Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bin Laden Did It

We need to talk. You and I. We both like to question the official narrative, but you've gone to far. Now, I'm way out in left field, but I'm grounded in reality. You've gone somewhere the X-Files would go.

Of course I'm talking about 9/11. There are a host of conspiracy theories out there attempting to deny the official US government story. Now I'm no expert, I haven't read the 9/11 commission report, and I'm no demolitions or engineering expert. I do have common sense though. I saw the video of those planes going through the towers, and while I can't fully explain why the hole in the pentagon was shaped the way it was shaped, I can tell you that anything that heavy going that fast, was not just going to bounce off a wall and lay strewn apart the lawn.

Popular Mechanics ran an excellent piece debunking many of the conspiracy theories. Of particular note was their explanation for why the hole in the Pentagon was shaped the way it was (“a crashing jet doesn't punch a cartoon-like outline of itself into a reinforced concrete building” “What was left of the plane flowed into the structure in a state closer to a liquid than a solid mass”) and issue of how the steel beams of the World Trade Towers Melted (“Jet fuel burns at 800° to 1500°F, not hot enough to melt steel (2750°F). However, experts agree that for the towers to collapse, their steel frames didn't need to melt, they just had to lose some of their structural strength — and that required exposure to much less heat”).

Underneath all the hyperbolic reports about how the planes couldn't have caused the towers to collapse, all written by people who aren't engineers, is a sort of logic. There are right-wingers who believe these conspiracy theories as well as left wingers, but one of the explanations left wingers use to justify these theories, is anti-war and anti-bush.

They argue, that the only way Bush would have been able to go to war (in particular with Iraq) would be if America were attacked and the American people blinded by their bloodlust, giving Bush an opportunity to attack. They point to the burning of the Reichstag by Hitlers goons and how Hitler blamed the fire on unions and used it as an opportunity to tighten his dictatorial control.

Bullshit. First of all the Reichstag was empty when it was burned. Second of all, the people in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were the cream of the crop in terms of the ruling class. They were Stock brokers, CEO's, generals, weapons contractors. OK, sure there were some janitors, secretaries and plenty of innocent people, but if they were filled with nothing but janitors, those towers would not have been targets. That said, why would Bush kill 3,000 of the military industrial complexes best most loyal corps? “Well because he wanted to go to war,” they tell me.

But he could go to war without killing about 3,000 Americans. Take a look and the Gulf of Tonkin Bay and Vietnam. President Johnson, the liberal democrat, goes on TV, tells the American people that the US was attacked by Vietnamese forces in the Gulf of Tonkin bay, and before you know it, ground troops are landing in Vietnam. Turns out, it never happened. It was a complete lie.

Some of these 9/11 conspiracy people tell me that that was before this multi-media age we live in. It's harder to make up complete fabrications like that. Really? Any harder than covering up a conspiracy to kill 3000 people? If anything the 24 hour news world we live in makes it easier for people to be deluded. Remember how many people were convinced that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? Or that Iraqi troops were killing Kuwaiti babies in incubators? With all the computer special effects we have today, if the government really needed an excuse to go to war, couldn't they have made a video of the towers going down, broadcast it live and convinced most of America that the towers went down, even if they were still standing.

Ordinary Americans civilians have never really had a say in whether or not to go to war before. Most Americans don't know where Afghanistan and Iraq are on a map, most Americans wouldn't know if we bombed them. Matter of fact, ask the next person you see if they know the US just bombed Somalia. The people in power have their reasons to go to war- resources, money, power, just look at the Pentagon Papers or the Bush administrations National Security Statement of 2002. They lie to the American people, tell them it's not about oil, rubber, free trade, but democracy and human rights, not so much because they need them their approval, but because they want less disruptions of their plans. But to kill 3000 of their people and lie about it? It doesn't make sense. This wasn't Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers or MOVE that was killed. These weren't people challenging those in power, THESE WERE THE PEOPLE IN POWER!

These 9/11 conspiracy theories assume that US policies don't create their own resistance. When the US gives billions of dollars worth of military aid to Israel for it's occupation of Palestine and wars against Lebanon, when the US bombs Sudan, imposes genocidal sanctions against Iraq, and supports dictatorships around the world, do you seriously think that people aren't going to get angry and hit back? With US foreign policy as aggressive as it was and is, it was only a matter of time before a 9/11 like event happened. It wasn't a question of if, but only who, when, where, how and for what.

These theories take away credit from third world people. Because behind every theory that Bush did it, it the idea the Bin Laden couldn't have. That no person from the third world could ever challenge the empire in such a devastating way. That the US is invincible. Well, all empires turn to dust. The question is what will stand on the ashes of this empire- religious fundamentalists who received their training from the Empire, or a radical democracy with peace, justice and equality.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Reply to Horowitz

This was my reply to David Horowitz's letter in the Spring 2007 issue of the Illinois Academe, the newsletter of the Illinois chapter of the American Association of University Professors. My response was printed in the Fall 2007 issue of the same publication.

I want to note that the editor did take out one of my quotes, probably he felt the article was to long. I had a quote from the Communist Manifesto to illustrate my point that ideas develop out of material reality. Since Horowitz was claiming that abolitionists derived their ideas from white Chrisitian men, I wanted to illustrate that abolitionism evolved out of the material conditions of the age.

The quote goes, "Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man's ideas, views and conceptions, in one word, man's consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?... When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society, they do but express the fact, that within the old society, the elements of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence."

Friday, September 28, 2007

DePaul: Class Education

I was requested by some students at DePaul to write a piece for a "Disorientation Guide" on the school. The guide never came out, the students just didn't have the initiative or drive to make it a reality. I'm posting this article with the hope that DePaul students will find it of use someday.

Welcome to DePaul. You are one of two kinds of students. The kind that can afford the school, or the kind that will leave with a large amount of debt. Either way, you have a responsibility to challenge the school place in our capitalist society. Whether it's in your own benefit, the benefit of your fellow classmates or the benefit of workers here or abroad, it's time to fight the power.

Before you run out and start blocking streets, occupying offices, and rioting, you should know a a little bit about the school that will regulate your life for the next couple of years. This guide that you hold in your hand will help you figure out the best way to make that change you want to see happen.

First of all, contrary to what the deans and administrators will tell you, there is an activist history at DePaul. There have been students fighting for justice since the early days of the school. Whether it be students speaking out against US involvement in World War I, shutting down the school in opposition to the Vietnam war or holding rallies to oppose the Iraq war today. Students have also fought against discrimination, from the Black Student Union's occupation of the Schmidt Academic Center in 1969, to fighting for the right to have a gay student group in the 1980's, to creating new academic programs like Latino Studies, Asian Studies, Black and African Diaspora studies. There have been academic freedom issues, where students and faculty had to take on a Catholic Universities dogma like in 1986 when students and faculty brought pro-choice speaker Eleanor Smeal, or in 2007 when students occupied the President's office to support pro-Palestine Professor Finkelstein. Students have held campaigns to support unions and against sweatshops, the same way they have always spoken out against the high price of tuition and in the early 1990's even held large rallies against increases.

