Monday, August 29, 2011

The Whistleblower -- and Ongoing U.S. Involvement in Sex Trafficking

First off, if you haven't seen the Whistleblower -- starring Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Anna Anissimova, Roxana Condurache, and Monica Bellucci -- go out and see it.

Its an incredibly raw look at sex slavery -- the literal trade in women's bodies and flesh as commodities, as sources of enormous global profits, and as "things" for men worldwide to sexually plunder.  The fact that there is a demand for such a "commodity" is itself an indictment of the culture of patriarchy and the sexualized degradation of women that is so rampant in -- and so widely promoted by -- pornography.

But, what makes this movie even more gripping and important is the way it reveals a true story of U.S. and UN government collusion with -- and participation in -- this sex trade and its protection.

In case anyone thinks this is just an "isolated incident," check this out from an article by Rebecca Murray posted yesterday at

"In one harrowing experience, Rania and two other girls visited a house in Baghdad’s Al-Jihad district, where girls as young as 16 were held to cater exclusively to the U.S. military. The brothel’s owner told Rania that an Iraqi interpreter employed by the Americans served as the go-between, transporting girls to and from the U.S. airport base."

This conforms to stories that were shared with me informally by several of the anti-war Iraq and Afghanistan war vets I have spoken and traveled with and gotten to know over the years.

Not only has the U.S. military been one of the main impetuses in creating the demand for sex trafficking over decades, not only has the U.S. military been involved in many levels of protecting this "industry" (as well as, at times, itself having a much more active hand in it!), but the wars that the U.S. wages are a huge part of what creates the conditions for women and girls to be vulnerable to be sold into this industry.  As the IPS article continues:

"Before the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq enjoyed the highest female literacy rate across the Middle East, and more Iraqi women were employed in skilled professions, like medicine and education, than in any other country in the region.

"Twenty years later Iraqi women experience a very different reality. Sharia law increasing dominates everyday life, with issues like marriage, divorce and honour crimes implemented outside of the court system, and adherence to state law."

All this is totally fucked.  And through it all, the people who run this country have the audacity to pose not only as the "leader of the free world" but also as the "liberators of women."

If nothing else was wrong with this system (and there is plenty more that is wrong), this alone would be reason enough for revolution.  Yesterday is not soon enough.

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 1:16 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Capitalist Disregard for Prisoners Revealed through Hurricane Irene

Even if the worst of the potential destruction warned about through Hurricane Irene did not happen, the criminal nature of this system was revealed.  Bloomberg openly and unapologetically admitted that he had no plan for how to evacuate Rikers Island should the need arise.

During his last press conference of the day, the Mayor asserted that Rikers Island wasn't in Zone A.  However, he still did not say what zone it was in nor why he felt it was acceptable to have no back-up plan for evacuation should the need have arisen.

12,000 inmates are housed on Rikers Island.  Prisoners are human beings.  Think of the fear they must have gone through.  Think of the anxiety their families experienced.

No matter what an inmate has done (and many of the people being held at Rikers are pre-trial and haven't even been convicted of a crime), the kind of terror of being locked up and left behind with no backup emergency plan in a Hurricane that is being forecast to cause major destruction is CRUEL AND UNUSUAL punishment.  It is inhumane and unacceptable.

Even if no harm has come to any prisoner (something we have no confirmation of yet), this does not change the fact that the Mayor of NYC was willing to gamble with the lives of 12,000 prisoners.  And it doesn't change the fact that no one in any other wing of the U.S. government and state felt the need to override him or criticize him for that.

This is barbaric and must be condemned.

Here is an excerpt of's web posting recalling the experience of prisoners during Hurricane Katrina: 

