March

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“1492”

The armies of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella succeeded in conquering the Muslim kingdoms and uniting all of Spain as a sovereign monarchy under Catholic rule for the first time in March of 1492.  The first thing the new rulers did was announce that the Spanish Jews (Sephardic Jews, or Sephardim) had three months to leave Spain or they’d be killed.  Jews quickly began making plans to get out quick, selling their belongings at rock-bottom prices, and then often being killed and dissected anyway by God-fearing Christian Spaniards who believed the rumors that the Jews were swallowing gold.  Most of those who did manage to escape with their lives were rescued — by a Muslim-led Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II.  So many Ottoman ships were sent to go rescue the Jews that when “Christopher Columbus” left the Mediterranean, he had to take alternate shipping routes, since all of the main shipping routes were totally clogged with Ottoman vessels.

“Stock Exchange”

The prosperous, relatively egalitarian nature of Danish society over most of the past century was not always so.  During the First World War, Denmark was neutral, which meant Danish capitalists made a lot of money from selling stuff to all sides of that horrifically bloody conflict.  The capitalists got very rich, but much of Danish society was very poor.  One of the events that began to seriously challenge that reality was the march of thousands of syndicalists from Folkets Huset (where the plans were hatched) to the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, which the marching workers took control of for a day in March, 1918.

“Berlin”

In 1937, when the Luftwaffe bombed Guernica, leaders like Winston Churchill pretended to be horrified by the prospect of civilians being killed like this.  This was, of course, the same Winston Churchill who had advocated using poison gas against striking miners in Wales not long before.  In any case, it wasn’t long before the British and US were committing exactly the same sorts of atrocities against urban civilian populations throughout Germany and Japan, except on a more massive scale.  On March 3rd, 1944, Allied bombing of the city of Berlin killed an estimated 50,000 people — mostly women and children.  Because these sorts of massive bombing raids were carried out by the Allies, such acts were not considered war crimes in the Nuremberg Tribunal, which was only interested in punishing the war crimes of one side of the conflict (which were also very abundant).

“Song for Hugh Thompson”

For a nation founded on the inalienable right of colonists to exterminate the indigenous population, it should come as no surprise that the nature of US imperialism has often come down to committing or sponsoring genocide.  The US war on the civilian populations of Korea and Vietnam was genocidal in nature.  The massacre of almost every man, woman and child in the Vietnamese village of My Lai on March 16th, 1968 was only one of many indications that the US was engaging systematically in a “kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out” policy of wholesale extermination, which very much included women, children, babies (yes, babies) and the elderly.  The bodycount system the US Army relied on strongly encouraged such massacres, as a matter of policy — exactly as the money-for-scalps policy during the colonial period in North America strongly encouraged massacres of Indians of all ages, again as a matter of policy.  The reason we know about the My Lai massacre, unlike so many others, is because of the heroic actions of a helicopter pilot named Hugh Thompson, who, along with soldiers under his command, saved the last remaining women and children huddled together that US soldiers were about to kill with a grenade.

“East Kilbride”

In March of 1974, jet engines arrived at the Rolls Royce jet engine factory in East Kilbride, Scotland for necessary maintenance and repairs.  With such specialized machinery as Rolls Royce jet engines, there is only one place on the planet where they have the skills and equipment necessary for this sort of thing.  The union workers doing the work saw where these latest crates had come from — Chile.  Like so many other people around the world, they had also seen TV footage the previous September of Chilean Air Force jets bombing the presidential palace of Salvador Allende in the course of the CIA-backed coup d’etat led by General Augusto Pinochet that overthrew Allende’s immensely popular, democratically-elected, socialist government.  They made the connection, and they refused to repair the engines.  Only decades later would it be revealed that as a result of the actions of these workers — backed as they were by the entire British labor movement — for a while, every fighter jet in the Chilean Air Force was inoperable.

