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Commentary :: International : Organizing : Politics
William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
06 May 2005
Modified: 06:35:53 PM
Don't let me change my heart,
Keep me set apart
From all the plans they do pursue.
And I, I don't mind the pain,
Don't mind the driving rain.
I know I will sustain
'Cause I believe in you.

- Bob Dylan, 'I Believe in You'

An interesting thing happened to me last week. I got heckled while giving a speech. Now, don't get me wrong, I've been heckled before. I've given speeches in most of the Red States across the country, and have gotten quite adept at the call-and-raise verbal jousting required when addressing an unfriendly crowd. I've been heckled by irate conservatives in Texas, in Montana, in North Carolina, in Colorado, in Arizona. I've been called a Socialist, a Communist, a Fascist, and a Communist Fascist, my own personal favorite. It's actually fun once you get used to it.

Last week was a different thing, however. I got heckled by people on the Left.
[Originally published on as "Stand up next to a mountain"]

I was there to introduce Dahr Jamail, the reporter who is pretty much the only reason we really know what is happening in Iraq. In my talk, I adamantly stated that we have to get American forces out of Iraq, and went into a detailed plan on how that might be done. In the front row were two white guys with Palestinian scarves wrapped around their necks. As I laid out the plan, careful to say at the outset that this was not 'the' plan but 'a' plan, the guy on the left yelled, "Get off the stage with your pro-war (expletive)." His friend wadded up the program for the evening and threw it at me.

As I said, I enjoy hecklers. I find it personally satisfying to leave little pieces of them hanging from the rafters. This, however, was a whole different thing. In the second after the expletive and the program went sailing past me, I thought: "I wrote a book six months before the war started saying there were no weapons in Iraq and no reason to go to war there; I've written probably half a million words since then to reinforce that truth; I worked for Dennis Kucinich on his Presidential campaign and pushed that message there; I've traveled nearly 200,000 miles to rally people against the war; I've cashiered a good portion of my health and sanity in the process; finally, I believe with all my heart and soul that we have to get the hell out of Iraq. Pro-war?"

For the first time since I started speaking publicly about this stuff, I was gape-mouthed and silent. The hecklers got me. I staggered through the rest of my speech, introduced Jamail, and scuttled off the stage like a whipped cur. The little resume review that flashed through my mind was not some personal ego-reinforcement, and I didn't feel any outrage about the whole thing until later. I was genuinely confused and hurt.

A day or so later, I was able to slot that odd and disheartening experience into a larger picture. When all was said and done, it didn't surprise me. The Lefty hecklers were part of a much broader phenomenon taking place within the ranks of liberals and progressives all across the country. To put it bluntly, the Left is in the process of eating itself. I've been watching it happen over the last few months. At meetings, at rallies, in online forums, via email, and among friends and family, the Left is tearing itself apart.

The war issue is causing a good portion of this. The reason those guys heckled me, for one example, was because I think 'Out Now!' makes a great slogan but isn't nearly enough of an actual plan to get the job done, and thanks to Bush & Co, 'Out Now!' is a pipe dream regardless. They disagreed, vehemently it seemed, and because I tried to go beyond slogans to an actual plan for exiting Iraq, I was somehow empowering the war machine.

The war, however, is not the only issue dividing the Left. A good portion of the splintering that is taking places stems from a lingering election hangover. Those who backed someone besides Kerry are bitter because they think their candidate would have won, those who backed Kerry are bitter at those who attack him and are likewise bitter at Kerry for the blunders he made in his campaign, those who do not cleave to the Democratic Party are bitter because they see the Democrats as little more than the pro-choice wing of the Republican Party, and even that distinction is getting muddied.

The root of the infighting, however, is deeper. Beyond the candidate/party squabbling is the feeling that no matter who the candidate may be, the system itself is broken because elections are now controlled by GOP-allied corporations and easily-rigged voting machines. Beyond that is the corporate media, with its 24-hour distraction machine pumping out raw sewage by the long ton while toeing the line for the status quo. Scandals that would have caused previous Presidents to be impeached, imprisoned and then impeached again wither by the side of the road on an almost daily basis.

Beyond the media is the bleak reality that some of the worst people this country has ever seen now control the White House, Congress, a fair chunk of the Judiciary, the Justice Department and the Pentagon. Combine that with the sense that elections cannot dislodge them because the game is fixed, and further add the fact that a majority of the American people have been made snowblind by the gibberish pouring forth from the media, which protects the powerful from the consequences of the truth.

The Left is appalled, disgusted, horrified and deeply, deeply frustrated. Right now, the Left feels like it is facing a fortified bunker armed with a slingshot and some small pebbles. Faced with this apparently unassailable foe, and filled with the desire to do something, anything to move the pile, people on the Left are doing the only thing that seems available: They are kicking the crap out of each other. That frustration, that woe, that horror and rage require an outlet somewhere.

I don't have any solutions for this. Being contrarian, being an island-unto-self, is one of the hallmarks of people on the Left. Permit me a poor analogy: Folks on the Left are like cats. They are loveable, affectionate, strong and independent-minded. They are also pointy on five out of six sides and liable to use their claws at strange and seemingly random moments. It has always been this way and will always be this way, and it cannot and should not be otherwise. Combine that with the thundering frustrations that have accumulated over the last months and years, and the outcome is predictable.

I don't have a solution for this, but I do have a story.

Those familiar with the fight against electronic touch-screen voting machines will know the name Andy Stephenson. Andy has spent the last several years traveling from hoot to holler and back to hoot again, trying to inform people of the dangers these machines pose to the fundamental principles of participatory democracy. He even ran for Secretary of State in Washington using this issue as the basis of his platform.

A few weeks ago, Andy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, one of the more dangerous varieties of the disease. His doctors told him he needed a Whipple procedure to get at the tumor, and only a few hospitals in America can perform this complicated procedure with the required competence. To compound the problem, Andy shares the plight of millions of others in our disgusting for-profit health care system and does not have health insurance.

A friend with connections was able to get him a slot at Johns Hopkins, one of the premier medical facilities in America that specializes in Whipple procedures. Johns Hopkins, however, required a $25,000 down-payment before they would let Andy onto an operating table. Furthermore, they required the payment immediately, and wanted another $25,000 once the surgery was done. Andy and his friends spiraled into despair as they faced this seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

And then, something remarkable happened. Friends of Andy posted the details of his plight on a few Left-leaning websites. Left-wing talk-show hosts Mike Malloy and Thom Hartmann filled their listeners in on the situation. Donations for Andy started to come in, and then pour in, and then flood in. People without jobs, and themselves without health insurance, raided their piggy banks.

Within 100 hours, Andy Stephenson had the $25,000 down-payment he needed to save his life. It came as nickels, as dimes, as dollar bills, but it came.

The moral? That which unites the Left is far, far greater than that which divides them. Yes, there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles standing in the way. Yes, frustration and despair are rampant. Yet when the righteousness, passion and strength of the Left are combined, they can stand up next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of their hand.

Remember that.
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Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dhar Jamail event
06 May 2005
Interesting piece. The cry of "pro war" you received reminds me of the cries of "unamerican" often aimed at those who don't agree with the administration's tactics. The understanding that the complexity of the issues we as a society face cannot be boiled down to soundbites is something that has distinguished the left/progressive movement from the right in recent years, so it's a shame when people on the left take up such lazy tactics themselves. Bringing the dialogue to this level only serves to push the argument into the right's court, as they have proven to be much more effective at spinning soundbite politics to their own ends.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dhar Jamail event
06 May 2005
Sounds like pigs to me. The undercovers were wearing the palistinian scarves at the DNC. These are also the only thing this guy used to identify them as "the left." Sounds to me like an undercover tactic and it sounds to me like it worked on him.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dhar Jamail Event
06 May 2005
While I'm very respectful of all the good work William Pitt has done over these last few years, I do think he's being a bit of a drama queen in this article. The Left isn't "eating itself alive" anymore than it was when the war broke out. There always has been and always will be a tug of war in the Left between the liberals and Left radicals. And what he's witnessing is NOT the Left devouring itself but merely the Left changing shape, something that's way overdue, in my mind. Young people, particularly students, are finally getting their shit together and, as expected, we're more radical. William Pitt denounces "Out Now!" as a pipe dream. Well, we fucking mean it. And we know it can happen. It all depends upon the actions of the people.

