I mean the title in both ways–1) Fuck This Day Wherein Christopher Columbus is Celebrated and 2) It’s a suggestion for a new holiday–A Day Where Instead of Celebrating Him, We Say FUCK COLUMBUS.
As American Indian activist and scholar Ward Churchill says in his talks, recorded on his seminal 2-disc CD “In a Pig’s [please excuse the speciesist language] Eye: Reflections on the Police State, Repression, and Native America” (click HERE to learn more/buy from its publisher, AK Press):
…on that day…on the 12th of October, 1492, when a lost Italian seaman, flying the flag of Spain, washed up on a beach in the Carribean, half a world away from where he thought he was, and got himself known as “The Great Navigator.” Yeah.
You can actually listen to the amazing, inspiring, incredibly informative talk by Ward Churchill in several parts on YouTube HERE!
Columbus was the real savage: he tortured native peoples to try to convert them to Christianity, he enslaved them, he murdered them, and he raped native women. So this country proudly celebrates a TORTURER, ENSLAVER, RAPIST, AND MURDERER of innocent, peaceful native peoples. What the FUCK is wrong with this culture??
Oh yeah–this culture is sociopathological. Look at the people we celebrate and elevate to hero and even near-deity status. It’s not just Columbus, not by a long shot. Take our your purse or wallet and look at your different denominations of cash (if you have any in this economy!); the 1-dollar-bill, George Washington: slave owner, American Indian butcher–a number of tribes helped the American colonists in their fight against the British in the Revolution, and then after the dust settled Washington ordered those tribes be destroyed for supposedly aiding the British! He owned slaves his entire life, and when the U.S. capital was in Philadelphia, he exploited a loophole to keep his slaves when normally they’d be freed after 6 months of living there. He also signed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, which was one of the most horrendous laws ever put on the books for slaves; it gave southern slaveowners the right to capture and bring back south “their” slaves even if those individuals were able to escape to and settle in “free” northern states.
Now take out your 5-dollar-bill. That’s right, even “Honest Abe” has some answering to do for his legacy. He didn’t care about freeing slaves; his concern was with preserving the Union. “The Great Emancipator”–my great asshole! Granted, he did claim to be morally and politically opposed to slavery, and never owned slaves, BUT–and this is a big deal–he repeatedly said that he had *no intention or desire to free the slaves in southern states.* Lincoln said–and this is a direct quote: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.”
In the interest of brevity, we’ll skip ahead and finish up with that elusive 20-dollar-bill. Andrew Jackson is probably the worst of the lot. He owned a vast (over 1,000 acres eventually) plantation that was mostly cotton, worked by slaves; estimates vary, but in all likelihood he owned several hundred at some point in his life. He also initiated the cultural and physical genocide of American Indians by displacing them from their native lands (think Trail of Tears), stealing literally tens of millions of acres from them, forcing them ever westward to make way for white settlers.
These are the motherfuckers we CELEBRATE? This is truly equivalent to Germany having a “Hitler Day” which is a national holiday where we’re all supposed to laud him as the “Great Conquerer” or something, with statues of him erected all over the country. This country is INSANE. Because it’s a part of the dominant culture, industrial civilization, which is killing the planet and wiping out vast, unfathomable numbers of nonhuman species and human indigenous cultures. It must be stopped.
And Columbus Day is a symbol of that insanity, that sociopathology. So join me in screaming from the rooftops, FUCK COLUMBUS DAY!!!!!
Don’t just be mad about the Trayvon Martin verdict. Be mad about the totality of America’s creeping techno-fascist police state and its non-creeping (i.e. Been here forever), institutionalized, normalized-to-the-point-where-most-people-(especially whites)-don’t-even-notice-it Racism.
Did you know that America, 2013 America, the “land of the free,” imprisons more blacks than apartheid South Africa? I got snagged in the net of the prison-industrial complex in Illinois, where blacks constitute 13 percent of the total population but 76 PERCENT of the prison population. Every single person at the prison was forced to have a job. The average “pay” was about $0.25 an hour. You read that right—twenty-five (25) cents an hour. This is so close to slavery that it might as well just be called slavery. And there are some three million Americans in prison or on some form of parole/probation. There are Black Panthers still locked up for crimes most of them didn’t even commit. Think Mumia Abu-Jamal. Think the MOVE 9. Geronimo Pratt was framed by the FBI for murder, and it took 25 years for him to be exonerated and released. Can you imagine even spending a single year in prison for a crime you didn’t commit, let alone 25 of them?