One of the important things to keep in mind with the school and your dealings with it is it's position in society and the contradictions inherent in a Catholic University in capitalist America.

There have been times when the religious nature of the school and the business nature of the school have been at odds. For a school that talks so much of it's “Catholic, Vincentian and Urban” values, the instinct of many progressives might be to side with the value oriented religious nature of the school, against the greedy materialistic business aspect of the school, for example on labor issues, priests like Jack Egan were supportive of student anti-sweatshop struggles while the board of trustees was made up of corporate executives who were certainly not sympathetic to such struggles.

However in many ways the business aspect of the school has pushed progressive change. The priests certainly didn't want a Queer studies minor, but the business aspect showed that there was a demand for it and DePaul could make money with it. The business aspect also forced DePaul to open up more in terms of academic freedom in many ways, the school simply could not go on treating religion as something to be indoctrinated, and with the introduction of the curricular reform of the 1960's, DePaul allowed much greater academic freedom.

What to make of this? What to make of someone like Father Richardson, the former president of the school who would condemn students who spoke out against the occupation of Palestine. The same Fr. Richardson who testified to Congress in the 1980's to take money away from the military budget and put it towards education (a good suggestion, but maybe motivated by a little self-interest on his part).

What to make of it? Socialism. You will have to build a socialist movement that will challenge the school, and the society it exists in, to value all people. DePaul is not a democracy, or a cooperative, it allows more freedom to it's employees and consumers than say a factory, where speaking out against the boss gets you fired, but students, faculty and staff have no direct voice in the decisions that are made behind closed doors. We do not elect the secretive board of trustees or the members of the corporation. We do not set the tuition rate or decide if, where and how the school will expand. A socialist DePaul would be one where power comes from the bottom up. Until we have that new era, we have to fight for it. We can play the business and religious aspects of the school to get some of the changes we want, and we will get some concessions, some breathing room. Ultimately though we will need strong radical student, faculty and staff unions that will unite with the broader community and radical movements to fight for the basic demand of all progressive movements, “Power to the People!”

Whatever you get involved in, anti-war work, labor issues, women's rights, or civil rights, just remember that activism can be boring and frustrating at times. When you spend weeks handing out fliers, knocking on dorm room doors and talking to people, it can seem repetitive. Then when you have a rally and only 10 people show up, it can be disheartening. You have to keep fighting though. Maybe the people you spoke to weren't ready for a rally this time, but might be next time. Then maybe the 10 new people who did show up might become dedicated activists.

George Bernard Shaw once remarked that change only happens because of the unreasonable man, the reasonable man will simply accustom himself to the way things are. It should be clear that the way things are is not how things should be. It's time to fight for a better world.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Scott Scarborough: We Won't Miss You

The same day DePaul reached it's settlement with Norman Finkelstein, another, though very different, person left DePaul. Scott Scarborough was the executive vice-president of finances. It would be difficult to find a job position more insidious, or a person who fit the job profile more accurately.

As the person chiefly responsible for DePaul's finances Scarborough was responsible for bringing Barnes and Noble to the loop campus, forcing local coffee shop Gi-Gi's to close. He was the person who held the keys to DePaul's contracts and kept the deals in the dark, away from the students, faculty, staff, and external workers whom they affected. We approached him several times about Starbucks' illegal union-busting tactics, and Coca-Cola's murdering of union organizers in Colombia, he never lifted a finger to help us. Vincentian values indeed.

One shouldn't be surprised, Scarborough has a history of reactionary politics. Despite all of DePaul's claims about being Urban, it recruited Scarborough not from Chicago, but from Texas. According to the Daily Texan, Scarborough was actually the President of the University of Texas Austin Student Government while he was a student in the 1980's. During his tenure, a number of students proposed a gay rights bill, which would simply require the school to not discriminate against queer students. Scarborough opposed this resolution, telling the school's newspaper that since Gays were more likely to have fecal matter under their fingernails, which could spread STD's like AIDS, that preventing them from accessing certain public spaces would be legit.

Granted AIDS education has come along way since the 1980's, but even then it was known that AIDS transmission isn't that easy, and besides, there are plenty of straight people with AIDS, or who don't know how to wipe their butt properly and end up with fecal matter under their fingernails. Did Scarborugh still have these ideas at DePaul? How did DePaul's Queer community feel about this? I left copies of the relevant newspaper articles with leaders of DePaul's queer community. As far as I know they never followed up on the issue. I'm not sure why.

When the bill came to a vote in the Texas student government, Scarborough actually led a walk-out of conservative members to attempt to prevent quorum. They failed and the bill passed.

Then there are the rumors. You would think that someone so anti-gay would believe in family values and not want to do anything that would upset his white picket fence nuclear family fantasy. A number of reliable sources have told me that despite being married, Scarborough had an affair with a woman who worked in DePaul's General Counsel office. Lots of people have extra-marital affairs though, and it's not something I'm willing to condemn as I believe marriage is an outdated institution, but Scarborough got this woman pregnant according to my sources. Paid her off to keep quiet, and DePaul's administration turned a blind eye. Nothing quite like Christian hypocrisy on family values, right Mark Foley?

Now granted Scarborugh was hired under Fr. Minogue, and Minogue, besides being a Gynecologist, well there are rumors about him and maids as well. It seems as though Holtschneider is still cleaning house from Minogue's era. I wonder what will happen to those poor tigers.

So now the question is who will take Scarborough's place? Maybe it will be an arch-Finkelstein who will block any attempts to boycott the apartheid state of Israel. Maybe it will be a friendly liberal face who talks and talks, but when push comes to shove supports the corporations against the people. One way or the other, we should demand that all administration positions are appointed by a democratic vote among students, faculty and staff.

Of course, anyone willing to clarify these assertions, (Scott?) is welcome to visit www.depaulasu.net and e-mail asudepaul@yahoo.com

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ghosts of Columbine

The massacre at Virginia Tech has opened up a lot of old wounds. I remember where I was when I first heard about the school shootings in Colorado. April 20, 1999. I just got off the bus and walked into a guitar store for lessons and on the TV was news of a shooting. Even at the guitar store, they blamed the murders on rock music. With Virginia Tech, I was at work. Both times the US was at war. In 1999 it was the former Yugoslavia, in 2007 it was Iraq and Afghanistan.

Brazilian cartoonist Latuff acurately describes the contradictions in the public and media reaction to the shootings. “What if Cho Seung-Hui joined the US Marines and all of his victims were Iraqi? Would he be called a murderer or a hero?” Readers of the Chicago Tribune soon saw the answer.

Allen Lee, a student at Cary-Grove High School wrote an essay describing himself going on a shooting spree and having sex with the dead bodies. He was promptly suspended from classes and had disorderly conduct charges brought against him. More disturbing than the essay was his career choice. Allen and his friend Jamie Emling both planned on entering the military after high school. The Chicago Tribune was flooded with letters defending the students, saying that the assignment was to vague, that teachers and administrators were being to sensitive and that the students were no threat, after all, they were going to be protecting our country.

