Thursday, December 23, 2010

What's really happening?





At ZNet, Dahr Jamail reports on military rape and we'll note this section:

A Command Sergeant Major told Catherine Jayne West of the Mississippi National Guard, "There aren't but two places for women -- in the kitchen or in the bedroom. Women have no place in the military."

She was raped by fellow soldier Private First Class Kevin Lemeiux, at the sprawling Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad. The defense lawyer in court merely wanted to know why, as a member of the army, she had not fought back.

The morning after the rape, an army doctor gave her a thorough examination. The army's criminal investigation team concluded her story was true. Moreover, Lemeiux had bragged about the incident to his buddies and they had turned him in. It seemed like a closed case, but in court the defense claimed that the fact that West had not fought back during the rape was what incriminated her. In addition, her commanding officer and 1st Sergeant declared, in court, that she was a "promiscuous female."

In contrast, Lemeiux, after the third court hearing of the trial, was promoted to a Specialist. Meanwhile his lawyer entered a plea of insanity.

He was later found guilty of kidnapping but not rape, despite his own admission of the crime. He was given three years for kidnapping, half of which was knocked off.

Dahr's exploring the realities of rape. It's a shame others haven't shown the same interest in the topic. Instead, they've spent the bulk of the month shaming, trashing and attacking two women who may have been raped by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. One of the people engaging in harmful attacks -- harmful to all women -- has been Keith Olbermann and he wonders what happens if Julian Assange isn't guilty? Kate Harding breaks it down for him:

A: That wouldn't change anything the majority of us are saying.

  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that he was accused of rape.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that unprotected consensual sex is perfectly legal in Sweden.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that the allegations are about far more than a broken condom.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that you didn't correct Michael Moore when he distorted all of the above facts during an interview with you.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that you personally spread ridiculous misinformation as well.
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that you boosted the signal on a patently ludicrous, nakedly sexist article by an unreliable writer. [UPDATE: Olbermann just said on Twitter that he "repudiated the linked article weeks back when the author was alleged to have been a holocaust denier." I have no idea where he did that, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.] [UPDATE 2: On Dec. 7, he tweeted "If the author of that article is a holocaust denier, I repudiate him and what he wrote, and apologize for retweeting the link" in an @ reply to user @mcmoynihan -- meaning it would only show up in feeds of people who follow both Olbermann and Moynihan, and on Olbermann's main page -- not in his 150K+ followers' feeds. So yes, he apologized for that before #mooreandme started, but not quite publicly.)
  • If he's not guilty, it's still a fact that trivializing real rape allegations contributes to a culture in which victims are hesitant to report being raped for fear that they won't be believed.
Elaine noted that last night and explained of the attacks on the two women and those who object to the attacks on the women, "I'm tired of this nonsense where women are supposed to shut up because there's a 'bigger' issue." Rebecca highlighted Harriet J (Fugitivus) who is calling for Gloria Steinem and other name-feminists to publicly denounce Naomi Wolf's insulting statements regarding rape:
I ask that you denounce Naomi Wolf's comments on Assange's rape charges.
I ask that you denounce that "no means no" is all there is to rape.
I ask that you acknowledge that "yes means yes" is now a part of the feminist lexicon, wherever it might go, however it might evolve from here.
I ask that you acknowledge that "enthusiastic consent" is a theory highly worth pursuing.
I ask you to do this because you have names that people recognize as part of feminism. So does Naomi Wolf. And now we are all experiencing, en masse, the old phenomenon: "I know somebody who is a feminist, and they think this is fine." A big-name feminist has said, publicly, that initiating sex with a partner who is asleep is not rape. That ripping a woman's clothes off is not a force, is not a threat, is not violence, has no bearing upon the context of safety. That political targets are incapable of raping, because there can be no reason for them to be accused that is not politically motivated. This has given permission to all those who believe the same to tell us that we are wrong. The new guard, we know each other's names, but the general public doesn't know us very well yet. We do not have the weight of years of revolution behind us. When Naomi Wolf says that sleeping women can be raped legally, this becomes public knowledge. When we say, "yes means yes," the general public does not hear, and the general public does not care. They can now point to Naomi Wolf and say, "You are wrong. You are not feminism. She is. And she says I can do this to you, and you can't do anything about it."
You have names. You have voices. Please give us somebody else to point to when we are told that we can be raped in the ways Naomi Wolf has decreed are acceptable. Please let us know that we are not on our own, that we have not already broken away, and did not hear the crack until Naomi Wolf "agreed to disagree" about our bodily autonomy, our safety. Please let us know that, with one arrogant statement, feminists cannot really erase the rapes that have been experienced by countless survivors. Please let us know that you hear us, that you believe we are feminism, too. Please do not let Naomi Wolf become the voice of what is rape, because rapists were listening when she spoke, and judges, and juries, and future victims who will spend their lives believing it was their fault, and they are always saying "yes" if they are not shouting "no."
And Ann noted her objection to the insulting remarks Naomi Wolf's been making and boiled it down to, "I was raped. Naomi wasn't." Which is one more reason that Naomi should not have been allowed to represent as the face of this issue. These are not minor points. Moving to the topics of peace and resistance, David Swanson (War Is A Crime) notes:
You say protests are outmoded because the corporate media ignores them (unless they're corporate sponsored). I say the corporate media is outmoded because it ignores protests.
The coming year is going to see intense resistance to the plutopentagonocracy from volunteer representatives of that majority of Americans that opposes its agenda. We are not going to ask for the media cartel's approval or permission. We are going to continue developing our own communications systems, which are already working well.
If we abandon the work of protest and resistance, those acts will soon be criminalized. If we abandon the work of self-communication we will each come to believe that the rest of us support that criminalization. There is another way.
William T. Hathaway's new book "Radical Peace: People Refusing War," tells true stories of people helping U.S. soldiers to desert and hide, chasing military recruiters out of schools, educating young people as counter-recruitment, caring for veterans, vandalizing recruiting stations, and burning unguarded tanks and airplanes. Many people will like some of these stories and not others. Personally I thought the Afterword was dumb enough to almost ruin an otherwise remarkable and wonderful book. The point is that these are stories that it is up to us to tell each other.
As I travel the country on a book tour I hear in about equal parts from people doing extraordinary things that nobody knows about and from people complaining that nobody is doing anything. We do not have an activism shortage so much as a communications shortage. People are engaged in civil resistance to the government, the banks, and the war machine in great numbers and with stunning creativity.

