VIDEO: What Does Animal Oppression Have to Do With Our Anti-Racist Movements?

This is just great. Says quite a lot of important things in eight minutes.


By: Aph Ko

In this video, I use articles from Aphro-ism to answer the common question: “What does animal oppression have to do with our anti-racist movements?” I decided to create some videos because a) I love merging digital media and social justice, and b) I feel like there are A LOT of popular youtube videos today for black folks that deal with social justice, but many fail to include an intersectional analysis of animal oppression in conjunction with black oppression. I want to help fill that gap. If you feel the need to unpack some of the ideas in the video even further, go through this website and read the articles!

Here’s a transcript for the video:

Hello. I’m Aph Ko. I’m the founder of Aphro-ism as well as the founder of Black Vegans Rock.
I’ve decided to create short videos to explain some of the different theories my sister Syl…

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Rancid Open Thread: The Times Eulogizes A Fascist; Another Bogus Intercept Scoop

Still disinclined to do full fledged posts, but let’s freshen up the discussion a little. Here’s a couple things that found their way onto my timeline recently:

From the New York Times:
Licio Gelli, Italian Financier and Cabal Leader, Dies at 96 – Notice the headline doesn’t call Gelli a fascist, which is certainly the way in which he most mattered historically.

Of course the obituary goes into that, but the omission from the headline encapsulates the odd ambivalence you find whenever the msm contends with a ruling class reactionary. The Times calls this secret society-leading plotter of right-wing coups, murders and bombings, “buccaneering”  and says this:

But if Mr. Gelli was a scoundrel to many Italians, to others he held out the promise of stability in turbulent times, when the Communist Party was advancing at the polls and the economy was declining.

I love The Times‘ “for some”/”for others” construct where, say,  Italians who don’t think right wing plots and deadly false flags promise stability are peas in a pod with, well, fascists.

Elsewhere the obituary quotes Gelli’s lawyer claiming that this utterly irredeemable, career fascist slimeball  was a “‘scapegoat’ for the government’s own failings.” Y’know, for balance.  The Times makes no mention of Gelli’s likely ties to Operation Gladio and The CIA. That would be nutty conspiracism.

Speaking of the intelligence apparatus and its plots, The Intercept published its 10,000th blockbuster — based on secret documents! — that, in fact, simply aggregates information readily available from mainstream sources. True to form, TI also wraps these “revelations” in  dishonest, minimizing spin.

Promising juicy secrets from a document “thick with previously undisclosed information” that offers “rare insight into the spying capabilities of federal law enforcement and local police inside the United States,” the article simply adds largely trivial details about phone surveillance operations and techniques so widely known that even I was able to cover most of the same ground here and here.

The article is mostly about Stingrays and drtboxes, cell phone tower emulators that capture massive amounts of user data and which are in wide use by both federal agencies and numerous police forces. Regular readers may recall that I wrote about this when The Intercept and the rest of Snowden Inc. were crowing (albeit guardedly) over the end of mass telephone surveillance.

Of course, no Intercept blockbuster is complete without online discipline for the rightfully unimpressed, so those who dared to suggest that even the source document was old, were publicly shamed in The Intercept and insulted on Twitter by Intercept staff and The FOG.

Thoughts on these comments or anything else that strikes your fancy are most welcome.

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Rancid Open Thread

The desire expressed by some of my commenters for free-flowing discussion coincides with my having far less time, or morale, really, to keep this blog updated. Hence, this thread where you should feel free to post on anything you want.

Here’s some food for thought: Today on Twitter I toyed with the idea of a #BiggestCelebrityLeftAsshole2015 as the logical successor to the #BiggestLiberalAsshole2012 contest that got me on Dancing With The Stars. I think the arc that represents in Rancid World is interesting all by itself. There has been a rupture that goes beyond the dustup with Greenwald. It was inevitable when you think about it.

Additional grist: Most of my aborted posts have been about the Left’s relationship to Animal Liberation and veganism.  That’s a topic that’s always worth going over since it gets so little play elsewhere. I had intended, among other things, to explore Jacobin’s animal rights problem. Two dumb, disingenuous articles in about the space of a month.

But only offering these as potential conversation starters. This thread is for you to let it rip on anything that strikes your fancy. Might be a good time to review my guidelines. Short version: no robo-posting, no trolling, no troll-feeding, and no writing as if you don’t give a fuck if anyone understands what you’re saying.


So we’re at 200+ comments and still going and I’d declare the open thread thing a complete success had it not rapidly gone south today. Part of that is my fault. I’m taking the condescension and tone-trolling  that are seemingly baked into any engagement with vegans by non-vegans far too seriously. I also may be imagining it where it isn’t, though I don’t think so. Still, as the host of this discussion, I should wear a thicker skin. It’s hard, though, when the same discussion descends to accusing me of censorship and lying about it.

In any case, apologies to Mog and Jeff for going overboard, which is not to say there was nothing objectionable about your posts. However I cop to overreacting and regret it. The “censorship” was due to stuff going automatically into my spam folder, which I’d never seen happen before to approved commenters. Hence I didn’t look right off the bat. Charles H got it far worse than Jeff.  Everything everyone posted is now published.

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The Time the ACLU Turned Its Back on Julian Bond

Knowing my interest in the accomplished awfulness of the ACLU, my pal Walter Glass put me onto this 2014 interview  with Black Civil Rights pioneer Julian Bond published earlier this month in Counterpunch. Bond was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and in 1965 among the first Black members elected to the Georgia House of Representatives following passage of the Voting Rights Act. However, the House voted not to seat him, ostensibly based on his opposition to the Vietnam War.

Bond took the matter to court and lost, but a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court reversed the ruling.  Pretty serious, important stuff, right?  If you were an organization committed to civil liberties, you’d want to be on the right side of history, wouldn’t you? especially since the Georgia House’s decision was both unambiguously a violation of the First Amendment and tinged with racism. Well check this out from the interview:

Julian Bond: The ACLU wouldn’t support me, wouldn’t defend me because I had Leonard Boudin and Victor Rabinowitz as my attorneys. Here are people helping my civil liberties but apparently I didn’t have the civil liberty to choose a lawyer of my own choosing.

Interviewer: So you are telling us that the ACLU would not support your own choice of brilliant attorneys because they were socialists and close to the Communist Party. Fortunate for you, you fought for your own civil liberties and retained your own attorneys.

Bond: Oh yeah, they were just fabulous. I couldn’t have chosen anybody as good as they were.

You may recall from this post, that fifteen years before turning its back on Bond, the ACLU had declined to support Black singer and activist Paul Robeson in his eight-year fight to get his passport reinstated. The government had revoked it — and in so doing seriously damaged Robeson’s career and earnings — because Robeson refused to sign an affidavit declaring that he was not a member of the Communist Party.  You may also recall that three years after doing nothing for Bond, the ACLU volunteered to represent members of the Ku Klux Klan in the beloved Brandenburg vs. Ohio case.

Perhaps one day I’ll understand why any self-respecting person of the left would contribute a dime to an organization staffed by neoliberal clowns and that, since the 40s, has consistently favored corporations, white supremacists and fascists, justifying itself with infantilizing fairy tales about how power actually works.

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Unlike the So-Called Left, Government and Industry Really Get Animal Rights

While many on the ostensible Left continue to point and laugh at animal rights activism, the US government continues to regard it with deadly seriousness.

Yesterday the FBI arrested Joseph Buddenburg, and Nicole Kissane, for allegedly releasing minks from mink farms and vandalizing fur retailers. The pair are charged with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a 2006 law that reclassifies crimes such as theft and property destruction as “terrorism” if done in the name of harming the profits of animal enterprises. Buddenburg and Kissane face up to ten years in prison.

Almost exactly a year ago, the FBI arrested activists Tyler Lang and Kevin Oliff, and charged them under the AETA, also for releasing minks from farms.  An account of their arrest by Will Potter in Vice suggests coordination between the FBI and local cops who pulled their car over and searched it on suspiciously flimsy grounds. As in yesterday’s arrests, the FBI arrested Lang and Oliff only weeks before the annual Animal Rights National Conference. Lang and Oliff claim that the FBI timed their arrest this way “to scare activists, create divisiveness” and deter even above-ground activism.