Eventually the school dropped the charges, and the students were allowed to graduate. I hope we don't hear about US soldiers raping dead Iraqi's. This Iraq war has already produced enough monsters in uniform. From the massacre at Haditha, to the torture at Abu Ghraib, to the rapes US soldiers have committed.

At Virginia Tech, connecting the dots between the violence our government commits and the isolated violence of lone nuts didn't seem to be a priority. Their commencement speaker after the shooting? General John Abizaid, who was in command of Iraq.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Who Is John Simon?

In the week since Professor's Norman Finkelstein and Marueen Larudee were denied tenure by DePaul University, a lot has happened. Feeling that the two progressive faculty members were being targeted because of their political views critical of US and Israeli foreign policy, many took action. Students met with President of the school Fr. Holtschneider, and unhappy with his rationalizations, they sat in his office for 3 days and 2 nights before being kicked out under threat of arrest and expulsion. Community members joined a rally to support academic freedom and the Faculty Council and Administrative Faculty Council held meetings which affirmed that DePaul did not follow the tenure process according to the faculty handbook and authorizing an appeal to the professor's denied tenure.

What is becoming clearer over time is the behind the scenes role played by those who should not have a say in the tenure process. It should be a faculty and student decision, but more and more we are seeing evidence of interference by those with political agendas.

While many people are aware that Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and apologist for Israeli torture tactics, has been lobbying to prevent Finkelstein from receiving tenure, few are aware of some of the details of his influence at DePaul. Dershowitz has claimed in print that his involvement in DePaul's tenure process was a result of being asked into it by Patrick Callahan, the former Political Science department chair. In student's meeting with Fr. Holtschneider though, Holtschneider explained that Dershowitz was inviting himself into the tenure process by e-mailing and asking Holtschneider for a meeting. Holtschneider explained to us that he didn't even read the letters but instead handed them over to DePaul's general council.

It's becoming clear though that Dershowitz's influence at DePaul might go above Holtschneider.

The director of DePaul's Board of Trustee's is a lawyer, John Simon, who works for the law firm Jenner and Block. Jenner and Block has ties to anti-Finkelstein groups like the Jewish United Fund. In fact 50 lawyers with the firm attended a fund raiser for the group, featuring keynote speaker Alan Dershowitz. Recently the Jewish United Fund released a press statement praising DePaul's decision to deny tenure to Finkelstein.

This raises troubling questions. Did John Simon meet with Dershowitz to discuss the Finkelstein tenure case? How much money do anti-Finkelstein groups like the Jewish United Fund donate to DePaul and how much of an influence does this have on a tenure process which is supposed to be independent of the corrupting influence of money? How much influence does the Board of Trustee's have over the tenure process? I am e-mailing both John Simon and Alan Dershowitz with these questions today. Stay tuned for their responses.

For the Faculty Uprising

A showdown is brewing. DePaul faculty council, which represents all the faculty at DePaul, and the Faculty Governance Council, which represents the LA&S faculty, both decided, overwhelmingly, to allow Professor's Finkelstein and Larudee to appeal their tenure denials. The administration is claiming that there is no appeal process for cases like this. Who is right?
To answer that we have to look at the faculty handbook. While the section on tenure doesn't discuss an appeal to the President's decision, a section on contracts does discuss appeal a termination. The language of that section is a little vague though. It refers to a termination of a contract, so it's validity to this case depends on whether you consider the tenure track and tenure one single contract or two separate. It's likely that the school will argue that they are two separate contracts.

It may not matter what the administration argues though.

There were serious inconsistencies with the tenure process. The way the school brought in extraneous evidence into the tenure process is a troubling issue. Fr. Holtschneider accuses Prof. Finkelstein of ad hominum attacks on his colleagues and behavior that is not in accordance with Vincentian Personalism. This is troubling because the tenure process is not the process to determine whether or not a candidate has engaged in such behavior. Even if such behavior was admissible to the tenure process, it would have to be proven in a separate process. For example Thomas Klocek faced a harassment board which asked him to remedy certain issues, which he did not. When his contract was under review, they looked at how he did not meet those standards and decided not to renew his contract. Never before was Finkelstein notified that he was being ad hominum or uncollegial or non-Vincentian. Not even in his yearly tenure reviews.

Also it's important to note that this is a case of the administration seeking to extricate, remove, or at best marginalize, the faculty's voice in regards the tenure process. With Finkelstein, the best support he received came from his colleagues. The Political Science department wanted him as one of their tenured friends, and voted 9-3 to have him inducted into the club. The college of LA&S tenure review board voted 5-0 to approve tenure. Altogether, Finkelstein received 16-7 votes in favor of tenure. Larudee was also overwhelmingly popular among her colleagues. She was supposed to be the chair of the International Studies Department next year. Likely her vote was 17-6.

None of this faculty support mattered to the administration though. When Fr. Holtschneider met with students, he explained to them that the votes did not matter to him, what mattered was the reasoning behind them. Who decides what is and isn't good reasoning though? Reasoning is a subjective thing. I don't find it all to convincing that the universe was created by a magical sky wizard in 7 days. Nor do I find it convincing that Sacco and Vanzetti were murderers, and I don't find the anti-Finkelstein and anti-Larudee arguments convincing either.

What I do find convincing is the idea of democracy, and grassroots power. The decision for tenure should not rest with a dictator like Fr. Holtschneider. It should rest with the faculty and students who make up the tenure review committees and make democratic decisions on the issue.

What next? What should faculty do? Many faculty will try to stay out of the issue and say "I don't know enough about the case," unless it becomes an issue over their power. The AAUP has clear guideline on shared governance which DePaul is violating in it's rush to stamp out academic freedom. Faculty will defend these rights. What we should push is more than simply tenure for two professors, but for the faculty, and students to be the final word on who receives tenure and who does not. That means stripping the president of those powers to decide. This would be a monumental step. To reach that it means the the faculty should go through with the appeal next fall. When the administration refuses to recognize it, the faculty must not budge in their demands. They will have to try different ways to route the administration out of office, and to seize the means to grant tenure themselves in regards to funds, etc. They might want to consider going on strike, even if it's a one day or one week strike. All of this might lead to forming a faculty union or even turning the University into a cooperative where faculty, students and staff own and operate the school in a democratic fashion.

Students Sit-in to Demand Tenure for Palestine Supporting Professors

This article was originally published online by the Electronic Intifada.

You can read the original published article at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7024.shtml.

This morning, DePaul University students in Chicago began the third day of their sit-in at DePaul President Fr. Holtschneider's office. The students have spent two nights sleeping in the office, a rally is to be held today in solidarity with them and it is possible that the DePaul University Faculty Council will pass a vote of no confidence in the president of the school.

It begins with DePaul Assistant Professor Norman Finkelstein. Finkelstein has been writing on and speaking out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine since he received his doctorate at Princeton. He has published six books that have been translated into about 40 languages. This has not been easy for him to do. At every step of the way, Israel's apologists have attempted to drag Finkelstein down.

Finkelstein began teaching at DePaul in 2000 and he was eligible for tenure this 2006-2007 school year. Finkelstein met all the requirements. His teaching is regarded by all as excellent. His scholarship far exceeds the demands of any scholarly institution, and he had completed service through his faculty governance responsibilities and his role as a public intellectual, speaking out across the country. His fellow faculty members in the Political Science Department agreed, and voted 9-3 to approve tenure. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LA&S) tenure review board voted unanimously, 5-0 to approve him for tenure.

However this has not been unopposed by Israel's apologists. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, whose scholarship Finkelstein criticizes in his latest book, lobbied DePaul to deny Finkelstein tenure. By taking Finkelstein's quotes of of context and libeling him as a "holocaust minimizer," among other things, Dershowitz was able to influence three political science professors to write an anti-Finkelstein minority report. This minority report was essentially the basis for the LA&S Dean Charles Suchar's letter recommending against tenure.

Seeing their favorite professor's tenure in jeopardy, students at DePaul reacted. When Finkelstein met with the university level tenure board, 40 students rallied outside the meeting. They collected close to 800 signatures to support tenure, while those concerned about academic freedom signed online petitions calling for a fair tenure process.

DePaul students sitting-In President of DePaul Fr. Holtschneider's office demanding tenure for Norman Finkelstein and Mehrene Larudee. (Matt Muchowski)
DePaul students taking part in the sit-in write "TENURE FINKELSTEIN" on the windows of Fr. Holtschneider's office. (Matt Muchowski)

Things continued to become suspicious at DePaul. Alan Dershowitz claimed that he was only involved in the tenure process as he was asked by a political science professor to submit materials about Finkelstein. After students met with Fr. Holtschneider, however, it became clear that Dershowitz was lobbying the president, seeking a meeting with him, which Holtschneider claims was turned down.

More troubling was the fact that the administration was not following the DePaul faculty handbook on tenure. The handbook makes very clear that at every stage of the process, any vote or decision would be communicated to the professor. This was not done for Finkelstein. In their meeting with the DePaul president, students found out that in practice the university had not communicated the university level tenure board decision to professors for the last twenty years. For the last twenty years the administration has not been following the faculty handbook.

On Friday, 8 June, Fr. Holtschneider issued his decision that Finkelstein would not be granted tenure. More surprising was that International Studies Assistant Professor Mehrene Larudee was also denied tenure. Larudee had received unanimous support at both the department and college levels, and even received the support of the dean of LA&S. But she was a vocal critic of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and a vocal supporter of Finkelstein.

Finkelstein was given a three-page letter describing Holtschneider's reasons for denying tenure, citing ad hominem attacks as a principal one. This contradicts the American Association of University Professors Statement of Collegiality that makes clear that issues like alleged "ad hominem attacks" are not criteria for tenure.

Students quickly mobilized. On Monday morning, 11 June, a dozen students entered Fr. Holtschneider's office. They began the sit-in at the conference room. At 3:00 that afternoon, thirty students met with Fr. Holtschneider. They were dissatisfied with the answers he gave and made clear their demands for tenure for both professors.

Since then students have not left the office. They placed signs in the window that are visible on the street level, and have slept in shifts. Some have left to take tests and come back. The students' actions have emboldened the faculty and the community. The faculty council is having a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the issue and, according the Chicago Sun-Times, may vote for a no-confidence measure on the President of DePaul who denied tenure.

A rally is expected at 11:00am Wednesday to support the sit-in, but the administration is telling students that they want the sit-in to end at 5:00pm Wednesday. It has become a test of wills to see who will blink first.

When Finkelstein appeared on Chicago Public Radio, he explained, "By a strange concatenation of events, DePaul University has become a battleground. ... Number one, to defend academic freedom, which is under assault in our country, and is now under assault at DePaul University. And number two, it is a battleground about this hideous forty year old occupation. We as Americans have the right to speak out, to deplore the occupation of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government, which is supported by our tax payer dollars."

Matt Muchowski is an alumn of DePaul University with a degree in Political Science. He has taken several classes with Norman Finkelstein and is currently writing "A People's History of DePaul University."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

DePaul U. Students and Alumni Stage Sit-In to Protest 2 Tenure Denials by Sierra Millman

This article was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. It quoted me speaking about the sit-in for Finkelstein's Tenure.

The original article and comments is available here.

A group of students and alumni of DePaul University have spent more than 24 hours in a conference room near the president’s office and say they won’t leave until he agrees to grant tenure to two professors.

“We don’t have anything specific planned yet,” said Matt P. Muchowski, who graduated last June from DePaul with a degree in political science. “At some point, we’ll have to meet with the president again, and, you know, quite frankly, we hope that it will be to accept his retraction of the denial of tenure and to offer tenure.” Mr. Muchowski said he was one of about a dozen students in the conference room now.

The two professors denied tenure are Norman G. Finkelstein and Mehrene E. Larudee. Ms. Larudee, an assistant professor of international studies, believes she did not receive tenure because of her active support of Mr. Finkelstein, an assistant professor of political science. Mr. Finkelstein is known for his strong advocacy of Palestinian rights and an escalating war of words with Alan M. Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard University and an impassioned defender of Israel, who openly tried to influence Mr. Finkelstein’s tenure case.

About two dozen students waited in the conference room starting on Monday morning and met with DePaul’s president, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, that afternoon. He told them that he would not grant tenure to the two professors, a spokeswoman said. She declined to comment on the university’s decision to allow students to continue to occupy the conference room.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

March on the Pentagon- March 17, 2007

The ANSWER coalition sponsored a large march on the Pentagon on the 4th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and the 40th anniversary of the 1967 SDS march on the Pentagon. Organizers estimated the DC mobilization at 25,000 (would have been larger but bad weather in the North East blocked many buses and airplane flights) and the LA mobilization the same day at 50,000.

Chicago resident should come out on March 20th 2007, the actual anniversary of the Iraq war, to march on Michigan ave. http://www.m20coalition.net/ for more info.

I traveled to DC on the buses from ANSWER with 12 other members of DePaul Students Against the War (DSAW) who were able to get school funding for the bus trip.

DSAW member Megan Miskiewicz spoke at the ANSWER send off rally at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Hatim Abudyah speaks at the send off rally.

DSAW poses at the take off rally.

At the send-off rally, a number of media covered the event. My favorite, was Al-Jazeera. They even came on the bus and rode with us for a bit, documenting people's reasons for going. I tried to get them to interview some of the other DePaul students, but they ended up interviewing me. They asked me if I thought the Democrats would end the war, to which I explained that all the democrats proposals for ending the war rely on establishing a puppet regime in Iraq. They want to end the war, by winning it. He asked me about what happens if the US pulls out of Iraq right away, would violence and the sectarian war expand? I replied that we have to remember first of all that there is already violence in Iraq, so it's not like the US is preventing any violence. I continued that if anything, the US leaving would decrease violence and the threat of violence, as there would be less of a threat of a war with Iran, and the US wouldn't be killing people in Iraq anymore. With that we ended the brief interview. I just wish I mentioned that the US needed to end the war in Afghanistan (remember that war?) and to stop funding Israel's occupation of Palestine. Next time.

DSAW on the bus to DC

The sun rising after a night of riding the bus.

The ride there was fun. We had a bunch of good movies on our bus that we watched. Sir, no sir- a movie about Vietnam war era servicemen and servicewomen who resisted the war machine. The Corporation- about how powerful and evil corporations are. Where We Stood- a documentary about Chicago's response to the start of the war against Iraq (we seized Lake Shore Drive!) On the way back we watched Harlan County USA (a documentary about a mine strike).

There were quite a few right-wingers there to protest us. I was told that they got their funding from the same people who did the "Swift Boat Vets for Truth." They were able to turn out a lot of people because of the absolutely outrageous lie that anti-war demonstrators were going to spray-paint or otherwise desecrate the Vietnam war memorial. Most of them were vets/bikers. They flew a lot of American flags, one even flew the South Vietnam flag.

One ANSWER organizer spoke about the struggle just to have the rally. The Pentagon wanted to charge us to use their parking lot for the protest. In the end the Pentagon wanted 6 grand. The organizers did the math and worked out that it would be spending for about 2.3 seconds of the Iraq war. They refused to pay a single cent because they want the troops home NOW, not 2.3 seconds from now!

DSAW after arriving at the rally in DC.

It was St. Patricks day and I liked this girls shirt.

Campus Antiwar Network members at the rally.

Cindy Sheehan was one of the speakers at the rally.

Iraq Veterans Against the War led the march.

Campus Anti-war Network members march.

Once the march got started, it was veterans and their families that led the march on the Pentagon.

The march passing over a bridge heading towards the Pentagon.

Behind them were members of the newly reformed Students for a Democratic Society. As the march neared the Pentagon, SDS members tried to cross a bridge to get closer to the Pentagon, but were stopped by riot police. I'm told a flare was set off by the police and that there were 1-3 arrests. I can't confirm that though.

SDS members.

The stand off between SDS members and the riot police was comical. I lost track of how many times people voted to stand up or sit down. One person would shout to move back a few feet while another would shout to move a few feet up. I know a lot of the most militant members of the movement are Anarchists, but that doesn't mean that we can't vote for temporary leaders on the battlefront to prevent confusion, and more importantly, prevent undercover police from influencing the decisions of the militant factions. But there is the other problem, what could 3 dozen kids with practically no militant training expect to do with plastic shields against riot police. That's not even taking into consideration what would happen if they actually managed to make it to the Pentagon. I appreciate the sentiment, but maybe militant splinters from large demo's aren't the best way to cause serious damage to the Empire?

When the rally and march were over, we had some free time before we had to catch our buses, so a few friends and I wandered around DC. We took some pictures at the Lincoln Memorial. I saw the plaque that was placed at the spot Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech. I was disappointed at the lack of maintenance it had received, compared to the rest of the monument. It was dusty and cracked, I wondered if they intentionally wanted to spite this historic spot for Black history.

We also passed the Vietnam war memorial. While I still wish they would make a memorial remembering all the Vietnamese who lost their lives so that Vietnam could be independent of French and American imperialism, it is still a sobering monument, one that dips down into the ground. It was designed by a Japanese woman, and I recall a lot of right-wingers took offense to, god forbid, having an Asian woman design an American monument. At the entrances to the monument though, were more of the asshole bikers. As we were leaving, one protester carrying a sign, tried to walk into the memorial. These goons started shouting at him and called the cops on him, like they were in kindergarten and needed the teacher or something. I tried to defend this kid, telling them, he wasn't doing anything wrong, he just wanted to look at the monument. They came back with all this crap about it being a non-political space. WHAT? So the monument to a political war, is supposed to be non-political? Bullshit!

The road on our way home.

On the bus ride home, the microphone for the bus was opened up for people to speak about their views on what happened, what moved them, etc. I went up and spoke about something that struck me. When we came towards the end of the march, I saw the Pentagon just across the highway. It was a sobering moment. Realizing all the lives that those who work in that building have ruined. The maimed, the crippled, the dead. The families left to carry on. But it was disappointing in a sense because you almost expected evil organ music to play while lighting and thunder crashed and the skies rained blood around the Pentagon. Instead it was just a boring office building. Which I think highlights what Hannah Arendt talked about in Eichmann in Jerusalem. It's the banality of evil. Eichmann was just a paper pusher, he had a desk job, it's just that his desk job was drawing up the plans to execute the Nazi Holocaust. Likewise those who work at the Pentagon (excluding janitors, cooks, other low wage workers) are drawing up plans to destroy lives around the world.

On to the next protest!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Debate With Alan Dershowitz

As many people who read this know, Alan Dershowitz, public apologist for Israeli war crimes and Harvard University Law Professor, has been attempting to derail DePaul professor Norman Finkelstein's bid for tenure. Finkelstein is an excellent scholar and teacher who has come under intense pressure because of his criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The following is an exchange I had with Dershowitz via email. I barely touched it, leaving all the typos in. Please e-mail me and let me know who you think won.

The article that sparked the exchange: http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20070521&s=diarist052107

-----Original Message-----

From: Matt Muchowski

Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 14:13:23
To:dersh@law.harvard.edu, normangf@hotmail.com
Subject: Finkelstein's tenure

Alan, my name is Matt Muchowski. I just read your article in the New

First of all, lets be clear that Finkelstein does not accuse ALL Jews
of fabricating their victimhood, but he documents how certain
organizations take advantage of that history to get reparations
money, which often doesn't even go to the actual survivors of the Holocaust.

As one of the DePaul alumni who has been organizing with the
Finkelstein support committee, let me assure you that Finkelstein has
had no involvement in our meetings, the petitions supporting him, or
really anything. He has refused to answer e-mails, talk to most of
the press and has refused to answer questions students ask about the
tenure process or his case in particular.

If you want to go around making wild accusations about what he is and
isn't doing, and if you want to continue on this road taking his
quotes out of context and calling him a Nazi, go ahead. It only makes you
look that much worse.

On Tuesday 15 May 2007 2:51 pm, Alan Dershowitz wrote:
I don't believe you
Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Muchowski >
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 16:55:31
Subject: Re: Finkelstein's tenure

Well, it wouldn't be the first false belief you held without any actual
evidence. Is this how you write your books, based on belief? "Well, I
don't believe in international law, I don't believe in the documented
historical record by legitimate sources, so I'll just write about what
I do believe."

Fine, if you don't believe me, come up with good, reliable,
un-concocted sources that prove me wrong. I think you will find it about as
difficult as creation scientists trying to prove that a magical sky wizard
created the universe in 7 days and nights.


On Tuesday 15 May 2007 5:26 pm, Alan Dershowitz wrote:
Have you seen the cartoon. Do u believe f had nothing to do with it?
Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wirelesse

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Muchowski >
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 19:37:27
Subject: Re: Finkelstein's tenure

If you mean the cartoon Latuff drew of you jerking off to the pain and
suffering Israel caused in Lebannon, yes I have seen the cartoon.

Do I believe Finkelstein had anything to do with it? Finkelstein has
maintained that he wrote the article which sarcastically applied your own
moral code on assasinations to yourself, and then Latuff read the article
on his own and drew a cartoon based on the inspiration of the article. I
have no reason to disbelieve him unless any real evidence or testimony
counters that. Do you have any such thing, or do you merely believe, sans
evidence, that Finkelstein comissioned the cartoon? Or do you not even
believe your accusations, but feel justified in lobbing them in order to
smear Finkelstein?

