Sunday, February 26, 2023

Remembering Kuwasi Balagoon and the Forgotten Legacy of Black Anarchism

 I know this has kind of become a virtue signaling cliche in this day and age, but Black History Month really does end way too goddamn soon. I thoroughly recognize that the entire month is largely a contrived ritual devoted to historical revisionism much like what the vanilla conquistadors of mainstream wokeness have reduced Pride Month too. But the obnoxious history geek in me just can't seem to help but jump at any opportunity to set the record straight when it comes to America's criminally whitewashed outlaw history.

I've been accused by people on both ends of this nation's hopelessly antiquated left-right paradigm of taking Black history way too personally, with some people on the left even going so far as to accuse me of appropriation. It's bullshit but I can see it. After all, what the fuck does some transgender Irish Catholic hillbilly know about the Black experience? Maybe not much but my lifelong fascination with the revolutionary end of Black history taught me everything that I desperately needed to know about being an outnumbered freak and living to tell about it. The rise and fall and rise of Black Power inspired my own vision of Queer Panarchy and no chapter of that history has taught me more than the lost one on the modern school of Black Anarchism that came out of that movement's collapse.

We have probably never come closer to a second American revolution, a real American revolution, than we did during the fiery maelstrom of the sixties and seventies. The American Empire pushed its luck just one inch too far both at home and abroad during this era and the new mandarins of Manifest Destiny finally appeared to be paying a steep price for their sins. What should have been a routine conquest in Indochina had spiraled out of control into a bottomless quagmire as a bunch of poorly armed and half-starved peasant rice farmers took the military industrial complex to the fucking woodshed and exposed it as little more than a trillion-dollar Gundam suit stuffed with squealing pigs and the tiny men who fuck them.

Meanwhile, pissed-off Black kids in the ghettos of Babylon seemed to be winning the same fight parallel to their comrades in the Cong. As the Tet Offensive raged like a rabid tiger with a chainsaw so did massive riots in Detroit, Newark, St. Louis, Baltimore, Atlanta and New Orleans. J Edgar Hoover's ritual sacrifices of Black Messiahs like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had only reaped the whirlwind and cities across the home front burned brighter than napalm while teenage snipers with zipguns held their own against entire platoons of the National Guard.

The Black Panther Party seized the moment and took the lead in a revolutionary vanguard that quickly metastasized into a growing coalition of disenchanted American outlaws of every conceivable stripe, the Young Lords, the American Indian Movement, the Youth International Party, the Gay Liberation Front, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the Weather Underground, the Brown Berets, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the White Panther Party, the Symbionese Liberation Army, all declaring allegiance to their nation's enemies in the Third World and all devoted to smashing the empire that failed to contain them at any cost. It wasn't always pretty but this how you blow up a Deathstar with a stick of dynamite.

At its glorious zenith, this freak rebellion stretched across the ocean and infiltrated the ranks of America's own military machine with conscripted Black nationalists and disenchanted dope smoking longhairs taking over entire barracks and fragging their commanding officers like it was going out of style. The Pentagon and the State Department were convinced that they stood at the brink of an unprecedented imperial mutiny that threatened to collapse everything that their ancestors had built a continental Indian burial ground to achieve. The weird people were winning and ghetto warlords like Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver were leading the charge. Then somehow, seemingly overnight, it all just blew away like the exhaust fumes of an arsonist's fever dream in a stiff winter breeze.

What the hell happened? We were kicking ass, weren't we? The empire certainly thought so and they swallowed their pride to pull the plug before their asses could break. In a span of just a few years they canceled the war, the draft and even Nixon, thus robbing the movement of its momentum and convincing its more privileged partisans to hang up the rifle and go back to class. And as the war wound down abroad it ramped up into a killing spree at home. The FBI transformed their COINTELPRO campaign against the Civil Rights Movement into a full-blown jihad against the Black Panther Party and their remaining revolutionary allies.

Cadres were pit against each other by infiltrators and most of their leaders were locked up on phony charges, exiled by rumors of treachery or just straight-up fucking murdered. The top-down structure of these organizations made these tragedies downright devastating and the greed it fostered was even worse. The once mighty Panthers soon found themselves tearing each other apart in a government manufactured civil war that splintered the entire anti-imperialist movement into paranoid militant cells knocking over armored cars just to stay alive and one step ahead of the law. It looked like a tragic end to a beautiful dream but from these ashes a new dream slowly immerged like a phoenix in the night.

A handful of committed Black revolutionaries took a long sobering look at what had become of the revolution in the cracked mirrors of their cramped prison cells and embraced a new school of stateless resistance that both built on their movement's triumphs and learned from its mistakes. What they came up with would become known collectively as Black Anarchism. 

While this new movement was built out of a diverse array of concepts and schools of thought, it was congealed by its uniquely anti-colonialist critique of traditional Eurocentric left-wing authoritarianism and its celebration of a distinctly tribal third world cultural identity. It had no leaders but the thinkers who would come to define its mission weren't professors or activists but imprisoned revolutionaries like Ashanti Alston, Kuwasi Balagoon, Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin and Martin Sostre. Men who had already given everything to the cause of Black liberation and weren't willing to give up the struggle without at least one more fight.

