United States election and Michigan far-right terrorism

This MSNBC TV video from the USA says about itself:

‘Shaken’: Michigan State Senator Reacts To Thwarted Plot To Kidnap Governor Whitmer

“Every day when I enter the Capitol floor, I look into the gallery for armed gunmen. I keep a bulletproof vest under my desk. And that’s just how it is in my workplace,” says State Sen. Polehanki on threat of right-wing extremists in Michigan. Aired on 10/08/2020.

By Eric London in the USA today:

The Michigan conspiracy, Trump, and the 2020 election

Yesterday’s announcement of criminal conspiracy charges against 13 fascists who plotted to kidnap and murder Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer removes all doubt as to what Donald Trump means when he refuses to commit to a “peaceful transition of power.” The US president is clearly implicated by word and deed in a wide-ranging and violent plot to overturn the outcome of the November 3 election.

Federal prosecutors outlined initial details of the plot in a 15-page criminal complaint filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The conspirators, who claim the ability to mobilize “hundreds” of people, made intricate plans to intercept Whitmer at her vacation home and to forcibly transport her on a boat across Lake Michigan to an undisclosed militia-controlled location in Wisconsin. They then planned to stage a trial and execute her. Other conspirators planned to descend on the state capitol in Lansing, take control of the legislative chambers, and disband the elected government.

Trump’s plan for election day is no longer a matter of conjecture. In battleground states that support Biden, Trump will falsely proclaim himself the victim of election fraud, deploy violent groups to intimidate voters, seize statehouses and eliminate political opponents. Armed supporters will declare the vote invalid or compel state legislatures to certify pro-Trump slates of electors. Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have Democratic governors and Republican-controlled legislatures and will therefore be the central target of this plot.

The further exposure of this plot makes clear Trump’s motivations for rushing back to the White House from Walter Reed hospital. On Wednesday, barely 24 hours before yesterday’s announcement, the World Socialist Web Site wrote:

“Trump’s decision to return to the White House from the Walter Reed Medical Center Monday night was clearly motivated by deep concerns over the impact of his sickness on his position and political conspiracies.

Unless all the polls are totally wrong, Trump’s political position is deteriorating, and he faces the danger of a substantial defeat at the polls. But this fact does not alter his plans. The more desperate the crisis of the administration, the more Trump calculates that his ability to remain in office depends entirely on his ability to utilize extra-constitutional measures. Such conspiracies cannot be orchestrated from a hospital bed in Walter Reed. Trump requires control over the apparatus of the state.”

Under normal conditions, political etiquette would have compelled Trump to call Governor Whitmer, express his relief at her escape from danger, denounce the conspiracy against her life and the constitutional order in the most unequivocal terms, and pledge the full support of his administration for the exposure, apprehension, and punishment of all those involved in the plot.

But Trump has done no such thing. On Fox News last night, Trump scolded Whitmer for “complaining” about the plot, adding, “She goes and does her little political act and she keeps her state closed…what she is doing is a horrible thing to the people; the churches are closed.” Trump’s statements excuse and legitimize fascist violence. His comments are a signal to the fascist conspirators that Trump has their backs and that they, if convicted of a crime, can count on a presidential pardon.

The criminal complaint, which was announced from Michigan and not Washington DC, makes clear the Michigan plot is only the tip of the iceberg in a national conspiracy connected to Trump or those around him. The criminal complaint quotes one of the conspirators as saying, “I can see several states taking their f—ing tyrants.” The complaint also references the conspirators’ collaboration with militia groups in the swing states of Ohio, where the group held a secret meeting in June, and in Wisconsin.

Though the complaint does not mention the president by name, the originator of the conspiracy is in the White House. Trump has on many occasions specifically selected Whitmer out for condemnation because she was most visibly identified with implementing measures aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic, which ravaged Michigan in March and April. It is now clear these attacks were part of a deliberate strategy to lay the basis for the present coup attempt.

In March, Trump referred to her as “Half-Whitmer” for criticizing his administration’s response to the pandemic. On April 17, Trump tweeted his call to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and other swing states, including Minnesota and Virginia, a clear signal to “Operation Gridlock” protests goaded by Trump and the Republicans against restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

That same month, he tweeted: “I think they’re listening to me. They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is just the same as about all of the governors. They all want to open—nobody wants to stay shut …”

On April 30, the far-right protesters descended on Lansing and entered the statehouse armed with assault rifles to demand the end of the lockdowns. The next day, Trump tweeted: “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.” During last week’s presidential debate, Trump issued what is known in the military as a “preparatory command” to his fascist supporters, ordering them to “Stand by.”

The Biden-Harris campaign responded to these threats by issuing a series of platitudes chastising Trump for his “un-presidential” behavior and imploring people to vote. But this appeal is meaningless under conditions where Trump plans to ignore the outcome.

Throughout Trump’s presidency, the Democratic Party has responded to every escalation in Trump’s fascist strategy by downplaying the danger to the population. Judging by their muted response yesterday, the Democrats are treating the exposure of Trump’s plans to mobilize fascist militias as a minor episode, and the major newspapers are already pushing coverage on their online editions far down the page.

It is urgently necessary that the public be made aware of all the details of Trump’s dictatorial conspiracy. The success or failure of Trump’s plot depends on this.

In which other states are similar plots underway? Which of Trump’s fascist aides are in contact with the Michigan militia groups? The Nazi Stephen Miller? Roger Stone, who helped promote the right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory? How many degrees of separation are there between Trump and the fascists? Which other public figures do the fascist groups plan to kidnap and assassinate? Which governors, members of congress, media personalities, or cultural figures are next on Trump’s kill list? What do the text messages and meeting recordings of the plotters reveal?

The Democratic Party does not want the matter to be investigated for fear that it will trigger opposition from below. Their response is, “Keep moving, nothing to see here.” Trump relies on this spinelessness to move forward with his plans. But workers, youth, and honest journalists and professionals must demand answers immediately to expose and stop the plot against America!

FEDS: MILITIA PLOTTED TO KIDNAP MICHIGAN GOV. WHITMER A Michigan militia was plotting to kidnap Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to the FBI, which charged six people with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. The domestic terrorism investigation involved informants and employees who recorded conversations, texts, online chats and phone calls with the defendants. Whitmer drew a strong line between the alleged plot and Trump’s hate speech, interpreted by right-wing militia groups as encouragement. Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller trashed Whitmer after her remarks, calling her a “phony.” [HuffPost]

Do not let Gretchen Whitmer become the next Rabin.