For a warning of what can happen to prisoners in a hurricane we need only look back at Katrina, and the horrific conditions endured by inmates at Orleans Parish Prison in New Orleans. According to a report produced by the ACLU:
[A] culture of neglect was evident in the days before Katrina, when the sheriff declared that the prisoners would remain “where they belong,” despite the mayor’s decision to declare the city’s first-ever mandatory evacuation. OPP even accepted prisoners, including juveniles as young as 10, from other facilities to ride out the storm.
As floodwaters rose in the OPP buildings, power was lost, and entire buildings were plunged into darkness. Deputies left their posts wholesale, leaving behind prisoners in locked cells, some standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests …
Prisoners went days without food, water and ventilation, and deputies admit that they received no emergency training and were entirely unaware of any evacuation plan. Even some prison guards were left locked in at their posts to fend for themselves, unable to provide assistance to prisoners in need.
UPDATE (Saturday midnight): In his final news conference of the day, Mayor Bloomberg defended his decision not to evacuate Rikers Island, stating: “It is higher than the Zone A areas and it’s perfectly safe.” Representatives of the mayor have made further statements to New York Magazine (see update at end) and the Wall Street Journal, also specifying that no part of Rikers Island is in Zone A. Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson went on Twitter to say the same thing. To our knowledge, the mayor’s office still has not clarified what zone, if any, Rikers Island is in, and has not responded to questions regarding the lack of any evacuation plan for the jail.
UPDATE (Sunday 4 p.m.): The evacuation order for Zone A has ended, with the storm having considerably less impact on New York City than anticipated. The mayor’s office has issued further statements about Rikers, confirming that it is not in evacuation Zone A and comparing it to Roosevelt Island and City Island, which also were not evacuated. Critics have noted, however, that these other islands are in Zones B and C, while Rikers Island, according to the evacuation map, is not in any evacuation zone at all. Advocates also remain concerned about the admitted lack of any evacuation plan for the city’s island jail. The Center for Constitutional Rights issued a statement on the matter, and CCR spokesperson Jen Nessel said: “The maps I’ve seen all leave Rikers off the Zone scale, but even if it isn’t in Zone A where the mandatory evacuations are taking place, the fact that the Department of Corrections admitted there wasn’t even a hypothetical plan for 12,000 people who can’t exactly evacuate themselves if the situation worsens is disturbing.”

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 8:17 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rikers Island Prisoners: "Locked Up & Left Behind" -- What you should do now

Take Action for Rikers Island Prisoners!  Demand the City Create an Emergency Evacuation Plan New York City Mayor Bloomberg has announced that in the event of a hurricane, that he will not evacuate prisoners at Rikers’ Island, claiming instead to have a “contingency plan” in place. The experience of prisoners in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina shows that city authorities will abandon the basic rights of prisoners in the face of disaster.

We can’t let Bloomberg get away with this!

(1.) Demand the city create an emergency evacuation plan by 5pm today to evacuate prisoners at Rikers Island in the event that other areas in Zone B or C around Rikers Island are evacuated.

Call NYC Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs at (212) 788-2485
Twitter: @NYCMayorsOffice

(2.) Call on NY1 to investigate the status of the “contingency plan” for Rikers Island prisoners:
Tel.:  212-691-6397

(3.) Submit evacuation plan demand to city’s website:
-Go to  --this is a website set up by the city for people to submit weather-related service problems.  Locate Rikers Island on the map and drag the red marker there.
-Copy and paste this text (or write your own!):
Title: Evacuation plan needed
The city has no evacuation plan for Rikers Island, despite its low elevation and its nearly 13,000 prisoners. Please do not let these individuals, or the ones at the nearby floating Vernon C. Bain Correction Center, suffer.

(4.) Please repost:
Locked Up and Left Behind: New York's Prisoners and Hurricane Irene
by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 9:17 PM | 1 comments

Bloomberg: EVACUATE RIKERS ISLAND!!! is putting out the word -- New York City has no plans to evacuate prisoners from Rikers Island.  This is important -- tweet it, spread the word: BLOOMBERG: EVACUATE RIKERS ISLAND!!!

Locked Up and Left Behind: Hurricane Irene and the Prisoners on New York’s Rikers Island

August 26, 2011
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway
“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference this afternoon. Bloomberg annouced a host  of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter’s question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with more than a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground will be staying put.
New York City is surrounded by small islands and barrier beaches, and a glance at the city’s evacuation map reveals all of them to be in Zone A (already under a mandatory evacuation order) or Zone B–all, that is, save one. Rikers Island, which lies in the waters between Queens and the Bronx, is not highlighted at all, meaning it is not to be evacuated under any circumstances.
According to the New York City Department of Corrections’ own website, more than three-quarters of Rikers Island’s 400 acres are built on landfill–which is generally thought to be more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its ten jails have a capacity of close to 17,000 inmates, and normally house at least 12,000, including juveniles and large numbers of prisoners with mental illness–not to mention pre-trial detainees who have yet to be convicted of any crime. There are also hundreds of corrections officers at work on the island.

read the rest here

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 9:01 PM | 0 comments

Abortion, Let's NOT Leave Religion Out of It!