The man whose message has always spoke the loudest to me is that of the Black Anarchist Movement's tragic martyr, Kuwasi Balagoon. Partially because as an open bisexual polyamorist he was a member of my own stateless tribe as well but also because so much of his ideological evolution resembles my own. Kuwasi was born Donald Weems in the poor Black community of Lakeland, Maryland. His first taste of Black Power came at a young age when Donald got a front row seat to the militant civil rights movement lead by Gloria Richardson in nearby Cambridge which ultimately cumulated into an explosive riot in 1963 that required a year-long occupation by the National Guard and a peace treaty inked by then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

With few prospects at home, Weems joined the Army out of high school where he experienced a pervasive climate of racial violence at the hands of white GIs. After recognizing that any Black soldier who dared to fight back got the brunt of the reprimands just for defending themselves, Weems decided to settle the score on his own terms by forming a clandestine gang of vigilantes of color dubbed "Da Legislators." However, the military also offered Weems an opportunity to come into contact with other members of the African diaspora in Europe which provoked a lifelong thirst for a higher Black consciousness that would ultimately lead him to embrace revolution. 

Upon leaving the military, Weems moved in with his sister in Harlem and began working as a radical tenant organizer in order to give a voice to the poorest members of his community. He made waves by crashing a session of Congress armed with a cage full of tenement rats in order to confront the powerful with the ravenous results of the poverty they trafficked in and got locked up for disorderly conduct for his trouble. 

Weems also dove deeper into his heritage with his studies in African paganism under the Yoruba Temple where he was reborn as Kuwasi Balagoon, a Yoruba name roughly translating to warlord. This journey accelerated when the born-again African soldier seemed to finally find his calling with the Harlem chapter of the Black Panther Party where he cranked up the heat on his engagement in grassroots ghetto organizing with increasingly brazen direct actions like the community take-over of the derelict Lincoln Hospital. But like many of his comrades in the struggle, Balagoon's refusal to compromise with the system increasingly put him on the wrong end of the law in order to survive.

Kuwasi was arrested on bank robbery charges in 1969 before being indicted as a part of the infamous Panther 21 case, a massive FBI coordinated conspiracy against the New York leadership of the party in which police informants encouraged embattled Panther's to strike back at the police state with a planned series of bombings and ambushes. The case would ultimately end in the acquittal of every single defendant except Balagoon who proudly pled guilty of self-defense, largely out of principle alone. 

It was during these days of hot lead that Kuwasi and many other New York Panthers became increasingly disenchanted with their own party's leadership which was run out of a central committee in California modeled after the Chinese Communist Party. An arrangement which left little room for indigenous dissent. The Central Committe used the largely trumped-up Panther 21 case as an excuse to clean house in New York and put their own leadership in charge who seemed to be more concerned with national politics than local community organizing and took a hostile stance towards the New York chapter's less secular Afrocentric cultural identity.

Naturally, the FBI took full advantage of this rift with a spree of disinformation and poison pen letters, widening the divide between the two coasts of the party. A divide which would ultimately climax in the Central Committee expelling Balagoon and the rest of the Panther 21 for their insubordination and declaring them to be "Enemies of the People" in their national paper. 

To Kuwasi it had become painfully clear that the party's central leadership had become completely detached from the rank and file on the streets and that it was the size of the party itself that was to blame. Even behind bars, Balagoon quickly became one of the movement's loudest advocates for increased local autonomy, but it was his involvement in the 1970 uprising at the Queens House of Detention that proved most prophetic. The riot itself was a bust, a hostage situation that ended in brutal reprisals against the prisoners involved, but the multi-racial consensus-based leadership of the uprising inspired Balagoon's drift towards increasingly anti-authoritarian waters.

After launching his first prison break in 1973, Kuwasi joined up with a group of outlaw Panthers known as the Black Liberation Army. Once it had become brutally clear that the FBI was waging open war on Black Power and that the central leadership of the Panthers couldn't be relied upon for solidarity, members of the New York chapter of the party organized the BLA to serve as an underground railroad for marked men and women to fight back. Most of their attention was directed towards the liberation of wrongfully convicted Panthers abandoned by the movement. Balagoon himself was arrested just 8 months after his own escape during an attempt to liberate another one of his comrades. It wouldn't be the last grenade he would throw himself on.

It was during Balagoon's second stint behind bars that he began working with the prison abolitionists in the Anarchist Black Cross and devouring the works of Wilhelm Reich and Emma Goldman who inspired Kuwasi to embrace both anarchism and free love. During a time when homophobia was still rampant in the Black Power Movement, Kuwasi Balagoon came out of the closet swinging as an openly Queer revolutionary. He also took this time to embrace a movement to create a Black separatist homeland in the Deep South known as the Republic of New Afrika and by the time he had escaped for a second time, Balagoon rejoined the revolution as a self-proclaimed New Afrikan Anarchist.

Balagoon's uniquely idiosyncratic ideology may have initially miffed many of his old comrades, but it would ultimately become a defining feature of Black Anarchism. While embracing statelessness Kuwasi also refused to abandon Black Nationalism. He rightly observed that traditional African nationalism had nothing to do with states and borders. It was about a collective tribal consciousness which observed the consensus of the village above any form of hierarchy. Balagoon may have embraced the tactics of 19th century European anarchism, but he rejected the phony color-blind universalism that made it come across as more white virtue signaling bullshit to colonized people who didn't need some government to be a nation or some honky liberal to tell them how to be free.

