In the wee hours of September 11, 2021, two planes appeared out of nowhere in the skies above El Paso and Houston, Texas. As terrified spectators fled and shrieked, two mushroom clouds drifted toward the ground. Upon impact, the parachutes burst open, revealing millions of condoms and doses of Plan B (emergency contraception) and the mifepristone-misoprostol combination popularly known as RU486.
A tornado-like vortex created by the departing vessels blew the bounty far and wide, and shrieks of fear turned to whoops of joy as women stuffed the anti-pregnancy charms into bras, purses and pockets.
Also plucked from the winds (but miraculously not finding their way into any bodies of water) were copies of a leaflet proclaiming:
We, the Women’s Intergallactic Troglodyte Conspiracy to Harbor Extraterrestrial Little Monsters (WITCHELM) have heard your cries for freedom and come bearing gifts. May your lives be joyful and all your children be chosen, and may the revolution come speedily in our day.
Live Long and Prosper.
P.S. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 666666, Planet XX, Andromeda Galaxy VIVIVI
The Artists Television Access is a refreshingly funky, displacement surviving, Mission SF storefront, which donates window space to activists, one month at a time. In August, Gay Shame installed a life sized lurid golden cloth-stuffed facsimile of a headless honey bear, complete with guillotine, decapitated head and silky scarlet material to evoke a sea of blood. The window was accented with a lettered message, an acronym for Gay Shame, Guillotine All Yimbys Since Honeybears Always Mean Eviction.
This Gay Shame action was done collectively with informational leafleting, on the busy Valencia Street, now an obstacle course of outside eating tabernacles and crowds of pallid techies streaming by. The focus was to call out displacement, gentrification evictions and the role of the insidious faux-artist-cum-entrepreneur fncch, who has made a mint off of populating the windows of market rate condos with various versions of honey bear posters. Not even worth mentioning in their extreme banality, they are racist (i.e one with dreads called the Basquiat honey bear), culturally appropriative (a rainbow bear), and just plain saccharine (the covid masked honey bear).
fnnch, a loathsome arrogant whiteboy was confronted last April by local San Franciscans outside the lgbt center in front of an appalling rainbow mural of honey bears commissioned by the center, calling him out for his contribution to displacement and the whitewashing and disappearing the true local SF art culture. Fnnch, who is not even gay, was caught on video proclaiming his unctuous entitlement because he is an ”immigrant from Missouri.” Gay Shame’s installation was even more timely as it coincided with fncch’s announced honey bear deal with williams sonoma kitchenware chain on a line of plates, aprons and T-shirts.
This public Gay Shame action, much to our delight, caused quite a flap on social media and was covered in the San Francisco Chronicle and SFist. Excitingly the SFGate art writer deemed the storefront display to be art, while proclaiming fnnch not art! fnnch called Gay Shame murderers – a bit extreme, we thought, as we had only decapitated a newspaper stuffed honey bear. YIMBYs roared in outrage on twitter. (YIMBY you might remember stands for yes in my backyard. They are a vocal front and marketing strategy for developers insidiously calling themselves “housing activists”.) They espouse increased housing density and the building of high-rise market rate condos, pushing the spurious notion that more housing for rich people will trickle down to housing for low income people. We all know how well trickle down reganomics worked for poor people. YIMBY ideology/displacement is decimating neighborhoods, displacing people, causing widespread evictions.
The Gay Shame action is an example of how creative street theater done by a small number of revolutionaries can sometimes have a significant impact.
Gay Shame’s leaflet:
fnnch’s “cute art” is not the innocent beautification of the urban landscape; its autonomy as art-for-art’s-sake, illusory and deceptive. It’s all a public relations smokescreen disguising dispossession, displacement, and destruction that benefits investors, developers, and other capitalists (AKA YIMBYs, the State’s BFFs).
Artwashing is a direct product of the complicity of people like fnnch and his fans[/stans] in the weaponization of art by real estate interests. They do this to increase property values, which forces out low-income renters of color, many of them trans or queer. We have seen it in Boyle Heights in LA; we have seen it across Manhattan, NY; we have seen it around the world, displacing tenants and houseless people with skyrocketing rents and evictions, while delivering prime real estate to developers. We see it now in the beady gaze of each Honey Bear peering out the window of a techie’s flipped TIC, each koi fish spray-painted on a sidewalk in front of hostile architecture, each mural decorating privately-owned, gated parklets built on “public” stolen Ramaytush Ohlone land.
Patricia Maginnis died August 30. She was 93 and had lived a long life of fighting for every woman’s right to control her own body and her own destiny. Also known as Patricia, God The Mother, Pat was the quintessential sacrilegious anti-catholic. She wanted more than reform, she wanted a whole system overhaul. Pat was a laboratory technician and one of the founders of the Society for Humane Abortion (SHA) in 1962 in San Francisco. Lana Phelan and Rowena Gurner were the other members of the “Army of Three.”
