Thursday, November 29, 2018

A View From The Local Left In Boston

DPP’s Mission is to oppose current US wars and militarism as the core of our foreign policy. We work with local groups to build a multi-racial peace and justice movement throughout the neighborhoods of Dorchester; to work against the war at home -- including racism, violence, budget cuts, and political oppression; and to make clear the connection between neglect of local human needs and the movement toward a state of permanent war.
Weekly Update:  Friday, November 23, 2018
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Next DPP Meeting

MONDAY, DECEMBER 10: 6:30-8:30pm, Vietnamese American Community Center (Viet-AID), 42 Charles St. (second floor), Fields Corner  (behind the Fields Corner T. Station).  AGENDA TBA  

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DPPers at Veterans For Peace November 11 Peace Parade
(l. to r.) Sydney, Jane and Kelley

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(From a previous Thanksgiving edition of the DPP Update)
Remember “PSNA” (Puritan State of North America) of us have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving.  On the one hand, it has become the US family holiday par excellence, when adult children return home and relatives we don’t often see are invited to the feast,  On the other hand, most readers of the Update are well aware of the dual nature of the holiday.  While Thanksgiving celebrates what we are grateful for in our family life, it also marks the historical process that concluded with genocide and expropriation of indigenous lives and lands.  For Native people, the Thanksgiving has long been marked as a day of mourning.

But there is another aspect of the history which we generally ignore – and that is highly relevant when we are flooded with propaganda about the religion-fueled atrocities of groups like ISIS in the Middle East, now spilling over into “our” cities like Paris.  The Plymouth Plantation, site of the supposed first Thanksgiving and later Puritan Boston were also communities motivated by religious fanaticism and were the spiritual ancestors of the Christian fundamentalism that influence a substantial portion of our population, especially at the base of the Republican Party.

The Puritan “Pilgrims” may themselves have been refugees from religious persecution, but that did not stop them fromdyer-hangingimposing their own brand of intolerance in their New England colonies and toward the native peoples. They saw themselves as modelled on the Exodus and the subjugation of “the Promised Land” -- and they imposed, along with the conquest, their own brand of religious fundamentalism.  The Puritan movement was imbued with biblical imagery, especially from the Hebrew scriptures (“Old Testament”).  If John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” was morally related to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the other “hill” of Zion was not far from their minds.  That’s why there are towns of Salem (a variant of Jerusalem) in most New England states, along with Canaan, Bethel/Bethlehem, Goshen, Lebanon. also imposed their own strict version of biblical law (Shari’a!) to regulate all manner of public and private life.  The capital crimes in the colonies – led by “blasphemy” – were given biblical footnotes in the first and subsequent printed law codes.  Long before the famous “witch trials” of 1692-3 four members of the colony were hanged for the crime of being Quakers.

Indigenous resistance, meanwhile, was met with open terror from the earliest days of the colony.  When the last revolt against the invaders was defeated in 1675-6 the colonists displayed the head of native leader Metacomet (“King Philip”) on a stake in Plymouth.  Other native settlements – even Christian ones -- were destroyed and the inhabitants held in a kind of concentration camp on Deer Island and later sold as slaves in the British West Indies. 

These measures highlighted the irony on the first Great Seal of the colony, which pictured a stereotypical native voicing the plea “Come over and help us.”   It is still the model of the contemporary seal of our state, which includes the Latin motto:  “By the sword we pursue a calm repose under liberty.”

First Great Seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1630

Contemporary State Seal of Massachusetts

The United States is not exceptional in the amount of violence or bloodshed when compared to colonial conquests in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America. Elimination of the native is implicit in settler colonialism and colonial projects in which large swaths of land and workforces are sought for commercial exploitation. Extreme violence against noncombatants was a defining characteristic of all European colonialism, often with genocidal results.  Rather, what distinguishes the United States is the triumphal mythology attached to that violence and its political uses, even to this day. The post–9/11 external and internal U.S. war against Muslims-as-“barbarians” finds its prefiguration in the “savage wars” of the American colonies and the early U.S. state against Native Americans. And when there were, in effect, no Native Americans left to fight, the practice of “savage wars” remained. In the twentieth century, well before the War on Terror, the United States carried out large-scale warfare in the Philippines, Europe, Korea, and Vietnam; prolonged invasions and occupations in Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic; and counterinsurgencies in Columbia and Southern Africa. In all instances, the United States has perceived itself to be pitted in war against savage forces.  More

