Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Golden students and teachers stand up



Rachel Hilbrecht, a senior at Golden High School, was out protesting on Monday with about five other students. She said she's been out protesting at 6:30 a.m. and during her lunch breaks every school day since last Monday.

"Instead of seeing it as a day off school, we decided it would be better to come out here and voice our opinion to the public," Hilbrecht said.

***

Manuel Wilson, a junior who helped organize protests at Jefferson High School, was out at Wadsworth Boulevard and West 20th Avenue on Monday, where a group of students were waving signs and chanting "Jeffco stand up." Several parents were also on hand supporting their children.

"We want to make this national," Wilson said, adding that Jefferson students had planned a walk-out for Monday and then adapted once school was closed.

***

"This is our own time. This was all students. No teachers are here, look around," Angelica Dole, a sophomore, said.

***

Responding to my "If they don't teach us about civil disobedience, we'll teach ourselves" here, Bill Tremblay, a fine poet, see here - sends an interesting comment on the self-satisfied and simple minded managerial "order" represented by the censoring Jefferson County School Board.

***

"Alan

Yes, I've run into this a lot.

This is very deep in our middle-management class--who are also middle-aged and well-established people who belong to the Rotary Club and give blood and support a lot of activities and causes in the community. To them the idea of "education" in the sense you mean it is destructive. Better the kids should learn to take a positive lesson from "America's successes." Get themselves ready for "the real world."

They think not only that they are right but that they are the good guys. America's one small contribution to philosophy is Pragmatism. The slogan is: "If it works it's right." The atom bomb worked. But was it right? The obsession with profits is what pragmatism comes down to in daily life. It is a narrowing of human valuation and judgment. Actually it's a kind of colonization of human subjectivity because we are taught only to use money as the tool of evaluation. It's so deep it's invisible. And it corrodes our humanity.

I have a different view because when I do poetry workshops I see people who are trying to use language as a means of reclaiming their subjectivity. They know what they're supposed to feel and think. They suspect that isn't what they really feel and think. It comes in a lot of degrees of extension on out to America and the world.

B
bill tremblay"

***

Many of the protestors are trying for poetry, finding their own voices.

And many of us from such backgrounds look for what is alive and do not identify with money, power, privilege, vanity...

***

Board member Julie Williams speaks censorship from on high, mandated by some powerful, deluded people in the Republican Party:

"Julie Williams, the school board member pushing for the change, has said that the proposal was meant to start a discussion about what she believes is an excessive emphasis on 'race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing' in the course.

Large portions of U.S. history could conceivably fall under that umbrella, from the Boston Tea Party to protests for women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, and protests against the Vietnam War. Discussions of slavery and the Native American genocide might also be marked as “American-bashing,” although the board has not offered an explicit list of what parts of the curriculum were not framed correctly.

Williams told local news station KUSA, 'All I am asking for is for a committee to tell us what is in [the course], and then it’s up to the board to decide what is appropriate for our kids.'"

***

Perhaps she would like to say this about climate change, too (Koch brothers, take note!). Or echo the one time suppression of teaching of evolution. Recall the Scopes trial (more history...).

Unlike the Tories in England and conservatives in many other places, there is a battle for sanity on the American Right. Contra the commercial media, conservatives are often scientific and believe, unsurprisingly, in serious education - see Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish. That is part of, not an enemy of, attachment to small government and upholding a rule of decent laws (laws that permit bondage are not such laws). It is distinguished from reactionary or Imperial authoritarianism, which would be a more accurate description of what is called "conservatism" around here by the media.

***

What other things might ignorant School Boards remove?

***

Contra Williams, there is no right for central authority to legislate/censor education, and students are rightly taking the lead in opposing this, seeing that education is not to be set aside by decree...

***

As Melissa Harris-Perry strikingly suggests, to dissent is to be an American patriot. See here. In part, she invokes Patrick Henry's memorable dissent: "Give me liberty or give me death!" Unfortunately that is not the whole story as I trace in Black Patriots and Loyalists. Henry was a slaveowner, who swore: "slavery is morally abhorrent, but I can't live without it." In 1775, Henry called for the Virginia militia to hunt blacks who had escaped to the Crown and fought, in exchange for freedom (as many as 20,000 may have escaped in Virginia; one slaveowner mourned the lack of anyone to "cut me a stick of wood"; the owners, everyone having fled, were left to their own inexperienced and parasitic devices...).

***

Henry's statement might more truthfully read: "Give me slaveowning or give me death!"

But Harris-Perry's general point is true: to go deeply into history, to see things decently is to take in the point of view of of forgotten blacks or Native Americans (see Billy Stratton's wonderful Buried in Shades of Night here). It is to ask, and continue to ask questions.

***

Henry was not like John Laurens, a great leader of the American Revolution from a slave-owning family in South Carolina who wanted to free and train 5,000 recruits and bring them into the field in South Carolina and Georgia. When the Continental Congress passed the Laurens proposal in 1779, it was the zenith of liberty in the American Revolution. Due to rank and file pressure from below (black and white sailors and artisans), many states passed gradual emancipation during and just after the American Revolution.

How there came to be a free North in the Civil War 80 years later, not said in most history textbooks up to 2012, would be something for JEFFCO students to think about...

***

Henry and much of the South, led by South Carolina and Virginia, rebelled to keep slavery. Their secession from Britain prefigured that of the South in the Civil War. Conflict and civil disobedience are not always admirable but they are always to be taught...(these tea partiers miss even the history of the racism they often affirm).

***

Our country would not be a decent place but for revolts from below, starting with the Revolution, continuing with the abolitionist movement, including a large role for women (see Daniel Carpenter and Colin Moore's article on women abolitionists "When Canvassers Became Activists: Antislavery Petitioning and the Political Mobilization of American Women" in the August, 2014 American Political Science Review here), and culminating on John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859, arguably the most significant event in American history; it triggered the Civil War and focused it on bondage.

Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" - see here - was linked to three speeches in praise of John Brown. Though Thoreau went to jail for a day for refusing to pay taxes, he admired Brown deeply and was not nonviolent. But later writers/activists, like Martin Luther King and Barbara Deming, have seen the limitations of violence, the enormous, potentially world saving (as an environment for 7 billion people) role of nonviolence.

***

Then in a second segment, Melissa Harris Perry interviews two of the students Ashley Maher and Kyle Ferris (Columbine High) who are participating in and helping organize the protest. Maher speaks of the importance of facts in history; forbidding learning history makes it possible for the fact-free floating world of Susan Williams and her School Board cohorts to exist. Consider the first 72 years of the Republic: the President was a slave-owner for 52 of them (I would be surprised if the AP text was that pointed...) But the facts make some political and moral conclusions justified, and rule out others. It is thus hard to teach American history without criticism of the oppression of black people, the murder across the Continent of Native Americans. See here.

***

Not every point of view will withstand the facts, i.e. the Witt-less claim that American history must only be taught on a "positive note." If we are to learn from our mistakes, as these students rightly emphasize, arrive at long effort at a decent place, one of mutual recognition of diverse voices and an equal rights-based democracy, then we need to foster serious education.

***

Ashley and Kyle are going to school board this Thursday to protest its wretched censorship and moving towerd a demonstration of high school students Saturday Oct. 4. Everyone should support them.

***

Harris-Perry is right. Dissent is patriotism. But pseudo-patriots give the latter a bad name. For peseudo-patriotism aimed to crush dissent - Meletus v. Socrates in the Apology - is also "the last refuge of a scoundrel." And that, Mr. "Witt," Ms. Williams and Mr. Newkirk, means you...

***

It is sad to see dishonest energy ads preceding the Melissa Harris-Perry interviews on MSNBC. If fact-free advertising, the School Board might say, why not fact-free history? It is worth taking in how powerful and corrupting money is. Perhaps that is to return to Bill Tremblay's point.

***

"Denver Post
Education

Colorado students prep for more protests
09/29/14

By Meredith Clark
Turmoil in Jefferson County, Colorado continues into another week, as two Colorado high schools are closed Monday and students plan a massive protest against a proposed history curriculum on October 1.

Students are planning to walk out of school on “count day,” when school administrators take attendance to help determine how much state funding they will receive. Students continue to organize their actions through social media. Two other Jefferson County schools closed last week because of teacher absences.

Eighty-one percent of teachers at Golden High School called in sick on Monday. Teachers are also concerned about a proposal that would tie pay increases to student test performance.

The hundreds of students who walked out of classes last week are also getting support from the College Board, which is in charge of the Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum under fire by the county school board’s conservative majority."

The College Board released a statement Friday in support of the students, saying, “Civil disorder and social strife are at the patriotic heart of American history – from the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement. And these events and ideas are essential within the study of a college-level, AP U.S. History course.”

The College Board also said that if the district does not abide by the course standards, it can’t offer the course.

The proposal is currently tabled and is not currently on the agenda for the next school board meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday.

A member of the Jefferson County school board submitted a proposal that would prevent students from studying parts of the AP U.S. History course that might “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

Julie Williams, the school board member pushing for the change, has said that the proposal was meant to start a discussion about what she believes is an excessive emphasis on “race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing” in the course.

Large portions of U.S. history could conceivably fall under that umbrella, from the Boston Tea Party to protests for women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, and protests against the Vietnam War. Discussions of slavery and the Native American genocide might also be marked as “American-bashing,” although the board has not offered an explicit list of what parts of the curriculum were not framed correctly.

Williams told local news station KUSA, 'All I am asking for is for a committee to tell us what is in [the course], and then it’s up to the board to decide what is appropriate for our kids.'

***

"Golden, Jefferson high schools closed due to teacher absences
By Jesse Paul
The Denver Post
POSTED: 09/29/2014 05:44:11

Jefferson County schools protest

Golden and Jefferson high schools are closed Monday after an overwhelming number of teachers called in absent, continuing unrest in the Jefferson County School District for the third straight week.

Lynn Setzer, a spokeswoman for Jeffco Public Schools, confirmed the closures, saying most teachers called in sick after 8 p.m. Sunday night.

Some 81 percent of teachers at Golden called in absent while the number of Jefferson educators who called in absent was not immediately available, Setzer said.

"I stand with my fellow teachers who are 'sick' of the board majority's actions," said Tammie Peters, an English teacher at Golden who was asked to speak to the media on the school's educators behalf. "While we need some reforms in Jefferson County, the board majority is not providing the reforms we need or want. The board majority continues to show disrespect to the voters, the taxpayers, the teachers, the parents and the students of Jefferson County."

Peters said Jeffco teachers feel the board is treating them unfairly and using a flawed evaluation system.