Over and over and over again people tell me to leave religion out of the debate over abortion. "Many Christians believe in the right to abortion, at least in cases of rape or incest," I am often told, "So, why alienate them by bringing up religion?"

It is true that a huge number of people who identify as Christian also support the right of women to abortion. It is also true that an even greater number of Christians will get an abortion in a desperate situation even if they believe it is "wrong." However, we do ourselves NO FAVORS by leaving religion out of the debate over abortion.

The reason for this is that the movement in this country to restrict, criminalize, and shame women out of their right to abortion is entirely driven by religion. The Christian Bible in particular.

Here is how it works: According to the Bible, Eve (woman!) caused the fall of man when she tempted Adam into eating the forbidden fruit, gettiing them kicked out of the "Garden of Eden." This story is at the core of Christianity; there would be no need for Jesus to allegedly have died on the cross except to make up for this "original sin." But, that is not all. The human beings who wrote the Bible, their thinking shaped by the patriarchal society they lived in, weren't content with merely one myth that blamed everything on women.

In 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Paul insists: “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”

It is this biblical mandate that has animated the anti-abortion movement from its inception and which drives it today. This is why there is not a single anti-abortion organization that is fighting for birth control. Their motivation has NEVER been about "protecting fetal life." It has always been about insisting that women stay in their place; that wives "submit to their husband as their husband to the lord" (Ephesians 5:22, a commandment Michelle Bachman has upheld publically!) and make babies.

Of course, there are many people who oppose abortion who don't believe in this scripture. But that doesn't change the nature of the movement they are supporting or the retrograde, theocratic horror show it is fighting to impose on women. Every day is punctuated with new examples – Rick Santorum's opposition to abortion even in instances of rape, the arrest of women who have miscarriages, the assassination of the doctors who provide abortions, etc. -- demonstrating where the logic of restricting abortion is leading.

Confronting people with the theocratic core of the movement to end abortion is necessary to begin to win people away from the movement they are lending their support to. Either you should uphold that Biblical scripture and the world it would impose, or you should fight against it, including through defending women's right to abortion.

Aside from openly genocidal rationals (for example, the Nazis criminalized abortions for "Aryan" women), this Biblical mandate (or similar patriarchal mandates of other religions) is the only reason there is to oppose abortion. (Worth noting: there has been significant overlap between the genocidal and religious opposition to abortion, for example the Christian Ku Klux Klan was among the first to march against abortion in this country and there remain many Christian fundamentalists who invoke the spector of “auto-genocide” among white women.)

Once scriptural commandments and genocide are stripped away, there is no reason left to oppose abortion. Scientifically, fetuses are NOT children. Therefore there is absolutely no reason for anyone to have any moral qualm about a woman choosing to terminate a fetus. A fetus is a subordinate part of a woman's body. It has the potential to become human, but it is doesn't become a human until it is born and becomes an independent social and biologial being. That is why we mark our time as living human beings from the day of our birth.

Any society that does not wish to enslave women to their biological ability to give birth, that doesn't want to reduce women to human incubators, needs to uphold and defend and destigmatize women's right to abortion. If women cannot decide for themselves when and whether to have a child, they cannot be free. If women are not free, then no one is truly free.

Sure, bringing up religion may offend some people who support the right to abortion (or, who at least oppose criminalizing all abortions for all women). But, the truth is there has been a pro-choice majority throughout the whole period where abortion rights have been eroded, doctors have been killed, and women have been shamed. Any attempt to keep religion out of the debate over abortion, in order to hold together an alliance has passively allowed abortion to become increasingly more difficult, dangerous and stigmatized to access over the past two decades, is a losing strategy.

It's time to set different terms and to fight for a different dynamic.

Christians, like everyone else, need to be confronted with the horror of taking the Bible literally. They should be forced to decide where they stand in relation to this and where it leads, not in relation to some romanticized notions of fetuses as just smaller versions of infants (which is both untrue, and has nothing to do with the true motiviations of the movement against abortion). They should also be confronted with the science of reproduction. They should be challenged – and given the opportunity – to reject this scripture. If they do, whether they choose to continue to believe in Christianity (or another religion) in some non-literal way or whether they forsake religion altogether, they have a responsibility – like all the rest of us – to speak out against the horror of the Bible being enforced on society, including as it pertains to denying women the right to abortion and birth control.

