Archive for the Fascism Category

Human Rights Watch report documents attack on democratic rights in US and Europe [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Africa, Anti-Islam hysteria, Egypt, EU, European Union, Fascism, France, Greece, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Islamophobia, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Obama, Police, Police brutality, Police State, Roma people, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on February 4, 2016 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Tom Hall
1 February 2016

Last week, US-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch warned of mounting attacks on democratic rights throughout Europe and North America, which governments have justified as a response to the migrant crisis.

The group’s annual report warned that the arrival of refugees fleeing war and repression in the Middle East is “driving many Western governments to roll back human rights protections,” adding, “these backward steps threaten the rights of all” sections of the population, not just refugees.

In the report’s lead essay, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth notes, “In Europe and the United States, a polarizing us-versus-them rhetoric has moved from the political fringe to the mainstream. Blatant Islamophobia and shameless demonizing of refugees have become the currency of an increasingly assertive politics of intolerance.”

“Public discourse,” Roth continues, “has been filled with voices of hatred and fear of Muslims, for whom the refugees [arriving in Europe] are surrogates.” This climate contributes to “the persistent discrimination, hopelessness, and despair that pervade neighborhoods on the outskirts of some European cities.”

2015 saw a dramatic rollback of democratic rights throughout Europe and America. In France, the Hollande government pushed through sweeping expansions of government surveillance and curtailing freedom of speech, seizing upon the attacks in Paris this November and the Charlie Hebdo attacks at the beginning of the year. In the United States, the military was deployed to Baltimore to crack down on peaceful protests against police brutality at the beginning of the year, while mass government spying continued unimpeded.

The report contains comprehensive summaries for more than 90 countries for the year of 2015. By far the largest single section, with 24 pages, is on the European Union, more than Saudi Arabia, whose absolute monarchy beheaded record numbers of people last year, including many political prisoners, and countries currently embroiled in civil wars such as Syria and Libya. The United States came in second place, with 17 pages…

…Previous agreements by European governments to resettle asylum seekers throughout the continent remain a dead letter as countries throughout Europe close off their borders to refugees. Only 159 asylum seekers have been relocated from Italy and Greece in spite of an agreement last year to resettle 160,000 asylum seekers from these countries.

Attacks on Muslims rose sharply last year, as far-right and neo-Nazi groups are emboldened by the discriminatory policies of European governments. Such attacks have grown by 46.7 percent in London in the first half of 2015. However, racist attacks are by no means limited solely to Muslims; reports of anti-Semitic attacks are also on the rise, and discriminatory evictions of Roma by governments throughout the EU continue. Widespread discrimination also exists in the Baltic countries against native Russian speakers.

As Roth notes, Europe is joined in its persecution of refugees by the United States. Last year 30 US governors tried to prevent Syrian refugees from entering their states, while current Republican front-runner Donald Trump floated the idea of banning Muslims from entering the country altogether. The United States, the report declares, also “continued the dramatic expansion of detention of migrant mothers and their children from Central America,” many fleeing violence in their home countries, over the course of last year. While not mentioned in the report, the Obama administration rang in the new year last month with a new round of targeted deportations of Central American children.

The report also notes with concern the continued drive to expand state repression and surveillance in the United States and Europe, justified in the main by the supposed threat of terrorism…

…In the United States, spy agency leaders seized upon the Paris attacks last year to renew their calls for a “back door” to online encryption, despite the fact that the Paris attackers did not encrypt their communications. Meanwhile, Guantanamo Bay’s detention center remains open despite years of empty promises by Obama to close it. And last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by Obama, “tightened existing restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of Guantanamo,” making the release or transfer of detainees even more difficult.

Many of the worst human rights violations elsewhere in the report were committed by allies of the United States or the European imperialist powers. In discussing the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, for example, in which civilian infrastructure has been deliberately targeted, the report argues that by virtue of providing “intelligence, logistical support and personnel” to the Saudis the United States would be “potentially jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by coalition forces.” The report also cites continuing US aid to Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as well as the Obama administration’s waiving of provisions of the Child Soldier Prevention Act to continue supporting the militaries of several African countries.

