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Polls indicate that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got a four-point bounce from the heavily scripted Democratic Party Convention. But it is hard to know the depth and intensity of support from Sanders activists passionate enough to earn themselves a place at the convention. Those are the kinds of activists that could help Clinton the most come November. Yet, an informal survey of dozens of Bernie delegates indicates a lack on enthusiasm for the Clinton cause. No doubt, the decision by prominent Bernie booster Cornel West to go for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein won’t help.
However successful Clinton was in racking up impressive wins in the primary cycle, her actual vote totals were higher in 2008, when she faced off with then-senator Barack Obama.
As early as March, Super Tuesday results made it clear there was a potential enthusiasm gap when the vote totals from 15 states showed 3 million registered Democrats who had come out in 2008 had decided to stay home. In Texas, turnout dropped by 50 percent. In South Carolina, there was a 40-percent drop in the African-American turnout from the watershed 2008 primary.
Consider the key swing state of Ohio. In the 2016 primary election, Clinton only garnered close to 680,000 votes, compared to the nearly 1.1 million she polled in her victory in 2008.
In 2012, Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County, was one of three urban locales where a wave of young minority voters carried the day for Obama, delivering the three states he needed to win. (The others were Philadelphia, and Florida’s Broward County.)
The Ohio Battleground
So how are things these days in Cleveland, site of that pivotal Obama win in 2012? Downtown Cleveland is enjoying a robust revitalization, but there are also vast swaths of the rest of the community in which factory buildings lie vacant.
There are close to 6,000 zombie homes — homes their owners believe are in foreclosure, even though the bank that holds their mortgages never completed the legal process to foreclose — a physical legacy of the foreclosure crisis which is still felt here. Some 20,000 have already been torn down, and for the homeowners in the poorer part of town, property values have dropped by as much as 80 percent.
As the Republicans gathered in Cleveland to nominate Donald J. Trump as their presidential candidate, a public policy and social action forum dubbed IMPACT took place at Mount Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, one of the city’s largest African-American congregations. The forum featured Cornel West, the “provocative democratic intellectual,” as he bills himself, as its keynote speaker.
Mount Olivet’s traditions run deep. It was founded in the 1930s and served as the base of operations for Martin Luther King Jr., when he came to Cleveland.
West, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary and professor emeritus at Princeton University, was one of Senator Bernie Sanders’ most ardent supporters among African-American leaders, and several congregants were anxious to know whether the influential public intellectual was going to support Hillary Clinton in the general election.
But West, who served on the Democratic Party platform committee as a Sanders pick, told his audience he was supporting the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, because of her policy positions, “calling for reparations, calling for the massive release of all prisoners who are there for soft drugs… [She is also calling for a] massive redistribution [of wealth], a green jobs program…siding with the Palestinians… [and is] concerned about the violation of international law by the United States.”
“I am going to fight against Trump,” West pledged, but “in this case I am opting for third-party Sister Jill Stein.”
For West, the welfare reform and crime bills President Bill Clinton signed into law helped set the stage for the mass incarceration of African Americans, and the loss of a generation of parents to the penal system.
“Now people say, ‘Brother West, she’s better than Trump.’ That’s true, but Trump is about as low a bar that anybody could ever have,” West told his audience.
“We are in a tough situation. Of course, you know this is a swing state, so you have to make judgments in very wise ways,” West said. “But you don’t want to lie to yourself. Hillary Clinton comes on and says, ‘I have been fighting for children all my life.’ Which children do you have in mind?”
People on welfare, West explained, are “primarily women and children.” The welfare bill Bill Clinton signed, which ended the federal Aid to Families With Dependent Children and replaced it with block grants to the states, West said, “was a bill Ronald Reagan would have not signed.” He added, “It was only signed for political purposes.”
West took issue with assertions by Hillary Clinton campaign boosters who say she has “been fighting for black folks for 40 years.”
“Get off the symbolic crackpipe,” West urged the audience. “You don’t have the evidence for that. That’s like telling me you have been flying in a flying saucer last night — you were dreaming, hallucinating. Give me some witnesses.”
“Now, of course, Sister Hillary is very clever because what does she do, especially with black folk?” West continued. “[She says,] ‘I am the only one that represents the legacy of Barack Obama.’ Of course, Barack Obama is an historic figure. We can never take away the symbolic breakthrough of having a black man in the White House built by black slaves — never, never, not at all.”
“But they bailed out Wall Street without Main Street, that upset me. Drones dropped on innocent civilians. How many children so far?” West asked. “Press won’t tell you: 231 children.”
