Cartoons and Islamophobia in the USA


This animated cartoon by Mark Fiore in the USA says about itself:

Pam Geller’s Islamification

13 May 2015

There are only so many ways you can say, “shooting cartoonists is wrong and free speech is great.”

Feel free to check out my previous responses to cartoonists being attacked or Muhammad cartoons being drawn. When I heard about the “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, I was curious about who would organize such a “festival.” (Having organized a cartoon festival myself, I think you can hardly call a two-hour meeting a “festival,” but I digress.) You can read more here.

We Shall Overcome and United States folk singer Guy Carawan


This music video from the USA is called Joan Baez: We Shall Overcome. March on Washington, 1963.

By Karl Dallas in Britain:

Obituary: GUY CARAWAN singer and activist, 27.07.1927-02.05.2015

Thursday 14th May 2015

THE LEADING US folk singer and civil rights activist Guy Carawan, who died on May 2 at the age of 87, will go down in history as the man who gave the world the anthem We Shall Overcome — though the song was much more of a collective effort than the popular perception of it.

In the late 1950, London was full of US expatriate folk singers, some of them exiles from McCarthyite persecution, others seeking out the British roots of the American tradition.

Some of them, like Carawan and Peggy Seeger, were on their way to the sixth world youth festival in Moscow which attracted 34,000 participants in 1957. While in Britain, Carawan had a minor hit with the single Michael Row the Boat Ashore, backed by Vern Partlow’s anti-nuclear talking blues Old Man Atom, with the memorable lines : “I hold this truth to be self-evident/That all men may be cremated equal.”

This music video from the USA says about itself:

“Old Man Atom (Talking Atomic Blues)” is sung by Ozie Waters on Coral 64050.

The song is by Vern Partlow (1910-1987) and Irving Bibo. Ozie Waters was a Colorado musician active in the 1940s and 1950s in the country and western field.

“Talking Atomic Blues” (aka “Old Man Atom”) was composed in 1945 by California newspaperman Vern Partlow (1910-1987). He was inspired to write the song after conducting interviews with nuclear scientists for an article he wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News. First recorded by Sam Hinton for ABC Eagle Records in 1949, it was covered by a number of artists, including Ozzie Davis and the Sons of the Pioneers. The song became one of the most popular novelty records of 1950 until the United States government’s War on Communism prompted record companies to withdraw the recording from circulation.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

I’m gonna preach you all a sermon
About Old Man Atom
I don’t mean the Adam in the Bible’s Adam
I don’t mean the Adam that Mother Eve mated
I mean that thing that science liberated
The thing that Einstein says he’s scared of
And when Einstein‘s scared,
Brother, you’d better be scared.

If you’re scared of the atom, here’s whats you gotta do
You gotta gather all the people in the world with you
Cause if you don’t get together and do it
Well, first thing, you know, we’re gonna blow this world plum to [hell]

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

Now life used to be such a simple joy
The cyclotron was just a super toy
And folks got born, they’d work and marry,
And “atom” was a word in the dictionary
And then it happened.

The science boys from every clime
They all pitched in with overtime
And before they knew it
The job was done
And they’d hitched up the power of the God-durn Sun
And put a harness on Old Sol
Splittin’ atoms
While the diplomats was a-splittin’ hairs

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

But the atom’s international in spite of hysteria.
It flourishes in Utah as well as Siberia,
And whether you’re black, white, red, or brown,
The question is this, when you boil it down
To be or not to be–that is the question.
The answer to it all ain’t military datum
Like who gets there first-est with the most-est atoms
No, the people of the world must decide their fate.
They gotta get together or disintegrate.

We hold this truth to be self-evident:
“That all men may be cremated equal.”

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

Yes, it’s up to the people
Cause the atoms don’t care.
You can’t fence me in–he’s just like air.
He doesn’t give a hoot about any politics
Or who gets what into whichever fix.
All I want to do is sit around
And have my nucleus bombarded by neutrons.

Now the moral is this, just as plain as day,
That Old Man Atom is here to stay.
He’s gonna stick around, that’s plain to see,
But, ah, my dearly beloved, are we?
So listen folks, here is my thesis:
Peace in the world or the world in pieces

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

The Karl Dallas article continues:

From Moscow, Carawan and Seeger were invited to travel to China. It was a journey strictly forbidden by the US State Department, who summoned them home to answer accusations of disloyalty. Seeger avoided extradition by acquiring British citizenship through marriage but Carawan went home to face the music.

Ironically, by taking away Carawan’s passport, the US establishment concentrated his musical work on his homeland, resulting ultimately in his popularising the anthem forever associated with him, We Shall Overcome.