This is the message that spoke to me as a genderqueer born-again heathen. I take great pride in the ancient pagan roots of my third gender, a tradition that was stolen from peasants like my Celtic ancestors by the same churches and kings who colonized the New World and put Africa in chains. I also take great pride in the unique cultural identity that the modern primitivists of my Queer tribe constructed in resistance to White Anglo Saxon Protestant civilization and I don't appreciate attempts by this society's bratty offspring to assimilate these traditions into some beige melting pot of international inclusion. 

I've been called a Queer separatist and sometimes I am, but my school of thought could much more accurately be described as Post-Colonial Queer Nationalism and it's not lost on me that my Black and brown comrades seem to be the only other anarchists who really get this.

Kuwasi Balagoon influenced this evolution when I first came out of the closet. I had spent my youth as a devoted third world influenced Marxist in the tradition of Che Guevara and Muammar Gaddafi but my rebirth as a uniquely pagan Queer revolutionary made internationalism feel like an ill-fitting sports bra while modern Queer anarchism seemed to lack the commitment to anti-imperialism that still felt existential to my mission. Kuwasi Balagoon was the first revolutionary to provide a school of thought that made sense, but he wasn't the last.

In many ways his message predates that of other stateless refugees of the New Left like Abdullah Ocalan and the EZLN. Kuwasi's tireless struggle for revolutionary bottom unity also served as a major inspiration for my own post-left recipe for panarchist solidarity with his willingness to rejoin his comrades in a diverse coalition united against the state. Kuwasi's last run before being thrown away for life was with the Revolutionary Armed Task Force, a ragtag coalition of Black nationalists and white communists who came together to achieve the last great victory of the Second American Revolution with the daring daylight prison break of the wrongfully convicted revolutionary Assata Shakur in 1979.

For this sacred sin and many others Kuwasi Balagoon died a young man of AIDS behind bars in 1986 but he didn't die in vain. Assata remains free to this day and thanks to Kuwasi's legacy and the legacy of Black Anarchism, I do too. And I just needed one more fucking week of February to thank him. Oh, well. Maybe next year. For now, I guess this belated tribute will have to do.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

* Kick Out the Jams by the MC5

* Queen Bitch by David Bowie

* I Against I by Bad Brains

* The Big Payback by James Brown

* Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

* Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack

* Waiting Room by Phoebe Bridgers

* Lean On Me by Bill Withers

* I'm a African by Dead Prez

* You Can Have It Back by Wild Pink

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Black Power and Rock n Roll: Black History for Dangerous Americans

 History is fucking boring in this country and sadly, Black history is far from the exception that proves the rule. According to the straight white corporate guardians of Black History Month Incorporated, It's all pacifism and peanut butter. The entirety of 500 years of anti-colonialist struggle has been lumped into a 28-day infomercial for the resilience of the American experiment. We are all led to believe that when not engaged in providing their masters with mind-blowing new sandwich spreads, Black people or rather African Americans spent the lion's share of their free time sitting on their hands and singing "We Shall Overcome" until the police state, in all of its benevolent wisdom, grew tired of clubbing these patient bible thumpers over the head and finally awarded them with the consolation prize of civil rights, chief among them being the right to freely engage in what the slave trade declared democracy.

Is it really any wonder that kids are so fucking bored. Just writing that last paragraph makes me want to erase myself with whippets and Benadryl. This is no mistake. History wasn't written by the victors. It's written by rich assholes who are heavily invested in convincing poor people that they've already won. If people in this nation knew the first thing about its real history not only would they be excited, they would be downright pissed off. The people who run this country are the most disgusting, lazy, pigfucking pond scum that has ever accumulated on Satan's balls, and they always have been. George Washington was a coward, Thomas Jefferson was a rapist and Abraham Lincoln could have cared less about freeing the slaves. Assholes, one and all. The real heroes are the unruly renegades who they needed to build entire armies to kill, and an overwhelmingly disproportionate amount of those fine renegades were people of color with attitude.

Black history is chock full of uppity negroes and negras who kicked their master's pale ass until it was blacker than theirs before giving their indentured wives the first real orgasm of their miserable lives. Black history has to be rendered boring as fuck because otherwise people might actually take enough time to figure out that it is a history defined by an ongoing populist revolt against the mind-numbing conformity of WASP supremacy and that what it has to teach us applies to every shade of pissed-off lower class scum. Lenin once observed that if America is to ever have a revolutionary class, it will be the negro. He wasn't wrong, but as usual that asshole was a day late and a ruble short.

Black folk have always been America's most revolutionary class because no class has ever done so much fucking damage with so little ammunition. Black history, real fucking Black history, is a gift to everyone who has ever been fucked over in this country, by this country, and the greatest and naturally least understood gifts of real fucking Black history are Black Power and Rock n Roll. Two ingredients that when properly applied provide the collective fucked-over class with everything we need to build a bomb big enough to bring this prison state to the ground where we can kick its ass with our bare feet.