“A child in Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan has exactly the same value as a child in a vanilla suburb or the chocolate ‘hood. [I know] because I have been to vacation bible school: ‘Jesus loved the little children/all of the little children of the world/red, yellow, black or white/they are precious in his sight.’ So don’t tell me that an American baby has more value than a baby in Pakistan when it is killed,” West said.
“If that makes you unpatriotic, then I am taking the cross over the flag. That’s how I roll,” he continued. “That’s how I was raised…when the flag undermines the cross, I choose the way of the cross. If you go the way of the cross, get ready for some serious crucification — the cost of discipleship what it is to be a Christian.”
West said he understood why so many African Americans admire the president, but urged them not to lose their critical discernment.
“It is the most wonderful thing that my child sees a black man in the White House. I understand that. I got kids too; I have grandkids they have been empowered by Michelle [Obama]. They have been empowered by Barack, in example, at the symbolic level. I don’t just live life just symbolically. I live it at the level of substance too. Black child poverty is higher now than it was in 2008. That ain’t symbolic. That is substantial.”
West was asked by a member of the audience for his election predictions.
“I think Trump will be a neofascist catastrophe and Clinton will be a neoliberal disaster,” he answered. “So we are between a rock and a hard place. We have to gird ourselves, fortify ourselves for serious struggle. They are both tied to Wall Street. They are both dangerous in that way.”
Citing conditions in her hometown of Cleveland, an audience member asked West about the impact of gentrification. People are losing their homes through tax foreclosures, she said, and nuisance abatement actions — “a little-known type of lawsuit that gives [a] city the power to shut down places it claims are being used for illegal purposes,” according to ProPublica.
“I view it as land grab and a power grab,” West said. “It’s upper-middle-classes that want to move back into the cities for closer access to their jobs and leave precious and poor working people dangling with very little for a place to go.” Because “working-class and poor people have less money to donate to campaigns and elections and so forth,” West said, community groups will have to step up their resistance. “In Harlem, we have been wrestling with this for decades,” he said. “Harlem is now 49 percent vanilla.”
After the speech, Jon Lentz and I sat down with West for a brief discussion. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation.
ROBERT HENNELLY: We know there are 6,000 zombie homes in Cleveland. Fifty percent of Cleveland’s children are living in poverty. In Philadelphia, there are 40,000 vacant lots and homes. In the last eight years, we’ve seen the largest loss of African-American household wealth in the history of the republic. Why is that not emerging as a central issue of the presidential campaign?
CORNEL WEST: Well, it’s just very difficult to shatter the neoliberal hegemony and the public conversation. The neoliberal ideology comes in a number of different colors. It could be Bill Clinton, it could be Barack Obama, it could be Hillary Clinton. And that neoliberal hegemony means that to trying to raise the issues of poverty — not just black poverty, but poverty across the board, to really zero in on Wall Street domination of Congress, to really zero in on corporate power, to really zero in on the military industrial complex — that’s a difficult thing. Neoliberal press, neoliberal politicians — it’s hard to get fellow citizens to look at the world through a very different lens as opposed to a neoliberal lens.
RH: It seems we’ve had this metaphor we’re stuck in for decades now of a war on poverty, and there seems to be more poverty. War on drugs, more drugs. War on terror, more terror.
CW: More terror, that’s true.
RH: You’re one of the few public intellectuals who are linking the economic expenditure for war with these other public ills. Why aren’t we discussing the collateral damage of this never-ending war?
CW: Of course, the first thing to keep in mind is that we don’t even expose precious fellow citizens [of members of the military] to the bodies of soldiers who are killed in Afghanistan and other places. So you already have a hiding and concealing of the realities of war. We’ve been at war for over 14 years, 15 years, in Afghanistan.
Then you’ve got 54 percent of the budget as a whole going to military expenditures, and a lot of that actually is not fully accounted for because there are certain unlimited expenditures when it comes to the Pentagon, but no serious discussion about that. There is a consensus, Democrats and Republicans, Obama and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell, on this dominance of military expenditure, and [that] makes it very difficult.
When King said the bombs that dropped in Vietnam also landed in ghettos — and by ghettos he didn’t just mean black ghettos—he meant brown barrios, he meant white brothers and sisters in Appalachia, indigenous brothers and sisters on the reservations. There’s just no money [for social investment].
So we’re in a logjam. That’s what neoliberalism does. It’s a logjam when you allow for corporate power on the one hand, military industrial complex on the other hand and then think to be progressive is only talk about social issues.
RH: One of the things you seem to be in touch with is that since 2008, for working people, the economic situation has continued to unravel.
RH: According to the National Association of Counties, out of 3,069 counties, only 7 percent have recovered by their measurement.
