Month: August, 2017
Exclusive: Stonewall Jackson’s Great-Great-Grandsons Call for Removal of Confederate Monuments

Stonewall Jacksons Descendants Want His Monuments Taken Down

Descendant Of Gen. Robert E. Lee Says It’s Time For His Ancestor’s Statues To Come Down

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/descendant-of-gen-robert-lee-says-its-time-for-his-ancestors-statues-to-come-down_us_5991e544e4b08a2472765ec9

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08/14/2017 06:06 pm ET Updated 1 day ago

Descendant Of Gen. Robert E. Lee Says It’s Time For His Ancestor’s Statues To Come Down

“People are dying because we have been complicit in our silence or in our action,” Lee’s great-great-great-great-nephew said.

General Robert E. Lee is the man who led the Confederate Army during the Civil War, defending the desire of Southern slave owners to keep human beings in chains.

The Rev. Robert Wright Lee, IV, the general’s great-great-great-great-nephew, has for years struggled with the legacy attached to the name he bears. And on Saturday, he followed along in horror when images surfaced online of a white nationalist rally defending a statue of his ancestor in Charlottesville, Va.

As white nationalists clashed with counterprotestors, and the mayhem turned deadly, Lee said he was heartbroken.

“It broke my heart to see a symbol of my family being used to allow such hate,” Lee told HuffPost. “All in the name of what my relative stood for.”

Joshua Roberts / Reuters
Virginia State Troopers stand under a statue of Robert E. Lee before a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. 

The General Lee was a slave owner and army officer who married into a wealthy Virginia family and went on to become the general in chief of the Confederate Army. After the war, he became a symbol of “The Lost Cause,” a revisionist narrative that reimagines the Civil War as a fight for constitutional ideals, instead of a fight about slavery.

In the 1920s, as new Jim Crow laws came into effect, monuments and memorials to Lee began appearing in the South. The Charlottesville statue was erected in 1924, according to The Associated Press.

The white nationalists who gathered in Charlottesville on Saturday were there to protest the city’s decision to remove Lee’s statue from a local city park. Tensions between the white nationalists and their opponents flared into a physical brawl, which prompted law enforcement to sweep in and clear the area.

After the rally was broken up, a driver plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters walking down a nearby street. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old local resident, was killed in the attack, while at least 19 were injured.

Robert Wright Lee IV
Robert Wright Lee, IV is a minister from North Carolina and a descendant of General Robert E. Lee.

Lee, a minister who serves North Carolina’s Bethany United Church of Christ, was preparing to officiate at a wedding on Saturday when he learned about what had happened in Charlottesville.

While emphasizing that he doesn’t speak for all of the general’s descendants, the minister said that he believed it was time for statues of his ancestor to come down.

“These statues have morphed into a symbol of racism, a symbol of bigotry, a symbol of the alt-right, a symbol of white nationalist movements,” he said. “That is not okay and that can never be celebrated or honored in any way, whether you believe you should honor legacy or ancestors or not.”

Joshua Roberts / Reuters
White supremacists, holding shields with a symbol of Vanguard America on them, gather under a statue of Robert E. Lee during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. 

Lee already had a sermon ready to deliver at Broad Street United Methodist Church, where he had volunteered to be a visiting preacher on Sunday. But he decided to switch gears to address the tragedy, challenging the church to speak up in the face of racism and bigotry.

“It was not safe to be black or a person of color in Charlottesville yesterday. So I have to ask you, what were you doing yesterday? God, who calls us not to silence but to redemption was watching, and if you didn’t see the oppression, if it somehow missed you on social media or the nightly news you only have yourself to blame,” Lee said during the speech, according to a transcript of the sermon he posted to his blog. 

“If you are silent at a moment like this, if you do not condemn the racism you see through whatever channels and avenues you have, you can leave church now because you’re doing church wrong,” he said.

It wasn’t the kind of sermon the congregation hears often, Lee said. But it was important for white Christians to acknowledge the ways in which they may be complicit with perpetuating racism.

“When we don’t acknowledge that white bodies matter more than black bodies in America right now, it’s a gross mishandling of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “People are dying because we have been complicit in our silence or in our action.”

‘Russophobic gesture’: Communists denounce plans to remove Seattle Lenin statue

https://www.rt.com/politics/400099-communists-denounce-plans-to-raze/

‘Russophobic gesture’: Communists denounce plans to remove Seattle Lenin statue

‘Russophobic gesture’: Communists denounce plans to remove Seattle Lenin statue
The Russian Communist Party has criticized the authorities in the US city of Seattle over plans to remove a statue of Lenin from the city. The party said it is against vandalism and supports the diversity of monuments to different political ideals all over the world.

The war of monuments is under way, but there are a lot of Lenin monuments all over the Earth. We denounce vandalism because different monuments must exist,” the secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Sergey Obukhov, was quoted as saying on Friday by RIA Novosti.

I understand that the mayor of Seattle is doing this to please the kind of leftists whose activities, I would say, included the organization of clashes in Seattle,” he added.

Russian Communist Party MP Dmitry Novikov stated that the plans to remove the statue were just another manifestation of the anti-Soviet, anti-Communist and anti-Russian mood.

If the mayor of Seattle tries to connect the campaign against Confederate monuments and the campaign against Lenin’s statue it looks rather strange, because Lenin was in strong opposition to all forms of slavery and all forms of social violence. He was for justice and personal freedom, he had created a party that was steadily fighting against the absolute monarchy in our country,” Novikov said.

This cannot be called anything else but an attempt to remain in some political trend,” the Russian lawmaker added.

The 5-meter-high bronze statue of Bolshevik leader Lenin installed in Seattle is privately owned, after being bought from the Slovakian authorities in the early 1990s. The owner says that he put the statue on display because he is looking to sell it.

On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray called for the statue to be removed because it allegedly represented historic injustice as well as hate and violence.

In the same statement, the mayor said he wanted to remove a memorial to Confederate soldiers for the same reasons.

Shortly before that, a group of activists supporting President Donald Trump protested against the Lenin statue in Seattle with posters reading “Lenin is Hitler” and “Tear it down.” The protest was apparently a reply to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where authorities had ordered the removal of the monument to Confederate commander Robert E. Lee, sparking a major standoff between leftist and rightist groups that ended in violence and one death.

Ex-White House Strategist Bannon Declares War on Trump Opponents
| August 18, 2017 | 6:31 pm | Donald Trump | No comments
Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO for Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, looks on as Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Denver

Ex-White House Strategist Bannon Declares War on Trump Opponents

© AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
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https://sputniknews.com/us/201708191056593915-bannon-trump-opponents-war/

Former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon said in an interview that after his departure he will fight against the enemies of President Donald Trump.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Trump named Bannon, who was an executive chairman of the right-wing website Breitbart News, as his chief of staff on November 14.

“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” Bannon told Bloomberg News on Friday.

Earlier in the day, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Bannon and Chief of Staff John Kelly mutually decided this would be the chief strategist’s last day.Democrats immediately supported Bannon’s exit citing his record of anti-Semitic, racist viewpoints. However, House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi said that his departure is meaningless unless the Trump administration changes its policies.

Google’s New Search Protocol Is Restricting Access to 13 Leading Socialist, Progressive and Anti-war Web Sites

Google’s New Search Protocol Is Restricting Access to 13 Leading Socialist, Progressive and Anti-war Web Sites

Google’s New Search Protocol Is Restricting Access to 13 Leading Socialist, Progressive and Anti-war Web Sites

 

New data compiled by the World Socialist Web Site, with the assistance of other Internet-based news outlets and search technology experts, proves that a massive loss of readership observed by socialist, anti-war and progressive web sites over the past three months has been caused by a cumulative 45 percent decrease in traffic from Google searches.

The drop followed the implementation of changes in Google’s search evaluation protocols. In a statement issued on April 25, Ben Gomes, the company’s vice president for engineering, stated that Google’s update of its search engine would block access to “offensive” sites, while working to surface more “authoritative content.”

The World Socialist Web Site has obtained statistical data from SEMrush estimating the decline of traffic generated by Google searches for 13 sites with substantial readerships. The results are as follows:

* wsws.org fell by 67 percent
* alternet.org fell by 63 percent
* globalresearch.ca fell by 62 percent
* consortiumnews.com fell by 47 percent
* socialistworker.org fell by 47 percent
* mediamatters.org fell by 42 percent
* commondreams.org fell by 37 percent
* internationalviewpoint.org fell by 36 percent
* democracynow.org fell by 36 percent
* wikileaks.org fell by 30 percent
* truth-out.org fell by 25 percent
* counterpunch.org fell by 21 percent
* theintercept.com fell by 19 percent

Of the 13 web sites on the list, the World Socialist Web Site has been the most heavily affected. Its traffic from Google searches has fallen by two thirds.

The new statistics demonstrate that the WSWS is a central target of Google’s censorship campaign. In the twelve months preceding the implementation of the new Google protocols, the WSWS had experienced a substantial increase in readership. A significant component of this increase was the product of Google search results. The rapid rise in search traffic reflected the well-documented growth in popular interest in socialist politics during 2016. The rate of growth accelerated following the November election, which led to large protests against the election of Trump.

Search traffic to the WSWS peaked in April 2017, precisely at the point when Google began the implementation of its censorship protocols.

Another site affected by Google’s action has provided information that confirms the findings of the WSWS.

“In late May, changes to Google’s algorithm negatively impacted the volume of traffic to the Common Dreams website from organic Google searches,” said Aaron Kaufman, director of development at progressive news outlet Common Dreams. “Since May, traffic from Google Search as a percentage of total traffic to the Common Dreams website has decreased nearly 50 percent.”

The extent and impact of Google’s actions prove that a combination of techniques is being employed to block access to targeted sites. These involve the direct flagging and blackballing of the WSWS and the other 12 sites listed above by Google evaluators. These sites are assigned a highly negative rating that assures that their articles will be either demoted or entirely bypassed. In addition, new programming technology teaches the computers to think like the evaluators, that is, to emulate their preferences and prejudices.

Finally, the precision of this operation strongly suggests that there is an additional range of exclusion techniques involving the selection of terms, words, phrases and topics that are associated with socialist and left-wing websites.

This would explain why the World Socialist Web Site, which focuses on issues such as war, geopolitics, social inequality and working class struggles has experienced such a dramatic fall in Google-generated searches on these very topics. We have seen that the very terms and phrases that would under normal circumstances be most likely to generate the highest level of hits—such as “socialism,” “Marxism” and “Trotskyism”—produce the lowest results.

This is an ongoing process in which one can expect that Google evaluators are continuously adding suspect terms to make their algorithm ever more precise, with the eventual goal of eliminating traffic to the WSWS and other targeted sites.

The information that has been gathered and published by the WSWS during the past week exposes that Google is at the center of a corporate-state conspiracy to drastically curtail democratic rights. The attack on free speech and uncensored access to information is aimed at crippling popular opposition to social inequality, war and authoritarianism.

The central and sinister role of Google in this process demonstrates that freedom of speech and thought is incompatible with corporate control of the Internet.

As we continue our exposure of Google’s assault on democratic rights, we demand that it immediately and unequivocally halt and revoke its censorship program.

It is critical that a coordinated campaign be organized within the United States and internationally against Google’s censorship of the Internet. We intend to do everything in our power to develop and contribute to a counter-offensive against its efforts to suppress freedom of speech and thought.

The fight against corporate-state censorship of the Internet is central to the defense of democratic rights, and there must be a broad-based collaboration among socialist, left and progressive websites to alert the public and the widest sections of the working class.

The Forgotten World of Communist Bookstores
| August 18, 2017 | 6:21 pm | About the CPUSA | No comments

http://portside.org/2017-08-17/forgotten-world-communist-bookstores

The Forgotten World of Communist Bookstores

https://jacobinmag.com/2017/08/communist-party-cpusa-bookstore-fbi
Portside Date:
August 17, 2017
Author:
Joshua Clark Davis
Date of Source:
Friday, August 11, 2017
Jacobin

 

Their names proclaimed a new age: The Modern. The Progressive. The New Era. The New World. Others looked to the past, evoking American political heroes like Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln.

They were targets of FBI investigations and congressional hearings on “un-American activities.” J. Edgar Hoover condemned them for selling publications that “indoctrinate . . . members and sympathizers” of the Communist Party and “propagandize the non-communist masses.”

While largely forgotten today, communist bookstores were one of the most important public spaces for Marxism in the United States in the twentieth century. Most Americans didn’t personally know a communist. But in cities across the country, radicals made their presence known at unassuming bookstores. Teeming with texts by Marx, Engels, and Lenin, these stores also stocked the Daily Worker [1] and the latest publications by party officials from the United States, the Soviet Union, and other countries around the world.

Communist bookstores provided a critical public space for radicals, operating in virtually every major American city. Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York had several apiece. Smaller and ostensibly less radical locales such as Birmingham, Houston, and Omaha, had communist bookstores, too.

Decades before alt-right trolls viciously attacked left-wing writers online, right-wing extremists targeted communist booksellers, accusing them of the most insidious crimes imaginable. “Visit any Communist bookstore in the United States and you will find books printed in Moscow and Peking in English for one, two, and three-year-old babies,” warned Fred Schwarz, author of the 1956 redbaiting bestseller You Can Trust the Communists (To Be Communists) [2]. “The Communists want the children. They do not care so much about the adults whom they consider as already contaminated with the disease of Capitalism and consequently of little use to them.”

It’s not entirely clear when communists first sold books in the US. But almost as soon as they split off from the Socialist Party of America to form their own parties in 1919, communists opened their own bookstores, too.

Communist booksellers immediately became targets of state repression as they faced an intense postwar backlash [3] against so-called subversion. In 1919, the New York legislature established a committee to investigate “seditious activities” in the state. As part of the investigation, a group of fifty state police officers and right-wing volunteers led by Deputy Attorney General Samuel Berger raided the People’s House bookshop of the Rand School of Social Science, then New York’s premier radical educational center. The investigators seized communist books and papers, but prosecutors eventually failed to convict the bookstore’s employees of sedition.

As avowed anticapitalists, communists made for unlikely business owners. But as entrepreneurs, their objective was to promote ideology and cover costs, not maximize profits. Red bookstores spread rapidly as the ranks of the consolidated Communist Party of the United States of America [4] (CPUSA) swelled during the Depression. By the end of the 1930s, roughly fifty communist bookstores were open for business. Their politics were also paradoxical. Unwavering supporters of Stalin abroad, American communists were relentless champions of democracy and civil liberties at home. And their bookstores helped them circulate a domestic agenda of racial and social equality.

Communists in the US were sophisticated marketers. International Publishers (IP), the official CPUSA publishing house operated by Alexander Trachtenberg, oversaw an extensive network for distributing communist publications in the US. Trachtenberg, a Ukrainian Jew who had fled Russian pogroms for the United States in 1906, managed IP since it was founded by the party and wealthy socialist A. A. Heller in 1924. The CP paid in advance for texts written by party leaders, typically placing bulk orders in the range of five thousand copies prior to publication but sometimes distributing as many as one hundred thousand. Every party branch across the country had an official “literature agent” that worked with the bookstores and IP to make sure that official texts ended up in the hands of party members (who received a discount of up to 60 percent on publications).

A 1941 advertisement in the Daily Worker suggests the CP’s sales priorities that year. The ad for the Workers Book Shop in New York announced “150,000 volumes to be sold” in “the greatest sale in our history.” In addition to classics like the collected works of Lenin and Marx and Engels’s writings on the American Civil War, the store offered less remembered (and more intimidating) titles like J. B. S. Haldane’s Marxist Philosophy and the Sciences, David Guest’s A Textbook of Dialectical Materialism, and Eugen Varga and Lev Mendelsohn’s New Data for Lenin’s Imperialism for as little as 49 cents apiece.

But business acumen didn’t protect communist booksellers from state repression. One of the most notorious attacks they faced was in Oklahoma City, where local police raided the CP’s Progressive Book Store in August 1940, arresting almost twenty employees and customers and confiscating thousands of books, pamphlets, and newspapers. Four CP booksellers were tried for violating the state’s laws against “criminal syndicalism.” Prosecutors offered confiscated communist texts as evidence of plans for insurrection, and the four defendants were easily convicted.

The Oklahoma case became a lightning rod for radicals and civil libertarians across the country, mirroring national campaigns to free such imprisoned communists as the black labor organizer Angelo Herndon and CPUSA general secretary Earl Browder [5]. In February 1943, more than two years after the raids, the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals finally overturned the booksellers’ convictions.

The FBI was also keenly interested in communist bookstores. The bureau’s files on the managers of the CP’s Free State Bookshop in Baltimore offer a vivid portrait of the ins and outs of running a communist bookstore during the party’s apex in the 1930s and ’40s.

From 1937 to the late 1940s, Alexander Munsell and his wife, Louise Ellen Munsell, operated the Free State in downtown Baltimore next to the local CPUSA chapter’s headquarters. A disheveled eccentric who renounced his bourgeois upbringing, Alexander was an industrial heir who had donated much of his fortune to the CPUSA and joined the Maryland state party’s leadership.