The SHA sought to repeal abortion laws, endorse elective abortions, and offer women any resources it could in the meantime. These resources would come to include “the List,” an up-to-date directory of safe abortion specialists outside the country, classes on DIY abortions, and symposia where sympathetic doctors could confer with each other about the safest and best abortion techniques. More than that, the SHA was the very first American organization to advocate a pro-choice position that centered the woman, instead of the legal dilemmas of the physician—specifically, her right to privacy and choice. Rejecting the gatekeeping protocols, the committees and evaluations and red tape, the only question anyone should ask prior to approving an abortion was a simple one: whether the woman wanted it or not.
In her 20’s, Pat joined the Women’s Army Corps and was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina until she was spotted walking with a black soldier: The captain told her she was setting a bad example for other young white women and she was shipped off to Panama as punishment.
During those two years in Central America, she experienced a different kind of discrimination. She’d trained as a surgical technician, but she was assigned to the pediatrics and obstetrics wards. There, she was exposed to women suffering from botched abortions, women being forced to give birth, infants with terrible abnormalities. What she didn’t get in surgical experience, she got in perspective. “A general overview of the status of women,” Pat said in an interview with Slate in 2018. “And I wasn’t at all happy with it.”
In 1967, the DA of San Mateo County threatened to arrest anyone disseminating information about abortion so the “Army of Three” immediately scheduled classes on abortion rights. Pat and Rowena were arrested, convicted and sent to jail. Their conviction was overturned in 1973.
Alternative newspapers called her “the Che Guevara of abortion reformers.” Her ideas certainly went beyond the calls for incremental reform made by establishment groups like Planned Parenthood.
Once the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that women had a constitutional right to abortion, Pat rechanneled her activism to other issues, including gay rights and animal welfare. She also staged regular protests against the Catholic Church, criticizing its anti-abortion policies and demanding accountability in cases of sexual abuse by priests. Kate remembers seeing Pat, already in her 80’s, standing in front of the Cathedral of the Light in Oakland handing out pamphlets with her own funny and slightly lewd cartoons.
Tory says, “I remember doing abortion clinic defense in Oakland with Pat God The Mother Maginnis in the 1990’s. One particular time I took a flying leap spectacularly breaking my wrist, in an effort to defend someone trying to access the clinic from an evil anti abortion fanatic. Ever after that when I ran into Pat for many years, she always inquired after my wrist, fussing over me, treating me with revered respect for being a fallen soldier in the battle to save abortion.”
Barbara Hoke, an old friend of Pat said, “A precious friend and Feminist icon is gone. Patricia T Maginnis gave her all in the fight for women’s freedom, worked in the trenches protecting animals, fought racism and homophobia, lived a consistently righteous life with humor that brought the haters to their knees. The world is less friendly without you, Pat.”
Senate Bill 132, The Transgender Respect, Agency and Dignity Act, legislation that allows incarcerated transgender, non-binary and intersex people to request to be housed and searched consistent with their gender identity became effective Jan. 1, 2021. SB 132 supports the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) efforts to provide a safe, humane, respectful and rehabilitative environment for the incarcerated transgender, non-binary and intersex community.
Laws like California’s have also recently been passed in Connecticut and Massachusetts. These laws operate in accordance with the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which states that decisions about housing an inmate cannot be based solely on their genitalia, and requires that an incarcerated person’s views on their own personal safety must be seriously considered.
The number of people in California prisons is 99,537. There are 1,274 incarcerated people who self-identify as transgender or have symptoms of gender dysphoria; this number also includes intersex people and those who identify as gender non-conforming or non-binary. By May, 261 had applied for a transfer and 21 have been approved. No one, so far, has been outright rejected, but only 4 have actually been transferred.
SB 132 comes in the midst of an epidemic of violence against transgender people, in particular Trans women. 2020 was the most deadly year on record for Trans people, of which at least half were Black or Latinx women. And 2021 seems to be another dangerous year for Trans people, both in terms of physical attacks and legislative ones. The real answer is not more laws, good or bad. The real answer is to CLOSE THE PRISONS!
Excerpted from the ICE Out of California coalition
September 10, 2021
The VISION Act, a bill to end the prison-to-deportation pipeline will return next year
Late Friday night the CA State Senate made the VISION Act, AB 937 by Asm. Wendy Carrillo, a two-year bill. The broadly-supported bill is expected to resume moving through the legislative process in January of 2022, and advocates are planning sustained efforts across the state to continue building momentum for the proposal.
While the VISION Act maintained backing from a majority of Democratic Senators, a handful of legislators reneged on their commitment to support in the wake of a misleading attack from a small number of police lobby groups, sparking at least four community-led protests in Orange County, Vallejo, Los Angeles, and Riverside. Advocates will continue to educate members of the legislature on the urgent need to uphold equality under the law.
Unfortunately, the delay in passing the bill will give extra time for prison officials and the predatory practices of police like San Mateo County sheriff Bolanos who will continue to collaborate with ICE. A recent poll found that 80% agree that regardless of what country a person was born in, they should be released from prison into their community once their sentence is completed and not transferred to abusive and deadly ICE detention.
When I was inducted into the US Navy, I raised my right hand and swore to, “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” As a young 18 year old, the true meaning of that oath did not develop in my moral compass until many years later. A prison sentence, the ‘thank you’ from a beautiful person and maturity, set me on a path to advocate the “Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, for all people.
