After watching the video on Youtube of a UCLA student getting tased repeatedly at the UCLA library, that I had posted on my blog one of my friends commented that this made her think of an article I had written a while back titled Spear of the Nation.
Before I go on though, to view the somewhat disturbing video, go here:
If you are currently a UC student or a former UC student and were disturbed, shocked or apalled by this excessive violence, please consider signing the petition I'm linking to below.
Since I'm sort of on Indigenous Genocide Break this week I probably won't be posting much new stuff, but instead recycling stuff, and so this connection to an old article, written by a different version of me, this seemed like a perfect excuse.
I should warn people though, that I wrote this article in 2003 after returning to live in the United States after spending the previous five years on Guam at University of Guam for undergraduate and graduate school. Naturally moving here was difficult. First of all, I had come from Guam with not just more radical politics, but with a deeper and more passionate commitment to indigenous politics, decolonization and forcing people everywhere to reckon with the indigenous exclusions that their national identities depend upon for consistency.
But when I came back to live in the states, I was brutally confronted with the fact that I was no longer indigenous, I was now on someone else's land. No wanting to deal with this fact however, I initially shyed away from discussions of indigenous issues, instead choosing to identify hard core as a leftist or a liberal. This article was eventually published in 2004 in Minagahet Zine, in the Preparing for War issue. It was originally written for one of the biggest crazy leftist websites out there, Democratic Underground, but fortunately/unfortunately not accepted for publication.
I shudder to think what I would have become had it been accepted and then I was propelled down a very normal liberal path. Although I can't completely disclose or discuss my aversion here now, I can say that the limits of liberals in the United States is one of the reasons why the struggles of indigenous people here and its colonies have so little traction. The liberal response to claims for sovereignty is ultimately only cultural sovereignty, and not cultural sovereignty in any real sense, but rather multiculturalism. While in a ridiculous abstract sense, multiculturalism might seem to be positive and important, because of how all cultures are "allowed" to exist in a particular space, supposedly equal, such is never the case. There is always one culture, which becomes the invisible mediator between cultures, deeming what is civilized, acceptable, what is barbaric, backwards, terrorist, radical, unacceptable. In the United States for example, we see the multicultural matrix determined by both capitalist necessities (culture cannot interfere with productivity or efficiency) and white culture as the only constituent culture, or only culture which is capable of touching the source of power and order in the United States, and either maintaining or revolutionizing said order.
As I've said many times in many ways, life in Guam is all about the United States. For the majority of people its about propping it up, protecting it ideologically, defending it militarily, celebrating it both daily and lazily. For others its about tearing it apart, tearing it down, or finding a way to accept its dominance in everything in Guam. In an interesting way, when I came back to the United States, this article represented first my attempt to elude issues of my settler status here by occupying the position of the politically engaged progressive American citizen subject, and second somehow actualize those both latent and very conscious Americanizing desires.
I feel I've changed since the writing of this article, and moved into a different more productive political position. One which isn't simply right or left, which is a binary structured not just around the death of a diversity of political positions, but the obliteration of any possibility for those who lie either dead or alive beneath said political debate. Guam, Chamorros, Native Americans and African Americans all in different ways lie outside this debate, and require a different position to speak from, to be heard from, to carve out sovereignty from.
Most often, my positioning myself in this space comes from a mixture of neglect from mainstream media and politics in the United States to anything related to Guam (the recent UN trip by Famoksaiyan members was not covered by any major media outlet in the United States save for KPFA in Berkeley), as well as the ridiculous comments that I receive from conservative idiots who accuse me of being some Birkenstock wearing liberal. Este i minagahet, ti hu tungo' hafa "Birkenstocks!"
To be very blunt, I'll post below, before at long last the text of the Spear of the Nation article, a piece of one of my posts on this blog from 2004. Ya este na tinige' pau fina'nu'i hao i hinanao-hu, nai estaba daggao i nasion Amerikanu yu', ya pa'go nai Guahu i daggao i nasion Chamoru!
Calling me or any other Chamorro activists on Guam "leftists" means to suffer from a lack of imagination. We situate ourselves as indigenous first, which means those labels of left and right don't apply.
I'm pointing this out because some rabid right wing poster invaded my blog today and posted some mindless comments. Please refrain from categorizing my arguments or positions as being "way on the left" because that is just a pathetic way of dimishing them and controlling them. If you want to have a serious clash or conversation here, please break out of that binary, black/white mindset. Only then can we begin to discuss this issues for reals, and not just resort to Hannity v. Colmes, Rush Windbag style namecalling nonsense.
SPEAR OF THE NATION
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
While reading about the brutal and almost fascist treatment some of the media met at last week’s protests at the FTAA, I was reminded of what one of my friends had jokingly said about the peace protests in San Francisco earlier this year.
Listening to the radio, of the mainstream news reporters covering the chaos and clashes between cops and recalcitrant protestors, he joked that rather then the covering of social unrest, from the sweeping Manichean metaphors and grave tones it sounded more like they were war reporting. From the very way the major media describes the clashes in our society today, whether they be mass protests, or voices of critical dissent, you can tell that there is something else on everyone’s mind, even if they aren’t articulating it. To put it plainly, a war is going on right now in this country, between the people, the peaceful and the powerful.
In the society around us, hidden and obscured by American flags, color-coded threats and embedded journalists the powerful are already preparing. They are already mobilizing for this war, just as they mobilized for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and may mobilize for war in Syria and Iran (Not North Korea though, cause they actually might have WMDs). With their proxies prominently placed front and center, the powerful are working in the background and dimly lit places in Washington. The puppet point man in this domestic, low-intensity conflict is none other than our one and only Commander and Thief George W. (Am I the only one who thinks that George Bush Jr. is like the Pinocchio from Jim Henson’s workshop? He looks like the Muppet
who became a real boy!)