Carawan didn’t in fact write the song because, like many other militant songs of the US south, it had gospel origins. The word “overcome” first appeared in the lyrics of We’ll Understand It By and By, composed by the Reverend Charles Tindley of Philadelphia in 1903: “When the saints of God are gathered home,/We’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome.”

This mutated into I Will Overcome— still on a gospel theme —but, during the 1946 strike of several hundred employees of the American Tobacco Company in Charleston, a woman called Lucille Simmons changed the words “I will overcome” to “We will overcome.”

The strikers visited the Highlander folk school in Tennessee which, as well as training union organisers and leaders in 11 southern states from 1932 onwards, also pioneered desegregation in the trade union movement.

Simmons taught the song to Zilphia Horton who, in turn, taught it to Pete Seeger, who published it as We Will Overcome in the first People’s Songs Bulletin— which is where Carawan learned it.

Oppression by the US authorities fed into Carawan’s life. It didn’t cause him to keep his head down and hope he’d be left alone. He became even more of a singing activist.

He had already visited Highlander before his trip to Moscow and Beijing and he went there again in 1959 and a year later taught the song to 70 young activists, following which they and he went to the founding conference of the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC), who took it and made it their own.

The SNCC Freedom Singers, Rutha Harris, Cordell Reagon, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Chuck Neblett travelled the country singing on college campuses, in churches and community centres, raising funds and awareness. The rest is history. As the New York Times described it in in 1963, We Shall Overcome became “the Marseillaise of the integration movement.”

But the song, and Carawan’s part in making it an international anthem of struggle, tell us something we need to remember about individuals and their relationships with the communities for whom they become the voices. Carawan never gave up.

Joe Hill, a previous singing agitator, told us on the eve of his execution: “Don’t mourn. Organise!” That would be a suitable response to Carawan’s death at a time when the forces of evil seem to be triumphant throughout the capitalist world.

Hitler’s mass murder of Dutch Jews


Memorial at the Westerbork Museum for the deported prisoners by Nina Baanders-Kessler

By Josh Varlin:

75 years since the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands

The Westerbork transit camp and the destruction of Dutch Jewry

11 May 2015

May 10, 2015 marked the 75th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. After the week-long Battle of the Netherlands concluded, the occupying forces began implementing their plans to integrate the Netherlands directly into the German Reich, including the deportation and extermination of Dutch Jews. Over the next five years, tens of thousands of Jews were deported from the Westerbork transit camp to Auschwitz and other camps.

The Dutch government hoped to remain neutral during the World War II, as it had during World War I, but both the Allied and Axis powers considered plans to violate the neutrality of the Low Countries (the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg). Hitler ultimately made the decision to invade the Netherlands to secure potential airfield spots in the flat countryside, guarantee troop movement to northern France, and prevent the Allies from gaining these strategic advantages.

The Battle of the Netherlands began May 10, 1940, with attacks by German paratroops airdropped outside Rotterdam, a cross-border assault, and widespread bombing. The Dutch army was unprepared for the war, in part because of the Dutch ruling class’ concentration on “defending” its prize colony, the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.

On May 15, 1940, after less than a week of resistance, the Dutch armed forces capitulated and a formal surrender was signed. Fighting continued in the southern province of Zeeland (Zealand) for a few more weeks with the support of French troops, with the last parts of the province occupied by May 27.

The next five years—until the surrender of occupying Nazi forces on May 5, 1945—saw the near-total destruction of Dutch Jewry, with over 70 percent systematically killed by German imperialism.

Anti-Semitic measures began almost immediately after the occupation began. The Nazi-installed civil government banned Jews from many public positions, including at universities. Physical violence was employed against Jews by fascist thugs, and street fights became common. One supporter of the Nationalist Socialist Movement in the Netherlands (NSB) died from injuries sustained in a fight on February 11, 1941. The Nazi government responded by “ghettoizing” Amsterdam’s Jewish quarter and engaging in ruthless pogroms to round up Jews.

In 1942, the occupying government took over the Westerbork refugee camp, which had been established in 1939 by the Dutch government to house German-Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Over the next three years (1942-1944), approximately 107,000 Jews were sent to Westerbork, almost all of whom were eventually sent east on the 97 trains that left the camp. The first left for Auschwitz-Birkenau—the most common destination—on July 15, 1942. Over 60,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz from Westerbork, many of whom were gassed on arrival.

Many other trains went to Sobibór—some 34,000 people were deported there, with only 19 survivors. Nine trains went to either Bergen-Belsen or Theresienstadt.