For those Christians who still cling to their literal scripture, even as it is revealed for the Dark Ages nightmare it is, they should have to own up to what they are really promoting. Let's make them defend 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and all the other crimes mandated by their Bible (stoning non-virgin brides, killing disobedient children, killing homosexuals, blaming people's “sin” for falling ill, and more!). The more they are forced to own up to what they actually are fighting for, the more clarity others will have about who they want to stand with. Even if it ruffles some feathers at first, wouldn't this only work to the advantage of those who believe women are full human beings, deserving of the right to decide for themselves when – and whether – they will bring a child into the world?

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 4:19 PM | 2 comments

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sunsara Taylor reads from BAsics

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 4:32 PM | 0 comments

"Good Without God; Ethics for Freethinkers": Important Dialogue, But Something Essential Missing

Immediately before attending this past Saturday evening's panel discussion "Good Without God; Ethics for Freethinkers" sponsored by the New York Ethical Culture Society, I caught a clip of Rick Perry on a tv screen as I walked through the city. The rise of Perry as a "legitimate" candidate for the presidency only underscores my appreciation that such a panel was being held. There is a tremendous need for people to be exploring, taking up, and projecting a morality that is not rooted in the Christian Bible (or any other religious text) with its "stone them to death" approach to gays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children, and its massive promotion of ignorance.

Indeed, there was much to appreciate and learn from in the arguments that were made throughout the evening and the morality that was projected. Coming from different angles, Michael De Dora of the Center for Inquiry, Dr. Anne Klaeysen of the NY Society, Massimo Pigliucci, Chair of the Philosophy Dept. at Lehman College, and Roy Speckardt, Executive Director, American Humanist Association, spoke compellingly of the possibility of being "good without god." They also conveyed a basic feeling that that one has a responsibility to other humans. Several times the speakers took important moral stands on some of the most critical issues confronting people today; they upheld women's right to abortion, opposed the U.S.'s wars of aggression, defended the importance of science and education, and demonstrated a real spirit of intellectual curiosity and engagement which is all too often lacking in popular discourse these days.

At the same time, throughout the evening -- as in the afternoon, when I interviewed two of the panelists on WBAI's Equal Time for Freethought -- I felt the discussion fell significantly short of meeting the needs of this intensely fraught historical moment or even of the immediate audience. What was missing, and what is absolutely essential for humanity to advance and truly be "good without gods," was the epistemology and morality that has been brought forward by Bob Avakian as part of his new synthesis of revolution and communism. Avakian's is a morality rooted in a scientific understanding of how the world got to be the way it is and how it can be radically transformed to emancipate all humanity, and it encompasses the partisan choice to act to realize that liberated world and to live in accordance with it now.

Read more »

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 2:05 PM | 3 comments

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Doing a Presentation in Prison on "Male Domination"

Revolution online #243, August 21, 2011

Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund* received the following letter:

Greetings in solidarity! I've been receiving Revolution for a while now. I relish each new issue. Revolution newspaper is my weekly dose of revolutionary reality.

I am doing an AODA drug program here in the prison. Recently the subject of domestic violence, sex roles, and male dominance came up. After the group I was re-reading the June 12 issue of Revolution, when I came upon the center feature about 'Rape and A World of Violent Domination'. I knew I had to share it with the other prisoners in my AODA group.

I approached my AODA counselor with the idea of doing a presentation about "Male Domination and it's effect on women and society." I was surprised when he was fully supportive and told me I could come up with the presentation and run the group for one day.

My presentation went great. I taped the feature from Revolution up on the board and presented to my fellow prisoners many ideas that they had never considered before; namely that "women are not breeders, lesser beings, or objects created for the sexual pleasure of men, that when women are held down all of humanity is held back." I could see the shock on the other men's faces as I shared the statistics 'one in three women and girls is sexually abused or beaten in her lifetime' and all the others.

Men who only the day before had argued that male domination over women was "the natural order" suddenly began to see the horrors that these societal views force onto women and girls. The men I most suspected would dispute and argue against me began to ask questions like "what can I do to stop this violence against women?" and "How can I teach my young son to treat women as equals?"

I'm writing today to thank you from the bottom of my heart for Revolution newspaper. It gave me the opportunity to share Revolutionary thought and equality with others. It is a gift I was proud and touched to be able to share. I am happy I was able to share the truth of women's equality with these men. I truly believe it will change their lives and the lives of the women they encounter in the future in a profound manner.

In Solidarity,
'A Wisconsin Revolutionary Comrade'

 *The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) is an educational literature fund that fills requests from U.S. prisoners for revolutionary literature, especially Revolution newspaper.  DONATE to help make this possible.

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 11:32 AM | 2 comments

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The NYTimes Whips Up More Moral Agonizing About Women's Reproductive Rights – Enough!

Against the backdrop of a record breaking number of restrictions on abortion being proposed and passed at the state level, as high profile national politicians cut budget deals over the lives of women, as Christian fascist shock troops target courageous abortion doctors, the New York Times has decided to feature yet another article calling into question the morality of women who make their own decisions about their child-bearing.

In their Magazine piece entitled, “The Two Minus One Pregnancy,” the NYTimes agonizes about the ethics of reducing twin fetuses to a single fetus so that a woman can have one child instead of two.

The article attempts to portray its own agonizing over twin reduction as having nothing to do with abortion. For instance, in contemplating where the supposed moral difficulty in twin reduction lies, at one point Ruth Padawer writes, “Perhaps it’s because twin reduction (unlike abortion) involves selecting one fetus over another, when either one is equally wanted.”

However, the article is caught up in the same unscientific thinking that leads so many to believe abortion is – or should be – an agonizing decision, or a decision that should be denied to women outright.

The only basis for viewing the decision of a woman not to carry every fetus to term as a “moral” or “ethical dilemma” is the unscientific lie that treats fetuses like people, rather than as a subordinate part of a woman's body.

Read more »

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 3:02 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What's Wrong with Catcalling Women?

Recently a young woman asked me, “How do you explain to guys how frustrating it is to be hit on all day long? Whenever I tell them to imagine what it would be like, not to be hit on just once in a while, but every day everywhere you go, they always say, 'That would be great! I'd have sex with every woman who propositioned me!' They just can't imagine why women would find this oppressive.”

Here is my response.

Men: imagine if every time you opened your mouth no one heard what you had to say. Imagine, instead, you were being humored – or ignored – based primarily on whether the listener thought they could get you to have sex with them. Imagine if half your professors or teachers never solicited your thinking in earnest. Imagine if you knew that despite your talents in any particular field – acting, writing, science, singing, or anything else – you would be evaluated on your looks and your perceived sexual availability. Imagine thinking you met someone who took you seriously and found your ideas and talents compelling, only to discover that really they were just “playing you” to get you in bed.

Imagine this happened over and over and over again.

Imagine if every morning you had to calculate – whether fully consciously or not – what clothes to wear based on whether you want to be seen (which means “sexy”) but therefore not taken seriously, or whether you will accept being invisible (ie: not “sexy) which means not even noticed by most. Imagine if all day long you were policed for these clothing choices – by everyone: by religious authorities, by employers, by professors, by your boyfriend or lover, by the men on the street, by the strangers who drive past you, by your girlfriends, by other women, by your parents, by the person who takes your money at the drugstore, by the people you sit next to on public transportation. Imagine none of them really see you; they see a “thing” that they feel entitled to judge. Too little sex appeal and you are invisible. Too much and you are a despised “slut.”

Imagine, in other words, if you walked every day through a world that didn't recognize your humanity.

Read more »

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 4:24 PM | 3 comments

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Thing About Slutwalks... And a World Without Rape

I'll admit, when I first heard about Slutwalks I cringed. I hate the word slut. It is too hateful. Too bound up with shaming women for their sexuality. Too linked to the deep trauma experienced by millions of women and young girls every single day throughout the world. Too much part of the cultural DNA that says, “She deserved it,” or, “She was asking for it,” or, “She's dirty,” or, “You little cunt whore.”

To get right down to it, for me the word “slut” was too indelibly linked to a girl named Kelly who transferred into my Junior High School in the middle of the year. She was ridiculed and outcast in that kind of mean-girls way that reduces a young woman to an invisible, despised, zero for absolutely no reason except to make others feel like maybe they exist. And really, what could be more lonely and humiliating for a junior high girl than standing in front of a whole cafeteria filled with uproarious laughter carrying your lunch tray from table to table being told that every empty chair is being saved for somebody, anybody, who isn't you?

But, Kelly had big breasts and so a table full of boys all called out to her and held open a chair. All it took was for her to sit down just that first time. After that, her fate was sealed.

To be honest, as the weeks rolled and on the rumors rolled with them, I have no idea which – if any – were true. I do know there were parties with lots of drinking where the girls still wouldn't speak to her and the boys would lure her into bedrooms. I also know that a young girl seeking acceptance and desiring some means to explore their own budding sexuality in this highly repressive society can get caught up in – and even, at times, take initiative in – all sorts of behavior that is degrading and demeaning to them in a very deep and lasting way.

But most of all what I know is that Kelly became someone who wasn't seen by any one in that entire school as an actual human being. No, Kelly was a “slut.”

And I know that wherever she is, even in the best case scenario, Kelly is still living with the trauma of not only by the abuse and (almost certain) sexual assault perpetrated against her by those boys, but also by the widespread dismissal of that crime, and the shaming and disrespect of her for being the victim of it, by a whole school full of her peers.

Read more »

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 1:01 AM | 2 comments

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Some Principles for Building a Movement for Revolution

“At every point, we must be searching out the key concentrations of social contradictions and the methods and forms which can strengthen the political consciousness of the masses, as well as their fighting capacity and organization in carrying out political resistance against the crimes of this system; which can increasingly bring the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world to life for growing numbers of people; and which can strengthen the understanding and determination of the advanced, revolutionary-minded masses in particular to take up our strategic objectives not merely as far-off and essentially abstract goals (or ideals) but as things to be actively striven for and built toward.

“The objective and orientation must be to carry out work which, together with the development of the objective situation, can transform the political terrain, so that the legitimacy of the established order, and the right and ability of the ruling class to rule, is called into question, in an acute and active sense, throughout society; so that resistance to this system becomes increasingly broad, deep and determined; so that the 'pole' and the organized vanguard force of revolutionary communism is greatly strengthened; and so that, at the decisive time, this advanced force is able to lead the struggle of millions, and tens of millions, to make revolution.”

Quote #3; 30 from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 12:45 PM | 0 comments

Friday, August 05, 2011

"I'm Troy Newman, Bitch" -- More Misogyny from the Head of Operation Rescue

You gotta love World Can't Wait and Summer of Choice for not letting this slide -- and what a great sign!

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 7:26 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tune in Sat, Aug 6th 3-4pm EST, for my interviews with Sikivu Hutchinson and Mara Hvistendahl

August 6th
3:00 to 4:00 pm, EST
WBAI radio, Pacifica in New York
99.5 FM
streaming live at

This week on Equal Time for Freethought, I talk with two guests:
Mara Hvistendahl and Sikivu Hutchinson

Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Moral Combat; Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars. She has published fiction, essays and critical theory in Social Text, Black Agenda Report, Secular Nation and the American Atheist Magazine. She is also the editor of, a founder of the L.A. Black Skeptics, and a senior fellow for the Institute for Humanist Studies.

I will speak with her about how U.S. white-supremacist slavery and continued white American identity has influenced and shaped the prevalence of Black religiosity as well as explore some of the particular harms of religion among Black people. We will also discuss the vicious and misleading campaign to portray abortion as “Black genocide” and the links between pornography and sexual degradation of the mainstream secular culture and the puritanism and sexual repression of the Christian fascists.

Mara Hvistendahl is a correspondent with Science magazine and a contributor to publications ranging from Foreign Policy to Popular Science. She is also the author of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. Thanks mainly to sex selective abortion, there are over 160 million fewer females than would be naturally occurring in Asia’s population and an unknown number missing from other continents. We will discuss how this gap is transforming communities, leading to everything from a spike in bride-buying to an increase in crime — and how the West played a role in sparking this global problem.

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 10:57 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

My Thoughts on the Secular Student Alliance Conference

Last weekend I got to spend a couple days at the conference. Anyone who has checked out the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic (Draft Proposal) from the Revolutionary Communist Party – with its emphasis on really promoting science, intellectual ferment, atheism, and the unfettered search for the truth (as part of an overall economic and social system that is meeting people's most basic needs and overcoming past oppression and inequalities) – should get pretty readily why communists would value a group of critically-thinking, religion-bucking, science-promoting students like this. Add to that the fact that Christian fascism is a real and growing force in this society right now and it seemed especially important to be in the midst of this secular gathering.