So in other words, we are not really seeing our social circumstance reflected in our media, which leaves us in isolation. What’s a consequence of that, politically and spiritually?
CW: Well, I think the first point to keep in mind is that through a neoliberal lens, recovery is measured by how well the stock market is doing, and how well corporate profits are doing. And they have been doing very well. I just [look at] the QE2 — the quantitative easing — coming out of the Federal Reserve…because that’s the benchmark.
It’s not what is the quality of life of everyday people, of working people. And as you rightly say, there has been no recovery there, not in the real economy. In the stock market, indeed. So you miss the social misery that’s out there, and of course, [the presidential candidacy of] Donald Trump is part of the backlash. He is part of the deeply right-wing populist backlash because so many of white working-class brothers and sisters, but especially the brothers, are hurting, and that hurt is real. But unfortunately it’s not geared toward accountability toward elites at the top; it’s scapegoating the most vulnerable on the bottom.
RH: If we pull back a bit, we know that our young people, 16- to 24-year-olds, have a crisis. In New York City, 30 percent of black men between the ages of 20-24 are not working and they’re not in school. Globally, the figure is 50 percent — 7 million in Mexico alone. At some point, don’t we have to call into question the social obligation of capital to employ this generation. And how do we do that?
CW: The good news is that there is a magnificent moral, spiritual and political awakening taking place among the younger generation in the midst of the American empire. The Bernie Sanders campaign was a great example of young folk comin’ alive, becoming involved.
What is it now, 58 percent of young people across race and class say socialism is preferable over capitalism? Why? Because what they have lived has been more and more the underside of capitalist order, which is one of massive unemployment, decrepit education, unbelievable student debt. But also, spiritually — it’s a dog-eat-dog world, obsessed with the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not get caught.” That way of being in the world is being called into question among the younger generation. And in that sense there’s tremendous signs of hope.
JON LENTZ: One more thing: There is discussion about the framing of the protest message of Black Lives Matter as opposed to All Lives Matter. Some folks raise the example of Martin Luther King Jr., and say, “Well, we don’t want to have these Black Lives Matter folks; they should frame their argument the way King did; his was the right way to approach these issues. Any thoughts on that?
CW: Martin Luther King Jr. went to jail more than 40 times because he loved black people. He didn’t go to jail because white lives matter. Now in jail, on the way to jail, after he got out of jail, he still loved white brothers and sisters, but he didn’t go to jail for white brothers and sisters. He went to jail for black people.
So that I think our white brothers and sisters in the Republican Party need to recognize that when I and others say Black Lives Matter, when [I say] my mama matters, I’m not saying their mother doesn’t matter. But I’m saying we’ve lived in a society for so long where my mother didn’t matter, where black people have not mattered. That’s Martin Luther King’s message. His love message is one that starts at home, but it spills over to precious white, precious brown, precious yellow and precious other colors because we are all human beings in that sense.
JL: Is there anything the Black Lives Matter movement can learn from Martin Luther King’s example that they are not doing?
CW: We all could learn from Martin in terms of having more love, courage, vision and sense of service, absolutely.
Barack Obama concluded his address to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday night by declaring himself ready to “pass the baton” to the party’s nominee and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. Accounts of the address in the corporate media have repeatedly referred to the US president casting Clinton as the continuator and custodian of his “legacy.”
But what is the legacy of Obama? In its essential political terms, it consists of his having succeeded in overcoming internal divisions on the question of war that have plagued the Democratic Party for half a century. His administration marks the return of the Democrats to their roots as the premier party of US imperialism, a status the party maintained though two world wars and the subsequent Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Obama, who was swept into office on a wave of popular antiwar sentiment, will enjoy the dubious distinction of being the first president to keep the US at war throughout two full terms in office.
He has continued the wars he inherited in Afghanistan and Iraq, while launching a new one that toppled the government and decimated the society of Libya; engineering a proxy war for regime change that now includes US troops deployed in Syria; and carrying out attacks in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and beyond.
With its “pivot to Asia” and steady buildup of US-NATO forces in Eastern Europe, Washington’s military might has been increasingly directed against Russia and China, in a relentless quest for global hegemony that poses the growing danger of a third world war.
Obama’s administration will also be remembered for its vast expansion of drone warfare, targeted assassinations and kill lists, along with vicious attacks on civil liberties and the militarization of America’s police.
What is extraordinary in the face of all of this is that war was not even a subject of discussion at the convention in Philadelphia. The silence on the matter was guaranteed by the fraudulent opposition candidate Bernie Sanders, who publicly backed Obama’s wars during his campaign, and officially ended his “political revolution” by uncritically endorsing Clinton, the chosen candidate of both Wall Street and the massive US military and intelligence apparatus.