CNN’S CUOMO EXPLODES AT TRUMP’S ‘VIRUS OF HATE’ CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was livid after Trump stayed silent for hours about the foiled kidnapping plot against Michigan Gov. Whitmer, who has been the target of attacks from Trump and his supporters for months over her measures to keep her constituents safe from COVID-19. Despite tweeting intermittently all day, Trump said nothing about the alleged terror plot against an elected official until 9:30 p.m., during Cuomo’s broadcast. On Trump’s silence, Cuomo asked, “Where is the outrage? How is this OK?” [HuffPost]

Democrats and corporate media cover-up Trump’s role in Michigan coup plot: here.

Bernie Sanders campaign in the USA news

This video from the USA says about itself:

WISE 12-Year-Old Bernie Supporter: “Human Rights Violation” to Deprive People of Healthcare

Status Coup’s Jenn Dize spoke to Jordan Chariton who spoke with Alan, a 12-year-old Bernie Sanders supporter, in Grand Rapids Michigan on March 8th, 2020 (yes, his mom gave us permission!).

This 8 March 2020 video from the USA is called Bernie Sanders & AOC Rally 2 Days Before Michigan Primary–Jenn LIVE From Ann Arbor Michigan.

United States Bernie Sanders supporters interviewed

This 8 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Full Speech: Bernie Sanders Rally in Grand Rapids

Bernie Sanders talked about his policies and had harsh words for President Donald Trump during a rally in Grand Rapids on March 8, 2020, just two days before Michigan’s presidential primary.

‘We’re going to win it again,’ Bernie Sanders says of Michigan at Grand Rapids rally.

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

“They want to keep the working class divided along racial and ethnic lines to keep all of the money to themselves

Sanders rally attendees in Michigan discuss socialism and the Democratic Party …

Sanders still enjoys popular support among layers of the working class and youth and drew thousands of attendees to rallies staged in Illinois and Michigan over the weekend. Since Friday, an estimated 6,000 attended a rally in Detroit, over 10,000 in Chicago, at least 4,000 in Grand Rapids in western Michigan, 10,000 in Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan, and roughly 1,000 in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. …

In Chicago, Sanders received endorsements from Illinois Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union. However, the Democratic established has largely given its backing to Biden … On Sunday Sanders received the endorsement of the Chicago based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition’s Jesse Jackson during the rally in Grand Rapids.

Reporters from the WSWS spoke to attendees at the rallies in Detroit and Grand Rapids. … Many attendees expressed anxiety and nervousness over the prospects that Biden could soon be the Democratic nominee, with some saying they would leave the party were he to become the candidate. Those our reporters spoke with expressed support for internationalism, opposition to imperialist war

In Detroit, Victor told the WSWS: “I am considering a vote for Bernie Sanders because of the conditions now facing young people and students in this country. The situation is becoming more and more intolerable on many levels, be it a lack of decent jobs, access to college, police brutality and war. It will be interesting to see what happens at the end of this primary.”


Victor added: “A lot of young people like me are getting more involved not because they support the Democratic Party per se, but because they want to see a movement to change things.” Commenting on the way that race is now being injected in the campaign behind Biden, Victor stated that the main issue was social conditions: “Yes, you have different groups of people, but what unites us is that we all face similar social problems.”

Olivia, a 20-year-old model from Michigan, came with her friends Sydney, 19 a production assistant in the film industry, and Arsinee, 18, who works at a boutique. Olivia told our reporters, “Capitalism just doesn’t work. We want socialism! The rich and the wealthy, the government, they want to keep the working class divided along racial and ethnic lines to keep all of the money to themselves.”

Olivia, Sydney, and Arsinee

Arsinee agreed: “It’s the old divide and conquer technique. We came because we wanted to see something different. There is power in numbers and we need to speak up. Our presence here speaks volumes. We know the Democratic party is not all that it says that it is. We know about the wars under Obama and his deportations. We all have to learn more. The Democrats are just as involved in taking money from wealthy donors.”

Chris, another attendee, told the WSWS: “The main reason that I am here is because of income inequality and the lack of adequate health care. People are afraid to go to the doctor, or urgent care, or a hospital, because of health care premiums and other out of pocket costs. I am living with my parents right now because I make $11.25 an hour at a paint store. I work about 30-35 hours a week after going to college.”


“I would like to see a break with the Democrats and an independent socialist party, but I don’t know how we would do it. The infrastructure it would take to build a party that would be able to compete with the two established parties, I don’t know how ready or able we are to undertake that right now.”

At the rally in Grand Rapids, Tre, who works as a server at a nearby Outback Steakhouse, said, “I’m about to turn 26 and will lose my health care, which I really depend on. If I lose insurance, I can’t imagine how expensive it will be.”

Tre continued: “I’m very concerned about the future. I just became an uncle to twins, and I’m scared that they won’t survive in the future due to climate change. I want to further my education, but I can’t afford college tuition and don’t want to go into debt. I have sisters who can’t buy homes because of how much college debt they have.”

Speaking on Sanders, Tre declared, “He’s really only a modern FDR, but that’s unacceptable to the establishment. It shows how far both parties have moved to the right in recent decades. I think Sanders is putting these issues back in the Democratic Party and they don’t want him to. They see him as a financial threat.”


Brett, an instructor at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, noted his frustration with the line-up of Democrats endorsing Biden. He commented, “I think it’s a testament to the fact that Sanders is leaning too far to the left, and that’s not acceptable to the Democratic establishment.” …

Brett declared: “I agree with the points you’ve made. … I champion internationalism, that’s the only way that we’ll ever be able to solve the problems we face.”

Jessica and Casey, who live in Holland, Michigan, were both deeply upset by Sanders’ losses on Super Tuesday. Jessica stated emphatically, “I think the whole thing was calculated, and it’s upsetting. I’ll leave the Democratic Party if Joe Biden is the nominee.” After discussing the need for the working class to build its own, independent political party, Jessica declared, “I feel like that’s where things are heading.”

USA, killer Ku Klux Klan policeman exposed

This 12 August 2012 video from the USA says about itself:

KKK Cop Exposed

A Michigan cop who killed a black man in 2009, is being investigated for ties to the KKK. Cenk Uygur, Booke Thomas, and Francis Maxwell, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“A Michigan cop has been placed on administrative leave so city officials can investigate why he decorated his home with Confederate flags and a framed membership application for the Ku Klux Klan.