National Football League owners are reacting to Washington, D.C. team owner Daniel Snyder’s plans to rebuild Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and move his callously named team back to the nation’s capital with a shrug. But American Indian tribes, along with anti-racist organizations, have begun a national movement to stop him…  Since the 1980s, Indian people have sought to put an end to racist names and mascots in schools, colleges, and professional sports teams. A big part of that struggle has been educating our own people about the damage inflicted on our self-worth because of these mascots…  However, a district court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the name and image was not disparaging to American Indians. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the case. But the outcry against Indian mascots continues to gain momentum from tribes, celebrities, and racial justice groups.   More

How everything about Thanksgiving as we know it was shaped by the marketing industry
Starting with Thanksgiving’s early champion, Sarah Josepha Hale, the history of Thanksgiving is rooted in marketing. Marketers not only helped create many of the rituals and cultural myths associated with the Thanksgiving meal, but they also legitimized and maintained them. Initially, the Thanksgiving turkey competed with other meats, like duck, chicken and goose, for centerpiece at the Thanksgiving table…  Iconic Swift’s Premium turkey ads focused on the sacredness of the meal by featuring families at prayer, giving thanks before the meal begins. The importance of the turkey to the Thanksgiving celebration dominates, helping to perpetuate the Thanksgiving turkey tradition.  Meanwhile, early ads for the Eatmor Cranberry Company positioned their whole cranberries as a perfect complement to any and all Thanksgiving meat dishes. This brand dominated until the 1930s when another brand, Ocean Spray, entered with its canned gelatin cranberry sauce.   More

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NEW WARS / OLD WARS – What Could Possibly Go Wrong

U.S. Military Support for Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen
The President’s assertion that it is possible to balance benefits to the U.S. economy against the heinous behavior of an ally doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. No economic benefit, no matter how large, can justify continuing to arm a regime that has not only killed a journalist in the most brutal way imaginable but has killed thousands of civilians in indiscriminate bombing attacks in Yemen, many of them with U.S.-supplied bombs and aircraft…  The biggest flaw in President Trump’s ever-growing estimate of the U.S. jobs at stake in arms sales to Saudi Arabia is that the size of the alleged $110 billion U.S.-Saudi arms deal—in some cases referred to as if it is a single transaction—is wildly exaggerated…  A bipartisan set of members of Congress from both houses are pressing for an end to arms sales and military support for the Saudi/UAE intervention in Yemen, and the time is ripe to move forward on these efforts.   More

It’s Time for America to Reckon With the Staggering Death Toll of the Post-9/11 Wars
“The major challenge in tracking the full costs of these wars is that the U.S. military doesn’t even meaningfully investigate civilian death tolls. Generally, they know it’s not good to have civilian casualties, but their focus is mainly on fighting, and there is little pressure to make protecting civilians a key priority,” said Daphne Eviatar, director of the Security With Human Rights program at Amnesty International USA. “Meanwhile, the U.S. public simply doesn’t see deaths in other countries. They don’t see civilians being killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. With everything going on in the United States at the moment, the fact that we’re even at war has largely fallen off the radar.”  …“There is a perverse dynamic at play, in which we’re killing more people, creating adverse consequences like mass displacement and refugees, and then banning those very people from our shores,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “We really need to question both the fairness and necessity of these policies, which are inflicting devastating human costs abroad while harming our own civil rights at home.”  More

PLANET OF WAR: U.S. Military Prepares for Perpetual Global Combat
With Pentagon budgets reaching record levels -- some $717 billion for 2019 -- Washington has stayed the course, while beginning to plan for more expansive future conflicts across the globe. Today, not a single square inch of this ever-warming planet of ours escapes the reach of U.S. militarization.  Think of these developments as establishing a potential formula for perpetual conflict that just might lead the United States into a truly cataclysmic war it neither needs nor can meaningfully win. With that in mind, here’s a little tour of Planet Earth as the U.S. military now imagines it.   More

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Is Trump country really better off under Trump? No. It’s falling further behind.
Two years have passed since Donald Trump made his famous campaign promise in disaffected regions across the country: “We are going to start winning again!” For many voters who felt that they had lost ground in recent decades, the candidate argued, a vote for him would be rewarded with renewed prosperity and prominence…  Not noticeably better, according to the data. By most measures, my latest research shows, Trump counties — and especially counties with higher proportions of Trump voters — continue to fall farther behind the rest of the country economically. The story of our economy, like the story of our politics, continues to be a story of division and divergence.   More

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