Approximately 102,000 Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust, with only 5,000 liberated in the camps—almost 1,000 of these survivors were freed from Westerbork, which is located nine kilometers south of Assen near the German border. Notable prisoners at Westerbork included cabaret director Max Ehrlich, figure skater Ellen Burka and diarist Anne Frank; only Burka survived the war.

Among the Sinti and Roma victims of the Holocaust in the Netherlands was Settela Steinbach, a 9-year-old Dutch Sinti girl who was deported on May 19, 1944 to Auschwitz, where she was gassed. The deportation was captured on film.

This video shows the deportation from Westerbork of Settela Steinbach and others.

Footage of the child’s face looking out from the cattle car became emblematic of the Holocaust.

Resistance fighters and any detainees who disobeyed were sent to the prison section of Westerbork. In addition to the resistance members sent east, 48 were executed and cremated at Westerbork, along with 4 Jews. Ten additional resistance members were executed elsewhere and cremated at Westerbork.

On April 12, 1945, Canadian troops liberated Westerbork and the remaining 876 prisoners. Westerbork then became an internment camp for members of the NSB or Waffen SS and other Dutchmen accused of collaborating with the Nazis.

National Westerbork Memorial (1970) by Ralph Prins, a survivor of the camp

The internment camp closed December 1, 1948 and was subsequently used as a training ground for soldiers before they were sent to fight for Dutch control of the Dutch East Indies during the Indonesian War of Independence, and, in the 1960s, as a temporary home for “Moluccan separatists,” the remnants of a Dutch proxy army that had aimed at crippling independent Indonesia.

The camp was gradually demolished, and its isolation—which was an important factor in its construction and eventual use as a transit camp—made it the ideal site for radio telescopes. The Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, finished in 1970, now contributes to mankind’s understanding of the cosmos through infrared imaging of galaxies. Thus modern technology has been used twice in the same area for wildly different purposes—near-annihilation of an entire people during the Second World War and exploring the universe today.

The Westerbork Museum opened in 1983, with some barracks at the camp partially reconstructed. For each Westerbork inmate that died in the Nazi extermination camps there is a small stone. The 102,000 Jewish victims are indicated with a Star of David, whereas the 245 Sinti and Roma victims are represented by 213 stones topped by a flame. One hundred stones have no emblem and represent the resistance fighters who were imprisoned at Westerbork before being sent east.

Memorial stones at Westerbork

The experience of Word War II and the Holocaust in the Netherlands offer lessons for today’s workers and youth. Neutrality and living in a minor imperialist power did not save the Dutch population, particularly Dutch Jews, during the Second World War. Nor will a nuclear Third World War spare civilians. The horrors of World War II point urgently at the need to avert a third through the working class waging war on war.

The author also recommends:

Seventy years since the defeat of Hitler’s Third Reich
[9 May 2015]

Seventy years since the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army
[16 February 2015]

Imperialism and the political economy of the Holocaust
[12 May 2010]

French National Front complicity in Charlie Hebdo, kosher supermarket murders


French neo-nazi arms dealer Claude Hermant

By Anthony Torres in France:

Police, far right linked to attack on kosher grocery during Charlie Hebdo shooting

9 May 2015

The arrest of an arms dealer linked to the neo-fascist National Front (FN) and the French police points to the possible role of the state and the far right in the terrorist attacks carried out in January in Paris by Amedy Coulibaly on the Hypercacher kosher supermarket, and by the Kouachi brothers on Charlie Hebdo magazine.

In late January, Claude Hermant, his partner, and another man were arrested for having repaired “many” decommissioned weapons from Eastern European countries. According to La Voix du Nord, the local paper near Lille, where Hermant lives, these weapons “were then delivered to criminal gangs, and not only those in Lille.”

Hermant reportedly sold Coulibaly, directly or through third persons, the weapons which he used to carry out the Hypercacher killings, according to the same newspaper: “It’s a very serious lead, which we hope to confirm soon.” The trail points to Belgium, where “Hermant apparently had ties in the context of his broader network. Let us recall that Coulibaly obtained his weapons at Charleroi,” in Belgium, the newspaper said.

La Voix du Nord published some extracts of emails sent between Hermant and police in November 2014. In one email, the policeman writes: “Hi Claude, we discussed things with our superiors. … We are OK with the two subjects you raised with us (weapons, Charleroi).”

These emails strongly suggest that Hermant could have received the support of intelligence services or of police to deliver weapons to Coulibaly or other Islamists. The newspaper continues, “Suppose that you found such messages (a dozen in all) that a policeman sent to Hermant, on November 21, 2014, at 8:47 a.m. Suppose that a close associate of the accused certified, ‘Claude Hermant has covered his bases’.”