The social structure of the prison yard is comparable to high school cliques. People will form groups based on race, sexuality, area code, religion or gang affiliation. I never initiated conversations with people I didn’t know and mostly kept to myself. Since I knew other offenders who were veterans and who identified with the LGBTQ community in the prison, I was called over to a small group of people and there I met Fancy. Fancy turned towards me, looked me in the eye and asked if I had served in the military. I replied, “Yes, I served for 14 years”. Fancy stuck out his right hand and said, “I want to thank you for your service”. The first one of my peers to thank me for my service in the seven years of my incarceration was someone different from myself. It dawned on me at that moment that I swore to defend ALL people’s rights – even those whose life style I knew nothing about. Then, a new door in my life was opened to a new group of people who I had overlooked in the past and now I wanted to embrace them. I wanted to learn how I could better assist in their struggles.
The gift that Fancy gave me that summer afternoon in the prison yard, I will never forget. That gift is respect, understanding and most important – love. While the germinal seed that Fancy planted in my soul continues to grow, I have made some awesome new friends along the way. The main message for all active duty military, reserves, National Guard and veterans is to remember the Oath of Enlistment and what we stand for as a people. Shon Pernice #1236421 Moberly C.C. POB 7, Moberly MO 65270
I Am Tranz
Myself, I am a male to female Tranz and though I’m proud as I can be, I’m horribly oppressed. Imagine a Tranz woman forced to live as a man. She cried herself to sleep and has covered her mirror so she doesn’t have to see the face she’s forced to wear. She is told that she’s lying about being a Tranz and is only trying to entice the men! That is my reality at The South Carolina Sexually Violent Predator Treatment Program.
Somehow, this place slips by every civil rights law. I have no idea how they get away with such horrors as my LGBT family endure. I’d like to tell y’all about it, in hopes of the truth getting out: the only description I can give – disgusting! Though I insist upon proper pronoun use, I’m met with smirks and references to the gender on my birth certificate. I’m mocked by the staff to the point of me crying. I’m prohibited basic necessities such as clothes and hygiene products specified as for women. I have seen one of my Tranz sisters heavily reprimanded for simply painting her toe nails! She went to LOCKUP.
The “program” claims it is less restrictive than prison. It was very common for gay inmates to use colour pencils for make-up, yet it is aggressively prohibited in the LESS RESTRICTIVE THAN PRISON facility. In fact SCDC has begun to allow HRT [hormone replacement treatment], yet again it’s shot down here. Does their status as a “private facility” warrant such discrimination? Who do I need to ask this question?
South Carolina is the center of white, Christian conservatism in the South. This is my opinion. Anything outside of their approval window is to be mercilessly smashed! It is a constant struggle to manifest individuality and it’s exhausting. Like I said, I cry myself to sleep every night in unbearable agony. Sometimes I contemplate ending the pain permanently but I will not let my momma suffer that way. No dice, I love my mom. She supports me emotionally but just never will understand this place.
It’s just so unbelievable, you would have to listen to inmates tell it. Nobody believes it or else don’t want to have anything to do with icky sex offender FAGGOTS. By the way, my female name is Rachel Evangelista. I adopted Mother Blanca Evangelista’s last name because I want to be like her when I grow up (Tranzform). Christopher Whaley c/o 4546 Broadriver Rd. Columbia SC 29210
It’s a Great Day to Be Alive
Sisters and Brothers. Our LGBTQI Community has many resources to help us with suicide, anxiety and depression and we need to help each other access them. These mental health issues are not to be taken lightly. In fact, they are to be taken head on.
We need to know how to seek help if we find ourselves in the struggles of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. It’s said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. We as a people are stronger in truth – truth in who we are as human beings! Understanding our identity gives us strength. This strength allows us to uplift, embrace, encourage, educate and nurse each other.
These are common issues. They are not Queer Plagues. We do need to understand that we as LGBTQI people, have a huge family that we can lean on for support and encouragement.
UltraViolet is one of our most valuable resources. My dear loved ones, do not think that you are alone. Know that you are loved. There are 168 hours in one week. Take 10 of those hours and invest in yourself. Work out, read self-help books, anything for self-improvement. Make friends and Build Bridges! Steven (White Raven) Turner #128259, POB 4000, Florence AZ 85132
Congratulations and Welcome Out
Tony Justich (from Oshkosh C.I.) “Thanks 4 all your support”
Robert Curtis (from Donovan S.P.) “…once I get settled, I will write you with my new address”
Jacob Snipes (from Bertie C.I.) “…no longer incarcerated … after 17 ½ long years inside the beast!”
Jeffrey Sexton (from Daniel Unit) “Thanks! You will be in my heart.”
Frankie Brabent (from Oshkosh C.I.) …once I’m set up on the outs, I will send you an email and some love too.”
Our Summer 2021 issue was rejected by prison authorities at Walton CI in Florida, Apparently on pages 2-3, there were dangerously inflammatory words and on page 8, an article that discussed white supremacy attitudes and privileges was deemed racist [???].
One of our subscribers incarcerated at that prison sent us the form with the comment, “seems like they gay bashing!!!” What do you think?
By Lisa Strawn
It has been 10 months [13 now] since I got out of San Quentin. I have made it out here only because I am a fighter. So I need all to know that when you have the moments when you are tired and you want to quit, well – you can’t because we need you out here. I never had it easy and always had to fight and for now, I don’t have to fight so hard.
