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Commentary :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Media : Race
Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
19 Dec 2004
Modified: 05:56:58 AM
Is Boston IMC racist, however inadvertently, against Arabs, Muslims and Iraqis when it silences the pro-armed Iraqi resistance perspective and falsely labels it "hate-speech?" I argue it is.
When the Boston IMC was formed in the wake of the Seattle protests, the theory was that the site would provide an open publishing environment along with space for feedback to all posts. It was not pitched as a specifically "left wing" project. It was only by implication "left wing" because it is focused on being democratic, open with decentralized control - values not embraced by the "right wing." These were the values employed in the mass actions at that time. Spokescouncils and affinity groups were used as the main format for mass anti-corporate-globalization protests and direct action. Manifestations of dissent to corporate control in Europe and Canada took it a step further by recognizing diversity of tactics. Activists would separate into different blocks based on their beliefs and willingness to risk arrest.

A lot has happened since Nov. 1999. Most notably, the US has undertaken two wars of aggression, continues to wage proxy war in Palestine against the uprising and has put up bases in a number of additional countries. The media has taken a sharp turn to promoting overt nationalism and hatred and fear towards Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians. The federal government has been further consolidated and has engaged in blatant profiling and severe repression against these communities. Laws have been drastically changed. The violations practiced by the federal government in the COINTELPRO era are no longer violations, but mandated policy.

The mass anti-corporate-globalization protests in the US included in their calls "non-violence." For some this is a principle of life, for others this was a tactical agreement. But even with the agreement, conflicts still occurred as evidenced by some choosing to smash the windows of an outlet of the transnational Starbucks corporation in response to police rioting, while others formed a blockade to protect such stores. Both sides of that argument continue to exist in the anti-corproate-globalization movement and IMC has not and should not silence either.

When it comes to aggressive war, the stakes get a little higher. The premise of tactical non-violence as a means to appeal to the moral side of those making decisions that end up devastating people's lives may have some effect when lobbying the World Bank and the IMF. But it would be the height of naivte to think that "speaking truth to power" might move whichever forces chose to follow on a genocidal sanctions regime and previous war with a "shock and awe" air assault coupled with a massive ground invasion in Iraq. People in Iraq are clearly facing a genocidal campaign. The mainstream media in the US is not only uncritical of the forces who demanded invasion, they are directly complicit in agreeing to the embedded reporter scheme and in laying the groundwork for invasion by promoting fear and smear about all things Arab or Muslim.

What can we do here in the anti-war movement to interrupt this course of events? How can we stay the hand of our government, the most genocidal and terrorizing organization on the face of the planet? We have had an occasional protest and people have taken the streets a time or two. Other than the dockworkers shutting down the ports for a time, the resistance to this latest crime against humanity from within the hub of the empire has been almost nonexistent. To be fair, it is no easy task to change the course of US society in the context of corporate rule...

What of those resisting in Iraq? How can we at the very least stand in solidarity with them? Just as with those resisting in Palestine since this latest Intifada, what has been the response of our movements here in the hub of the empire? For the most part, it has been critique, condemnation of Islam as a spiritual basis for resistance, and demonization for certain tactics that have been fetishized for us by our mainstream media. Some are willing to call for victory to the Iraqi resistance. Many not in "the left" can understand such a call. But in "the left," many wish to call for an "end to the cycle of violence" and one anti-war organizer went so far as to say that we should be encouraging non-violent resistance in Iraq. Believe me, no one in Iraq needs us to teach them how to resist occupation. Such resistance is predominantly non-violent already. But do Iraqis not have the right to self-defense? Do we honor and support that right along with all other human rights for Iraqis? Who are we - we who are actually participating in their genocide by funding this war and we who are not managing to stop our government - who are we to tell Iraqis anything beyond our most sincere and humble apologies?