Challenging the authority of religion, exposing the non-existence of god(s), creating a community where atheists are not shamed or isolated or bullied, taking on the encroachment of religion into the state, defending and fighting for the scientific understanding of evolution, thinking critically and enabling others to learn how to do the same... these are but a few of the things that the SSA is involved in that are both significant in their own right and have significant implications for the success of any revolution worth making.

One of the main things I did at the conference was promote Bob Avakian's new book, Basics. Not surprisingly, there were many misconceptions about communism but also much concern about the state of the world, the environment, and whether there could be a better future. Shout out to everyone who got a copy. We do not have to accept a world in which the vast majority of humanity is locked in ignorance and squalor! But whether or not we get out of this world depends in no small part in whether or not people get into BAsics; You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics!” To lift just one quote from BA that is particularly relevant to the question of religion:

“The notion of a god, or gods, was created by humanity, in its infancy, out of ignorance. This has been perpetuated by the ruling classes, for thousands of years since then, to serve their interests in exploiting and dominating the majority of people and keeping them enslaved to ignorance and irrationality.

“Bringing about a new, and far better, world and future for humanity means overthrowing such exploiting classes and breaking free of and leaving behind forever such enslaving ignorance and irrationality.”


The students who turned out were from all across the country, but it was particularly interesting how many of them came from more isolated areas – small towns and campuses in Kansas or Ohio or Alabama or Minnesota. They are sticking their necks out to publicly disclaim belief in god. Many of the students told stories of tremendous bigotry they have encountered not only from other students but also teachers and administrators. Some are estranged from their families.
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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 5:16 PM | 6 comments

Monday, August 01, 2011

A Waitress's Abortion Story

Last night, after a beautiful march in support of abortion rights, a group of close to twenty of us went out for food and drink. About half way through our evening, our waitress asked us why there were so many of us together and what the occasion was. In response to our answer, that we were in town to defend abortion rights and Doctor Carhart, she immediately opened up about her own abortion story.

First, our waitress thanked us immensely for being in town. She explained that her mother had worked at abortion clinics and, despite the two crosses that hung around her neck, she was extremely strong in favor of abortion rights. Then, she explained her own experience. She had been on Depo-Provera for over a year and correspondingly hadn't gotten her period in that entire period. Anyway, she got pregnant before her periods had resumed. Because of the hormonal disruptions that were caused by, and still mellowing out in the wake of, taking Depo, her pregnancy felt different to her than her first (she also has an eight year old son). Additionally, due to these same hormonal fluctuations, when she finally tested herself at home for pregnancy, at two different times the test came back negative.

When she finally sought out a doctor to understand what was going on with her body and discovered that she was, indeed pregnant, she was more than four months along. The clinic that she visited for this information would not perform an abortion at this point in a pregnancy and so she sought out searching for a clinic that would. This search led her to Dr. Carhart and his Germantown clinic.

This is when she got very passionate in her story. She described being followed and harassed by some freakish anti-abortion lunatic as she searched around the shopping center where Carhart's clinic is located. Just when she thought she had ducked out of sight and shook this crazy fanatic, the woman jumped from behind a corner and started haranguing her again. The anti-abortion woman repeated many of the lies we have heard so frequently out here at the clinic in the last couple of days. That Dr. Carhart allegedly doesn't practice compassionate, scientific, and safe medicine. That abortion is murder. That this woman was doing something tragic and sinful by seeking an abortion.

Our waitress was, righteously, furious! She spoke bitterness about this as other tables went unattended. A torrent of pent up anger and defiance. Plus, she was extremely articulate about it. Many women would swallow that kind of shaming and try not to revisit it. Even this woman probably wouldn't have spoken it unless she knew that she was among others who not only supported abortion as a right, but also had sacrificed to step out and take this struggle on frontally.

Think how many millions of women there are in this country who are suppressing this kind of fury. Suppressing their defiance. Not knowing that there are others who would support them, or others who would be moved by them speaking out. Think how many others, having never heard this kind of defiance at all, are instead choking on a shame they shouldn't be feeling. Guilt that has been hurled at them at the doors of abortion clinics, in the churches on Sundays, by the politicians cutting deals about healthcare and the budget over the bodies of women and their right to abortion and birth control.