"I'm very disappointed that some of our instructors have chose not to turn up for work today," Ken Witt, board president, told The Denver Post. "It is not appropriate for adult matters to impact the education of our students."

Witt said the district worked "diligently" over the weekend to prepare for and prevent mass teacher absences.

"It wasn't until this morning that there were enough sick call-ins to force us to close the schools," Witt said.

Despite canceled classes, students at both closed high schools showed up to support their teachers and protest against the school board.

Rachel Hilbrecht, a senior at Golden High School, was out protesting on Monday with about five other students. She said she's been out protesting at 6:30 a.m. and during her lunch breaks every school day since last Monday.

"Instead of seeing it as a day off school, we decided it would be better to come out here and voice our opinion to the public," Hilbrecht said.

Hilbrecht says student leaders at high schools across the county are now talking to plan their next moves.

"I think Facebook is our friend on this issue," she said.

Manuel Wilson, a junior who helped organize protests at Jefferson High School, was out at Wadsworth Boulevard and West 20th Avenue on Monday, where a group of students were waving signs and chanting "Jeffco stand up." Several parents were also on hand supporting their children.

"We want to make this national," Wilson said, adding that Jefferson students had planned a walk-out for Monday and then adapted once school was closed.

Angelica Dole, a sophomore at Jefferson High School, said the students were 100 percent behind their teachers.

"This is our own time. This was all students. No teachers are here, look around," Dole said.

Monday's closure comes after a series of student walk-outs and protests last week at most of the county's high schools. District parents also protested Friday in support of their children.

Unrest in the county schools has circulated around a proposed committee that was going to review the AP U.S. history curriculum. As initially proposed by board member Julie Williams, instructional material should promote "positive aspects" of U.S. history and avoid encouraging "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."

The board tabled the idea for the panel at its meeting last week, and significant cuts have been proposed by one of Williams' conservative board allies.

Teachers are also upset about an evaluation-based system for awarding raises.

Problems in the county's schools began after a conservative[sic] majority was voted into the board in November.

The College Board, which oversees the advanced placement curriculum, said Friday that it supports the student protests.

Jesse Paul: 303-954-1733, jpaul@denverpost.com or twitter.com/jesseapaul"

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"If they don't teach us civil disobedience, we will teach ourselves"



Not many words of protestors find their way into the Denver Post. For instance, strikers, anti-war demonstrators and even black folks in Ferguson confronting the cold-blooded murder of Michael Brown, not so much....

But the "red white and blue" Jeff CO School Board - wishing to instruct historians on how American history must be taught by command from on high - "positive", "free market" and a masterpiece of stupidity - has driven the Post, the Times, Fox News and even the College Board to respond...(h/t Hilary Putnam)

***

"I don't think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past," said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada.

Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and freedom to learn without state censors is a sometime American value (often abridged about non-white people especially, and for ages, but still...). It is good that Tori Leu recalls the Bill of Rights since the 3 tyrants don't...

***

"If they don't teach us civil disobedience, we will teach ourselves." said Savanna Barron, a senior at Lakewood High School.

***

Henry David Thoreau founded the practice and study of American civil disobedience, which is one of our greatest democratic innovations. For it fights against great injustices, maintained in normal times - aside from mass protest from below - by both parties dominated by a wealthy (today military-industrial-financial) elite, by standing up peacefully, often breaking minor laws and accepting the penalty. It seeks to challenge injustice - aggression, murder, discrimination - without killing. It challenges undemocracy while striving to preserve democracy. Alice Paul is an American. Martin King is an American., Barbara Deming (see Revolution and Equilibrium here) is an American. This noble American tradition goes back to Socrates (cf. Gandhi's translation of Socrates here) and Jesus's Sermon on the Mount (to turn the other cheek required a master to strike a "disobedient" with the hand he wiped himself with. It was initially an act of resistance, even contempt, on the part of the person who was struck. The same is true for the instruction to lug the Roman warrior's armor twice as far as normal (since the ordinary command tired a person out, it was just to say: you think you're tough...). It seeks to challenge injustice without killing. It challenges undemocracy while striving to preserve democracy.

"WNW" (Williams Newkirk Witt) love "Jesus," just like they do the "Bill of Rights"...

***

I taught a course on Socrates, Gandhi and mass nonviolent resistance this week and another on comparative nonviolence and the Dalai Lama in preparation for 15 students to do service learning this winter in Dharamsala. It was good to learn that in Jefferson County, these courses would be outlawed...

It is better to learn, however, that students get this really deeply (the horror at the "the 3 tyrants" is, among the young, pretty well universal...), and are standing up to reactionary and false authority (that you have a job does not mean that you do well at it, in this case, does not mean that the jobholders do not startlingly betray their responsibility.)

***

Tea Party people are sometimes anti-war and often against "Big Government." Except when they are Big Government...

The artisans and sailors in the Boston Tea Party, black and white, painted their faces as Native Americans and threw the tea - legally owned by the British ship master and those who sent him - into Boston Harbor. Modern "Tea Party" Forces of Order, perhaps WNW do not recall, the Americans made a...Revolution.

***

Mr. Witt also blamed the union for inspiring students (as the Crown that "traitor George Washington who inspired those damned Boston tea...").

They don't believe students can think or act for themselves. This is a pretty serious violation of the most minimal qualification to be a decent member of a school board (or public official in a democracy society).

The role of a school board is not to impose its own prejudices or echoed, widespread prejudices on students. It is to stay out of the process of education, leaving that to diverse teachers, parents and students, except to bar racism, sexism, homophobia and other bigotries. Unless each student has an equal freedom to pursue it, education will not go well and is undemocratic.

The job is also to encourage the buses to run on time (though I should warn WNW without Mussolini's authority), to negotiate contracts for reasonable pay for district workers and teachers, to plan the creating of new schools or updating of buildings, and the like.

***

Now it is true of Mr. "Witt" that he has neither the wit nor the education to think for himself - and is advocating "Order" without knowing anything of the subject matter of history (see Mike Littwin below).

As paradigms of authoritarianism, willed ignorance, "anti-Americanism" (I detest this common slur for it is usually a projection of censors who have nothing to say for themselves in order to silence others, but here it fits), they are, in this one way, educating people in what not to do if you are ever asked to lead anyone else...

****

"WNW" will have to break all the mirrors in every house they walk into. They would not like to see themselves...

***

They will have to duck hurriedly out of crowds. People will shout at them now and whisper later. For they have made JEFFCO nationally famous in the way of foolishness and evil. They are now like the Texas School Board that banned Tom Jefferson from American History textbooks in a big market - guess Barnes and Noble textbooks won't be naming the author of the Declaration of Independence in at least this part of the country anytime soon...

But the members of such a School Board could doubtfully pass the early grades...

***

Two of our children went to the JeffCo Open School (an experimental school) which does read books, i.e. does not use textbooks. Open School students, too, walked out to protest.

**

To go out of school to protest is educational...

***

Teachers at two JEFFCO schools rightly had a sick-out last week. But what the students are doing may teach them (us), too.

***

Their protests fight for learning against pathetic and awful government bureaucrats (Adolf Hitler, Francisco Franco, Arizona two years ago which banned Chicano studies and had "officials" seize novels from the students...). This is not happening in a distant country, but right here and needs to be fought...

***

The students have taken an important step out of doors; as with the Hobbit, they have begun a journey and really understood for themselves a central feature of, even seen beyond - "we are the ones we have been waiting for" - the AP curriculum.

***

Students, through their movements about civil rights or against the Vietnam war, in fact, always do educate ourselves, often at great cost, against existing narrow-mindedness and oppression; we also sometimes reach (as on a mountaintop) for the fresh air of...freedom to seek the truth.

***

"LOCAL NEWS
Massive protest near Columbine High marks fourth day of walkouts
By Jesse Paul and John Aguilar
The Denver Post

Josh Schroeder 10th grader holds Laura Studley, 10th grader on his shoulders as she holds up her sign during Bear Creek High School students walk out September 25, 2014 to protest proposed AP History changes as they lined Kipling St. in Lakewood. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

Dakota Ridge High students hold up signs on the corner of South Wadsworth Blvd and West Bowles Ave. during their walk out Thursday morning, September 25, 2014 to protest proposed AP History curriculum changes. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

JEFFERSON COUNTY — While teachers and the Jefferson County school board are busy blaming each other for this week's student walkouts and protests, the teens are happy to take credit.

"People think because we are teenagers, we don't know things, but we are going home and looking things up," said Savanna Barron, a senior at Lakewood High School, as she waved a sign on Kipling Street on Thursday morning. "If they don't teach us civil disobedience, we will teach ourselves."

By Thursday, the fourth straight day of protests, students had improved their organization, message and size, rallying a group of roughly 1,000 at a combined Columbine and Dakota Ridge high school walkout that saw kids crowd onto a pedestrian bridge over South Wadsworth Boulevard.

A movement that started with cardboard signs and random chants has moved to bullhorns and even a slogan: "It's our history, don't make it mystery."

Facing criticism about skipped classes — including from passing motorists at Lakewood High who shouted at the demonstrators — some students opted to use their lunch or free periods to protest.

Others said they didn't mind skipping class.

"It's an unexcused absence, but I don't care," Tayler Lopez, a sophomore at Columbine and a protest organizer, said Thursday. "This is more important than truancy."

Hundreds of high schoolers across the county have hit the streets protesting a proposed curriculum committee that would call for promoting "positive aspects" of U.S. history and avoiding or condoning "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." They're also upset about an evaluation-based system for awarding raises to educators.

Controversy has swirled around the Jefferson County school board after the election of a conservative majority to run the 85,000-student district. Action began last week when two schools closed because 50 teachers either called in sick or took a personal day.

The issue has become so heated that Thursday the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said deputies were investigating threats against school board members' children. Sheriff's officials declined to elaborate.

The school board defended the proposed committee Wednesday, although they suggested the most controversial aspects could be cut. Also, the proposal has been tabled.

Students from Columbine, Lakewood, Bear Creek and Dakota Ridge high schools all walked out of school Thursday in the largest single-day protest so far.

Jefferson County school board president Ken Witt spoke near the Columbine protest to reporters from national media outlets, saying he thought the protests were a union tool and that students were being misled.

"I think it's unfortunate, presently, for our students being used as pawns," Witt said.

But John Ford, president of the Jefferson County Education Association, the teachers union, called Witt's assertion that it's behind the student protests "insulting."

"This is out of our control," he said. "The kids have taken this on and run with it. This is a pretty organic, grassroots thing."

Ford said one student told him she felt this was "the first time she was involved in something bigger than herself."