In advance of both major party conventions, there were many comparisons in the media of this presidential election year with that of 1968, with predictions that, once again, there could be violence in the streets.
While no doubt the Trump campaign has escalated the atmosphere of violence in American politics, wholly ignored in these largely superficial analogies was the core issue that brought about the violence of 48 years ago: mass popular opposition to the Vietnam War, which ended up tearing the Democratic Party apart.
The incumbent Democratic President Lyndon Johnson was unable to run for re-election because of the hostility within his own party to the war in Vietnam, expressed in support first for the candidacy of Eugene McCarthy and then for that of Robert Kennedy, who broke with Johnson on the issue.
While Robert Kennedy’s assassination was followed by the nomination of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, a supporter of the war, and his subsequent defeat by Republican Richard Nixon, Vietnam shattered the ideological foundations of the old Democratic Party, based on the filthy deal that was the foundation of Cold War liberalism: lip service to social reform at home, combined with unwavering support for US imperialism abroad.
In 1972, the antiwar candidate George McGovern won the nomination and was defeated by Nixon. Nonetheless, the Democratic Party was compelled to take antiwar sentiment into account, in its political calculations, for decades after the war in Vietnam ended.
A chasm had opened up between the party’s leading personnel within the US capitalist state and the Washington think tanks, who remained committed proponents and strategic thinkers of US imperialism, and a political base, including academics and upper layers of the middle class, in which there remained broad hostility to war.
This produced internal conflicts within the party in one election after another. On the one hand, Democratic candidates were compelled to posture publicly as opponents of war, in order to retain credibility with broad sections of the party’s electoral constituency. On the other hand, the Democratic candidates sought desperately to maintain credibility with the corporate and military-intelligence establishment, which expected that the candidate, once elected, would conduct foreign policy with the necessary ruthlessness.
In the aftermath of the election of George W. Bush came the mass antiwar demonstrations of 2003, and the subsequent attempts by various pseudo-left forces to channel this opposition back into the Democratic Party.
With the 2004 presidential election, Howard Dean emerged as an early favorite, campaigning as the representative of the “democratic wing of the Democratic Party” and appealing to antiwar sentiment within the party. Even after his candidacy was derailed by the party establishment and the media, John Kerry, who had supported the war, was compelled to posture as an opponent, tying himself up in political knots and handing a re-election victory to Bush.
Finally, in 2008, the decisive reason that Barack Obama won the nomination and Hillary Clinton lost it was Clinton’s vote in 2002 to authorize the US war in Iraq.
In the promotion of Obama’s candidacy, his racial background was presented, particularly by the pseudo-left, as some kind of credential for progressive and antiwar politics, even as a close examination of his political record showed that he was no opponent of militarism. His family and professional connections to the US intelligence apparatus, meanwhile, were kept out of the news.
While Obama’s election was hailed by the pseudo-left as “transformative,” what has emerged over the course of his administration, facilitated by these same political forces, has been the utilization of identity politics in the furtherance of US imperialism.
This formula was on full display at the Philadelphia convention, where identity politics—the promotion of race, gender and sexual orientation as the defining features of political and social life—was woven directly into an unabashed celebration of American militarism.
This found carefully crafted expressions in Obama’s speech, including his declaration that “our military can look the way it does, every shade of humanity, forged into common service,” a claim that could be made on behalf of another “all volunteer” imperialist fighting force, the French Foreign Legion.
He went on to state, “When we deliver enough votes, then progress does happen. And if you doubt that, just… ask the Marine who proudly serves his country without hiding the husband that he loves.”
The US military had long been a bastion of fanatical homophobia, with over 114,000 service members forced out, with dishonorable discharges, over the issue between World War II and the scrapping of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 2011. That allowing gays into the military would erode discipline had been an article of faith for the US command.
Central to support for changing this policy was the recognition, within both the ruling political establishment and decisive layers of the military brass, that it would prove politically useful in winning support for the military among a privileged upper middle class layer that had identified with the politics of American liberalism.
The message at the convention was explicit: “These are your troops. These are your wars. They are being fought in your interests.”
Similar issues of identity politics were employed by the Obama administration in its attempts to whip up the anti-Russian hysteria that was on display in Philadelphia. Thus, well-orchestrated campaigns were mounted around Pussy Riot and statements made by Putin in relation to gays during the Sochi winter Olympic games.
In response to the heated rhetoric at the convention, the Washington Post’ssecurity columnist wrote a piece entitled “Clinton has now made the Democrats the anti-Russia party.” He noted: “In their zeal to portray Donald Trump as a dangerous threat to national security, the Clinton campaign has taken a starkly anti-Russian stance, one that completes a total role reversal for the two major American parties on US-Russian relations that Hillary Clinton will now be committed to, if she becomes president.”