It is from this context that I view the action of Boston IMC as reported to me by Pete Stidman to remove entirely from its website a recent post entitled "We Shall Purge These Lands With Blood & Fire" by John Brown dated Dec 14, 2004. It included a picture of an Iraqi fighter standing in front of a burning vehicle that had been struck by either a road-side explosive or some type of shell. It was reported to me that this post was removed because the editors decided it constituted "hate" even in its title.

People wishing to purge their land of foreign occupiers whose latest assault is estimated to have cost some 100,000 Iraqi lives, whose government had waged a genocidal sanctions regime against the Iraqi people claiming somewhere between one million and two million lives, and who had also subjected that country to widescale shelling with depleted uranium munitions leading to an escalation in cancer and deformity rates in the population are quite within their rights. If it is not justified to advocate the "purge" of Iraq of such murderous and genocidal forces, then it seems Boston IMC is asking Iraqis to just roll over and accept whatever degree of annihilation the US government has planned for them. Remember, protests are met with sniper fire and bombings in Iraq. The government is hand picked by the invaders. Martial law is still in place. Check points, closures, curfews, and all the brutal tactics generously shared with the US government by the Israeli government. After all, the Israeli government has decades of experience with repressing an entire population. These tactics of crippling movement, silencing expression, and murderous collective punishment make it necessary to fight fire with fire. It is tragic that Iraqis have no alternative, but to silence those giving voice to this necessity and giving voice to the fact that the Iraqi resistance will succeed just as the Vietnamese resistance did before them, seems complicit with the US genocide of Iraq. The silencing of this point of view by Boston IMC is the hateful and bigoted act, not the advocating of the purging of these brutal forces.

It is further troubling that Boston IMC chose to remove this post entirely rather than put it in the hidden section. This further means that such hate-filled decisions can take place without transparency and oversight by the larger community. If I hadn't have been interested in the comments to that post, I would not have noticed its having been censored.

It is understandable that we here in the US cannot organize the kind of forces needed to stay the hand of our genocidal government. It is shameful, but that is the reality. But how dare we censor and silence those who are resisting by any means necessary, those who are having an effect, those with the most to lose, and those who share an equal human right to self-defense? How dare we practice such bigotry. Allowing a voice, even if we don't understand it entirely, is the LEAST we can possibly do to support those facing genocide.

I sincerely hope Boston IMC will return the post to the newswire and show much more respect for those facing the brunt of our governments brutality in the future. I also hope all in the anti-war and the anti-corporate-globalization movement will ask deep questions about how racism and pacifism can reinforce each other as has been clearly laid out by Ward Churchill in his essay entitled "Pacifism as Pathology."

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Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
19 Dec 2004
I agree completely with Aimee. Not only is this article hidden, but completely purged. To remain neutral towards a resistance movement, or to claim to promote non-violence, is as good as supporting the oppressor. It'd be great huh if only the Israelis/Amerikans would drop their guns, but they won't so take your white liberal shit elsewhere. To remain neutral or pasifistic (which is as good as passive) is the same as remaining neutral/pasifistic towards slavery. You simple can't be neutral when the two sides are so grossly misproportioned.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
19 Dec 2004
I agree completely. End censorship at IMC. Then you can unhide that delicious and clearly all-too-accurate slag of Ms. Aimee from a few days ago.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
19 Dec 2004
glorifying the killing of american troops: why the anti-war movement will never win over the majority of americans when it otherwise could. "resistance" supporters, thanks for making the government's job here at home much, much easier.

-neither white nor liberal. check your f*cking assumptions.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
19 Dec 2004
so why don't you join boston imc and have it your way? or start your own site. they're doing the work, the workers can make the decisions.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
19 Dec 2004
NOTE: I'm speaking for myself here, not the Boston IMC collective.

We're currently discussing the decision that was made to delete the "article" in question.