“Land Day”

On March 30th, 1976, there was a massacre of Palestinians who were protesting against a new round of land theft the Israeli state was illegally engaged in.  Starting on the anniversary of this massacre in 2018, Palestinians gathered on the Gaza/Israel border to once again protest against ongoing Israeli land theft and systematic deprivation imposed on the Palestinians of food, medicine, water and other basic necessities.  The Israeli response has been more massacres of Palestinians civilians, sometimes on a daily basis.  The predominant response of the so-called “civilized world” has been silence.

“The Biggest Windmill”

In March, 1978, the biggest windmill ever built went online and successfully began providing power for the Tvind school in the town of Ulfborg, Denmark.  The windmill was not only the biggest industrial-scale windmill ever built, but it was built collectively by a group of hundreds of teenagers and adults, with a hundred thousand others coming to check in on their progress and assist here and there along the way.  The project took three years to complete.  When it was done, the windmill-builders gave away the design for anyone to use as they wish, rather than patenting the technology.  The Danish windmill companies such as Vestas did not make any improvements on the original design for years.  Tvindkraft, as the windmill was known, became the open source model for windmills around the world.  And rather than investing in nuclear power, as the Danish parliament had been considering, Denmark instead invested in wind energy.  Another example of how creative, mass nonviolent direct action can be so effective.

“Good Kurds, Bad Kurds”

The obscenely wealthy little misogynistic dictatorship known as Kuwait had been “liberated” by US troops, with Saddam Hussein’s army being massacred from above as they fled the sheikdom.  Although the US and UK were enforcing a “no fly zone” above the skies of much of Iraq, this did not apply to helicopter gunships, which is what Saddam primarily employed to drown the Shia and Kurdish uprisings in the south and north of Iraq in blood.  The helicopter-led slaughter of the participants of these rebellions occurred mainly during the month of March, 1991.  For the Kurds of Iraq and the rest of Kurdistan, it has always been impossible to know whether they are currently in the good graces of the various western imperialist powers, because it always depends on the time of day, the mood of whichever clown occupies the White House, and whether we’re talking about Iraqi Kurds, Turkish Kurds or Syrian Kurds.

“Wal-Mart”

In March of 1992, US President George HW Bush presented Sam Walton with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Sam and his various family members are each some of the world’s richest people.  They got that way by opening their Wal-Mart stores outside of every city in the US, systematically strangling and killing town centers everywhere, replacing them with sprawling, one-story “big box” stores like theirs, with endless, black parking lots surrounding them like asphalt moats.  Within this completely alienating physical infrastructure, Sam Walton pioneered the art of getting even lower prices out of manufacturers who were already paying their workers starvation wages to make inferior plastic products, and then selling them at prices that eliminated almost all of the competition.  Sam Walton monocropped the entire society and destroyed the lives of millions of people who used to eke out a living at their shitty jobs, but now have to live in their cars.  On the bright side, however, all those people living in their cars are allowed to camp out in any Wal-Mart parking lot they want to.

“The Death of Rachel Corrie”

On March 16th, 2003, a young woman named Rachel Corrie was killed in Gaza.  She was dressed in a bright orange vest, trying to prevent the home of a local doctor from being demolished by an immense armored bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier.  She would become one of several people from other countries killed for their efforts to show nonviolent solidarity with the Palestinian people — and one of many thousands of people killed altogether for their efforts to resist a brutal occupation.  Efforts which have overwhelmingly been either totally nonviolent, or involving the completely symbolic violence of a stone thrown at a tank, which is naturally intended to evoke David and Goliath imagery.  Although Rachel Corrie is known and loved throughout the Palestinian diaspora and by all the major political factions in the occupied Palestinian territories, in her own country her death received little attention and caused no official rebuke to Israel.