It's an interesting column that becomes worthless at the end when David wants to weigh in on Panhandle Media. Panhandle Media is useless and David should know that. One of his best friends semi-publicly called it out -- it was there for all to hear (I heard it, I agreed with the call, I didn't emphasize it here because I know how petty they are in the Circle Jerk and that ____ would have been banned from the reigndeer games if the comments were widely distributed). Of his list, if she's not focusing on electoral politics, Laura Flanders is the only one of any value (and I say that as someone with a very good FSRN friend). In terms of peace and resistance, Laura can do a show on that (and does) and no one can touch her. It's a shame she's sullied her image and name by becoming a Democratic Party cheerleader. (Although, in fairness, her program has been co-opted by The Nation magazine.) And, point of fact, we don't need to invest in any of these programs. You're looking for answers outside of yourself and that's why you're failing. I'll be damn honest, Elaine, Ava and I are never giving a damn penny to Panhandle Media again. (I can still be guilted into KPFA donations if enough KPFA friends whine about the station going under.) It's useless, it doesn't focus on the things that matter (ending wars) but works overtime to whore for the Democratic Party. Every program David lists whored for the Democratic Party in 2008 instead of making demands, instead of staying focused on the wars. That's reality and we're not tossing money out to that and we're telling everyone else not to either. There's no point in it. We don't need Washington Week "but for the left!" We never did.
The left would be smart to realize that most of the money they once had access to is gone because they whored. When they did that, they ensured that those of us who are not going to lie for the Democratic Party will not give money. And those who are happy with the whoring? They'll always put the money into the Democratic Party first and foremost. That's reality.
Reality is also that most programs don't need a budget these days and Air America Radio was a success -- BRIEFLY -- when it was working on the streaming model. Those first few months, AAR was a success. Yes, you will miss people without computers but considering how the left -- especially the Socialist left -- has attacked the White poor in this country over and over in the last two years, that might actually be a plus.
David believes that Big Money's coming. I don't think so. I think the left that wants to build would be smart to look at how they build one-on-one and grasp that they can do that on a larger scale without needing anyone else. You have the answers inside you and the power is within your grasp. Focusing on a Big Daddy is just a cop out that allows you to justify your own inaction. (David Swanson is on the road currently and is quite often on the road, I'm speaking of the left in general.)
But let me make it clear (and Elaine has many times at her site), we gave to all the left. Democratic, Socialist, Communist, etc. We didn't care. The point was to end the Iraq War and to get rid of Bush. (Not to get rid of Bush and replace him with a repackaged version.) Those days are gone. That money was wasted. Not because the illegal war continues (although it does) but because people whored. That was especially appalling when it came from Socialist and Communists whom you would think would have the good sense not to sully themselves by whoring for a political party they're not a member of. There is no song-and-dance that will sway me again. My donations go to children's causes and issues I believe in such as feminism, LGBT rights and immigration rights. I have no use for the so-called 'organized left.' That's true of a large number of wealthy, left women today, we're sick of it. And these attacks on the two women who may have been raped only ensure that we remain sick of it. Why the hell would any self-respecting woman fork over big money to support a system that repeatedly kicks us and our rights to the curb? Get real, the money's gone. Many men agree with us and the bulk of the men that might give are engaged in the pissing match with Warren Buffet.
The real answer is for people to use their own power. That means writing stories to be widely distributed -- and noting that they can be widely distributed -- doing the same with photos and with videos. There's no need for the press -- not even the Beggar Media. David Swanson participated in last Thursday's action in DC as did author, activist and journalist Chris Hedges who reflects on it at Information Clearing House:
The speeches were over. There was a mournful harmonica rendition of taps. The 500 protesters in Lafayette Park in front of the White House fell silent. One hundred and thirty-one men and women, many of them military veterans wearing old fatigues, formed a single, silent line. Under a heavy snowfall and to the slow beat of a drum, they walked to the White House fence. They stood there until they were arrested.