I’m always committed to fighting for all inside and I mean all. It isn’t just Trans and LGBTQ people. It is all. And as I go about my daily life, all of you are thought about by me. No, I’m sorry I can’t write letters. Time does not permit. But I’m always gonna be a part of UltraViolet. They are family and so are all of you.
I need to tell you that I never thought I would be free and yes, I did work hard to be free and you all must do the same; no matter what. We have those who can’t be themselves for whatever the reason and it’s for us to show that we can be who we are.
Keep the light you have shining bright and stay focused. Help those who need the help but be good to yourself, always. Be safe everyone and you are not forgotten.
I recently saw Caitlyn Jenner at a media event. She tried to hug me and I wouldn’t. I told the press, “Just because I’m Trans doesn’t mean I roll with her. I won’t vote for her because she bashed the LGBTQ community.”
Why are we debating the validity of the Transgender movement? I think, at its most fundamental level, we are looking at and questioning the function of sex and gender. So, now the question becomes: what does it mean to be a man or woman? What does that look like in action, in practice, in the here and now daily life. The questions about our roles in society are being asked. Questions like; what does a man or woman look like? How do they act? How do they have sex? These are the questions we are really asking when we wonder: what is a man or a woman?
These are not new questions, nor is it a new conflict. The very word ‘faggot’ comes from the close association between the kindling (and the fire) used to burn queers alive. (As well as witches, pagans and heretics.) The word alone should tell us what we are dealing with.
Why would I, born male and wearing a skirt and lipstick, bother people so much? Why does what I wear matter to anyone? It does, that’s for sure. More than 46% of Americans think that gender non-conformance is an aberration, un-natural, wrong, sick, evil. That’s over half our country! Why?
We live in a culture, the ‘Dominant Culture’ that has relegated women to the level of second class citizen (or worse). Those brave few who have stepped out of bounds all through history have been both vilified/killed and celebrated, often simultaneously. The outrage is even greater when a man takes on the role of a woman. Among the People of the Book (Jewish, Christian, Moslem) if a man stepped into the role of a woman, they could expect to be put to death. As though being female was lesser and that a man demeaned the value of man-ness by being feminine!?!
To this day it is illegal to be gay in many countries. Until only a few years ago, it was illegal in this country for gay people to have sex with each other. In many states it was the legal equivalent to bestiality. WTF!! The very idea that a person knows better than God? Hell no! If God made you a man, then man up. God doesn’t make mistakes!
So to get back to the original question, the question of what defines a man or woman. It seems that the only thing that really matters is how you feel about yourself. I have been guilty of thinking that men must be like ‘this’ and women must be like ‘that’. I didn’t know any better and as a child I accepted the lessons of the Dominant Culture. I was a man. Men don’t cry. Only women show their feelings. I couldn’t wear make-up and I certainly couldn’t like other boys! I now realize how screwed up this all was and how it caused me so much trouble. Because men do cry and women are brave and strong. The rules I applied to each gender were completely bogus. Now that I am finally allowed (finally brave enough) to express my own identity, these rules/roles are being re-visited. I am truly a girl and I am strong and that’s okay. I am not unique either.
I was a stone cold coward. What people thought of me was so much more important than how I felt about myself. It still is really because I still present as male with some of my friends and family. The fear is real. And though I know 90% of it is just fear and not actual danger, I still can’t believe it. The only reason I ever came out as “gay” was because I was so in love with someone that could not hide or deny it. I would have gladly traded all the world’s love for his. Sadly I still would.
I share this personal and embarrassing fact about myself because I know I am not unique and I am overcoming my fears and putting myself out there so that we can all see that it’s possible to do so and to be okay. Amber AKA Gregory LaVallee #79373, POB 14, Concord NH 03301
Shorts from Inside
I just got your newsletter. It’s nice to get an update on what is going on in the FREE WORLD. I have never seen any of my writings in any LGBTQ etc newsletters. I am the Unheard Voice, a poem I wrote in 2020 because my voice is not heard. Publish this if I’m wrong. Am I worth anyone’s time? Brinda Gee San Luis Obispo CA
I am fighting to have our civil rights in prison, to make a stand of who we are without them pushing us aside and to get policy changed for us to have equal rights even in a prison setting in the Nevada Prison System. Ms. Rachel Marie Carson City NV
Thank you for your informative paper. I need your help. I am a Non-Binary inmate who is bisexual and under SB#132, I am to be housed on SB #132 yard. [But] there are no Trans or non-binary’s here. Corcoran is very well known for corruption and being LGBTQ haters. Please print this and help us that require SB#132 yards and housing and be transferred to prisons where by law we need to be. Dr. C.T. Marquette Corcoran CA
Thanks so much for publicizing the nazi-esq conditions in the Pennsylvania gulag system, We all deeply appreciate it !!!! I’ll be 74 this year. I had 3 weeks of Adolf Trump’s covid shit and got my ‘Johnson” last month. Wish I could be out in the streets again putting my body on the line, my spirit is with all of you!!!! Please stay strong and safe. You are in my heart forever! I’m a veteran of Days of Rage Chicago, Organizing Committee for the first NYC Anti War parade, hundreds of protests, sit-ins, smoke-ins, teach-ins etc. Love and power, C.T. Jones Houtzdale PA