World imperialism has justified countless criminal wars over the past quarter century under the fraudulent pretext of “humanitarian interventionism.” Now, a leading human rights group is compelled to admit that these same powers are responsible for major human rights violations within their own borders. This not only exposes imperialism’s professed concern for “human rights” as a fraud, it is also an indication of the growth of police-state forms of rule within these countries…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/01/hrw-f01.html

“The Greek Tragedy”: Post-WWII imperialist domination of Greece – The Anti-Empire Report #137 [Williamblum.org] [

Posted in Anti-communism, CIA, Fascism, Germany, Greece, NATO, Nazism, U.K., US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, World War II on March 24, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Feb. 23, 2015

American historian D.F. Fleming, writing of the post-World War II period in his eminent history of the Cold War, stated that “Greece was the first of the liberated states to be openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed.”

The British intervened in Greece while World War II was still raging. His Majesty’s Army waged war against ELAS, the left-wing guerrillas who had played a major role in forcing the Nazi occupiers to flee. Shortly after the war ended, the United States joined the Brits in this great anti-communist crusade, intervening in what was now a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency (KYP in Greek).

In 1964, the liberal George Papandreou came to power, but in April 1967 a military coup took place, just before elections which appeared certain to bring Papandreou back as prime minister. The coup had been a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, the KYP, the CIA, and the American military stationed in Greece, and was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a “communist takeover”. Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine.

George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father, had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.

Andreas Papandreou was arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou later related the following:

I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about it. Then Margaret asked a critical question: What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup? Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they would have crushed the coup. 1

Another charming chapter in US-Greek relations occurred in 2001, when Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street Goliath Lowlife, secretly helped Greece keep billions of dollars of debt off their balance sheet through the use of complex financial instruments like credit default swaps. This allowed Greece to meet the baseline requirements to enter the Eurozone in the first place. But it also helped create a debt bubble that would later explode and bring about the current economic crisis that’s drowning the entire continent. Goldman Sachs, however, using its insider knowledge of its Greek client, protected itself from this debt bubble by betting against Greek bonds, expecting that they would eventually fail… 2

Excerpted; full article (with footnotes) link: http://williamblum.org/aer/read/137

Is the U.S. a Fascist Society? Fascism is a Political Economic Structure Which Serves Corporate Interests [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, Fascism, Media cover-up, Nazism, Neo-colonialism, New York Times lie, Police, Police brutality, Police State, US imperialism, USA on March 18, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Danny Haiphong
March 14, 2015

[This article was originally published on 8 April 2014.]

Most Americans are taught in school that fascism is a ruthless one party dictatorship, the most popular example being Nazi Germany. This is a misconception. Fascism is a political economy, not merely a political system that existed in one moment of history. Fascism, as defined by Black revolutionary and assassinated political prisoner George Jackson, is the complete control of the state by monopoly capital. Fascism is the last stage of capitalism in the heart of the US imperial center where the relationship between the state and corporation becomes indiscernible. A difficult, but necessary, task for the left in this period is to acknowledge that fascism is the system of rule in the United States.

The privatization of the public sector, de-unionization of the entire labor force, and violent austerity are the seeds of domestically grown fascism in the economic realm. Such fascist activity has brought about the rapid decline of political and economic conditions for the working class and the rapid accumulation of wealth and profit for the ruling class. Workers are doing more and more on the job for less and less pay. The jobless are either searching desperately for work or not searching at all. Shelters are overflowing and turning the homeless away. The US has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners despite only possessing 5 percent of the world’s population. Mass joblessness, poverty, imprisonment, and homelessness are material forces that breed fear and competition amongst the working class.

The paradox of fascism lies in its ability to sustain and grow in the midst of deteriorating conditions for the majority of the population. The racist foundation of this country is useful in this regard. The white working class steadfastly defends its privileges obtained from white imperial pillage of Black and indigenous people both here and abroad. The white ruling class maintains unity with the white working class because, although exploitation has heightened for everyone, Black and indigenous people (including undocumented immigrants) remain economically and socially oppressed to a much harsher degree than Whites. To ensure racism does not precipitate a radical struggle between white supremacy and Black freedom, the US ruling class has molded and trained a Black political class. This class of neo-colonial elites, with Barack Obama leading the way, works in the interests of fascism by protecting the rule of the white ruling class while teaching the entire Black community that Black faces in high imperial places is not only desired, but also worthy of staunch defense.