It's one thing to call a possible mistake to our attention (and we appreciate it when people do that), but Aimee's response seems a bit over the top to me. We've featured numerous articles highly critical of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine (I should know, I've written many of them) and we make (what might be) one little mistake and suddenly we get accused of all sorts of horrible things, like censorship, racism and complicity in genocide. Can we please try to have a sense of proportion about this? Indeed, the "article" in question wasn't even a proper article with substantial content, but simply a photo with a vague slogan--it was not even completely clear to me what it was even referring to when I saw it. I am really quite puzzled about what the big deal is.

Aimee is also assuming that those of us who are members of the Boston IMC share some unified political perspective. She is deeply mistaken. While I am a pacifist (not one of the obnoxious, moralistic sorts though--and I'm not a reformist either; I'm also an anarchist), I would not be surprised to find I was the only one in the Boston IMC who is. Honestly, we don't get into major discussions about ideology. What brings is together is not some nonexistent party line, but a commitment to keeping this site working as a valuable resource for those folks working for social justice, particularly those in the Boston area. We encourage a wide variety of political viewpoints to be expressed, in the belief that political dialogue is a good thing and no one has all the answers. As I said, I'm a pacifist, but I always get annoyed with pacifists who are inclined to dismiss anyone who advocates violent tactics--I think dialogue around these issues is valuable and I've learned something from them.

As a general rule, the only political perspectives we hide are those that are clearly hateful. Indeed, if you take the time to browse through the hidden comments section of our website , you will find that we have had to hide large numbers of posts making bigoted comments about Palestinians, Arabs in general, and Muslims. So please spare us these completely over the top charges. We may not be perfect, but we're certainly not the reactionaries Aimee would make us out to be.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
19 Dec 2004
My concern is that articles are seemingly getting pulled, especially from the center column, every other day. And whenever they are being discussed, they never come back. I still haven't heard one good reason why this post should be removed.
More Questions
20 Dec 2004
Why is this post hidden?

I guess I should be thankful it was also not removed from the site entirely, but really, this is a report of activities in Iraq under the posting alias of "Bring them on!", an obvious satirical reference to what arrogant G. W. Bush said about resistance in Iraq...

Matt, I didn't jump to any conclusions. I wrote to IMC and received a reply that a pro-resistance post was "hateful." That either indicates extreme ignorance or indifference to the plight of Iraqis on the part of of Boston IMC editorial collective. Indifference towards people facing genocide, particularly one waged by our own government with our own tax dollars, is racism and complicity.

But I am sure you, Matt, are the one to judge objectively who is and who is not "over the top." That takes a lot of "confidence" to feel so sure of your judgements.

Lastly, I recommend against the IMC policy of hiding hate-speech. Especially because the group of people involved in making these decisions is not very diverse. Even though it sucks to have to see racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. type posts, it is better that we challenge these posts one by one and expose them for the bigotry that they are. Every single one of us has a great deal to learn about all of these very deep systems of oppression. And part of our struggle is to be strong in the face of what we recognize as bigotry and be open to learning to recognize bigorty where we had failed to notice it before from others. This requires a certain degree of space to have discussions and disagreements, just as we need space to discuss tactical strategy, movement building etc. I had thought IMC was committed to such struggle. I understand that people who feel discriminated against will not feel welcome in a community that tolerates bigotry, but there is a more constructive way to reject it than straight censorship - confronting it, calling people out on their bs could communicate what this IMC community is about.

But hey, Matt already knows everything, and what could I possibly have to share from my experience of observing and many times confronting all manner of mysogyny in male dominated science environments for the better part of the last 15 years... no doubt nothing.

DIY is of course correct, that if you want to control the policy, you should start your own medium, but if we are going to figure out how to be a movement that supports eachothers work, we don't need 20 IMC's in Boston, we should try to avoid duplicating work when we can. But true enough, if it needs to be duplicated to get around racist censorship, then so be it.
Post moved to Other Press
20 Dec 2004
"Why is this post hidden?";

The original post you linked to is marked "hidden" because it was moved from the newswire section to the Other Press section ( ), because that's where articles published by other organizations belong. The newswire is intended for original work, not reprints from the corporate media.