I read the many letters from you who are fighting hard all over the country. You’re not alone. We’re strong and we’re everywhere. Please everyone donate a copy of any rehab info or LGBTQ info to your prison law library. When I was a law clerk at SATF in Corcoran CA, I put together a LGBTQ binder full of helpful info. Anyone can go to the library and get the help they need. H Meyers Bakersfield CA
Haaaaay. Thank you for the newspaper in a small county jail in Idaho. The scene is dead here, the paper and other LGBTQ+ outreaches is my only real enjoyment. To all the others out in there, know you are loved, adored, cherished, wanted and respected even when all the maggots around you abuse you. Remember, I’m here, you’re here, we’re all here together. Haters going to hate. But we’re always FABULOUS . Love to us all. “Dani” Potato Field USA
I received my first issue of UltraViolet and I am glad I did. I love how informative and important the issues at hand are in UV. Even the letters being written by inmates are important and can even make me look at myself. I’m writing this to let my family know that when Cupid strikes no matter where – Cherish it! Always communicate differences and don’t get mad and argue. Let that person know you love him/her. Plus, always fight for that person and what you believe in like it is the last day on earth because you’ll never know what events could alter your life forever. You don’t want to end up like me wondering what I could have done. Anyone is welcome to write me and I will write back. Wayne Walker #71630 High Desert SP, POB 650 Indian Springs NV 89070
I’m writing because I’m getting released in September and reading all of the stories from Transwomen helped me come out as Trans. I’ve officially been diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria and I’m soon to start hormone therapy. I’ve hidden being Trans since I was 8 and when I came out, I was 25. The great people of UV have been great and I plan on keeping in touch. Thank you so much. M Hopkins St Louis MI
Let me tell you that I am a radical egalitarian who hates social injustice in all its many myriad of forms. In fact, I stand four square against the whole system of authoritarian government and corporate capitalist plutocracy, not to mention fanatical and dogmatic religious intolerance. In short, I hate, hate everything that’s wrong with America (or is that Amerika?) and the entire world. Anyway, because I know you comrades at LAGAI share my views on these issues, I must express my deepest love for your cause and your newspaper. AN Rea Suffield CT
Some good news! I finally got the BOP to recognize me as transgender because they’d moved me from FCI Big Springs to FCI Texarkana. The staff here are sooo much better. Thank you for your great organization! I hope y’all are doing well in this time of global turmoil. Take care, Have Fun and Be Safe. C Parson Texarkana TX
Janice in CO said, “Thanks you for your newsletter and all that you do.”
I was just transferred to Ashland FCI. We have a large LGBTQ community here and three transgender females that I have embraced and mentored already. I will gladly and proudly share your newspaper with everyone. We also have a large LGBTQ section in our book library which makes me proud. D Pizac Ashland KY
Shout out to all my trans sisters and brothers nationwide. This hole is hard. No books, No pillow, 1 bar of state soap to shower within a week. I have no clue when I’ll get out of the hole. UltraViolet, you provide a much needed informational front. On one hand, I can wear my gender affirming underclothes but on the other hand, I can’t shave in the hold so my dysphoria is super bad. I also feel like I let my sisters down by being put in the hole. Everyone keep your head up during this crazy covid time. I got my vaccine, did you get yours? M Handlang Charleston MO
Each day is a battle to love myself and ignore the inner critic. Among the myriad stigmas and issues we face and the struggle to simply love me for me, the guards can make an already sad place even tougher. Today my spirits have been lifted as I turn the pages of UltraViolet and ralize I am not alone. Thank you for all you do to advance our communities. Love always, Allena Richie Hondo TX
“If you ever feel useless, remember it took twenty years, trillions of dollars and four US presidents to replace the Taliban with the Taliban.”—Norman Finkelstein
On September 12, 2001, I was doing my laundry at a laundromat in Berkeley. I picked up a newspaper and read about george w.’s plans for a massive military response to the attacks. He didn’t yet know who he was going to attack, but he assured us he’d find someone.
Here’s part of what the New York Times reported:
“Within an hour of the attacks, the United States was on a war footing. The military was put on the highest state of alert, National Guard units were called out in Washington and New York and two aircraft carriers were dispatched to New York harbor. President Bush remained aloft in Air Force One, following a secretive route and making only brief stopovers at Air Force bases in Louisiana and Nebraska before finally setting down in Washington at 7 p.m. His wife and daughters were evacuated to a secure, unidentified location.
“The search is under way for those who are behind these evil acts,’’ Mr. Bush said. “’We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
cheney and rumsfeld could barely contain their glee. Less than nine months after taking power in an election their party hadn’t actually won, they now had free reign to pursue their most extreme agenda, funneling more money to the fossil fuel-military-repression industrial complex and wiping out social services to pay for it.
I sat outside the laundromat and burst into tears.
In 1996, everyone was writing about a “peace dividend.” The Cold War was over, the Soviet Union was falling to pieces. Francis Fukuyama had declared “The End of History,” which meant “the end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” Out of this supposed triumph of liberal democratic values was supposed to come unprecedented global prosperity. For our part, the u.s. would be able to stop spending the bulk of public funds on ever more sophisticated weaponry and invest in public goods like health care, housing and education.