If you are white, ask a black friend (if you have any) what it’s like to take a walk in an even just moderately decent white neighborhood. Or what it’s like to go shopping. Or what they feel when they see a cop car.
And please, please remember that while we’re all getting so outraged about George Zimmerman (I’m outraged too, don’t get me wrong), the U.S. government and its military is dropping bombs on and machine-gunning innocent people of color, murdering them by the hundreds of thousands, and have been doing so with only short intervals of cessation since the country’s very inception.
Demand justice for Trayvon Martin. But if we get it, don’t stop there. It is not a matter of isolated incidents, of “accidents” by police officers and the military. It is a basic function of the dominant culture. It is a fundamental characteristic of industrial civilization, which is, as Derrick Jensen perfectly and pithily states, “based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence” (Endgame, Volumes 1 and 2, Premises).
We are not living in a broken System that can be reformed and fixed. This System (i.e. industrial civilization) we are living with is, rather, a gangrenous limb, the toxic and murderous nature of which is spreading; you don’t try to put a Band-aid on a gangrenous rotting limb, you don’t try to put makeup on the thing to make it appear slightly less ghastly; you cut the fucker off. You stop it from killing the entire organism—in other words, from killing the life-support systems of the Earth, which we depend on for our very survival, as do millions of other species of animals (of which we are just one, and no better than any other—far far worse, in fact). Don’t just demand that George Zimmerman be held accountable. Demand that our entire culture be held accountable for its Racism, Sexism, Violence, Anthropocentrism, and Wanton Destruction of the Natural World.
And then act accordingly.
In honor of the DOMA and all the Pride awareness and celebration going on, I’m reposting this very important blog piece I wrote last year; it also happens to be my most-viewed post ever. Note: the 43-years-ago-today thing does not apply to now but rather to when this was originally posted.
This post is dedicated to, and about, the brave women and men who, 43 years ago today, said Enough is enough. Who persevered through what must’ve been terrible fear, who stood up to their oppressors and FOUGHT BACK. They are the reason that Gay Pride Parades are held throughout the country around this time; they helped spawn the modern gay rights’ movement. And they are a shining example of how pacifism is not always enough–it’s just a tool, like any other in the toolbox. Sometimes we have to fight back, turn the aggressors’ violence back on them and see how they like it, with all the fierce burning rage of the abused, the oppressed and repressed. And sometimes we have to fight in the place of those who can’t fight for themselves.
In the early morning hours of June 28th, 1969, New York Police Officers were yet again…
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FANTASTIC interview with Animal Liberation Front arsonist, political prisoner and green anarchist Walter Bond.
“…we will have to not only get rid of the road we are on, but also get rid of the road.”
“No machine is morally neutral when it’s sole design and intent is to eviscerate, vivisect, slash cut and transport the splintered, destroyed and devastated remains of the biosphere! The technologies we use to heal the sick and, lessen pain and suffering and generally make the human world a more comfortable place are scant in comparison to the damage done.”
Punk bands tour the world singing anthems that promote militant direct action & activism, putting out albums with flaming Molotovs emblazoned across their covers, with militant messages; but few of us ever truly put those words into action. Walter Bond on the other hand has spent decades working tirelessly, whether leafleting at shows and in the streets, tabling at Pride events, protesting, or volunteering at animal sanctuaries before finally turning to the more militant tactics of the Animal Liberation Front. Walter is a proud anarchist, Vegan, of Latino heritage, who identifies as bisexual. He also is currently a prisoner in one of the most controversial and restrictive prisons in the USA today.
I have been writing to Walter in prison since he was first arrested 2 years ago, after his brother snitched him out. At the time of his arrest, Walter…
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Yes, you read that right. But before you dismiss or despise me, at least read my argument—it is an important one.
Christopher Dorner claimed in his Manifesto that the Los Angeles Police Department has only gotten worse since the days of Rodney King. He said he was fired from the LAPD for reporting his partner after the cop kicked a mentally ill individual three times in the chest and face during an arrest, which Dorner reported as Excessive Force. Given the well-known brutality and thugishness of police in general and the LAPD in particular, this is a highly believable claim. If Rodney King and countless other examples have taught us anything, it’s that cops protect their own, and Dorner broke that golden rule by reporting his fellow officer.
To be honest, in the last couple weeks I’ve been far more scared of the police than of Dorner; in Torrance, LAPD officers opened fire on a vehicle without warning and without identifying themselves—it turned out to be a 71-year-old Hispanic woman (who was shot in the back, but thankfully survived) and her daughter, delivering newspapers. Another vehicle in the area was also fired upon, also a case of “mistaken identity,” as the police called it.