The anti-Russian campaign has been ratcheted up sharply in response to the WikiLeaks release of Democratic National Committee emails exposing the collaboration of the DNC leadership and the Clinton campaign in the attempt to sabotage the campaign of her rival, Bernie Sanders, and rig the nomination.
Clinton and her supporters have attempted to quash any discussion of the damning contents of these emails by casting their release as a “national security” issue, with the absurd charge that Vladimir Putin was the real author of the leak, aiming to subvert the US elections.
The same method, it should be recalled, was employed in response to earlier exposures of US imperialism’s crimes abroad and wholesale spying at home, with Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden bearing the consequences in the form of vicious persecution, imprisonment and exile.
Opposition to this relentless repression, as well as to war, found no expression in the Democratic convention. Needless to say, Clinton not only supported, but participated in both.
Most tellingly, a whole political layer, commonly referred to as the “neoconservatives,” which broke with the Democrats in the 1960s and 1970s and moved into leading positions with the Reagan and Bush administrations, have now come home, issuing open letters and statements in support for Hillary Clinton.
This political evolution of the Democratic Party is not merely the matter of machinations within the party leadership and the state apparatus. It has a social base within a privileged social layer that has moved sharply to the right, providing a new constituency for war and imperialism. The systematic fixation on the issues of race, gender and sexual orientation—deliberately opposed to that of class—has provided a key ideological foundation for this reactionary turn.
The convention in Philadelphia has exposed a party that is moving in direct opposition to, and preparing for a confrontation with, a growing radicalization of the American working class.
The next period, as the class struggle emerges powerfully, will see a resurgence of opposition by American workers to war.
The Socialist Equality Party is the only party campaigning to prepare and give conscious political expression to this development, fighting for the political independence of the working class and the building of a mass international movement against war based on a revolutionary socialist program. We urge all of our readers to support and build the SEP campaign of Jerry White for president and Niles Niemuth for vice president.
Bill Van Auken
A horrific video circulated on social media records an incident in the Syrian city of Aleppo in which so-called “rebels” of the Nour al-Dine Zinki Islamist militia cut off the head of a young boy they had captured on Tuesday. The executioner is seen holding the boy down on the bed of a pickup truck, sawing away at his neck with a small, dull knife and then holding the severed head in the air in triumph after the deed is done.
The episode sums up the whole filthy operation mounted by the Obama administration in the attempt to bring about regime-change in Syria. Those who carried out this savage killing either are, or at least were until recently, armed by and on the payroll of the US Central Intelligence Agency.
The murdered child, identified as Abdullah Issa, was just 12 years old. His captors claimed that he was a fighter with Liwa al-Quds (Al Quds Brigade), a Palestinian militia fighting on the side of the Syrian government.
Liwa al-Quds, however, issued a report saying that he was not one of their fighters but rather the child of a poor refugee family, who was taken hostage in the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp in northern Aleppo. The boy, who appears dazed, had apparently been taken while receiving medical treatment, as an intravenous drip attached to his arm is visible in the video.
In the video, one of the child’s tormentors can be heard shouting, “We’ll leave no one in Handarat!” This is apparently a threat by the militia to “ethnically cleanse” the camp of its Palestinian population. Liwa al-Quds described the grisly execution of the child as “cheap and despicable revenge” by the jihadists for losing a battle for control of the area.
In a statement, Nour al-Dine al-Zinki’s leadership formally condemned the barbaric murder of the child, while claiming it represented “individual errors that represent neither our typical practices nor our general policies.”
The video itself, however, shows a number of the group’s fighters cheering on the beheading and recording the tormenting of the boy and his execution on their cell phones.
Moreover, the incident comes just two weeks after Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, issued a report titled “Armed opposition groups committing war crimes in Aleppo city.” In addition to Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, and three other Islamist militias, the report accuses Nour al-Dine Zinki (named first in the report) of having “carried out a chilling wave of abductions, torture and summary killings” in Aleppo and elsewhere in northern Syria. It further charges the US and its regional allies with arming and supporting these groups, which operate with impunity.
The Obama administration’s response to this atrocity has been ambivalent at best. Asked whether the execution of the child “would affect assistance” to the group responsible, State Department spokesman Mark Toner responded that “if we can prove that this was indeed what happened and this group was involved in it, I think it would certainly give us pause.”
Pressed as to what consequences it would have in terms of US support, Toner sidestepped the question: “I can’t say what that consequence will be, but it will certainly give us, as I said, serious pause.”