As for your argument that it would be better to leave everything on the site that's posted, this has already been tried at hundreds of IMCs across the world, and virtually all have found that some degree of moderation is needed to prevent sites from being monopolized by crackpots.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
20 Dec 2004
You received a reply from Pete, explaining his own reasons for deleting the article in question. He was not speaking for the Boston IMC. May be it would help to explain a little how the editorial process here works. Most editorial decisions are made individually. There's no other way to do it, given the volume of new content that is posted to this site everyday. If we met to discuss each editorial decision, we'd have to have meetings of several hours everyday--something impossible for a team of volunteers with a lot of other things going on in their lives. Each of us who are editors go through the new posts everyday, making judgments on our own. We are guided in our judgments by an editorial policy we have collectively decided upon, so there is a strong collective element in the individual decisions made. Most of the time, the process works fine and there are no disagreements among the editors about what another editor did. Occasionally, there is a major disagreement--if someone thinks something really shouldn't have been featured or hidden, then we discuss it. If we agree it was a mistake, we may then unfeature or unhide it. (I don't think we unfeature things that often--certainly not every other day; and when we do unfeature something, it goes back to the newswire (there seems to have been a technical snafu in the case of Maus' recent post that was a matter of such controversy).) So Pete decided to delete that post on his own. Now that you have raised the issue, we are discussing the matter over e-mail and may undelete it (yes, we can do that). We haven't come to a final decision on the matter yet though.

As for my supposed dogmatism, I'm a little mystified about where you got that idea. I said in my last post that, although I consider myself a pacifist, I am perfectly willing to engage in dialogue with people who advocate armed struggle. I've learned things from those dialogues, my views have grown more nuanced, even if I remain a pacifist. Perhaps it is just the nature of an on-line forum, but, frankly Aimee, you come across as the one sure that you have all the answers. Your original post is really quite dismissive of pacifism, for instance. I admit I haven't yet read Churchill's Pacifism as Pathology, but it's on my to-read list and I've read other critiques of pacifism. Have you read any of the better, more nuanced advocates of nonviolence? Or are you basing your arguments on stereotypes? I would suggest More Power Than We Know by Dave Dellinger, We Are All Part of One Another by Barbara Deming, and Powerful Peacemaking by George Lakey. (If it matters, all these authors are radicals--indeed, most pacifists are. Liberals typically advocate nonviolence not out of a belief in nonviolence, but because they think only the state has a legitimate right to use violence--a position I'm even more critical of than arguments for armed struggle.) I'd also suggest Conquest of Violence by Joan Bondurant, which is a good formulation of Gandhis' strategic thinking (Gandhi himself is an awful writer, but if you want to read him and not someone else's interpretation of him, check out Hind Swaraj. And, yes, Gandhi was not perfect--he had a very authoritarian leadership style and some really screwed up ideas about sexuality and gender).