There has been a huge element of shock and utter disbelief at Dorner’s thoughts and actions of the past couple weeks. A “rampaging madman” who captivated the nation’s attention. Yet Christopher Dorner is no surprise whatsoever to me. What I’m really surprised by is that he didn’t kill more people. With all his police and military training (he was a skilled sharpshooter), his “spree” only left three dead bodies, far, far fewer than Sandy Hook (28 dead) or the Aurora movie theater shooting (12 dead). And the sad difference is that at least Dorner was trying to ruin the lives of those he saw as deserving of this violence.
So no, Christopher Dorner is neither a surprise nor the real enemy. The enemy is, in part, the U.S. military, which trains people how best to murder other human beings and countenances collateral damage (a concept, by the way, that Timothy McVeigh said he learned from the military, so how could they rightfully condemn him?). The enemy is, in part, our society of violence and repression in the form of armed thugs who literally get away with murder—namely, police officers. Ultimately, at the heart of everything, the enemy is INDUSTRIAL CIVILIZATION, which literally drives people insane. Slaving our lives away at meaningless, unfulfilling jobs we despise. Knowing those in power don’t give a fuck about our health or welfare. Having to pay money just to exist on the planet (i.e. rent and food). Forced to breathe and eat and drink poisons in our air, food and water. Seeing our loved ones and ourselves become sick and debilitated and dead from the toxic environment and dangerous workplaces. Being removed from anything resembling a natural human existence, out of touch and out of harmony with natural communities, with the planet that gives us life. Watching the natural world being murdered, along with countless innocent people—sorry, unfortunate casualties of collateral damage. No WONDER people lose their shit and go on killing sprees! I’m shocked it doesn’t happen even more often than it already does in this sick, gun-crazy, violent country filled with zombified drones.
If we want to prevent things like Dorner’s killings and Sandy Hook and Aurora and Virginia Tech, etcetera ad infinitum, the answer is simple: We have to destroy the diseased culture that directly, manifestly (if your eyes are open and your brain works semi-well) produces such monstrous occurrences. We have to dismantle industrial civilization before it finishes killing off the majority of life on our only planet. It is a moral imperative if we care about nonhuman animals, it is a moral imperative if we care about children, it is a moral imperative if we care about ourselves. Christopher Dorner and those who have done similar things are not a disease—they are mere symptoms of one.
For the best, most thought-out and potentially effective ideas for ways to dismantle industry, check out Deep Green Resistance’s Decisive Ecological Warfare.
It is a joyous occasion any time a political prisoner completes her or his stint behind the wall. Congratulations to Daniel and his family and friends on his semi-freedom (he has to complete his last 6 months in a halfway house, but the worst is over).
Here is the full, Oscar-nominated documentary about Daniel and the ELF, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front:
Also, a phenomenal read about Operation Backfire, the government’s multi-level, monumentally expensive and time-consuming roundup and suppression of ELF activists, an artcile which I cannot more highly recommend, originally published by CrimethInc. in their magazine Rolling Thunder (Issue #5) and turned into a pamphlet by the Civil Liberties Defense Center:
Written by me, Jan Smitowicz, and simul-posted with Negotiation is Over!
It was the summer of 2007 and things were getting hot in the Los Angeles animal rights world. At the end of June, an incendiary device was left under the posh BMW of a UCLA primate vivisector, Arthur Rosenbaum. It failed to ignite; even so, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was offering a $110,000 reward to any information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. A reward of $60,000 (UCLA contributed $30,000 to each of the reward offers) was still being offered for a similar incident from the prior summer, when an incendiary device was left on the porch of a different UCLA primate torturer, Lynn Fairbanks. The FBI claimed the device—which also failed to ignite—was left on the wrong porch, that of an elderly neighbor. How bad that looks for the radical(s) who performed the action, right? I’m confident it’s a complete fabrication by the FBI–it wouldn’t be the first time (see COINTELPRO).
During World Week for Laboratory Animals in April of 2007, a federal agent was putzing around trying to hand out fliers to activists at UCLA about the incident and the reward money. Most of us didn’t even take the fliers. We don’t know shit, leave us alone! We were pretty fresh off a relatively short but intense—and successful!—campaign against the POM Wonderful juice company. Southern California activists performed frequent and noisy home demonstrations against the corporation’s CEOs and various executives. POM was funding animal research on rabbits and baby mice (which included depriving the latter of oxygen for 45 minutes to induce severe brain damage) to try and show how their juice could help with erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer’s.