The fact that most Americans don't understand the first thing about Black Power is hardly shocking when you consider the fact that most Americans don't understand the first thing about race and the first thing about race is that it's all bullshit. It's a bunch of crap created to destroy the unity of class and the diversity of ethnicity. Black and white weren't even widely embraced concepts until the late 17th century. Before then, America wasn't so much a melting pot as it was a disorganized gumbo of different kinds of servants; African servants, Irish servants, German servants, all getting whooped and bamboozled by the same master class of cousin-fucking English noblemen until they could be properly assimilated long enough to pay off their debts, learn their place and praise Angloid Jesus. Then they could become servant-whooping noblemen too. 

This all changed with Bacon's Rebellion, when a disgruntled tycoon named Nathaniel Bacon decided that he wanted a bigger slice of colonial pie and gathered an army of African and European servants to take it by force. But what Bacon really did was arm and organize Colonial Virginia's poorest subjects while inadvertently giving them a license to challenge the state's monopoly on the use of force. Long after Bacon dropped dead of fever, the English planter class remained haunted by visions of multi-ethnic peasants united by a shared lust to burn their precious capital of Jamestown to the ground. So, the aristocracy adopted the rigid legal caste system of Black and white. All Africans became a permanent slave class and most European Protestants were afforded the petty privilege of getting whooped less if they turned on their darker comrades and identified with their masters. This same formula was later tweaked and used to assimilate other slave classes into the melting pot of whiteness in order to make sure that they maintained the majority indefinitely.

Plenty of renegades of all different ethnicities, from the Seminole Nation to Saint Patrick's Battalion, challenged this concept over the years but it wasn't until the Civil Rights Movement broke bad that this resistance was finally crystalized into a movement that continues to threaten the very fabric of the system to this day. Stokely Carmicheal was a young negro organizer who spent the first half of the sixties as the hardest working man in the Civil Rights Movement. Between the years of 1960 and 1965, Stokely played a major hand in nearly every major civil rights demonstration across the South but by the time he reached the top of the movement as the head of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, Stokely was tired. He was tired of seeing his friends get chewed on by German shepherds. He was tired of being polite to the white establishment. He was tired of being a negro. So, Stokely made a conscious decision to be Black and make Black beautiful.

Carmicheal first coined the term Black Power during a Mississippi rally in 1966 but he didn't turn this slogan into a full-blown movement until he published the groundbreaking manifesto Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America a year later. In this fiery treatise Stokely officially rejected the then vogue label of negro as an attempt to Americanize the culture of the African diaspora and curry favor with a system designed to destroy it. Instead, Stokely chose to embrace the original white supremacist slur of Black because the colonialists had adopted this word specifically to differentiate African people from the master class and Stokely wanted to do the exact same thing.

Black Power masterfully pointed out that everything that made Africans so dangerous to the system was precisely what made them strong. They were a fierce, communal, resourceful people who weren't fooled by the empty materialism of mass capitalism. Stokely dared his people to embrace what made them dangerous and in the process, he managed to hijack race itself, a social construct built on oppression, and transformed it into a social construct defined by resistance. Stokely Carmichael weaponized identity politics and fed-up Black folks weren't the only ones listening.

Following in the footsteps laid down by Carmichael, who subsequently adopted the African name of Kwame Ture, and his brothers in the Black Panther Party, movements aiming to repossess their own oppressive castes popped up across the country like daisies on Lincoln's grave. Soon there was a united coalition of American Indian tribes occupying federally stolen land and shouting Red Power with rifles in their hands. The brown people that the border crossed became Chicanos and pissed-off perverts like me became Queer. 

We all built our own little tribes and the tribes just kept getting smaller, but we were all united by the fact that each of us had been fucked over by the white power system in our own way and we were all through with asking these motherfuckers for table scraps. We didn't want inclusion into their sick system. We wanted autonomy so each of our communities could have the power to create our own systems, a tribal confederation of freaks made equal by the flames of Jamestown that we danced around naked like merry savages, and Kwame Ture and the Panthers were the human giants who gave us the license to burn.

But Black people didn't stop at liberating other minorities. They liberated white kids too and they did it with an electric guitar. A lot of people forget how badly America fucking sucked after World War 2. After taking credit for beating the Nazis and pulling itself out of the grave it dug for itself with the Great Depression, American capitalism took a gray flannel victory lap during the late 40s and early 50s. It was a time of abundance for white folks when every nuclear family had an identical box in the suburbs with a white picket cell door and a new car in the garage. Every wife also had a stove to be shackled to with a steady supply of Valium to keep her in line. Every man had a socially respectable drinking problem to carry him through the empty death march of his 9 to 5 job. And every child had a stable two-parent example of how empty assimilating into a globalized master race really is.

Then came Rock n Roll, a wild electric hybrid of Black rhythm and blues and redneck hillbilly music named after a slang term for fucking and that is precisely what Rock n Roll was all about. During an age of unparalleled puritanical subjugation, unrepentant perverts like Chuck Berry and Little Richard were hooting and hollering about big Black dicks and the joys of anal sex while inviting everyone to get busy to their racket. When Chuck was riding his Stratocaster like a forty-watt strap-on or Richard was beating his piano like the bitch owned him money, nobody gave a flying fuck about what the rules were. They were all too busy getting down and more often than not, white kids were getting down with Black kids.

