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“St Patrick Battalion”
By my estimation, most major foreign policy decisions made by the US government between the “American Revolution” and the Civil War were oriented towards maintaining the institution of slavery. In 1811 the Army went into Florida to begin their many attempts, eventually successful, at defeating the Seminole Nation — a society of escaped slaves and people from various Indian nations who had formed settlements in Florida, who were able to purchase arms from a Spanish fort. In 1812 the US attacked Canada, burning both civilian homes and government buildings throughout the city of York (now Toronto). Why attack Canada? Florida was where slaves escaped to in the south. In the north, it was Canada. In 1829, when Mexico abolished slavery, this caused problems for the slave-owning Anglo settlers who had migrated to Texas with their slaves. Ultimately, the slave-owning nation of the United States attacked the comparatively far more civilized nation of Mexico in April of 1846, ultimately annexing most of it and later declaring Mexicans to be somehow foreign. As the war dragged on, thousands of US troops deserted from the ranks of the Army. 202 of them — mostly Irish but including various others, including Poles — took desertion a big step further, and formed the Mexican Army’s only foreign legion, the St Patrick Battalion.
In April, 1916, people in cities across the British colony of Ireland rebelled. The rebellion was crushed by British forces, but it gave rise to an independence movement that ultimately succeeded in winning sovereignty for 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties. This unfinished revolution has been the main source of contention on the island ever since, with thousands killed and a society scarred by violence and injustice.
“I Remember Warsaw”
In April of 1943, what might be accurately described as the greatest urban rebellion in the history of civilization took place. About 90% of Warsaw’s Jews had been sent to extermination camps. Those that remained had long before been forced to live in a walled ghetto with virtually no food. The starving residents of the ghetto formed the Jewish Fighting Organization. For 28 days, with only a small handful of old guns and a lot of ingenuity and total stuf-sacrifice, the men and women who referred to each other as the Walking Dead fought an urban guerilla way against Nazi soldiers, killing scores, and twice breaching the ghetto walls. The fighting only ended when every building in the ghetto lay in smoking ruins.
“They Couldn’t Stand By”
The powers-that-be, in their everlasting wisdom, would have us believe that the movement against the US war in Vietnam mainly consisted of overly-privileged, idealistic hippies. While certainly the movement was a big umbrella that included lots of iconoclastic freaks within it, the antiwar movement was also full of military veterans. Veterans who came back from Vietnam alive tended to either find ways to numb their traumatized psyches, usually with heroin or alcohol, or they joined the antiwar movement, and focused their revulsion at everything they had just experienced that way. One of the most iconic moments of the antiwar movement too place on April 23rd, 1971, when veterans of the way threw 700 medals onto the lawn in front of the Capitol Building.
On Apr 24th, 1973, Sachin Tendulkar was born in Mumbai. He would grow up to become one of the greatest cricket players who ever lived.
“Ballad of Saed Bannoura”
The First Intifada began in 1987, and was characterized most notably and quite intentionally by the David and Goliath metaphor, with youth using slingshots to throw rocks at tanks. The Israeli authorities employed different strategies to try to destroy this mass movement. They started with mass arrests, then moved on to breaking bones. When neither of these strategies succeeded in slowing the movement down, their next step was assassinations. On April 22nd, 1991, a young Palestinian named Saed Bannoura was shot 6 times by IDF soldiers — but he refused to die.
In recent decades, the twisted new form monopoly capitalism had taken involves the systematic annexation of the global commons. They long ago took possession of the land. Now they would claim the water, too. When Bechtel and the Bolivian government at the time tried to tell the people of Cochabamba their water want theirs anymore and they would now have to pay for the rain that feel from the sky, they rebelled — and they won. On April 10th, 2000, the Bolivian government reversed course.
The new Israeli strategy for dealing with the Second Intifada that had been raging since September, 2000 involved the indiscriminate use of armored bulldozers and tanks to destroy entire neighborhoods, killing scores of people at a time, as the IDF did in the city of Jenin in April, 2002.
“Spanish Journalist Strike”
In the wake of the killing of a Spanish journalist by US forces in Baghdad, the entire Spanish press corps turned their backs on their right-wing, pro-war prime minister, and walked out of the building where he was attempting to hold a press conference on April 9th, 2003. It was after this unusual action by members of the press that Al-Qaeda bombed the subways in Madrid, killing many commuters. With no evidence, the Prime Minister Aznar immediately blamed the Basque group, Eta. When people discovered Al-Qaeda was the actual culprit, the reaction of Spanish voters was not to acquiesce to calls for revenge against terrorism. People knew the attack would have been unlikely to happen if Spanish troops had not at the time been occupying Iraq. Voters rejected Aznar in the next election, and elected a Socialist government instead, which immediately withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq.
On April 29th, 2003, thirteen unarmed demonstrators were killed by US troops in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Soon the city was in revolt. The US military would only manage to retake control of the once-beautiful City of Mosques after 80% of the buildings were destroyed and thousands were killed. The US also used chemical weapons called white phosphorous that burn through skin and muscle. When 80% of a city is destroyed in order for it to be “liberated,” this is generally an indication that either the “liberator” is paying no regard to the value of civilian life, or that the resistance to this “liberation” is very fierce and very popular, or both. In the battle of Hue in Vietnam, the level of urban devastation after the city was “liberated” was similar.