According to a December 2014 report by the McClatchy news organization, Nour al-Dine Zinki was one of the only CIA-backed groups not to be cut off as the al-Nusra Front began making serious gains, either absorbing these militias or seizing their weapons.
According to McClatchy, the CIA was paying the salaries of the Nour al-Dine Zinki fighters at the rate of $150 a month. The militia was also the recipient of US TOW anti-tank missiles manufactured by the Raytheon Company, in addition to so-called “non-lethal” supplies.
The savage murder of young Abdullah Issa is a grim exposure of the real character of the forces described by the Obama administration as the “moderate opposition”—and by its pseudo-left apologists as Syrian “revolutionaries.”
Like Al Qaeda before them, they are a Frankenstein’s monster created by US and Western imperialism and unleashed upon the people of Syria and the broader region to achieve definite strategic aims by means of regime-change.
Responsibility for the torture and beheading of a Palestinian child, along with the killing of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and the driving of millions more from their homes, lies with the Obama White House, the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department, whose chief officials, from the American president on down, are war criminals who must be held accountable.
WEDNESDAY, JUL 20, 2016 10:30 AM PDT
The most far-right party at the 2016 Republican National Convention may have also been the most pro-LGBT.
Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos held a “gays for Trump” party late Tuesday night in Cleveland.
He was joined by far-right anti-Muslim leaders Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders. All three gave adoringly pro-Trump speeches full of anti-Muslim vitriol.
The rhetoric was strikingly reminiscent of the extreme anti-Semitism of the early 20th century, yet directed at Muslims instead of Jews. All of the speakers explicitly condemned Islam itself, not just Islamic extremism.
LGBT for Trump founder Cris Barron stressed the importance of defending “Western civilization” from the existential threat posed by Muslims.
Wilders spoke of a “war” against Islam. He proclaimed “Islam is the problem” and condemned refugees for turning Europe into “Eurabia.”
Geller joined the speakers in applauding Trump’s “ban on Muslims from jihad nations,” which she called a “logical, rational and reasonable” policy.
Milo called Trump “the most pro-gay candidate in American electoral history” and proclaimed, “The left’s stranglehold on homosexuals is over.”
Not one speaker mentioned U.S. and European foreign policy and wars, instead conflating the Islamic extremism fueled by Western-backed military conflicts and the political Islamism spread by Western allies with the millennium-old religion practiced by 1.6 billion Muslims.
The speakers all also excoriated the left, which they accused of supporting Islamism and of valuing Muslims over LGBT people.
The art used to publicize the event is a cartoon depicting Donald Trump as a superhero, joined by sidekicks Milo and Geller.
The party, which was officially named “Wake Up! (the most fab party at the RNC),” was a big event for the so-called “alt-right,” a far-right movement that supports liberal social policies and portrays itself in certain ways as libertarian, but harbors some extreme right-wing, fascistic views.
A large yellow Gadsden flag reading “Don’t tread on me,” a common libertarian symbol, was in fact hung on the wall behind the DJ, but the speakers are people who have no problem with big government when it comes to Muslims and migration.
Unlike the so-called New Atheists, who claim they oppose all religions equally — although they reserve particular hatred for Islam and Muslims — the alt-right does not feign impartiality.
Milo mentioned his Catholicism, and Geller openly argued that Christianity and Judaism are better religions than Islam, insisting Islamic law subjugates non-Muslims while Canon and Jewish law do not repress those of other faiths.
Chris Barron, the founder of the pro-LGBT conservative NGO GOProud and the leader of the “LGBT for Trump” campaign, introduced the speakers.
Barron set the tone of the event right from the get-go, warning a “radical Islamic ideology” threatened LGBT Americans. He called it a “life or death situation.”
Barron and the other speakers blamed the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June on Islam, although the U.S.-born shooter was likely himself gay and had previously attended the club. Additionally, a former gay lover of his called it a “revenge” attack.
Trump not only supports LGBT people, Barron claimed, but also employs them, “making gay people part of the Trump empire.”
None of the speakers mentioned Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, although the Trump poster on the podium clearly displayed his name.
Protesters outside the event uniting under the name Queers Against Racism emphasized that Pence has a long history of openly opposing LGBT rights, including voting for legislation that allows business to deny services to people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
While they stood behind the Trump-Pence poster, all the speakers also stood in front of photography depicting young slim white men wearing “Make America great again” hats. These works are part of a series by art photographer Lucian Wintrich titled “Twinks4Trump.” Wintrich told Salon he will soon be having a Trump-themed gallery exhibit in New York City’s East Village.
