September

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“Henk”

On September 13th, 1944, Henk Streefkerk was killed in the city of Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, in a drive-by shooting, while standing on the sidewalk.  His death came only days before German troops were driven out of the city by the Allied advance.  Henk was a member of the antifascist resistance, and one of many who was killed only days before liberation.  In the decades since the Second World War, western European countries have generally given very little attention to the antifascist resistance that played a tremendous role in the battle against Nazi Germany.  Many people feel that the reason the resistance is often ignored is because it was usually led by communists.  But whoever led the resistance to fascism anywhere, this resistance should be remembered.  Only in 2018 is there now a sign outside the cemetery in which Henk Streefkerk is buried that indicates there is a Dutch resistance fighter buried within.

“Frieden und Freiheit”

On September 18th, 1944, former Hamburg City Councilor Franz Jacob was executed.  In the years prior to Hitler coming to power, Jacob was one of many communist members of legislatures and city councils throughout Germany.  In the bleakest hour of the the Nazi period, communists like Jacob committed themselves to doing whatever they could to undermine the regime, and to a future of peace and freedom.  He met the same fate as most of his comrades.

“Santiago”

On September 11th, 1973, a military coup was launched in Chile.  The leader of the coup, General Augusto Pinochet, was a proud fascist with CIA training, like most of his officers.  The coup followed a CIA-facilitated campaign of destabilization of the popularly-elected socialist government of Salvador Allende.  (The same sort of destabilization campaign that would see the ouster of the popularly-elected Australian government of Gough Whitlam two years later.)  In the years following the coup in Chile, thousands would be killed, thousands more tortured.

“Make It So”

On September 28th, 1987, Star Trek:  the Next Generation first aired.  Whether this is a politically significant fact or not, I don’t know, but I liked the show.

“Sometimes I Walk The Aisles”

Twenty-five workers were killed in a fire at the Tyson chicken factory in Hamlet, North Carolina on September 3rd, 1991.  All of the workers were working in deplorably dangerous conditions.  Most were Black women, with no union, no government oversight, in a “right to work” (right to starve, right to die) state with anemic state agencies, with a giant corporation in charge that evidently saw no reason to care about things like workplace safety.  Whether you call it racism, neoliberalism, capitalism, deregulation, austerity, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party or all of the above, it probably doesn’t matter — that’s what killed these workers.

“Vanunu”

On September 30th, 1991, Mordechai Vanunu was kidnapped off the streets of Rome after being lured there from England by a Mossad agent.  For blowing the whistle on Israel’s secret, massive nuclear weapons program, Vanunu would spend the next eighteen years in an Israeli prison — most of it in solitary confinement (being tortured, which is what solitary confinement is).  He has never been allowed to leave Israel since being released from prison, and he faces many other restrictions as well, if he wants to remain in the “free world.”

“The Death of David Chain”

David “Gypsy” Chain was killed on September 17th, 1998, by an ancient redwood tree that was being cut down by an enraged logger.  David and other Earth First! activists in the forest there were trying to prevent the logging operation by being present in the area of a dangerous workplace (a logging operation).  Legally, the workers are supposed to stop working, call the police, and let them come deal with the activists.  Encouraged by the management of the corporation he worked for and whatever other factors, the logger in this case threatened to get his gun as he continued to cut down the tree that crushed David Chain.

“Children of Jerusalem”

On September 28th, 2000, the war criminal responsible for the genocidal Sabra and Shatila massacres of 1982, Israeli general Ariel Sharon visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.  His troops responded to the anticipated protests by opening fire with live ammunition on children, thus setting off what became known as the Second Intifada.

“One Night in Greece”

On September 10th, 2001, a Libyan college student named Osama bit a US flag off of a flag pole from atop a yacht off the coast of Greece.  If you don’t know why someone would do this, you’ve probably never been bombed by the US Air Force and don’t have any close friends or relatives who have been, either.

“The Dying Firefighter”

On September 11th, 2001, nineteen hijackers associated with Al-Qaeda hijacked four planes and crashed them into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and — because of the heroic resistance of passengers on board who had heard of the event unfolding in New York — in rural Pennsylvania.  Thousands were killed, including wealthy bankers, poor undocumented workers, firefighters, among many others.  Conspiracy theories would abound — and continue to be propagated — by well-meaning people as well as by intelligence agencies, in order to create a smokescreen to obfuscate the glaring conspiracy, the elephant in the living room, that Al-Qaeda was a creation of the CIA in the first place.

“Promised Land”

The leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, was a very popular figure globally because he stood up to the United States.  At least until the tragic human reality sunk in, many people around the world celebrated the daring attacks of 9/11/2001 on the heart of US capitalism and US imperialism.  The nineteen men who carried out these suicide attacks were, like their leader, mostly Saudi citizens who had come to the conclusion that the US was their enemy — not just Russia, who they had fought with US arms, money and training in Afghanistan in the 1980’s.  Bin Laden made clear that his grievances with the US were centered around US support for the criminal Israeli regime, the sanctions on Iraq which were at the time killing many thousands of Iraqi children every year, and the presence of US troops on Saudi soil.