Furthermore, fascism relies on a racist enforcement arm to control the political direction of the oppressed. The expanded surveillance and military state that currently spies, detains, and wiretaps the 99 percent remains more dangerous and repressive for the Black community. The vast majority of wiretaps, police and vigilante murders, and stop-and-frisks happen to Black and brown people. So instead of joining forces with the Black community to build a powerful movement, exploited white Americans can still rely on the state to enforce racism on its behalf.

The US corporate media and education system provide the ideological chains of fascism. In this period, both systems serve as mouthpieces for US imperial ambitions, values, and behaviors. Fascism is normalized in the American mind through the inculcation of racism, individualism, and a depoliticized and inaccurate conception of history and politics. The US education system conditions the oppressed and oppressors into their positions in society. Black and indigenous youth attend factory schools that emphasize obedience to authority, which instills a dehumanized and subservient disposition for a future in low-wage work or prison. From K-12, Black working class youth are taught to “pledge allegiance” to the flag of genocide and colonialism in over-crowded, police-occupied, and privatized schools. White youth “pledge allegiance” in better-funded schools more capable of conditioning them into positions of power. However, all youth are taught a mythological version of US history that applauds white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalist development as “freedom” and “democracy.”

The corporate media, despite being far more monopolized than the US school system, provides a more diverse means of education. Corporations like CNN and the New York Times habitually lie about the facts of political events to protect the white ruling class and its institutions from accountability. Corporate hip-hop, music, and television entertainment compliment corporate news syndicates by doping the mind full of mindless garbage. It matters little if the media of choice is watching “Scandal”, listening to Nicki Minaj on the radio, or reading the Washington Post. The boardrooms of five corporations are manufacturing consent to the US fascist system. Malcolm X succinctly summarized the function of the corporate media when he said “if you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing…”

Excerpted; full article: http://www.globalresearch.ca/is-the-us-a-fascist-society-examining-the-existence-of-fascism-in-the-united-states/5377146

Israel and Europe’s shared anti-semitism [Jonathan Cook: the blog from Nazareth]

Posted in Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Fascism, Germany, Israel, Sweden, U.K., Zionism on February 25, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

18 December 2014

Here’s a telling comment from the leader of a Swedish far-right party that throws a little light on the real reason early last century the great colonial power of the time, Britain, sponsored – through the Balfour Declaration – Israel’s creation.

Bjorn Soder, leader of the Sweden Democrats party, has demanded that Jews drop their Jewish identity and assimilate if they want to live as Swedish citizens…

…Here’s what he says to critics who accuse him of being anti-semitic: “Those who know me when it comes to Jews know I have long had a very strong commitment to both the state of Israel and the Jewish people.”

I don’t think he’s being disingenuous here. This attitude towards Jews was one common in Europe last century (and, as we shall see, lingers to this day, especially among Israel’s supporters).

Soder’s concerns were shared by the European elites of the time, including the British cabinet ministers who devised the Balfour Declaration. Britain’s solution was to encourage Jews to migrate from Europe to the Middle East. To export the “problem”, as they saw it, to the colonies. Other European leaders, most notably Adolf Hitler, would eventually settle on a more extreme solution: the genocide of the Jews in Europe.

In other words, the logic of Israel’s creation and of the extermination of the Jews was intimately related – flipsides of the same deep-seated European racism. Both assumed that Jews were unassimilable, potentially disloyal outsiders who needed either to be expelled or to be killed.

The Zionists both exploited this racism for their own ends (the creation of a Jewish state) and mirrored it, adopting the same ideas as the racists of an identifiable Jewish nation (identified through blood or religion) and one that needed to live apart from other nations.

Zionism, the movement for creating a Jewish state and one that succeeded only when it agreed that such a state would be built on the Palestinians’ homeland, precisely depended on claims of chosen-ness and Biblical entitlement to territory. Where Europe’s racists believed the Jews should be contained or quarantined in the Middle East, the Zionists believed the Jews should create an ethnically pure national fortress.

This is why the idea invented by Israel of a “new anti-semitism” – one distinguishable from historical anti-semitism because it supposedly infects only the left and is marked by criticism of Israel – is so laughable. The true anti-semites have always been the devoted followers of the Zionist movement, the Israeli elites and their many diehard friends in European capitals.

Soder and his tinpot racists are small fry compared to that crowd.

=end=

Edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2014-12-18/israel-and-europes-shared-anti-semitism/

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Related article: “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia” [Workers World] — http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/26/anti-semitism-and-islamophobia/

New evidence implicates pro-US opposition in Maidan killings during Kiev coup [World Socialist Website]

Posted in False flag, Fascism, France, Germany, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, NATO, Russia, Ukraine on February 19, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手
By Andrea Peters
16 February 2015

Further evidence has emerged that the deadly shootings on Independence Square (Maidan) in Kiev last February, in the final stages of the NATO-backed putsch that ousted pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, were carried out by the far-right.

Recently published investigative coverage by the BBC and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in Germany indicates that snipers were recruited by fascist forces to fire on targets on the Maidan. Until that point, police had engaged in violent confrontations with anti-government protesters but had yet to resort to live ammunition.

This suggests that the far-right forces were trying to escalate the conflict, in order to shatter plans for a negotiated settlement that European officials were trying to work out between the Yanukovych regime and the far-right, pro-NATO opposition forces.

The 98 deaths during the Maidan protests—now referred to as the “Heavenly Hundred”—were utilized to promote the myth that the fascist-led coup was a democratic movement of peaceful protesters martyred by Ukrainian riot police. The Kiev regime established the “Order of the Heavenly Hundred,” which recognizes people for “civic courage, patriotism, the upholding of constitutional principles of democracy.” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently declared February 20 the “Day of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes” to commemorate the “Revolution of Dignity.”

The BBC and FAZ investigations give the lie to this propaganda. They point to the anti-democratic intrigue that underlies the current Kiev regime and ongoing US provocations against Russia in the region, which threaten the world with what France’s president recently described as “total” war…

Excerpted; full article link:  http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/02/16/maid-f16.html

French, European imperialists escalate Islamophobia [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-Islam hysteria, Belgium, CIA, Economic crisis & decline, Fascism, France, Genocide, Germany, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iraq, Obama, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Syria, Torture, Turkey, U.K., Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on January 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Fred Goldstein January 19, 2015

French, U.S. and British imperialism and their partners, each in their own way and for their own aims, are determined to escalate wars abroad and repression at home.

The French ruling class has imposed an undeclared state of siege on its own Muslim population and has used troops in North and West Africa to repress rebellions protesting the publication of Islamophobic cartoons in the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

French President Francois Hollande, of the misnamed “Socialist Party,” has declared that France is “at war,” echoing a previous statement by Prime Minister Manuel Valls. France has deployed 122,000 heavily armed troops and police throughout the country and has declared a “high alert.” Soldiers and police with heavy weapons patrol the streets, train stations and other public places. Raids have been carried out and dozens of people arrested.

In neighboring Belgium, the authorities deployed 300 troops to Antwerp and Brussels, carried out sweeps and shot two people dead in a raid in the town of Verviers. In Germany, Interior Ministry spokesperson Tobias Plate spoke of an “abstract high danger” as the authorities deployed 250 police in pre-dawn raids. The racist frenzy in France led to the stabbing death in a village outside Avignon of a Moroccan man, Mohamed El Makouli, by an Islamophobic neighbor.

Imperialists step up international aggression

The European imperialists are doubling down on their attacks abroad as well. The French government is flying Mirage jets over Iraq in a joint operation with the U.S. Instead of addressing the crushing poverty and racism suffered by the millions of French youth and workers of African or Middle Eastern ancestry, the answer of the regime is to deploy troops and step up surveillance in the oppressed communities and at airports.

Instead of pulling back from war on Muslim people in Iraq, Syria and North and West Africa, the Hollande regime is pressing ahead with the policies that led to the attacks against the unspeakable racism and chauvinism expressed by the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo.

Hollande and his fellow imperialists organized a mass march in Paris on Jan. 11 allegedly for “free speech,” which defended and celebrated the magazine that insulted the religion of nearly 2 billion oppressed people worldwide. In fact, you do not have to be religious at all to be revolted by the arrogant, insensitive depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in sexual poses and other objectionable images.

Hollande is partly motivated by the fact that his popularity in France was at a dismally low point before the crisis. And he is struggling to fend off challenges from the fascist National Front Party, led by Marine le Pen, who got a quarter of the vote in the 2014 election for the European Parliament. It is characteristic of social democrats such as Hollande that the way they fight the right is to move to the right themselves and occupy the political territory of the National Front.

President Obama and his administration have been trying to bob and weave through the crisis. The Obama administration stayed away from the Paris demonstration. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris just blocks away at a conference, stayed away from the march.