The only evidence the FBI presented in the earlier case were tools and items of clothing in the activists’ car. Lang made a plea deal. Olliff was sentenced to thirty months in jail for possession of wire and bolt cutters, which become instruments of terror under the AETA. According to Potter, Lang claims he is now routinely searched by the TSA and Homeland Security.

If you’re foolish enough to think the ACLU is more dedicated to civil liberties than it is to property rights and corporate interests, you might think the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act would send the organization into opposition overdrive. After all, the AETA is a law that enhances penalties for crimes on the basis of their political motivation. This is undoubtedly a First Amendment no-no for an organization that insists burning a cross on a Black family’s lawn is simply vandalism. But, in fact, the ACLU only agonized over parts of the bill, while explicitly not opposing it.  Indeed animal abusers have a friend in the ACLU, which has gone to bat on behalf of animal torture pornographers and religious groups that ritually abuse and kill animals.

The FBI’s priorities are remarkably similar. While the Bureau acknowledges that “white supremacy extremism” is a form of domestic terrorism that has been rising since the 90s, John Lewis, the Bureau’s top domestic terrorism official in 2oo5 said, “The No. 1 domestic terrorism threat is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement.”  The Bureau takes this position while acknowledging that these groups emphasize property destruction, and that none of them  has ever killed anyone.

The FBI’s list of Most Wanted domestic terrorists bears this emphasis out. The only people included on the list whose alleged crimes took place after 1981 are Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and Josephine Sunshine Overaker, members of The Family, an “eco-terror” group said to be associated with the the Earth Liberation Front and The Animal Liberation Front. According to the FBI, The Family is responsible for at least 25 domestic terrorism criminal actions totaling over $48 million in damages. The rest of the list consists mostly of leftists from the 60s and 70s. There are no white supremacists or right-wing extremists of any kind on the list.

On The Bureau’s list of 30 Most Wanted worldwide terrorists, animal liberationist Daniel Andreas San Diego is one of only two inclusions who are not Muslim extremists. Andreas is charged with the 2003 bombings of two corporate offices in California. Former Black Panther Assata Shakur, charged with shooting a  New Jersey State Trooper in 1971, is the other list inclusion who is not a Muslim extremist. As with the domestic terror Most Wanted, there are no white supremacists or right-wing extremists of any kind on this list.

This emphasis is, of course, entirely consistent with white supremacy’s historic relationship with the state, particularly where the FBI is concerned. As I discussed here, it is completely misleading, even pernicious, to lump white supremacists in with the so-called political fringe. They are reactionaries, not radicals, and as such, they are the most extreme expression of hegemony. This makes them useful to the state and the ruling class it serves. In the 60s, they became a paramilitary for the state in the suppression of Black civil rights activism. This could certainly happen again. Last month, the Guardian reported that white supremacists sign up for the military in preparation for race war, with “very little pushback from the Pentagon.”

For whatever reason, a preference for white supremacy over animal and environmental activism seems to inform liberal and libertarian political priorities as well. Every public liberal must surely know who Pam Gellar is, and several of them have made pitches on behalf of her inalienable right to libel Muslims via bus signs and cartoon contests. But how many of them have heard of Amy Meyer, the first person charged under one of the many ag-gag laws that criminalize video recording and photography on farms?  Like The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, ag-gag laws attempt to make serious crimes or actionable offences out of deeds that would be penalized less or not at all, were they performed in any context other than defending animals. This penalty enhancement raises the same First Amendment issues as the AETA.

Considering the obsessive romanticizing of whistleblowing in other areas, and the immediate threat ag-gag laws pose to free speech, it is remarkable how little most liberal and libertarian opinion havers say about the proliferation of these laws, which have passed in a dozen states. Of course they make the occasional gesture, but nowhere near in proportion to the problem. While the ACLU has signed on to suits against these laws, animal rights groups are doing the heavy lifting of mobilizing opposition.

The ACLU’s stronger stance on ag-gag laws vs. its passive support for the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, may owe to its customary preoccupation with legality — ag-gag laws penalize lawful behavior — and fears of a steep slippery slope toward more sweeping legislation. Fear of a slippery slope is entirely justified, since we’re already on it, with some states attempting expansion of these laws to cover other specific industries such as fracking, or even commercial enterprise as a whole. The campaign to pass these laws has gone global, with Australia now taking them up.