In hundreds of pages of documents, plainclothes FBI agents and informants reported in mundane detail their visits to the Free State Bookshop and another Munsell-operated store, the Frederick Douglass Bookshop, which the bureau described as a “Communist Party literature distribution point in the Negro section of [West] Baltimore.”

For more than a decade, the two stores functioned as the leading public spaces for Baltimore’s CP branch. In addition to offering space for party meetings and “new members classes,” the shops were used to recruit new members, prepare petitions, and organize protest campaigns.

The Free State and the Frederick Douglass dealt with many of the same challenges facing ordinary small businesses. The Munsells applied for business licenses with the city and balanced their books, or at least tried to. Keeping up with bills wasn’t always easy and local CP leaders worried about the store’s deficits. Funds from bookstore sales were badly needed to help cover the local party’s operating costs.

The Daily Worker once suspended shipment of its newspaper to the Free State when it fell too far behind on payments. Alexander Munsell complained to the newspaper that “all of us here in Baltimore who work vigorously to win the war by selling the Worker were puzzled by the fact that the Worker did not arrive,” but a circulation manager informed him the newspaper had no other choice for dealing with delinquent bookstore accounts. It seems that even anticapitalists couldn’t entirely ignore the bottom line.

Communist bookstores weren’t just focused on political ideology. They also flourished as hubs of avant-garde culture and various kinds of free thought. They were especially important in smaller, more conservative cities where — in contrast to Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York — few public spaces supported artistic and intellectual experimentation.

Literary scholar James Smethurst has shown [6], for example, how critical communist bookstores were for the mid-century Black Arts Movement. In Birmingham in the 1930s, a young musician by the name of Herman Blount — later known as Sun Ra, the incomparable jazz bandleader — regularly visited the party’s Ella Speed Bookstore, where he enjoyed public lectures and conversations on culture and politics with employees and customers. Decades later in Baltimore, the Black Arts poet Sam Cornish frequented the Free State’s successor, the New Era Bookstore, which published one of Cornish’s earliest poetry collections under its in-house Sacco Publishers imprint (named for Sacco and Vanzetti).

But even as political and artistic communities thrived around these bookstores, they faced a new wave of hardships in the Red Scare following World War II. Congress subpoenaed radical booksellers and publishers to testify and answer questions from elected officials about the details of their business. By the late 1950s, the bookstores’ numbers declined sharply amid plummeting party membership, internal schisms, and nationwide repression.

Those that remained in business often endured attacks at the hands of anonymous assailants. In Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Manhattan, CPUSA bookstores were hit with bricks, Molotov cocktails, and even bombs in the 1960s. Members of the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society were believed to be responsible for many of these assaults.

Despite these challenges, surviving communist bookstores enjoyed a small renaissance in the late 1960s and 1970s. The New Communist Movement [7] — an ultra-left offshoot of the New Left — launched an array of Marxist-Leninist organizations and sought to radicalize existing unions in these years. But in the 1980s and ’90s, two unforeseen transformations overwhelmed this modest uptick in activity.

First, and most dramatically, nearly twenty Communist governments fell in a three-year-stretch. The Soviets had directed American Communists and overseen their bookstores for decades, so the Berlin Wall’s collapse and the implosion of state socialism — despite being a boon for free expression in the Eastern Bloc — had a deleterious effect on communist bookstores in the US.

Second, there was the rise of bookstore chains. As stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders aggressively expanded in the mid-to-late 1990s, they began to sell many of the books that had once been the specialty of more radical independents — not only Marxist booksellers, but also black leftist and feminist bookstores. And as online booksellers like Amazon became household names by the end of the decade, Americans could purchase virtually any book with an ISBN number with a just few clicks of a mouse. Today, many bestselling communist texts are available for free online on sites like Marxists.org [8].

Some radical brick-and-mortar bookstores still operate today. Few identify strictly as communist, and even fewer are associated with the CPUSA, a party that has struggled in recent decades to reach even ten thousand members. Newer independent radical bookstores such as Red Emma’s [9] in Baltimore and Bluestockings [10] in New York’s East Village draw customers with cafes and frequent speaker events.

Venture into one of these shops and you’ll glimpse the legacy of a bygone era, one in which communist bookstores — despite facing considerable financial and political hardships — helped their customers envision radical worlds that were often otherwise unimaginable in America.

[Joshua Clark Davis is the author of From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs and an assistant professor of history at the University of Baltimore.]