They’re Not Here, They’re Not Queer and They Are Going Shopping
Of course, anticapitalists never expected this to actually happen. Corporate greed still ruled. But the clinton years saw the rise of big tech, which had pumped up the economy and welfare deform, which passed in August 1996, had been engineered so that the impact would not be felt until the next administration (benefits had a five year cap, and initially recipients could get some additional money for training, education and childcare). After years of recession, jobs were plentiful. Not great jobs, but not the extremely low wage ones that came along in the oughts: NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) had only been implemented in 1994 and the World Trade Organization (WTO) had only been founded in 1995. The high-level corporate raiding that would drive manufacturing out of this country and indigenous people around the world off their land had only just begun.
Late 1999 and early 2000 had seen the massive uprisings against the WTO summit in Seattle, the World Bank meetings in Washington and the Free Trade Association of the Americas ministerial in Toronto. Late 2000 brought the Second Palestinian Intifada followed by the tumultuous protests against the Group of 8 (G8) summit in Genoa, Italy. The Zapatista movement in Mexico, which had announced itself on New Year’s 1994, had solidified control of an autonomous region in Chiapas and begun building institutions promoting literacy, health care, land reform and women’s rights.
Capital was hardly on the run, but a global liberation movement appeared to be coalescing and making gains. Here in the states, we were thinking about ways to beat back nascent neoliberalism. I was feeling hopeful and inspired.
In one day, all that was knocked over. From pushing forward, progressives were now pushing back. Every week brought new threats – roundups of Muslim immigrants under the name “special registration,” sweeping new powers for the fbi and cia, and the ominously fascist sounding “Homeland Security” department. Soldiers with explosive-sniffing dogs appeared on the streets of New York and Washington, never to disappear. Bathrooms in BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stations were closed, never to reopen.
War was inevitable. Spearhead sang for peace in Golden Gate Park and tens of thousands marched in DC and New York and London. Over 200,000 people marched from Perugia to Assisi in central Italy. None of us really thought we could stop the war from starting. bush and cheney announced they didn’t listen to focus groups. Barbara Lee, who was at that time my congressperson, was the only one of the 435 members of congress to vote against authorizing war against Afghanistan; Bernie Sanders voted in favor. In 2019, running for president, he said he was wrong.
bush told people to prove their patriotism by shopping and stores put pictures of an American flag shopping bag in their windows. I might have thought that was sacreligious but what do I know? The operations manager at my job went around and put a printout of an American flag on everyone’s desk. The biggest flag in the country was hung from the Siebel Systems headquarters in Emeryville, the big-box store town on the Oakland waterfront. The plastic flag covered nine stories. Siebel was bought by Oracle in 2005.
On October 7, 2001, the u.s. invaded Afghanistan. In January 2002, the first group of orange-jumpsuited prisoners, bound and blindfolded, were led off a plane at Guantanamo Bay, most to be held for years without charge. Just under 800 men have been detained there over the last twenty years, at a cost of $91 million per year. Only eight were ever convicted of crimes; three of those were overturned. Nine prisoners have died in the prison, seven by “apparent suicide” (according to the ACLU). The youngest to die was 16 when he was arrested and 21 when he died.
When Bombs Rain Down, Women Dress Up
Gender roles retreated to the 1950s, as a hypermasculinized image of the warrior was asserted to defend America’s tarnished honor. While women were for the first time sent to perform front line combat roles, and fears of queers were for the time being put aside, women’s fashion became more conservative and more women started wearing skirts rather than pants, in both britain and the states (the two countries that initially invaded Afghanistan). Right-wingers started fretting loudly about “feminization” of u.s. men and misogynist mass murder became a right of passage. Meanwhile, some feminists colluded with the government in justifying the war on the basis that it was liberating Afghan women. The burqa, covering women’s body and face, became the symbol of female oppression; most westerners don’t know that the burqa is not a specifically Muslim tradition – it is also worn by women in some Orthodox Jewish sects, and that it predates the Taliban by centuries, dating to pre-Islamic times.
Malini Johar Schueller documents “a veritable cottage industry” of books, movies and plays by western women after the Taliban’s defeat in 2002. Schueller writes, “even the crudest of works deploy a racially tolerant consent to empire, one in which the Orientalist narrative of saving brown women operates alongside with ‘they know how to save themselves’ and/or ‘I need to be saved too.’” Among the works she critiques: the New York Times bestsellers, The Bookseller of Kabul and Kabul Beauty School, about a hairdressing academy started by two American women to help women support themselves in post-Taliban Kabul. She also questions the perhaps unintended messages of Eve Ensler’s “Under the Burqa,” a theater piece developed in cooperation with RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan, which led to an event I never heard of called “Zoya Unveiled,” in which a member of RAWA was publicly stripped of her burqa by Oprah Winfrey in Madison Square Garden (February 2001).