Barron noted that the event was funded by far-right website Breitbart; Andrew Marcus, director of the film “Hating Breitbart”; and Mike Flynn, the founding editor of Breitbart’s Big Government blog, who passed away in June. Barron also thanked Fox News for its support.
Geert Wilders, a far-right politician from the Netherlands who has frequently beendescribed as a fascist, was the first to speak at the party.
Barron introduced Wilders as the “hope for Western civilization,” rhetoric the Dutch leader himself frequently uses.
Wilders opened his speech warning Europe has been turned into “Eurabia,” due to Arab and Muslim migration.
“Europe is imploding,” he claimed, adding it has been flooded with “jihadis.”
“It will only get worse,” Wilders insisted, because Europe’s “stupid governments” keep letting in refugees from Muslim-majority countries.
He called open borders “the worst policy ever.” He also condemned “cultural relativism, the biggest disease in Europe today.”
Wilders claimed refugees and migrants are not integrating and assimilating into white European culture, leading to a “suicide policy.”
The far-right Dutch leader stressed that the enemy is not just Islamic extremism, but Islam itself.
“Get rid of your political correctness,” Wilders declared, as the audience went wild. “Islam and Sharia law are exactly the same,” he said, warning Americans not to “allow Islam to be planted in your soil.”
He accused Muslim migrants of being behind an “explosion of crime, rape… of harassment of our daughters, of the gay community.”
“We are at war,” Wilders proclaimed and reiterated, claiming Sharia law is being implemented in Europe and the U.S.
“Islam is the problem,” he stated clearly, condemning “bullshit about ‘radical Islam.’” The audience applauded loudly, and a young man with a Trump hat on shouted, “Send them back!”
“I don’t want any more mosques in the Netherlands,” Wilders said. He proposed closing borders to Muslim refugees and migrants and deporting those in the country. Then the government should “de-Islamize” society, he said, not expanding on what exactly he meant.
Wilders called for electing new far-right leaders. “We are no longer represented,” he lamented, and boasted that his far-right Freedom Party is on the verge of taking state power, having topped the polls for a year.
“We have no alternative,” Wilders concluded. “We will win this war.”
Pamela Geller, a leading figure in the anti-Muslim hate movement in the U.S., was next to speak.
“Pamela has been fighting against the jihad for several years,” LGBT for Trump founder Chris Barron said as he introduced her.
In May 2015, Geller and Wilders were attacked by Islamic extremists at a “Draw Mohammad” event in Garland, Texas. Geller said the “Wake Up!” RNC party was her first public speaking engagement since the attack in Garland.
Geller opened her speech with a joke: “A jihadi walks into a gay bar,” she began, to laughs from the audience. What does he order? “Shots for everyone,” she said.
The room erupted in laughter. Geller replied, “It’s not funny, because it’s true.”
She said she supports Trump, LGBT rights and “freedom,” proudly calling the Republican Party “the party against jihad.”
Geller — who backs a presidential candidate who wants to deport 11 million people and ban refugees from particular racial and ethnic groups — went on to accuse the left of becoming “increasingly authoritarian.”
“You’ve got to love Trump, ’cause he gives them all the middle finger,” she said simultaneously. “His ban on Muslims from jihad nations is logical, rational and reasonable.”
Geller criticized more mainstream right-wing pundits like Bill Kristol. People in the audience shouted “cuckservative” (a popular insult in the alt-right) and “traitors!”
At one point, she stopped her speech to join the audience in a “Trump! Trump!” chant.
Like Wilders, Geller claimed “Muslim gangs” are raping young girls and threatening LGBT people in the U.S.
The GOP supports “equality for all,” she claimed, ensuring “no special treatment for special classes.”
“Islamophobia,” Geller maintained, “doesn’t exist; it’s a myth.”
The left, she added, is embracing Islamism. “It’s not PC; it’s Sharia,” Geller said.
In his speech, Milo Yiannopoulos reaffirmed many of the same points, with his characteristic narcissistic flair.
Barron introduced the Breitbart columnist as “the world’s most dangerous faggot.”
“It’s a war,” Milo began his speech, “a culture war.” He insisted that politicians should stop talking about economics and politics and instead talk about culture.
Milo argued that the left no longer defends LGBT rights, that it is only the right that does so.
“Radical Islam, or let’s say it, Islam” threatens gay people, he said, while the left is “welcoming a religion that wants us dead.”
Muslims are fundamentally incapable of integrating into capitalist democracy, Milo claimed, which he called “the only system that works.”
Milo, who is British, pointed to Europe as a “warning” to Americans. He said he will soon be traveling to Sweden to lead “a gay pride march through the Muslim ghetto in Stockholm.” A man in the audience shouted, “Bring bacon!”