The shock troops of the conservative cabal are already out in the field. First in my mind is the irony that more than a million dollars of the Bush $87 billion for Iraq went to fund the Miami police, who were busy last week protecting rich people/countries rights to destroy other nations, by destroying protestors. CONTELPRO is back in full effect, and already uncomfortable oddly dressed, yet well-groomed white males are infiltrating our anti-war organizations. Psychological warfare is being conducted each day by Fox News and others, who stop scaring the shit out of people just long enough to identify their sponsor (The Defense Department). Anti-war and dissident student organizations are threatened with “terrorist organization” status by the Justice Department and police in order to quell their protest, and strike fear into this country’s protest culture. Oh, and lets not forget the ongoing Republican “war on families,” which is maintained through the use of that horrifying weapon of mass destruction “family values.”
The idea of “war” has been hijacked by squinty-eyed, smirking gunslinger wannabes like Donald Rumsfeld, to justify whatever they are currently doing. And while the taxes of the American people support the war in Iraq, this conservative war at home is funded through corporate sponsors and political contributions, who’s filial loyalty and monetary devotion is repaid through voluntary and non-existent environmental restrictions, massive subsidies and war profiteering (I hear that next year, “WAR” will become just another check mark on a political donor card. “Donate X to the Bush Campaign, and receive a war against the following nations (Evildoers not on the official axis of evil list may cost extra)).
I think its time for a revolution to take place. And before people think about the end of our ways of life and our very existence and make excuses about how they can’t revolt this week (“Sorry, no revolution this week, I gotta see Ryan and Tristan’s wedding”), I should remind everyone that a revolution already has taken place. Michael Moore and others have referred to the special election, the selection of George W. as president by the Supreme Court as a coup d’etat, and they are correct in doing so. The country was blatantly stolen from us in 2000, however in actuality the country was stolen from us (the people) a long long time ago. The moneyed interests of the nation have been pulling politicians strings and making them say “the cow says moo” for centuries.
At this point it is very easy for many of us to just give up, give in, and grudgingly admit to any meaningful change beyond our grasps. I mean, each presidential election just seems to be a pointless decision between different sides of the same corrupt coin. The politics of this country seem so detached from the needs of its people that at times what we hear or see seems devoid of any common sense or rationale. And so many attempts to effect change, reform or call attention to the many problems of this nation are met with so antagonism and aggression, from the majority of the country.
I am reminded through all chaos that has become the society around me, of the words of Nelson Mandela. In 1961, from one of his many trials, Mandela spoke on the issue of violence as a response to government oppression:
This government (South African) has set the scene for violence by relying exclusively on violence with which to answer our people and their demands… Government violence can only breed counterviolence, if there is no dawning of sanity on the part of the government the dispute between the government and my people will be settled by force.
Mandela was a member of the African National Congress, which fought for decades for non-violent solutions to the institutional and inherent racism in South African society. However after being repressed and rebuffed usually with brutal force, they formed the Umkonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation. Frustrated with the racist regime, the ANC formed the Spear in order to put pressure on the South African government through less than legal means. With no lawful recourse left, the ANC saw four means by which they could effect change: sabotage, guerrilla warfare, and outright revolution. The Spear was created in order to perform acts of sabotage on the government, and force them into reform.
Now before you thank your lucky stars that we live in a land that’s free and the home to many brave people, you really should start reading more than just the New York Times, and watching more than just Fox News. A brutal, totalitarian and despotic regime is not as far off as we think.
While coordinating a question and answer question following the film The Pinochet Case at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival on Guam, someone made a comment about how terrible the atrocities (the midnight knocks and disappearances) in Chile at that time were, and how fortunate we are not to deal with that sort of thing. I responded to her comment saying that, “yes, we should be thankful, we must also be vigilante. The Patriot Act and other laws on the books enhance the authority of the government over us to an almost insane extent, . The police can “disappear” you much in the way Pinochet’s henchmen did. And with “liberals” such as Alan Dershowitz discussing the legalization of torture for information extraction from suspected terrorists, anything is possible (since in George Bush’s America, anyone caught outside a Free Speech Zone can be a terrorist.)
And just ask the two Democracy Now producers at last week’s FTAA protest about police brutality. In an interview after being released from jail, they described how police would wait until after most of the major media and crowds had left and then isolate groups of protestors and pounce on them like frenzied hyenas (Cheney cronies) on a wounded gazelle (Iraq, Alaska, Afghanistan, etc.) Whether people like to remember it or not, this type of brutality has been part of our society for centuries, violence in the defense of power has been utilized against immigrants, unions and popular protests. The FTAA attacks are just another recent example.
But brutality wasn’t the only abuse of the South African apartheid regime. They also institutionalized racism, which in effect legalized the establishment and the maintenance of blacks as a permanent underclass. With wages at about 1950 levels, little to no actual economic growth on the horizon, social spending constantly being slashed and burned, and the rich being overfed with disgusting tax cuts, the polarization of American society, if not already present, is on the way. The platitude of “the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer,” doesn’t do justice to that disgusting way in which our country, the richest in the world exists. And unless massive changes are made to our society, then we can become just as polarized as South Africa was, and eventually be forced to use the same violent means.
Mandela and others in the African National Congress resorted to violence because the law and those in power gave them no other options. We may soon find ourselves in that predicament. Which is why it is vital we fight for our own revolutions here, while those in power are still vulnerable, while they are still subject to laws that limit their power and authority. We must pick up the metaphorical Spear of our Nation now, and fight for our rights, and our people, or be forced to pick up the literal spear and fight later.