Ari Paul making sense:

January 14, 2021

Ari Paul

I co-wrote an article with the late Michael Brooks about how charges of hypocrisy are unhelpful in political discourse. Of course, one would want to rob their opponent of a tool that they would gladly keep for themselves. When Mitch McConnell rushes through a court nomination under a Republican president but blocks one under a Democrat, he’s not being hypocritical, because he is a political solider tasked with consolidating power at all costs.

I’m reminded of this fixation on contradictions in the wake of a failed fascist insurrection at the US Capitol – the Bud Lite Putsch, as journalist Arun Gupta calls it. The Left receives some finger-waving from the establishment Right: “Oh, it’s okay to riot over George Floyd but it’s bad when Trump’s people think the election’s been stolen?” And the Right gets the same treatment when they spent years saying, “Blue Lives Matter,” while the Make America Great Again movement just ended up killing two Capitol Hill Police officers.

For the Left, let’s keep in mind that insurrectionary tactics are morally neutral on their own, it’s the goal of an insurrection that we need to judge. The American, French, Haitian and Russian Revolutions were emancipatory insurrections against old orders, rebellions against colonialism and monarchy meant to move human society forward. Then there can be insurrections against state power that are darker – think the beginning days of the Nazis or the failed military campaign of the Confederacy. These were racist movements meant to preserve hierarchies and undo historical progress, in full defiance of state power and bourgeois democracy. The confederates were rebels in the face of US power, but their crime wasn’t taking on the Union. Their crime was that their singular purpose was the continuation of keeping Black people as property to enrich their ruling class.

For the Right, let’s keep in mind that knee-jerk defenses of police power have always been selective. When Black Lives Matter demonstrates against police violence, the Right’s quick defense of the police rests not on their inherent love of policing but the police’s role in maintaining white supremacy and defending property rights. The police can be an enemy of the Right if the police are standing in the way of its aims, like protecting the validation of an election in which a fascist movement’s spiritual leader, Donald Trump, lost. Hence why it shouldn’t seem like a contradiction that the Right can hate the Bureau of Land Management when it goes after the Bundys or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms when it instigated the stand-off at Ruby Ridge, and then just as easily fly a Blue Lives Matter flag when a white cop in Staten Island strangles a Black man to death for allegedly selling cigarettes unlawfully or support a fully militarized Immigration and Customs Enforcement as those agents toss migrant children into concentration camps.

These fixations on contradictions and tactics distract us from the real differences that are the source of political division. Do you believe that one should have equal access to rights, society’s wealth and enjoyment of life regardless of one’s race, nationality, gender, sexuality, religion, ability and what not? Or do you believe in a rigidly enforced hierarchy based on these categorizations? That’s the division, not what we generally think of police or storming a government building.

It is just better for us to be honest about this. Yes, I’m going to oppose an insurrection by white nationalists in the Capitol, but support disability activists who get evicted by Capitol Hill Police for protesting Medicaid cuts, because one is in defense of humanity and the other is not. Likewise, yes, I will be with Black Lives Matter the next time a white cop shoots an unarmed Black person, but if a federal agent has a neo-Nazi militiaman crossed up in his scope I’m not going to yell “hold your fire.” You may think, “Ah-ha! I’ve caught Ari in a contradiction!” But we all have contradictions. Ask why I have this contradiction.

Trump’s putsch failed, but we are likely to see more spasms of conflict. It’s going to be tempting to assert that our enemies are acting hypocritically, but that charge really says little about them. When we see these contradictions, we have to ask why these contradictions exist. The more honest we are about that, the more likely a movement that is universal and emancipatory wins over one that is reactionary, anti-democratic and cruelly hierarchical.

And one more thing: Rest in Power, Michael Brooks.


White Riot

January 10, 2021

A mob of the MAGA persuasion 
Conducted a Capitol Invasion 
Though many were armed 
They departed unharmed 
And that’s how you know they’re Caucasian 


January 7, 2021

Under the Tree: A Seminar on Freedom

January 6, 2021

Episode # 19: “A Word on Statistics”

The idea of a “seminar” provides us a vast metaphor, offering infinite roads to travel and pathways to pursue: Poems and Free-writes, Language Arts and Current Events, History and Geography, and much much more. Today, we’ll get to something we’ve been missing up until now: the wide and wonderful world of Mathematics. Of course, everything we humans produce is created in context, and the stuttering cliche that math is just the objective truth neither explains nor justifies the manipulation, deception, damage, and fraud as well as the beauty and power that flies at us from every direction in the name of facts and figures—the mantle of math. Numbers don’t express the gospel—they can easily hide injustices and conceal reality. We’re joined in conversation today with Kari Kokka, an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Pittsburgh, and one of the most thoughtful people working today to rescue math from the many myths and misunderstandings that seem to cling to it like a tangle of ugly barnacles.


The Party of white supremacy and reactionary insurrection. by Fred Klonsky

January 7, 2021

The Party of white supremacy and reactionary insurrection.
by Fred Klonsky

The Republican Party is a white supremacist reactionary insurrectionist Party. Its storm troopers are in the streets outside and inside the capitol. It political representatives sit in the halls of Congress. Its leader is in the White House, momentarily banned from Twitter and Facebook but with his finger still on the nuclear button. His toadies heading the Defense Department and other government agencies.