In other words, Pitt needs to lighten up, to not take it so hard. People with his position are pretty well recognized as allies though we do have notable differences. And God knows we're giving Ann Coulter a HELL of a lot more shit when she strolls onto campuses.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dhar Jamail Event
06 May 2005
This guy seems like a douchebag. Who the fuck cares if he was heckled?
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dhar Jamail Event
07 May 2005
No more elections! No more representatives! No more kings! They don’t work, this is what some of the "left" is starting to understand. We want direct participatory democracy, not a change in leadership. We want an end to hierarchy! We need a ParPolity, check it out:

LIBERAL - Some one that believes the problem is with the leadership.

RADICAL - Someone that believes the problem is systemic.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
07 May 2005
Out now? I am a radical and I think we'd at least need to pay reparations. Things are not so cut and dry as many so called 'radicals' would like to think. Its not always as simple as anti-war, anti-nuclear, anti-globalization.

If you are pushing for complete withdrawal immediately, what do you think would happen to the country? I can tell you it wouldn't be some sort of utopian direct democracy situation, more likely a blood bath followed by warlords controlling smaller areas, the seccession of the kurdish areas, violent warring between Sunni's and Shias and so on.

Iraqi's do need to control their own areas and their own destinies, but we can't go in set up a house of cards and then leave with the bottom layer.

We should've never gone in, but the situation now is delicate. leaving without planning or any careful strategy would throw the country to authoritarian rule.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
07 May 2005
Look, it's one thing to respectfully disagree with this guy's ideas. I don't know the details of his withdrawal plan, but I wouldn't be surprised if disagreed with it. That doesn't warrant heckling him--that's just plain disrespectful. Yes, there are important differences between reformists and radicals (and important differences within each group as well). But, given the big picture in the US, we also share a lot of values. What this sort of heckling is, is a sign of sectarianism. There is actually a Plaestinian rights group locally that is highly sectarian and would do exactly this sort of thing--I won't name them, because I don't actually know that they did this and I don't want to spread rumors. A lot of anarchists like to assume that sectarianism is entirely the province of Marxist-Leninists--but I've met some non-sectarian Leninists and some really sectarian anarchists. Sectarianism involves, among other things, dogamtically dismissing anyone you disagree with as part of the problem--and when anarchists dismiss liberals or third party supporters dismiss Kerry supporters (or vice versa in both cases) as enemies or part of the problem, that's sectarianism. We need dialogue between people with different ideas if we're going to build a strong movement, not shrill denunciations of those we disagree with. Pitt is at least right on this--this heckling incident is indicative of a larger destructive tendency on the left.
Anarchist Manifesto
07 May 2005
I found it ironic that in talking about divisions in the left, Pitt decided to identify his hecklers as wearing Palestinian scarves. As if the Palestinians didn't have enough troubles, now they have to contend with a pundit going around equating support for Palestinians with divisive and self-destructive leftists. Whether or not they were plants, these dudes with the keffiyahs, they very easily could have been, and could be in the future, so Pitt should not have thrown that detail in, period.

Also, I think it's time to accept that there is no left. What there is is a center of power, a periphery of malcontents (i mean that in the best possible sense, since I am one) and between the two a mass of confused citizenry. I point this out because it seems that if we're going to wait for some kind of gelling on "the left" it ain't gonna happen. Since that term is part of the coercive mainstream narrative, one can assume that i't's going to be used by the perception shaping class to thwart people truly interested in change. What "the left" needs is this, what "the left" should do is that. Bollocks! We will all naturally gravitate to those with whom we share our most important values. While the masses' perception of reality is being manipulated and their values confused, we will necessarily be struggling as tribes, not whole-cloth movements. If this is as I suspect an accurate depiction of our situation, then we should be encouraging individuals to act out their values regardless of whether we personally agree with them or not. I have faith that in the end what will save us is the energy born of disagreement and frustration, because that is the type of energy that no one can control or predict. Is that troubling? Of course, and it's the very danger that the alternative to the unacceptable status quo could well be worse that will, if anything can, rouse those for whom the current state of affairs is not of sufficient cause for concern.

Let's take the tattered remnants of what people have been calling "the left" and burn it in declaration and celebration of a new struggle that redefines our notions of power and possibility. Look the past for inspiration, but dream of the future for ideas!
Response to Peace Lover
07 May 2005
"If you are pushing for complete withdrawal immediately, what do you think would happen to the country? I can tell you it wouldn't be some sort of utopian direct democracy situation, more likely a blood bath followed by warlords controlling smaller areas, the seccession of the kurdish areas, violent warring between Sunni's and Shias and so on. "

Now why on earth should we be concerned if the Kurds no longer want to be part of this colonial invention called iraq? And if the Sunnis and Shias don't want to be countrymen who the hell are we to put armies in their land and force them to? Peace Lover, you say you're a radical, but I don't see any difference between your position and most Americans, who are not radical, just mostly uninterested pragmatists. Why don't we help the peoples of Iraq decide their own fate? I think it's pretty obvious that the reason we want to preserve this fake entity Iraq is because there's so much oil around there and it's easier to buy (steal) it by going through one government than through three or more. It's that simple. The alternative to occupation is not utopia, but the government that is being formed under occupation will ALWAYS, that means FOREVER until it falls, be struggling to deal with a country that desperately wants to break apart, and the only way to keep it together will be through terror and bloodshed, and help from the U.S. and Europe, which is how Saddam did it.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
07 May 2005
Pitt was instrumental in destroying the John Kerry campaign effort. He also attacked ALL the Pro-Peace Activists repetitively on MANY chat boards. He used TRUTHOUT to spread LIES about the Peace Movement and spouted WAR WAR WAR over and over, as so many American Patriots said NO TO BUSH WARS. In many ways, Pitt is the WORST of the worst. He claims to be part of the 'left', but in reality, he's another bushite buy-out. Nice to hear that TRUTHOUT finally booted Pitt OUT....
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
08 May 2005
i wish i didn't just waste my time reading some of the posts on this web site. I'm glad normal people don't waste there time listening to this crap.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
08 May 2005
Dear William,
I wasn't at the event, but if it is true as some folks reported to me that you were giving the "realistic," "we can't cut and run pitch", then I wish the entire audience would have stood and turned their backs on you. And yes, if I had been there, I would have commented, and I would probably have been wearing a Kafiya. (You are so ignorant of Arabic culture that you call that a "Palestinian scarf?" Come on, learning one word of Arabic won't kill you. And you will notice that many Arabs wear them, including Iraqis and Iraqi fighters... could it be that Iraq and Palestine are both part of Arabia and both facing genocidal conquest by European based societies? And that their struggles are linked? That's right, the so-called antiwar movement is trying to hush all this up - I better not talk about the antiwar Arab perspective on this conflict. Who cares what Arabs against US and Zionist conquest think anyhow, right? They simply hate Jews and democracy and their women ands the "freedom" of the "noble west", we don't need to listen to a word they say.)

The US government is currently ENGINEERING civil war in Iraq. They have produced econmic desperation and are busy hiring Iraqis to go to war against those Iraqis who saw fit to defend their homeland from outside conquest by the US-Zionist alliance. The US military is leveling cities, torturing and raping people, kidnapping family members of suspected militants, spreading more of their permanent DU toxic waste over the country, and setting up a puppet government that will do the bidding of western corporations. Those who are resisting in Iraq are risking a lot more than you with your heavy travel, wordsmithing and your "cashier[ing] a good portion of [your] health and sanity."

Iraqis resisting give their lives on a regular basis, risk their families, risk hunger, risk torture to speak, demonstrate and implement armed struggle against the armed and genocidal occupiers who plan to come to stay. As Dahr reported, had to risk food ration loss to boycott the sham election.

Imagine for just a moment that Iraqis are human beings just like you and me. Now, further imagine that they have a 5,000 year old cutlure, that they know very well what the US is about based on the US funding of Saddam, Gulf War I - where CIVILIAN infrastructure was targeted, and the following genocidal sanctions regime and persistant bombings.

Considering all of the above, why should an Iraqi trust the US to run elections, to build a new government, to do anything but seek to crush and control the people of Iraq? Particularly the Shiite and Sunni, but that whole split is all about divide and conquer, just as the British intended when they drew the map of Iraq nearly a century ago. That is for Iraqis to sort out, not for an outside empire to use an excuse to occupy, slaughter and steal.

There is a "split" in the left. There are those who claim to be in "the left" who think they are really playing model UN. They offer "realistic" advice about what Uncle Sam should try. They are "pragmatic" and they are they claim they are only being so in order to save the Iraqis from themselves, since they are from the "beacon democracy" of the world. They have not yet managed to learn enough history or travel and experience other cultures enough to even *notice* that they are steeped in "western" supremacy. Many of these also seem to be very resume conscious, despite claims to the contrary.

