August 2011, Week 4


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Tidbits & Reader Response

Let Justice, Not Color, Be Blind - By Deron Snyder

Latin American Union Leaders Gather in Nicaragua

Juan Cole: Top Ten Myths about the Libya War
     Diane Laison, Ed Pearl & Christopher C. Rushlau

Comments on "The Help"
     Julian Bond & Alce Walker


Let Justice, Not Color, Be Blind

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial has
moved visitors to tears. It has also sparked more talk
about the need to be a "colorblind" society. Racists
and bigots push that agenda, sure, but many well-
intentioned liberals suggest the same thing, like those
who say they forget sometimes that President Obama is
black -- and mean it as a compliment!

Unfortunately, both groups have misconstrued King's
famous "I Have a Dream" speech, which is usually
revisited on his birthday each year but is back in the
spotlight with the now-postponed plans for the
dedication of his memorial.

King never said a word about anyone's eyesight. So why
do people insist that we must lose our vision to
achieve his dream?

By Deron Snyder
The Root
August 27, 2011

Read on:


-- Latin American Union Leaders Gather in Nicaragua


Aug 26, 2011
Prensa Latina

Latin American union leaders are discussing in
Nicaragua ways to play a bigger role in the social
struggle, through ties with other sectors and
governments that support the progressive changes taking
place in the region.

According to Juan Castillo, the Uruguayan meeting
coordinator, three topics will guide the debates until
Saturday, with the presence of more than 130
organizations from 23 countries.

Salvador Valdes Mesa, Secretary General of the Central
Worker's Confederation (CTC) said "it is our job to do
a measured balance of the work until this moment, to
visualize the way in front of us, and to project our
future work in consequence."

The 4th Our America Trade Union Meeting, an initiative
emerged since four years in Ecuador as unit and
coordination space, opened on Thursday.

The opening day was marked with expression of
solidarity with the Cuban Five jailed in the United
States: more than 3,000 people joined the participants
to the event to demand the release of the Cuban Five,
whose imprisonment they agreed shows the US cynicism
and hypocrisy regarding to the fight against terrorism.

Invited by the National Front of Workers in Nicaragua,
Irene Sehwerert, mother of Renee Gonzalez, one of the
Cuban five, expressed thanks for the increasing 
international solidarity and underscored the political 
nature of the case.


- Juan Cole: Top Ten Myths about the Libya War

Thanks to Conn Hallinan and others for their responses
to Juan Cole. Where is the real Juan Cole? This one
seems unaware of actual U.S. policies and practices on
planet Earth.

Cole writes that "the U.S. has an interest in a lawful
world order" and "therefore in the United Nations
Security Council Resolution."

Further: "The U.S. has an interest in there not being a
massacre of people merely for exercising their right to
free assembly." And he dismisses those who think that
oil may be a factor as "daft".

These remarks alone can't possibly be reconciled with
reality. The U.S. has consistently shown its definition
of "lawful world order" as meaning  U.S. control of the
world's resources, and it has used its massively
superior military power to gain this control.
U.S.policies and practices are incomprehensible without
understanding this. Intervention is always accompanied
with some cover ('humanitarian' and 'reluctant' in this
case), given Americans' weariness with perpetual war
and the need of the powerful to hide their true
motives. That the U.S. has been and is concerned with
massacres only when this furthers its economic,
geopolitical aims stares us in the face. Citing Obama's
remarks, Cole accepts the argument that the  "ability"
or "inability" of the U.S. to intervene explains why
massacres and the desire for a "lawful world order"
(!!) result in an actual intervention in some cases and
not in others. This is wildly ahistorical.

The United Nations Resolution was a limited one and was
greatly violated. And already there have been reports
that those who helped in overthrowing Qaddafi will be
rewarded with greater access to oil resources.

Getting people accustomed to NATO routinely destroying
governments insufficiently cooperative with Western
'interests' is an important bonus (possibly even the
most important motivation.) The U.S. essentially
commands NATO, which now has unlimited new
responsibilities. Yemen and the U.S. pretend that the
U.S. drone bombings inside Yemen are actually being
done by the government of Yemen. The U.S., France and
Britain pretend the U.S. reluctantly joined NATO in
establishing this dangerous precedent in Africa.

I conjecture (based only on historical precedent) that
the U.S. has been preparing the Libyan uprising for a
long time, on the ground in Libya, using special ops
forces, 'contractors', and loads of money.

(I wonder what other newly developing peoples' movement
sets up a bank, with western support, at a very early
stage in an uprising? Even some U.S. reporters seemed
surprised and confused by that.)

Libya organized a Bank which loaned money to African
countries at better rates than available elsewhere,
thus undercutting western banks. Libya had also used
some of its oil monies to subsidize prices of essential
foods.. Libya favored countries' separating from the
U.S. dollar. Libya was opening oil resources to China.
Such actions would likely not endear Qaddafi to western
oil and banking interests.

Gaddafi may have been a dictator and may have been
willing to kill many of his people to maintain power.
History makes me strongly disbelieve this is relevant
in determining the U.S./NATO decision to overthrow
Gaddafi.  We live in interesting times.


