Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck, the "Founding Fathers"...and A REAL Radical Alternative

from Revolution #210, August 29, 2010
Part 1
By Revolution Research

Over the past few years, Glenn Beck has called the overwhelmingly poor and Black survivors of Hurricane Katrina locked down in the Superdome—in his words—"scumbags." He has ranted that progressives are a "cancer" that have to be "eradicated" from America. On an episode of his TV show, Beck envisioned—with barely concealed glee—an armed uprising of "bubbas" (white racists). He claims Barack Obama's White House is highly influenced if not run by communists, and that Obama "has a deep seated hatred for white people and white culture." A wide-ranging array of right-wing militia members, Tea Party mobs, and heavily armed desperate people get much of their picture of the world, along with organizational direction, from him.

But Glenn Beck argues that all he is really saying is that the U.S. needs to return to the government envisioned and prescribed by the "Founding Fathers" in the U.S. Constitution. To return to the days before "big government" got so out of hand, with the collusion of both parties, before a tax-obsessed political class enslaved the middle class to fund programs that feed the corrupt and lazy—from Wall Street to those on welfare.

Is Glenn Beck ideologizing and organizing a draconian, racist, and ominous reactionary movement? Is he a harbinger of, and organizer for, fascism? Or, as he claims, is he simply basing himself on the values and vision of the "Founding Fathers"?

The answer, as we shall see, is… both. And that poses a profound challenge to all who are outraged by what Beck spews out and represents.

The Values of the "Founding Fathers" and the Reality of America

Glenn Beck constantly invokes an ideal society of individuals striving for "success" in competition with each other, with minimal government interference in that process. He can claim—with justification in doing so—that he is drawing on the "Founding Fathers'" ideal of how society should be organized.

Before turning to the fact that many of the "Founding Fathers" (including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison) were slave owners, let's take the vision of the "Founding Fathers" at its "best." In his writings, Thomas Jefferson extolled a society based on the "yeoman"—that is, the small farmer. Jefferson put forward a vision of society defined by more-or-less equal small property owners. It is this vision that Beck invokes, and that a substantial audience finds appealing.

This small-farmer based society never really existed in the U.S. Of course, many people were small farmers in much of U.S. history. But Jefferson, as well as Washington, Madison, and others, represented and were themselves part of a class of large property owners—including slave owners. Their own wealth was the product of the enslavement of other human beings. More fundamentally, they acted as the political and literary representatives of a class of exploiters. And it was the outlook and interests of those large, exploitive landowners on the one hand, and the budding capitalists on the other, that were represented in the U.S. Constitution. The state they created claimed to represent everyone. In practice, it represented—and could only represent—the dominant class of the day. Thus even the rumor of slave rebellions resulted in suppression of the slaves. And even rebellions by poor (white) farmers in the early days of the U.S., for example, were violently suppressed by this same state.

But even if a society of relatively equal small farmers could have been somehow created, such a society would quickly evolve in the direction of the world we live in today—a society of gaping divisions between haves and have-nots, between exploiters and exploited. A state—with an army and executive at its core—would of necessity be constructed to protect the interests of the "haves" and suppress the "have-nots," and to contend violently with other capitalist-imperialist nations to plunder the globe and oppress other nations. And this society would give rise to a culture, values, and laws that flowed from, and served, that class which had risen to the top to exploit the rest.

Why is this inevitable? In the "yeoman" society idealized by Jefferson, for example, some farmers with better land, stronger families, better weather, etc., would soon prosper. Other farmers who held comparatively worse land, or who were hit with poor health or had small families without children to work their land, would fall behind and go into debt. Before long, they would be ruined and crushed. Thus in the "natural workings" of all this, a few would rise to the top of the heap, while those who drew the short stick in terms of land, resources, etc., would be forced to sell themselves—specifically under capitalism, their ability to work—to those who had the means to hire them. Those who ended up owning the means of production—land, farm implements, livestock, etc.—would be in a position to exploit others by paying them only enough to survive and give birth to new wage slaves, while appropriating all the great wealth. And again, those who "rose to the top" of even this ideal process would very quickly stop working themselves and instead devote their time to supervising the exploitation of others who had been forced by economic necessity to work for them. And this process would, as it has in the real world, grind on, driven only by the blind laws of capitalism, crushing most of those caught in its workings.

In walking through how this would unfold, we can see an example of why even if there is formal equality, this can only mask and perpetuate profound inequality and exploitation. And of course, the founding of America was far from this ideal—it came about in actual historical fact on the foundation of the near genocide committed against the peoples who lived here—the Native Americans—and the enslavement for centuries of millions who had been kidnapped from Africa.

The "Sanctity" of Capitalist Property Rights

Glenn Beck insists that the "Founding Fathers" saw private property, and property rights, as the most sacred thing of all. And he's right. In Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine, Beck highlights a quote from John Adams, one of the "Founding Fathers," which does capture the essence of the "freedoms" sanctified in the Constitution: "The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence." (p. 82) 1

But the U.S. Constitution when written reflected, and enforced, the needs of very specific forms of property—the forms of property that conformed to capitalism on the one hand, and slavery on the other. With the Civil War in 1861-65, the Constitution was amended to outlaw slavery and to much more fully correspond to, and serve to extend, capitalist forms of exploitation. This is the private property that the U.S. Constitution protects above all. When the owner of Whole Foods declared, during the healthcare debate, that there is no constitutional right to healthcare, he was being heartless and cold-blooded, but he was right about the U.S. Constitution. Beyond that, there is definitely nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits exploitation.

The enshrinement of property rights as the most "sacred" right took shape "on the ground" in the early days of U.S. society, in the form of violently stealing the land of the Native peoples and declaring it the "private property" of those who stole it (or in whose interests it was stolen). And it took the form of suppression of uprisings of the lower classes, including slaves.

What is "sanctified" here is the right of the capitalists to appropriate the labor of others; to accumulate ever greater wealth and power through that accumulation; and to use that wealth and power to dominate the instrument of the state and use the state to further suppress the exploited classes. Today the greatest part of the needs of society by far is met through the collective labor of the main suppressed class in society, the proletariat; but this socialized labor is privately appropriated by the relative handful of capitalists. Among the capitalists, it can only, and always has, led to cutthroat competition and production in which things are blindly thrown onto the market in the hopes that they will outsell the competition, with no rational overall plan based on social need guiding that production. It has led, and can only lead, to wars and other forms of contention between nation-states that serve as "home bases" for blocs of capital as well as the ongoing massive invasions, slaughters, proxy wars and military actions of all kinds waged against the oppressed nations and peoples of the world. In short, sanctifying private property can only lead to the world of exploitation, oppression, blood, and cruelty we live in today, where property rights—specifically the right of capitalists to own and control the great productive resources of society—are sacred above all else.

Thus the capitalist declarations that "all men are created equal" conceal a very basic and extremely fundamental fact about the capitalist system. The capitalist and the proletarian (i.e., the propertyless laborer) confront one another in the marketplace as legal equals. One exchanges her or his ability to work for wages; the other exchanges wages for the other's work for a set period of time. But this very exchange of equals is based on, and further deepens, a very unequal, exploitative, and oppressive relation between two classes: one which owns the means of producing things (factories, etc.) and thus pays wages; and one which owns nothing but their ability to work for wages (leaving aside personal possessions like a car to get to work, etc.), and thus must search for someone to employ them.

In the U.S. the concealment of inequality through the seeming exchange between equals was further compounded by the fact that the notion of equality was reserved for white men. No such formal equality was promised to Black people, Native Americans, and people of mixed race. Pariah classes (people considered sub-human in the laws and culture of the new American society) were created. Thus an ideological bond was forged, from the beginning of this country, where white people who were not part of the ruling class in large part identified with their ruling class oppressors in opposition to Blacks and Native Americans. 2

We have spent so much time taking this apart because Beck himself bases so much of his ideological appeal on "going back to the Constitution." And while it is true, as we shall see, that Beck in fact actually supports the elimination of some of the legal rights now promised by the U.S. Constitution, really taking on Beck cannot be confined to defending those elements of the Constitution which do protect some of the legal rights of the people, but requires getting into the overall oppressive character of that Constitution.

Yes, It Really IS About RACISM

Glenn Beck takes great offense at any who would dare to call him or his followers out for racism. For example, in mid-July, the NAACP objected to "the Tea Party's continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements." To which Glenn Beck replied, "What statements are those? I haven't seen any." Well, overt racists and racist statements are at every Tea Party event, ranging from glorification of the Confederacy (and slavery) to people with signs depicting Obama with a bone in his nose in a grass skirt in front of an African hut… in whiteface… or as an African witch doctor (see "The Right Wing Populist Eruption: Yes, It Actually IS Racism," Revolution #178, October 4, 2009).

And no, these are not so-called "fringe elements" of this movement championed by Beck. A week after the NAACP statement, Mark Williams, the leader of the Tea Party Express, one of the most influential Tea Party groups, posted a viciously racist rant in the form of a so-called "parody" letter from former slaves to President Lincoln expressing—in the venomous words of a Tea Party leader—that slavery was "[A] great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house." And, "We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!" And this racist rant went on to say—again supposedly in the words of an ex-slave but actually expressing the racism of this Tea Party leader, "how will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn?"3

But on an even more fundamental level, Glenn Beck doesn't have to, himself, invoke crude, overt racist name-calling to qualify as a big-time racist. His "lower taxes" and "smaller government" message serves, in large part, to whip up racist hatred of Black people and Latinos, especially poor people in the inner cities. When Beck inflames his readers with rhetoric about "[W]hile you worked hard, lived prudently, and spent wisely, those who did the opposite are now being bailed out at your expense," he is using what are by now well-known "code words" to unleash exactly these kinds of vicious racist outbursts.

After all, Glenn Beck's opposition to taxes and big government does not extend to the single greatest, by far, recipient of U.S. "tax dollars," the massive military apparatus that makes the U.S. empire possible, enforcing capitalist-imperialist exploitation, rape of the environment, and crushing of political opposition of all types around the world. Beck is a gung-ho supporter of the whole U.S. war in the Middle East and beyond.

Nor do Beck's rants against "big government" include, for example, opposition to massive subsidization of the oil industry in the form of ("taxpayer funded") research, infrastructure like roads, and massive tax breaks. So… what does that leave? Basic government services that—in the warped world of Beck and his followers—are handouts to Blacks and Latinos. The fact that Tea Partiers can consistently demand (and be told by their leaders) "Keep your government hands off my Medicare" reveals, yes, that this is a movement of people incapable of critical thinking. But even more fundamentally, it illustrates the mindset of a section of people for whom government programs that serve them aren't really government programs at all! 4  Things like Medicare are, as they see it, programs that they (as white people) are just naturally entitled to. But government programs, no matter how pitiful, that ostensibly provide any assistance to non-whites are seen as handing out "hard earned tax money" to—as Beck called the desperate poor Black people trapped in the New Orleans Superdome after Hurricane Katrina—in Beck's words "scumbags."

In short, Glenn Beck's calls for "small government" and "lower taxes" are code words for racism.

Glenn Beck's Racist, Wrong-Headed Rants Against Reparations

Leading up to passage of Obama’s extremely limited "healthcare reform," Glenn Beck declared, "Barack Obama is setting up universal healthcare, universal college, green jobs as stealth reparations. That way the victim status is maintained. And he also brings back back-door reparations."

Here Beck is referring to the demand that reparations be given to African-American people for two and a half centuries of horrific slave labor. To which it must be said: What would be wrong with that? Reparations for the horrors of slavery, for the uncounted wealth extracted from the sweat and blood of slaves, for the barbaric moral crime, and for the deep and profound legacy of slavery today... this is a just demand. Reparations to the descendants of African-American slaves, no matter how large, could only scratch the surface of, and not be enough to undo, the great injustice and barbaric crime of slavery.

And that's not just history, that's present-day reality. The rise of the United States, historically, and as it exists today, is intimately and integrally bound up with and in large part was built on the enslavement of African-Americans. The vast wealth literally beaten, bled, and sweated out of African-American slaves, and later Black sharecroppers in the South, was a key element of the foundation of the USA as it developed, and as we know it today. This was obviously true in the South—where during and after slavery, the slavemaster's children lived in big houses and attended universities based on the wealth produced by slaves or sharecroppers, while the children of slaves and sharecroppers got only the basic necessities of life, if that.

This was also true in the North, where banking, shipping, manufacturing, and a relatively high standard of living for many resulted directly or indirectly from slavery.5 To the extent the slave system (and the links between the Confederacy and British manufacturing and capitalism) impeded—got in the way of—the growth of northern capitalism, this problem was "solved" for the capitalist class with the victory of the North in the Civil War. After the Civil War, Black people were no longer literally owned as property. But their oppression now took the form of near-slavery conditions in the sharecropping system.

On the other side of the coin, the history of this country has been characterized by providing petty, though socially significant, privileges to many whites. And this has been the case even though in the most basic sense, this system has not at all functioned in the actual interests of most white people. And those who have not gone along with the program, who have stepped out of line, protested, rebelled, or even tried to think critically get hit with the "iron fist" of the system.

From the beginning, lands stolen from the Native Americans were parceled out to white farmers. After the Civil War, their children got government subsidized training in advanced agricultural techniques and engineering at land-grant colleges. (Of course, Glenn Beck and his followers would no doubt have supported these "government handouts.")

After World War 2, all this became even more systematic. In the wake of World War 2, the U.S. pounced on the oppressed nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (that had formerly been dominated by European nations) and incorporated much of the world into its empire. On the basis of extreme exploitation of people in the Third World (Asia, Africa, Latin America), the U.S. ruling class was able to provide substantial sections of the U.S. population with a high standard of living, as measured in things like the "freedom" to live in a segregated suburb, drive a car, and to spend 30 years at, and retire from, a secure—if mind-numbing—job.

And that "American Way of Life" was always rooted in white supremacy and saturated with white racism. After World War 2, for example, federal agencies provided home loans to white veterans—while Black people were kept out of the suburbs, subjected to pervasive discrimination in loans, and funneled into overcrowded, substandard inner-city housing projects by official U.S. government policies. And again—this was a matter of federal government policy. 6  Two "Americas," separate and highly unequal, continued to exist, even as this took new and evolving forms.

On this economic foundation, a superstructure—that is, laws, political and social institutions, culture, morality, and other ideas—was erected. Among the main ideas in this superstructure was the utterly false notion that the high standard of living in the U.S. was due to the "work ethic" of its (white) citizens—when in fact this had been due to a combination of the theft of an entire continent, the kidnapping and enslavement for centuries of a people, and a long history of predatory wars and military actions waged overseas. This idea would be laughable—if it weren't so widely accepted and so terribly vicious in its effects.

And through all this, through the workings of this system, and through conscious policies to promote white privilege, the rulers of the U.S. have kept large sections of the population in the U.S. relatively secure, pacified, and loyal.

But all that is under extreme stress and strain today, and threatens to come apart at the seams. And as that happens, huge questions are posed as to how to, and whether or not to, pull this system of horrors back together again… or to fight to bring forward a whole different kind of world. As we shall see in Part 2, Glenn Beck poses an extremely racist, extremely fascist answer to this question. As we shall also see, and explain, other sections of the ruling class at this point remain paralyzed in the face of Beck and his ilk. But, as we shall also show, there IS another answer… there IS another way… out of the deepening crisis now enmeshing U.S. society.

To be continued

1. Beck immediately follows this quote in Glenn Beck's Common Sense with a quote from Karl Marx, "The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property." While this quote has been distorted by claims that it means nobody will have any personal property (even a toothbrush), Marx and Engels made it clear in the passage this is lifted from in The Communist Manifesto that "Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriations."

2. The U.S. Constitution also did not recognize women of any race as equals, and this subordinate status also formed part of the ideological "glue"—and still does—of a "white man's America."

3. In the wake of the NAACP call and the resulting attention to racism in the Tea Party movement (minimal as that was), Williams' Tea Party faction, the Tea Party Express, was expelled from a federation of other Tea Party organizations, and later Williams himself was replaced as leader of the Tea Party Express. But the views in Williams' rant were anything but an exception to the rule in that movement.

4. See "Keep Your Goddamn Government Hands Off My Medicare!" by Bob Cesca, at Huffington Post, August 5, 2009.

5. See the book and online resources connected with Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank, or the interview in Revolution with Douglas Blackmon on the prison slave industry after the Civil War (Revolution #132, June 15, 2008), and "The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need," Revolution #144, October 5, 2008.

6. These kinds of policies had huge and long-term impact on U.S. politics, culture, and economics, down to today, including laying the foundation for the predatory ultra-high interest loans to Black people that were some of the most egregious aspects of the "housing bubble" and its collapse.

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 10:16 AM | 0 comments

Free Gregory Koger - Not only is he innocent, Gregory is righteous!

from Sunsara Taylor
August 27, 2010

There is no justice in the outrageous conviction of Gregory Koger on charges of trespass, resisting arrest, and battery for the “crime” of videotaping a statement I gave at the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago after they dis-invited me from a long scheduled presentation I was to give on November 1st, 2009. Gregory Koger is not only innocent of all charges he has now been convicted of, he is a righteous and beautiful human being who all people seeking to live an ethical life should support as well as learn deeply from.

How is it that Gregory Koger came to be my videographer last November at the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago?

Gregory’s struggle to understand the source of his own long and bitter experiences of injustice and dehumanization as a young man led him to conclusions that were about much more than himself.

How many young men these days put their bodies on the line to defend the doctors who provide the right to abortion women need to even have a chance at a decent and equal life?

Gregory traveled to Kansas to defend Dr. Leroy Carhart when Carhart was declared “Enemy #1” by the same forces who had long-persecuted the recently murdered Dr. George Tiller.

How many Americans these days take responsibility for stopping the torture committed by the U.S. government in our names, not only under Bush, but also under Obama? How many who claim to oppose the wars and occupations by the U.S. government of Iraq and Afghanistan do more than complain under their breath and then change the channel or turn the page?

Gregory donned the orange jumpsuit of Guantanamo detainees in public protests and he marched against these wars, determined to make his opposition felt by people everywhere, including our sisters and brothers across the globe.

How many white people even notice, let alone stand up against, the systematic police terror and brutality that is a fact of life for youth, especially Black and Latino youth, in the inner cities everywhere?
Gregory went to the Southside of Chicago to speak out against a spate of police shootings of young Black men. He has consistently exposed the disproportionate incarceration and violence experienced by Black people in the criminal justice system.

It is through his activity in these realms, as well as his work with the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund to get revolutionary literature into the U.S. prison system that now holds more than 2.3 million human beings, that I came to know Gregory. It was his interest in morality and ethics, in philosophy and revolution, as well as his passion for film that led him to volunteer for me the weekend I was scheduled to give a talk titled, “Morality Without Gods,” at the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago.

The themes of my talk, which drew on the theoretical framework developed by Bob Avakian in his book, AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, examined the basis for a morality that is rooted neither in the brutality and ignorance of Biblical times nor the narrow-minded individualism and relativism of modern U.S. capitalism. I posed the need for a morality that both reflects and serves the struggle to bring into being a world free of all forms of exploitation and oppression, a communist world, a world where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings.

The irony is bitter; when it comes to “morality without gods,” it is difficult to think of a starker living contrast than that between Gregory Koger and the conduct of the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago.
I recount all this not only to demonstrate how deeply immoral it is that the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago, spearheaded by their president Matt Cole, has viciously and vengefully persecuted Gregory Koger. I recount this to make clear that it is not only Gregory who will suffer due to this outrageous and unjust verdict, but that all those who are victims of the many injustices and oppression that Gregory fought against will also suffer.

It is incumbent upon all who care about the truth, who care about justice and the human spirit, who care about freedom and rights of the most oppressed and exploited in this country and worldwide, to not only join in insisting that Gregory be immediately released on bail and his conviction overturned, but to learn from Gregory’s example and step up their own involvement in the struggle for human emancipation.

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 8:37 AM | 0 comments

Friday, August 27, 2010

Outrageous Verdict! Videographer Found Guilty, Taken Directly to Jail!

Just received from "Friends and Supporters of Gregory":

August 26:  After 9 months of vengeful and unrelenting pursuit of a conviction by the Cook County (Illinois) State’s Attorney and the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC), videographer Gregory Koger was found guilty today of trespass, resisting arrest, and battery for the “crime” of videotaping a brief but newsworthy statement by Sunsara Taylor at the EHSC. Gregory was maced and brutalized during the arrest, and this was acknowledged by police at trial, yet he was the one charged and now found guilty.

Aug. 26: Outside Cook County Jail after the verdict
The courtroom was continually packed with supporters of Gregory who were stunned and outraged by the verdict. Then the judge furthered this shameful persecution by upholding the prosecutor’s demand that bond be revoked immediately. Gregory was taken directly from the courtroom to the Cook County Jail until sentencing on September 8. He could be sentenced to up to 3 years in jail. Gregory’s lawyer, Scott Frankel said, “I am unbelievably disappointed with the verdict and I know we will appeal. Gregory is a fine man and does not deserve this. I was stunned by the Court’s decision to revoke Gregory’s bond.” A motion for an order to reinstate Gregory’s bond will be filed immediately.

Supporters went straight from the suburban courthouse to the jail to protest and demand “Free Gregory.” This was really welcomed by people coming in and out of the jail, by people driving by, and most of all, by prisoners in the windows and in the yard as the protesters chanted, “Videotaping is not a crime, Gregory Koger should not do time, Free Gregory Koger!” and “No Justice, No Peace, No Brutalizing Police!” and “Gregory Koger: Watch His Back!”

We Denounce This Outrageous Verdict!
We Demand Reinstatement of Bond and
Gregory’s Immediate Release from Jail!
Free Gregory Koger! No Jail Time!

• Send this newsflash to everyone you know. Use Twitter, Facebook, use the list serves you are on to get this out everywhere
• Immediately send statements of support for Gregory to the defense committee
• Donate money for the appeal. Go to the defense committee website for more information
• Show your support at the sentencing hearing on September 8.
• More information will be coming; keep in touch with the Ad Hoc Committee at


The day before he was arrested Gregory had filmed a two-hour workshop by Sunsara Taylor in the exact same venue with no objections. The next day he accompanied Taylor when she returned to make a short statement objecting to the EHSC’s abrupt cancellation of her longscheduled speech and inviting anyone who wanted to hear the presentation to the home of an EHSC member who opened her doors when the society shut theirs. When told to stop filming before Sunsara made her statement, he put down the video camera as requested. His only device to capture Sunsara’s short statement was an iPhone. He was doing nothing wrong or illegal at the time he was rushed by the police in the lecture hall right after Sunsara announced that she was leaving.

Gregory had very difficult circumstances as a youth, yet he has transformed himself into a political activist, leading a very ethical life. The irony of this has been noted by more than one humanist; the EHSC should be giving him a platform to speak, not trying to throw him in jail! Gregory has done very constructive things, dedicating his life to ending oppression. He came alive in the struggle to protect women’s reproductive rights in the wake of the murder of abortion provider Dr. Tiller. He donned an orange jumpsuit to draw attention to torture of prisoners at Guantánamo. He marched against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He went to the Southside of Chicago to speak out against police shootings of young Black men. He has helped to provide revolutionary literature, like Revolution newspaper, to prisoners, and he has spoken to young people in Chicago classrooms as he sought to reach out to youth and others trapped in the bottom of society. And as part of his activism, he videotapes events, like he was doing that day. This is not someone who should be thrown in jail for almost 3 years for literally holding up an iPhone. Shame on those who seek to ruin a man’s life to pursue their objectives.

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 11:17 AM | 0 comments

Monday, August 23, 2010

From the Desk of Pastor Dave: Letter to the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago

Before the trial this Tues. Aug. 24 of Videographer Gregory Koger (who is facing 3 years in jail for videotaping Sunsara Taylor at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago on Nov. 1, 2009), be sure to read "Pastor" Dave Shepherd's August 4th letter to the Ethical (sic) Humanist Society of Chicago.

Thank you Pastor Dave!
This originally appeared in the August 5th "The Weekly Word" - Bi-Weekly newsletter from:


August 4th, 2010

Dear Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago,

Greetings, unbelievers! My name is Pastor Dave Shepherd, from the only Church God goes to, The Best Church of God. Welcome to the family. Due to your recent scandals, cover-ups, and lapses in morality, your “Ethical Humanism” has joined the world of organized religion. You may not believe in God, but you don’t need God to have a religion. Look at Islam, for example. In addition to welcoming you, I’d also like to offer you some fatherly advice as you’re new to the whole “religion game”.

First of all, great work on un-inviting the dirty communist Sunsara Taylor from giving a speech at your place of un-worship last fall. You’re beginning to learn that it’s good to promise things to people and then un-promise them. But don’t waste this complex system of promises (or as God calls them “covenants”) on commie hippies like Sin-sara. Use them on your flock!

Nextly, I want to commend your efforts in trying to hide the evidence of the whole Sunsara debacle. But the key word in that sentence is “trying”. Sure, you had the police mace, beat, and restrain a man for using a cell phone camera to tape her statement at your society. But you neglected to mace, beat, and restrain the witnesses. Next time, cover all your bases; even your non-God appreciates good follow-through. For ideas, see the Church’s illustrious history of burning books and massacring critics.

Finally, let’s look at the whole “pressing charges” and “Court” part of this dirty commie mess. You should never bring your private matters into the courtroom. Look what happened to Warren Jeffs. Settle out of court. Start soliciting money from your flock. Money and the threat of eternal damnation are powerful tools for sweeping unsightly scandals under the rug—again, see the history of the Church for guidance. Unfortunately, you’ll have to rely solely on money since the threat of Hell will be lost on your non-congregation.

If you ever need to talk, man to Pastor, feel free to stop by the Best Church of God. God’s door is always open. If not, the janitor will let you in.

Yours in whatever it is you believe in,
Pastor Dave Shepherd
Read more »

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 2:19 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

High Stakes Trial August 24: Attacked by Police, Videographer Faces 3 Years in Jail

We received this statement from "Friends and Supporters of Gregory:"

A young man, Gregory Koger, is facing 3 years in jail. His crime? Videotaping. Yes, videotaping a very brief but newsworthy statement by Sunsara Taylor in November 2009 at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC), in Skokie, IL.

The day before he was arrested Gregory had filmed a two hour workshop by Taylor in the exact same venue with no objections. The next day he accompanied Taylor when she returned to make a short statement objecting to the EHSC’s abrupt cancellation of her long-scheduled speech and inviting anyone who wanted to hear the presentation to the home of an EHSC member who opened her doors when the society shut theirs. When Gregory was told to stop filming before Sunsara made her statement, he put down the video camera as requested. His only device to capture Sunsara’s short statement was an iPhone. He was doing nothing wrong or illegal at the time he was rushed by the police in the lecture hall right after Sunsara announced that she was leaving.

Gregory was maced and brutalized during his arrest -- eyewitnesses and photos taken at the hospital document this, yet he was the one charged with trespassing, resisting arrest, and battery on a police officer which he did not do. This is a police practice so common it has a name – “cover charges,” charges that police press when they when they need legal justification to “cover” their brutality toward a defendant. (See American Constitutional Society Issue Brief “Disorderly (mis)Conduct: The Problem with ‘Contempt of Cop’ Arrests” by Cynthia Lopez, June 2010. Available at

For over 9 months, there has been a vengeful and unrelenting pursuit of a conviction of Gregory for a situation that an impartial observer would expect to be easily resolved within a couple of weeks. In fact, unsolicited efforts by third parties to mediate an equitable solution have been stonewalled by those bringing the charges. The prosecution even mounted an unsuccessful effort to find the defendant in contempt of court because of a defense committee website that publicizes and gathers support for him against this unjust prosecution! Reasonable people would certainly be justified in wondering whether there are some larger forces or agenda driving the State’s determination to get a conviction. Whatever the full story is, we cannot let them convict Gregory for any of these unjust and ridiculous charges.

Gregory had very difficult circumstances as a youth, yet he has transformed himself into a political activist, leading a very ethical life. The irony of this has been noted by more than one humanist; the EHSC should be giving Gregory a platform to speak, not trying to throw him in jail!

Gregory has done very constructive things dedicating his life to ending oppression. He came alive in the struggle to protect women’s reproductive rights in the wake of the murder of abortion-provider Dr. Tiller. Gregory donned an orange jumpsuit to draw attention to torture of prisoners at Guantanamo. He marched against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq . He went to the Southside of Chicago to speak out against police shootings of young Black men. He has helped to provide revolutionary literature, like Revolution newspaper, to prisoners, and he has spoken to young people in Chicago classrooms as he sought to reach out to youth and others trapped in the bottom of society. And as part of his activism, Gregory videotapes events, like he was doing that day.

Is this someone who should be thrown in jail for almost 3 years for literally holding up an iPhone?? Shame on those who seek to ruin a man’s life to pursue their objectives.

We will not be silent. We will support Gregory in this case. We will let others know about this injustice. It is really very simple: It is way past time to drop the charges.

Support is greatly needed to defeat these outrageous charges.

What you can do:

1. Post this statement on list serves, e-lists, Facebook. Send to your email list.

2. If you are in the Chicago area: Attend the trial at Cook County Courthouse, 5600 W. Orchard Rd, Skokie, IL at 9:30 AM, Tuesday, August 24, 2010

3. Visit the defense committee website and donate to the legal defense. (

4. Send letters to the prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, Cook County Prosecutor, and send a copy to the defense committee at

---  Friends & Supporters of Gregory

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 8:24 PM | 0 comments

Monday, August 09, 2010

High-Stakes Trial Approaching: Videographer Attacked by Police Faces Almost Three Years in Jail

from Revolution #209, August 15, 2010:

A high-stakes trial is approaching in Chicago, August 24. The prosecution, with the active collaboration of some "ethical humanists," wants to put a volunteer videographer in jail for videotaping a statement by Sunsara Taylor at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) objecting to her being "disinvited" to speak at ESHC on Nov. 1 ( "EHSC Calls Police Against Videographer," Revolution #182, Nov. 8, 2009). The videographer faces a maximum sentence of almost three years in jail.

This story began when Sunsara was approached to speak at the EHSC by one of its board members after he saw her on a panel at Columbia College in Chicago in April 2009. The EHSC Program Committee approved and scheduled Sunsara's talk on "Morality without Gods" for Nov. 1 (as well as for a separate workshop the day before).

However, as the Nov. 1 date of Sunsara's long-scheduled talk approached, a small group within the EHSC spearheaded an underhanded campaign to subvert the Society's stated principles and have her talk cancelled.

Sunsara did speak at the EHSC on Oct. 31, at a well-attended workshop on Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity. The audience included the president and several board members of EHSC. At the beginning of her presentation, Sunsara made a statement condemning her disinvitation and calling out the silent acquiescence of too many EHSC members. She also clearly said she would return the next day, "prepared to give my talk and giving the EHSC the chance, up until the last minute, to do the right thing." The entire workshop was recorded by a volunteer videographer.

The next morning, Nov. 1, Sunsara and her videographer did return to the EHSC before the scheduled program billed as "free and open to the public" and were welcomed at the door like everyone else. A few minutes later, Sunsara stood by her chair to make a statement challenging her unethical disinvitation and inviting everyone interested in the truth about her views and this outrageous disinvitation to come hear her talk in exile. She was never told to leave. The videographer silently stood near her, documenting her on his iPhone.

As Sunsara was finishing and saying she was leaving, an undercover cop and a uniformed cop rushed into the room with other plans. They grabbed the videographer and roughly dragged him away, ripping his shirt to shreds. When a crowd of people called for the police to stop the brutality and let him go, one of the cops even threatened to spray everyone there with mace. The videographer was pushed to the ground face-first, handcuffed and maced directly in his eyes, and multiple cops piled on top of him. He now faces charges of criminal trespass, resisting arrest, and simple battery, for allegedly "striking" the undercover pig in the chest as he was being dragged, beaten and maced. As is typical in cases of police brutality and unjust arrest, the false charges are piled on as "cover charges."

In the face of growing opposition, the EHSC has continued to press charges against the videographer, and its leadership has spread more lies and distortions about both the circumstances of Sunsara's disinvitation and the events on Nov. 1. It has continued its quest to suppress discussion and debate about its unethical actions, working with the State's Attorney to file contempt charges against the videographer in an attempt to shut down his defense committee's website,

A strong legal argument was made against the contempt petition and supporters filled the courtroom. The judge could not rule in favor of the contempt charges without exposing that he was violating the legal system's own supposed rules and rights. Still, he said, "This is not a time for drama. This is a simple misdemeanor case. That's all that this is…" Quite a statement to make while hearing a contempt petition for a political website! The judge threatened to hold the defense committee's efforts against the defendant, saying "He [the defendant] can ask [the committee] to cease and desist until this trial is over...[because] this is not helping his case." Despite this, the contempt petition was defeated and the committee continues to build opposition to this outrageous prosecution.

Much has been done to mobilize people to oppose this attack and turn it around. Some members of EHSC have spoken out and even quit in protest against this outrageous arrest and prosecution. Big debate about it broke out in the blogosphere, including on P.Z. Myers' top-rated science blog Pharyngula, where Myers strongly condemned the actions of the EHSC for violating the most fundamental principles of humanist ethics.

Support is greatly needed to defeat these outrageous charges. Visit the defense committee's website at to learn more and see what you can do to turn this attack around. In the Chicago area, attend the trial on Aug. 24 at 9:30 a.m. at the Cook County Courthouse, 5600 W. Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL.

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 7:45 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sun Aug 8, 4-10 pm Eastern time - "Put Revolution on the Map" Fundraising Web-a-thon Livestream Broadcast

Because this is NOT the best of all possible worlds, and we do NOT have to live this way...
spread the word now and tune in tomorrow & donate.  Back by popular demand and real necessity,  the campaign around “The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have” will hold a second fundraising web-a-thon

co-hosted by Annie Day, Sunsara Taylor and Will Reese.
When you tune in to Put Revolution on the Map Sunday, you'll see:

4:00 pm EST: The Campaign "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" What the campaign is about & what we've been doing to spread it
5:00 pm EST: Making Bob Avakian a household name: The Revolution Talk and BAsics Meet Bob Avakian through his writings & speeches
6:00 pm EST: "A Capitalist Oil Spill: A System Not Fit to Be Caretakers of the Planet, & the Revolution We Need!" featuring Raymond Lotta
7:00 pm EST: Prisoners Connect with Revolution through the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
8:00 pm EST: Arizona Freedom Summer featuring Travis Morales & Why Do People Come Here From All Over the World? by Bob Avakian (bilingual content)
9:00 pm EST: Live reading from Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist; BAsics and more...
HERE'S THE LINK FOR SUNDAY beginning at 4:00 pm Eastern, 1:00 pm Pacific time

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 12:17 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, August 01, 2010

More War Crimes Exposed - NOW, What Do We Do?

Sunday, Aug 1 - World Can't Wait - Livestream webcast - A discusson of antiwar leaders & veterans on the implications of the War Diary by   Here's another chance to view the whole broadcast. with Ray McGovern, Josh Stieber, Cindy Sheehan, Mattis Chiroux, Dahr Jamail, Elaine Brower, Mike Ferner of Veterans for Peace and Debra Sweet.

Watch live streaming video from worldcantwait at

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 10:02 PM | 0 comments

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