Tuesday, December 27, 2005

An Open Letter To AK Press

To the staff of AK Press,

I have long been a customer of AK Press, and have greatly admired what your organization has done by making otherwise hard to find books by leftist and anarchist authors available to the general public. I must regretfully say however that I can no longer purchase items from your business in good conscience. While I still believe that AK Press is helping to expand the parameters of political debate in this country (something I see as being positive for our society as a whole), your company’s continual promotion of political violence, up to and including the murder of those you disagree with, makes me unable to directly support you. For instance, I understand why you sell books by Ward Churchill: Despite his odious rationalizations for the 9/11 attacks and his contempt for the victims, as well as his ceaseless calls for terrorist actions to be carried out within the U.S., he has done some valuable research, particularly on the topic of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. What I do object to is your hosting of a speaking engagement by Churchill, as well as posting a letter on your website supporting him. I have read several of Churchill’s books and can personally attest that he is in fact a psychopath bent on using the trappings of leftism to rationalize his own dreams of mass human slaughter. As I said, distributing his books is one thing; publicly supporting him is another.
In a similar vein, you offer several clothing items that I find personally offensive. For instance, AK sells a t-shirt depicting rows of crosses accompanied by the text “We Have Found New Homes for the Rich”. This is disturbing on a couple of levels. First, who qualifies as “rich”? By international standards most working class Americans would be considered wealthy. Second, we can assume that this threat is primarily directed at the white males who for the most part run this country. But would it extend to the wives or even to the children of these rich persons? You might be tempted to respond that the shirt is meant to be taken as a joke. Perhaps. But I would argue that like rape jokes, this just isn’t funny.
Please feel free to continue to send me your catalogs; they are useful as a resource, and most of the books listed therein are available through online retailers such as amazon.com. But for the reasons stated, you probably shouldn’t expect me to buy anything.

Peace out,

Henry Garfield
St. Louis, MO

(If I receive anything close to a rational response, I’ll post it here.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

PETA Gets Probed

It appears that PETA has recently garnered the unfavorable attentions of both the corporate community and the federal government. The group has made legal headway in its lawsuit alleging that Ringland Bros. Circus mounted a campaign of spying and disinformation against PETA as a result of its anti-circus efforts. At the same time, the feds have taken an interest in PETA, as well as other leftist groups such as Greenpeace and the Catholic Worker’s Group. The FBI has been using its new powers under the Patriot Act to gather information from public sources on the groups in question, as well as attending public demonstrations and planting informants within the groups. This is all done under the justification of possible criminal activity on the part of the targeted groups. That some of these organizations are engaged in illegal activity is beyond question; Greenpeace makes civil disobedience a key part of its tactical strategy, and PETA is strongly linked to the violent Animal Liberation Front. It’s probably worth noting that Martin Luther King also engaged in habitually criminal behavior. It also interesting that as usual, the feds are targeting the left extremists while completely ignoring the actions of those on the right, such as the Army of God or the National Socialist Movement. Those familiar with the COINTELPRO program of the 1960’s and 1970’s will not be terribly surprised at these revelations, as the suppression of the radical left has been a key goal of the FBI since its founding.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Jerry Falwell Wants You To Acknowledge Christ At Christmas (Unless You’re President Bush)

The always amusing Jerry Falwell has recently gotten himself involved in a new pet campaign. He’s seeking to pressure retailers and public schools to include the words “Merry Christmas” rather than “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” in their holiday materials. Falwell calls it his “Friend or Foe” campaign. Apparently, this is to help remind people that the big holiday this season is Christmas, so all of you Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, and pagans can go f*ck yourselves. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, wrote a scathing open letter to Falwell in which he noted that even president Bush’s official holiday cards do not contain the word “Christmas”. Lynn suggests that maybe Falwell should add the president to his list of foes. Depressingly, several other members of the Christian right have taken Lynn’s joke quite seriously. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, stated, "This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture.” Several other theocratic leaders expressed similar feelings, though with a bit less venom. Donald Wildmon doesn’t believe the White House’s move was “sinister”, but rather merely an example of “political correctness run amok”. But Falwell himself gives Bush a pass. Noting that the card contains a passage from the Old Testament, he stated "There's a verse from Scripture in it. I don't mind that at all, as long as we don't try to pretend we're not a nation under God”. So it’s OK not to mention the name of Christ at Christmas so long as you put in something about God in there somewhere. You’re not making special exceptions in religious matters for your friends, are you Jerry? I thought only the Pope could do that.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Theocratic Christians Continue To Spread Their Message Of Brotherly Love

As you may have already read, there was quite a stir recently over a proposed class that was to be offered at the University of Kansas. Entitled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies”, it was intended to be an academic refutation of the pseudo-science of creationism and intelligent design. Predictably, there was an extremely negative reaction from the religious right, who claimed the class was yet another example of the anti-Christian bias endemic on college campuses today. That charge was to some extent confirmed when it was revealed that Paul Mirecki, the professor who was to teach the class, had sent out an e-mail to a student group in which he described his extreme personal dislike for Christian fundamentalists. The university canceled the class as the result of Mirecki’s comments, and the media promptly forgot about the whole thing. That is until yesterday, when two men who told him they were angered by his recent actions beat Mirecki on the side of a road. Assuming that Mirecki didn’t stage this attack himself (which unfortunately is not uncommon in cases like these) he was the victim of a frightening display of violence from the allegedly peaceful Christian Right. Of course, all of the “responsible” fundamentalist leaders will condemn the attack as a barbaric act they would never support, while failing to acknowledge that it is their shrill, militant rhetoric that creates the atmosphere necessary for such incidents to take place.