Superintendent Dan McMinimee said it's a positive that students feel empowered to have a voice in their education.

However, he said, "I have a hard time believing that a high school senior cares about the collective bargaining agreement or wants to understand how the superintendent was hired, and those are some of the questions we've been getting. I don't know where that is coming from, and I am not pointing fingers at anybody."

The protests, which have been organized on Facebook by a handful of students at each school, are staggered throughout the day to increase media presence."

***

"Jefferson County schools protest

Columbine High School students line the bridge at South Wadsworth Blvd. and West Bowles Ave. during their walk out September 25, 2014 to protest proposed AP History curriculum changes. Both Columbine and Dakota Ridge merged at the corner to protest as one. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

"It was students talking to students talking to more students," said student Red Domonovi at a protest outside Ralston Valley High on Tuesday.

Kelly Johnson, a former Jefferson County PTA staffer and a mother of two boys in the district, said the kids are organizing through various means.

"They're using social media, they're hearing from other kids at school and they're listening to the news media," Johnson said. "It's classically this generation."

She suspects there are "two layers" of students involved. Those who serve in student government or who have more awareness of the issues brewing around them are galvanizing the larger student body to go out and make their voices heard, Johnson said.

"There is definitely a more informed layer that feels like the community is being disrespected by this board," she said.

Several parents have said they've called in to excuse students from classes to prevent them from being reprimanded. Many who said they told their children they can protest only if they understand the facts were surprised to hear their kids knew more than they did.

"I'm really proud of the kids for standing up for what's right," said Kim Foley, whose son is a senior at Columbine. "They're really well-informed on the issues."

While parents say the momentum for the protests has come from students, an e-mail was circulating urging adults to protest at a county intersection Friday morning.

In addition, students Thursday said they are planning an all-district walkout next week.

Ford said what happens next largely will be determined by how much students feel they are being listened to.

"Are they being heard?" he asked. "And is the school district doing anything about it?"

Columbine High School Students walked out September 25, 2014 to protest proposed AP History curriculum changes as they marched to and stood up on a bridge."

***

Colorado Independent
Fair and Unbalanced
Mike Littwin

September 26, 2014

Don’t know much about history. — the late, great Sam Cooke
Don’t know much about AP history. — the not-quite-so-great Julie Williams

As you may have heard, Jefferson County School Board member Julie Williams is upset about the direction of the Advanced Placement U.S. History course curriculum. And so she has proposed that a committee be formed to review it to ensure that the curriculum — written by, you know, historians — is sufficiently patriotic and sufficiently respectful of authority.

As Williams puts it, she wants to make sure that the AP course emphasizes the “positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.”

So what exactly in the coursework has caused Williams such concern?

She has no idea.

I mean that — to quote Joe Biden — literally. She has no idea. After a fourth consecutive day of Jeffco student protests — the best example of student democracy in action you could ask for — 9News’ Whitney Wild got Williams on the phone and asked her about all the turmoil.

Not surprisingly, Williams said the students were “uninformed pawns” of the teachers’ union. It’s not surprising because Williams is one of the Jeffco 3, the recently elected, Koch-brothers-praised, ultra-conservative school board majority that has gone to war with Jeffco schools as we once knew them.

But when Wild asked Williams what the AP curriculum writers might have gotten wrong about U.S. history, it turned out that Williams was the one who was uninformed. Wild said that Williams couldn’t name a single example.

Williams said students protesting the curriculum changes she suggests are needed are ‘uninformed pawns’ of the teachers union. She also said she’s not ‘familiar enough’ with the current curriculum to say what’s wrong with it.
What Williams did say was this: “I’m not familiar enough with everything that is in AP history to make that judgment.”

So, she gets an incomplete? OK, that might be unfair. To her credit, Williams has inadvertently provided the inspiration for the best Jeffco-based hashtag of the year: #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory, in which you name examples of history as the Jeffco school board would want it written. Sample that I read: If it wasn’t for a ban on high-capacity magazines, Davy Crockett would have held the Alamo.

We know where Williams got her inspiration. This AP course is the latest cause taken up by conservatives, sharing the educational spotlight with the Common Core drama. You know about Common Core, in which states would share, uh, common educational goals, which would lead to God knows what, but something apparently really, really bad.
The AP controversy hasn’t gotten the same kind of play, but you can go to National Review and Breitbart and the usual suspects to learn more about the AP’s so-called “left-leaning” and “subversive” and “blame-America-first” ideology. In these critics’ view, there is not enough said about the Founders and maybe too much said about people who found themselves on the wrong side of Manifest Destiny. The Texas board is all over this. And the Republican National Committee.

In Williams’ proposal for a review committee – which was tabled at the last school board meeting — she said she wanted a history course that would “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.”

And she wanted to eliminate any materials from the AP course’s playbook that would “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

She wanted “good citizens, not rebels.”

Teachers called it censorship and ahistorical and staged a sick-out at two schools last Friday. And then the
students joined in — first by the hundreds and now, according to the estimates, by the thousands — leaving school in walk-outs.

I talked to Ashlyn Maher, one of the walk-out leaders at Chatfield High. She resented being called a pawn and said that her teachers weren’t allowed to even bring up the topic in class, much less encourage rebellion.

Maher is a Chatfield senior who plans to someday major in either — get ready for this — astrobiology or planetary geology. Meanwhile, she got a call the other day from classmate Scott Romano, who asked her if she wanted to help organize an action. She did. They put together a Facebook page, which got more than 500 likes. They told students not to walk out unless they understood why they were doing it. They linked to articles explaining the situation. And on Wednesday, maybe half the school walked — many with their parents’ approval, many holding signs like “Don’t make history a mystery.”

“This is us,” said Maher, who said she took AP History in her sophomore year. “We’re not pawns being used by the teachers. We’re not pawns of anyone. We have a stake in the game the Board is playing.”

She said she got out her old AP history notebook and highlighted all the things the board said is missing from the curriculum.

“It was all in there,” she said. “Boston Tea Party? Washington’s Farewell Address? Martin Luther King, Jr.? Really? They said we focused too much on gender and ethnicity and classism. How can we learn about Martin Luther King if we don’t learn about racism?”

And now she’s learning about irony. It is ironic, for example, that so-called Tea Partiers would want to remove reading matter that would “encourage or condone civil disorder.”

It’s ironic that Williams doesn’t want “rebels” when the country was founded — she must know this — in rebellion.
I’m guessing the school board will try to pretend the proposal never happened. See: #JeffcoSchoolBoardHistory. There are already signs of backtracking. But it may be too late. Otherwise the history of Jefferson County schools would have to include a chapter on a bunch of engaged high school students who forced an ill-informed school board to back down.
[ Photo of Jeffco School Board member Julie Williams via Westword. ]

***

The Guardian
US 'little rebels' protest against changes to history curriculum
After a conservative school board proposed dramatic changes to promote patriotism and downplay civil unrest in an advanced course, hundreds of students and teachers joined a growing protest against what they see as censorship of education

Jordan Gleason, of Columbine High school, participates in a protest against the school board proposal’s hardline conservative stance that condemns ‘civil disorder’. Photograph: Brennan Linsley/AP
Nicky Woolf

On Friday, Egan Walker, a sophomore at Standley Lake high school in Jefferson County, Colorado, will go to school dressed as Martin Luther.

He is doing so not for homework or a class project, but as part of protest against what many see as a radical rightwing agenda of the newly elected school board in Jefferson County. Friday’s will be the latest in a rapidly escalating week of protests by teachers and pupils.

The unrest began last Friday, when more than 50 teachers staged a “sick-out” which closed two schools. By Monday, students across the county had taken up the cause, with 100 walking out of Evergreen high school, followed by 200 more from five different schools on Tuesday.

On Wednesday more than 700 more students walked out from Chatfield, Alameda International and Dakota Ridge high schools, gathering, according to CBS news, and chanting “education without limitation”. Thursday saw more than a thousand students leaving school and taking to the streets.

Jefferson County, in the suburbs of Denver, is one of Colorado’s most populous counties, and is the largest school district in the state, with 84,000 students. “In general, school board meetings are pretty mundane,” said Jim Earley, whose three children attend Jefferson County schools.

That changed, he said, last November, following the election of the new school board in Jefferson County – one with a conservative majority of three: Julie Williams, John Newkirk and the board’s chairman, Ken Witt.

The new majority swiftly set about making enemies. They appointed a new superintendent, Dan McMinimee, in a process that many criticised as opaque; and also allocated funds to bail out two ailing charter schools. They took a hardline stance on teacher evaluations, choosing to count the results from the test of a new evaluation regime that teachers had been previously told would not be included.


Students line a busy intersection to protest in the Denver suburb of Littleton. Photograph: Brennan Linsley/AP
Earley and other parents followed the actions of the new school board with mounting alarm. “I’m worried,” he said. “I’m very worried.”


The spark which ignited the tinderbox was a proposal written by one of the conservative majority on the school board, Julie Williams. In it, she calls for a review of the Advanced Placement history curriculum using the following set of criteria:

“Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

Williams gave an interview with Colorado’s Channel 9 News in which she made a statement that has since become a rallying cry for the students, parents and teachers protesting against the proposal: “I don’t think we should encourage our kids to be little rebels.”

The plan hatched by Walker, along with his sister Emma, was that they – and others at schools across the county – would come into school on Friday dressed as famous historical rebels; figures who were responsible for just the sort of “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law” that Williams’ proposal seemingly aimed to banish from the classroom.

Jefferson County has found itself front and center in a national debate about what should and should not be taught in American schools – and who gets to decide. The AP course is an elective module which high school students can elect to take early. It is set by a national body, and is acceptable as college credit at more than 3,000 universities.

But the concept of any nationally-set curriculum raises the hackles of conservative activists, who are currently engaged in a vicious rear-guard action against the Common Core standards.

Students line a busy intersection and overpass protesting against the school board proposal to emphasise patriotism and downplay civil unrest.
Students line a busy intersection and overpass protesting against the school board proposal to emphasise patriotism and downplay civil unrest. Photograph: Brennan Linsley/AP
In March, at a conference, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution condemning the AP history course as a “radically revisionist” and anti-American view of history, and the Texas state board of education is moving ahead with plans which would effectively ban the AP history class outright, along with all other courses set above state level.

Rosemary Downs is a mother of four, two of whom are still in the Jefferson County public schools system. Her son Simon, a freshman at Lakewood high school, took part in a walkout on Thursday morning.

Rosemary told the Guardian that she was present at the meeting where the old superintendent was “forced out” by the new conservative majority, whom opponents refer to collectively by their last initials: “WNW”.

