Of America

Combatting Dishonest Military Recruitment


Here’s an issue we can safely assume the candidates will conveniently ignore: the massive recruitment efforts of the U.S. Pentagon. This video doc by Jorge Mariscal and my friends at Project Yano details the machinations of the U.S. war machine in its efforts to not just survive to fight another day, but to simply survive.



As I’ve said previously, given the vastness of the U.S. military presence abroad, we can expect the Pentagon’s multi-billion (yes BILLION) dollar effort to recruit young bodies to intensify at home. Because of the rapid decline in the number of young blacks and women opting out of military service, the Pentagon has taken an unprecedented and very expensive interest in young Latinos.


So, if you want to destroy the Empire, you can do so non-violently by supporting anti-military recruitment efforts like those of Project Yano, the AFSC and a growing galaxy of organizations doing their part to bring down Sauron’s tower by bringing down the number of our kids doing Sauron’s bidding.


Check out this video by project Yano. Those of you who are teachers or those who work in community organizations can use it with young people to counteract the effects of the seamless system of war consciousness created by private-public partnerships like those documented in James Derderian’s book about what he calls the “military-industrial-media-entertainment network”.



So, Project Yano’s kind of media work previews what must be the future tactics of any effort to destroy the workings of militarism in the minds of our young. Check it out.

McCain Gearing-Up For Attack on Immigrants?


In what may be the first of several tacts learned from the Clinton campaign’s failed racial strategy against presumed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the McCain campaign appears to be gearing up for its own racial antics.



According to this story in Newsday, we should expect “sniping to intensify around race, class and terrorism.” Every schoolboy/girl/lgbt who follows this blog and anyone who’s not been in a coma over the course of this primary (sadly) knows that race-and racism-occupy a central part of of the formula of any campaign now. In this post-industrial era of intense social, economic and political fragmentation, mixing numerous kinds of fear-inspiring memes occupies much of the time of any political consultant today.


Again, the Newsday story says that we should expect McCain to “exhume Obama’s support for ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s aborted license plan for illegals - perhaps eclipsing McCain’s own past fight with his GOP rivals on immigration.”



I personally think that such a tactic is neither advisable nor very smart. Such a stealth bilingual approach - spewing anti-immigrant cant in English while courting immigrant Latino votes with Spanish language political love poems- will not work. That McCain’s Spanish language ads goes out of its way to distance him not just from GWB but from the GOP itself (as in his ad says “When we are filling up the gas tank, we are not Republicans, Democrats or Independents. We are Hispanics, and we all are hurting together in this uncertain economic time.”) gives us some sense of how much the fear there is in the GOP around the much-anticipated Latino backlash against Republicans, who went from getting 35-40% of the Latino vote in the 2004 primaries to less than 22% in this year’s primaries.


In sum, it would only take one of the great majority of Latinos that is bilingual to point out that McCain will be speaking out of both sides of his mouth if he tries to use the immigrant driver’s license attack on Obama.

Juan Crow in Georgia

This article appeared in the May 26, 2008 edition of The Nation.

From the living room of the battered trailer she and her mother call home, Mancha described what happened when she came out of the shower that morning. “My mother went out, and I was alone,� she said. “I was getting ready for school, getting dressed, when I heard this noise. I thought it was my mother coming back.� She went on in the Tex-Mex Spanish-inflected Georgia accent now heard throughout Dixie: “Some people were slamming car doors outside the trailer. I heard footsteps and then a loud boom and then somebody screaming, asking if we were ‘illegals,’ ‘Mexicans.’ These big men were standing in my living room holding guns. One man blocked my doorway. Another guy grabbed a gun on his side. I freaked out. ‘Oh, my God!’ I yelled.�As more than twenty Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents surrounded the trailer, said Mancha, agents inside interrogated her. They asked her where her mother was; they wanted to know if her mother was “Mexican� and whether she had “papers� or a green card. They told her they were looking for “illegals.�

After about five minutes of interrogation, the agents–who, according to the women’s lawyer, Mary Bauer of the Southern Poverty Law Center, showed no warrants and had neither probable cause nor consent to enter the home–simply left. They left in all likelihood because Mancha and her mother didn’t fit the profile of the workers at the nearby Crider poultry plant, who had been targeted by the raid in nearby Stilwell. They were the wrong kind of “Mexicans�; they were US citizens.

