Author: Justin King

Zapatistas side with Oaxaca’s teachers

Image Source: Cat Branchman, Flickr, Creative Commons
Viva Las Zapatistas!

The Zapatistas have sided with the teachers who are engaged in a massive and sometimes violent dispute with the Mexican government. The group released a statement, reprinted in full below. The Zapatistas are a militant group best known for their fight in Chiapas, Mexico. It is unclear if the Zapatistas plan on engaging in any militant actions on behalf of the community.

“Faced with the cowardly repressive attack suffered by the teachers and the community in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca—in which the Mexican state reminds us that this is a war on all—the peoples, nations, and tribes who make up the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation say to the dignified teachers that they are not alone, that we know that reason and truth are on their side, that the collective dignity from which they speak their resistance is unbreakable, and that this the principal weapon of those of us below.

We condemn the escalation of repression with which the neoliberal capitalist reform, supposedly about “education,” is being imposed across the entire country and principally in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero, and Michoacán. With threats, persecutions, beatings, unjust imprisonments and now murders they try to break the dignity of the teachers in rebellion.”

Police vs Teachers leaves 12 Dead, 100 injured: What’s really happening in Oaxaca?

Image Source: TUBS, Creative Commons

The headlines are terrifying. The images are poignant. A battle in the street between teachers and cops has caught the world’s attention, but the story doesn’t begin there, nor is it likely to end there.

The protests that sprang up recently were triggered by a bizarre series of arrests made by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s President. The arrests targeted leaders of the teacher’s union. By most accounts, the charges are bogus or at least severely inflated. One of the union officials was arrested for stealing textbooks. Even in corruption prone Mexico, a black market for school textbooks has yet to show its face. Unsurprisingly, those arrested were also political opponents of Enrique Peña Nieto. The teacher’s union adamantly opposes the President’s reforms. The reforms are part of the President’s neoliberal campaign promises, and many in the union see them as a death blow to education in Mexico, particularly for the rural and indigenous communities. Some in the union are fearful of massive layoffs.

Left or Right, Pro- or Anti-Gun: You cannot support the “No Buy” list

It doesn’t matter where your political affiliation lies. It doesn’t matter what your stance on gun control is: you cannot support the No Buy list. The essence of the proposal is simple: the government declares a person a “bad guy” with no trial and no evidence, and that person loses their inalienable Constitutionally-protected rights. Regardless of your opinion of the Second Amendment, the Bill of Rights is meant to act as a bulwark against tyranny and dictatorship. If the government is able to bypass this bulwark by simply declaring it has the authority to do so, the United States is a literal dictatorship.

The government has an established pattern of overreach and abuse. If this is allowed to stand, government officials will have established legal precedent to rescind any other right you hold dear by simply adding your name to a list. Don’t even consider what this proposal is trying to do, look at how it will do it. There is no due process, which is the backbone of free society. The government simply declares you an enemy of the state and removes your rights.

What it’s like to shoot an AR-15, if you’re not trying to generate propaganda while describing it

Image Source: Pixabay

The New York Daily News ran an article titled “Firing an AR-15 is horrifying, menacing and very very loud”. Before beginning a piece on a topic like this, it’s probably worth explaining my personal relationship with firearms. I don’t own one. I haven’t owned one in about a decade. Prior to that, I carried almost every day of my adult life. My career demanded it. So, I’m not a “gun nut”, but I understand firearms better than most and have put more rounds down range than most “gun nuts”.

Gersh Kuntzman (yes, that’s really the name on the byline) penned a piece that described almost combat like conditions with hot brass flying across his face and even said he suffered a “form of PTSD” from firing the killing machine on a range. He’s described the AR-15 as “high powered”. He claims the recoil bruised his shoulder. The audible report from the rifle was apparently the equivalent of a bomb blast. He said it felt like firing a bazooka and the smell of “sulfur and destruction” made him sick. All of this surprised me.

It surprised me because… well, it’s a lie. The physical descriptions of his experience are completely fabricated, or the gun store owner was having a bit of fun with him. If the recoil from an AR-15 bruised his shoulder, the most likely culprit is that he’s anemic. It’s that, or he didn’t seat the butt of the rifle in his shoulder. If brass was flying in front of his face, he was either shooting from the wrong shoulder or it was perhaps bouncing off a nearby wall. The photos show neither of these are the case. Either way, he’s lying or the person showing him how to shoot was intentionally trying to make it tough on him. What’s more disturbing is that a piece of brass coming near him left him “disoriented”.