Last month, as the u.s. and its troops fled Afghanistan, leaving millions of embattled Afghans to fend for themselves, RAWA, whose leadership has spent much of the last twenty years in hiding because of death threats, issued this statement:
“In the past 20 years, one of our demands was an end to the US/NATO occupation and even better if they take their Islamic fundamentalists and technocrats with them and let our people decide their own fate. This occupation only resulted in bloodshed, destruction and chaos. They turned our country into the most corrupt, insecure, drug-mafia and dangerous place especially for women.
“From the very beginning we could predict such an outcome. On the first days of the US occupation of Afghanistan, RAWA declared on October 11, 2001:
“The continuation of US attacks and the increase in the number of innocent civilian victims not only gives an excuse to the Taliban, but also will cause the empowerment of the fundamentalist forces in the region and even in the world.” …
“The war-mongering policies prove that their aim was never to make Afghanistan safer, let alone now when they are leaving. Furthermore, they also knew that the withdrawal would be chaotic yet they still went ahead and did it. Now Afghanistan is in the limelight again due to the Taliban being in power but this has been the situation for the past 20 years and everyday hundreds of our people were killed and our country destroyed, it just was rarely reported in the media.…
“We feel very lucky and happy to have the freedom-loving people of the US with us during all these years.…It is human nature to resist and the history bears witness. We have the glorious examples of US struggle “Occupy Wall Street” and “Black Lives Matter” movements. We have seen that no amount of oppression, tyranny and violence can stop resistance. Women will not be shackled anymore! Just the next morning after the Taliban entered the capital, a group of our young brave women painted graffiti on the walls of Kabul with the slogan: Down with Taliban! Our women are now politically conscious and no longer want to live under the Burqa, something they easily did 20 years ago. We will continue our struggles while finding smart ways to stay safe.”
On Go the Wars, But Where’s the Movement?
Over 241,000 people have been killed in the Afghanistan and Pakistan war zone since 2001. More than 71,000 of those killed have been civilians. (For the record, the ten-year soviet war in Afghanistan from 1979-1989 killed between 562,000 and two million civilians, wounded three million and created five million refugees.)
Nearly 7,000 United States soldiers and sailors have been killed in the post-9/11 wars. Since 2001, more than 53,700 US soldiers and sailors have been officially listed as wounded in the major post-9/11 war zones.
Military spending continues to consume over half of federal discretionary spending. The FY 2022 President’s Budget requested $715 billion for the military.
Unfortunately, despite RAWA’s kind words, antiwar activism has hit an all-time low during the twenty years since 9/11. We had more people at more demonstrations, and more militant demonstrations, protesting u.s. intervention in Central America in the 1980s than we ever had protesting the invasion of Afghanistan. The run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2002-2003 produced a massive outpouring of resistance throughout the country, and especially here in the Bay Area, where 20,000 people took part in shutting down the financial district as the bombs began to fall in March 2003. But that militancy was not sustained, to the point that when the news broke about the widespread use of torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, in 2004, there were no major demonstrations in this country. In 2011, when u.s. drones in Yemen struck down Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, both u.s.-born citizens “suspected” of terrorism, we did not go out into the streets to protest.
The official story, among scholars who study social movements, is that there was a strong antiwar movement until 2006, when the demokrats regained the majority in Congress and then in 2008, when Obama was elected president, people thought he would end the war and went home. I can tell you, though, that there was no antiwar movement in 2006. There were occasional demonstrations, but that doesn’t constitute a movement. People were not out organizing their neighbors to come out against wars. People were not leafleting or tabling regularly on the streets, or phonebanking or putting up posters or holding weekly vigils to create visibility or an atmosphere of resisting war. They certainly weren’t doing trainings for direct action to oppose the war.
Theories about this absence of opposition to u.s. wars in the third millennium abound: it’s because there’s no draft, it’s because much of the killing is done by drones and bombs rather than hand-to-hand, it’s because there are no good guys, it’s because the troops are increasingly “civilian” contractors. I’m sure all of those factors contribute, but I believe there are deeper reasons.
First, the current wars are much less visible than prior ones because of media blackouts – in October 2003, the bush administration (or regime, as our friends in World Can’t Wait would say) made it illegal for media to disseminate images of dead u.s. soldiers or their caskets. Second, media proliferation and decentralization means that people can choose their news, and most of us don’t choose to read long articles about Afghanistan or Iraq (I mostly don’t). The country is fractured, even among those who share a lot of perspectives. Within the Left, we are often more invested in our differences than our commonalities, which is not bad, but makes it harder to unify around an idea of “peace” because for so many of us, there is no peace. We say, accurately, there is no peace without justice, and justice is very far away.
We are demoralized. I have been fighting against imperialist war my whole life, and it’s not getting less prevalent. In fact, it’s getting more constant. Today the war in Afghanistan is supposedly or seemingly over but we still have about 200,000 troops in three dozen countries around the world (including over 400 in Greece but only 200 in Finland). There’s saber-rattling with North Korea and Japan and Iran and Russia and talk about a new Cold War with China. We’re funding Saudi airstrikes in Yemen and Kurdish fighters in Syria. Just writing this paragraph makes me want a nap.
And finally, I think the hypermasculinity of the last two decades have decreased the appetite for peace. Peaceful = weak = wimpy = woman. Our entertainment is full of female action heroes who casually stroll through cities blowing people away with machine guns, and work for the CIA and torture with the best of them, and as long as she has a pithy line at the end and the love interest survives, we don’t mind. Being antimilitarist means maybe you’re not tough, which is not cool.