The establishment was terrified. They tried everything; censorship, segregation, Pat Boone, even good old-fashioned violence, nothing worked.  Major labels refused to record this noise, but kids just bought it from Jewish mom-and-pop operations instead. Cops tried dividing audiences by color with lynching ropes, but once the music got started, the crowds got too wild to police. Finally, the establishment had to pull out their trusty last resort card by assimilating Rock n Roll into the hive mind by having watered-down honkies like Elvis turn it into something more palatable to the conformist diet, but the genie was already out of the bottle and every generation of grumpy parents continues to fight the losing battle of trying to push it back in.

There is a direct line from Chuck Berry to the man who inspired me to write, Kurt Cobain. Punk rock has always been a populist attempt by weird kids of every color to revive the undomesticated wilderness of uncut Rock n Roll. Lou Reed wanted to write R&B songs for dope fiends and faggots. Iggy Pop learned how to stalk the stage like a panther by watching James Brown flip the fuck out. Joey Ramone was just a lonely Jewish kid from Queens inspired to form a gang in the form of a band by a couple of Black girls from Harlem named the Ronettes. And when the establishment came to transform this feral noise into commercial garbage called new wave, four inner-city Rastafarians from DC blew it the fuck up by creating hardcore, with the Bad Brains playing faster, louder and wilder than any white kid with a pink mohawk had ever thought possible. This shit is my history and its fucking Black history.

Black Power taught us all that we have the power to define our own identities and Rock n Roll pointed out that you don't have to be dark and/or Queer to be oppressed. White privilege is a gilded prison cell that only keeps you safe as long as you keep it down and know your place. It is a form of domestication that is abusive even to the people on the highest floors of the panopticon. Chuck Berry told miserable American kids that they don't have to be white as long as they were willing to be dangerous and Kwame Ture taught us that there is power in being dangerous. This is the Black history that they don't want you to know about and this is the history that we all need to celebrate year-round if we ever want to get free.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

* Express Yourself by NWA

* You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry

* Aneurysm by Nirvana

* Say It Loud- I'm Black and I'm Proud by James Brown

* Rock & Roll by the Velvet Underground

* Tutti Frutti by Little Richard

* 1969 by the Stooges

* My Ding-a-Ling by Chuck Berry

* Be My Baby by the Ronettes

* The KKK Took My Baby Away by the Ramones

* Banned in DC by Bad Brains


Sunday, February 12, 2023

Confessions of a Keyboard Forest Defender

"Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, I lived in a small house surrounded by a great big forest. I won't lie to you and tell you that my childhood was idyllic because in many respects it was anything but. I was a child trapped between genders beneath the weight of the Catholic Church during a time when the world didn't even have a word to explain my existence. There are entire chapters of my childhood that are quite frankly too traumatic for me to even remember and there are other chapters that I dearly wish I could forget. But I felt safe beneath the branches of the tall oak trees that were every bit as much a part of my home as the four walls and black tar roof gently caressed by their swaying shadows.

I would lose myself for what felt like years in the hollows of those groves, dancing between the massive, knotted tree trunks, turning over great boulders clothed in moss to commune with the strange tiny creatures that somehow thrived beneath their mass, chasing after frogs and snakes amongst the ruins of rusty pick-up trucks and abandoned refrigerator carcasses. No one cared about my Queer ways in that sacred space. The trees never tried to hang a gender around my neck like a noose. In the great big forest that surround my small house I was afforded the criminally rare right to simply exist unmolested by the preconceived notions of the outside world. It was a place that seemed pregnant with the magic of spirits too rare to label and I was one of them. A world not unlike those captured in dreamy films like My Neighbor Totoro and Uncle Boonmee. Naturally, it couldn't last.

As I grew and my body betrayed my spirit, the violence of the outside world slowly creeped in like smoke to strangle my sanctuary. The forest where I spent some of the few happy moments of a childhood haunted by gender dysphoria and clerical abuse slowly mutated into some beast called a neighborhood. I still remember how the rampage began. Skipping merrily through the trees one day, I came upon my favorite frogging hole to watch the tadpoles grow only to discover an empty can of gasoline floating like a corpse in the water. It felt like someone had plunged a dagger deep into my tiny chest. No amphibians would ever leap from that pool again.

Then came the bulldozers, terrifying armored beasts belching black soot and pulverizing everything that dared to breath clean air in their wake. Then came the houses that seemed to grow taller and taller with zero regard for their wild-eyed neighbors at the edge of the trees. Then came suburbia with its toxic manicured lawns and its ear blistering rider mowers and its petty greedy citizens with their authoritarian neighborhood governments and their unblinking judgmental eyes. The Vatican may have grievously wounded my childhood, but it died a lonesome death with that great big forest that once surrounded my small house and I have never forgiven civilization for shattering that strange little girl between the gears of its cruel progress. The wind begs me for revenge daily between the branches that still stand tall enough for the breeze to cry between their dying leaves.

People tell me that I take politics too personally. Friends tell me that I shouldn't let it get me down and editors tell me to remove my uncomfortably intimate prose from the stories I tell. They all just sound like the machines that murdered the trees to me. Their logic feels cold and meaningless. I take politics personally because politics wounds my soul with its madness and my writing is the only thing that I have to make sense of that madness without hurting anyone, including myself. A few weeks ago, the politics of madness slaughtered one of my people for trying to protect a forest not unlike the one I grew up in and since this heinous crime was committed the cry of the oak trees has grown into a mighty scream.