Then, there are those who understand that the US is now and has always been about colonial conquest, theft, expansion and genocide. They understand that the US is the last government to be trusted to help human beings live longer, healthier lives, especially if these human beings are not rich and of European descent. They understand that the US empire that is consolidating global hegemony is a bipartisan process that serves unaccountable corporate interests, is capable of making human survival on earth impossible in the not too distant future.

William, you are in the Model UN camp, believer in the promise of" Western progress and democracy" to be shared with the rest of the world...

The folks wearing Kafiyas are not afraid to stand up for Palestine, even though it means not getting published and not getting funded by non-profits who support maintaining the status quo. I trust they are not afraid to say the truth about Israel - that Israel was founded on genocide as an apartheid colonial state and has no legitimacy. That Israel must be dismantled as was Apartheid South Africa. They are not afraid to point out that any kind of acceptance of the US occupation of Iraq is a betrayal to the basic humanity of the Iraqi people and a complete display of ignorance about the genocidal nature of this US empire that is clearly born out by its rather well-documented historical record - First Nations people, African Slaves, Puerto Rico, Phillipines, Korea, Viet Nam, Panama, and on and on and on.

I would argue that you model UN, Kennedy School material folks are not even in the anti-war movement. You accomodate power, and give it political cover. Actually, I believe you worship power rather than seeing how consolidation of power is antithetical to democracy, human rights, sustainable living, etc. I hope you will continue to be heckled every time you claim to be part of the antiwar movement. But even more so, I hope you will work to see Iraqis as full human beings, entitled to sovereignty to negotiate their borders and affairs as any other peoples should be allowed to, without outside interference from a beast that wants to stoke divisions and cares nothing for human life and everything for stealing what ever it can get its murderous greedy hands on.

It is a cute trick and not a new one to claim that since people on the right attack you that you must be on the left. Newspapers use this excuse all the time to justify their pro-war, Zionist, and otherwise status quo racist, classist and sexist slant on things. But is also quite possible that you really just have a lot more to learn. It is one thing to have a different opinion, but it is another to have no clue why people could possibly be more to the left of you. Read folks like Ward Churchill, Russell Means, Malcolm X, Gearoge Jackson, Mumia Abu Jamal, Vandan Shiva, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Angela Davis, Bill Blum, Abu Sitta, etc. to realize there is a whole lot of other things to consider in the dynamics of challenging war from the hub of the US empire.

Unless you simply have no problem with the empire, just the way they started THIS war. Did you protest the war and continued occupation of Afghanistan? Colombia? Regime change in Haiti?The 57 year Zionist genocidal conquest of Palestine? Bombing of Kosovo? If you failed to stand against US warcrimes in these other cases, then you are definitely not a meaningful part of the antiwar movement, in my opinion.

But probably you just spend too much time reading your own writing and listening to your own voice and the voices of others in your model UN, "let's have a kinder, gentler form of western capitalist imperialism" crowd. I don't care what you would do if your were president or a senator, William, because you are none of these things. As a human being you have a duty to use the voice you have to stand against US conquest, occupation, militarism, genocides, and empire every chance you get. Refuse to normalize these things. You won't have as easy a time getting published, but at least your soul would be better rested. Meanwhile, I am glad at least a few people had the guts to say something rather than to "politlely" listen to your willingness to ignore the humanity of Iraqis. And I know that many who said nothing were also very dissappointed and couldn't wait to hear from Dahr Jamail. I suggest you take a sebbatical from writing and start reading a little more history from alternative perspectives, William. At the very least, it could prevent you from being "shocked" when people stand up to your rationalizations for millitary occupation by the largest, most brutal, and most destructive empire ever to have existed on the face of the earth.


PS While I love Dahr's work and he deserves major props, please don't be so condescending as to say he is the *only* reason we know anything that is happening in Iraq. What about Riverbend and Free Arab Voice and many other sources? Or are we only supposed to listen to whites from the US?

PPS I know a lot of right wing republicans that would have donated for the surgery - charity and politcial transformation are two different things. Refer to the "babies in the river" story...
this link came up on google with the story:
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
08 May 2005
Aimee Smith's post would be exhibit A for the kind of problem I was talking about. It's not even that I disagree with a lot of what she says about the nature of US foreign policy--it's the way she says it and the hostile, condescending tone she takes with Pitt.

You know, I think all the loud-mouth sectarians who post on this site discourage other, non-sectarian folks from doing so and really damage the potential for meaningful dialogue here.
Pitt's Dem Party Link & Immediate Withdrawal Demand
08 May 2005
What Mr. Pitt apparently forgot to mention is that his father, in recent years, has apparently been the head of an official Democratic Party State Committee in one of the U.S. Southern states. So Mr. Pitt may have a vested interest in attempting to channel the U.S. left and the U.S. anti-war movement into becoming an auxiliary unit of the Militaristic U.S. Establishment's pro-Israeli government-oriented Democratic Party.

Regarding Mr. Pitt's opposition to the demand for immediate withdrawal from Iraq (that most grassroots U.S. anti-war activists support), perhaps Mr. Pitt should check out the following article that was recently posted on the CounterPunch web site:

May 4, 2005

Lying on Air America to Support the War
Al Franken is a Big Fat Phony

Cambridge, Mass.

Al Franken is a shrewd guy, which is why he can write some good comedy. He is also something of a student of the lie, having written a book, using considerable student slave labor, entitled "Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." That book followed another, "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot," in which he debunks the stuff that Rush "pulls out of his butt," as Franken puts it. So Franken certainly knows that one of the most insidious forms of prevarication is lying by omission. And on the subject of rapid and total withdrawal from Iraq, that is precisely what Franken and most of the rest of Air America Radio do day in and day out ­ omit any mention of the topic. Their attitude to grass roots opposition to the war is the same - bury it. And compared to Franken's favorite topics, that is the ones sanctioned by the Democratic establishment, for example, the corrupt practices of Tom DeLay, the war in Iraq which is laying waste an entire country and claiming tens of thousands of lives, takes a back seat ­ far, far back.

Coverage of Iraq is largely confined to the corruption of Halliburton and the general idea that whatever has gone wrong there is the fault of George W. Bush and the Republicans. That the war was a "mistake" is laid at the feet of

Bush, with no mention of the Democrats' role in voting for it, including J. Kerry and H. Clinton. "Incompetence" over the waging of the war is a frequent complaint ­ as though it would be better for an "unjust and unnecessary war," in the words of Jimmy Carter, to be waged more competently. (Would that Hitler had been a little more competent!) At one point last December at the time of his last visit to "the troops," Franken exclaimed that he "did not know what to do" about Iraq. Several weeks ago Franken was in fine fettle over the first anniversary of his Air America program to which considerable time was devoted; but it was also about the time of the second anniversary of the war's beginning. The numerous anti-war demonstrations at that time received not a word of coverage

Franken himself is full of praise for "the troops." He does not say that these troops are being used as cannon fodder in a criminal war ­ simply that they are doing "a great job." There is no systematic tracking of either U.S. or Iraqi casualties. Each week the conservative, John McLaughlin, on his PBS program tracks the Iraqis killed and the Americans killed and wounded in Iraq. No such segment exists on Franken's program - nor on any other Air American Radio program as far as I know. It speaks volumes that the conservative McLaughlin provides a more biting critque of the war than Franken and his cronies can muster.

Adversaries of the war who call for immediate and total withdrawal, like Ralph Nader or Michael Moore, are not to be found on the Franken frequency. Surprisingly, a few days back Franken had as a guest Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia, and a proponent of withdrawal from Iraq. Franken did not seem to know much about him. As Khalidi broached the subject of withdrawal form Iraq, Franken's co-host, Katherine Lanpher, interrupted with the observation that American troops might need to stay in Iraq "to make that part of the world safe for democracy." Ever on his toes, Franken changed the subject, a break ensued, and the subject was dropped. There was no further mention of withdrawal. Even after Ted Kennedy proposed immediate and prompt withdrawal, Democratic stalwart Franken did not take up this call. Like the rest of the Democratic establishment, he lent no support to Kennedy who has now fallen silent on the topic.

