Friday, March 11, 2016

The tangled web we weave by denying human rights

GUESTS: two students from Vassar College's Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign drop in to talk about their recent successful vote for BDS, and the threats made against them by the Vassar President and Board of Trustees.

What we didn't talk about is the "anti-Semitic" cartoon supposedly posted two years ago by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. I've included the cartoon on the left. 

The cartoon being posted on-line resulted in the expelling of an African American undergraduate and the delegitimizing of SJP as a campus organization. It should be said that the African American student was a member of SJP, but posted the cartoon without knowledge or approval of other members of the group.

The cartoon was drawn by a Norwegian member of a fascist party, and reprinted in a Dutch pro-Nazi magazine in 1944. The original title was "Culture - Terror," and it depicts at least fifteen different negatives stereotypes of American society. There is the decadence of beauty pageants, the pervasive culture of sexuality, the gun violence and gangsterism of everyday life, the racism and racial violence directed towards Blacks, the genocidal treatment of Native Americans, the gross materialism of American values, the racial mixture of culture and its influence on the rest of the world, the indiscriminate bombing of Europe by the US war machine, and the oversized influence of the Jews and Freemasons on the war policy. 

It is a hateful cartoon that includes about every negative stereotype of the United States a Norwegian fascist could think of in the midst of World War II. As an activist opposed to all forms of racism, I would never condone such a cartoon. But that is not the same thing as posting it on-line and looking at the origins of its racist depictions. 

We live in an America that is awash in such racial incitements. All our white presidents since Jimmy Carter have used covert racism to win elections, starting with Ronald Reagan's campaign kickoff a few miles from Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town linked to the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers. The Israel Lobby is much less nuanced, claiming the right to call all Palestinians terrorists, while crying "wolf" at any legitimate criticism of its apartheid state. 

This cartoon, of course, is not legitimate criticism of Israel. But I can see how it would appeal to a young Black student whose people have suffered centuries of slavery and Jim Crow in American. The US war machine is depicted by a KKK head, a jail cell holding Blacks as a body, and a black arm with a noose wrapped around it. The irony, of course, is the use of this cartoon to expel a Black student from Vassar, an administration action presumably demanded by some Zionist alum threatening to withdraw money from the college. What a tangled web we weave when we advocate human rights for some and deny it for others. 






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