The cop was last in the news a decade ago for shooting and killing a black man, for which he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson was alerted to Officer Charles Anderson’s disturbing memorabilia after an African-American man toured the white officer’s home, which is for sale, according to the statewide news site MLive. Rob Mathis wrote on Facebook that the five-bedroom home was littered with Confederate memorabilia. The KKK application was hanging in one of the bedrooms.”

Read more here.

NEW POLITICAL LOW IN TEXAS? The Republican-dominated state Senate in Texas has passed a bill to eliminate a requirement that public schools teach that the Ku Klux Klan and its white supremacist campaign of terror are “morally wrong.” Eliminated requirements also include the writings of Martin Luther King Jr., United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez and suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Critics say the state is promoting an “anti-civics” education. [HuffPost]

Selling one’s blood because of poverty

This 18 December 2018 video from the USA says aboout itself:

How Big Pharma is Preying on Poor Americans

The 20 billion dollar blood-plasma industry is preying on poor Americans to ‘donate’ blood with dangerous frequency, then selling to countries with more stringent patient care laws.

I think we can all agree that giving blood is good. But what about when pharma companies use money to get people to give more blood than their bodies can handle? That is: not good! And that’s happening – right here in the United States.

Now, when I talk about blood – what I mean is blood plasma: an essential part of many life-saving treatments, for things like blood loss, hemophilia, burns, and cancer. Millions of people around the world donate their blood plasma to those who need it. Thanks, nice people who donate blood!

But donating too much plasma can be extremely harmful, that’s why most countries ban giving plasma more than once every two weeks, because they, you know, care about the health of donors. However – here in the US, big pharma companies have been making laws allowing people to donate a lot more frequently – dangerously frequently.

Up to two plasma donations a week, every week! Hey, if people want to donate sweet sweet blood, who are we to stand in their way?! Oh, except we’re actually giving them cash money for their sweet sweet blood, so technically it’s not donating, they’re selling –– but that’s doesn’t blur the lines of medical ethics or anything.

In most countries, donating plasma is a TRUE BLUE donation – you don’t get paid, and the centers are often run by charities like the Red Cross.

BUT in the US – the home of capitalism – plasma has become a 20 billion dollar industry. Hence why medical companies have started paying people for the sweet sweet blood. And – these for-profit medical companies are asking people to donate 4 times more than what the World Health Organization considers ‘safe’.

So, what exactly happens if you keep dishing out your plasma, [more] than advised? According to a volume of scientific research: extreme weight loss, debilitating fatigue, passing out – including passing out whilst driving – as well as severe pain, loss of muscle control, and severe dehydration.

Here seems as good a time as any to state this FUN FACT: 80% of plasma collection centers are located in impoverished neighborhoods. And what makes this practice even more predatory is that the side effects of donating are often compounded by poor nutrition and lack of medical care – issues that come hand in hand with poverty.

This story gets even worse, because many donors don’t even know they’re at risk, because they’re being lied to. The literature provided at U.S. centers ubiquitously states that “donating plasma is safe.” Its side effects are limited to “mild faintness and bruising”, with some brochures adding, “Other possible side effects will be explained by our medical staff”.

Just when you thought this story couldn’t get worse – here’s another fact: The U.S. now supplies 94 PERCENT of the world’s paid plasma. Working class US citizens are being targeted by big predatory medical companies, who then sell their plasma to countries with more stringent patient care laws.

… So basically, medical companies have built a pool of poverty-stricken human victims, who are sucked for their blood and tossed aside when they’ve been bled dry. And since donors sign a waiver … they can’t access medical treatment or compensation if donating blood makes them sick.

By Carlos Delgado in the USA:

Kalamazoo, Michigan: “I don’t like the idea of selling my blood plasma for money, but I have to do what I’ve got to do”

US blood plasma industry targets poor and working class

28 May 2019

As living conditions for workers in the United States continue to decline rapidly under the weight of decades of wage stagnation and bipartisan cuts to social spending, increasing numbers of US workers are turning to selling their blood plasma in order to cover basic necessities. Billions of dollars in profits are being made in an industry that quite literally thrives on sucking the blood from workers and the poor.

The US blood plasma industry has grown significantly in recent years, from just over $5 billion in global sales in 2000 to over $21 billion in 2017. According to a Market Research Engine forecast, the industry is on track to cross $44 billion by 2024.

Global demand for blood plasma has risen in part due to its irreplaceable role in many important medical therapies, including for patients with antibody deficiencies and hemophilia. Blood plasma can only be obtained from donors and cannot be artificially replicated.

Roughly 70 to 80 percent of global plasma supply is provided by paid donors from the United States, which, unlike the United Kingdom and other developed nations, does not ban the practice of paying donors for their blood. The United States also has fewer restrictions on how often someone can donate plasma, with donors permitted to undergo the process twice a week, every week, all year long.

Plasma donations in the United States have tripled from 12 million per year in 2006 to 38 million per year in 2016, according to the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. At the same time, the number of donation centers has doubled, from 300 sites in 2015 to more than 600 today.

Blood plasma donation takes a serious toll on the health of the donor, especially for long-term, repeated donors. After a blood draw, donors can experience weakness, bruising, dehydration or fainting. A 2010 study found that frequent paid donors have lower levels of proteins in their blood, increasing their risk of infection and liver and kidney disorders.

While providing plasma to those in need is a social necessity, the capitalist private profit system has endowed the practice with distinctly parasitic characteristics. The global plasma supply is provided largely by the poorest sections of the working class, driven to sell off parts of their bodies in order to make ends meet.

A 2018 study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that states with a higher number of plasma donation centers were also more likely to have a higher population of low-income and minimum-wage workers. The study also found a higher prevalence of donation centers in states with less cash assistance available to low-income individuals. One researcher, Heather Olsen, stated that plasma donation companies are “surgically placing” donation centers in destitute neighborhoods.

Additionally, the study noted that, due to inadequate health care coverage, “Significant numbers of donors…would not be able to afford the lifesaving therapies created by their own plasma contributions.”