Orlando shooter a case study in radicalization and a warning for the future

Image Source: Zach Zupancic Flickr, Creative Commons
Allison Touchatt's Birthday 
Mutau for some birthday action!

Before the blood was cleaned up, the propaganda machine was already in full swing. In this case it’s difficult to tell if it’s intentional or simply ineptitude. For the reader whose been watching the minute-to-minute coverage, which consists of lists of facts with absolutely no context, the picture seems complete. The lack of context is painting an inaccurate portrait. Omar Mateen was not a hardened terrorist from an ISIS-supporting family. He was a perfect example of a radicalized member of the disaffected American-Muslim population. This is the very phenomenon academics, terrorism experts, and the terrorists themselves have been warning about.

The Islamic State’s strategy for the “far enemy”, which is how the US and the western powers are described by the Islamic State, is not to infiltrate. It is to use propaganda to radicalize people already within the United States. The propaganda counts on exploiting those who are prone to violence, weak-minded, despondent, and searching for a sense of belonging.

Omar Mateen wasn’t a militant when he was married or joined a mosque. He was a wanna-be cop and a wife-beater. His social media accounts show him proudly sporting NYPD clothing, an organization he never belonged to. He was employed with G4S, a private security firm known for victimizing Muslims the world over, which is hardly a company a good jihadist would work for. That started to change around 2012 or 2013 when he began expressing sympathies. He was tagged by the FBI and interviewed. He was determined to not be a threat. He is said to have seen a gay couple kissing in Miami. This incident apparently incensed him. He bought his weapons and became a mass-murderer.

A White Guy on ‘Black Pride’

black pride   Google Search

t’s a question we see all the time. Why is “black pride” OK, but “white pride” seen as offensive? Ever wonder why the same backlash doesn’t occur when white folks get together and celebrate Irish Pride, German Pride, Italian Pride, and so on? Would it make the collective white population feel better if blacks celebrated Makua Pride, Akan Pride, BaKongo Pride, or any other the other 3000 tribal affiliations in Africa? Like many things the answer to these little questions lie in history.

Let’s start at the beginning. Why is one seen as a slogan of hate but not the other? The easiest way to demonstrate the difference between the usage of “black pride” and “white pride” in the modern world is pop over to conduct a quick Google Image Search of the two phrases. Go ahead, I’ll wait. The search results for “black pride” include images reading “Black is beautiful”, “United we shall overcome”, “Black lives matter”, “Know your history” (Remember this one), and so on. The symbolism in the images is of Africa and the ubiquitous raised fist, which has been a symbol of resistance against violence for over 4,500 years.

How to strike back at Andrew Cuomo for his unconstitutional Anti-BDS move

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Andrew Cuomo unilaterally decided to halt the state of New York’s business with any organization that opposes Israeli war crimes. Obviously, the court battle will proceed and those leading that charge need the support of all Americans who support Free Speech. Americans must also make a point to corrupt politicians who would stifle peaceful dissent.

Campaign donations are the life blood of all politicians. Placing pressure on those who support Cuomo will bring immediate results. Below is a list of Cuomo’s top financial supporters. BDS should immediately expand their boycott to include all of these organizations. Those who support free speech to make their presence known to all of the financiers behind Cuomo. Imagine the social media accounts of these contributors plastered with the images of Israeli brutality. Imagine these businesses unable to do business without the presence of activists. Soon they’d be calling their government lackey and demanding he change his policy. We always complain that officials are beholden to their campaign contributors. Maybe it’s time to start making those businesses pay for the actions of those they own.

Even if you don’t care about Palestine or Israel’s human rights record, an action like this by a government official must be met with the stiffest resistance possible.

Pakistan’s #TryBeatingMeLightly campaign exposes Western propaganda

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An archaic and non-binding advisory council of the Pakistani government released a finding purporting to be based on an interpretation of Islamic teachings. It stated that men should be allowed to “lightly” beat their wives in an example “women’s protection bill”. Unsurprisingly, the men and women of Pakistan were more than a little upset by the advice. Muslims and non-Muslims alike took to Twitter to express their disapproval with the council.

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) was created in 1962, and is a 20-member advisory body whose advice is most often ignored by the government. The reality of the situation in Pakistan is very different from what would be implied by the council. In recent years, the Parliament has passed laws concerning domestic violence, honor killings, sexual harassment, and acid attacks. To be completely fair, CII did concede that honor killings and acid attack were not in alignment with Islamic teachings. It also considers the possibility of women becoming judges. It should be completely understood the CII is an archaic body which wields no actual power.

