J from O back in the day cautioning about placing too much hope for salvation on any singular political personality (much less look to the godzillionaires for grace) - though my memory could be faltering because I remember him being a little susceptible to that kind of thing, too.

I don’t mean to denigrate Tulsi Gabbard and/or Jill Stein because I have and do support them both in their respective ways. I wish Jill Stein had a voice on Fox News, too (!) can you imagine?

I do think it helpful for my own perspective, though, to consider everyone to have feet of clay - especially figures in the public/popular/political realm - it eases inevitable disappointment when hoping for more than what is perhaps realistic.

Valerie said...

@Stranger in a Strange Land

Stein is the only candidate who has managed to make it on the ballots who is anti-war and who bothered to show up for the student protests. She is silenced and marginalised. She may not be perfect - but she is BY FAR the best we've got to vote for. I don't consider her being behind a vote recount in the same category with Tulsi Gabbard condemning peaceful protesters, who only want to lend a voice to an incredibly victimised and vulnerable people - and who are being roughed up by a bunch of modern day Brown Shirts.

I, too, wish Stein had more of a forum but Fox News is a disgusting enterprise. She is better off getting her exposure on social media and the left leaning alternative media.

Mark Thomason said...

Our students are too nice.

We need a wanted list, of criminals to be sent to the ICC for genocide.

Demand action, in the form of prosecution of genocidal maniacs.

Erik Roth said...

The mainstream corporate media serve smarmy glove in bloody hand to serve the imperial status quo. But it's stunningly frightening to see so many of the so-called independent media outlets become sycophants for the same corrupt criminal end.
Here is another grim example of rampant war crimes currently brought back to the home front in gross attempt to manage how we're "informed" about what is happening, and yet another courageous resister against that:

Why I'm Resigning From The Intercept
...and starting something new --
April 30, 2024 ~ by KEN KLIPPENSTEIN

Mark Thomason said...

My own Congresswoman Haley Stevens was one of 26 Democrats who signed a letter to Biden today, in favor of more big bombs for Israel to kill more babies.

She won her seat, by a primary against a Jewish Democrat (former Rep. Andy Levin), by saying he was not supportive enough of Israel. She has been totally sold out to AIPAC since Day One. Now we see AIPAC collecting.

This is what we face now, as we try to stop these horrors. It is students and people of conscience, against donor dollars.

Thought Criminal said...

Congress hates us more than Hillary does, if that's possible. They're crafting a big stinking, steaming pile of legislation to silence and crush us. Read it and weep.

As an aside, I'm hoping and praying that the massive solar storm this weekend wreaks electromagnetic havoc in all the right places, starting with their brains - like a solar version of the psychogenic 'Havana Syndrome' only causing a deep enduring urge for peace. From my lips to the the Sun God's ears!

Anyway, I put together this sketch of pending legislation from the Foundation For Middle East Peace using their unofficial name of the legislation. Further important details are available from their website's section titled 'FMEP Legislative Round-Up: May 10, 2024, Bills and Resolutions' to date. []

Weaponizing Claims/Fears of Antisemitism:


Targeting NGOs/Civil Society that Support Palestinian Rights/Lives:


Targeting Students & Universities/Undermining Right to Protest:

-S Amdt 2001 & S 4274 as amendment to HR 3935 PUT STUDENT PROTESTERS FOR PALESTINE ON NO-FLY LIST

Targeting UN and ICC:


MORE Support For Israel:


Blessed Are the Peacemakers - Matthew 5:9
Cursed Are the Warwhores - Anne 24:5/10

Valerie said...

Caitlin Johnstone: An Empire Fears Its Students

"During a vitriolic rant about university demonstrators at the Ash Carter Exchange on Innovation and National Security on Tuesday, Palantir CEO Alex Karp came right out and said that if those on the side of the protesters win the debate on this issue, the west will lose the ability to wage wars.

For those who don’t know, Palantir is a C.I.A.-backed surveillance and data mining tech company with intimate ties to both the U.S. intelligence cartel and to Israel, playing a crucial role in both the U.S. empire’s sprawling surveillance network and Israeli atrocities against Palestinians."

“We kind of just think these things that are happening, across college campuses especially, are like a sideshow — no, they are the show,” Karp said during his rant. “Because if we lose the intellectual debate, you will not be able to deploy any army in the west, ever.”

I really encourage everyone to read this particular essay by Johnstone.

Just an aside, does anyone else think Blinken reminds them of Count Dracula?

stranger in a strange land said...

Frank 19:81 “The meek shall inherit nothing.”

MissingJay said...

As always, Jeffrey Sachs articulates what is going on so beautifully and accurately.

Thought Criminal said...

Good one Frank, and you passed the Reading a Comment Test with flying colors!

Valerie in Australia said...

It is amazing how much influence that evil witch, Hillary Clinton, has. I just spoke to my open minded cousin - who I have been setting straight on Ukraine and Gaza - and out of nowhere, she said, "I don't think most of these young people even know what they are protesting about. It is just fun for them." Almost a quote from the She-Devil.

I hear this all the time in Australia too - especially when it comes to high school kids. Heaven forbid! A young person with a sense of justice who is eager to stand for all those Judaeo-Christian values their parents and society are always harping on about. A young person who is actually paying attention in History, Geography and Political Science lessons! A young person with (wait for it!) CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS!