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Trial by Indymedia

By Guest Post • Aug 12th, 2009 at 21:34 • Category: Analysis, Biography, Education, Internet and Communication, Israel, Newswire, Opinions and Letters, Religion, Zionism

"Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is strong" – Nietzsche

On 25 June, the Portland Indymedia website published an article entitled 'Rose City Antifa: Statement on Anti-Semites and their Collaborators' [1]. Rose City Antifa is part of the Anti-Racist Action Network.

Since its creation in 1999 during the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, Indymedia has been an essential source for community organizing. However, this 'Statement on Anti-Semites', and the list of irresponsible comments attached to it, is an example of enabling unscrupulous individuals to divide and weaken the community Indymedia was founded to serve.

The statement refers to a talk by Valdas Anelauskas, a Lithuanian immigrant who describes himself as a 'radical conservative'. The talk was a critique of the 'Frankfurt School', a Marxist theory of psychology. The anti-war activists who invited him to speak in Portland have a long record of inviting liberal speakers – this is the first conservative they have hosted. They organized a protest against a recent American Israel Public Affairs conference, which took place during the Gaza massacre. This is when the allegations of antisemitism began.

Following Anelauskas's presentation, those who organized the meeting were denounced as 'fascist collaborators', One of the ringleaders was tried in his absence by anonymous contributors to Indymedia. The organizations he has been involved in for decades were 'called on' to 'call him out'. The co-op where he works was told to fire him or face a boycott campaign, though it is illegal to dismiss employees for their opinions. The statement ended:

       'This statement is a beginning; other fascist collaborators should not consider themselves to have been let off the hook in any way. No compromise and no half-measures!'

Strong stuff. As if someone was signaling to German bombers above Portland.

The statement makes no distinction between words and violent acts, implying that Anelauskas's ideas are so dangerous, those who invited him should be ostracized for life. Anelauskas is a rarity, an extreme right-wing intellectual. He does not advocate violence. He does not deny the Holocaust. Unlike the Zionists who started the campaign to shut him up, he opposes the Iraq war. He presents us with a clear choice: are the feelings of American Jews more important than the lives of Arab children? Portland anti-fascists have answered loud and clear, staking their place in the modern American left.

Rebuttals of the Antifascist statement have not been given equal prominence on Indymedia, and some have been disappeared. It's straight out of the Moscow Trials: respected activists are publicly denounced on the basis of hearsay, and people accept it. Just as in Stalin's Russia, apologies and confessions don't help, they just encourage the persecutors. Here is a statement by one of the Portland accused – "I don't deny the horrors of WWII including the Holocaust and the many forgotten details of that time", and here is the antifascist response: 'This itself is a classic Holocaust-denial strategy'. That's right, affirming that the Holocaust happened is Holocaust denial.

The only people who identified themselves a members of minorities in the Indymedia comments disagreed with the antifascist statement. One African-American said he is opposed to campaigns against thought crimes, and that arguments, even ethnically-based ones, don't hurt him. In reply, the antifascists treated him differently from white people arguing the same thing: they were condescending rather than abusive.

Recently, The Israel Project, a Washington DC think-tank, issued a report on the right language to use to manipulate the public. Its chapters include "Gaza: Israel’s right to self-defense" and "Talking to the American Left"; killing babies and political correctness. It recommends using leftist phrases, such as 'call out antisemitism' and 'oppression'. This is what the anti-racists do. This does not imply a conspiracy, nor they have been infiltrated by Zionists: they help them without doing so consciously.  Here is a good example from the Indymedia comments on the antifascist witch-hunt:

       'As a former Portland resident who is tired of leftists who have come to accept antisemitism, I want to thank you for your actions'.

Notice the lack of specific examples, and the use of personal feelings as a weapon of argument. 'Antisemitism' could mean any criticism of Israel. When the Republicans at the Oregon Commentator website reproduced the Indymedia statement approvingly, the antifascists were nonplussed, not understanding that it is quite logical for right-wing Zionists to welcome the aid of left-wing antifascists. As a conservative diplomat wrote:

       "The tactics of [X] plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, an utter disregard for the truth, and the substitution of political correctness for analysis".

Can you guess what 'X' stands for? Anti-Racist Action? No, the Israel Lobby.

Anti-Racist Action's latest antics include postering a Portland neighborhood with the photo and address of an anti-immigration guy they disagree with, then trying to provoke a fight when he appears in public [2]. Their tactic is obvious – start with unpopular right-wingers, then move on to their more liberal opponents: first the 'Nazis', then the 'Nazi-enablers'. Pick us off one by one. Sound familiar? ARA is more of a danger to the progressive community than the insignificant or imaginary 'fascists' they 'confront' and 'call out'. Their messianic certainty recalls the worst excesses of the seventies left. ARA has nothing to do with combating genuine threats, and everything to do with increasing its own power. If they asked us to agree with them, the antifascists would be implying that we are able to judge which ideas are dangerous, and avoid them, but are unable to listen to them safely.. If you can judge which arguments are wrong in advance, then you  are also capable of listening to them without the danger of being misled by them. It is illogical to say 'I am smart enough to work out which ideas I am not smart enough to be exposed to'. So the  antifascists cannot ask; they must demand: 'defy us, or capitulate'.

Those who realize the need to stand up against intimidation are forced into a corner. We are now obliged to defend Valdas Anelauskas and the decision to invite him. The danger of doing this is overwhelmed by the danger of not doing it, and handing a victory to the self-appointed thought police. The ironies are almost funny – we have antifascists who use totalitarian tactics, anti-sexist men brimming over with macho aggression, and anarchists who want to be cops. Anti-Racist Action opposes the 'capitalist court system': it's too fair. It doesn't accept hearsay, for one thing.

What can you do to counter this threat to community and freedom? Listen to individuals further to the right than you have up until now; they don't bite. I enjoy listening to Valdas Anelauskas: he is so right-wing, he makes Michael Savage sound like Karl Marx. When you hear that someone is a 'Holocaust denier', don't believe it – find out for yourself. Hold meetings in your community to discuss Israel, race, and other issues, and state in advance that any allegations of antisemitism will be ignored. Invite controversial speakers from left and right. Never apologize. Say no to intimidation and censorship.

1. 'Statement on Anti-Semites', http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2009/06/392268.shtml?discuss
2. 'Rogue of the Week', Willamette Week, http://wweek.com/columns/rogue/#35..36

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8 Responses »

  1. I have a lot of criticisms of Portland Indymedia (and, especially, Rose City Antifa) over this matter and, in fact, they deleted my comments. But I also defend those who want to prevent white-supremacist, anti-immigrant, anti-Black, and/or anti-gay, etc., agitators and organizers from doing their dirty work, as I would also support the same belligerent attitude toward anti-Arab and/or anti-Muslim agitators and organizers.

    This is not about a conflict of ideas; it is a life-and-death matter for members of vulnerable groups that are being and will be made the targets of the rage, based in economic and other insecurity, stirred up and manipulated by people like Michael Savage, Valdas Anelauskas and (perhaps) the unnamed "anti-immigration guy" targeted by Rose City Antifa.

    I do not, BTW, agree with suppressing "'Holocaust' 'Denial'" or any other debate about what happened in history. (Notice that I put 'Holocaust' and 'Denial' in separate quotes, since each word is problematic in its own way as well as in combination.)

    P.S. If anybody has a copy of the referenced indymedia page, probably only from early Saturday, that includes my short-lived comment, I'd appreciate a copy, since I apparently forgot to save it.

  2. Thanks so much, Aaron – we disagree, but you put forward arguments rather than threats and offers to re-educate me and my comrades.

    The key question is the issue of the distinction between ideas and actions. The US Constitution is obviously based on a rigid distinction between the two. Anti-fascists tend to imply that ideas 'lead to' actions, so one shouldn't distinguish them as 'liberals' do. Logically, they should campaign for the abolition of the First Amendment, and its replacement by the less rigid distinction between ideas and actions which predominate in other countries, from Britain at one pole to North Korea at the other.

    The American approach assumes we are adults. Unless you are a minor, or declared incompetent, you are regarded as responsible for your actions. Someone putting forward ideas cannot be held responsible for your decisions. This is obviously simplistic – there are dumb people who can be persuaded to do bad things (like the Indymedia editors ;). But the 'adult' assumption is a powerful legal concept, which has done fairly well, especially compared with some of the alternatives – from the idiotic excesses of political correctness in Britain to the murder of people for their ideas in Nazi and Communist states.

    Your argument that people with right-wing ideas 'stir up' rage is based on the oppressor/victim dichotomy. It assumes that the right-wingers are like adults, and the people they manipulate, and the people who get hurt, are like children.

    I think the danger of this leftist approach is much greater than the danger of the American approach. One obvious problem is – someone has to decide who are the bad guys who have to be 'confronted'. That kind of policing role tends to attract the worst elements – as we have discovered!

    Finally, I would point out that you amalgamate 'agitators and organizers'. Some of us have been accused of 'racist organizing' because we invited a speaker who promotes ethnic identity (for example, Anelauskas quotes Malcolm X approvingly). There is quite a difference between listening to people like Anelauskas and conspiring to commit violence.

    Fortunately, American law recognizes that difference. If the anti-fascists had there way, it wouldn't.

  3. Nazis, Communists and Zionists all believe in censorship of free speech, thought management, authoritarian social engineering of opinion. They all want to use the heavy hand of State and its monopoly on violence to force adherence to their version of the “truth,” whatever that may be.

    But “truth” is the marketplace of ideas, in all its diverse glory. Truth is allowing every man, woman and child of every race, creed or color to express his opinions, perspective and experience, free from fear of retribution and authoritarian jackboots.

    A handful may listen, a room full, a stadium full, or none at all. But the right of expression should be universal because it is granted by God, not by any ephemeral State or even organized religion.

    The desire to stifle free speech and coerce opinion, regardless of rationale, makes the would-be censor more dangerous than anything he or she could possibly ever censor.

  4. Re: Chris Moore

    Since when do capitalists believe in free speech? What they believe in is bought-and-paid-for speech. As Bob Dylan reminded us in one of his songs, money doesn't talk, it screams.

    CM: "But the right of expression should be universal because it is granted by God [...]"

    Could you please provide evidence for this assertion? Anyway, if you're referring to the god of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim theology, then to assert that a right granted by this god "should be" universal is silly, since this god is supposedly omnipotent and therefore anything it grants IS universal and no mere humans could possibly take it away, including Nazis, Communists and Zionists — or even capitalists who own the media.

  5. Jay Knott writes:

    "Unless you are a minor, or declared incompetent, you are regarded as responsible for your actions. Someone putting forward ideas cannot be held responsible for your decisions. This is obviously simplistic – there are dumb people who can be persuaded to do bad things [...]. But the 'adult' assumption is a powerful legal concept, which has done fairly well, especially compared with some of the alternatives – from the idiotic excesses of political correctness in Britain to the murder of people for their ideas in Nazi and Communist states."

    There are animal-rights activists who are in prison now for maintaining a web site with information about vivisectors. Others are facing felony charges for chalking hostile slogans on sidewalks outside the homes of those they regard as animal tortures. Again, it's the money and paid lobbyists of the animal torture industry that got special laws passed by the United Snakes Congress to allow such prosecutions.

    "Your argument that people with right-wing ideas 'stir up' rage is based on the oppressor/victim dichotomy. It assumes that the right-wingers are like adults, and the people they manipulate, and the people who get hurt, are like children."

    The Blacks who were lynched in AmeriKKKa were not "like children", but any "whites" who instigated other "whites" to lynch them had, IMO, absolutely NO right to free speech, regardless of the mental competence or mental age of the instigators or the instigated. The same goes for Israeli Jews, and those around the world who back them, who instigate others to kill and injure Palestinians. Of course, it would be foolish to try to forcibly suppress everybody who expresses such ideas in a general way, but perfectly reasonable to suppress those who actively organize for such purposes.