As for the suggestion that we let hate posts remain up--as Joe said, it's been tried. It doesn't work. You give one excellent reason for hiding hate posts--the discomfort it creates among many oppressed people to see that sort of garbage on a site. Attempting to confront those people just results in endless debates, which really do nothing for the site. There certainly should be forums in which hatred is called out, but the Boston IMC doesn't work as such a forum (although one could argue that hiding a post as bigoted is a form of calling someone out). And Joe gives the other reason for hiding hate posts--hate posters would take over the newswire if we didn't. We're not being paranoid. This newswire itself was once nearly taken over by neo-Nazis (most of the posts visible on the front page were by Nazis) until we began a vigorous campaign of hiding everything by them. Our editorial policy is based in part on a set of progressive principles, but it is also based on the lessons of maintaining this website since March 2000, when it started up. This policy is continually evolving as we learn new lessons and reader feedback plays a role in the changes we make to our editorial policy. Based on nearly five years of experience, we have concluded that hate posts have no place here and should all be hidden.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
20 Dec 2004
I should add, while the decision to delete the post in question was Pete's own, I can see why he had issues with it. It was kind of disturbing, in so far as it had any message at all. It was not simply that it advocated armed struggle--a legitimate case can certainly be made for that. It was that it was romanticizing violence. Violence may be necessary in some extreme circumstances, but it's never a good thing. Even those fighting for a just cause are likely to be left psychologically disturbed (post-traumatic stress syndrome) by the act of killing another human being, especially if they remain in tune with progressive values. The whole thing about "We will purge this land with blood and fire" reminds me of what Richard Slotkin called the ideology of "regeneration through violence" in his book Gunfighter Nation--this was the ideology of patriarchal violence that justified the genocide of Native Americans, that involved cleansing America of corruption by violent men who temporarily stepped out of civilization. In the case of the Iraqi geurillas they may be resisting genocide, not committing it, but an ideology that glorifies violence is pretty likely to be patriarchal and, regardless of that, pretty generally screwed up.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
20 Dec 2004
The inflamatory post by "Aimee' about Boston IMC editorial policy is divisive and silly. Any serious article about the heroic struggle of Iraqi resistance fighters against the US occupation army would never be censored by them, I know for a fact. An out-of-context photo of a burning car consisting of a single sentence "Count on it." isn't a contribution to journalism or understanding or strategy or history. This is a bone for somebody else's dog, or an excuse for reactionaries to trash IndyMedia, -something I'm sure the Bush administration rejoices in.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
20 Dec 2004
The article Aimee refers to had nothing indicating that the person in the photo is an iraqi freedom fighter. It could have easily been a photo from anywhere. The title of the article was ""We Shall Purge These Lands With Blood & Fire" an the FULL text was "COUNT ON IT" .

Aimee position on this is pure bullshit. I wrote her back and said that if the article had contained an indication of who was in the photo or any context whatsoever the decision might have been different. As the article stands it could be referring to purging this land in frie and blood. the very land we are standing on. I don't think Indymedia was created to incite people to kill and burn everyone in america, or anywhere else for that matter. Indymedia was created to give everyone the ability to report their own news stories.

This article was not news, it was a photo and a violent slogan. If it had been accompanied by some coherent text, some explaination of what it was about it would make sense on the site. but it didn't.

If we did not hide things from this site it would be completely worthless. It would be a jumble of right wing assholes and a few folks who post to every site in the nation. You wouldn't have any separation between the national and local newswires, and nobody in boston would be using the site.

Aside from all that, Aimee and everyone else making negative comments on this article have never attended an IMC meeting nor checked out the massive email archives accessible in the "email listservs" link on the left hand side of our site that contain all of our meeting minutes and all of our online conversations. Their comments that paint us as not transparent and such are TOTALLY BASELESS.

It's really funny that Aimee would even mention cointelpro because there is no need for it here. She and others like her are doing their work for them...
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
20 Dec 2004
1) why delete rather than hide? Seems rather "untransparent" to me.

2) comparing response to genocide with genocide is quite racist, in my view, and even helps enable the intitial genocide against Iraqis. If there was any doubt about this post, the poster used the alias "John Brown", a person who participated in an armed action to end slavery, and the title comes from the title of his Biogrophy "To Purge this land with Blood." Brown, a white man himself was not in a race-war, but a war against oppression. The Iraqis do not "hate us b/c of our freedoms", they hate us for steeling theirs!

3) I have no editorial power, my point about people being sure they know everything becomes a problem when get to decide who can and who cannot speak.

4) people who want to see the post in question to judge for themselves can find it here:
I will tell you how you can guess that this post refers to the resistance in Iraq
i) the fighter has his head covered in typicalway used there
ii) the telephone pole is of a type I have never seen in the US
iii) the only place currently in struggle with enough tension that such an action could be followed by a posed picture in front of an arttacked vehicle as far as I know isIraq
iv.) one of the main tactics of the resistance in Iraq is targeting vehicles.
v.) the picture can be seen posted on this Iraq news site
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
20 Dec 2004
One of the very first things I said to you aimee is that I would take it to the collective meeting if you requested me too and instead you have chosen to attack me and the collective online. I cannot see how this is constructive.