Franken reached a nadir of sorts with the appearance on his show of Democratic Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher of the House Armed Services Committee who is proposing legislation to expand the military by 36,000 troops. She has argued in a press release: "Iraq is a two-year engagement that could go on for at least five to seven years." So her solution is to scare up more cannon fodder for Iraq. Franken has a son in college and a daughter just out of school whom he mentions often. Do you suppose he will allow them to be among the 36,000 troops that his guest Tauscher wants to mint? The next logical step for Franken is to turn recruiter for the military. (He carries no mention of the student campaigns to get army recruits out of the high school and off the campus.)

And as with Franken, so with most of the rest of Air America Radio. When I called Randi Rhodes (Air America afternoons) and managed to bring up the question of withdrawal she went ballistic, yelling that, now that "we" were there, "we" could not simply leave. She then shouted that I was a "creep," and off the air I went. I called Sam Seder and Janeane Garafalo (Air America evenings), and the screener suggested that Sam "probably did not want to discuss withdrawal." But I got on anyway after telling the screener that he was serving as a censor, and I asked Sam and Janeane why they did not discuss the withdrawal option. They went berserk, accusing me of not listening "enough," and off the air I went amidst their shouting. There are some exceptions to the pro-war stance on Air America ­ or I should say there were. Liz Winstead, Rachel Maddow and Chuck D. used to have the mid-morning show where there was some discussion of withdrawal. Liz, who is a talented comedian and co-creator of the Daily Show, disappeared mysteriously ­ without explanation. Maddow with co-host Chuck D, lasted a bit longer. One day Maddow ran a segment stating that withdrawal from Iraq should be THE main point of discussion on the left. It was clear that she favored withdrawal ­ in opposition to her guest, the strange and devious Paul Rieckhoff of Operation "Truth," who also calls for "staying the course." (She also challenged Ed Rendell, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, for supporting an anti-choice candidate to run against Rick Santorum for Senate, despite the existence of a pro-choice majority in Pennsylvania. Embarrassed and befuddled, Rendell said on air he was put up to this by Senate leaders, including H. Clinton and Charles Schumer.) Now Chuck D has also disappeared, and Maddow has gone quietly into the night, quite literally, with a one-hour show at 5 am. The final song on her last mid-morning show was: "What would you give in exchange for your soul"?

Most of Air America Radio is only marginally different from Franken who is little more than a shill for the Democratic Party establishment. Franken faithfully parrots its pro-war line. Fundamentally. he is just like Rush who is a Republican partisan, not a principled conservative. Franken is simply a Democratic partisan, a pitiful hack at heart. A progressive he is not. And disappointingly, Air America has turned out to be little more than a mouthpiece for the DNC and one more way to divert the anti-war movement to DNC-approved "issues" ­ like DeLay, Bolton and the other trivia that are like so many straws in the wind compared to the carnage in Iraq.

At its heart the war on Iraq is the most carefully and ingeniously orchestrated propaganda effort on record. In this Franken and his ilk play a key role, going just far enough to maintain credibility among the "liberals" they must reach, while diverting attention from the criminal nature of the war and the option of ending it.

Air America takes its name from an air company in Southeast Asia at the time of the Vietnam war which turned out to be a CIA asset, a company masquerading as a simple commercial airline. The folks at Air America Radio were supposed to be kidding when they chose their name, but perhaps they were, in Franken's phrase, "kidding on the square
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
08 May 2005
Holy shit, did Aimee Smith just say that Iraq and Palestine are part of "Arabia"???

omg she's totally getting closer and closer to being a third positionist...
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
08 May 2005
Pitt has done good work, sure, like that prewar book with Ritter. I was curious about his idea to end the war, so I went to Pitt's frequent hangout at

Where I found no plan to end the war, but other stuff:
* tentacled terrorist bogeyman cartoon
* "William Rivers Pitt: Criminals Belong in Jail" article
* bloody photo, "US Soldier comforts mortally wounded Iraqi child" (the photo and caption were there Friday, now gone).

1. Quit praising occupying troops (Friday's bloody photo caption)
2. Please no more 'war-on-terror' cartoons that could have come from the Boston Herald - like that bogus terrorist-octopus drawing that's still on the site now.

3. Human beings don't belong in jails. Please don't use that title.
4. That essay mentioned but didn't describe your plan to end the war. So what's next, after we give up on Out Now?
5. Out Now is not a slogan, it's our demand. It wasn't a pipe dream in the Vietnam war and it isn't now.
6. Are you SURE you're ready to explain radical antiwar politics?
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
Did anyone else hear Pitt call Howard Dean a "hero"? Is this the same Dean that is having the Democratic Party distance it self from the anti-war movement?

Last time i checked the Democrats were just right of center on every major issue.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
Props to Aimee, Soupy and everyone else here who's keeping it real. And to the Model UN crowd and their FBI supporters on this thread, the way you all hang on to this losing cause would be admirable if it weren't so utterly sick.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
Ha. The "model UN" crowd is being unrealistic?

Ooh. Let's withdraw our military from Iraq this afternoon. Let's dismantle Israel. The Iraqis will shower us with candy and flowers as we leave. Sunnis, Kurds, and Shia will all go bowling together!

Jews and Muslims will dance in the street with sugar plum fairies. Arabs will show kindness and compassion to their new Israeli brothers in a one-state Palestine. Saudi Arabia will stop treating women like cattle. Syria, Jordan, and Egypt will all embrace democracy! We'll all drive solar powered cars to our soy bean farm cooperatives.

Hooray for Aimee Smith's realism!
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
I was at the said meeting and felt bad William Pitt had to put up with such immaturity. These 2 individuals who were heckling him reminded me of punks from high school giving the teacher a hard time. I would also say they were plants, but I was sitting close enough to them to figure out they were just pathetic losers who crawled out from their parents basement long enough to be an embarassment to the pro peace effort
William Rivers Pitt is ProWar and ProEmpire
09 May 2005
Modified: 12:25:44 PM
If calling out a facilitator for war and empire makes me "divisive" of "the left", then I have to wonder if there is even a "left" worth speaking of, let alone protecting from "division." Can we really trust the world's largest purveyor of violence, the white settler government of the larger share of ethnically cleansed North America, to "save the Iraqis from themselves?" Is the "left" really that racist and stupid? I hope not.

I am amused by the accusations of "by ." I guess only allowing an IDF soldier two questions when twenty people are waiting in line and each should only get one is a transgression against this higher race person. I guess he is used to getting his way with his M-16 on his shoulder. And his not being able to colonize ALL of the Q&A is somehow interpreted as a violation of his rights just as Zionists not being allowed to colonize ALL of Palestine (and into Jordan, Iraq and Egypt) is considered hatred against Jews and a violation of the rights of Jews.

Thanks for the reminder of the excessive sense of entitlement of IDF killers. The word "share" just isn't allowed in their vocabulary.

You can listen to the entitled bigot here and see how silenced the poor victim was. Poor little baby, if only he had his machine gun with him that day he could have enfocred his "god-given" right to have ALL the Q&A time...

But hey, "by .", why not show a little courage and tell us your name? What are you so ashamed of? Don't want people to know you are a bigot? Actually, I don't blame you - if I had your point of view, I would hide my head in shame as well.

But thanks for the chuckle, whoever you are.

I wonder if these children feel silenced...

But hey, they are only savage Arab children, not noble members of the higher Jewish European "race" like the poor IDF soldier who only got two questions...

Some examples of occasions where IDF soldiers felt much less "silenced" below:



Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
What a fucking hypocrite.

You call me a bigot, but assume for no reason that I must be Jewish.

You tear down and deface other people's posters on campus, then post your own that say things like "Anyone who removes this poster is a fascist".

You have no problem squelching other people's right to expression, then claim yours is being violated whenever anyone confronts you.

You're a narcissistic fake.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
I heard Aimee Smith told antifascists off for trying to keep White Revolution and WCOTC members out of an NECDP rally last summer...
William Pitt is ProWar and PorEmpire
09 May 2005
Dear "by ."

Maybe if you were more careful in your reading, you could also become more careful in your implementation of logic.

I no where stated or implied that you were of any particular faith, ethnicity or gender. (But if I have to guess, I bet you are a white male of means because you have that sterotypical barrier to understanding oppression dynamics that is more characteristic of people with privilege.) Unless of course you, "by .", are the poor beleagured and silenced IDF soldier who was of European ancestry and hard to imagine non-Jewish if he was serving in the IDF and of European ancestry. But true, he could have been a very light skinned colaborator - fair enough - but if so, he has still internalized the ethic of European-Jewish supremacy, since that is what he worked on behalf of in the IDF, and that was what he was questioning on behalf of.