    BTW, the fairly broad interpretation of the 1st Amendment in the U.S. in recent decades is a reflection of the strength of the social movements of the 1960's, Before that time, for example, local and state governments had the legal "right" to decide what films could be shown!

  6. Hi Aaron

    I used to be a Marxist-Lennonist too. The role of 'social movements' in implementing the constitution is exaggerated, because of a combination of wishful thinking and the materialist idea that ideas can't drive history. The event which kickstarted Civil Rights was when the Supreme Court, not under pressure from any social movement, decided to desegregate schools in the South. Eisenhower sent in the army to implement their decision – a social movement indeed! It is not surprising that big corporations can influence the law in a capitalist society – what needs explaining is when they don't. When the state can be influenced to take decisions against most of the capitalist interests in the country. The canonical example is US support for Israel.

    If you want to understand the Lobby, you must lose all fear. You have to be open to looking at the role of Jews, not as individuals, but as organized bodies, in history. You have to be open to the possibility that this role has not been entirely positive. We know the role of white Americans as an organized ethnic force has often had negative consequences – why not Jews? Palestine Think Tank has bravely allowed writers to tackle this question. You cannot approach it if you think you already know the answer, and suppress anyone who disagrees with you as a fascist. You really DO have to be open.

    In your first post, you criticize the anti-fascists, but you seem to want a nicer version. You say that Anelauskas and co. "stir up and manipulate" the sort of people who committed lynchings back in the day. This is not the case. The only advocacy of violence I have come across is from 'anti' fascists. If you allow anti-fascists to suppresses those they think are 'manipulating' others, you hand police powers to them. As the developments in Portland have shown beyond doubt, these powers will be used against everyone they disagree with.

  7. PS. How do you distinguish between 'stirring up and manipulating' and 'expressing ideas in a general way'? I agree with you that it is right to suppress people who organize violence. So does the law. It's not like the South in the sixties. A lynching happened in Texas in 1998. The Democrats tried to make political capital out of it, and George Bush said the murderer would get the death penalty. He did. What more can the Zionists and the anti-racist left demand? Laws against thought crimes? You should be able to express any idea. What you can't do is assault or harrass people for their race, opinions, etc.. We should oppose all violence, not just that driven by ethnocentric views. And racially-based ideas themselves should not be persecuted.

  8. smalltown wrote the following –

    "I realize that many of the holocaust deniers are simply using their half-baked theories about the holocause to buttress racist ideologies. But NOT ALL OF THEM ARE. Just like a lot of people labeled anti-semitic actually are, while OTHERS ARE JUST PEOPLE WHO DISAGREE WITH THE POLICIES OF ISRAEL. It's obvious to me that someone posting white supremacist literature needs to be dealt with, but it's NOT AT ALL OBVIOUS THAT SOMEONE WHO QUESTIONS THE OFFICIAL HOLOCAUST STORY DESERVES THE SAME TREATMENT."

    i have put large letters into portions of smalltowns writing of which i am in agreement.

    people in the 911 truth movement throughout the world are not in agreement as per all the details of the events of that day.
    some believe israel was involved, while others disagree. when people started considering that israel was one of the suspects, the issue of the validity of two items in regard to the jewish holocaust were put on the table.
    one is the number of jews who died in concentration camps, and the second is how jews died.

    i can only offer the following which are sources of information which are new to me as of this year 2009.
    you can do your own studying, and come to your own questions and/or conclusions. i am not interested in agreeing or arguing with anyone on this information. i am interested in people doing their own studying without impinging upon others right to do their own studying, or assuming that people are anti-this or anti-that just because they have questions.

    if video does not start playing –
    1 – click on the pause button
    2 – click and hold on the circle at the left end of the timeline
    3 – move the circle a few seconds into the timeline and release the mouse button
    4 – wait a few seconds, then click play button
    (if this does not work, then repeat the above but move the circle a few more seconds forward into the timeline)







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