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By 1854, the gold diggers who had been gathering since the 1851 gold rush began in the Australian state of Victoria had grown to become the majority of the state’s small population. The amount of gold available was constantly shrinking as the population was growing. Then the British authorities raised the taxes on the diggers to impossible levels. The diggers refused to pay. In early December, 1854, as rebel diggers tried to prepare for the expected attack by the red-coated authorities, British soldiers advanced. The battle was an unequal affair, with the better-armed, better-trained soldiers killing dozens of people, though the soldiers also suffered losses. Unimpressed by this massacre, a month after it over 10,000 diggers held a protest. Fearing an impending revolution, the authorities dropped the tax and within a few years gave in to the rest of the diggers’ demands as well.
“Who Would Jesus Bomb?”
On December 25th, 1972 — Christmas Day — Hanoi was extensively bombed by the US Air Force. Thousands were killed. What people in the US know of as the Vietnam War (what in Vietnam they call the American War) was mainly an air war. Most of the US casualties fell out of airplanes, and the overwhelming majority of people killed in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were killed by bombs dropped from war planes. Over two million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians were killed in US carpet-bombing. Millions more were sickened by Agent Orange, used to defoliate much of all three countries. Massive numbers of birth defects continue to occur as a result. There are tens of millions of bomb craters in Vietnam. This was done by a so-called Christian nation.
“Song for Big Mountain”
On December 22nd, 1974, the US Congress passed the Hopi and Navajo Resettlement Act. Supposedly intended to resolve a dispute between the Navajo and Hopi nations, the actual intent was to force tens of thousands of Navajo — Dineh — people to move to another part of the reservation, in order to make way for the expansion of the biggest coal mine in the US. The mine was using millions of gallons of water per day from a desert aquifer in order to slurry coal hundreds of miles, so that it could power the Mojave Generating Station, which gives power to Las Vegas. The use of all this water was depleting all the drinking water for people and sheep alike, but many of the Dineh people who had been herding sheep there since time immemorial refused to leave their ancestral lands. The Hopi authorities stopped repairing the roads and constantly harassed those resisting relocation, known largely to locals as the Grandmothers. Only a handful of holdouts remain in the parched lands of the Big Mountain area today. Those who were relocated to the Church Rock area were exposed to radiation from a uranium mining accident. Their sheep died from drinking the water. Eighteen percent of households on the Dineh reservation have electricity. God bless America.
In December, 1992, German artist Gunter Demnig laid his first Stumbling Stone in front of Cologne’s historic town hall. In the wake of German reunification there was a rise in xenophobic violence in some parts of Germany. There was also a mobilization of many parts of German society towards opposing the xenophobes in various ways. The popular education/public art project initiated in Cologne spread throughout Germany and outside of the country as well. Each Stolperstein (Stumbling Stone) marks a place where someone lived before they were deported to a concentration camp. It says their name, where they were sent to, and when they died. Unlike so many other countries with imperial pasts (and presents), Germans tend to remember theirs. Gunter Demnig is only one of many people in Germany who makes sure they do.
“Song for Basra”
On December 16th, 1998, Operation Desert Fox began. This massive bombing campaign directed by President Bill Clinton’s administration devastated much of Iraq’s infrastructure, which had already been severely weakened by years of UN sanctions and intermittent bombings conducted by the US Air Force since the initial bombing campaign in early 1991.
“Morning at Minnehaha”
On December 20th, 1998, the biggest police action in Minnesota history to date occurred, in the middle of the night. Eight hundred cops showed up to evict the residents of what had become known as the Minnehaha Free State in Minneapolis. The raid was timed for a cold winter night just before Christmas. Houses set for demolition to make way for an expanded highway that had been occupied for months were, the police thought, likely to have fewer people in them so close to Christmas. The occupants were arrested and the houses destroyed.
On December 12th, 2000 — after over a month of uncertainty about who the next president of the US was going to be — the US Supreme Court selected George W Bush president. Without some very suspicious voting practices in Florida, Bush would have lost the state, and Gore would have been president. But the Supreme Court somewhat inexplicably chose to ignore that fact.
“The Village Where Nothing Happened”
In December, 2001, the village of Kama Ado, Afghanistan was destroyed by the US Air Force. 115 people were killed — men, women, children. They were just getting up in the morning to start the day. No terrorists were killed there, but soon some were born.
On December 26th, 2004, a massive tsunami killed over a hundred thousand people, mostly in different parts of Asia, especially Aceh in Indonesia. Once known mainly for an independence movement, Aceh was now known as a place destroyed.
“Drink of the Death Squads”
On December 8th, 2005, New York University banned Coca-Cola sales from the campus. The administration was bowing to student groups who were campaigning to ban the drink on the grounds that the corporation supported death squads in Colombia who were responsible for killing union organizers, among other crimes.
On December 16th, 2009, Jeff Luers was released from prison in Oregon. He had served nine years of a much longer sentence, for taking direct action against climate change, through the less-than-conventional means of setting gas-guzzling SUVs alight at an SUV dealership. Although people frequently get only a few years in prison for burning down someone’s home (if the arsonists are ever caught), if the property destruction is politically-motivated the prison sentences are generally many times higher, as was certainly the case with Jeff Luers.
“When the Shooting Ended”
On December 14th, 2012, a young man went into his local elementary school in the Sandy Hook neighborhood of Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 people, including twenty small children. It was only one of many similar massacres in the United States that year, and every other year since then.
“God’s Gift to the Caliphate”
On December 7th, 2015, presidential candidate Donald Trump announced that under his administration Muslims would be banned from immigrating to the United States. After that, he started appearing in more Islamic State recruitment videos, naturally enough.
On December 14th, 2015, a young circus performer named Mohammed Abu Sakha was arrested at a checkpoint outside Ramallah by Israeli soldiers. He was a passenger in a van, on his way to a concert. Without being charged with any crime, he was held in detention in Israel for nine month and then released. This happens to thousands of Palestinians every year, including children.
“One Day in Kenya”
On December 21st, 2015, Muslim bus passengers on the Kenya/Somalia border risked their own lives to save Christian passengers from being massacred. Coming only two weeks after Trump’s announcement about the Muslim ban that his presidency would feature, the event seemed especially significant. It was also representative of the way religious minorities have mostly been treated in Muslim-majority societies for most of the existence of the Muslim religion — with respect. A starkly different history from the way religious minorities have been treated in Europe and in European settler societies such as the United States during the same (pre-WWI Ottoman) period.