Though she had experienced discrimination before the raid–in the fields, in the supermarket and in school–Mancha, who testified before Congress in February, never imagined such an incident would befall her, since she and her mother had migrated from Texas to Reidsville. Best known for harvesting poultry and agricultural products, Reidsville, a farm town about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, is also known for harvesting Klan culture behind the walls of the state’s oldest and largest prison. But its most famous former inmate is Jim Crow slayer and dreamer Martin Luther King Jr. His example inspires Mancha’s new dream: lawyering “for the poor.�

The toll this increasingly oppressive climate has taken on Mancha represents but a small part of its effects on noncitizen immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and other Latinos. Mancha and the younger children of the mostly immigrant Latinos in Georgia are learning and internalizing that they are different from white–and black–children not just because they have the wrong skin color but also because many of their parents lack the right papers. They are growing up in a racial and political climate in which Latinos’ subordinate status in Georgia and in the Deep South bears more than a passing resemblance to that of African-Americans who were living under Jim Crow. Call it Juan Crow: the matrix of laws, social customs, economic institutions and symbolic systems enabling the physical and psychic isolation needed to control and exploit undocumented immigrants. Listening to the effects of Juan Crow on immigrants and citizens like Mancha (�I can’t sleep sometimes because of nightmares,� she says. “My arms still twitch. I see ICE agents and men in uniform, and it still scares me�) reminds me of the trauma I heard among the men, women and children controlled and exploited by state violence in wartime El Salvador. Juan Crow has roots in the US South, but it stirs traumas bred in the hemispheric South.

66 Deaths in Immigrant Prisons Signal Need to Shut Down ICE

This hugely important story by the New York Times Nina Bernstein, hands-down best immigration reporter in the U.S., is a must read. It tells the story of Boubacar Bah, a 52-year-old tailor from Guinea who overstayed his tourist visa. According to Bernstein, who secured documents about Bah and 65 other imimgrants who died under questionable circumstances in immigrant prisons run by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and its subcontractors, Bah's family did not know what was happening to until his
... frantic relatives located him at University Hospital in Newark on Feb. 5, 2007, he was in a coma after emergency surgery for a skull fracture and multiple brain hemorrhages. He died there four months later without ever waking up, leaving family members on two continents trying to find out why.
Bah's is but one of the 66 storied of individuals who died in immigration custody between January 2004 to November 2007.

66, more than the number of those who died while in custody at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo -combined.


In addition to the tragedy gripping the families of these victims, this report sends an unmistakable signal to the immigrant rights community: the dehumanization of immigrants has reached deadly institutional levels. Such high levels of death among detained migrants prove that the Stop the raids slogans and calls for reform are of limited value.

Some of us need to raise the ante beyond the important but ultimately reformist calls to improve conditions in the jails; Some of us need to call for Congress to shut down the factory of death and dehumanization: the ICE. This latest proof of the damage wrought by the exponential growth of official and extra-official dehumanization of migrants joins the destruction already wrought by the most militarized branch of the federal government besides the Pentagon, ICE: thousands of raids, militarization of immigration policy, hyper-profits wrought by its military-prison industrial subcontractors, thousands of DEAD in the desert (many more than the 1000 conservative estimate reported in the article).

Thousands of dead.

Thousands of dead.

Yes, I said thousands of dead.

The Pentagon Comes to Cinco de Mayo

Those of us old enough to remember might recall those halcyon days when celebrating Cinco de Mayo meant many things: closing off a street in what was then known as a “barrio�, listening to sometimes inspired and sometimes less-than-inspired music of long-sideburned Santana wannabees from the local garage bands and eating food infused with the love of the local. And we sort of listened to the bandana’d radical Chicana organizer urging us to become part of the global liberation struggle commemorated on May 5th, when badly-equipped, but inspired Mexican guerrillas defeated the forces of Napoleon III’s French Empire in the 19th century.

Others may recall how, in the 80’s and 90’s, the long lost Decades of the “Hispanic�, many turned local street fairs across the Southwest into the larger, corporate-sponsored, alcohol-drenched festivals whose ghost we can still see today. The proud proclamations of culture and political struggle previously embodied by “Viva el Cinco de Mayo� gave way to the “Hispanic pride� contained in slogans like Budweiser’s “Viva la ReBudlucion!� or Absolut Vodka’s more recent racist -and ultimately failed-attempt to cash in on culture with its ad equating drinking vodka with a fictitious Mexican desire to re-conquer (the dreaded specter of “reconquista� promoted by anti-Latino groups and some media outlets) the Southwest.

Looking back on those days now, it’s clear how Latino children and adults going to Cinco de Mayo celebrations became a “mission critical market� in the clash of corporate empires that define a major part of our lives today. But, as a visit to most of the recent Cinco de Mayo and other Latino-themed celebrations makes clear, Latino events now move to the beat of a new power, that of the U.S. Pentagon.

5 Reasons to Participate in the Immigrant Rights Marches on May 1st


As the Mayday marches approach, I hear the pattering of well-meaning, but worried hearts. Some have told me that they are worried that Mayday may become low-turnout day. Though normal and to be expected, especially in a climate so toxic with state and corporate media-sponsored hopelessness, such fears need to be recognized and dealt with, for such personal, internal negotiations in times of global crisis are the stuff that the best political dreams are made of.



So, as we ponder whether to move our bodies to march in an age when politics and, especially, “progressive” politics, have given way to the important, but largely disembodied politics of the web, here are a few things to consider:
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