“It was a farce,” she said. “The disrespect that WNW showed to the other two board members was obvious.” She said she was fearful for her children’s education.

Jonna Levine, the co-founder of Support Jeffco Kids, a pressure group set up this year, told the Guardian she found the language in the proposal “scary to say the least”. She thinks there is a conservative agenda at play in the school board. “You can’t help but assume that.”

“I think you could call it extreme. Extreme conservatism,” she added.

Earley thinks something sinister is at play. “It’s no secret that there’s a very aggressive movement that appears to link back to the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity that is putting money into local political races.” He pointed to neighbouring Douglas county, where, according to a Politico report last November, Americans for Prosperity spent more than $350,000 on the school board elections.

Students protest changes to a history curriculum that would stress patriotism and discourage civil disobedience. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters
There is no evidence that the Koch brothers put money into the Jefferson County election, but there were several well-funded groups supporting Williams, Witt and Newkirk.

Egan Walker knew his school board was having problems, but he didn’t engage with the issues that much until the proposed curriculum review. Then, he said, “I started talking about it at school. I think it’s an important issue.” An online petition to stop the school board’s proposed review has nearly 27,000 signatures.

“This is going to affect all of the students in Jefferson County and across America,” he continued. “If our history textbooks are censored, we won’t have the right information. It would affect everyone’s education.”

“I think the dress-up idea is a way to peacefully protest that doesn’t involve missing any school,” said Egan’s sister Emma, who is in the 8th grade at Wayne Carle Middle School. “It also shows that we care enough about our history and look up to these historical figures that meant so much to our world and us personally.”

Emma plans to dress as Eleanor Roosevelt for the protest.

Pictures on the Facebook event show other students, from a multitude of grades at a different schools, trying out costumes and sharing ideas. Suggestions include participants in the Boston Tea Party, members of the Green Mountain militia, anti-internment campaigner and governor of Colorado Ralph Carr, abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony and activist Molly Brown.

“Dumbledore’s Army,” suggests one post. Another says: “My [nine-year-old] wants to dress up as Rosa Parks. My [seven-year-old] suggested Elsa from Frozen. Got some work to do!”

A Montgomery sheriff’s department booking photo of Rosa Parks from 1956, taken after Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. Photograph: AP

Tempers are running high. When the mother of one fifth grader posted a picture of her daughter dressed as Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, someone posted underneath: “You have been controlled by union lies.”

In an unpleasant twist, the Denver Post reported Thursday that the sheriff’s office is investigating threats made against the children of school board members, though no further details were made public.

The school board has not pursued punishments for student protesters. New superintendent Dan McMinimee said in a statement Wednesday: “I respect the right of our students to express their opinions in a peaceful manner.”

“It’s also important that our community understand that no decisions have been made regarding the curriculum committee,” he concluded. Despite repeated requests, no one from the board of education was available for comment.

Egan Walker said he was planning on dressing as Martin Luther because he believes the was “brave enough to stand up for what he believed in”.

“He started this whole movement – [but] was just this normal guy,” he said.

He believes Luther would be on board with his protest if he was alive today. “I think he’d be supportive that we’d be brave enough to stand up for what we believe in. We’re just normal students – it’s not like we have a huge amount of power – but we can still make a difference.”

***

"LOCAL NEWS
College Board: We support the "actions," protests of Jeffco students
By Jesse Paul
The Denver Post
POSTED: 09/26/2014

Parents, residents, and teachers, wave signs in support of teachers at the corner of S. Kipling Parkway and Bowles Ave., September 26, 2014. They are protesting in support of teachers in Jefferson County Schools. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

Jeffco authorities investigating threats to school board members' kids
Massive protest near Columbine High marks fourth day of walkouts

The College Board's Advanced Placement Program, which oversees the AP U.S. History course at the center of the Jefferson County protests, said in a statement Friday it supports the teens and their actions.

"These students recognize that the social order can — and sometimes must — be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice," the statement said. "Civil disorder and social strife are at the patriotic heart of American history — from the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement."

The board also said if a school or district "censors essential concepts from an Advanced Placement course, that course can no longer bear the 'AP' designation."

Parents and students have been protesting a proposed committee that was going to review the AP U.S. history curriculum. As initially proposed by board member Julie Williams, instructional material should promote "positive aspects" of U.S. history and avoid encouraging "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."

The board tabled the idea for the panel at its meeting last week, and significant cuts have been proposed by one of Williams' conservative board allies.

Friday was the fifth consecutive day of student protests against the school board in the county, with about two dozen parents gathering at an intersection near Chatfield High School to speak their mind.

A spokeswoman for the school board on Friday said principals at Chatfield and Dakota Ridge high schools excused student absences from their Wednesday walk-out protest. The district said the students were offered the reprieve in exchange for returning to classes after about two hours.

The principals sent an e-mail to parents and students Wednesday night saying the reprieve was a one-time offer that would not be extended to further protests, the district said."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hermione strikes again for equality



In Harry Potter, Hermione treats everyone as an equal. This is part of J.K. Rowling's challenge to the orkish inequality of races in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" series. And Emma Watson who played Hermione has now become a UN ambassador for feminism, that is, to involve men as well as women in fighting gender inequality. And she is uncertain that she should speak out on this issue, as of course, any of us might be ("we are the ones we have been waiting for"...)

***

The idea that sexism or patriarchy involves a privilege that anyone should want (being a bully over others, forcing views or conduct "on others", not listening to others, not seeing others, not caring for others - is that what men have mothers and sisters and lovers and wives and friends for?

***

The oppression of women is one of the secrets of the rich being able to divide and conquer, of the substantive anti-democracy of even parliamentary democracies. Men also don't benefit from this...

***

For the photo, see here.
Emma Watson, the new UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. (photo: UN Women)


'We Want to End Gender Inequality - And to Do That We Need Everyone to Be Involved'
By Emma Watson, Reader Supported News
24 September 14


Today we are launching a campaign called HeForShe.

I am reaching out to you because I need your help. We want to end gender inequality - and to do that we need everyone to be involved.

This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN: we want to try and galvanise as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality. And we don't just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.

I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realised that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.

For the record, feminism by definition is: "The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes."

I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called "bossy," because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents - but the boys were not.

When at 14 I started being sexualised by certain elements of the press.

When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn't want to appear "muscly."

When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.

I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word.

Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.

Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?

I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.

No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.

These rights I consider to be human rights but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn't love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn't assume I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are. And we need more of those. And if you still hate the word - it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it. Because not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically, very few have been.

In 1997, Hilary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women's rights. Sadly many of the things she wanted to change are still a reality today.

But what stood out for me the most was that only 30 per cent of her audience were male. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?

Men - I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.

Because to date, I've seen my father's role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother's.

I've seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less "macho" - in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I've seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don't have the benefits of equality either.

We don't often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.

If men don't have to be aggressive in order to be accepted women won't feel compelled to be submissive. If men don't have to control, women won't have to be controlled.

Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong... It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.

If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are - can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It's about freedom.

I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too - reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.

You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It's a good question and trust me I have been asking myself the same thing. I don't know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.

And having seen what I've seen - and given the chance - I feel it is my duty to say something. English statesman Edmund Burke said: "All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing."

In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt I've told myself firmly - if not me, who, if not now, when. If you have similar doubts when opportunities are presented to you I hope those words might be helpful.

Because the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. 15.5million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates it won't be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education.

If you believe in equality, you might be one of those inadvertent feminists I spoke of earlier. And for this I applaud you.

We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, To be the he for she. And to ask yourself if not me, who, if not now when.

Thank you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Talk at DU Law School, room 180 on Governor Evans and Sand Creek, September 22, noon



The Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) has invited me to give a talk on Evans and the Sand Creek massacre, Monday, September 22, noon at the University of Denver Law School Room 180 (h/t Aubrey Bertram, who informs me that all in the Denver area are welcome):

"SAND CREEK MASSACRE: COLORADO’S HISTORY OF SETTLER VIOLENCE

Professor Alan Gilbert of the Joseph Korbel International School will discuss the Sand Creek massacre as part of settler colonial violence from coast to coast, and Governor John Evans' central role in the brutal murder of innocent Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women, and children in November 1864 at their camp in southeast Colorado. Join NALSA and Prof. Gilbert as we acknowledge this history and make the beginning steps in the long process of healing as we approach the 150th anniversary of the Massacre.

MONDAY, SEPT 22ND ROOM 180 NOON FREE FOOD!

Sponsored by the NATIVE AMERICAN LAW STUDENTS ASSOCIATION"

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Greg Hobbs on Sand Creek Voices



Greg Hobbs, whom I met on the Governor's Commission about Sand Creek, sent around to Commission members and others "Sand Creek Voices." It relies on the words of two poets, Linda Hogan and Joseph Hutchison, about Left Hand and Silas Soule. It elicits, in brief compass, the enduring trauma of Colorado's founding Massacre. On this 150th anniversary, there will be a spiritual healing run of the descendants of the Cheyennes and Arapahos; we at the University of Denver, the Methodist Church, the Governor's commission on Sand Creek, and many others are working towards this and towards making new beginnings, small shoots of possible healing and democracy. For all in Colorado, please join us. You can find regularly updated information by googling http://sandcreekmassacre150.com/

***

"Sand Creek Voices
Justice Greg Hobbs, Colorado Supreme Court

“Left Hand returns to speak,
wind in the blood of those
who will listen.”
Linda Hogan, Chickasaw Poet
(“Left Hand Canyon” in Red Clay, Poems & Stories)

“Two months it’s been
since Soule testified—told the horrors
he’d seen at Sand Creek to the panel
convened by Colonel Moonlight.
A massacre, Soule called it . . .”
Joseph Hutchison, Colorado” Poet Laureate
(“A Marked Man” in Marked Men)

It’s rough stuff. On November 29, 1864, Colorado volunteer cavalrymen massacred approximately two-hundred women, men, and children of the Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes at Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado.
Through poets Hogan and Hutchison, whose poems are based upon historical fact, you can still hear the voices of these people. Left Hand was an Arapaho peace chief. Silas Soule was a U.S. Army Captain. Both were at Sand Creek that day. The Arapaho and Cheyenne were peacefully assembled on land set aside for them under the 1861 Fort Wise Treaty. Colorado and United States officials sent them there, promising protection. They were flying the United States flag and a white flag of peace.

Colonel John Chivington of Colorado’s one-hundred day volunteer unit, serving in the Army, orchestrated the unprovoked attack. It was a slaughter, not a battle. Left Hand suffered a mortal wound. Captain Soule directed his men not to fire. Soon after the massacre, he testified against Chivington at a United States investigatory commission.