I’m not necessarily always a pacifist but I’ve known some hella tough pacifists in my time. Safety for everyone might be a pipe dream, but I’m not willing to give it up. And for those who are all about climate change, a 2019 study found that “the US military is one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries.
Just as we said in 1993 and again in 2003 and again in 2013 and will be saying again in 2023: The U.S. Military Is Not Liberation. But ignoring the u.s. military is also not liberation. Unless we Free the Army and free the world from the army, we cannot free ourselves.
UESF Supports BDS! In a historic action last May, United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) became the first public school educators union in the United States to endorse the BDS movement against Israeli apartheid. The resolution (printed below) was passed by the delegate assembly on May 19. The incoming progressive slate of union leadership – Organizing For Union Power – supported the resolution. The reactionary Zionist (redundant?) Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC, which helped to dismantle the progressive CA Ethnic Studies curriculum) surreptitiously tried to push through an “alternate” resolution but they failed. (Yahoo!)
But a second resolution was soon pushed through, “condemning anti-semitism and supporting the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace”, trying to reinforce the idea that supporting Palestine is anti-semitic and that it’s a “two-sided conflict”. Of the 4 members who presented it, at least two were part of outgoing UESF leadership and very tied in to Democratic Party politics, pushing “moderate” conservative politics in general. (Full disclosure, I was a UESF member and Union Rep for 20 years). On June 9, the odious Zionist group Stand With Us sent a letter to SF superintendent of schools Vince Mathews with barely veiled threats expressing “concern” about the pro-BDS resolution and its “harm” to Jewish students.
On June 14, the Seattle Education Association (SEA) representatives passed a recommendation supporting Palestine and BDS, similar to the SF one, but also including support for End the Deadly Exchange Seattle, to end Seattle Police Department participation in trainings and activities with Israeli military and police.
There has been an effort by United Teachers of Los Angeles to pass a resolution in support of BDS (it was passed by chapter chairs). The assembly vote is supposed to be in September but there’s been an intense campaign to stop it by Zionist groups in LA and Zionist teachers who’ve said they’ll leave the union if it passes. (Is that a bad thing?)
National teachers’ unions, especially the American Federation of Teachers with president Randi Weingarten, have traditionally taken a very pro-Israel position, walking hand-in-hand with the Democratic Party leadership. Yet many AFT-affiliated graduate worker unions — including the Graduate Labor Organization at Brown University and the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees (GAGE) — issued Palestine solidarity statements.
A hopeful article in the May 26 issue of In These Times claims that “U.S. Unions Are Voicing Unprecedented Support for Palestine” citing an LA Roofers local, Unite HERE (hotel and restaurant employee union) locals in the south/southwest and Minnesota, and an 8,000-member New York Teamsters Local of mostly UPS drivers, that tweeted #SaveSheikhJarrah and #FreePalestine along with the message: “Solidarity with oppressed people across the world.”
At Google, members of the recently formed Alphabet Workers Union-CWA drafted a petition circulated by Jewish employees that called on Google to support Palestine and reject equating opposition to Zionism with antisemitism.
All this activity was going on within the context of the deadly Israeli assaults in the West Bank and Gaza last spring. Let’s hope this pro-Palestine union organizing can continue to move forward. And even more, let’s hope for a Free Palestine!
Resolution in Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Whereas, over 1,500 Palestinians from neighborhoods in Jerusalem are facing the threat of forced displacement and home demolitions by Israeli authorities, and children make up a large percentage of the families threatened with homelessness.
Whereas, this pattern and practice of dispossession and expansion of settlements has been found to be illegal under international law.
Whereas, many reputable international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Israel-based B’tselem have designated these practices of Israel as “apartheid” and a regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into these practices.
Whereas, in response to Palestinian demonstrations against these illegal practices and the forcible displacement of families in Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli police attacked demonstrations in many instances, injuring hundreds including a raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a place of worship.
Whereas, since May 10 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has began an intense campaign of bombing and mortar fire on the territory of Gaza. At the time of writing nearly 200 people, more than a quarter of them children have been killed. Over 1,300 have been wounded, and 40,000 Gazans have lost their homes.
Whereas, as public school educators in the United States of America, we have a special responsibility to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people because of the 3.8 billion dollars annually that the US government gives to Israel, thus directly using our tax dollars to fund apartheid and war crimes.
Whereas, since 2005 over 170 Palestinian organizations of civil society including educator unions have—modeled on the movement to end South African apartheid—asked the international community to join the campaign to boycott, divest, and call for sanctions against Israel. Since then many educators unions, including the largest educators union in Europe (the National Union of Teachers) and many national trade union federations throughout the world have endorsed that call.
Therefore, be it resolved, that United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) express our solidarity with the Palestinian people and call for Israel to end bombardment of Gaza and stop displacement at Sheikh Jarrah.
Therefore, be it further resolved, that UESF calls on the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to stop aid to Israel.
Therefore, be it further resolved, that UESF endorse the international campaign for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against apartheid in Israel.
Submitted to the May 19th Meeting of the United Educators of San Francisco