A survey conducted by the Case Western researchers at a donation center in Cleveland, Ohio, found that 57 percent of donors surveyed make more than a third of their monthly income from donating plasma. Fully 70 percent have experienced a side effect from donation. When asked what donors spend the money on, which can be as little as $30 to $50 for a donation that can be sold for $300 on the wholesale market, respondents said they largely spent money on basic necessities such as food, gas and rent.

Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site spoke with donors at a donation center in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Brandon is a working-class college student who uses the donation money to cover basic necessities. “It’s an easy way to get money for the rent,” he said. “At the school I go to, I’m in class with CEOs’ daughters and all of that. So as a blue-collar kid, I’m a minority. My financial aid is good, but not good enough. I need to find other ways to get the money, and plasma is an easy way to do it.

“I’ve been donating to this center for a couple months,” Brandon continued. “Back home, I was doing it for about a year. Coming from a working-class family and being a first-generation college student, there’s a lot of what-ifs and unknowns. You’ve got to find the money where it is.

“Obviously, this is a huge industry. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do. What they give me for what I donate is what they give me. Would I like more of the pie, especially since it’s literally me giving a part of myself? Yes. I’m well aware that I’m getting ripped off for this, but money is money. And obviously I don’t have much of it.”

Brandon spoke of how social inequality drives workers and youth like himself to become plasma donors. “I go to school with a lot of upper-class kids. And even though they have so much, they still fight and claw for more. It’s capitalism. The upper class succeeds. The rest of us fight like hell. The political spectrum is set up to where the rich get richer and where the working class have to suffer. A lot of bills that Congress passes favor the rich, even though promises are made throughout the campaigns that they’re going to help the working class. But it’s going to take a lot more than one person to change that.”

Izzy is a student at Western Michigan University who works in the food service industry. She recently had her hours cut, so she is selling her blood plasma to cover necessities. “I use the extra money on gas, groceries, things like that,” she said. “I know for some people, though, it’s like a job, and they earn a living from donation. It’s sad but true. My friend works here, and she sees the same people every week.

“There’s a whole profit scheme,” Izzy continued. “They give us so little, but they get so much. It’s like a typical medical industry stunt. It’s the same thing with big pharma. They want you to get addicted to opioids so they sell more of them. They want your plasma because it’s expensive. But they don’t want to pay you, so they go to the poorest places and pay the least amount they can.”

Izzy noted the contradiction between providing a socially necessary service and the way that service is exploited for profit. “I feel okay about donating in some respects. There are pregnant mothers who need plasma, babies who need it, and kids who need it. But at the same time, I hate that I’m feeding into the big pharmacy companies.”

Mark recently moved to Kalamazoo from Flint, Michigan. “Currently I’m waiting for a call back from a job,” he said. “Money is tight, so I came here to donate so I could get gas and food, some hygiene things, basic needs like that. I don’t donate very often, but I do it when I’m in a serious need. I don’t like donating, because I don’t like the idea of selling my blood plasma for money. But I have to do what I’ve got to do, really.”

Mark spoke about the social conditions in Flint, which has been ravaged by decades of industrialization and the enduring water crisis. “It’s horrible in Flint. It’s a ghost town. There’s abandoned places everywhere, abandoned houses. There’s drug addicts, drug dealers, shootings, missing kids. The whole area is bad. There’s no jobs at all. The only jobs that are really good are factory jobs, but the factory jobs don’t pay what they actually should. GM is barely paying anything.

“We’re not robots. We’re not just people you can give a job to and just lay off. We have lives. We have families. We have kids. We depend on jobs.”

Quwanda has been donating blood plasma for over 10 years. She said that she has been fighting to get better pay for donors. “For a long time, when I’d go to the center I would talk to the managers about getting us more pay. It does take a lot out of us when we come out of there. We are giving our immune system away. I understand completely the whole process and what they’re using it for. I worked as a nurse for 20 years. I’ve always thought that we should be getting more money, especially with what they’re getting paid from our plasma.”

She spoke of the debilitating effects that frequent donation has on her physical health. “I’ve experienced a lot of weakness. It drains you. Even on a sick day, when you really need some money, you come in here. You’re at your worst when you come out. That’s basically what you have to deal with if you need to get by.”

“I’ve done plasma donation in a lot of different cities and states,” she said. “Every place is different, but they still pay very low. The economy doesn’t help any, and gas is high. So you have to get it from somewhere. We get gas money from here. If we need Pampers, milk for the baby, toiletries, that’s what we’ll come in here for. I think more people might come if they were giving more money. A lot of times I do feel sick and queasy afterwards. I eat and drink plenty of water, but it’s the simple fact that they’re taking your immune system. It’s draining.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), South Asia is now the leading transplant tourism hub globally, with India among the top kidney exporters. Each year more than 2,000 Indians sell their kidneys, with many of them going to foreigners: here.

American protest against Saudi-Trump war on Yemen

This February 2018 video says about itself:

Yemen: Protesting children call for end to conflict outside UN’s Sanaa HQ

Yemeni children held a protest vigil outside the United Nations building in Sanaa, Tuesday, to demand a halt to the war and a return to regular food and aid supplies into the country. One of the young protesters said: “we come to demand that the United Nations stop the [Saudi-led coalition] siege of Yemen so that we can go back to our schools.” He added: “Saudi Arabia says it sends us flour and wheat, but it sends us missiles, [and] bombs Yemen, houses, mosques, and everything else.”

By Tim Rivers in the USA:

Dearborn, Michigan residents protest on four-year anniversary of US-backed Saudi war on Yemen

1 April 2019

On Saturday a demonstration of about 100 people heard speakers denounce US support for the Saudi-led genocidal war against Yemen in front of the Henry Ford Memorial Library in Dearborn, Michigan, a Detroit suburb that is home to the largest Arab-American community in the United States.

Students from Dearborn High School and Wayne State University joined autoworkers from nearby Ford factories and other residents of the community to denounce the blood-drenched Saudi regime and its continuing onslaught against the defenseless population of Yemen.

Anaya and Abbas

“I am here because every rational human being is against war, against killing innocent human beings, especially those who are defenseless and poor”, said Anaya. “These are the poorest people in the world. For what reason?

For the criminal Saudi regime it is all about power and money. I oppose the war in Yemen. I know it is economically motivated. The Saudi regime exchanges oil for weapons, and those weapons are used against my people in Yemen.”

The United Nations calls Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with 14 million of the country’s 29 million people facing starvation, the direct result of a punishing naval blockade enforced by Saudi Arabia and the US.