I would never want you as my lawyer, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I
know the prosecution has presented a lot of evidence, but I don't believe
any of it. Let me tell you what I believe."


On Tuesday 15 May 2007 8:15 pm, Alan Dershowitz wrote:
Fs claim proved false by fact that his article was published
simultaniously with the cartoon. But that doesn't matter to you because he can do no
wrong. Now do u see why I don't believe your preposterous lie that you
have not been in touch with f about you activities. Sent via BlackBerry from
Cingular Wireless

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Muchowski >
Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 16:53:28
Subject: Re: Finkelstein's tenure

Well your certainly entitled your belief on that, but the burden of
evidence still weighs on you to produce documentation. I still have little
reason to doubt Finkelstein, but I think this issue is a smokescreen that
you brought up, knowing that I'm not the expert on it. I'm neither
Finkelstein or Latuff, so how could I know for certain the specifics of
this cartoon?

In a sense, it's irrelevant. It's a distraction from the real issues. You
didn't want to release documents pertaining to your attempts to prevent the
publication of Finkelstein's book, so you came up with this stuff about the

As a lawyer, you should know that if a defendent has two charges against
them, you can't convict them on one, based on the other. Now your trying to
distract and sidetrack our conversation from my original point, the one
thing I can conclusively state as it pertains directly to my own actions,
that Finkelstein is not directing any student or outside group to influence
his tenure proceedings.

In your last e-mail you said that you don't believe that I have not been in
touch with Finkelstein about my activities, and I should point that I have
been in touch with him about my activites. I met with him in his office and
spoke about a book I'm writing, and got some advice from him about how to
edit it, (he suggested making it as short as possible).

Another example: our coalition of students agreed to have the rally outside
his tenure hearing at a meeting by ourselves. Finkelstein did find out what
we were planning, as we were flying outside his classes, encouraging his
students to come, but his response wasn't to encourage us.

Over a year ago, I interviewed him for our student publication Revolver.
The following is a relevant excerpt:

In the Chicago Reader article about your feud with Harvard Professor Alan
Dershowitz Dershowitz is quoted saying that he will fly out to Chicago next
year when you are up for tenure to make a case against you receiving
tenure. Are you worried that DePaul might listen and be swayed by his
claims? I'm told by my classmates that DePaul already tried getting rid of
you once, and if it wasn't for students protesting and defending you that
they might have succeeded. What can students do to help your chances of
receiving tenure?

Fink: When I read that remark of Dershowitz's in the Reader, I thought of
the song, "Bring on the Clowns." I assume he's just trying to use up his
"frequent flier" miles. I never tell students what to do: they're smart
enough to figure things out on their own.
(http://depaulasu.net/revolver.html, fall 2005-2006 issue)

I am also going to forward you an e-mail I received from Prof. Finkelstein
just after you sent out your packet to the poli sci department.

Your welcome to believe whatever you want, but you will need evidence that
is not fabricated to convice most people.

Matt Muchowski

RE: Tenure question...
Standard Header|Full Message View
Norman Finkelstein
Norman Finkelstein ...
AddFriday, November 17, 2006 1:59:58 PM

I prefer if people use their own judgment without my input. Otherwise I will be accused of tainting the tenure process by orchestrating extra-university coercion. I'm sure you understand.

From: depaul no war
To: normangf@hotmail.com, alayton@depaul.edu, rspaldin@depaul.edu, depaulnowar@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Tenure question
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2006 23:14:10 -0800 (PST)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Received: from web50715.mail.yahoo.com ([]) by bay0-mc9-f11.bay0.hotmail.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.2444); Wed, 15 Nov 2006 23:14:10 -0800
Received: (qmail 10953 invoked by uid 60001); 16 Nov 2006 07:14:10 -0000
Received: from [] by web50715.mail.yahoo.com via HTTP; Wed, 15 Nov 2006 23:14:10 PST

Hi Prof's. Finkelstein, Layton, Spaulding. this is Matt Muchowski, writing you for DePaul Students Against the War. We see that the campaign against Finkelstein getting tenure has been heating up, and a number of students and community members want to take some action to support tenure. But to do that we need some info about the timetable for this process. When and where does the poli sci department vote on tenure? Where does it go from there?


On Wednesday 16 May 2007 5:16 pm, Alan Dershowitz wrote:
Ask f. What are u afraid of?
Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Muchowski >
Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 18:51:07
Subject: Re: Finkelstein's tenure

If your so concerned, I would suggest you take your own advice. Obtain a
torture permit, stick red hot syringes under his finger nails, until he
confesses in your little inquisition.


Re: Finkelstein's tenure
From: "Alan Dershowitz"
To: "Matt Muchowski" >
Date:Yesterday 7:16:57 pm

Please stop writing your foolishness to me
Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hope, Solidarity and Defiance Conference Report Back by Raechel Tiffe

This article was written by my friend Raechel Tiffe for a class and we published it the Spring 2007 issue of Raise the Fist. Since she mentions a forum that I moderated, I have included it on this blog.


I went to this conference about activism and Latin America. It was required for my Indigenous Political Struggles class, but I ended up being so so glad that I went. It was really amazing; I explain some of the highlights below!

  1. Rufino Dominguez-Santos Los Indigenas Migrantes Oaxaqueños en el Activismo Binacional”

Rufino Domniguez-Santos spoke to us on behalf of his organization General del Fretne Indgigena de Orginazaciones Binaconales (FIOB), an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of indigenous peoples in Oaxaca. Dominguez-Santos spoke about the way his group has made an effort to gain US support in the struggle for indigenous rights. He explained that the US has been notorious for anti-immigrant policy, and that because of this, FIOB and other immigrant-rights supporters created what has since been called “the Immigrant’s Spring” due to the intensive rallies and marches on US soil. He noted that while indigenous migrants have to work for peace and justice, that it is more difficult to be an activist under the conditions they endure in Mexico: disappearances, threats, violence, etc. He then spoke about Oaxaca, and the violence that ensued this past fall after the teachers union went on strike and rallied in the streets. In response to this APPO (Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca) organized to exercise their political power so the US government would stop being repressive, but, he said, they have yet to gain the rights they have demanded. He concluded by requesting our support and to stand in solidarity with the movement. During the question and answer session, Dominguez-Santos addressed several important points, one being something we continued to hear throughout the conference: Immigration will not stop while injustice is being perpetuated in Mexico.

  1. CASA-HGT (Center for Autonomous Social Action-General Brotherhood of Workers) and the Immigrants Rights Movement.”

The first man to speak was Carlos Arango, of Casa Atzlan. He gave a brief history of CASA, explaining that Hugo Sanchez created the organization in an effort to gain unlimited amnesty for all undocumented workers. This, Carlos explained, was the only way to resolve immigrant issues. He went on to explain the way there was tension between the AFL-CIO and Cesar Chavez’s Farmworker Alliance against the idea of immigrant rights, since both groups believed that undocumented workers took jobs away. While CASA was able to change the minds of the Farmworkers, the AFL-CIO unions were still stuck in their ways. He went on to talk about the creation of the Declaration of Immigrant Workers, and the way CASA put together an agenda of issues, including: family, uncondtional amnesty, bilnigual education, and labor rights. He also stated that it is their goal to have a bill in Congress, and see then how Democracts and Republicans react to it, to determine the “lesser of the evils.”