Diane Laison


Hi.  Juan Cole's opening, introductory paragraph has a
factual error, written before Saif al-Islam turned up
alive.  This will likely be seized upon by the relative
few who have seen this massive, popular uprising
largely as a U.S. intervention.  They are wrong.  That
the major capitalist nations want control of middle-
east oil and have supported dictators for the past
hundred years, until the Arab spring, is indisputable,
as is their hypocritical support for whomever is
ascending or in power. As that will continue, it cannot
be the basis for opposing these wars of liberation from
merciless dictatorships, even when they welcome air
support to prevent mass murder.  Cole doesn't deal with
this as an ongoing concern, but has much to offer,


My comment is, "'Clearly' is not an argument."  Judging
from this work-product, the Israel lobby is in its
closing hours.  The one political point that can be
made now about Libya and the "NATO rebels" (as Al
Jazeera reporters were designating some fighters in
Tripoli in recent days) is that the addition to the
pattern set by Tunisia and Egypt is that NATO is now on
the side of the Arab public against the set of
dictatorships that Israel uses as an auxiliary to its
security forces proper.  The airstrike yesterday in
Yemen may but will probably not signal the US swinging
back to favoring the dictatorships.  Clearly, Saleh
will not return to Yemen, but he might.  Clearly, NATO
will not take on Assad in Syria.  Clearly, Israel seems
to be mishandling the attack in southern Israel, in a
pattern of its own:  Lebanon 2006, Gaza 2009, ...  But
go back to Syria:  what does the future hold for the
Arab spring?  There are three alternatives ahead in
Syria, all bad for "the Zionist regime" (which
Ahmadinejad today, according to Haaretz, promised to
eradicate, although Haaretz amended that threat
parenthetically to aim it at "(Israel)").  The Syrian
public will convince its rebels to return to the
barracks.  Result:  Assad is relegitimized as the head
of Arab resistance to Israel.  The Syrian public will
join the rebels and overthrow Assad.  Result:  The
keystone in the ring of dictatorships defending Israel
from the Arab public becomes the point of the threat
posed by that public to Israel.  The US and Israel
duplicate the job done on Iraq ("the US objective in
Iraq is a weakened state," an Iraqi Kurdish interpreter
told me in northern Iraq in 2004), creating another
nation in fibrillation, neither stabilizing nor
destabilizing the region.  Result:  Saudi Arabia and
its Gulf coast coterie of emirates become the front
line of Israel's defense against the Arab public.

Shall we speculate on what tenure that defense will
have?  Will, for example, Lebanon be encouraged by its
Gulf allies to embark on "one person, one vote" and
turn its back on its own version of Israel's "Fort
Apache, The Bronx" state: a European aircraft carrier
in an Arab sea?  Will Jordan's Palestinians, of which I
gather there are quite a few, feel that a viable Jordan
requires a viable Palestine?

What Jewish state in Palestine looks viable in this
future-scape?  It is one where the "Jewish" is
honorific, as Quebec is honorifically the French
province of Canada.

The myth that seems to be going away is that Israel can
hide in the confusion.

Christopher C. Rushlau


-- "The Help"

The Help, Revisited, by Julian Bond

By Julian Bond on Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 12:30pm


I am surprised at the many critics of the movie, THE

These critics obviously did not see the movie, or if
they did, wanted it to be another movie about something
else. It is not and was not advertised as or intended
to be a movie about the civil rights movement, although
the civil rights movement is happening all around it.

This movie was about black women struggling in a
difficult profession under difficult circumstances. In
the best of times, they are daily victims of unyielding
white supremacy. Their employers are a toxic mixture of
simple-minded or evil-hearted racists.

Through pluck and vigor, humor, wit and perseverance,
the maids manage to rise above all this, triumphing
over their mistresses, and even earn some much-needed
money in the bargain.

The movie is laugh-out-loud funny and tear producing.

I hope the actors and the movie win Oscars. Go see it
for yourself.

"The Help" - Alice Walker

Turning Madness Into Flowers
May 24, 2011


The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.  Langston Hughes who
befriended me when I was very young, just beginning to
write, exhibited a quality I also have: I deeply prefer
to say nothing about another's work if I dislike it.
In fact, decades ago I wrote a short review of another
writer's work that hurt her feelings.  Realizing this,
I gave up writing reviews.

I put off listening to The Help thinking I wouldn't
like it; that the story would awaken pain (especially
from my years as an activist living in Jackson,
Mississippi, the novel's setting) from which perhaps I
had not sufficiently recovered.  My own mother and
father and grandparents before them were "the help" to
generations of racist white southerners.  My mother
especially took on a job as maid and caretaker of a
white woman's house and children from seven in the
morning to seven at night, every day but Sunday.
Leaving her own home and family bereft of her light-
filled presence, attention and love.  A robbery of
guidance and grace,  a theft of security.

But when I began listening to The Help, I found myself
seeing my mother's sacrifice and love at an even
greater depth than I had before.  By the time I
finished the novel, late in the night, and after many
tears and some laughter, I felt immensely comforted by
the reminder  that our mothers and fathers who
basically re-enslaved themselves to feed, clothe and
educate their children, also did their best to love the
children they were forced to tend, thus keeping
themselves human in a situation in which the most self-
destructive hatred might have developed. Destroying all
our lives.

I used to wonder if any white child in the South who
received the love of the great souls forced to tend
them would ever develop enough soul of his or her own
to rise in their defense.  Or even to an understanding,
however limited or imperfect, of their silenced, hidden
sacrifice. Kathryn Stockett has done so.

I appreciate The Help for its healing response to a
lifetime (really lifetimes) of injustice and hurt. And
for its teaching of solidarity with the intimately
oppressed. As a film, it too could move us forward into
the necessary awareness humans must continue to
develop: that it is our denial of ourselves as family,
with one another, and with all of creation, that
threatens our planetary existence. The readers of this
audio book are brilliant. Their voices delightfully

Alice Walker

[Earlier comments on "The Help" http://lists.portside.org/cgi-bin/listserv/wa?A2=PORTSIDE;5c50d829.1108c ]


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