According to the charity Save the Children, an estimated 85,000 children have starved to death during the four years of war. Nearly 100 civilians were either killed or wounded every week in Yemen last year, with children accounting for one-fifth of all casualties, the UN reports.

A section of the Dearborn protest

Members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) received a warm reception from the demonstrators who gathered under umbrellas in a drizzling rain. IYSSE members distributed copies of the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter and a leaflet promoting the upcoming meetings at Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor entitled “The threat of fascism and how to fight it”, featuring Christoph Vandreier, a prominent leader of the fight against fascism in Germany and deputy national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Germany).

“I am of Yemeni descent”, Nuha told the WSWS. “I was born here, but when I was visiting family in Yemen, every night we would hear Saudi aircraft. We would hear the bombing in distant cities.

“Something really terrible happened while I was there. A funeral was bombed, and hundreds of people were killed.


“You don’t see these headlines in America because they are funding Saudi Arabia. It is good to see that there is a campaign against it.”

Our reporters explained the SEP’s international fight for the freedom of journalist Julian Assange, trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and whistleblower Chelsea Manning, imprisoned in solitary confinement for refusing to testify against Assange, and the parallel campaign against internet censorship.

“When you say censorship, it reminds me of the Palestinians,” she said. “If you speak out on the war by Israel against the Palestinians, you would be called fascist. That is a type of censorship. It just shuts down people.

“I would not think of London, England as being involved in censorship. I would think of America, yes, but not England… Thank you for this.”

A report by the US-based University Network for Human Rights (UNHR) and the Yemeni monitoring group Mwatana documented more than 19,000 bombing raids that have been carried out in the Saudi-led assault on Yemen. Since the start of the war, the UK alone has sold at least £5.7 billion worth of arms to the Saudi coalition.

Hospitals, airports, ports, bridges and roads have all been repeatedly attacked. So, too, have farms, schools, oil and gas facilities, factories and private businesses. Yemen’s civilian, economic and medical infrastructures have been pushed to the brink of collapse. The worst cholera outbreak on record, with more than 1 million infections and 2,500 deaths, has been raging since 2016.

Thousands of people are starving to death and dying from preventable diseases, while an average of eight civilians die from bombs and bullets every day, based on data collected by the Yemen Data Project.

Under Obama the US military provided midair refueling of Saudi warplanes so that they could continue nonstop bombing of schools, hospitals, vital infrastructure and residential neighborhoods, while offering intelligence, targeting information and US naval support for a deadly blockade of the impoverished country.

In a report from September 2016, Reuters revealed that the Obama administration offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, other military equipment and training—a figure which exceeded all previous U.S. administrations in the 71-year history of the U.S.-Saudi alliance.

The multiple arms on offer included everything from small arms and ammunition to tanks, attack helicopters, air-to-ground missiles, missile defense ships, and warships. Washington also provides maintenance and training to Saudi security forces. The Control Arms Coalition, a group that campaigns for stricter arms sales controls, said at the time that Britain, France and the United States were flouting the 2014 Arms Trade treaty, which bans exports of conventional weapons that fuel human rights violations or war crimes.

For example, on March 15, 2016, the coalition bombed a crowded market in northwestern Yemen, killing at least 97 civilians, including 25 children. Human Rights Watch determined that the attack was conducted with a GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb, which consists of an MK-84 2000-pound bomb and a JDAM satellite guidance kit, both of which the US supplied. The US and the UK have also sold cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, which release scores of submunitions that can detonate much later and kill civilians.


“I am shocked that this can be a reality,” said Karim, a junior at Dearborn High School. “Oppression, atrocities and no one is doing anything about it. We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world. Why are we supporting the people who are causing this to happen?

“We are humans. We are supposed to be brothers and sisters. We are supposed to support each other. We are not supposed to let oppression happen.”

WSWS reporters discussed the class struggle, the need for revolutionary leadership in the working class and the upcoming meetings on the fight against fascism at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. He welcomed the invitation.

“Anything that will truly help people and doesn’t have a hidden agenda. Yes, I will support that. What power does the government have without the people? If we stand together, nobody will have a greater power than us. If that is the means of uniting people against war, then we have got to do that.”

When a member of the SEP was invited to address the rally, he explained that both Democrats and Republicans had voted for the Pentagon’s massive budget and supported US wars in the Middle East. Both parties of American capitalism support the Saudi regime in its conduct of the genocide against the people of Yemen.

Ziyed (left) with two friends

While Donald Trump is the most hated president in American history, and the vast majority of the American people are deeply hostile to the wars being conducted by his government, he explained that it was critical to understand that to bring an end to the war, it was necessary to mobilize the working class independently of both parties of big business in struggle against capitalism, which is the source of war.

The protesters who spoke to the WSWS were horrified and often confused by the atrocities that are taking place in Yemen.

“I can’t believe how this could be happening,” said Ziyad, a student at Wayne State University. “I want to fight against this war.”

Jafri worked at General Motors 44 years. He was … eager to find a way to mobilize workers more broadly against war. … “The working class does not want war. What person would?”

Bald eagle saved from Michigan, USA ice

This 6 February 2019 video from Michigan in the USA says about itself:

Iced Eagle Rescue on Lake Michigan

Some know that in my ‘spare time’, I volunteer at the raptor rehabilitation center in EmpireWings of Wonder (WoW) …

By fortune or misfortune, an eagle that somehow had the inconvenience of coming into contact with Lake Michigan during the recent polar vortex was in trouble.

Finders had been watching 4 eagles eating something out on the edge of the ice. Three of the eagles eventually flew away but the fourth remained, and it was immediately apparent that something was wrong. So, they (the finders) contacted Wings of Wonder where I was holding down the fort while the director, Rebecca Lessard was making her own Polar Vortex sidestep by visiting her grand baby in Dallas, TX!

I called volunteer Chris Johnson to see if he had some time open for a possible adventure and he bit! The accompanying video is a spotty story of the rescue and rehabilitation as I was there to rescue/assist and not to photo’graph, but I couldn’t resist getting some clips when the timing was right and my help was not needed.

The first segment I was wading amongst ice chunks, trying to keep my footing, an eye on the eagle/Chris and get some video … sorry for the ‘bobblyness’. The eagle was sitting on the edge of an ice shelf about 100 feet from shore. I donned insulated chest waders, a PFD and slowly plodded out into the water amongst the large floating ice blocks to corral the eagle with hopes that he would move towards shore where Chris was waiting with blanket and thick handling gloves.