Manuel Teran, better known to their comrades as Tortuguita or Little Turtle was a proud member of my tribe of traumatized children, a non-binary Queer environmentalist who like many others over the last year traveled to Atlanta to serve as a forest defender with a local collective known as Defend the Atlanta Forest. The forest they gathered to defend is 265 acres of public land known to the state as the South River Forest, 85 acres of which has been arbitrarily slotted by the city of Atlanta to be bulldozed to make room for a massive police training complex. This monstrosity has been dubbed Cop City by an infuriated local community tired of existing beneath the tyranny of a blue apartheid state that has colonized their very existence with an endless list of pointless laws and an endless procession of sadistic thugs with badges sent to mercilessly enforce them.

The South River Forest was once known as Weelaunee Forest by the Muscogee Indians who coexisted peacefully beneath its branches for centuries before being fed by progress to the Trail of Tears. The stolen land then spent another 70 years as a prison farm where homeless men were worked to death before being buried unceremoniously in unmarked graves. The trees of Weelaunee forest now stand defiantly over this haunted soil as one of Atlanta's largest remaining green spaces in a predominantly Black, lower-income area and after a date was announced for their execution in 2021, dozens of brave souls like Tortuguita offered themselves up as human shields by occupying these embattled commons with little more than their bodies and an archipelago of makeshift encampments.

Tortuguita was shot dead by a joint police task force that included federal agents during the latest in a long series of raids on these encampments. Police claim that Tortuguita fired first, injuring one of their co-conspirators in uniform in the process but their story continues to change, and no body-camera footage actually exists of the alleged shootout. I honestly don't know if Tortuguita fired first, but quite frankly, I don't care. He was an American citizen on public property that was being stolen at gunpoint by a runaway police state. 

$30 million of the taxpayer's hard-earned money has been pilfered by the city of Atlanta and awarded to a conglomeration of private corporations to hijack the commons of a community that was never offered a vote on whether or not they wanted the fucking Death Star built in their backyard. This land belongs to that community, to the children who find shelter from a hateful world beneath its branches and as far as I'm concerned, volunteers like Tortuguita have every right to defend that land by any means that community finds necessary.

 Those means were made necessary by an increasingly aggressive campaign to vilify what had been a movement largely committed to nonviolent resistance in order to credibly charge its members as domestic terrorists. 19 of Tortuguita's comrades have been arrested and charged with a local anti-terrorism law that carries a sentence of 5 to 35 years for the absurdly vague crime of "destruction of critical infrastructure." 9 of these "violent extremists" have been charged with nothing more severe than trespassing on stolen property. Property being stolen by the state for the purpose of destroying the critical infrastructure of a community forest. Only in a world governed by madness could Tortuguita's alleged actions be construed as anything other than an act of self-defense.

And the assault on Weelaunee Forest is just the tip of the spear. Cop City isn't just part of a national campaign to militarize America's police forces as the state they protect collapses beneath the collective weight of its own karmic sins. It's part of an international campaign against the world's forests in a sinister conspiracy to urbanize the planet while it burns. Forests are home to at least two-thirds of the world's living species. Their trees also protect the water sources that communities depend on for their very existence and create fertile soil for sustainable agriculture. A threat to the forest is a threat to humanity itself and every year humanity loses another 25 million acres to the rapacious advance of mass urbanization, a landmass larger than the state of Indiana. 

Cities worldwide are growing twice as fast as their own populations with 1.4 million new inhabitants every week building high rise condos next to shuttered box stores and abandoned ghost malls. The area covered by these urban hellscapes is projected to expand by more than 740,000 square miles between 2000 and 2030, causing the loss of 7.4 million acres of agricultural land a year during an age of growing famine and crippling food insecurity. All so human beings can imprison themselves in boiling gulags of searing blacktop beneath towers tall enough to block out the sun, and I believe that the impact of this urban assault goes far beyond traditional environmental politics.

Turn on the news and you can find some braying asshole willing to blame the rise of violent nihilism in first world society on everything from handguns to puberty blockers, but nobody seems willing to consider the fact that human beings are animals and animals tend to become violent when they live in cages. That is precisely what the modern city has become, a sprawling kennel for domesticated beasts and I believe that this is killing us the same way that it killed my childhood, by cutting us off from the natural world and replacing it with something sick and unsustainable. The people shooting up Walmart's and pushing people in front of subway trains aren't evil, they're rabid. It is the society that fosters this desperation for profit that is evil, and it must be smashed before it smashes us all.

This is what the trees are trying to tell me. The same trees that once spoke to my ancestors who worshipped the earth beneath their groves back in Ireland. They called themselves druids, a Celtic word meaning "knower of the oak trees" and these people knew a lot. They knew how to live without police and prisons. They knew how to live without the state in cities based on cooperative associations and built around market squares and the nearby gardens and fields that sustained them. They also knew how to venerate and cherish children born between the genders like me and Tortuguita, and they knew these things because they took the time to listen to the trees.