Juan Torres, DePaul professor, spoke next, also giving a history of the movement. He focused a lot on the “Immigrant’s Spring” of 2006, explaining that the media had labled them a “sleeping giant” claiming they were big in numbers, but weak in political strength. The massive marches and protests last spring proved that incorrect. He went on to posit that CASA is actually the foundation and catalyst of the immigrant movement. He explained that CASA contriubted several things to the movement: the rejection of the term “illegal alien” and encouraged instead “undocumented worker”; the idea of “sin fronteras”; amnesty for all undocumented workers; and the implementation of a Latino Studies proram at universities.

  1. Engaging the Border in Chicago: An Ethical Issue.”

I was completely moved and inspired after this panel that showcased the reflections of five students who had participated in a study abroad program that enabled them to visit the border of Mexico and Arizona. The first student, Bobby, spoke about the approach he took to service. He said he researched in preperation, took action, and, most importantly, took time for reflection. He said that it was during reflection that the students were able to talk about and reconcile their guilt over what they were seeing and the fact that they can go back to comfortable lives. He concluded by saying that sometimes he feels as though any kind of service is worthless, but then said that he (like Mike who puts out the water) at least knows that he is doing his part.

Emily spoke about NAFTA and the way the agreement and globalization have negatively impacted the workers in Mexico. She noted that the two main industries in Mexico—Agriculture and Manufacturing—are being exploited by US free-trade policy. She also spoke about the maquila’s, and explained that 40% of the labor force work in these exploitative factories. One of the most upsetting statistics she shared was that after NAFTA was implemented, 82% of the population now lives in poverty.

Travis spoke about his trajectory of social activism, including: “transcending, humanity is restored, ethical indignation, social injustice exposed, results in dialogue, and a project is created in the community.” What he focused on most were concepts discussed in Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed; the main message of both Friere’s book and Travis’ talk was that the oppressed should not become the oppressor, but rather liberate the oppressor by restoring their humanity. He also spoke of the transformation from experiencing “the other” as an intellectual experience, to making it a visceral one. He noted that we must expose injustice to the light of human concious (paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), but also pointed out that not everyone who will witness these injustices will be inspired to create change, and that the real task is trying to figure out how to deal with that issue.

Alejandro’s presentaion about creative resistance reflected on the way art has been a form of challenging the dominant oppression and also dealing with the pain of the border; there is art both on the border and about the border. He suggested that the wall acts as a symbol that divides the physical, spiritual, social, and cultural.

Billie was the final student to speak, and her reflection focused on the lack of Black/Latino alliances. In discussing the fact that many reacted dubiously to her presence as a black woman at the wall, she challanged the audience to think about how we can develop a transcommunal identity. She encouraged intentional dialogue amongst black and Latinos.

Finally, Mike, a Native American activist who puts out water at the border, discussed the need to have a moral response to injustice.

  1. Audiovisual Radicalism”

This panel was full of very interesting human beings who have done a significant amount for the progressive movement. The first speaker was Carlos Flores, a photographer who began taking pictures in 1969 when the Young Lords began. Flores says he takes pictures as a way of developing certain conciousness’ for different communities, and specifically focused on black and Latino youth alliances. He also showed a video performance of an 11 year old girl’s oral history project about the Young Lords rise of power. Devorah Heitner presented a paper entitled “Inside Bedford Stuyvesant” which examined a black community in the 60’s that used a television program to reclaim a voice. She explained that the media was (and still is) a powerful tool for creating social change. Michael James, the co-founder of The Heartland Cafe, spoke next. He discussed his history in getting involved with the movement as starting during his college years when he wanted to help build coalitions amongst different racs. He then began to utilize newspapers as his main tool of social change, and began to have significant success with this when he moved to Uptown in Chicago to work with the Join Community Union, an organization of activists in solidarity with the working class. He said there are two important things to remember when asessing the media as a tool: 1) “Freedom of the press to those who own one.” 2) “You have to educate to liberate.” After several revolutionary/radical papers, James began the Heartland Cafe as a community space and restaurant that would serve as a meeting place for activists and organizers, and also serve wholesome food. The final speaker was Bernardo Navia who gave a very moving talk about his experience as an immigrant from Chile in the US. He explained that the language barrier between English and Spanish speakers was isolating and harmful to immigrant identity. He saw the Spanish language as the immigrant’s “country, a reality where one can exist.” He helps publish Spanish-language literary publications that he views as a reflection of the the lost “Latin spirit.”

  1. DePaul Activism: Before and After Graduation

This panel was very inspiring to hear for me as a DePaul student activist. Matt Muchowski discussed the book he is working on entitled “A People’s History of DePaul” about DePaul activism, and gave a brief but thorough overview about some of the discriminatory policies of DePaul in the past, and how students have worked to elliminate them, and also the way student movements have impacted the world more broadly, even outside the DePaul campus. He referenced both of the other panelists, James Hammonds and Victoria Romero. Hammonds was the founder of the original Black Student Union, which he explained as beginning due to a lack of black resources, a lack of black students, and consistent discrimination from the school and students. The group had many victories, including the occupation of the SAC pit. He noted that activists “must have it in their genes, because anyone would be crazy to chose activism.” Victoria Romero was very moving, and spoke as one of the co-founders of DALE (Depaul Alliance for Latino Empowerment). She graduated from DePaul in 1994 and discussed the way the buzzword “multiculturalism” when first introduced was extremely problematic. DePaul seemed to push this idea on students of color, but never really took into account what it meant; all the rules about how to educate multiculturalism was decided by white men. She noted the way DALE occuppied an office, and ultimately got the Cultural Center built as a space for students of colors and allies to come together, discuss ideas, and organize in a comfrotable environment. She also discussed her experience as an activist community organizer in Pilsen. As a board member of the Pilsen Alliance, Romero has made great efforts to help the community resist gentrification. One of the best points she made was that the Saul Alinsky model of organizing does not work for communities of color, and that there has to be another way, suggesting that being an activist “in an acedemic way” has been helpful. She said that Chicago is no longer reacting to marches and sit-ins, but they need researched evidence presented in a formal manner to see change accomplished.

  1. Los pueblos indígenas y las Mujeres en el marco de la Reforma del Estado: Martha Sanchez”

Martha Sanchez spoke to us about the demands of indigenous people in Mexico. Among them being territory, autonomy, self-determination, and access to resources. She discussed the ways in which groups and organizations have attempted to work within the system by appealing to the government, and creating formal forums. Unfortuantely, these tactics have not been very successful. She also talked about other methods of resistance and change, specifically metioning radio as being a very powerful tool; however, the ability to get access to air waves is difficult, and therefore it has not been utilized much. She also said that another important use of media is through video documentation of both the violence and injustice against women and also the ways in which they are resisting and organizing against it. She then focused on women’s issues within the indigenous community, as it is important to her to get the women’s voice heard in the public sphere. One of the messages she stressed throughout the talk was teh importance of alliance-building. She concluded that the indigenous women “could not move ahead without help” and because of that there has been an attempt to build coalitions with other movement-sympathetic women/feminist groups.