Washington is universally hated by Muslims

This is for purely imperialist purposes. Washington is the most universally hated power by Muslims — from the Middle East to Pakistan, to Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia, and other parts of the world — for its wars of aggression, its drone strikes, its torture policies, its massacres of civilians, its prisons from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo, and more.

The recent exposure of the CIA torturers in the Senate Intelligence Committee report is filled with graphic descriptions of U.S. torture. These have been read around the world. Washington is trying to placate Muslim public opinion and has even banned references to “Islamic extremism.” In addition to the fact that the neocons and militarists in Washington despise French imperialism and do not want to increase its prestige, they certainly did not want to be identified with defense of the insult to the Prophet Muhammad at a time when they are escalating their attacks on Muslims in Iraq and Syria and at home.

Washington and the Pentagon have no intention of pulling back on their aggression. Obama held a joint press conference on Jan. 16 with his junior partner, British Prime Minister David Cameron, to announce common measures to “fight terrorism.” Cameron announced new cooperation in the war in Iraq and in Ukraine, among other gestures of imperialist subordination.

But Washington intends to keep leadership of the imperialist assault against the oppressed. While in Paris during the march, Eric Holder announced that the administration will host a summit in Washington on Feb. 18 on preventing violent extremism.

Washington recently announced a new deployment of 1,000 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. They will be used to train carefully vetted, Pentagon-approved Syrian counterrevolutionaries in order to build up a 5,000-person force to continue the war against Syria and the Islamic State.

Washington is also behind the counterrevolutionary government of Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine, which is planning a new offensive to try to recapture the east from anti-fascist forces of resistance to a U.S.-Europe takeover.

Rise of Islamophobia

The background on the rise of Islamophobia is the growing economic crisis that is engulfing Europe. Islamophobia has become the battle cry of the ultra-right and fascist forces in Europe, just as racism, sexism and homophobia make up the battle cry of right-wing extremists and fascists in the U.S.

Fascist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic parties exist in France, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and other countries in Europe. Prior to the most recent publication of cartoons defaming the Prophet Muhammad, there were demonstrations throughout Europe demanding crackdowns on immigration and immigrants.

In recent days specific Islamophobic demonstrations have taken place in Germany and France. It is an illusion that Islamophobia can be stopped by a government ban of right-wing demonstrations.

The social soil for political reaction exists in France, for example, where the official unemployment rate is 10 percent and youth unemployment is 20 percent. At the same time, unemployment rates have reached 40 percent in the oppressed neighborhoods.

French capitalism, and European capitalism in general, has been unable to lift itself out of the global capitalist crisis which began in 2007. There has been no recovery for the European working class. Unemployment in the eurozone, as in France, is above 10 percent, and youth unemployment is double that. In some countries such as Greece and Spain unemployment is between 15 and 20 percent.

This is part of a general crisis of overproduction that has plagued the global profit system and which is intensifying every month. Right now the right wing has seized the advantage and is feeding on the discontent of the masses to garner support for divisive, racist ideology. This is aggravated by the inability of the capitalist governments to turn the economic situation around.

Persistent and growing unemployment should be a signal for a revival of the working-class movement. It is high time for the communists and progressive, anti-racist, anti-imperialist and pro-working class forces to unite to defend the Muslim population and push back the fascists.

Copyright © 2015 Workers.org

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/19/french-european-imperialists-escalate-islamophobia/

Charlie Hebdo, the free press and racism [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Africa, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-Islam hysteria, Black propaganda, Canada, Capitalist media double standard, Corporate Media Critique, Fascism, France, Gaza, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Nazism, Palestine, Police, Police brutality, Police State, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Syria, Turkey, U.K., USA, USSR, Yugoslavia - former FRY on January 14, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Sara Flounders

January 13, 2015

How do we put in perspective the international media focus on the massacre of 12 journalists in Paris on Jan. 7 at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, notorious for its racist anti-Muslim caricatures and lack of response to the routine, daily, racist police murders of Black youth in the U.S.? Why were any protests banned in France of 15 journalists who were killed among the 2,000 deaths in the Israeli assault of Gaza this past summer? Don’t those lives matter?

The Charlie Hebdo assassinations strengthen the hand of the state, which is using them in an ideological offensive, even if the state had a role in arming and training the killers.

Why are other murders not mourned, not respected, not even reported — even the murders of other journalists? A crucial role of the corporate media is to try to shape the perception of which lives matter.

Consider the mass outpourings following several different, very public killings in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of youths have been in the streets again and again in the U.S. confronting the refusal of the state to prosecute killer cops, even when their murderous crimes have been seen on video by millions.

Hundreds of thousands of people were in the streets of Paris on Jan. 11. French, other European, U.S. and Israeli politicians led the march honoring the slain journalists.

Twice, on Dec. 27 and Jan. 4, thousands of police in uniform from all over the U.S. converged on New York City for separate funerals of two police officers shot in their patrol car in Dec. 20. Jet Blue offered free flights to all police traveling nationally to the funeral. The U.S. vice president, New York state’s governor and the city’s mayor attended the funerals. Roads in the areas were closed; giant outdoor TV screens were erected.

Not a free speech issue

The French government’s protection of the racist journal Charlie Hebdo had nothing to do with protecting freedom of speech. This is a deception that must be confronted. In 2012 the same government that protected this vile publication banned any demonstrations or protests or even public prayers opposing the racist publication.

French law allows for the prosecution of “public insults” based on religion, race, ethnicity or national origin. But the racist, sexist, bigoted, grossly insulting cartoons in Charlie Hebdo magazine were never once a source of any successful legal action.

However, France did ban anyone from even protesting the cartoons that insulted Muslims or the prophet Muhammed.

In 2012, as protests swept the Muslim world in response to an anti-Muslim film made in the U.S., French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said prefects had orders to prohibit any protest and to crack down if the ban was challenged. “There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up.” (Daily Mail, Sept. 21, 2012) Even prayer meetings and street prayers were banned. (CNN, Sept. 19, 2012)

In the same week Charlie Hebdo put out an extra run of cartoons featuring a grossly obscene caricature of a naked prophet Mohammed. The magazine was given extra police protection.

Freedom of speech and of the press is hardly sacred in France. It was punishable by a year in prison to even post on the Internet a notice of a demonstration opposing the Israeli onslaught on Palestine during the Israeli 2014 summer offensive on Gaza. France was the only country in the world to bar all demonstrations and protests in any form supporting Palestine during that time. The penalty was one year in jail and 15,000 euro fine.

It is worth noting the double standard: There is no similar crackdown against the current right-wing, fascist demonstrations against immigrants.

Role of Nazi caricature

Charlie Hebdo serves a very important purpose for French imperialism, and that is why its virulent racism has been protected at the very time that protests against it are prohibited.

Charlie Hebdo may have run cartoons to ridicule the powerful 40 years ago when it claimed to be left wing, irreverent and nonconformist. But there is a big difference between satire ridiculing the powerful — a French tradition going back to Voltaire — and the current imagery promoting fear and loathing of the oppressed and powerless. The latter is right wing and fascist in character.

In this period when Muslims are facing increasing, extreme right-wing attacks, and fascist mobilizations are growing in Europe, Charlie Hebdo functions as did the Nazi publication Der Sturmer with its vehemently anti-Semitic caricatures. Jewish people in Der Sturmer, as Muslims in Charlie Hebdo, were depicted with exaggerated facial features and misshapen bodies. Both publications use obscene, sexually explicit caricatures.

The Nazi newspaper’s caricatures were part of a policy to make Jews an object of hatred, fear, ridicule and disdain. At the end of World War II, Julius Streicher, the editor of Der Sturmer — though he didn’t run death camps but used the press to incite hatred — was put on trial, convicted of crimes against humanity and executed.

Charlie Hebdo is protected because it hardens the population against Muslim people in order to divide the population. The French government has announced a grant to Charlie Hebdo of 1 million euros, and Google donated 250,000 euros.

Charlie Hebdo is not freedom of expression and freedom of press. It is an instrument of war mobilization. It ran cartoons demonizing Serbs during the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia, and it supported NATO’s attack on Libya.

No free press

Although “free speech” and “free press” are being lauded and glorified in the murder of the French journalists, no such thing exists in any capitalist state. The press in France or in the U.S. is not free, open or accessible. The media are owned by and serve the interests of the ruling class. What can be said and who can say it is tightly controlled. The corporate media in capitalist society are owned to serve class rule. What is covered depends entirely on who can pay for publication or airtime. A handful of multibillion-dollar media conglomerates control almost all information, culture and entertainment in the Western capitalist countries — though in the past decade social media and the Internet have opened a few cracks in this overwhelming corporate control.