We were able to keep him on the shoreline ice and convinced him to go ashore so we could gather him (and his 8?” ball of tail ice) to take back to WoW to assist in the defrosting process. It worked and the only close casualty was the newfound leak in my waders … at crotch level (of course) … luckily Chris was right where he needed to be and had the presence of mind to intercept the guy who seemingly was looking for an assist at the same time we were offering one!

Getting the eagle back to WoW, we set him up over night in a crate near a heat vent hoping the freezerlings would let loose, but alas, the big one did not … so, the next morning, Jim Manley joined the crew to help with the next step of ‘forced defrostation’ … warm tap water directly applied to the ice ball.

They were able to remove the ice beast and it was apparent he was pretty happy to have his discharge chute operating again as he was making up for lost time … with cleared out piping he gently accepted his first free meal very gently from forceps. Sunday morning the eagle was moved to the outside 100 foot flight pen where he finished his full recovery. He is flying perfectly, preening and certainly enjoying his daily free meals of rabbit, rat and fish dinners. Wings of Wonder is inviting the public to his release on Sunday, Feb 10th, 2019 at 4pm, from the Suttons Bay High School parking lot, 500 South Elm Street, Suttons Bay.

The release was a grand success! you can see it here:

US historian censored for describing Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism

This 1 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

The author of an article on Henry Ford’s anti-semitism was fired.

By Tom Mackaman in the USA:

Dearborn, Michigan mayor suppresses historical article on Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism

7 February 2019

The city of Dearborn, Michigan last week suppressed an edition of a local historical journal that detailed the promotion of extreme anti-Semitism by auto magnate Henry Ford (1863-1947) in his newspaper the Dearborn Independent during the 1920s. The city also terminated the contract of the article’s author, Bill McGraw, who previously had a 31-year career as a writer and editor at Detroit’s major daily newspapers.

Cover of the censored The Historian

The censored journal describes how, beginning in 1920, Ford’s newspaper began publication of a series of articles that came to be titled The International Jew, which claimed that a Jewish conspiracy controlled world finance and “Bolshevism”. McGraw’s article describes the connections between Ford’s anti-Semitism and Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) party, as well as to far-right organizations in the present day.

Dearborn, USA Mayor John B. O’ReillyMayor John B. “Jack” O’Reilly ordered a halt to distribution of the quarterly publication, The Historian, and saw to the removal of McGraw, who was also the journal’s editor. The printed journals, which had been ready for distribution to their 230 subscribers, were sent back to the printing plant.

O’Reilly, a Democrat who once served as a staffer to Congressman John Dingell, made no attempt at a legal justification for his grossly anti-democratic action. “It was thought that by presenting information from 100 years ago that included hateful messages—without a compelling reason directly linked to events in Dearborn today—this edition of The Historian could become a distraction from our continuing messages of inclusion and respect,” he said in a statement issued last Friday.

The mayor, with unbounded cynicism, resorted to the political vocabulary used in Democratic Party circles to promote identity politics to justify censorship in the defense of a vicious anti-Semite who founded the auto company that just happens to economically and politically dominate Dearborn, and which remains under the control of the Ford family. His statement employed buzz words such as “hateful messages” and “inclusion and respect”, as well as “diverse communities” and “unity and understanding.”

Mayor O’Reilly interpretation of words like “inclusion and respect” appears to be that Jews should not ‘moan’ about anti-Semitism; African Americans should ‘quit bitching’ about slavery and Ku Klux Klan lynchings; LGBTQ people should be silent about homophobic violence; and anti-nazis should ‘respect’ nazis or else be labelled ‘terrorists’ by the FBI (like happened recently in California).

Since Henry Ford moved his headquarters to Dearborn a century ago and built there his mammoth River Rouge plant—for a time the world’s largest single industrial complex—Dearborn has been, in all but name, a company town. Even today, in a city whose population is only 95,000, Ford employs roughly 50,000—at its Rouge manufacturing facility, its corporate headquarters, and its Visteon parts maker. Ford is by far the largest property holder and taxpayer.

Organizations that purport to defend Jews against anti-Semitism such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which regularly denounce as anti-Semites public figures who dare to express concern over Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian population—have been silent on the city of Dearborn’s actions, though the local Michigan branch of the ADL mustered a statement requesting that the mayor “reconsider” the journal’s suppression. It did not ask for McGraw’s reinstatement.

Henry Ford

Whatever his intentions, Mayor O’Reilly’s effort at censorship backfired. A web page posting McGraw’s article has been visited tens of thousands of times. The article is worth reading.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the first issue of the Dearborn Independent under Ford’s ownership, the article details how the newspaper served as a platform for vicious slanders against Jews—and how these contributed to the Nazi movement in Germany and to current far-right tendencies. Ford, who himself wrote a weekly column in the paper, used his celebrity, as well as millions of dollars of his own money, to promote both the newspaper and its anti-Semitic writings.

Ford’s anti-Semitism, as Hitler’s, was completely bound up with his anti-communism and fear of socialist revolution. Ford was notorious for using his own private army of gangsters and thugs—the notorious Ford Service Department headed by Harry Bennett—to spy on and smash up early efforts to unionize his plants.

In the spring of 1920, the Dearborn Independent launched a series of articles called “The International Jew: The World’s Problem”. These articles revived the Czarist Russian forgery known as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. They were assembled in a book, The International Jew, which sold two million copies and was published in 12 languages.

Ford's book The International Jew

The Dearborn Independent carried on its attacks on Jews for two years. In part leaning on Ford’s network of car dealerships, the weekly newspaper reached a circulation of 700,000. In sum, Ford’s anti-Semitic publishing efforts were, according to McGraw, “the most sustained printed attacks on Jews the world had ever seen.”

The Dearborn Independent

The Dearborn Independent pioneered claims later associated with Hitler that “international financial controllers…are exclusively Jews,” and that “Bolshevism” was a Jewish creation and conspiracy. McGraw quotes Hitler biographer Thomas Weber: “Henry Ford is important for having provided to Hitler confirmation, coming from the very heart of America, of an idea that had been brewing in his mind… Henry Ford thus turned into an anti-Semitic icon for Hitler.”