Now when I listen to the trees, they tell me to fight. Fight this deranged sickness packaged to us in cellophane as progress. Regardless of who fired first, Tortuguita died with honor fighting this sickness and the way things are going in this country, I will probably die in a drone strike with a keyboard in my hands doing the same damn thing, by taking politics too personally with my uncomfortably intimate prose and using them like bullets in a desperate attempt to make sense of this madness, because in a world where forests have become just another expendable commodity, we should all become forest defenders.

Godspeed Tortuguita, the forest will not forget your name.

Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post

* Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell

* Cop Car by Mitski

* All My Life by the Tallest Man on Earth

* Feed the Tree by Belly

* In the Garage by Weezer

* Silent All These Years by Tori Amos

* Roots Bloody Roots by Sepultura

* (Nothing But) Flowers by Talking Heads

* Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix

* Human Behavior by Bjork

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Israel has Always Been a Dictatorship of Criminals

 The Israelis are pissed off and for once they're not just pissed off at the Arabs. They're pissed off at Bibi. They made this pretty clear during the final days of the first month of 2023 when they welcomed the new gangster coalition of Israel's longest serving prime minister with massive protests against their announced plans to overhaul the nation's justice system and reduce its courts to the glorified playthings of any simple majority powerful enough to hijack the Knesset. 

Over 130,000 Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. Among their ranks were some the biggest names in Israeli politics, including Bibi's own former deputy prime minister, Benny Gantz, and former defense minister Moshe Yaalon. The latter seemed to capture the spirit of the event with his defiant proclamation, "A country where the prime minister appoints all the judges and is responsible for promoting and firing them has a name, it's called a dictatorship. When this prime minister is also a defendant who the state of Israel is accusing of serious crimes, it has a name, it's called a dictatorship of criminals."

Stirring stuff, and the motherfucker isn't wrong. Facing down the barrel of being sent up the Dead Sea for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, the man who used to be the most powerful man in the Holy Land since Saul wore jackboots essentially made a Faustian bargain with a bushel of fascist creeps and religious zealots to keep his ass from being mowed like grass. Why else would any sane human being hand over the Middle East's most ferocious (and nuclear armed) military machine to celebrated kooks like Bezalol Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir whose lives would read like one long hate crime if they didn't take the Sabbath?

Still, something was very wrong with this picture. I couldn't quite place my finger on it at first but as hundreds of thousands of well-dressed Europeans took to the streets of the Middle East's toniest neighborhoods, waving blue and white flags emblazoned with the Star of David, it finally hit me with a flash like a burning bush, "Holy shit, these people have no idea that they're white supremacists bitching about their squandered privileges in the world's worst apartheid state." 

Moshe Yaalon, a man who once called Palestinians a cancer that needs to be severed, doubled down on this sick irony as he rambled on to his adoring audience, "The Jewish people paid a heavy price for the fact that in democratic elections in Germany a government came to power that eliminated democracy." And it took less than a week for the Palestinians to pay yet another installment in a long receipt of heavy prices for Israel's so-called democracy when the soldiers Yaalon once led raided the besieged refugee camp of Jenin.

During a five-hour raid, the IDF slaughtered nine people including a 61-year-old woman and two children in a totally unprovoked attack on one of the poorest square miles on earth. They added another body later that night when they murdered an unarmed protestor just north of Jerusalem. This massacre was just the latest tragedy in a killing spree that has murdered more Palestinians in 2022 alone than in any year since the Second Intifada, 220 civilians, including 48 children and many of these deaths were presided over by Israel's very own champion of liberal democracy, Benny Gantz. 

Just over a month into 2022 and that sick record is well on its way to being broken. As of the printing of this rant, 35 Arab bodies have been buried in the desert with Israeli bullets waying down their caskets in 2023, including at least 6 children. And where the fuck are those 130,000 protestors now? Where is their righteous fury for the democratic rights of starving children gunned down in the ghettos of the Middle East's only liberal democracy? They don't count because just like Nazi Germany, Israel's democracy exists solely for the pleasure of the master race. 

Israel's descent into fascism can only be a shock to the historically illiterate. The very notion of the Jewish State is steeped in racist folklore which bares very little resemblance to reality. All races are social constructs, but the Jewish race is actually a relatively modern one. Most of today's Jews are actually the descendants of converts to Judaism with little to no proven connection to modern-day Israel and it was actually this status as a proudly stateless people with an allegiance to no one but God that made members of the tribe the perfect scapegoats for tyrants from the Czars to the Fourth Reich and they had good reason to be scared. Nearly every popular uprising in the last four centuries of European history was made possible by a steady stream of Judaic revolutionary mercenaries ready to die for any cause greater than that white supremacist contraption known as the Westphalian nation state.

This is why I laugh my fat tranny ass off every time some WASPy Jesus freak calls me an antisemite. I wouldn't have two fists to swing with if brazen Jewish heretics like Rosa Luxemburg and Emma Goldman hadn't taught this stone butch shiksha how to throw a fucking punch. Sadly, this proud history of boldly rootless resistance has been all but erased by the invention of the Jewish race which actually came out of the same 19th century cesspool of malignant nationalism that gave birth to the Holocaust.

The notion of the Jews as a singular race in search of a homeland was the invention of a small clique of Jewish German intellectuals influenced by folkish Germanic nationalism to create a secular school of Zionism defined largely by European colonialism. The Zionists didn't see themselves as German or Russian, but they did openly embrace the idea of a superior European diaspora in a twisted philosophy that could only be described as a form of kosher white supremacy. 

