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. 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:

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

From: Matt Muchowski

Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 14:13:23,
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.
(, 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
Subject: Tenure question
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2006 23:14:10 -0800 (PST)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Received: from ([]) by 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 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.

Intense Debate Comments