I was president of Irvine Students Against Animal Cruelty (ISAAC) at UC Irvine, but I cut my home demo teeth on this campaign. Vice President and company spokesperson Fiona Possell resigned from the company, citing pressure from animal rights groups (that was us!) It was at her classy home in Santa Monica during a home demonstration that a neighbor punched a female protestor in the face—police were nearby, and it was caught on camera, but nothing was done. No surprise there, as the police exist largely to enforce the status quo and protect the rich and powerful members of the dominant culture. In addition to our protests, the Animal Rights Militia (ARM) claimed in December 2006 to have tampered with several hundred bottles of POM Wonderful’s pomegranate juice on the East Coast, and that anybody who drank one of the contaminated bottles would get diarrhea and vomiting. The communique stated, in part,
“If people who want to hold a sign and shout to get out the truth about what’s happening inside places that confine and inflict pain and cruelty on animals are being thrown in jail and harassed by the government, we will fight that much harder from the underground, where it’s safer than holding a sign and yelling the truth” [emphasis added].
Whole Foods pulled ALL POM Wonderful from their shelves; on January 16, they announced that they would cease selling the juice at all of their stores nationwide starting April 1. The very next day, the company announced that they would cease all animal testing. This campaign is a perfect, quintessential example of how aboveground, legal tactics and illegal sabotage can work beautifully in concert, even when there is an absolute firewall between the two—no connection, no crossover in knowledge or personnel. But that’s not what this essay is about.
This essay is about one particular day of demonstrations around Los Angeles. I merely discussed the aforementioned to set the scene, to show the level of intensity and police interest and intimidation against our aboveground, legal, (supposedly) constitutionally-protected free speech. Whenever underground actions happen, the authorities get so frustrated because they are almost pathologically incapable of catching saboteurs. So they come after those who are doing legal activism, so they can at least suppress something! Several houses of activists had recently been raided in the LA-area. Because of this and other repressive measures by the police, the organizers of this day of demonstrations decided that we would do it Black-Bloc style—wearing all black clothes and using bandanas or masks to cover our faces. This served a dual purpose: to hide our identities from the blueballed cops, and to display our solidarity with the faceless, nameless animals being tortured and killed for profit and nothing more.
We met in the late morning at a park-and-ride lot off Mulholland Drive in North Hollywood, right next to the 405 Freeway. As we were milling around waiting for everyone to arrive and figure out carpool logistics, one of the activists pointed across the massive ten-lane Highway to another parking lot: there was a guy in a pickup truck, staring at us through binoculars. An undercover cop or investigator. “Looks like the heat is already here,” somebody commented. We had no idea just how hot it would get.
The first demonstration was a short and relatively bullshit-free one at the Westwood home and neighborhood of a UCLA vivisector. Then we moved on to the apartment building of the head of Los Angeles Animal “Services,” the umbrella for all animal shelters in the county—which euthanized approximately 50,000 dogs and cats and other companion animals a year (and then sold their corpses to rendering plants, which boiled them up and sold the fatty gunk to factory farms for cows and chickens and others to eat—if you eat animal corpses, you literally could be eating someone who ate your dear euthanized companion animal—puppies on your plate). There were a few cop cars at the demo, but it was still relatively quiet. Then the LA Sheriff’s Department helicopter showed up and hovered way up overhead, watching us. A fucking police helicopter, for about fifteen (15) activists! We headed for Santa Monica, our last destination for the day, and that’s when it started to get really crazy. Each of the four carloads of demonstrators by now had an undercover tail, probably hired by UCLA. The police chopper was also following us across the sprawling city. One of the cars was pulled over leaving the demo and Coby, then about 82 years old, was given a ticket for not wearing her seatbelt (it was broken, she couldn’t wear it). They were detained, held up for nearly an hour, thereby eliminating their ability to attend the final protest.
Me and the rest of our carload were getting pretty goddamned annoyed at being followed, so we decided to try and shake the bastard. We blasted through red lights, screeched around corners, zipped down alleys, parked and hid in a driveway. Thought we lost him. We waited for five minutes and then emerged from the alley, only to find him right there waiting for us. Shit!