These racists weren't above collaborating with antisemites either, in fact many Zionists seemed to embrace antisemitism as a totally justified reaction to Jews who dared to exist outside of Israel. Chaim Weizmann, president of the influential World Zionist Organization and the first president of Israel told an audience in Berlin in 1912 that "each country can absorb only a limited number of Jews, if she doesn't want disorders in her stomach, Germany already has too many Jews."

Under these circumstances it's hardly surprising that Zionists found allies among their fellow white supremacists in England and Germany. Avraham Stern, who led a terrorist organization in the British Mandate of Palestine that would come to be called the Stern Gang and which counted many of Israel's founding fathers, including two-time prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir amongst its ranks, actually openly sought an alliance with Nazi Germany after the British soured on the Zionist experiment. 

Avraham even went so far as to advocate a Jewish state based on "nationalist and totalitarian principles... linked to the German Reich." The Nazis considered the offer, even sending Adolf Eichmann to Palestine in 1937 to promote Zionist emigration, but ultimately decided that it would be cheaper just to annihilate the Jews. A decision the Zionists would arrive at themselves to solve their own question of how to deal with their own unwanted Semites.

It was only after the horrors of the Holocaust that the Zionists managed to get traumatized Jews to sign on to their violent vision of Ashkenazi supremacy and the Zionists expertly harnessed the well-earned rage of these people to carry out their own final solution against the Palestinian people with a campaign that would become known as the Nakba. Even before the Holocaust, Zionist terrorist organizations like the Stern Gang, Haganah and Irgun covertly infiltrated Arab villages, gathering detailed intelligence one everything from demographics to water resources which they would use to carefully choreograph massacres that easily rivaled the Einsatzgruppen in their sheer brutality.

Crowded homes were bombarded with hand grenades and any grown man caught escaping was forced to dig his own grave before being executed. Women and children were routinely raped before being sent to the hills with nothing but the clothes on their backs. 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes at gunpoint and 500 villages were razed to the ground. The racist death squads who carried out these massacres would become the first officers of the new Israeli Defense Forces. Irgun, who took part in the Nakba's most heinous massacre in Deir Yasin, which resulted in the slaughter of 107 men, women and children, would become Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party. 

Any lingering doubts about Israel's commitment to bringing white supremacy to the Middle East should have been stomped out with the creation of gigantic Nazi-style ghettos in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank but this cruelty towards the native peoples of the Near East extended to Jews as well. While Mossad went so far as to launch terrorist attacks against Oriental Jews in Iraq in order to pack the Holy Land with a stampede of refugees, Israel's Ashkenazi elites welcomed their darker cousins with tent cities, forced secularization, DDT and deadly radiation treatments.

Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion pounded this point home, stating emphatically, "We are in duty bound to fight against the spirit of the Levant, which corrupts individuals and societies, and preserve the authentic Jewish values as they crystalized in the diaspora." You see, it wasn't enough for the Zionists to make Palestine Jewish; their mission was to make Jews white, and it was none other than Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism described as "the spiritual father of the Jewish State" in Israel's declaration of independence, who called for his dream nation to "form a part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism" and referred to him and his fellow Zionists as "representatives of Western Civilization" sent to bring cleanliness and order to the Orient. 

The dirtiest secret about Zionism and its increasingly genocidal apartheid state in Israel is that these forces are in fact the greatest source of antisemitism on the planet, a snake's nest of European elitists seeking to scrub the desert clean of its diverse Semitic culture while assimilating Jewish people into the white race by any means necessary. And for daring to even speak of this hideous truth out loud I am to be condemned as a racist. After all, how can the Middle East's only liberal democracy possibly be an agent of white supremacy?

But what greater tool for white supremacy has ever existed? What exterminated the stateless Native Americans and enslaved the anarchists of Africa? The entire premise of liberal democracy is built on notions of western superiority that can only be reinforced by the state. It is not a coincidence that Hitler, Mussolini and Netanyahu all rose to power in liberal democracies. Fascism is merely the inevitable result of the state's failure to homogenize the diversity of mankind beneath the banner of a single order. Rosa and Emma understood this all too well. But perhaps they too are antisemites.

A country that packages conformity to white Anglo Saxon values as progress has a name, it's called a liberal democracy. And a liberal democracy that fails to fool its subjects into embracing this slavery as progress has no place left to go but to embrace its true nature as a dictatorship of criminals. You can't reform fascism and white supremacy. Fighting these hideous creatures with the liberal democracy that birthed them is like fighting the AIDS virus with good old-fashioned HIV. The host must be destroyed and until the people of the Levant unite against this Zionist host, they will never be safe from a virus that thrives on pitting every tribe of poor people in the desert against each other. The only solution to Palestine's white supremacist question is a no state solution.

So, go ahead and call me a fucking racist. I have too many states to smash to pick favorites based on foreskin and too little time to waste on the fragile feelings of gaslighting fascists.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

* When You Sleep by My Bloody Valentine

* Heart-Shaped Box by Nirvana

* Raping the Slave by Swans

* Cruel by St. Vincent

* What About Us by Ministry

* Sin by Nine Inch Nails

* Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan

* True Blue by boygenius

* Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush

* Search and Destroy by the Stooges