Because of his witness against atrocity, Soule was assassinated in the streets of Denver. We hear his voice of equality and justice towards the encamped Arapaho and Cheyenne in Hutchison’s poem. Soule wanted:

“safety for their people, freedom enough
to hunt, freedom to sleep without fear,
all for settling down a while, some miles
from Fort Lyon, on Sand Creek.”

A candidate for Congress, a Methodist minister who preached no-mercy for Indians, Chivington through Hutchison proclaims, at one of Colorado Governor John Evans’s dinner parties:

“’I long to wade in gore’
followed with a discourse on the need
to wipe the Redskin from the earth ‘Root
and branch,” he argued. ‘Men, women, babes
in arms—root and branch, I say.’”

Such bigotry wreaks havoc down through the future generations. Hogan speaks in the voice of Left Hand:

“You can’t take a man’s words.
They are his even as the land
is taken away
where another man
builds his house . . .
his words come back,
the old griefs
carried on the wind.”

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. Arapaho and Cheyenne descendants are calling for acknowledgment of the Sand Creek wrongs, healing among peoples, and reconciliation between nations. The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site managed by the National Park Service near Eads, Colorado is open to the public.
http://www.nps.gov/sand/historyculture/index.htm

In its 2014 session, the Colorado General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution of acknowledgment and atonement, stating:

“That we, the members of the General Assembly, acknowledge the
devastation caused by the Sand Creek Massacre and seek to raise public awareness about the tragic event, the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, and events surrounding it.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has appointed a Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration Commission that includes members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes. Its website contains information about events and educational resources available to everyone.
http://sandcreekmassacre150.com/

We can go forward together. “Listen,” says Linda Hogan, “There is secret joy, sweet dreams you may never forget.” (“Rapture” in Dark, Sweet, New & Selected Poems).


Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. Photo by Greg Hobbs,
Member, Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration Commission

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kris McDaniel-Miccio on a mistake about crimes by individuals and racism



As Kris McDaniel-Miccio points out, I made a mistake in reprinting Yale Chaplain Bruce Shipman's letter and Phillip Weiss's commentary at the end of a long post concerning Steven Salaita and not commenting on it. See here. I missed the misuse of the term that the brutal Occupation of the Territories "contributes" to anti-semitism (explicitly in a letter to Philip Weiss by a friend who also says "contributing" to is not "justifying"). But to put it pointedly, oppression or murder by particular persons gives no moral or intellectual quarter to racists (i.e. Idi Amin and slaveholders, segregationists; "Shylock" and Nazis) nor extenuates racist crimes...

***

"Dear Alan,

I read this email very carefully and I have a question about Shipman's letter. If Israel "contributes" to anti-Semitism by its actions regarding Gaza etc, do African Americans contribute to racism because some might engage in criminal behaviour? If you answer no to the latter, which I hope you do, how can you answer yes to the former. While I do believe that the Israel/Palestine situation is used to legitimise anti-Semitic explosions in Europe, (and it doesn't take much) there is a distinction between that and "contribute." Using "contribute" gives quarter and a pass for those acts and actors who deserve neither.

Kind regards,

Kris McDaniel-Miccio"

***

Opposing the brutal exploitation of/racism toward Arab workers in Europe or fighting against the Israeli government's crimes in Palestine does not "justify" one burning of a shop owned by a person who happens to be Jewish...

Quite the contrary, a decent movement needs to denounce such actions and, where possible, stop them (I prefer organized nonviolence in all cases, but forcibly if there is no alternative).

***

Here is Yale chaplain Shipman's original note to the Times:

"To the Editor:

Deborah E. Lipstadt makes far too little of the relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond.

The trend to which she alludes parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.

As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.

(Rev.) BRUCE M. SHIPMAN
Groton, Conn., Aug. 21, 2014

The writer is the Episcopal chaplain at Yale."

***

And the article on it by Phillip Weiss,

"Mondoweiss
Yale Protestant chaplain says Americans must curb Israel so as to curb anti-Semitism
US Politics Philip Weiss on August 28, 2014
Bruce Shipman, Chaplain - Episcopal Church at Yale Bruce Shipman, Chaplain - Episcopal Church at Yale

Everyone is talking about this. Last week the New York Times ran an op-ed by Deborah Lipstadt saying that anti-Semitism is returning to Europe in ways reminiscent of the Nazi era, in which Lipstadt blurred the line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, citing protests of Israel’s slaughter in Gaza. Well, the Times has now run a simple and eloquent letter from the Episcopalian chaplain at Yale that many people have passed along.

To the Editor:

Deborah E. Lipstadt makes far too little of the relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond.

The trend to which she alludes parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.

As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.

(Rev.) BRUCE M. SHIPMAN
Groton, Conn., Aug. 21, 2014

The writer is the Episcopal chaplain at Yale.

So Shipman is saying that American Jews have a responsibility to curb Israel’s war crimes because this is feeding anti-Semitism. The pushback against Shipman has already begun. David Bernstein (who ran me and Max Blumenthal down as no-accounts who would have no reputation were it not for the great career opportunity of Jewish anti-Zionism) smears Shipman, in the pages of the Washington Post. Yale has distanced itself from Shipman and Shipman has himself clarified his original statement, without neutering it. Writes a friend:

I read this in the NYT and immediately knew someone was going to call this poor man an anti-semite. But he doesn’t say that all Jews are responsible for Netanyahu and he doesn’t say anti-semitism is justified. What he says is that Israel’s behavior contributes to anti-semitism and the best way to fight this would be for Israel’s patrons to pressure Netanyahu.

Now in many cases the antisemitism is deeper than just what Israel does, but it’d be odd if Israel’s arrogance and brutality didn’t contribute to some of it. Obviously it contributes. And when people in the Jewish community make unquestioned support for Israel an integral part of being Jewish, that isn’t going to help. And anyway, even if the pastor is simply wrong it doesn’t mean he’s an anti-Semite.

Also, of course, nobody in his right mind denies that Muslim terrorism increases bigotry against Muslims. It doesn’t justify it, but in what universe would anyone deny that there is some connection? I’m a Christian and I despise the Christian Right for its support for various cruel policies.. I despise the knee-jerk pro-Israel Jewish religious community for the same reason. I wonder if it’s okay to say that in public? Probably not.

I know the way liberal Protestants think–I am one. It’s obvious that Shipman wasn’t justifying anti-semitic violence. In the Yale Daily News (linked at Bernstein’s site) he called acts of anti-semitic violence “deplorable” ["deplorable" is, however, a very weak word...] and he hoped that the two communities (Israeli Jews and Palestinians) would both flourish and said they both had claims to the land. Sounds like a real Nazi, doesn’t he?

What really burns me is this–Bernstein quotes a Rabbi Rosenstein attacking Shipman, and it’s obvious that Rosenstein is someone who justifies Israeli war crimes. That’s within the range of respectable thought, while Shipman’s comment is supposed to be on the edge of Nazism.

This ties into my claim the other day that American Christians are going to overcome their fear of the anti-Semitism charge and start to criticize Israel– that Javier Bardem won’t suffer career damage for saying Israel committed genocide. Shipman’s challenge underlines my point. He has an elite appointment, and he looks into the barrel of the anti-Semitism paintgun and doesn’t blink. More and more Jews and non-Jews are going to express themselves over the Gaza horror show of 2014, that was a sequel to the Gaza horror show of 2009 and a sequel of 25 years of peace processing and colonizing more Palestinian land– a pattern demonstrating that Israel has not a clue about how to deal with its Jim Crow constitution except to marginalize, sequester, and kill brown people.

But the Lipstadt piece followed by the reaction against Shipman demonstrates that there is a bifurcated discourse in the U.S. on Israel that recalls the bifurcated consciousness of the O.J. trial. Those friendly to Israel look at the whole situation one way, and those on my side look at it another way. We are simply in different realities, and who is right? Well my side is right; I’ve been to the occupation. But what will it take to break down the epistemological walls of the other reality? Sadly, I think violence in Israel and Palestine and then the U.S. is what will do it. Though the media and BDS and the great young Jewish awakening can help to force a reckoning. The New Yorker has at last acted to marginalize AIPAC. Eight years after Walt and Mearsheimer did so in the LRB, twelve years after Michael Massing did so in the American Prospect, The New Yorker declared AIPAC a corrupting organization. And good for The New Yorker, I hope it keeps moving. And this same week Philip Giraldi writes in the Unz Review that a group of Jewish billionaires wants to take the U.S. to war in Iran. This is a far more sweeping view of the lobby’s role, and a correct one I believe. One of those billionaires is Thomas Kaplan of United Against Nuclear Iran, who is married to an Israeli and who helped appoint the neocon at the head of Harvard’s Belfer Center and is chairman of the 92d Street Y (which discriminates against Palestinian authors). Incredible, huh? The New Yorker’s piece and Giraldi’s are actually compatible, they speak to the same underlying reality, and in a few years these accounts will be reconciled. Yes I understand, it’s a delicate issue, but people have a right to talk about it."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The correct link to sign Victoria LeftHand's petition to rename Chivington



Thanks to several people who wrote me that the link to the petition. Here is one that will: https://www.change.org/p/senator-larry-crowder-change-the-name-of-chivington-colorado

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Victoria LeftHand's petition to rename Chivington, Colorado



In the report of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Sand Creek Massacre in 1865, Benjamin Wade, a Senator from the Indian-killing Republican Party, nonetheless, wrote: it is shocking that "beings in human form" can have done such things...

***

This is the only American massacre, among all those involved in genocide against indigenous people from the Pequot massacre in 1638 to Wounded Knee, which was condemned by the Federal government in three separate hearings. It is the one massacre committed by the US army anywhere in the world from the Philippines to Vietnam to which there is a domestic national monument - the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site - near Eads.

The road to the historical site is fairly desolate. One passes through the town of Chivington, named for the Colonel and Republican candidate for Congress who commanded the massacre.

Vicki LeftHand has created a petition on change.org to rename the town. The ghosts of Colorado's founding in the slaughter of peaceful Cheyennes and Arapahos, the mutilation of women, the casual slaughter of babies, including one cut from his mother's womb, the driving out of the Native Americans whose territory this was - these haunt the state and the country till this moment. If we want an inclusive and democratic society in which every person is recognized as a citizen, renouncing this heritage and beginning to heal is a necessity in this century. It is time to end the irredendist celebration of Sand Creek and its perpetrators.