“Operation Iraqi Liberation”

On March 19th, 2003, just over a month after thirteen million people around the world protested against the impending war, the latest round of total destruction of Iraq via aerial bombardment by the most powerful country in the history of humanity began anew.  Unbelievably, the war would initially be named Operation Iraqi Liberation in initial news reports, until someone realized this spelled “oil,” and they then changed it to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“No One Is Illegal”

In March of 2006 a half million people would protest in Chicago against new plans in Congress to further criminalize those without papers.  In the following several weeks there would be a series of some of the biggest protests ever seen in the US, including another half million in Dallas, Texas and many other major cities across the country, especially ones with large Latino populations.  I sang at one such rally in Houston, which was held on a Monday, but still attracted an estimated 50,000 people.

“Ungdomshuset’s Microphone”

When the Danish syndicalists marched to go take over the Stock Exchange, the march left from Folkets Huset, the House of the People, located at 69 Jagtvej in the Norrebro district of Copenhagen.  Generations later, the same building, by then in disrepair, would be squatted and renamed Ungdomshuset — the House of Youth.  It became a vibrant punk rock social center where lots of organizing, music and drinking took place, among other activities.  There was always tension to varying degrees between the largely anarchist and socialist youth and the authorities.  When the building was officially purchased by a rightwing Christian sect called Faderhuset — House of the Father — the government facilitated the transfer of the building by filling it with tear gas and essentially smoking out and arresting the occupants.  Rather than do anything with the building which was raided in March of 2007, Faderhuset had it destroyed.  The ground on which the old Ungdomshuset once stood remains vacant to this day, but after over a year of constant protests and lots of publicity, the city of Copenhagen eventually gave in to the demands of the movement that grew up in the wake of the destruction of the building and gave the kids another, comparable building, where lots of organizing, music and drinking now takes place today.

“TPP 101”

The first TPP negotiations began in Melbourne, Australia in March, 2010.  The World Trade Organization became the main body through with trade disputes between countries were resolved by the turn of the 21st century.  But certain elements of the global elites found the WTO procedures to be overly democratic in nature.  So the transnational corporations and their political servants began a new project, actually two new projects, one for the Pacific and one for the Atlantic.  The Pacific one, which got more publicity, was known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.  Trump didn’t like it, though to my knowledge he never really explained why, so it’s currently dead in the water.  Most people who believe in labor rights, the environment, democracy and things like that didn’t like it either, but we suspect our reasons aren’t the same as Trump’s.

“Minami Sanriku”

On March 11th, 2011, an earthquake produced a tsunami which devastated large parts of Japan, killing tens of thousands of people.  Some towns, such as Minami Sanriku, were completely destroyed, washed to sea.  In many towns, whether people survived or not depended largely on what elevation they were at when the tsunami hit.  Another devastating consequence of the tsunami was the multiple nuclear meltdowns that occurred days later in Fukushima Prefecture.

“Mudslide”

On March 22nd, 2014, a mudslide claimed the lives of scores of people and houses in the village of Oso, Washington.  The land was so prone to such events due to decades of excessive logging and forestry practices that did not take into account the nature of the soil in the region.  Scientists had warned this could happen, and nothing was done by the authorities to relocate residents who were liable to be killed.  And then they were.

“Anthony Hill”

On March 9th, 2015, a young man named Anthony Hill became one more in an endless litany of African-American victims of senseless police violence.  Anthony’s case was especially notable because although he was behaving strangely and having mental health issues, he was clearly unarmed.  The fact that he was unarmed was made abundantly apparent by the fact that Anthony Hill was completely naked when he was shot and killed by a Georgia cop.

“If You Bomb Somebody”

On March 22nd, 2016 there were bombings at the airport and at a busy, central train station in Brussels.  These bombings followed other such attacks in France, Spain, and England.  With all of these events, as with 9/11, the politicians talk about how “they hate our freedoms,” usually refusing to acknowledge the obvious fact that if you bomb somebody, unfortunately, they just might bomb you back.

“Anti-Israel Boycott Act”

In March, 2018, in an effort to make their proposed bill slightly less draconian, US senators revised the Anti-Israel Boycott Act to eliminate the imposition of a prison sentence for anyone advocating the boycott of the apartheid state of Israel.  They decided that just fining people for engaging in Constitutionally protected speech would be enough.