Hours after the white supremacists in Georgia were defeated by Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Osoff for seats that gave Senate control to the Democrats, Trump gave his storm troopers orders to march on the Capitol and “go wild.”

Some claim elections have consequences.

But not to the white supremacist reactionary insurrectionist party.

They have no interest in elections, because the future of true representative voting does not favor them.

For them the election of Joe Biden by an overwhelming popular majority means nothing more than a call to arms.

For them the election of a Black preacher from Martin Luther King’ s home church and a southern Jew to the Senate from Georgia is the future and a call to go wild.

Four million votes in Georgia in an open and fair election simply provided the excuse to an attempt a coup d’etat.

So far it has failed.

But they are not done.

The white supremacist insurrectionist party organized insurrectionary actions in state capitals across the country.

Springfield included.

In the national Capitol, police opened the barricades to let the insurrectionists in.

Their are videos on the internet of them showing the insurrectionists the way in.

A few dozen were arrested.

Chicago’s head of the Fraternal Order of Police dismissed concerns about the insurrection.

In less than two weeks we may see a new president.

But even if we do, the white supremacist reactionary insurrectionist party and its followers will still be here.

There will be talk of reconciliation. Reaching across the aisle.

That’s all nonsense.

We should be talking about a new Reconstruction.


Under the Tree: A Seminar on Freedom

January 6, 2021

Episode # 19: “A Word on Statistics”

The idea of a “seminar” provides us a vast metaphor, offering infinite roads to travel and pathways to pursue: Poems and Free-writes, Language Arts and Current Events, History and Geography, and much much more. Today, we’ll get to something we’ve been missing up until now: the wide and wonderful world of Mathematics. Of course, everything we humans produce is created in context, and the stuttering cliche that math is just the objective truth neither explains nor justifies the manipulation, deception, damage, and fraud as well as the beauty and power that flies at us from every direction in the name of facts and figures—the mantle of math. Numbers don’t express the gospel—they can easily hide injustices and conceal reality. We’re joined in conversation today with Kari Kakko, an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Pittsburgh, and one of the most thoughtful people working today to rescue math from the many myths and misunderstandings that seem to cling to it like a tangle of ugly barnacles.


The Fight for the Right to Vote

January 5, 2021
“I just want to find 11,780 votes.” Vote theft didn’t start with Trump.by Fred Klonsky

Do we forget that James Cheney, Micky Schwerner and James Goodman died in Mississippi and were murdered by the Klan for trying to register Black voters there?

Donald Trump caught on tape trying to overturn the results in Georgia is just a dot on a straight line drawn from Reconstruction to today to deny Black votes.

The turnout in November produced the largest number of votes in U.S. history.

This was in spite of continued Black voter suppression across the country.

We can imagine the number if everyone could vote.

Fascists in the Republican Party went after and continue to go after Black voters, city voters and suburban voters who are more than ever not white.

From the poll tax to murder in Mississippi to the seven hours many had to wait to cast a vote to Trump’s phone calls.

A straight line. Year after year after year.

In spite of the huge voter turnout to defeat Trump and in the midst of a pandemic, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott restricted each county in his state to one mail-in ballot drop-box location, regardless of population.

Texas counties with only a few thousand residents had the same number of locations as Harris County which includes parts of Houston, the third-largest county in America.

In Alabama, state officials stopped counties from implementing curbside ballot drop-offs in spite of the raging pandemic

In Florida, less than a month before Election Day, the secretary of state’s office issued new that added requirements for county election officials to meet for setting up ballot drop-off locations.

Charles Blow put it right.

Conservatives in America — whether they were acting under the banner of Democrats a hundred years ago or under the Republican one today — have engaged in a campaign for racial exclusion at the ballot ever since Black people — only Black men at first — gained access to the franchise.

Trump not only attempted to erase Black votes after they were cast, he attempted to suppress them before they were cast. This is nothing new among conservatives, but Trump has dragged the practice out of the back rooms and into the light of day once again, giving it a telegenic, digitally contagious persona.

Fred Klonsky | January 4, 2021 at 8:26 am | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/p4C3g-q4V


Under the Tree, Episode # 18: Violence is…

January 2, 2021

18) “Violence is as American as Cherry Pie”

America’s hyper-violent history of generational slavery based on African ancestry, of genocide, ethnic cleansing and land theft rolls seamlessly into the ongoing crisis of white supremacy, militarism and  militarized police forces, the massive prison-industrial complex, and more. Bullets and bombs aren’t the only ways to kill people—bad hospitals and a predatory health care system kill people; government sponsored enclosures kill people; decomposing schools and brainwashing curriculums kill people. In this episode Bill Ayers and Malik Alim meditate on the word “violence,” and pay attention, not only to the violence that’s visible and overt, but also to the violence that’s cloaked and hidden, and the accompanying feigned innocence—the hypocrisy—which can compound and intensify the original crimes.

UNDER the TREE: A SEMINAR on FREEDOM


BBC interview

January 1, 2021

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55372462