You and people like you wear people who are truly devoted to social change down. I was completely open with you and gave you a way to deal with the problem yet you chose to take this destructive path.

I am really tired of being attacked for trying to help the city of boston and the many activists who live here. I am merely trying to do my part by maintaining the rules set out by decisions made by the collective. In Boston it seems there are 10 critics to every person who tries to actually do something. It is a stifling environment, a downright oppressive environment when those who are ostensibly on your own side so often resort to attack and offense.

I am not the only one who found the article in question puzzling. The first comment to it and I quote was "What?!?!?!?" One should not have to search for clues when threats of violence are aimed. One should not be left to guess who this poster wishes to kill. It would only take a few more words to make it clear.

And in the event this poster (if you are still claiming it wasn't you) was from a site promoting killing of any particular group our site should not be used to store their images (which is why it was deleted.)

This is a collective decision, that I am interpreting, (not my own decision, as Matt has claimed) and if the collective decides that I am wrong so be it. But it will take time to process that decision. There seems to be no controversy about hiding this article however, only about it's deletion. So I will make it a hidden article for the time being.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
21 Dec 2004
Thank you, Pete, for switching the article to hidden for the time being.

I reiterate that I am not the poster of the article (the same one was also posted in DC as google revealed - so it is quite possibly not a local poster.) For this reason, I *cannot* tell you the original site of the picture (I spent an hour or so looking for it last night and only found it on uruknet, which as far as I know has no original content.) If it is this hard to find the source of the picture, is it relevant whether the original appeared on a "hatesite"? Also, are the NYTimes, the Guardian, other news sources that "Embed" their reporters, anything associated with the US govt deemed hate sites? These organizations are actually involved in giving propaganda cover to and/or actively participating in a genocide in Iraq. I hope your "Hate-site" standards are uniform and not just based on who has a state behind them and who does not. If anything, those with states behind them should face higher scrutiny because they are a lot more dangerous.

Pete, I respect that IMC is a lot of work. I have supported IMC over the years. I happen to have done most of my media work in the radio format, but still, I consider myself a "part" of the indymedia community.

I have no interest in attacking you as a person, Pete. Racism is not a binary switch that some people have and others do not. We all have internalized racist assumptions and behaviors, whether we choose to learn about them or not. I am criticizing a decision and a problematic analysis used to justify that decision. I argue these acts are motivated by internalized racism. In fact, I assumed from the outset that IMC folks are committed to anti-racism, otherwise, there is no point to raise that concern. Does Rush Limbaugh care about being called a racist? I highly doubt it.

Yes, there are many discouraged and cynical folks in the Boston area who do nothing but criticize. I hear your frustration and I share it. At the same time, we are never really going to get anywhere in confronting racism if every time someone points out a racist behavior the first reaction is defensiveness and cries of "personal attack."

And Pete, if you had been more respectful in your communications to me and were not so dismissive of my concerns, I would have gone the behind the scenes route entirely. But hey, IMC is the most oppressed community around Boston, not Muslims, not Arabs, not African Americans, not homeless people... so how dare I raise this concern against the poor beleaguered yet relatively privileged IMC collective?

For the record, I do not think Pete is someone committed to racism or has a callous disregard for people facing racism. I DO believe that Pete, myself, and most everyone else in the US is exposed to very biased information so constantly that we internalize false history, false moral judgments, and false stereotypes that end up perpetuating the harming of some groups and relative privileging of other groups. I hope all of you out there will join Pete and myself in the lifelong challenge of undoing as much of this false thinking within ourselves as is possible. It would be great if it was a neat line between the racists and the non-racists, but the inadvertent racism of those who *mean* well still causes a lot of harm and must be reduced slow step by slow step.

And, I will even go so far as to apologize to you, Pete, if you felt in any way that I was suggesting that you are somehow less of a person than myself or others because of this act. I did not think so and I still do not. I simply want the unfair silencing action undone and I would like such decisions to not be repeated.