Surely a strong indicator of what most afflicts power is that which power is most intent on crushing. Capital has robustly hated the animal rights movement for over a decade now, and justifiably so. The animal rights movement challenges profitable exploitation at its most basic level, aims to change habits that subsidize this exploitation, and attempts to significantly raise the cost of this exploitation. It’s extremely well-organized and aggressive.  All of this should garner ardent defense from the Left, particularly now that it is classified as terrorism. However in a sphere where billionaires capitalize dissent and winning an Oscar is widely considered subversive, the wacky idea that one can easily infer capital’s worries from its actions is a tough sell. Hence, we can no doubt anticipate more indifference and even outright contempt, as more animal advocates end up on Most Wanted lists, and others go to jail.

In writing this post, I made ample use of Green is the New Red, an indispensable blog for anyone interested in attempts to crush activism on behalf of animals and the environment.

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Did Wesley Clark’s World War 2 Camps for Nazis Actually Exist?

RH reader Teri pointed out that when Wesley Clark said

In World War II, if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech. We put him in a camp.

— he was either misinformed or outright lying.  Teri wrote:

We did not have internment camps for Nazi sympathizers during WW2; we had internment camps for Japanese-Americans. They weren’t rounded up because they were Nazis or had expressed interest in Nazi ideas, but simply because they were of Japanese descent.

I regret that I didn’t verify Clark’s mythical Nazi camps myself, even though I had only ever heard of the internment of Japanese-Americans.  It’s certainly a claim that is entirely out of sync with the tactical relationship the US Ruling Class has long had with Nazis, white supremacists and fascists that I have discussed elsewhere on this blog. Various readers noted that Avery Harriman, Prescott Bush and Henry Ford would all qualify for internment under such a policy.

In poking around on the web following Teri’s comment, I  discovered that German nationals were interned as well, but from what I can tell, here too, ethnicity, not ideology was the justification. Italian-Americans were also interned, again on the basis of descent. Clark’s remarks suggest a policy that would have interned Nazi sympathizers of any kind, German or otherwise, but I have found nothing that verifies such a policy.

A beloved progressive militarist fabricating a WW 2 internment of Nazi sympathizers in the midst of recommending such a solution for radicalized Muslims is kind of important. So it’s interesting and also troublesome that very few, if any, of the accounts of Clark’s remarks challenge his claims. His MSNBC host Thomas Roberts certainly didn’t. Salon, The InterceptMediaite and Reason didn’t either.

So what’s the deal? Are we wrong here in claiming that there weren’t camps for Nazis? If we’re not wrong, why did seemingly no one in a high place point this out?

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Wesley Clark Proposes Internment Camps for Radical Muslims

From an MSNBC discussion a few days ago with liberals’ favorite militarist fruitbat:

Thomas Roberts: General, a lot of people would say you reap what you sow, so how do you fix self-radicalized lone wolves domestically?

Wesley Clark: Well we’ve got to identify the people most likely to be radicalized. We’ve got to cut this off at the beginning. There are always a certain number of people who are alienated. They won’t get a job, they lost their girlfriend, their family doesn’t feel happy here and we can watch for signs of that and there are members of the community who will bring them back in and encourage them to look at their blessings here.

But I do think on a national policy level, we need to look at them and what this self-radicalization means, because we are at war with this group of terrorists. They do have an ideology. In World War 2, if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, well, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put ’em in a camp. They were prisoners of war. So if these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States, they’re disloyal to the United States, as a matter of principle, fine, that’s their right. It’s our right and our obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict. I think we’re going to have to increasingly get tough on this, not only in the United States but our allied nations like Britain, Germany and France are going to have to look at their domestic law procedures.

Naturally, there’s lots of liberal What-The-Fucking over this, and Clark is being widely disparaged by people inclined to temper their complaints with a litany of his virtues. “The comments were shockingly out of character for Clark” wrote Maz Hussain in The Intercept.

Of course there is no imminent danger of official internment camps for thought crimes. A “progressive” talking like this merely turns up the heat a little on the frog in the kettle, while injecting as much fear into the ether as he possibly can.

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