In his article, McGraw notes that Hitler kept a portrait of Ford on his wall, that he called Ford his “inspiration” in a 1931 interview with the Detroit News, and that he praised Ford even within the pages of Mein Kampf, where the automaker was proclaimed the “one great man” who held out against the alleged Jewish “masters” of the American trade union movement.

Hitler was not alone among the Nazis. Baldur von Schirach, the leader of the National Socialist youth group, said he became an anti-Semite after reading The International Jew. “If Henry Ford said that Jews were to blame, why, naturally we believed him,” von Schirach said at the Nuremburg trials. “You have no idea what a great influence this book had on the thinking of German youth.”

Ford ended his publication of the Dearborn Independent after he was sued for libel by Aaron Sapiro, a Jewish leader of the farm cooperative movement. But it is doubtful that Ford ever renounced his anti-Semitism. “In summer 1938, with the German Wehrmacht having marched into Austria, and despite years of deflecting charges he was an anti-Semite, Ford accepted a 75th birthday present from Hitler,” McGraw writes. “It was the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle, the highest award the regime bestowed on foreigners.”

Ford’s anti-Semitism remains an inspiration to the far-right. “[T]he Internet age has given Ford’s anti-Semitic literature a powerful new life,” McGraw writes. “Today, a century after Ford purchased the Dearborn Independent and 72 years after his death, his legacy of hate is stronger than ever—it flourishes on the websites and forums of white nationalists, racists and others who hate Jews.”

Henry Ford Was Anti-Semitic. Bill McGraw Wrote About It — And Got Fired: here.

Lee Iacocca, the president of Ford Motor Company from 1970 to 1978 and CEO of Chrysler Corporation from 1978 to 1992, died at his home in Bel Air, California on Tuesday at the age of 94: here.

Amazon sells the book Les Juifs, nos maîtres! by 19th century anti-Semitic French priest E.-A. Chabauty.

Auschwitz camp music reconstructed

This 20 November 2018 video from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance in the USA says about itself:

Giving Voice to a Foxtrot from Auschwitz-Birkenau

While conducting research at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum last summer, music theory professor Patricia Hall became interested in a manuscript arranged and performed by prisoners in the Auschwitz I men’s orchestra. Heartbreakingly titled “The Most Beautiful Time of Life”, it’s a foxtrot that was likely performed as dance music for the Auschwitz garrison. It has now been recorded by SMTD’s Contemporary Directions Ensemble for the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and will be performed in a free concert on Friday, November 30 at 8 pm, in the Moore Building on North Campus.

This 30 November 2018 video from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance in the USA says about itself:

Die Schönste Zeit des Lebens (world premiere): U-M Contemporary Directions Ensemble

Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide on stage in the USA

This music video says about itself:

This BBC telecast represents the world premiere of the 1988 Scottish Opera version of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, directed by Jonathan Miller and John Wells. Bernstein attends and John Mauceri conducts this most complete version of the score ever seen on the stage. Directed for the cameras by Humphrey Burton.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide at the University of Michigan

23 November 2018

The University of Michigan’s University Opera Theatre in Ann Arbor staged Leonard Bernstein’s comic operetta, Candide, in mid-November. This energetic and engaging production brought to life a remarkable musical work, composed and first presented in the 1950s.

Bernstein based his operetta on the famed 1759 novella by Voltaire, the French writer, historian and philosopher. The original Candide was an enormously influential Enlightenment work that satirized established religion, government and philosophy. It follows a naïve youth through a series of calamities, natural and man-made, that shakes the complacent, fatalistic optimism in which he has been instructed and, by implication, casts doubt on any divine plan for humanity. The satire, which was an immediate best-seller, was put on the list of prohibited books by the Catholic Church in 1762 and banned in various locales.
Voltaire's Candide

Bernstein hardly made a secret of the fact that one of the impulses for his operetta was provided by the McCarthyite witch hunts in the 1950s. The work was created in 1953 as a result of discussions between the composer and playwright Lillian Hellman. Both had been affected by the Red Scare. Bernstein was forced to sign a humiliating affidavit attesting to his anti-communism. Hellman, a onetime member and continuing supporter of the Communist Party, was blacklisted in the film industry, and her partner, author Dashiell Hammett, another party supporter, went to jail for refusing to provide the names of those who had contributed to a bail fund for Communist Party leaders prosecuted under the reactionary Smith Act.

Hellman adapted Voltaire’s work with lyricist John La Touche and Bernstein. LaTouche was later replaced by poet Richard Wilbur. In 1956, the year that Bernstein was simultaneously composing West Side Story, Candide was ready for performances in Boston, where Dorothy Parker contributed lyrics to “The Venice Gavotte” in Act 2. …

Candide’s complicated performance history involves numerous revisions in the 30 years since its premiere in 1956. Versions appeared in 1973, 1982 and 1989, and further posthumous revisions in 1993 and 1999—Bernstein died in 1990. UM presented the 1989 Scottish Opera Edition of the Opera-House Version.

Voltaire (Gillian Eaton) narrates the story set in idyllic Westphalia (a region in northwestern Germany), where the scholar Dr. Pangloss (Benton DeGroot) tutors his four students—Candide (Daniel McGrew), Cunegonde (Lucia Helgren), Maximilian (Fernando Grimaldo) and Paquette (Eileen Vanessa Rodriquez)—in “optimism”, where “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

Cunegonde, the beautiful daughter of a Baron, and Candide, a bastard cousin, fall in love. The Baron is not pleased and expels Candide, who eventually joins the Bulgar Army, currently engaged in “liberating” Westphalia. The Bulgars supposedly kill Cunegonde, after ravishing her, along with the rest of her family. Candide is left to wander through Europe. More disasters befall him.

Candide at the University of Michigan

Candide at the University of Michigan

He happens to be in Lisbon when the famous … earthquake kills 30,000 people. Candide and Pangloss are blamed for the disaster and the latter is publicly hanged as a heretic in the Inquisition. Candide later finds himself in Paris and discovers that Cunegonde is not dead after all, simply earning her living as a courtesan. They eventually set off for the New World, South America, and further unhappy adventures.

Over the course of their wanderings throughout Europe and South America, Candide and Cunegonde are subjected to every sort of painful adversity: wars, shipwrecks, earthquakes, rapes, beatings and swindles. Their life lessons knock the stuffing out of Pangloss’s “optimism”.