Police officials were thus aware that Hermant was trafficking weapons and who he was selling them to. This again raises, very directly, the question of the role of the state in the deadly attacks of January 2015 in Paris.

It is already documented that Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers were known to the intelligence services and to police. The Kouachi brothers were under intelligence surveillance from November 2011 to June 2014; they were also placed on British and US surveillance lists. From 2011 to 2013, one of the brothers repeatedly traveled to Islamist training camps in Yemen.

As for Coulibaly, he was convicted for having plotted the jailbreak of an Islamist activist. He met Cherif Kouachi in prison.

The French state is complicit in the arming of the Islamist networks that are active in this social layer in France, and which Paris is using as part of its proxy war to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In an interview with Le Monde, President François Hollande even insisted that France had been arming Syrian Islamist forces as far back as the spring of 2013. Such forces, when deployed in Syria, can rely on training and operational assistance from French soldiers and CIA agents.

These Islamist groups are used to foment terrorist attacks and wage a neo-colonial war aimed at installing a pro-imperialist regime in Syria.

The reports of Hermant’s weapons-dealing activities raise the most serious questions: did sections of the state with ties to the far right encourage or at least tolerate the preparation of the January attacks for political reasons? Hollande exploited the attacks to shift the political atmosphere, place 10,000 soldiers in the streets, accelerate attacks on democratic rights and promote the FN as indispensable to mainstream politics. After the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher, Hollande invited FN leader Marine Le Pen to the Elysée presidential palace.

Hermant’s comments suggest that he believed he was acting on behalf of the state. The weapons trafficker and police informant insists that he “will not be the next Marc Fievet,” referring to a former customs inspector tasked with infiltrating organized crime circles, but arrested by Canadian authorities and abandoned by his superiors.

Hermant’s ties with the police point to the growing integration of the FN in the security forces, who emerged politically strengthened from the attacks carried out by the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly. Since then, the Socialist Party (PS) government has voted new intelligence law and boosted the defense budget, while the FN is continuing its normalization in mainstream bourgeois politics.

These events constitute a warning to the working class. A reactionary milieu tied to the security services, involving both far-right operatives and Islamist terrorists, is being brought forward as shock troops to attack the working class.

Hermant was trained as a paratrooper in the 1980s and reportedly went on to fight in Croatia. In the 1990s, he joined the FN’s security service, the Department of Protection and Security (DPS), a paramilitary group modeled on the special forces. It was led by Bernard Courcelle, the former captain of a parachute regiment and informer for military intelligence. The DPS was reportedly financed by weapons sales, according to Libération, including to Chechen forces through Croatia.

The gun dealer was thus connected to paramilitary organizations composed of former soldiers carrying out missions involving critical interests of the French state, both at home and internationally.

Hermant reportedly infiltrated activist groups such as SOS-Racism, and led punitive actions in impoverished French suburbs. He left for Congo-Brazzaville in 1999, tasked with a mission by the Congolese government of President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is closely tied to French interests. Hermant was incarcerated there before being released by a presidential pardon and leaving the DPS.

He led the Flemish House at Lambersart, a far-right association that was shut down in 2012. He reportedly now works in a restaurant in the Lille metropolitan area.

This is a 2012 video from Lille in France about that ‘Flemish House’ (Maison Flamande) in Lambersart. The video says the Maison Flamande will not close down, but change its name.

British election defeats for xenophobic Ukip, nazi BNP


This video from England says about itself:

Meet Sieg Heiling BNP member, Nazi skinhead and BNP activist Tommy Williams from Sheffield. Tommy is a convicted drug dealer and a personal friend of the BNP chairman Nick Griffin. Tommy’s BNP membership was confirmed by the leaked BNP members list, and he was also photographed providing “security” for the BNP Red White and Blue Festival in Derbyshire as recently as 2008. Tommy also runs the “Covert Undercover Nuisance Tactics” blog (really, the name says it all) which openly supports the Nazi skinhead group Blood and Honour, who take their name from the motto of the Hitler Youth, as well as running a pro-B&H channel HowlingWolves14 on You Tube.

Predictably Tommy Williams also appeared (using his “sneakygits@hotmail.co.uk” identity) in the leaked list of the Blood and Honour website, alongside other confirmed BNP members like Clive McElhinney from Tonbridge, Andrew Nixon from Chester, Janette Brunning from Farnborough and Karl Powell from Merseyside, among others.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

BNP demise cemented with complete vote collapse

Saturday 9th May 2015

THE DEMISE of the BNP was cemented yesterday after minority socialist and anti-austerity groups overshadowed the far-right party in poll results.