***

"Change the name of Chivington, Colorado

Vicki LeftHand
Petition by
Vicki LeftHand
St Louis, United States

In the early morning hours of November 29, 1864 at Sand Creek, Colorado as they lay asleep U.S. Colonel John M. Chivington, commander in charge of the Colorado Volunteers, was responsible for the needless deaths of approximately 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women, and children who were all under the “protection” of the United States government. Under his command, Chivington’s men not only brutally murdered these people, but mutilated their bodies (including genitalia) and, in a show of “victory”, paraded these so-called souvenirs down the streets of Denver while the townspeople looked on and cheered. During the brutal attack, not only was a United States flag flown in open sight, but a white flag, which is a universal sign of surrender, was also displayed in the open at the Cheyenne and Arapaho camps at Sand Creek for all eyes to see.

While President Lincoln “promised” to investigate AND punish Chivington for his crimes, no justice has ever been served and in fact, instead of facing justice for the slaughter of innocent men, women, and children who were all under the protection of the United States government, a town in the State of Colorado was named after the commander in charge of such an atrocity – Chivington. Genocidal mass murders should NEVER be allowed, let alone HONORED.

In remembrance of the 150 year anniversary of this massacre of the estimated 150 innocent Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women, and children brutally and unjustly killed at Sand Creek, I would ask that you change the name of the town of Chivington, Colorado and let the healing of these Nations begin. This will be an ongoing petition until the town named after Colonel John M. Chivington is REMOVED from the State of Colorado and RENAMED. Please help to begin the healing process.

Sincerely,

Victoria S. LeftHand"

***

You can sign the petition here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Those who fight anti-semitism need to fight against the false, expedient and bigoted charge of 'anti-semitism': a sharp issue in the Salaita case



Many people are now having, regretfully, to reject invitations from the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana because of the arbitrary and dishonorable firing of Stephen Salaita - see Bonnie Honig's letter here. Below is another fine letter from Katherine M. Franke, a Columbia law professor (h/t Mike Schwartz).

***

Salaita, as Corey Robin notes on his blog, issued a tweet which attacked the Israeli government's misappropriation/distortion of the term "anti-semitism" to mean: if you disagree with the state of Israel - even its policies of ethnic cleansing which involve mass murder and displacement- you must be an "anti-semite," a would-be Nazi.

The tweet said: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

***

Note that the Israeli government's criterion for "anti-semitism" bizarrely makes any Jewish critic of the Occupation like Henry Siegman who escaped the Nazis as a a child or Bonnie Honig or me an "anti-semite"...

***

More deeply, that criterion makes all Palestinians who are horrified by being driven off their land (starting in 1948) as Benny Morris and Siegman have underlined - see here - "anti-semites."

No, many Palestinians have been treated by Israel as Jews were treated in Europe - and the misuse of the term "anti-semitism" to legitimize the Occupation and other crimes of the Israeli state is bizarre.

***

Now Palestinians have not yet been deported en masse to concentration camps, which "liberal" supporters of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians repeat to themselves as a talisman against noticing that they are supporting/abetting crimes. Try: "I only joined the Klan for a short time and stood around while 3 people were lynched, I am not as bad as a Grand Lizard or a veteran Klansmen..."

***

Gaza has also been made "a large open-air concentration camp" as my former Dean Tom Farer, refers to it - no one could escape the recent Israeli slaughter - and the West Bank has many features of this....

***

Murder and ethnic cleansing are great crimes in themselves even if - mercifully - they are not yet at the highest level on the "European" scale.

***

In terms of the recent massacre by heavily armed Israeli soldiers in Gaza, would some 526 Palestinian children have been killed - see "Poem: the world according to Netanyahu" here - if everyone had stood up against it (and I mean even those who wish to defend Israel)? Enabling the murder of children and other random civilians - Israel's settled and criminal policy of trying to change international humanitarian law - is a dangerous thing. See here.

***

More deeply, the true charges against Israel are: the founders and supporters of Israel expelled some 800,000 and murdered many innocent Palestinian civilians in 1948, and are in process of gradually doing a similar thing in the illegally Occupied territories today.

***

These injustices are the vital grain of truth in Salaita's tweet. That is why the followers of Israel - particularly AIPAC, increasingly in desperate straits because young people including Jews are now aptly seeing Israel as a brutal colonial/settler state - have to misuse the term "anti-semitism" to refer to the opposite of what it means. Anti-semitism means a system of discrimination and mass murder. But the Israeli government misuses the term to refer to doing Occupation, discrimination and increasingly mass murder.

To use the term in this bizarre way mocks the victims of Nazism.

***

As the survivors or descendants of survivors of the Holocaust recently said protesting the massacres in Gaza, "Never again!" means "Never again for any people." See here.

***

Now Hamas (which is not a good organization, I underline, though completely justified in resisting the military Occupation and having the right - Israel as the Occupier does not - to self-defense), also invokes the phony Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Jews were kept "beyond the pale" - that is, in ghettoes - in Russia. When the tsars, confronted by farmer and worker discontent, needed a scapegoat, they often organized pogroms against Jews. And they manufactured/propagated the spurious "Protocols" to make their crimes palatable.

***

When Hamas invokes the "Protocols", it participates in anti-semitism though many of its actions - resisting oppression by the state of Israel - do not.

***

One of the most commendable aspects of the Bolshevik party under Lenin was that it carried out Russia-wide campaigns against anti-semitism, for instance, to defend Menachem Beilis was bizarrely charged with "ritual child murder" in 1913 by the tsarist government...See here, here, and here.

***

Nazism and the eugenics movement, including American laws for the sterilization of immigrants (some 100,000 in California alone), anti-miscegenation laws, and a 1924 immigration law that referred to "preserving the pure Nordic Stock" of the United States, were diversely and pseudo-scientifically racist. The craniometry (measuring skull size) and anthropometry movement, which was linked 20,000 Native American skulls being cut off and sent to the Smithsonian, and IQ testing were, both, inclusively racist toward non-Aryans/Nordics/WASPs but carried out differentiated crimes against those groups.

***

Nonetheless, the animus toward Jews, joined in Germany with Medieval anti-Semitism (of the sort involved in the Beilis case) to create an environment of gut hostility toward Jews and to enable the genocide.

***

'Gut hostility' - Leo Strauss, a Jewish reactionary, one who sympathized with the National Revolution - Nazism - against Nietzsche's "last men" - nonetheless describes going and studying with Jacob Klein (also a great scholar) at a cafe, and pretending in their conversation to be businessmen. As a joke, Strauss abruptly shouted "Nietzsche!" at Klein (a joke completely dependent on the racism of the environment).

***

One has to take in the grim chill of ordinary German anti-semitism (just like the racism alive in the murder of Michael Brown and its persistence, i.e the police chief of Ferguson still has a job, the officer who shot Brown six times at a distance with his hands up has still neither been arrested nor required to present a public defense at a judicial proceeding...)

***

In Letter from the Birmingham City Jail, Martin Luther King refers to this enveloping climate of American racism as "always having to stand on tip-toe..."

***

Racism, in other words, is part of a system of oppression with spectacular acts of criminality like the massacre in Gaza occasionally bursting out.

***

Take Kristallnacht in 1938: the Stormtroopers - Sturmabteiling, SA - and other German racists, protected by the police, murdered 91 Jews; they arrested 30,000 people and incarcerated them in concentration camps. Thugs ransacked Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools (note the similarities to Gaza), demolishing buildings with sledgehammers. They burned over 1,000 synagogues (95 in Vienna alone) and destroyed or damaged over 7,000 Jewish businesses.

Martin Gilbert writes that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening, and that the accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world. The Times wrote at the time: "No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday."(Nov. 11, 1938)

***

Kristallnacht is a paradigm for anti-semitism...

***

Draw an analogy with Gaza, and you will see that Israel is getting pretty bad on the Kristallnacht scale (a difference: Hamas did fire rockets which killed three civilians and terrorized Israelis, whereas the Jews in Germany did nothing of the kind; the latter were resented for sometimes successful civilian, for instance entrepreneurial activities and an allegation of economic oppressiveness. But 526 children....

(As a footnote, anyone who thinks German or American or Palestinan capitalism is "Jewish" is, as August Bebel, a leader of the German socialists once aptly put it, a fool.)

***

Sadly, the analogy is clear...

***

To defend Israel because it is not yet as murderous as the Nazis became or is not yet as sweepingly murderous as the American settler state toward indigenous people was in the 19th century is a "bad comparison set" in which to place oneself.

You cannot defend massive criminal activities by saying they are not yet the worst, i.e. only "Kristallnacht" but not as "bad as"...

***

At a dinner party some years ago, Avraham Burg, former head of the Knesset, grimly reported news of a grandmother killed in Lebanon with her two grandchildren by the invading IDF (Israel "Defense" Forces). To suppress taking in the crime, one of his liberal Zionist invitees said curtly: "but we're not as bad as the Nazis"...

Burg was shocked. Realizing in a flash of insight what Israel has become, he rethought his position. Burg now opposes the Occupation and sees that the state is doing grave harm to ordinary Palestinians and, though not as terribly, endangering most Israelis.

***

This phrase "not as bad as..." - is a mirror into which every proponent of what is now a race regime needs to look deeply. See here.

***

To turn the coin, however, Steven Salaita makes a mistake in the tweet in not opposing every aspect of anti-semitism (hard to fit in 140 characters; he was, as Honig underlines, quite careful, putting scare-quotes around false government accusations of "anti-semitism," for example).

That Palestinians and many others are understandably angry at Israel's crimes, however, does not justify one act of, for example, burning a Jewish-owned store on the edges of Paris or Frankfurt or the Hamas killing by rockets of 3 innocent civilians.

***

Nor does it justify one anti-semitic slur against Jews - or, one might add, Arabs (anti-Arab racism/"Orientalism," as Edward Said underlines, is historically the same as anti-semitism).

***

But racism is, once again, not just a matter of ideas in which, say, in the 1930s, Germans are bigoted against Jews, Jews (if they were...) against Germans. On the contrary, racism is a system of social relations, often enforced by governments, which involves acts of cultural, including spiritual, demeaning, economic and status discrimination and oppression, political "outsiderness" and often murder. A system of racist relationships gives rise both to ordinary prejudices - what are often identified with and set apart by commentators as "racism" - as well as pseudoscientific ideas. Unchecked, racism often verges on, turns into displacement, mass murder, ethnic cleansing and, under the UN definition (Article 2 "imposing conditions designed to destroy a people in whole or in part"), genocide.

***

What the settler state of Israel is doing involves ethnic cleansing (is "expulsionist" as my correspondent Samuel Kaplan helpfully puts it) and genocide. These crimes hurt everyone: the wanton slaughters in Gaza are linked to thugs - teenagers possessed by racism against "Arabs (substitute: Jews and you will understand fully) and leftists" - beating protestors in Tel Aviv while the Army murders nonviolent protestors in the West Bank.