People who confuse hate speech/sexual harassment on a male-dominated campus against women with political expression against war on a military/corporate dominated campus may continue to assume I am a hypocrit. I don't really care what such people think of me.

Political speech is the highest form of constitutionally protected speech.

Degrading images of women were ruled by the Supreme Court not to be protected.

And sexually harassing material that may well be constitutionally protected expression is not protected in the context of a workplace, school, and/or domocile environment.

And not that the law is any end all, be all, but the conventions against genocide make speech inciting genocide illegal, even as it is political speech. As always, the trouble with laws is who can be trusted to enforce them, but I agree that some "speech" needs to be stood up to and confronted by people of conscience.

What was your real name again, "by ." Still too scared to tell? Come on, be brave for once! Are you a fratling who can't be tough unless you are surrounded by ten of your "brothers" and drunk? Or a cop, who tends to suffer from the same fratling type of cowardice? Or an MIT administrator who needs to send a pack of hired thugs to do your silencing for you? Or are you an IDF killer who is nothing in a forum where his machine gun can't help him? Are you that poor little silenced IDF soldier? I would really like to know the name of the person I am required to agree with for he or she to not deem me a "narcissistic fake."

Just because someone feels obligated to stand behind their statements by putting their name on them does not mean they are doing it for "attention" or "ego." Frankly, I have had more than enough "attention" from fools like you while at MIT. But I refuse to be intimidated into silence. MIT is a miserable place for anyone who doesn't tow the white male supremacist, pro-militarism, pro-corporate line - but fortunately there have been many there willing to resist and refuse to be cowed. You were obviously not one of those, whoever you may be, "by ."
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
Dear Gravitation Rex,
The NECDP has never needed any help keeping neonazis away from our protests. The police have always insisted on seperating them, but if the police had not been there, we would certainly have been quite able to seperate ourselves from these bigots who are hostile to the Jews and Rabis among us as well as the Palestinians and Muslims - not to mention odious to all of us. Thanks for the "help" offer, but we have always had it covered for years before they came along. We know racist fascists whether they carry a Zionist flag, a swastica, a police badge, or an Amercian flag.

The question that I and many others have is why these anarchists focus only on the 10 racist fascists from WCOTC and completely ignore the hundreds of racist fascists assembled to celebrate Zionist genocide. One can really confront both at the same time. And one would think sincere anti-racists would *want* to do both at the same time when the occasion presents itself...

This has been discussed many times on IMC, so either you "Rex" are new to "IMC" (and if so, welcome), you are really just trying to confuse people intentionally (and if so, pathetic), or you are simply blind to the genocidal racism of Zionism.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
I was there, sitting in the front row. First off, the two men with sarves were sitting atleast three or four rows behind me. Second, they didnt start heckling til Pitt starting talking about how the troops need to stay in Iraq to finish what they started and whatnot. Third, way more people were involved in the heckling than just those two. Id say at least a third of the room was audibly in disagreement when Pitt said that the troops shouldnt leave. Many people walked up to give money to Darr specifically so not to have any of their money go to Pitt. They told you to get off the stage with your prowar bullshit because you were lecturing us about how the troops need to stay in Iraq for longer. Havent they done plenty damage?
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
The key to understanding AImee Smith is that she doesn't really care about the causes she spews off about. She only cares about getting attention.

Someone who really cared about the plight of Palestinians or Iraqis would be over there volunteering with an aid organization, or doing something positive. Instead, she condones continued violence. "Long live the Resistance", Aimee? Easy to say for someone who isn't in the line of fire.

Someone with a PhD from MIT, like Aimee, could really help improve and save lives. For example, Aimee could go to Iraq and help educate women, or help organize peaceful political opposition. Because, of course, you know what's best for them, right?

But Aimee would never do that. Those are thankless tasks outside the spotlight. No, no. Aimee will only continue the endless, self-congratulatory, preaching to the choir, circle jerk that she thinks is activism.

Besides, the beloved "resistance" would probably thank her by treating her to a rousing game of volley-head - kaffiya style.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
Bluto, do you have a name?

It is sad that people who bother to include their name are accused of simply wanting attention. I would love to shower some "attention" on you, Bluto, and "by ." Of course, that would require that one or the other of you have a spine. I won't hold my breath.

Now how on earth would a PhD from MIT allow any kind of help towards "educating Iraqi women" to resist non-violently? In a way, I guess it would help undermine resistance period, since people with my training are the least able to help in any meaningful way to advise anyone how to resist a brutal, genocidal occupation.

With my own physical safety, I would trust the Iraqi resistance over the war criminal US military or the collabarting groups like the Iraqi Communist Party any day.

But if you are deeply racist, than you think it would be better for these folks to submit to imperial corporate rule - to lie back and relax as the empire rapes them over. It will be "good for them" in the long run. How sick is that?

Me, I believe that people with the courage and willingness to risk to fight for their freedom deserve our admiration and solidarity. It is the least we can do since we don't even know how to stop our governmnet from exporting war and genocide to other shores.

Who once said "give me liberty or give me death?" And then there is "He who would trade liberty for security deserves neither?" I guess such tough talk is ok for landed white guys, but people who wear Kafiya's are just supposed to let the Europeans come in and save them from themselves, for the small price of liberating them from their resources, or course. Fortunately, the Iraqis know better than to listen to the "American Left."

Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
William Rivers Pitt is a posturing phony and I can't believe anyone would buy into his "I'm so hurt" routine. He routinely presents grandiose scenarios, with his rhetoric flights of fancies, but backs down whenever the air gets a little tight, eg when the only inescapable conclusion points to Zionism, propaganda and US war crimes. Methinks that Billy Pitt, the professional liberal whiner protesteth too much.
Putting Palestinian scarves on their inside men is one of the FBI's latest stunts. They've done it elsewhere. But since Billy Boy Pitt is f%cking clueless about the horrors of CIA-FBI disinfo operations, of course he took this crap at face value, then got bent out of shape. He is such an egomaniacal pr%ck. Message to Billy: Stop worshipping yourself, and quit pretending to be so wise and knowing. There is no f@ckin left --
there's only principled outsiders -- and you aren't one of them. If there was a left, Pitt would be a fifth column. DON'T TRUST THIS GUY!
09 May 2005
whaddyou expect? Why is Boston IMC featuring his crap writing?
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
agh i can't believe this is being brought up again

Gravitaton rex: I was with the antifa crew at the event you're referring to. NECDP spoke with us and were critical but I'm pretty sure it was taken more as debate about tactics among progressives than direct political opposition. In retrospect I kind of wish it had led to face-to-face discussions instead of a huge round of IMC shit-talking that for all we know the Right and the state were participating in... but whatever. I don't know whether I know you and I don't know where you heard that, but please, that particular rumor mill went out of operation a long time ago, so please, shut the fuck up--you're not speaking on our behalf.

Aimee: What can I say? We followed them there. I personally am very ready to admit antifascism is an incomplete revolutionary position. Do you ever feel the same about anti-imperialism?
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
09 May 2005
"Me, I believe that people with the courage and willingness to risk to fight for their freedom deserve our admiration and solidarity. It is the least we can do since we don't even know how to stop our governmnet from exporting war and genocide to other shores."

Yes, of course they should stand up for themselves. But in case you haven't been keeping up on current events, lately the victims of the Iraqi "resistance" have been Iraqis, particularly Shias targeted by Sunnis aiming to spark sectarian violence.

Your answer is continued bloodshed. You encourage continued violence that will only result in more innocent Iraqi deaths and prolonged occupation.

Your solidarity is nothing but cheap sentiment, lofted from the comfort of rich white America. It's easy for you to put up posters that say "Long live the resistance" if it's someone else paying the cost. You're really no better than the pro-war fuckers who "support the troops" and let some other sorry slob go get killed.

If you want to make things better and really believe what you say, go out and do them. Back your words up with action.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
10 May 2005
"Now how on earth would a PhD from MIT allow any kind of help towards "educating Iraqi women" to resist non-violently? In a way, I guess it would help undermine resistance period, since people with my training are the least able to help in any meaningful way to advise anyone how to resist a brutal, genocidal occupation."

I call bullshit.

You mean to tell me that someone with a science PhD has absolutely no use in reconstructing a war-torn country? Particularly a woman without a corporate or government agenda? Someone whom I assume speaks Arabic, or at least has a basic understanding of the culture? Someone who "understands oppression dynamics"?


What a fucking cop out.