“Barbara Lee”

On September 14th, 2001, Barbara Lee became the sole member of Congress to oppose the unlimited war powers authorization that the Bush administration was seeking (and overwhelmingly received).  The Congresswoman would go on to have a very mixed record on US militarism, like most Democrats in Congress, supporting the militaristic ventures led by Democratic presidents, but opposing the ones initiated by Republican leaders.  But on September 14th, 2001, for that day she was the only voice of conscience in the entire US Congress.  Yes, that means all the other members of the Congress either voted for giving Bush unlimited powers to bomb anyone anywhere in the wake of 9/11 — which is what the vast majority of them did — or, in a few cases, they abstained.

“Hang A Flag In the Window”

In the wake of the attacks of September, 2001, the initial, natural response of people across the US was to signify their state of mourning and distress by lighting candles and putting them in their windows.  President Bush encouraged people to go shopping and fly US flags instead.

“Song for Ana Belen Montes”

Ana Belen Montes was arrested for espionage on September 20th, 2001, and ultimately sentenced to 25 years in a maximum-security prison in Texas, where she is now.  Originally from Puerto Rico, Ana married a military general, moved to Washington, DC, rose to a high post in the US Department of Defense, and was spying for Cuba the whole time.  President Obama’s brief, late efforts at “normalizing” relations with Cuba (later canceled by Trump) never included clemency for Ana.

“Pirate Radio Song”

Free Radio Santa Cruz was raided by the FCC and shut down on September 29th, 2004.  It would reopen soon afterwards.  Around that time, this sort of thing was happening all over the US.  One of the ways that the grassroots scene that was called by many names, including the anticapitalist movement, sought to challenge ownership of the radio airwaves and to spread important news, information, ideas and music at the time involved setting up a lot of pirate radio stations all over the country.  The Federal Communications Commission has armed enforcers of the law (who knew?) who come shut down such operations, confiscating transmitters and other equipment and never giving it back.

“Facebook Song”

On September 26th, 2006, Facebook became available to anyone over the age of thirteen.  It would soon grow to become the monolithic, imperial, divisive, unaccountable, addictive, occasionally useful and definitely impossible-to-ignore entity that it is today.

“Kick It While It’s Down”

On September 16th, 2008, the Global Financial Crisis that was the logical conclusion of decades of government deregulation began in earnest, with banks failing all over the place.  A bipartisan, taxpayer-funded bailout of the rich would soon follow.  The next one is coming.

“Iceland, 2008”

On September 29th, 2008, Iceland began to nationalize its banks.  Later they would start jailing their bankers, who had joined in on the corrupt feeding frenzy initiated on Wall Street, which spread to Europe and elsewhere.

“Captain Kruger is a Nazi”

On September 7th, 2010, the Portland, Oregon police review board noted that police Captain Mark Kruger did in fact appear to be a Nazi, but that this wasn’t illegal.  Although Captain Kruger has a history of violence against protesters and was found to have created an informal Nazi memorial in a neighborhood park, he has since been promoted.

“Occupy Wall Street”

Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in Manhattan, was occupied by protesters (including me) on September 17th, 2011.  It was the most wired bunch of protesters I ever saw.  I think everyone there was actively filming on various devices and posting stuff all over the web.  The protests soon spread, with Occupy encampments sprouting up in just about every city in the US and many other countries.  Over the course of the next two months, this vibrant, growing, youthful movement would be met with extreme police violence and other forms of disruptive and hostile responses, ultimately on the part of most local authorities.

“The Lives of Children”

On September 10th, 2012, Chicago teachers went on strike.  This would be one of a series of teachers’ strikes to take place across the US, where teachers’ and their unions have sought to highlight not only how badly-paid members of their profession are, but how under-resourced their classrooms and schools are.  

“Pebble Mine”

On September 16th, 2013, Anglo-American pulled out of the Pebble Mine project by Bristol Bay in Alaska, due to popular opposition.

“Five Thousand Friends on Facebook, But”

In September, 2013, a new study was published that found that the more most people use Facebook, the lonelier they get.

“Terrorist In Chief”

On September 11th, 2014, President Obama gave a speech in which he sought to justify the hitherto unprecedented number of drone strikes the US military had engaged in under his leadership.

“Upon Our Shores”

The limp body of a 3-year-old Syrian refugee named Aylan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Turkey on September 2nd, 2015.  For a time, the photo of this well-dressed, dead toddler lying face-down on the sand would galvanize public opinion in Europe and around the world in favor of taking action to help the refugees that had been created by the wars of the west in various countries (such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, which only became failed states in the wake of western intervention, not before).

“Rasmea Odeh”

On September 20th, 2017, Rasmea Odeh was deported from the US to Jordan.  Although a long-time resident of Chicago who had immigrated decades earlier, she was deported by US authorities on the basis of the word of the Israeli government, which said she was a terrorist.  Although Israel provided no evidence to back up this claim, US authorities then accused Rasmea of lying on her immigration form, and they began deportation proceedings, which were ultimately successful.