What Salaita says about anti-semitism rightly opposes racism toward Jews, but does not take in the scale of anti-semitism of which many ordinary Jews are still frightened (and there is transgenerational trauma among Jews stemming from this, which is a psychological ground on which fear and today's racism in Israel are being stirred; just as there is trangenerational trauma among Palestinians from the ethnic cleansing and increasing Israeli brutality, multiplied by recent "mowing[s of] the lawn" - h/t Ramona Beltran).

***

Salaita was reacting, as any non-bigoted person would, to the mass murder of children. Those who defend such things by speaking of "anti-semitism" betray the victims of the Holocaust and he speaks with an anger which many of us - an anti-Nazi like me or a former Zionist like Bonnie Honig - can empathize.

***

Salaita makes a venial mistake. Academic freedom means that people do research as best they can, speak about their findings or subjects that concern them freely in the classroom and are permitted to speak their minds freely in other contexts (that is, they are not to be fired for saying things of which the powerful, including University trustees, disapprove). Academic freedom means academics can make mistakes (and often even the most prominent do, about grave matters like American aggression in Vietnam) and are criticized by others but not fired for it.

Freedom of speech means - you can say what you think (so long as you are not crying "fire" in a crowded theatre, "lynch her" to a mob about to do so...) and you can't be locked up or tortured for it.

Free discussion is the fulcrum or proof of a free or democratic regime (and every parliamentary democracy or capitalist oligarchy with parliamentary forms is still a long way from having it)...

***

As Martin Luther King says in his Letter from the Birmingham City Jail, the Athenian murder of Socrates has, in the long run, contributed to the creation\protection of academic freedom.

"Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

This principle is pretty important...

***

To disagree with Salaita, if one does from the mistaken side of thinking the state of Israel is run by currently decent human beings who wouldn't possibly slaughter children in a premeditated way ("mowing the lawn," once again, in the ministerial phrase) - the way to prove any moral and intellectual seriousness in that disagreement would be to defend Salaita against the shameful firing by Chancellor Wise and offer reasons on behalf of your disagreement with his conclusions.

***

That such reasons are, however, not persuasive is shown by the fact that an increasing number of Jews and other anti-racists are speaking out and acting against the Occupation as well against this firing.

***

One last point: the extenuation (if such a thing can be) of the crimes involved in founding Israel is that Jews needed some place to go after the Holocaust and that was where Europe, the Soviet Union and America would allow them to emigrate (now, Hannah Arendt, I.F. Stone, Judah Magnes and others had a different picture of that settlement, one which passed through peaceful arrangements with the Palestinian villages...)

Every single current Israeli has human rights as does every Palestinian - and the Palestinians are most in need of having their rights upheld. The best way to make a peaceful settlement would be to do something which preserves the rights of each person. There is no right, however, in the Occupation and the settlements; to enlarge the original crime does not protect most Jews but puts them in danger....

***

As a race state, a pseudo-democracy for non-"leftist" Jews, Israel, for all its democratic pretensions among an increasingly restricted population, increasingly approaches Saudi Arabia or Iran in what it imposes on others and its unhappiness/escapism ("fiddling while Rome burns"). Now many Israelis want some decent agreement with the Palestinians and oppose state policies. Further, the American contribution, particularly the Senate (I speak of the 100 to 0 vote for more weapons for Israel to crush further the Palestinians), is now being looked at critically by many Americans, particularly young people. America must stop using Israel as a fulcrum for its foolish policies of domination in the Middle East (divide and rule, coupled recently with murderous as well as futile, ultimately self-destructive American invasions).

***

If a two state solution is no longer possible in Israel/Palestine - and it still seems like it could be if ordinary Americans and, hence, the American government pushed for it by cutting off military aid to Israel until that solution was achieved or if Palestinians begin to fight for a universal human rights-based, one state solution and the Israeli government then coughs up a second state - then Israel will fail to be a democratic or socialist regime mainly for Jews (the original ideal, false because even the Histradut - unions - and the kibbutzes - agricultural cooperatives - barred Arab-Israelis; a national or exclusive socialism, even among the formerly oppressed, inevitably becomes more national than socialist...) and, fortunately, fail as a Jewish state as well. Then the anti-apartheid, one state with equal rights movement will have to win over time.

For the aim of Likud and the Home party - governing parties - to make Israel a race state "from the River to the Sea" is disgusting, and should be stopped.

***

"What Exactly Did Steven Salaita Mean By That Tweet?
Corey Robin (blog)
8 AUG

Though I don’t think this changes whether or not Steven Salaita should have been dehired, here is my interpretation of that tweet of his that has people, understandably, most upset: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

One of the great achievements of the human rights movement of the 20th century is that it made anti-Semitism into a term of universal opprobrium. Anti-Semitism was associated with a terrible animus toward Jews, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Kind of like racism after the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Nobody wants to be called a racist, nobody wants to be called an anti-Semite.

But today we see three developments: first, Israel and many of its defenders claim that Israel is coterminous with Jewishness — indeed, sometimes, that Israel exhausts the definition of Jewishness; second, Israel has come to be associated, in the eyes of many, with colonization, racism, occupation, population transfer/ethnic cleansing; and, third, movements against colonization, racism, occupation, and the like are considered to be honorable because those things are thought to be, like anti-Semitism itself, among the great sins of the 20th century.

Because of these three developments, Israel has perversely made anti-Semitism into something honorable: i.e., a discourse that is not about animus toward Jews but rather about opposition to colonization, population transfer, occupation, and the like.

I should say, as I already have, that I disagree with this understanding of anti-Semitism today. But I think it’s the only interpretation of that tweet that makes sense of Salaita’s overall commitments, which include an opposition to Zionism, an opposition to anti-Semitism, and a belief that the word anti-Semitism is often used to delegitimate criticism of Israel and opposition to Zionism.

Admittedly, a mouthful, and considerably longer than a 140-character tweet. But that’s the difference between Twitter and a blog post."

***

"Columbia University in the City of New York │ New York, N.Y. 10027 SCHOOL OF LAW
Katherine M. Franke
Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law Director, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law

Dr. Phyllis M. Wise, Chancellor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Swanlund Administration Building
601 John Street
Champaign, IL 61820
Dear Dr. Wise:
Voice: (212) 854-0061
Fax: (212) 854-7946 kfranke@law.columbia.edu
September 2, 2014

Last June several University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty invited me to your campus as part of The Cultures of Law in Global Contexts Initiative and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department’s Queer Studies Reading Group. I agreed to come in late September and give several public lectures and hold intensive sessions with graduate students in the humanities, law, and women’s/gender/queer studies. For this I was generously offered a modest honorarium plus the costs of travel and accommodation. I enthusiastically looked forward to working closely with the UIUC’s outstanding interdisciplinary group of faculty and students who are thinking in new and challenging ways about notions of globalization, nationalism, personhood and justice across a range of disciplinary locations. These interdisciplinary initiatives promise to destabilize comfortable notions of belonging, reparation, identity, and dispossession. I was excited to learn more about their work and participate, if only for a few days, in a community of scholars who were committed to thinking hard, if not uncomfortably, about the ways in which law is, or is not, up to the task of addressing the most critical forms of injustice, and how law itself can become an instrument of injustice in critical global contexts.

Regretfully, I write to inform you that on account of the decision to rescind an accepted offer of employment to Professor Steven Salaita, I must now cancel my visit to the UIUC campus in late September.

I have long held the view that the use of boycotts as a tactic to protest an unjust practice by a state, business or academic institution may be appropriate in the right context, such as the current crisis at the UIUC, but that those who pledge to honor a boycott cannot rest their political commitments exclusively on a promise not to do something. Rather they should also pledge to affirmatively engage the injustice that generated the call for the boycott. For this reason, rather than merely boycotting your institution, I plan to travel to Urbana-Champaign in mid September at my own expense to participate in a forum (located off campus) with members of the UIUC community in which we will explore the manner in which the termination of Professor Salaita’s employment at UIUC threatened a robust principal [sic - principle] of academic freedom.1

Of equal, if not greater, importance, at this forum I plan to explore with UIUC faculty the complex questions of belonging, dispossession, and possibilities for legitimate uses of state and non-state violence that may underlie Professor Salaita’s tweets on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

We would be well served to relate them to a rich academic literature that has aimed to give meaning to this particular struggle. UIUC’s world-class faculty in history, comparative literature, post-colonial studies, Jewish and Arab studies, ethnography, and human rights, are more than equipped to unpack Professor Salaita’s brief comments on social media (most would admit that 140 characters do not allow for nuance, rigor or careful analysis), taking them as a starting point instead of an end of a discussion about complex questions of belonging, dispossession and identity. Rather than appealing to norms of civility and safety that risk inoculating the UIUC community from challenging and uncomfortable inquiry, an approach that appreciates the norms and values of an academic institution would substitute rigorous interdisciplinary and scholarly analysis of the possible meanings of a provocative comment such as “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”2 Should we take from such a statement a cynical, if not offensive, apology for anti- semitism or does it suggest a deeper critique of the unintended and tragic consequences of certain extreme forms of political Zionism? Perhaps both? This conversation may include thoughtful consideration of the perils and merits of academics’ use of social media. Instead of being afraid of ideas that may be disturbing or provocative, or prejudging their meaning and declaring them off-limits, scholars aim to unpack them and interrogate their possible implications. I suspect that this conversation could generate disagreement, but I am certain it would galvanize a rich scholarly inquiry that has been lost by banishing Professor Salaita and his ideas from the UIUC campus.

As for my decision to decline the departmental invitation to speak at the UIUC, allow me to explain why I have chosen to take this course. The statement you and your Board of Trustees issued on August 22nd, affirming the decision to terminate Professor Salaita’s employment, as well as emails related to this matter that were released to the public last week, make clear that this catastrophe is not really about Professor Salaita and the UIUC’s interest in preserving a civility norm on campus. Rather, it is better and more accurately understood as the most recent iteration of a well-funded, well-organized and aggressive strategy to censor academic scholarship, research or discussion that is critical of Israel or Israeli state policy. So too it aims to censor scholarship, research or discussion that expresses sympathy for the rights of Palestinians. With the assistance of consultants and other branding experts, the strategy has been to frame comments critical of Israel as an affront to civility in the university context. To those of us who have defended academic freedom on this issue in recent years, your statement on the Salaita case echoed, in profoundly disappointing ways, the framing that has been advanced by political operatives who seek to capture the parameters of discussion of Israel/Palestine in an academic context.3 We at Columbia University are no strangers to this pressure, as we have experienced, and weathered, enormous outside pressure placed on our administration to deny tenure to scholars whose academic work criticizes Israel or political Zionism. I have had my own lectures taped and then critiqued by members of the David Project, have been instructed by my dean’s office that I cannot give a talk in which the word “Palestine” appears in the title because “there is no such place as ‘Palestine,’” and my former dean refused to accept a grant I received to fund scholarly work designed to create space in academic contexts for critical discussions of Israel/Palestine.