More importantly, the response from the average citizen shows the irrelevancy of the CII. Some samples from #TryBeatingMeLightly:

Flint: The conditions for riots

Justin King in Ferguson.

The United States has seen more than its fair share of riots over the last couple of years. Many like to see riots as spontaneous events that are completely unpredictable; and some forms of riots of riots are, such as those after sporting events. Most, however, are very predictable. Certain conditions need to be in place before an inciting event can trigger a riot.

The reason the United States is seeing more and more riots is because the conditions are prevalent in more and more communities. These conditions are present in Flint, and the longer it takes the government to act, the more likely a riot becomes. Many times, the cause of the riot is seemingly unknown to the government. In fact, it’s almost a prerequisite for a riot because not many governments are callous enough to let an important grievance of their people go unattended if they are aware of it. In Flint, the government knows what will cause the riot, they just don’t care.

Martin Luther King famously said that a riot is the language of the unheard. He’s right. The conditions for a riot are simple. A populace needs to have a long-standing grievance of life and death that has gone unheard by the government, and they need to be economically depressed. Those three conditions set the stage, then an inciting incident must occur.

Why TFC Chose an Image of Christopher Dorner for our Memorial Day post

chirs dorner

Surprisingly, it wasn’t simply to be inflammatory and you probably can’t guess why.

The Fifth Column posted a simple Memorial Day message: “We salute veterans who died fighting for our freedom.” The image chosen to accompany it was a photo of Christopher Dorner. Christopher Dorner didn’t die fighting in a war in Afghanistan or Iraq. He died fighting a war in California. The war he died fighting in was a war on police corruption. In the process of his war he killed an innocent.

Last month, the Column’s most popular post was a quote about how veterans and activists need to work together to cause real change in the United States. While it was a very popular post, there was a heated debate with insults and accusations thrown by both sides in the comments section. This outlet tries to serve as a battleground for ideas. When heated debate occurs, the outlet is doing is job.

As expected, there were a number of comments under our Memorial Day post of the same nature. This article was drafted prior to the post going live to respond to the anticipated objections. Below are anticipated objections or statements, almost all of which can be found in the comments section under the post.

Flint: Riots on the horizon

Image credit: Jessica Shera Provenzano

By now, most know the newspaper facts behind what happened in Flint over the Memorial Day weekend. A group of activists, some armed, traveled from over twenty states to bring water to a community poisoned and abandoned by those who should be protecting them. The water was distributed, a rally was held, activists took over the streets, and contacts were made. What happened in Flint was far more significant that that simple storyline.

First, it was an all-star cast of attendees. From high-profile activists like retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis to activists whose activities are a little more controversial in nature and who only go into print under aliases; “Yellow Laces” from my coverage of the Ferguson riots was there. They were men and women I recognized from many other news stories over the years and from across the country. There were veterans of the Ferguson and Baltimore riots, peace activists, an activist I was subpoenaed to defend in an assault on an LEO case, militiamen who stood their ground at Bundy Ranch and the Sugar Pine Mine, Anonymous activists who have outed pedophiles and shut down DC, even the crew who literally tortured me on the Statehouse steps in Ohio was there. Those who attended were very active activists. This ensemble crossed all ideological lines. The crowd spanned from the far-right to the far-left. Constitutionalists, socialists, anarchists, communists, Republicans, Democrats, and just about every other “-ist” were there is support of Flint. All of that was set aside. In front of City Hall, a local activist wanted to close the day with a prayer. Sam Andrews, a right-wing Constitutionalist, led the prayer. People in the crowd who I personally knew to be atheists bowed their heads, not out of conformity but in unity. Earlier, when a speaker referred to centralized government as “unnecessary”, the Constitutionalists (many of whom see the Constitution and The Bill of Rights as ordained by God) didn’t heckle.

Call It What You Will, Torture Is Wrong

Image Source: Jim Aahgo Anderson VIa Justin King

The Republican candidate for president of the United States speaks and writes approvingly of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He is referring to a program run by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that subjected people the US detained after the September 11, 2001 attacks to what amounts to torture.

Among other practices, government agents forced detainees into painful positions for days with no sleep, poured water through their noses and mouths until they nearly asphyxiated, and chained them to the ceilings of their cells.

Brazil has its own torture problem, despite many legal advances in recent years. The tribute paid by the parliamentarian Jair Bolsonaro—at the vote on the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff—to a notorious torturer from the period of the dictatorship leaves no doubt: Brazilian politicians, too, attempt to justify what is unjustifiable.