Think of how much could change – how many women and men could be mobilized if there were always the kind of visible and uncompromising presence that we have been here in Germantown the last couple of days already. Think how many would begin to question and to join in challenging the subjugation they've been swallowing and suffocating under for no legitimate or morally defensible reason.

In just a few days, with just a few dozen women traveling from across the country, we have seen a taste of this. In just one dinner at a random restaurant having greasy food and a couple of beers we scratched the surface of the potential that exists.

Now is the time for everyone to begin talking about their abortion stories unapologetically. Bring it out of the dark and out of the closet. Defy the shame and the stigma. Lets celebrate and defend the lives and the value of the female human beings who choose abortion to continue their lives in the ways they are ready and want to live them. Lets celebrate and defend the doctors and staff who risk everything to make that possible. Lets create a situation where those who stalk women, who kill doctors, who legislate the lives of women into smaller and smaller corners and greater and greater shame feel that they have to hang their heads and attempt to defend their hateful lunacy.

Thanks to those who have turned out in Germantown! Wake up call to all those across the country! This is the time to step to the front lines.

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 9:40 PM | 0 comments

Tune in for my debate with Derrick Jones of National Right to Life at 6:20 pm EST TONIGHT

Check it out here:

at 6:20 pm EST

Its really good -- he is just spewing lies, but I think the debate overall was very clarifying as to who really cares about women, the truth, and the interests of humanity (hint: it was the communist... not the anti-woman crusader).


To support Sunsara's work in connection with her efforts to defend Dr. LeRoy Carhart (travel, lodging and support)  donate to World Can't Wait  here.  And be sure to indicate "Sunsara abortion work" in the "in honor of" section on this page.

Or checks can be made payable to "World Can't Wait" ("Sunsara abortion work" on memo line) and sent to:

World Can't Wait
305 West Broadway #185
New York, NY 10013

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 3:43 PM | 2 comments

Talking to the Abortion Rights Activists in Germantown, MD

Its been interesting talking to the people who have turned out to stand with Dr. Carhart. Women who work to end domestic violence – or at least to support women who have been abused and want to get out of those relationships. Women who do work against sexual violence and rape; they know deeply the trauma of having one's body and most intimate emotional and physical space violated. Young women who have found feminism on their college campuses. One of them told me she'd never really thought about where she stood on abortion until she got to college. Another that she used to be extremely Catholic and even was extremely active in protesting abortion (beyond the obligatory Sunday services of Catholic school trips occasionally to protest clinics). Another told me about how her older sister was raped and then needed an abortion.

Several times now the abortion-rights supporters I have spoken to have made the living connections between the violence and degradation women receive in their daily lives and the violence and degradation women receive for either being shamed and harassed for seeking abortion or prevented from accessing it at all. As well as the violence that has been meted out against the doctors and staff who serve women by providing abortions.

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 3:38 PM | 1 comments

Updates from Dr. Carhart's Clinic -- Germantown, MD

About 220 people "Walked for Choice" yesterday in the beastly Maryland sun in support of Dr. Leroy Carhart.  Spirits were high and people had come from as far away as California as well as from Mississippi, Illinois, Kansas, Virginia, Florida and numerous other places.  A good core of unapologetic young women and others turned out from the Germantown area, a number of them expressing their gratitude that Dr. Carhart came to their community. 

A number of abortion-rights young people I spoke to went into the anti-abortion rallies and activities over the last couple of days -- both to find out their plans as well as just to figure out what makes them tick.  They were shocked by the level of fanaticism, including the demonizing language used to describe Dr. Carhart and the use of religious and priestly authority to spread anti-woman hate.

The Washington Post did an article that describes how the anti-abortion folks sent someone in to Carhart's clinic in order to be "saved" from abortion by them.  This woman was then broadcast at their rally proclaiming how they converted her to the "pro-life" movement.  Here is just an excerpt from their article (and a link to it:

"About 180 people walked in support of LeRoy Carhart, a physician who recently started performing late-in-pregnancy abortions in the office park. It was their kickoff to Summer Celebration of Choice, which will include a week of demonstrations to support the clinic."

More to come... 

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 11:44 AM | 0 comments

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