Arundhati Roy: The Debate on the Gandhi Myth

[In India, 2014 has brought many issues to the fore, not least of which is the rise of Narendra Modi as national leader, after securing his notoriety as the protector and defender of the anti-Moslem Gujarat Massacre over a decade ago.  Modi's rise, welcomed by Western imperialism and multi-national corporations,  has brought further national centralization of the state's brutal repression against oppressed peoples, tribals, dalits, democratic and revolutionary activists.  And the 2014 Modi-India persona  further disguises the official national culture --  Hindutva excluvist, caste-ist, and xenophobic -- by hypocritically and pretentiously claiming a humanitarian, peaceful, and moral charm or charisma by further invoking a mythologized Gandhi as the Father of Indian National Identity.  In challenging this mythology, Arundhati Roy has provided an important counter-narrative, and has come under vitriolic attack from The Powers That Be.  See the following video interview by Laura Flanders, and the magazine interview by Leena Chandran, for details on the struggle for clarity and truth about Mahatma Gandhi.  --  Frontlines ed.]
Debunking the Gandhi Myth: Arundhati Roy
On The Laura Flanders Show: Author/activist Arundhati Roy on the Annihilation of Caste, B.R. Ambedkar and the Western myth of Mahatma Gandhi

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Hidden in plain sight

Wednesday 17 September 2014

by Leena Chandran, Manorama Online

In July, Arundhati Roy provoked outrage from many quarters by stating that the generally accepted image of Mahatma Gandhi was a lie. Speaking at the University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, she also called for institutions bearing his name to be renamed. The Booker prize winning author’s comments rekindled a long-running historical argument over Gandhi’s views on caste and catapulted hot debate in Kerala media. In this exclusive interview Arundhati Roy tells Leena Chandran why she will not be changing her views on Gandhi.
The Gandhi controversy is a belated one, I feel. It should have taken place earlier this year had people closely read ‘The Doctor and the Saint’ soon after its publication. In fact, what you said in the Ayyankali memorial lecture at Department of History, Kerala University, Thiruvananthapuram is not as inflammable as the ideas you share in’The Doctor and the Saint’…

I wouldn’t go so far as to call ‘The Doctor and the Saint’ inflammable, though of course it has generated a fair amount of controversy from many quarters, even some unexpected ones. That’s to be expected, because it’s vexed territory. Yes it does question conventional ways of thinking, mostly by quoting from the lesser known writings of Gandhi. It was written as an introduction to Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. Ambedkar’s views challenge the established order in profound and radical ways. The controversy around Gandhi’s views on race and caste started long before I wrote The Doctor and the Saint. You could say that it started with the Ambedkar-Gandhi debate. It has been debated for years in the world of Dalit politics—but that has been carefully and successfully kept out of the establishment discourse. The mayhem in the Kerala media post my Ayyankali Memorial Lecture is just noisy posturing by some people who couldn’t be bothered to read Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, or The Doctor and the Saint, or anything much else. Not even the works of Gandhi who they are so keen to defend. There are many vested interests involved in this debate. It may be too much to expect them to change. But the young will change their views. For sure.

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The Political Economy of Ebola

[Arrogant claims that "there is no alternative" to capitalism explode when held up to stubborn facts like the spread of Ebola in Africa--a disease whose most damning feature is that the racist profit system requires that an entire continent be kept in a state of permanent vulnerabilty, because the resources which could solve the scourge of this disease are tightly held for profitable pursuits and issues closer to the hearts of the privleged.  The people deserve, and, in time, will create a system based on our common interests and needs, (which will put the profit-oriented inhumanity of today in museums for generations of bewildered people to study.)  --  Frontlines ed.]
Ebola is a problem that will not be solved, because it isn’t profitable to do so.

Joseph Ferdinand Keppler / Library of Congress

The Onion (a satirical newspaper in the US — ed.), as ever, is on point with its “coverage” of the worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, and the first in West Africa, infecting some 1,779 people and killing at least 961. “Experts: Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People Away,” read the cheeky headline of the July 31 news brief.

Our shorthand explanation is that if the people infected with Ebola were white, the problem would be solved. But the market’s role in both drug companies’ refusal to invest in research and the conditions on the ground created by neoliberal policies that exacerbate and even encourage outbreaks goes unmentioned.

Racism is certainly a factor. Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and the head of the Wellcome Trust, one of the largest medical research charities in the world, told the Toronto Star: “Imagine if you take a region of Canada, America, Europe, and you had 450 people dying of a viral hemorrhagic fever. It would just be unacceptable — and it’s unacceptable in West Africa.”

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October 22: Nationwide Protests Against The Police State

Every single day carries a new story (or stories) about egregious assaults by police against the citizens who have entrusted (and paid) them to serve and protect. Even the Bureau of Justice Statistics had to conclude recently that police brutality is grossly unchecked across the nation by the political system. Such unchecked power is even more frightening when we see police becoming as militarized as any Third World dictatorship . And of course, to back up this lawlessness is a ready-and-waiting prison-industrial complex that leads the world in caging its own citizens.

Shooting pets, tasering kids, no-knock SWAT raids, raping, pillaging … you name it – and it will only get worse until people have the courage to take action in huge numbers and put a stop to this madness that has been tolerated for way too long.

The October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation has been mobilizing every year since 1996 for a National Day of Protest on October 22, bringing together those under the gun and those not under the gun as a powerful voice to expose the epidemic of police brutality. Please view their videos below and find a location to participate.

The Coalition also works on the Stolen Lives Project , which documents cases of killings by law enforcement nationwide – the second edition of their book documents only the tip of the iceberg with 2,000 confirmed cases. According to the Coalition, 2014 has been particularly bad with 800 documented cases.

Click HERE to enlarge


The full statement from the Coalition is as follows:

The Call for the 19th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

On the eve of the 19th annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, a defiant new spirit is in the air. In Ferguson, Missouri, people continue to rise up in outrage against the killing of Mike Brown , an unarmed 18-year-old Black youth who was just days away from starting college. Despite the rapid and ruthless militarization of the town by racist police and the National Guard, people defied curfews, tear gas, rubber bullets, and calls for a return to business-as-usual—and oppression-as-usual—by protesting and rebelling for ten consecutive , sweltering nights in August. Thousands from around the country gathered in Ferguson this past weekend to stand in solidarity with the brave people of Ferguson. These are the moments where the decades of racist abuse, criminalization, and police terror at the hands of this system came crashing against fearless resistance from the very people it seeks to control, inspiring justice-seeking people not just nationwide, but around the world. The National Day of Protest was founded to oppose exactly these kinds of abuses. This year, in big cities and small towns, in the face of police brutality, repression, mass incarceration and the criminalization of youth we say, Let the spirit of Ferguson ignite hearts nationwide with an uncompromising passion for justice!

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The Gary Webb Story: Still Killing the Messenger

 

[The greater the exposure of government crimes against the people, the greater the suppression of those who bring the stories to light.  The people will never forget the courageous work of journalists like Gary Webb. -- Frontlines ed.]
by Joseph A. Palermo, huffingtonpost.com, 10/20/2014
Few things are better at getting the word out about a past injustice than a Hollywood movie and Kill the Messenger starring Jeremy Renner and directed by Michael Cuesta does so with depth and drama. For the first time the true story about the courageous investigative journalist, Gary Webb, is being told in movie theaters across the country where people can draw their own conclusions unhindered by the noise and static of establishment naysayers in the corporate media.

 

This powerful film uses an “entertainment” format to assess the compelling evidence that people tied to the Nicaraguan Contras, who President Ronald Reagan called “the moral equivalent of our founding fathers,” were involved in bringing cocaine back to the United States at the dawn of the crack epidemic.

Writing for the San Jose Mercury-News, Gary Webb had traveled repeatedly to Central America and uncovered what appeared to be the story of the decade: people associated with a U.S.-backed mercenary army had become international drug traffickers. If “agents” or “assets” of the Central Intelligence Agency’s war against Nicaragua were implicated, even indirectly, in importing one gram of cocaine to America’s cities that should have set off alarm bells in the journalistic community and possibly won a Pulitzer Prize for Webb.

Instead, the mainstream press went after Webb in a coordinated smear campaign that ignored the potential abuses he had uncovered and effectively allied itself with the Contras. “Journalists” and editors from the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times, essentially toed the line of right-wing rags like the Washington Times by citing unnamed sources from the CIA and national security establishment to burnish the image of the Contras and their taskmasters.
Despite a mountain of evidence from witness accounts, law enforcement and court records, a Senate subcommittee inquiry, Oliver North’s notebooks, congressional testimony, and even the CIA’s own internal review that backs up Webb’s original reporting, these mainstream hacks found that the best way to defend the CIA was to sully their colleague Webb.

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Indian Police Note Women’s Role in Maoist Leadership

[The year 2014 in India has seen an intensification of the class struggle, mass resistance and democratic activism, armed resistance and revolutionary struggle in growing areas throughout India.  And the news has often focused on the state repression, mass arrests and police killings, and the increased incidence and prominence of attacks on women.  In two articles here, the police acknowledge the ever-growing role of women in Maoist leadership, as women are now a majority of combat fighters in the revolutionary party and armed units.  The first article appeared soon after International Women's Day (March 8), and the second appeared this week.  It should be said that while the police talk of noticing this trend now, women have long played a significant role in the Maoist organization. -- Frontlines ed.]    …………….

Women Maoist commanders play big role in encounters

Written by Vijaita SinghIndianExpress | New Delhi | March 17, 2014

Women commanders have come to constitute almost half of the armed cadre of Maoists and are playing a major role in encounters, like they had done in the Sukma encounter in Chhattisgarh on March 11, security forces believe.

A Maoist poster pays homage to their women cadre on International Women’s Day

A Maoist poster pays homage to their women cadre on International Women’s Day

It is difficult to get a headcount but a rough number of women killed in encounters last year was available after security forces stumbled upon Maoist posters and pamphlets to pay them homage on International Women’s Day. One poster in Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra paid homage to 17 women commanders killed in encounters over the year.

In the past one year, there has been a significant increase in women joining the armed wing of Maoists.  Maoists do not leave behind their dead and take away the bodies. The posters enabled security forces to get a headcount.
Posters recovered from Gadchiroli identified some of the women as Indra, Dhanni, Geeta, Anita, Swarupa, Santila, Pramila, Seema, Reshma, Vasanti, Champa and Mamta. It said, “mahila bina kranti nahin, kranti bina shoshan mukt samaj nahin (no revolution without women and without revolution there can’t be an exploitation-free society).
In the March 11 encounter in Sukma in Chhattisgarh where 15 security personnel were killed, women Maoist commanders played a role, according to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) which lost 11 men. The state police personnel lost four men. In a presentation to the MHA, the CRPF had said Maoists were divided into three groups, and one group comprised mainly of women commanders in black uniform who fired from behind. After a drop in male recruits and desertion, Maoists have started recruiting women on a large scale.

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“Female Naxals Get Combat Role”

The Asian Age, October 14, 2014 – Rabindra Nath Choudhury | Raipur

The CPI (Maoist) leadership has of late effected a radical structural change in the outfit by drafting more and more women cadre in combat roles besides ensuring their fast rise in the rebel hierarchy, intelligence sources said on Monday.
The sea change in the organisational structure has been brought on strategic point of view to transform it from a male-dominated outfit to women-centric one, a senior police officer quoting intelligence reports told this newspaper here. “In 2008, Maoists’ top hierarchy comprised barely 25 per cent women. The women representation in Maoist top hierarchy has now grown by leap and bounds to a staggering 60 per cent. This clearly indicates that the CPI (Maoist) is heading towards a women-dominated radical force in coming days”, the police officer said requesting anonymity. Continue reading

Michael Brown jury: putting a value on a black life in the United States

Protestors hold signs in Ferguson

Protestors in Ferguson, Missouri. ‘When black kids fill the jails and the morgues so disproportionately we are in a state of extreme dysfunction.’ Photograph: Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images

Is there a price to pay for summarily killing a man, or is it just what happens in Ferguson when one man has a badge and the other too much melanin?

 

 

In September 1955, an all-white jury took just 67 minutes to acquit Emmett Till’s killers. Till, 14, said either “Bye, baby” or wolf-whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Mississippi. Three days later his body was fished out of the Tallahatchie river with a bullet in his skull, an eye gouged out and his forehead crushed on one side. “If we hadn’t stopped to drink pop,” said one juror, “it wouldn’t have taken that long.”

In 2014, racism is more sophisticated but no less deadly. The grand jury investigating the killing of Michael Brown is taking its time. Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, in August. Wilson has been suspended on full pay and has not been charged. The four-month period that a panel usually convenes for expired last month. The judge gave the grand jury 60 more days to make a decision, so it has until January 7 to decide whether to indict Wilson. That’s a lot of pop.
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Michael Brown: Hundreds attend new Ferguson demonstrations

Protesters stand-off against police during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri October 10, 2014No violence was reported at Friday’s protest, in contrast to earlier demonstrations

Hundreds of protesters have joined the first march of a planned weekend of demonstrations in St Louis against police shootings.

The protests were sparked by the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by police in August.

Weeks of protests and violence in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson followed Mr Brown’s shooting.

Tensions in St Louis are high after another black teenager was shot dead by a police officer on Wednesday.

Police in riot gear used pepper spray to try to dispel protesters angry at the shooting of Vonderrit D Myers, 18.

Police said Myers shot at an officer, but the victim’s parents say he was unarmed and racially profiled. Continue reading