Oh wait. I forgot. You don't actually give a shit about Iraqis. Sorry for the confusion.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
10 May 2005
Dear Brave Bluto,

Rebuild the country? You mean the destruction that my government caused and is planning to rebuild to its own interests?

One - it is racist to assume that there aren't plenty more talented people at "rebuilding the country" already in Iraq than I. (Do you even know what my PhD is in?) And further, just because you deem that I would be useful to the people of Iraq does not mean that the people in Iraq agree with you. Maybe Allawi and other members of the puppet government agree with you, but they also agree with Uncle Sam, so that is nothing to go by.

Two - it is racist to ignore the fact that the US govt is HIRING Iraqis to kill other Iraqis. How come you let the US govt and its poor troops off the hook and only look at the resistance targeting colaborators as "Iraqis killing Iraqis?" Where did you get your analysis? Prepackaged from Fox news?

Three - it is racist to think that a society built on a consistution written in the US can develop and be "peaceful" for the Iraqis. This is actually the cementing in of a neoliberal system, complete with permanent US military bases, that will oppress the people of Iraq until which time as they overthrow it. Why let it become established? Better if they can nip it in the bud as the resistance has been doing. And if they are willing to risk and struggle, the *least* I can do from the safety of the hub of the empire is support their actions and condemn the slander or smear against them, such as that which you issue. I never claimed to be any hero or savior. Recognizing heroism and who is on the side of justice is something every one of us should be willing to do. (BTW - it is" victory to the Iraqi resistance," not "long live." And the sooner, the better for everyone.)

Four - you are racist because you seem to believe everything that the Milittary PR folks feed the US press. Can you *prove* that the resistance is targeting Shi'ite for the sake of being Shi'ite? Do you or I really know much of any of the details of what is happening in Iraq other than that the US invaded, the people rose up, and, as we know full well, the intentions of the US based on centuries long patterns?

Five - you display either racism in that you deny people the right to resist their conquest OR you specifically deny Islamic based resistances the right to resist their conquest from a foreign genocidal imperial power. Either way, such a position is bigoted.

Six - if you get the US military out, at least you can curtail the booming sex industrry that preys on women where ever the US military goes - assuming women matter, as you seem to be very concerned about the women... not to mention that Abu Ghraib and the other rape and torture facilities would be closed down.

Anyhow, I have to run, but I guess I can see why you refuse to show your identity.

As for the antifa folks, we never asked them to leave. Why should we have? They were welcome to protest the Nazis. And I just hope we can have better dialog in the future to help see where the other is coming from and in person would certainly be MUCH better.

I invite antifa folks to contact necdp (at) if and when you feel like planning a get together to discuss. And yes, every ideology has its weaknesses, and even good ideologies have to deal with tactical complexities and tough decisions... but the more folks who are sincerely antiracist and antifascist seek to understand each other and seek to build human (not internet-based) communities of solidarity, the better in my view.

All the best,
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
10 May 2005
Bluto is a troll. In fact, bluto is likely flipside, a notorious super-troll. Ignore him.
come hear Rahul Mahajan for some non-DOD approved reporting from Iraq
10 May 2005
you rock, aimee. way to call out bluto on his hypocrisy. especially well taken is your point that we don't know that much about what's really happening in Iraq. I therefore encourage everyone to go hear what Rahul Mahajan, who has been there, has to say about it this Thursday may 12 at 7:30 p.m., in Emerson Hall 210 at Harvard.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
10 May 2005
William Rivers Pitt introducing Dahr Jamail.
Monday, April 25, 2005 Boston

I’m kinda disappointed they don’t have me up there but whatever… .

(big sigh) Good evening.

I was invited here tonight to speak with you about the corporate news media and Iraq. I’ve decided to refrain from using the commonly used term “mainstream news media” because there’s nothing mainstream about them. And because the phrase “corporate news media” fully reflects the reality of the manner in which information is delivered to the American people in this day and age. In a nation where one of the largest defense contractors in existence, General Electric, controls several of the most popular news stations to be found for the American people, I’m talking about MSNBC, NBC, CNBC, what other term could be used?

General Electric cashes in every time something blows up over in Iraq and yet people go there for the truth about our occupation of that country. I don’t think so. When was the last time you heard anyone in the corporate media talk about how there are no weapons of mass destruction that were found anywhere in Iraq. One of these days I’d like to turn on CNN and hear one of their talking heads say something like this, “Today in Iraq, the 26,000 litres of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, the 500 tons (which is 1 million pounds) of sarin, mustard and VX gas, the 30,000 munitions to deliver these agents, the mobile biological weapons labs, the uranium from Niger, and the robust nuclear weapons program that President Bush told us about in his January 2003 state of the union address were once again not found anywhere. Now here’s Flappy with the weather….”

That would be nice. I can dream right? By the way (puts hands to mouth to yell) George! It’s NEW-KLEE-YER, right?! new-klee-yer…. The law of large numbers says he’s got to get it right one of these days. I’m not holding my breath. The corporate news media does not report. It distracts. You all know this. Eric Blumrich put together a recent flash video mocking the corporate news media. The voiceover for the flash video sounded a little bit, sounded exactly like this, “Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, Robert Blake, Robert Blake, Paris Hilton, Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, Paris Hilton” and on and on and on.

It’s funny but it’s true. I was asked to talk about the media coverage Iraq but I’m going to augre this in a little bit of a different direction and talk about what we can do about Iraq. Not just the media coverage but about the situation in Iraq itself. As with much in life, it’s helpful to find a hero to emulate when setting a course towards action. Let me tell you a brief story about one such hero. Medea Benjamin remembers the day a smiling 17-year-old woman named Marla Ruzicka walked into the offices of Global Exchange in San Francisco looking to join their work. Benjamin, the director of Global Exchange, recalls Ruzicka as quote “being a vivacious young woman who wanted to learn about the world. She lived with our families, worked with Global Exchange on issues ranging from the AIDS crisis in Africa to travel restrictions against Cuba.” In November of 2001, Benjamin and Ruzicka traveled to Afghanistan to observe the bombing campaign as it was happening. “We saw what happens when smart bombs get dropped and kill innocent people.” recalls Benjamin. “We saw what collateral damage means. We saw the agony of war.” They saw in other words what the news media refused to show us. When the ‘shock and awe’ bombing campaign in Iraq unfolded, Ruzicka was there with several activists from a variety of organizations. Many of these activists returned to America in order to report on what they had seen, but Ruzicka stayed in Iraq and embarked upon a project of singular importance. She stayed, in short, to count the dead. In a news conference at Baghram Air Force Base in Afghanistan in March 2002 wrote Ruzicka in an editorial printed by USA Today recently, “General Tommy Franks said, ‘We don’t do body counts. In my 2 years in Iraq the one question I’m asked the most is ‘How many Iraqi civilians have been killed by American forces?’’ The American public has a right to know how many Iraqis have lost their lives since the start of the war and as hostilities continue.” Ruzicka founded an organization called Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict or CIVIC and went door-to-door across Iraq to speak to ordinary people and try to determine how many civilians had been killed. How many family members they lost. It was a daunting task given the size of the country, the many areas where fighting is taking place and the extreme dangers involved. In December of 2003 the San Francisco Chronicle published a report on Ruzicka’s work in Iraq. “Our goal was never to get every name,” said Ruzicka in the report, “but to draw attention to the dire need there. Now we’d like to transition into providing services, getting help for people who need it.” The writer of the story posed the final question, “Would she ever consider doing something a little safer?” “To have a job where you can makes things better for people, that’s a blessing.” she said, “Why would I do anything else?”

On Saturday, April 16 just this past week Marla Ruzicka was killed in Iraq by a car bomb. Two others died with her in the blast. She was 28.

In all of the horror, sorrow and death of this unjust and illegal war 1, 571 American soldiers have been killed since I left my apartment, more than 10,000 others maimed, more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians reportedly killed, untold thousands more Iraqi civilians maimed. Marla Ruzicka is but one name. On the day she was killed 4 other Americans, Sargeant Angelo Lozada, Sargeant Tromaine Toy, Specialist Randy Stevens and Private Aaron Hudson, also died by violence. There is no list of the names of Iraqis who died that day. Which is the reason why Ruzicka did what she did. Hers is but one name on a long long list and yet she stands as a bright beacon for us all. She died trying to bring to light the true cost of this war, the wrenching damage done to families caught in the crossfire of this occupation. We should recognize, as Medea Benjamin, about how much a 28-year-old woman from California was able to do. Not only to bring compassion and comfort to many families in Afghanistan and Iraq but to unpack the term ‘collateral damage’ and show that war is indeed about destroying human lives and families and communities. This war is destroying human lives, families and communities. A proper tribute to the life and activism of Marla Ruzicka will involve all of us. We must redouble our efforts to end this war and bring American troops home. A proper tribute would be to continue her work and make sure there is an accounting of the human toll of this occupation. So the truth is found and seen for all. A proper tribute would be to continue her efforts to force the American federal government to pay reparations to those whose lives have been shattered. “Our best tribute to Marla,” says Medea Benjamin, “would be to force our government to help innocent victims of war, but even more profoundly to stop war.” Her name was Marla Ruzicka. She lived and died in service to others. For a cause greater than herself. Full in the knowledge that one small person can have an enormous impact. Remember her. Follow her lead. Stand up. That pretty much would be the best tribute of all.