The strategy behind the campaign opposing Professor Salaita’s appointment at the UIUC seeks to reframe any discomfort that might arise around the competing claims to belonging, dispossession and identity in Israel/Palestine as a fundamental problem of intolerance, disrespect or abuse. This tactic insinuates as a baseline a particular stance or orthodoxy with respect to the highly contested claims to truth or right on this issue that can then be intolerated, disrespected, or abused. The emails disclosed from your office from university donors, alumni/ae, and others clearly document that the UIUC has been targeted by a particular kind of pro-Israel pressure group hoping to purge the professorate and the campus of parties who they deem to have taken positions (whether in their academic or personal capacities) hostile to an uncritically felicitous conception of Israel. That the UIUC administration would surrender to that pressure, and then defend the decision to do so, in the name of a civility norm on campus, is both disingenuous and disheartening.

Finally, you and your Board offer the defense that the UIUC was justified in terminating Professor Salaita’s employment on the ground that “our campuses must be a safe harbor” where students will not be confronted by ideas that upset them or make them uncomfortable, and that the UIUC “will not tolerate ... personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.” Presumably this new standard of “academic integrity” would apply not only to Professor Salaita but to other faculty and visiting lecturers such as myself. If so, then the positions I have advanced in my scholarship and in my work outside the academy would disqualify me from giving a lecture to your students as an invited visitor, not to mention an appointment at the University of Illinois College of Law. My recent article Dating the State: The Moral Hazards of Winning Gay Rights includes a sustained critique of the state of Israel’s effort to rebrand itself as a gay-haven in order to distract attention from its abuse of the human rights of Palestinians,4 and my public withdrawal5 from a gay rights conference in Philadelphia partially funded by the state of Israel would most certainly create discomfort for some members of the UIUC community who are inclined to applaud Israel for its “pro-gay” laws and policies. To be frank, most of my work was written with the aim of upsetting settled notions of identity, justice and rights – something for which I have received both praise and criticism from others in writing and in person at public lectures. I regard this give and take, often impassioned if not ferocious, as a central part of the academic project where we test new, uncomfortable ideas for the novel forms of knowledge they may illuminate.

In addition to myself, Professor Salaita, and many other scholars holding appointments at peer academic institutions whose scholarship and other advocacy contain remarks that would run afoul of the UIUC’s new civility policy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would surely be unwelcome at the University of Illinois as an invited lecturer on the basis of his recent uncivil comments on social media, swearing vengeance against the “human animals” who captured and killed three Yeshiva students in the West Bank last June.6

My most sincere regrets that on account of the unfolding catastrophe surrounding the termination of Professor Salaita’s employment I will be unable to accept your faculty’s invitation to visit the Champaign-Urbana campus to give a lecture on The Cultures of Law in Global Contexts. However, I do hope that we can meet in mid September, either in a public or private context, when I come to central Illinois to participate in an off-campus session with a community of scholars who do not fear, nor are intolerant of, provocative, challenging, and even uncomfortable ideas.

Sincerely,
Katherine M. Franke

1 A good summary of my legal analysis of this catastrophe can be found in the letter that I authored on behalf of professors of constitutional law, available here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gxfbptf2t0d17vw/Faculty%20Letter%20to%20U%20of%20I.pdf.
2 A number of scholars have already taken this tweet as a provocation to explore its possible meanings. See e.g. Corey Robin, What Exactly Did Steven Salaita Mean By That Tweet? (“Israel and many of its

defenders claim that Israel is coterminous with Jewishness — indeed, sometimes, that Israel exhausts the definition of Jewishness; Israel has come to be associated, in the eyes of many, with colonization, racism, occupation, population transfer/ethnic cleansing; and movements against colonization, racism, occupation, and the like are considered to be honorable because those things are thought to be, like anti- Semitism itself, among the great sins of the 20th century. Because of these three developments, Israel has perversely made anti-Semitism into something honorable: i.e., a discourse that is not about animus toward Jews but rather about opposition to colonization, population transfer, occupation, and the like.”) http://coreyrobin.com/2014/08/08/what-exactly-did-steven-salaita-mean-by-that-tweet/.
3 See for example, The David Project, A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges (2012), available at: http://www.davidproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012524- ABurningCampus-RethinkingIsraelAdvocacyAmericasUniversitiesColleges.pdf; and Gary Tobin, Aryeh Weinberg, and Jenna Ferer, The Uncivil University: Politics and Propaganda in American Education (2005).
4 “Dating the State: The Moral Hazards of Winning Gay Rights,” 44 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 1 (2012), https://web.law.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/microsites/gender- sexuality/Dating%20the%20State.pdf.
5 Katherine Franke Explains Why She is Boycotting the Equality Forum, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jd5YwZJB3U.
6 Alexander Marquardt, “Israeli PM Calls Killers of Three Israeli Teens 'Human Animals,’” ABC News, available at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/israeli-pm-calls-killers-israeli-teens-human- animals/story?id=24367041.

***

"Mondoweiss
Yale Protestant chaplain says Americans must curb Israel so as to curb anti-Semitism
US Politics Philip Weiss on August 28, 2014
Bruce Shipman, Chaplain - Episcopal Church at Yale Bruce Shipman, Chaplain - Episcopal Church at Yale

Everyone is talking about this. Last week the New York Times ran an op-ed by Deborah Lipstadt saying that anti-Semitism is returning to Europe in ways reminiscent of the Nazi era, in which Lipstadt blurred the line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, citing protests of Israel’s slaughter in Gaza. Well, the Times has now run a simple and eloquent letter from the Episcopalian chaplain at Yale that many people have passed along.

To the Editor:

Deborah E. Lipstadt makes far too little of the relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond.

The trend to which she alludes parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.

As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.

(Rev.) BRUCE M. SHIPMAN
Groton, Conn., Aug. 21, 2014

The writer is the Episcopal chaplain at Yale.

So Shipman is saying that American Jews have a responsibility to curb Israel’s war crimes because this is feeding anti-Semitism. The pushback against Shipman has already begun. David Bernstein (who ran me and Max Blumenthal down as no-accounts who would have no reputation were it not for the great career opportunity of Jewish anti-Zionism) smears Shipman, in the pages of the Washington Post. Yale has distanced itself from Shipman and Shipman has himself clarified his original statement, without neutering it. Writes a friend:

I read this in the NYT and immediately knew someone was going to call this poor man an anti-semite. But he doesn’t say that all Jews are responsible for Netanyahu and he doesn’t say anti-semitism is justified. What he says is that Israel’s behavior contributes to anti-semitism and the best way to fight this would be for Israel’s patrons to pressure Netanyahu.

Now in many cases the antisemitism is deeper than just what Israel does, but it’d be odd if Israel’s arrogance and brutality didn’t contribute to some of it. Obviously it contributes. And when people in the Jewish community make unquestioned support for Israel an integral part of being Jewish, that isn’t going to help. And anyway, even if the pastor is simply wrong it doesn’t mean he’s an anti-Semite.

Also, of course, nobody in his right mind denies that Muslim terrorism increases bigotry against Muslims. It doesn’t justify it, but in what universe would anyone deny that there is some connection? I’m a Christian and I despise the Christian Right for its support for various cruel policies.. I despise the knee-jerk pro-Israel Jewish religious community for the same reason. I wonder if it’s okay to say that in public? Probably not.

I know the way liberal Protestants think–I am one. It’s obvious that Shipman wasn’t justifying anti-semitic violence. In the Yale Daily News (linked at Bernstein’s site) he called acts of anti-semitic violence “deplorable” and he hoped that the two communities (Israeli Jews and Palestinians) would both flourish and said they both had claims to the land. Sounds like a real Nazi, doesn’t he?

What really burns me is this–Bernstein quotes a Rabbi Rosenstein attacking Shipman, and it’s obvious that Rosenstein is someone who justifies Israeli war crimes. That’s within the range of respectable thought, while Shipman’s comment is supposed to be on the edge of Nazism.

This ties into my claim the other day that American Christians are going to overcome their fear of the anti-Semitism charge and start to criticize Israel– that Javier Bardem won’t suffer career damage for saying Israel committed genocide. Shipman’s challenge underlines my point. He has an elite appointment, and he looks into the barrel of the anti-Semitism paintgun and doesn’t blink. More and more Jews and non-Jews are going to express themselves over the Gaza horror show of 2014, that was a sequel to the Gaza horror show of 2009 and a sequel of 25 years of peace processing and colonizing more Palestinian land– a pattern demonstrating that Israel has not a clue about how to deal with its Jim Crow constitution except to marginalize, sequester, and kill brown people.

But the Lipstadt piece followed by the reaction against Shipman demonstrates that there is a bifurcated discourse in the U.S. on Israel that recalls the bifurcated consciousness of the O.J. trial. Those friendly to Israel look at the whole situation one way, and those on my side look at it another way. We are simply in different realities, and who is right? Well my side is right; I’ve been to the occupation. But what will it take to break down the epistemological walls of the other reality? Sadly, I think violence in Israel and Palestine and then the U.S. is what will do it. Though the media and BDS and the great young Jewish awakening can help to force a reckoning. The New Yorker has at last acted to marginalize AIPAC. Eight years after Walt and Mearsheimer did so in the LRB, twelve years after Michael Massing did so in the American Prospect, The New Yorker declared AIPAC a corrupting organization. And good for The New Yorker, I hope it keeps moving. And this same week Philip Giraldi writes in the Unz Review that a group of Jewish billionaires wants to take the U.S. to war in Iran. This is a far more sweeping view of the lobby’s role, and a correct one I believe. One of those billionaires is Thomas Kaplan of United Against Nuclear Iran, who is married to an Israeli and who helped appoint the neocon at the head of Harvard’s Belfer Center and is chairman of the 92d Street Y (which discriminates against Palestinian authors). Incredible, huh? The New Yorker’s piece and Giraldi’s are actually compatible, they speak to the same underlying reality, and in a few years these accounts will be reconciled. Yes I understand, it’s a delicate issue, but people have a right to talk about it."