When we arrived at UCLA primate torturer Arthur Rosenbaum’s lovely blood-money house in Santa Monica, the scene literally took our breath away. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. His entire block was barricaded off on both ends. There was an entire line of cops in full riot gear—helmets, padding, batons—stretching across his entire front yard. Cop cars everywhere. Helicopter chopping the sky overhead. Two big city buses were parked at the end of the street; they were empty, and I don’t know if they brought the cops, or if they were there to hustle us all off to prison. Because believe me when I tell you they really, REALLY wanted to arrest us. To say the cops had hard-ons for us doesn’t even begin to describe it. Clusters of them on every corner and at each barricade. Lines of them surrounding his house. It looked like a fucking war zone, but no—just an animal abuser’s house in Santa Monica on a pleasant, warm Sunday afternoon! I counted over sixty police officers, and that was just the ones in uniform. Sixty-plus cops—for twelve activists. More than five cops for every one nonviolent, peaceful protestor. Good to know our tax dollars are being well spent to repress legitimate dissent, eh?!
They had the decibel-measuring machine ready and waiting already. We’d previously been harassed and repressed and arrested for “exceeding the allowable decibel level,” an old, obscure city law they either dug up or created just for us. They said if we exceeded 40 decibels we’d be arrested. Do you know what 40 decibels sounds like?? You’re reading this in your head, you’re almost exceeding 40 fucking decibels. 30 is a whisper, so 40 is a soft chat. We’re supposed to be allowed freedom of speech and assembly and protest, but we couldn’t even chant! So fuck it—when the heat is on, you adapt and overcome. We mutually agreed, all 12 of us, to do a silent protest, thereby eliminating their ability to arrest us (on THAT charge, anyway!). We had to be extremely careful, because they yearned tragically to arrest each and every one of us. As we began marching in step down the street with our signs, the cop with the sound measurer was literally holding the apparatus toward us, hoping the shuffling of our feet would exceed 40 decibels so they could throw us down and brutalize and arrest us. It was so utterly insane and surreal—indescribably so.
We walked up and down Rosenbaum’s block, single-file, keeping close together for at least the psychological illusion of safety and protection. An activist was ticketed by the cops for handing out fliers to neighbors because the fliers didn’t have the group’s address on it, or some ridiculous shit. Every so often we would stop and raise our fists in unison, not uttering a sound. We educated the killer’s neighbors. One of them came out of her house and walked alongside us, across the street, for a solid ten minutes, clapping and thanking us for being there, telling her neighbors that it was beautiful that we were there for the animals. Bless her heart!
When we’d get to the front of Rosenbaum’s house, where the line of riot cops stood holding their batons and trying to intimidate us like the terrorists they are, we adopted a new tactic: the entire length of his house, we stood in line facing the cops and slowly shuffle-stepped sideways, staring into their eyes through the plastic of their protective shields—our eyes, the only parts of our faces visible above our bandanas. When our line was fully in front of the house, just feet from the cops, we’d stop and throw up our fists and whisper together, “ANIMAL LIBERATION!” I looked into their eyes and whispered things like, “Do you know who you’re protecting? Do you know what this man does to nonhuman primates?”
And so it was that we spent an hour there, educating the neighbors, inconveniencing Arthur Rosenbaum (who was home—we’d see him or his family or friends peer through the curtains); I like to think that 60-70 cops and a blocked-off street and a dozen riot-gear-clad filth was far more annoying and scary than we could’ve ever been with just a normal, noisy protest! We also probably cost the county several hundred thousand dollars that day. With only about a dozen of us! Legal economic sabotage, if you will. It seems like it would be hard for the cities and the county to justify ever again spending that kind of money on a small cadre of nonviolent, legal protestors. I find it unbelievable that not a single one of us was arrested, given how badly they wanted to, and how easy it would’ve been for them to just do it and fabricate a reason, and how much money and person-power they were spending on us. That alone is an amazing victory for us. I’m proud of my fellow activists that day for not backing down from the inferno of heat that surrounded us. When that kind of repression comes down, it is a clear message from those in power that we are being effective. That is the time not to back down, but to INCREASE the pressure on abusers.
As activists for compassion in the thrashing endgame of industrial civilization, to use a phrase of Derrick Jensen’s, it will become ever more important for us to constantly reevaluate our tactics and our targets and our focus, to constantly be open to adaptation in the face of repression. Obviously we wanted to have a loud rowdy demonstration, but we couldn’t—so we overcame the heat and found a way to be effective nonetheless. The repression is only going to increase (see, for example, everything that people like Camille Marino, Tim DeChristopher, Rod Coronado, Chris Lagergren and so many others have gone through or are going through.)
Let this one day and the climate surrounding it be a lesson to all who see the Holocaust of animals and the Earth and aren’t content to be “Good Germans” and let it happen without resisting. Adapt. Overcome. For the animals, for the Earth, FOR THE LIBERATION OF ALL!