There is another hero out there working for us, and yes, I use the term hero, and 30 lashes with a wet noodle for anyone who disagrees with me, named Howard Dean. As I’m sure you know Dean has become Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, a refreshing change to say the least. Heroes and friends serve many purposes. Last week Chairman Dean served us by offering a statement that many of us disagree with. Hear me out on this. Last week Chairman Dean stated that the United States must remain militarily engaged in Iraq. “Now that we’re there we can’t get out.” Dean told an audience of nearly a thousand in the Minneapolis Convention Center. “The President has created an enormous security problem for the United States where none existed before. But I hope that President is incredibly successful with his policy now that he’s there.”

Chairman Dean cited three potential threats to American security that in his opinion require a continued American presence in that nation. The threats he enumerated were that an American withdrawal could open the door to a fundamentalist Shiite theocracy which could be worse than the one controlling Iran, could precipitate the creation of an independent Kurdistan in the north and destabilize the neighboring Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iran and Syria. And could cause Iraq to become an operational base for terrorist organizations in the fashion of Afghanistan. Clearly these are all well-reasoned concerns that cannot and must not be dismissed out-of-hand. The Bush administration’s catastrophic Iraq policy, beginning with their wide-ranging disinformation campaign regarding weapons of mass destruction, to their wildly inaccurate belief that American invasion forces would be welcomed with open arms, to their ham-fisted and massively corrupt handling of the occupation, has created the threats we now face. Simply put Iraq was not a hotbed of terrorism and threats to American security until the invasion and occupation. We were told Iraq was a threat to us which was a lie. The invasion and occupation which was supposed to destroy those threats has in fact created those threats where they did not exist before. This reality and the threats to our security that have been created by Bush’s disastrous policies cannot be ignored.

I have to interrupt for a quick announcement. I was introduced as a writer for the news magazine Truthout. I’m still writing for Truthout but now on a freelance basis, I’m no longer on the staff. I’m privileged to report that I’ve taken a position as Editorial Director for Progressive Democrats of America. If you want to know more about this change or the excellent organization come and ask me after we’re done here. We at PDA do not agree with Chairman Dean’s assessment of the situation. The three scenarios outlined by the Chairman which in his opinion require our continued presence in Iraq would only come to pass if the United States fled willy-nilly out of that country and left it in it’s current chaotic state. There are other options besides remain indefinitely and leave immediately. When the invasion and occupation of Iraq are reduced to an intellectual exercise of fodder for political debate it’s simple enough to put forth arguments in favor of staying. One does not run into a china shop with a free-wielded baseball bat, smash everything in sight and then scuttle out the door saying ‘it wasn’t me.’ Yet this is not an intellectual exercise. The potential for horrific chaos and threats to security as described by Chairman Dean are very real. Likewise the damage being done by the occupation is a flesh-and-bone reality which the families of our soldiers and the families of dead and maimed Iraqi civilians can attest to. For all the Bush administration prattle about democracy on the margin completing the mission the fact is that democracy was never on the table. The mission has become a bloody and disorganized holding action that was never intended to reach a conclusion but is intended to establish a permanent military presence in the region. The reality of the mess in the minds of administration officials justifies continued occupation. Given these facts, arguments in favor of staying in Iraq must be met with concrete plans for withdrawal from that country. Plans that provide security and sovereignty for the Iraqi people, plans that directly address some of the concerns raised by Chairman Dean. Here are some suggestions for the formulation of that plan. End the Houston-based contracting of work in Iraq and open up the doors to Iraqi companies and workers, there’s a shocking idea. The believers in privatization should practice what they preach and allow Iraqis to make money off the work and repairs needed to be done. As funds flow into the Iraqi economy burgeoning in reconstituted private companies can take it upon themselves to make sure the lights work, the water’s running, the roads are paved, the trash is picked up. Once upon a time Iraq was the most modern and industrialized country in that region. It remains today filled with highly-educated people who are perfectly capable of running a country.

Arrange the creation of a base of operations outside of Iraq where an Iraqi national guard and police force can be trained to take over the security of their own country establishing a place away from the violence where Iraqis can be prepared and armed for the work needed to gain control of the country. this will ultimately allow American forces to back away. Something that has been the chief aggravating factor in the populace. Doing this away from the violence will allow Iraqis to sign up for this work without fear of being blown sideways out of a recruiting station which has been happening quite often. There are a bunch of nations in the region who are perfect candidates for basing of this training ground. Until the infrastructure is repaired and security forces are assembled, steps must be taken to achieve stability without an American face on the action. The United States must work in good faith with both the United Nations and The Arab League to assemble a large security force comprised of people from the region. Once Iraqi infrastructure is restored and a security and police force is in place, the Arab forces can begin a phased withdrawal, meanwhile American forces can be removed en masse. And be gone.

The Bush administration must practice what they preach about bringing democracy to the nation. Democracy is not the installation of a vici government managed by remote control from Washington. The Iraqi people will never accept such a government and the violence and chaos will not end. If we provide security by way of the aforementioned steps the Iraqi people will be most certainly capable of deciding how their country will be governed. The recent farce of an election didn’t even come close to achieving this. All of the candidates were anonymous because they feared assassination and large swaths of the populace didn’t participate because they saw it for the sham it was. Even with the previously described steps to awaken the Iraqi economy and provide a security that the Iraqi people are taken a government created by legitimate elections however it may turn out will certainly not pose a threat to American security. We’ll solve that problem. A vital element to the process would be the establishment of a set time table. Time tables are dangerous to some people if they are not met, rage is the inevitable result. Yet the changes required - our status in Iraq need immediate date markers and deadlines to push the process along. And the Iraqi people need to know exactly when their country will be their own again. PDA does not consider these ideas the only options for a responsible withdrawal, we’d pose them as a means to foster discussion and to demonstrate that there are other options besides the limited ones being discussed in the public arena. The only option really being discussed is that we have to stay. In the final analysis, PDA believes our arguments in favor of staying in Iraq empower the very people who created this mess in the first place. We believe the motives and rhetoric of the Bush administration, and I want to say this as nicely as possible, are disingenuous at best. But until the Democratic minority develops some kind of a clear concise alternative to their plans, matters in Iraq will continue indefinitely on their bloody and dangerous course. We’re confident Chairman Dean will welcome a discussion of other options regarding our presence in Iraq. The statement last week was fortuitous because, though we at PDA pretty much, most everyone within the progressive community disagrees completely with his premise, the fact that he made those statements has given us all an opportunity to discuss this matter at length.

(long pause, voices heard faintly in the audience)

I’m almost done. I’m almost done. [whispered to someone near him.]

So anyway that’s that. You won’t find discussions of an exit plan in the corporate news, you’d have to work very hard to find the name Marla Ruzicka in the corporate news and the uncounted dead she dedicated her life to or reported not at all. You won’t find reports on what happened in Fallujah in the corporate news for that, for an eyes on the ground truthful look at what happened and continues to happen in Iraq you have to turn to Dahr Jamail. If you want heroes we have one here tonight. It is my great privilege and honor to introduce a man who has put his life on the line to tell the truth of Iraq to the world.

Please join me in welcoming to Boston Mr. Dahr Jamail.

Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
10 May 2005
"You are racist because you believe everything that the military PR folks feed the press"

Do you even understand the meaning of the word "racism"?

Aimee, you better check yourself. You've assume, based on nothing but your own prejudices, that I am:
1. Jewish.
2. An IDF soldier.
3. A cop.
4. A frat boy.
5. Of European descent.
6. Male.
7. American or a resident of America.

I guess one out of seven ain't so bad. I don't think you could take the cognitive dissonance of the truth.