A total of 1,667 people voted for the BNP, but nearly every other smaller party, such as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (Tusc) and National Health Action, overtook them.

The Tories’ disdain for unions and the appalling strangulation of the NHS in their hands — with more punishing cuts to come — led to Tusc and NHA gaining traction.

TUSC’s vote doubled to 36,327 from the last general election.

NHA, a group set up three years ago to fight the dismantling and privatisation of the health service, followed with 20,210 votes.

A total of 514,819 people voted for the BNP in 2010 but it failed to return an MP under former leader Nick Griffin.

He was booted out in October for trying to “destabilise the party.”

This year, only eight candidates stood — down from 330. The sharp drop suggests that the end is nigh for the extreme right-wing group.

Matthew Collins, of Hope Not Hate — whose campaign contributed to the collapse of the BNP, said that the party was “always going to fall short” as its membership was lower than 20 years ago.

“It’s no surprise that the party is severely doomed. It is dead,” he added.

The group Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (CISTA) also beat the BNP, with 8,419 ballots cast in its favour. It was founded this year to campaign for drug law reform.

Only anarchist group Class War fared worse than BNP, attracting 526 votes shared between seven candidates.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

A little to smile about as Farage fails in sixth MP bid

Saturday 9th May 2015

PADDY McGUFFIN ponders Farage’s loss and Ukip’s failure to make parliamentary gains

THERE was precious little to smile about yesterday for those of us on the left.

But you would have needed a heart of stone not to guffaw when Nigel Farage failed to become an MP for the sixth time.

After half a dozen failed attempts, you’d think he would have got the message by now. And maybe he finally has, although I wouldn’t bet on it.

The Ukip supremo — now ex-supremo — looked like someone had handed him a soft drink instead of a pint when the result finally emerged shortly before lunchtime yesterday.

Having promised an earthquake, Farage was quickly waking up to the realisation that it had been nothing more than a tawdry knee-trembler bitterly regretted in the cold light of day.

The result, in Thanet South, saw Farage comfortably beaten by his Tory rival, with Labour coming a distant third in the poll.

As the count was read out and the result became clear, the venue rang out with mocking cries of “Bye bye, Nigel!”

Farage’s grandiose predictions that his party would be kingmakers fizzled out like a damp squib.

The significant political gains he had confidently predicted signally failed to materialise — rather like the millions of Bulgarians he claimed were going to swamp the country.

Ukip even lost one of the two seats they’d pilfered from the Tories earlier this year through defections, when Mark Reckless failed to retain Rochester and Strood and the constituency reverted to the Conservatives.

In his resignation speech, Farage attempted to put a positive gloss on the steaming canine excrement of the Ukip campaign.

“I have seen a shift in our vote,” he said, in possibly the understatement of the year. “I saw it yesterday in Broadstairs. I saw people saying: ‘Nigel, we’re going to vote for you in the local elections, we love what you stand for, we agree with you, we can’t afford to have a Labour-SNP coalition.’”

For the last time, Nigel, the voices in your head are NOT real people.

He said he would “take stock” after the electoral drubbing. Well, that should take all of five minutes — make sure you’ve still got all your MEP’s expenses squirrelled away and bugger off.

The first thing on his agenda however, he said, was a holiday.

I’d avoid Europe if I were him.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Lack of Ukip breakthough is ‘enormous victory’

Saturday 9th May 2015

THE Stand Up To Ukip campaign group hailed the far-right party’s failure to make a breakthrough as an “enormous victory” yesterday.

Despite predictions of major gains from party leader Nigel Farage, Ukip was left with only one seat after the election and Mr Farage was forced to stand down after failing to win in Thanet South.

Stand Up To Ukip joint convenor Jo Cardwell said: “Farage came to South Thanet thinking that he could divide working-class people by using racist scapegoating.

“But what Farage did not envisage was the level of resistance to both his Thatcherite politics and attempts to divide us,” Ms Cardwell said, while adding: “Neverthless, it is now crucial we are not complacent.

“Ukip have scored some high votes nationally off the back of the disgusting scapegoating of migrants that mainstream parties and the media have also been engaged in.

“It is essential now we continue to build a broad campaign to challenge Ukip’s racism, bigotry and anti-working class agenda so that legitimate anger around the effects of austerity is not misguidedly aimed at migrant and minority communities.”

NIGEL FARAGE’S ramshackle stewardship of the right-wing UK Independence Party was in doubt yet again last night as senior party figures turned on each other in spectacular fashion: here.