The media industry has an enormous impact in shaping what lives have value and what deaths go unreported, unmarked or consciously covered up.

The hundreds of thousands of deaths in wars initiated by U.S. imperialism, and with full support of French and British imperialism, are unmarked, unmourned and callously labeled “collateral damage.” The media ignore or barely mention the enormous toll in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. No mass sympathy is created when a U.S. drone wipes out a wedding party in Pakistan or a whole village with a hellfire missile.

The assassinations of journalists in these wars are hardly noted. There were no state funerals for the 166 journalists killed in Iraq under U.S. occupation. Chelsea Manning is in prison for releasing videos of U.S. helicopters gunning down two Reuter’s camera operators in Iraq and then circling to kill the family that stopped their van to try to help them.

According to The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, 15 journalists were killed in the 2014 Israeli bombing of Gaza. They “were killed in civilian sites which are supposed to be safe for civilians.” Eight media centers were targeted and bombed.

U.S. bombers targeted and destroyed the RTS, Radio TV Serbia, in the 1999 U.S./NATO war on Yugoslavia, killing 17 journalists.

The most dangerous country in the world for journalists is Honduras. Since the U.S.-backed coup, 46 media and information workers have been assassinated.

The International Federation of Journalists sharply criticized NATO 2011 air strikes against Libyan television, which killed three people and injured 15. The IFJ stated that the strikes violated international law and U.N. resolutions.

If a free press existed, then Chelsea Manning would not be in prison or Edward Snowden and Julian Assange on the run, living in exile.

What media are even allowed coverage in imperialist countries demonstrates how little freedom of the press is respected. For example, PRESS TV, an Iranian news channel broadcasting in English, is banned from broadcasting via satellite throughout Europe, Canada and the U.S. Al-Manar, a Lebanese satellite station affiliated with Hezbollah, has also been banned by France, Germany and the U.S. Both Press TV and Al Manar have protested, to no avail, that this is a grave breach of freedom of speech. While both news channels are available via the Internet in limited form, Apple and Google have removed Al-Manar mobile apps.

National oppression

National oppression and racism in France cannot be ignored. There are 5.5 million residents of African origin, many of them born in France and most of them citizens. A large number are from Muslim background, although not all are practicing. They are isolated by poverty in suburbs that have high unemployment, inferior schools and substandard housing.

Just as prisons in the U.S. overwhelmingly imprison Black and Brown youth, so too do French prisons. About 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the country’s prison system are Muslim, according to Muslim leaders, sociologists and researchers, though Muslims make up only about 12 percent of the country’s population. (Washington Post Foreign Service, April 29, 2008)

Imperialism needs hatred of targeted peoples. Western politicians have cynically used Islamophobia to advance right-wing political agendas and curtail freedoms.

Who benefits?

Regardless of whether a police conspiracy is ever exposed, we do know that the French ruling class and the corporate media are always primed to take full advantage of such acts to reinforce the repressive state apparatus and sow division among the working class.

There should not be an iota of confidence in the news stories of this massacre at Charlie Hebdo. We know only what we are being told in the corporate media by French military police and state intelligence agencies. We do know that three men, who are now dead, were tools of imperialism in their wars of conquest in Syria and Libya. More than 1,000 French citizens of Arab and North African descent have been recruited, trained, armed and used as weapons conduits, saboteurs and terrorists in the efforts of U.S. France, Britain, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to overthrow the government of Syria.

This leads to the fundamental question of whose policies are responsible for the massacre and who gains from the massacre?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. imperialism, aided by the old colonial powers of Europe, has been engaged in a whole series of wars to reconquer countries that had achieved a high level of development based on sovereignty and control of their resources.

In their frantic efforts to recolonize Iraq, Syria and Libya, they have cynically whipped up sectarian divisions, organized deadly militias and promoted fanaticism and anarchy. That has aroused deep-seated rage against the U.S., France and Britain.

It is also highly unpopular that French imperialism is widely involved in Africa, primarily in the majority-Muslim countries of Mali, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast and Djibouti, and in Abu Dhabi on the Arabian peninsula.

The French ruling class wants to divert mass attention from their expanding wars and increasingly militarized society. The mobilizations claiming to defend a free press by defending racism must be opposed and countered.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/13/charlie-hebdo-free-press-racism/

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