“After We Torture Our Prisoners”
In April, 2004, it came to light that US occupying forces were systematically torturing their prisoners — in the very same prison where Saddam Hussein’s government used to torture it’s prisoners — Abu Ghraib. Along with Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base and other “black sites,” Abu Ghraib became an iconic symbol of everything that is wrong with the United States and its imperial hubris and hypocrisy. This country that once held aloft proclaimed values having to do with human rights, civil rights, due process, rule of law, etc., was now openly flushing all that crap down the toilet in favor of drone strikes, death squads and hooded executioners. After the criminal Bush administration’s time was over, Obama made it immediately clear that no one would be punished for their crimes. Enter Trump.
“Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler”
On April 20th, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, killing eleven workers and causing the worst environmental disaster in US history. The Obama administration’s response was to put a temporary pause on granting permits for more offshore oil drilling operations. It was soon lifted. Unfortunately, despite all the copious evidence that the leadership of the Democratic Party has nothing but contempt for the environment — as we can ascertain very easily from their actual actions, if we ignore their empty platitudes for a moment — millions of US citizens continue to cling to the utterly irrational belief that if only there is a Democratic majority, we can have a sane society with sensible environmental practices. If irrational tribal delusions could save us, we’d be fine. But it doesn’t work that way.
In April, 2011, the Oregonian reported that Portland, the whitest major city in the US, was becoming whiter. The data from the latest census was in — between 2000 and 2010, Portland had lost about half of it’s African-American population to gentrification. What institutional racism could never quite accomplish was being accomplished through the unregulated rental market. And yet Portland, and other largely ethnically-cleansed cities such as San Francisco and Seattle, have an abiding reputation around the world for being “progressive” places. But by what definition of “progressive” are we going with here? Whatever it is, it is very evident that it has nothing to do with economics — unless greater stratification of wealth and increasing poverty and homelessness are now to be understood as “progressive” values. Rent control, we are always told by “progressive” politicians in “progressive” states like Oregon and Washington, doesn’t work. But if that’s true, why is it so much cheaper to live in Copenhagen or Berlin than it is to live in Seattle or Boston?
“Khader Adnan, Bobby Sands”
On April 18th, 2012, Khader Adnan was released from an Israeli prison after being on hunger strike for 66 days. He was objecting, among other things, to Israel’s policy of indefinite detention without trial, which still continues — but only for Palestinians.
“Tax the Sun”
In April, 2014, the Oklahoma legislature voted almost unanimously to protect the oil industry by taxing solar panels. Much of the world was moving in the direction of subsidizing renewable energy production, but in Oklahoma, as with the US generally, there are different priorities — namely corporate profits, and corporate profits.
“If Clinton’s A Progressive”
On April 12th, 2015, new life was breathed into the old phenomenon of corrupt political family dynasties when former First Lady Hillary Clinton announced she was running for US president. Her campaign embraced the desperate status quo along with US militarism, and rejected the progressive platform of her former rival for the Democratic nomination, who she defeated through fraud. She somehow then lost the presidency to a narcissistic billionaire neofascist, who was the only one of the two major-party candidates who seemed to be able to regularly use the phrase “working class” in a sentence (since Bernie bowed out). But Russia is entirely to blame for Hillary’s defeat, don’t you forget it.
On April 30th, 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders announced his presidential run. He ran one of the most successful attempts at a real progressive winning the Democratic nomination, but due to DNC corruption and election-rigging, along with being consistently ignored by the media most of the time, he lost. I wish I hadn’t predicted all of that, or that my predictions hadn’t come true.
“Leila and Majnun”
On April 26th, 2016 an Iranian refugee named Omid immolated himself. He saw no hope for a future condemned to live on Australia’s prison island of Nauru — ostensibly a country, where he and other refugees were given refugee status. But the mosquito-ridden, tiny ex-mining colony with 90% unemployment is a country in name only. For this song I have changed the names of the actual people involved to those of the ancient Persian poem, since it is perfectly appropriate thematically — and more importantly because Omid’s girlfriend (“Leila”) is still in indefinite Australian detention and doesn’t want to be publicly identified.
“Ballad of HB 2004”
In April, 2017, the Oregon House passed housing bill HB 2004, which the Oregon Senate then proceeded to eviscerate, rendering it useless in the face of the housing crisis. It was a classic case of political corruption in the US. Not of the illegal variety — just the totally legal system of bribery that we erroneously call “democracy.” We never had a truly functional, actual democracy, but the original idea at least was framed around the concept of “one person, one vote” — even if there was always debate about what constituted a “person” in this instance. But now, it’s officially not even so much about people, since the Supreme Court has essentially ruled that bribery is speech and corporations are people.
“May the Force Be With You”
On April 23rd, 2017, Elijah Simpson-Sundell died of cancer at the age of nine. Like me, he was a Star Wars fan.
“Minimum Wage Strike”
In April, 2018 the Burgerville Workers Union, IWW, successfully organized a Southeast Portland branch. Thus bringing us one step closer to the impending general strike that will be the beginning of the revolutionary transformation of our broken society.