The solemnity of that funerary march, the hush, was the hardest and most moving part of Thursday's protest against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It unwound the bitter memories and images of war I keep wrapped in the thick cotton wool of forgetfulness. I was transported in that short walk to places I do not like to go. Strange and vivid flashes swept over me -- the young soldier in El Salvador who had been shot through the back of the head and was, as I crouched next to him, slowly curling up in a fetal position to die; the mutilated corpses of Kosovar Albanians in the back of a flatbed truck; the screams of a woman, her entrails spilling out of her gaping wounds, on the cobblestones of a Sarajevo street. My experience was not unique. Veterans around me were back in the rice paddies and lush undergrowth of Vietnam, the dusty roads of southern Iraq or the mountain passes of Afghanistan. Their tears showed that. There was no need to talk. We spoke the same wordless language. The butchery of war defies, for those who know it, articulation.
What can I tell you about war?
War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation -- spiritual, emotional and, finally, physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems, economic, social, environmental and political, that sustain us as human beings. War is necrophilia. The essence of war is death. War is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. It is organized sadism. War fosters alienation and leads inevitably to nihlism. It is a turning away from the sanctity of life.
There were many actions on Thursday. Grandmothers Against the War's Joan Wile is the author of Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace. Joan took part in an NYC action last Thursday and she writes:
Approximately 75 people braved the freezing temperatures on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 16 to rally against the war in Afghanistan. They gathered on Military Island, the small traffic island housing the Times Square recruiting station (now laughably tagged the Army Career Center) as a sympathy rally for the one held in D.C. earlier that day at the White House, during which 135 people were arrested.
In Times Square, 11 stalwarts blocked a stretch of Broadway for about 10 minutes before they were handcuffed and hauled off by the New York City police to a nearby jail.
The Big Apple event was populated by many Veterans for Peace and lots of peace grannies from the Granny Peace Brigade, the Raging Grannies and
Grandmothers Against the War. Two of the grandmothers were in their 90's but stood for more than an hour in the cold throughout the action. There was a contingent of Catholic Workers, War Resister Leaguers, the Green Party, and other anti-war groups, also.
After the Raging Grannies sang a few of their peace songs, names of New York State war dead in Afghanistan were read. Then, leaders in the peace movement spoke, including Bill Gilson, Vice President of local chapter 34 of Veterans for Peace; Carmen Trotta of the Catholic Workers; Barbara Harris, chair of the Counter Recruitment Committee of the Granny Peace Brigade; Tom Syracuse of the Green Party, and Alicia Godberg, Executive Director of Peace Action New York State.
And then came the civil resistance, at exactly 6 p.m. As the Times Square crowds swarmed around, the bright lights sparkled and flashed, 11 hardy souls fanned out across Broadway at the intersection with 44th St. and refused to move. The other rally participants shouted "Peace Now," "Stop the War," "Arrest Bush and Cheney, not these Patriots," as they observed their comrades loaded into the paddy wagons.
The event was organized by one of the arrestees, Bill Steyert, a Vietnam war vet with the Vets for Peace, who said: "I think it was a travesty that the war in Afghanistan wasn't even brought up as an issue during the recent mid-term elections. This tragic war jeopardizes not only the lives of American troops but directly affects our economy, which is in such dire shape because money spent on war is urgently needed to create jobs at home. This rally showed that those of
us who were there have not forgotten what's going on in Afghanistan in our name."

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Nouri and his (partial) Cabinet"
"Another town cancels Christmas in Iraq"
"Links, rape deniers, sexist Terry Gross"
"Food safety"
"The electoral college"
"join the call to denounce naomi wolf"
"Specter leaves the Senate (thank goodness)"
"Free Press, Barack screwed you"
"Stand by it"
"Mourning in America"
"Yes, Naomi Wolf has become Camile Paglia"
"Thoughts on World Can't Wait"
"Who hired this man?"

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