At the same time, if IMC cannot confront this kind of bias, then people really have no choice to form new infrastructure that refuses to silence those who support those being most severely bludgeoned by our government. (And yes, the Feds will be happy to have such a step needed. But the fault is not of the person who points out the need, but those who refuse to hear the concern and work to include these perspectives.)

And Pete, if you could refrain from such statements as "Aimee position on this is pure bullshit", if would at least give the impression that you were not dismissive and arrogant. In fact, you might consider apologizing for your attitude towards me. But in any case, don't be surprised when people get the impression that you are more interested in deflecting than working constructively when they see such statements. And also, you might want to consider that there are many white men in the Boston area activist scene who are quite patronizing and disrespectful to women - I will consider your point about "everybody is a critic", I hope you will consider my point about men (particularly white ones in my experience) talking down to women.

Meanwhile, this isn't about Pete and it isn't about me, it is about whether championing the resistance to a genocide can be confused with "hatespeech." Let's stick to the issue and hopefully everyone can feel respected and heard.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
21 Dec 2004
Note: this comment is not about the content of the argument, it's just about semantics.

Aimee: when you refer to the war in Iraq as "genocide," your hyperbole dilutes the meaning of the word genocide, and takes away from the credibility of your critique of the war. I agree that the war in Iraq is a racist war and that the US is fighting there to subjugate Arabs, demonize Islam, and exert economic imperialist control over the Middle East. However, as far as I know, the wiping out of an entire racial, ethnic, or religious group is not on the agenda. If I am wrong about this, please let me know. Otherwise, I humbly suggest that people make an effort towards precision in their language. Too many radicals (myself included) throw around words like "fascism" and "genocide" superfluously, and it tends to take away from what might otherwise be a well-thought out and meaningful critique.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
21 Dec 2004
One tiny clarification: When I said Pete was speaking for himself, I was referring to his interpretation of our editorial policy in the case of this particular post. The editorial policy of deleting certain sorts of hate posts is indeed one that we made collectively.

Also, a log of deleted articles can be found at, so you can see who deleted them, even if you can't see the content. (A link to this page can be found at the very botton of the hidden articles page.) We only delete articles in exceptional cases--highly persistent trolls and where the post contains downloads of a hateful nature. We have the latter policy because some white supremacist groups would post such things (like a downloadable version of the Turner Diaries, a "classic" white supremacist novel) on our site and link to them from ours, so people could access the content. They could do this even after we'd hidden the posts, so we've taken to deleting them, since we have no desire to host downloadable files for white supremacists.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
22 Dec 2004
Dear Max,
Your question is a good one - what qualifies as "genocide" and should we not be careful to use it only when it applies?

I agree with such caution, it is just that it applies in the case of Iraq. The best dicussion about the origin of the term genocide and the ways in which it gets subjectively applied by those in power is Ward Churchill's _A Little Matter of Genocide_ which is available at AKpress (if not your local library.)

The Internation conventions on genocide define it thus:
"Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;

(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;

(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

(d) Attempt to commit genocide;

(e) Complicity in genocide. "

Estimates of the killing in Iraq from the oil for food program coupled with the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastucture such as water treatment plants during the first Gulf War (as documented by Prof. Thomas Nagy) caused an estimated 2 million deaths in 13 years in a population of 23 million! That is a huge percent of their population, and the deaths and bombings were more heavily targeted against Arabs peoples of Iraq. This latest invasion is estiamted to have caused 100,000 deaths, but with the economy being wrecked, lack of even electricity for most people, you can imagine that the implications will be deadly for years to come.