Bernstein’s Candide itself wanders through an array of musical styles: jazz, Broadway, Igor Stravinsky, neo-Baroque, operetta, tango, Gustav Mahler, and, in some versions, a Schoenbergian twelve-tone row.

Many of the lyrics are striking, such as when Pangloss sings: “Though war may seem a bloody curse, it is a blessing in reverse. When cannon roar, both rich and poor by danger are united.”

Pangloss is also responsible for such gems as these: “Since every part of the body is made for the best of all possible reasons, it follows that every part of the State—which is merely a body in macrocosm—is made of the best of all possible reasons.”

Narrator Voltaire derides the Catholic Church for torturing and killing its victims in an “Auto-da-Fé” (act of faith, or the burning of heretics and apostates), while a chorus sings:

What a day, what a day,
For an Auto da Fé!…
It’s a lovely day for drinking
And for watching people die!
What a perfect day to be a money lender!
Or a tradesman, or a merchant or a vendor!
At a good exciting lynching
It’s a bonnie day for business,
Better raise the prices high!
For an Inquisition day this is a wonder!

“One final word in praise of the universal laws of Science,” says Pangloss. “God in his wisdom made it possible to invent the rope and what is the rope for but to create a noose?”

The University of Michigan production was a serious effort, remarkably well organized and executed. Conductor Kenneth Kiesler and director Matthew Ozawa are prominent artists. Kiesler has conducted orchestras and opera companies on five continents, while Ozawa has directed opera throughout the US and elsewhere.

The student singers and musicians delivered taut, elegant and committed performances. The entire ensemble was top-notch, with the four leads—Helgren as Cunegonde, McGrew as Candide, Grimaldo as Maximilian and Rodriquez as Paquette—vivacious and entertaining. The energetic Samantha Rose Williams as the Old Lady also deserves special mention.

The sets were imaginatively minimalistic and inventive, as cast and crew used numerous blackboards, ranging from the gigantic to the hand-held, to create backdrops and props.

As noted above, Bernstein always pointed to the anti-communist purges of the 1940s and 1950s as one of the impulses for his operetta. According to the official Leonard Bernstein website, the operetta’s creators saw a “parallel between the Inquisition’s church-sponsored purges and the ‘Washington Witch Trials’, fueled by anti-Communist hysteria and waged by the House Un-American Activities Committee.”

In 1989, between the acts of a concert performance of the work in London, Bernstein remarked: “Why Candide? Whither and whence Candide?… The particular evil which impelled Lillian Hellman to choose Candide and present it to me as the basis for a musical stage work was what we now quaintly and, alas, faintly recall as McCarthyism—an ‘ism’ so akin to that Spanish inquisition we just revisited in the first act as to curdle the blood. This was a period in the early ‘50s of our own century, exactly 200 years after the Lisbon affair [massive earthquake], when everything that America stood for seemed to be on the verge of being ground under the heel of that Junior Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, and his inquisitorial henchmen. That was the time of the Hollywood Blacklist—television censorship, lost jobs, suicides, expatriation and the denial of passports to anyone even suspected of having once known a suspected Communist.

“I can vouch for this. I was denied a passport by my own government. By the way, so was Voltaire denied a passport by his.”

With Candide, Bernstein was attempting to create a popular American musical satire. Undoubtedly, one of his inspirations or models, in the general sense, was The Threepenny Opera (1928) by Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill. Bernstein had conducted a concert performance of the “play with music”—also a bitter satire and based on an 18th century work—in 1952 at a music festival before an audience of nearly 5,000 people. That performance, featuring Lotte Lenya (Weill’s wife), is considered the “warm-up” for The Threepenny Opera’s enormously successful run off-Broadway in 1954 and then from 1955-1961. Lenya once asserted, “I think surely Leonard Bernstein knows every note of Kurt Weill … and he is the one who took up after Weill’s death … I think [he] is the closest to Kurt Weill.”

However, Candide does not succeed in eviscerating the American social order as the earlier work had done to its German equivalent. The issue here is not the presence or absence of artistic genius, with which Bernstein was blessed in full measure, but primarily the different times and the consequences of the political defeats suffered by socialism and the working class in the middle of the century.

The lesson Bernstein seems to have drawn from the McCarthy period was a slightly cynical and discouraged one—to roll with the punches, so to speak. He didn’t submit the anti-communist affidavit out of pure careerism, as others did in relation to HUAC, but he certainly didn’t see or understand that it was necessary to resist. Or, more precisely, his outlook was one of encouraging a militant liberalism as the answer to reaction. And this is what led more or less directly to Candide’s “softness” or obliqueness.

Despite Bernstein’s intriguing and entertaining comments, it could hardly be said that the operetta, for example, fully takes on McCarthyism and political reaction in America. The less historically informed spectator today might be forgiven if he or she even failed to make that connection. Blind optimism in the face of the tragedies that actually occur to people—including the traumas of the 20th century—seems more its message. Candide is simply not that cutting, and its conclusion, as the UM production—in its weakest aspect—demonstrates, can be interpreted in a relatively conformist and complacent fashion.

In the program, director Ozawa states: “Making my UM directorial debut with Bernstein’s wildly exuberant operetta has been a treat … What better way to bring our communities together than on a show that celebrates diversity, humanity, and our ability to cultivate a collective ‘garden.’”

This is not an appropriate reading of the situation of Voltaire’s characters, or Bernstein’s to a large extent, who are beaten down and more resigned, in the end, than “exuberant” about their prospects for the future.

In the novella, in its concluding passage, Pangloss, addressing Candide, continues his dreadful sophistic apologetics for things as they are: “There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds: for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde: if you had not been put into the Inquisition: if you had not walked over America: if you had not stabbed the Baron: if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts.”

“All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”

According to the Bernstein website, “Candide is perhaps destined never to find its perfect form and function; in the final analysis, however, that may prove philosophically appropriate.” The “highly checkered career of this work”, in Bernstein’s words, and its never really having found its “perfect form and function,” had a great deal to do with the political difficulties of the period and the composer’s own response to them.

Despite these weaknesses, the idea of adapting Voltaire was a good one, and UM’s production is a valuable effort marking the centenary of Bernstein’s birth.

The author also recommends:

The centenary of Leonard Bernstein—Part 1
[24 August 2018]

The centenary of Leonard Bernstein—Part 2
[25 August 2018]

André Previn, versatile composer, conductor and pianist, dies at 89: here.