Monday, April 23, 2007

DePaul Activism: Before and After Graduation

This is a video of a panel I hosted at the Hope, Solidarity and Defiance conference organized by the DePaul University Latino studies Department. The panel was called "DePaul Activism: Before and after Graduation."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Chicago Protest on 5th Anniversary of Invasion of Iraq

On the 5th anniversary of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism held a rally and march against the war and occupation. It marched down Michigan ave at night. Below are some photos I took.

I came running out of work to join the rally. Here I am with my bandmates from Behold!

Monday, March 19, 2007

My First Brief Reply to Horowitz

I started writing a comprehensive response to Horowitz's rant against me. It's going to take a bit of time to write though. I did want to immediately respond to the most erroneous, libelous and false charges he made though, so that they don't gain traction ala "Swift Boat Vets for Truth." I did not use an Anti-Semitic slur and am I not Anti-Semitic, Anti-Catholic, ignorant or a totalitarian of any type. I will respond more in-depth to many of Horowitz's misleading and unresearched statements in another article, shorter than my first. Many of the other statements he made will be clarified in my book.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

DePaul Rejected Barbara Ehrenreich as Commencement Speaker

This article was originally published in the Spring 2007 issue of Raise the Fist, a zine put out by the DePaul Activist Student Union.


When DePaul announced it's final 3 candidates to replace Fr. Minogue as President of the school, and announced the times students could meet with the candidates to make their own comments on them, my friends in activism and myself decided to meet these people who we might be leading demonstrations against.

Fr. Holtschneider definitely stood out from the other two candidates. He was willing to listen and dialog about the issues we were concerned about- gay rights, sweatshops, etc, where the other two seemed like caricatures of old white businessmen. I remember my friend Giuseppe wore an anti-McDonalds t-shirt to the meeting with Holtschneider that simple read, “McShit.” Holtschneider complimented him on the shirt. Holtschneider has been very willing to talk to students and whenever I flagged him down before he was willing to discuss things with me

Which is why I wasn't surprised when I was standing by Fr. Egan's statue outside the student center with some friends and Holtschneider came up to us and started a conversation. We talked about my book, “A People's History of DePaul” and how it's coming along, and Finkelstein's tenure case (he claimed that except for the e-mail's he's been getting from both sides he hasn't seen a shred of paper from the official tenure process regarding it and he won't even think about it until June when he officially steps into the process.)

I had to ask him though: what's up with these rumors that you canceled Barbara Ehrenreich's speech to the graduating class of 2007?

Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the most fearless activist women of our era. She wrote the book “Nickel and Dimed” describing her experience trying to survive on minimum wage for a year. It is used as a college text across the country and I'm sure has sold tens of thousands of copies. Her writings for Harpers magazine, Time magazine, Z, The Progressive, Ms. Mother Jones and others have been read by millions and address important issues of our times- poverty, racism, sexual abuse, the war, etc. She is a board member for a number of organizations including the Democratic Socialists of America, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and Students for a Democratic Society. She would be a great speaker at any convocation. I certainly know I would have been excited to have her speak at my graduation last year.

Well, Holtschneider told me that she had been recommended to him as a speaker, but that for a convocation, and granting an honorary degree, only he could approve speakers for that and that as a Catholic school, it wasn't going to happen for some one who was vocally “pro-abortion.” Yes, he said pro-abortion, not pro-choice.

Shade's of 1986. Back then the University formed a speakers committee to invite prominent guests. They invited Eleanor Smeal, then president of the National Organization of Women, to speak and she was canceled because of her pro-choice views. Students and faculty got organized and were able to have her speak as a department sponsored speaker. Holtschnider assured me that nothing prevents us from bringing Ehrenreich as a speaker through a student group or faculty group.

What this goes into is just how Catholic the school is. On one hand, events like this disprove the knee-jerk reaction of conservatives who think that just because the school doesn't have an anti-choice rally every day, photo-doctored photos of fetuses in classrooms, the stars and bars flying and students praying to cardboard cutouts of George W. Bush that DePaul is somehow liberal or even radical.

On the other hand, I have my own doubts about how dogmatically Catholic the school has to be. DePaul was never completely a branch of the church, it was always a separate legal entity, with it's own board of directors. The only definitive institutional ties to the church were that a certain number of the board members had to be Vincentian and the doctrinal status of the school. Well I don't think many trustee members are Vincentian any more and in the 1960's the school rescinded it's doctrinal status, which required it to teach material in accordance with the Church. What is so interesting is why the school rescinded such a status. Because they were afraid of losing federal funds. The school was expanding at the time, gentrifying the Lincoln Park neighborhood, and they had a choice, stay small but true to Catholicism, or go after the big bucks. They went after the big bucks.

So why the stink over pro-choice? Isn't DePaul past that? Don't we have a queer studies minor? Well, it still receives money from the diocese and from private Catholic donors. The school could be very afraid of losing that money. In 1996 when Fr. Minogue refused to allow Brigette Amiri to form a pro-choice club on campus, she asserted the same thing.

So what now? Well I think that the first step is for students and faculty to arrange to have Ehrenreich speak at DePaul. High level groups like Student Government, DePaul Activities Board, and Faculty Council should sponsor the talk. Then over time, we need to put pressure on the school to give an honorary degree to a very vocal pro-choice activist. Demonstrations, speak-outs, sit-ins if necessary. We can find alternative funding for the school to replace any money they lose from anti-choice donors. This can position the school as something outside the church, but in it's sphere of orbit enough to eventually influence Rome on this issue. We can have DePaul align itself more with groups like Catholics for a Free Choice.

I never understood the qualifications or standards for someone to be given an honorary degree or be a University speaker. Pro-choice? The school says no way. But the school let gay author James Baldwin speak as part of the series that Smeal wasn't allowed to. I asked Holtschneider who some of the other speakers he has not approved were and why he didn't approve them and he drew a blank. Having some sort of set critieria might be able to prevent the school from not approving certain speakers, then again, it might just give them a non-partisan cover to hide their real motives for denying speakers.

I never understood why the school would be so upset about fetuses, when we have an ROTC office in the basement of 990 and they train people how to kill. Or if it's about the life of something that isn't quite human, why not ban meat from the cafeteria? Or anti-bacterial soap? If the school really cared about preventing abortions they would let people distribute condoms on campus, and if the school won't approve of it students should 1.) organize underground condom distributions 2.) hold public distributions to challenge the school. Don't forget, there are plenty of lawyers who would defend an idealistic feminist for free.

To get involved in women's issues check out Feminists In Action who meet every Tues at 9:15 in the womens center (room 312 in the student center). Take Back The Night, an annual rally and march against sexual assault will be April 26, at 5:00 outside the student center. Visit www.depaulasu.net for more about progressive and radical activism at DePaul.

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