Further, in Iraq, the US made extensive use of depleted Uraniam armament casings. This is a highly toxic and weakly radioactive material that vaproizes and oxidizes on impact, creating a fine toxic dust that gets into soil, water tables, and is breathed into people's lungs. This DU waste product turned "useful" material is believed to be one of the major causes of Gulf War illness in Gulf War veterans. Many of the previously unseen birth defects experienced by children in Iraq have been observed in children of Gulf War vets. So, this DU which was used throughout Iraq in the First Gulf War and while Iraq was continually bombed for the next decade, remains in the wake of whatever is built out of the ruins of these horrendous US attacks on the Iraqi people.

The knowable consequence of taking out water supplies in cities, of restricting trade of medicines and food, of spreading heavy metal dust all over the agricultural lands and water supply of people is death and injury on a massive scale. This is coupled with a demonization campaign against Arabs and Muslims in this country. I think many people think that there is an important distinction in whether a people are assaulted for reasons of hatred or for reasons of callous greed. I don't see the distinction - and in fact, they tend to be inter-related in that some will go along with massive attrocities "for oil", but others need to be convinced by whipping up hate - (soldiers call Iraqis "rag-heads", "Hajis" as do people here at home.) Also many people think that if you don't have gas chambers than you don't have genocide. Unfortunately, human kind have come up with a great number of ways to cause mass-death, and gas chambers is just one of the many grisly means.

The honest term for what the US govt has been doing in Iraq for more than a decade is genocide.

But there are cases where the term is misapplied for political reasons such as calling the rebel sparked civil wars in Kosovo and Sudan "genocide."

Edward Herman wrote a four part series called "The Cruise Missile Left" about such misapplications by people like Samantha Power. It is also quite instructive.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
22 Dec 2004
Well, your use of the word is clearly thought out and I can see that it's not empty hyperbole. But I still find it somewhat inaccurate, because of the purpose of the war. A genocide's purpose must specifically be the destruction of a group. I don't think that the killing of Arabs is the purpose of the Iraq war. I think the purpose is economic control and imperialist conquest, and the mass murder involved in it is regarded as an unimportant consequence. Certainly many soldiers, all the way up the chain of command, take pleasure in the murder involved, but once again, I don't think that it is the purpose of the war itself.
Re: Censorship as a Hate-act at Boston IMC
22 Dec 2004
The genocide in Iraq, just as the genocide across the entire African continent (due to neo-colonialism via IMF/WB policies and proxy wars) is about easing access to and control of land and resources, just as the genoicde of the Native Americans was. The hate and demonization is a tool to get people to go along with it... and there is really no way to carry out mass slaughter of a people with out at some level counting them as less... so, these distinctions are false in my view. I further fail to see how, if there were such a distinction, it would make it any less cruel for those targeted. But more specifically, the looting of museums and artifacts that was enabled by HOW the US "took" Baghdad is not just a coincidence - there is a sense of destroying the culture of the local people as a way to enable "breaking" them more easily as a people and supplanting their culture with the one of corporate rule and consumerism that we are stuck with here. That is the same purpose of torture such as at Abu Ghraib - tactics recommended by the Iraelis, but already generally known at the School of the Americas, to attempt to humiliate and weaken the resistance of the people being colonized.

But again, I recommend Ward Churchill's book _A Little Matter of Genocide_. Churchill is an indigenous person to these lands and thus has a much deeper personal understanding of experiencing genocide than I ever could.

Lastly, to whatever degree the idea of Israeli manifest destiny in the region continues to hold sway in Israeli circles - greater ISrael running from the Nile to the Euphrates - the motive to "cleanse" the Arabs as has been underway in Palestine for more than 5 decades is more obvious. The terror gangs that formed the IDF are still trying to make the lie upon which Israel was founded "A land without a people for a people without a land" true in the end. With such close cooperation between Israel and the US, you can sense why Iraqis would be nervous, even if they hadn't had 13 years of EXPERIENCE of the immense contempt for them as a people - specifically Arabs, not Kurds - from the US government. But also try and think what kind of rationalizations for genocide would have been common during the cleansing of the plains in the US - "terrorists, savages." The same kind of "rationalizations" exist today, but are we going to be taken in by them? I hope not, but sadly, too many of us are...