Unlike the other speakers, who focused almost exclusively on Muslims and the left, Milo also made his hatred of journalists very clear.
“Most journalists are idiots,” he stated casually. He later swore that he is “dedicated to the destruction of liberal media.”
“I have the entire American media at my disposal,” he taunted at one point, listing the leading news outlets who had reporters at the party. “Fuck the lot of you; fuck you,” he said to the room full of journalists.
Milo accused the left of “shutting down free speech” with political correctness. To the room full almost exclusively of white people, he joked about his sexual preference for Black men, claiming they have big penises and do not know who their fathers are.
Trump is “the most pro-gay candidate in American electoral history,” he asserted.
“The left’s stranglehold on homosexuals is over,” Milo concluded, summarizing the underlying thesis of the event.
Outside of the event, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, protesters could be heard chanting “8-6-4-2, if you love Trump we don’t love you!”
A few dozen people gathered for a few hours, carrying a large banner reading “Queers Against Racism.” They soon began chanting, “No more queer Muslim hate!”
Salon spoke with a protester who declined to be identified. “We heard there was a gay pro-Trump event and we were like, hell no!” she explained.
She said the demonstration was not organized by a group, but rather by a collection of individuals. The protesters were from all around the country, not just Ohio, and had convened to protest the RNC.
The protesters did not like speaking with the press, so they passed out a “Queers Against Islamophobia, Racism and Fascism” handbill reading:
“There’s nothing fabulous about racism. You can’t hide racism and Islamophobia behind gayness.
Our grief is not a catalyst for xenophobia. We will not be opportunistically used to promote Trump’s rhetoric of hate.
What happened in Orlando is a result of a homegrown culture of homophobia promoted by Trump, Pence and conservatives for decades.
Racism and xenophobia further erodes the safety of LGBTQ people, many of whom are Muslims, refugees, immigrants and people of color.
We will fight for the liberation of all people!
Only self-hating gays love Trump.”
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
The sweeping purge of soldiers and officials in the wake of the failed coup in Turkey is likely to be conducted with extra vigour because a number of close associates of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among the 265 dead. The number of people detained so far is at 6,000 including soldiers, and around 3,000 judges and legal officials who are unlikely to have been connected to the attempted military takeover.
On Sunday, Erdogan attended the funeral of the elder brother of his chief adviser, Mustafa Varank. Varank’s older brother, Dr Ilhan Varank, studied at Ohio State University, and was the chairman of Computer and Technology Education Department at Istanbul’s Yildiz Technical University, according to Anadolu Agency (AA). It says that the 45-year-old was shot at and killed as he demonstrated in front of the Istanbul Municipality building on the night of the coup, 15 July.
Another name close to Erdogan, Erol Olcak, was shot and killed along with his 16-year-old son at the Bosphorus Bridge, local media reported. Having met the president many years ago when they both belonged to the same Islamic party known as Prosperity Party, Olcak became a prominent name in AKP’s media and publicity campaigns since the party was founded in 2001. Olcak and his son were at the Bosphorus Bridge to protest the coup attempt when they were shot by soldiers.
The coup plotters clearly saw the importance of detaining or eliminating Erdogan but were unable to find him at the holiday resort of Marmaris, in south west Turkey, where he was staying, as is shown by the film of shootings there. They also tried to target his most important aides by taking them into custody. His secretary Fahri Kasirga was taken prisoner by rebel soldiers, according to his son, who tweeted on the night of the coup that “they wanted [pro-coup forces] to force my father to stay in his house, but when he resisted, the bloody traitors took him into an ambulance and drove off.” The story is confirmed by Erdogan himself who said as he headed to the airport at Marmaris that “they took my secretary. What are you going to do with my secretary?”
The failed coup is serving as an excuse for a massive round-up of members of the judiciary and army officers, far greater than anything seen in Turkey for years, and is presumably a bid to secure Erdogan’s grip on the Turkish state. So numerous are those detained that a sports stadium is being used to hold some of them, a development that has ominous similarities with mass arrests in South American coups in the last century. Some 140 out of 387 judges in the Court of Appeal have been detained along with 48 out of 156 from the Council of State.
It may be that Erdogan is using the coup to eliminate the most powerful officials seen as loyal to Turkey as a secular state.
Harrowing scenes are reported by the world’s media as soldiers are beaten, tortured and murdered in open streets all around Turkey today.
The aftermath of the military coup that began last night is proving to be quite bloody as horrific scenes takes place by Islamist Erdogan supporters all around Turkey today.
The police are reported to be allowing it to happen without intervention.
UPDATED: More photos was just sent to AMN;