I pity you.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
11 May 2005
Democrats are equally as responsible for the Iraqi War as Republicans. They are simply playing the "alternative" foil to the far right tactics of the Republican Party. As the political spectrum in this country jumped to the far right, the center and even left center are now what would have been considered "right" before 9/11 and the War on Terror. The Republicans may have started the war, but a "Democratic" party opposition felt no need to oppose it in the form of a true anti-war candidiate, or by Congressional representatives doing their job. They are complicit.

What the "new" Democratic Party means when it whines about sectarian infighting is that they want all of us "leftists" to jump further to the right with them. They believe that we must do this, because they are the only opposition party. Yet they oppose nothing except their continued lack of power. They channel our righteous indignation at the criminal policies of the Bush Admin. into their losing cause. On purpose. They present a kinder, gentler machine gun hand.

Jonny said:
LIBERAL - Some one that believes the problem is with the leadership.

RADICAL - Someone that believes the problem is systemic.

That is correct. I would then argue that anyone who was "liberal" before the last 2 elections and is not now "radical" has no business calling themselves "left" of anything.

So, Mr. Pitt- to those who argue against the sectarianism of the left, I respond that it will end when the Democratic Party stops representing the right-center (middle-class socially liberal and economically conservative debaters), and starts rerpresenting radical ideas like the ones that got the Right Wing Theocrats selected. Ideas other than setting up a "School of the Arabias" to train Iraqi trrops to fight their own people. Ask Latin Americans how well the "School of the Americas" has turned out. You know, radical ideas like opposing American business interests from driving a rascist foreign policy of Imperialism and military intervention.

And, to those who do not thinkthat our foriegn policy is rascist, I will ask you how long the "War on Terror" would be supported were the bombings and destruction occuring in Ireland, in an attempt to drive out the last strongholds of the IRA? When White Christians are the "collateral damage?" Come to think of it, didn't the IRA rob a bank not that long ago? Where are the American troops? Can't we get some "bunker busters" in there and get rid of them? I hear the Irish have thousands of barrels of Guinness squirreled away...

It should be called what it is- The War Against Islam, The War Against Arabs, or just the plain old Crusades. And the "Democratic minority" that represents the democratic majority (what % of the population voted again?) was there every step of the way letting it happen. Now they want us to believe that we need to stay there for "humanitarian" reasons? Only civilizaed Westerners can solve Iraqi problems, not the Iraqi people themselves? Or worse, the uncivilized Iraqis need to be taught how to control their own people? Perhaps in a working Democracy (and I'm still waiting) people wouldn't need to be controlled. Just a thought. Good luck in 2008...
14 May 2005
"In the FRONT ROW were TWO WHITE GUYS with PALESTINIAN SCARVES wrapped around their necks."



As for disagreeing, people on the left often disagree; people on the right, too, often disagree; people in the middle often disagree; people often disagree because people are different and often have different ideas!

The problem on the left is that we don't have media venues (like even liberal/progressive/left radio) or other venues (like at political presentation/panel events) where we can carry on something more than just a soundbite dialogue with the appearing progressive icon(s). You're lucky on progressive radio if you even get more than 1 minute and 10 seconds to even decently frame and pose a question. The icon, whose views we typically know very well, but would like to explore for, perhaps, new synthesis, gives a speech for an hour -- and then there's 15 minutes of Q&A for 250+ people. So there's no real intellectual opportunity to evolve new thought or to try to resolve old issues (like leftist Kerrycrats). The left, so-called, "eats itself because real dialogue is often choked off by radio or panel hosts (and often many in the grassroots) attachment to even leftist celebrityism. So, no real dialogue ever gets done between the grassroots and the celebrities/icons; some people become frustrated and, perhaps, lash out.
14 May 2005

I just wanted to make it clearer.


Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
14 May 2005
Oh, please. I was there. I WAS in the first row with the videographers, though the people who heckled him were not, contrary to William Pitt's assertion. The people who heckled him and were wearing the kafiya were several rows back.

Furthermore, anyone who's familiar with the anti-war community in Boston knows both of the people who were wearing the kafiya. Stop it with the snitch-jacketing.

And, yes, indeed, Pitt was heckled. And not only by only those two people. Probably half the crowd - starting with those of us who knew him and his pro-occupation politics before he started talking and then, after he made ridiculous statements endorsing the Democratic Party and, even more absurdly, Howard Dean, many many more - at some point was openly laughing at William Pitt while he was on stage and/or challenging his pro-occupation press release. (I'm not exaggerating. He literally read, word for word, a press release in which he refered to the Democratic Party as "we" since he has taken a job as a paid shill for the Democrat wing of the War Party.) Afterward, many people - after finding out that Mobe was going to actually give money to the asshole - gave donations directly to Dhar Jamail rather than allow Mobe to give their money to Pitt.

All this snitch-jacketing and so forth by people who weren't even there (or they would know exactly who Pitt was talking about heckling him) merely serves to obscure a more interesting question: Why the hell did Mobe bring a pro-occupation, paid shill for the Democratic Party to a Dhar Jamail event? I mean, seriously, what did they expect from teh crowd. An anti-occupation crowd was OBVIOUSLY not going to be friendly to someone with Pitt's politics being given a bully pulpit for a long-winded speech about how the occupation was "necessary". Honestly, I'm not sure if Mobe is just really that clueless or what.
"after he [Pitt] made ridiculous statements endorsing the Democratic Party"
14 May 2005
Okay, "Front Row" (14 May), you've convinced me!: if what you say is right, I'D HAVE HECKLED HIM TOO!!

Before, I was just going by the article Pitt wrote above. The only context I knew was from Pitt's article.

Only you're *wrong* about one thing (if I may be picky): it's not "the Democrat wing" of the War Party; it's "the Democrat *FACTION*" of the War Party. The Democrats aren't even a "wing" anymore! -- let alone a real, separate party.

First the Democrats, somewhat arguably, used to be "a separate party". Then, with Clinton, they became a "wing" of the Republican party -- or as I said, the DLC became the GOP! And by the time Hillary runs, next presidential election, the Democrats will have degenerated into the Democrat *clique* or Democrat *coffee klatch* of the military-industrial complex's Permanent War Republican Party (the PWRP).

Anyway, thanks for the correction.
14 May 2005
bluto: "in case you haven't been keeping up on current events, lately the victims of the Iraqi "resistance" have been Iraqis, particularly Shias targeted by Sunnis aiming to spark sectarian violence."

That's not what the British medical journal Lancet study says.

The British medical journal Lancet study says that by far (in case you haven't been keeping up with current events, bluto), war by COALITION FORCES and the OCCUPATION itself is BY FAR responsible for most Iraqi civilian deaths. Go READ it.

Can you at least say "Fallujah"?

--and whatever the U.S. military is doing in northwestern Iraq villages, towns, and cities in its new military offensive now. No doubt, like in Fallujah, destroying the city to save it.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
16 May 2005
To the person who said that more than half of the people were moaning at the comments of Pitt, you are flat out lieing. I was in the next pew to the hecklers and they were 3 rows out acting like idiots. Like children, one of the two hecklers threw a piece of paper that nearly hit the podium and kept interupting Pitt's speech. The overwhelming majority was disgusted by the rudeness of these two jerks. A couple of people voiced their disgust directly to them. There was a couple of "radicals" in the first row who supported these immature antics, but most people were just embarrassed by the incident. I think the problem with the "movement" against all this insanity of Bush, Inc. is that you have people who take themselves way too seriously. Due to lack of identity issues they adopt this bullshit personae of radical leftist who is oh so pure in their idealogy. Get a life. The majority of you grew up in relatively comfortable middle class backgrounds.
I have read Pitt's essays for the past couple of years and generally I agree with him. However, I do believe he is sucking up to the power structure somewhat with his defense of Dean's more pro-occupation policy statements. In any case, if you don't agree with him set up your own debate, invite a group and win your argument with rational logic, not act like junvenile delinquents.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
18 May 2005
"There always has been and always will be a tug of war in the Left between the liberals and Left radicals."

And, even more so, a struggle between authoritarian radicals and libertarian radicals.

"now they have to contend with a pundit going around equating support for Palestinians with divisive and self-destructive leftists"

Self-destructive leftists? As in suicide bombers? Was this a Freudian slip?

PS: Aimee, Israel is not an "apartheid state", its the most liberal and democratic country in the region. But, I realize you don't care too much for liberal democracy. Islamofascism is much better for womens' and workers' rights, after all.
Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
18 May 2005
"not act like junvenile delinquents"

Re: William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
18 May 2005
Don't blame the JDL on this one, idiot.