The Left Forum’s tenth annual conference was held this year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York. Left Forum describes itself as “convening “the largest annual conference of a broad spectrum of left and progressive intellectuals, activists, academics, organizations and the interested public.”
The rather enigmatic theme for Left Forum 2014 was “Reform and/or Revolution: Imagining a World of Transformative Justice,” but one heard no mention of justice for the victims of sixty-nine years of US-NATO genocide presently ongoing in a dozen Muslim nations in the Middle-East and Africa as being a reason for either “reform” or “revolution.” The entire focus of the three day event, save in a a very small number of the three-hundred-and-eighty panel/workshops, was on “reform and/or revolution” to benefit Americans in America.
For this writer, the actual theme of Left Forum 2014 seems to have been: Martin Luther King was Wrong!: Americans CAN make a better America WHILE still continuing to kill the poor overseas in spite of the cost in human and financial resources that SHALL NOT stop Americans from making progress on social and justice issues at home.
Martin Luther King Jr. said:
I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly … for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence. … Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. … I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak … for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and … in sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportion relative to the rest of the population.
A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then … I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war.
Martin Luther King cried out, “For the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence I cannot be silent!”
But Cornel West, now of New York Theological Seminary, the keynote speaker at Left Forum 2014’s Opening Plenary, and Harry Belafonte and Angela Davis, who spoke at its Feature Event, were silent on the sixty-seven years of US-NATO genocide overseas, the ongoing US-NATO slaughter of Muslims in a dozen nations in the Middle East and Africa and the covert violence around the world for “unjust predatory investments” that Rev. King condemned. Amazingly, their cries and exhortations were to fight for justice for Americans at home. Left Forum 2014 was a truly an ‘America First’ proposition.
All three most beloved African American celebrities of the Left railed against the injustices suffered by African Americans, Native Turtle Islanders, Latin Americans, and non-heterosexuals (including one supposes those returning from military duty in one or the more of the nations under military occupation or attack, and from US military bases in more than a hundred and fifty nations.)
The shouting was mainly about getting a better deal for Americans in America, Americans who King had held responsible for atrocity wars and covert genocide on three continents since 1945. Your truly was uncomfortably aware that he sat in a college gymnasium filled with knowledgeable people, who, by virtue of their anti-government stance and protests, felt themselves innocent of the massive atrocities that King held himself responsible for, along with his fellow Americans. [This editor does not accept that people who protest their government actions are responsible for the crimes of the government -- DV Ed]
Perhaps the most galling pill to swallow was the presence on stage of progressive media Democracy Now director Amy Goodman, long committed to false reporting to destroy the government and the population that supports it in Syria, having had a dedication to the destruction of beautiful, democratic and prosperous Libya and third world hero Muammar Gaddafi, and to dutiful backing of the Orange, Green and now Ukrainian “revolutions” sponsored by CNN and arranged by CIA and its many foreign branches.
I was gratified to find that quite a few panel facilitators and speakers at the three day conference were very knowledgeable and outspoken about the perfidy and treachery of Amy Goodman — and just as angry about her role in contributing to the death and maiming of so many innocent citizens by disseminating false propaganda in support of US-NATO bombings and funding of terror.
In fact, the panels I sought out were run and attended by dedicated scholars well aware of the traitorous nature of so many of those who pride themselves in being leftists and progressives critical, or even damning, of their government without realizing that not working firstly to stop the carnage of US-NATO deadly military operations and CIA’s equally deadly covert activities makes Leftists and Progressives more responsible for the genocide continuing than anyone else. For as the segment of society most informed about the horror of American actions overseas, yet refraining from referring to them as prosecutable crimes against humanity, not calling for their prosecution, and not seeking justice for America’s victims, makes such intellectuals, professors, historians and journalists accessories after the fact, even in some cases before the fact, for backhandedly protecting criminals in hindering the arrest and bringing to justice of all fellow Americans responsible.
This is not to say that the 380 panels/workshops were without value for learning, discussing and reevaluating and understanding current affairs and history. (Except for one I was unsure about titled “How To Be Your Own Amy Goodman.”) However, there were no panel/workshops on stopping the US-NATO genocide and justice for victims, save that of yours truly with Ramsey Clark scheduled to speak.
A full list of all 380 panel/workshops is found on the Left Forum 2014 website.
I had a pleasurable and learning experience in attending the following:
Journalism and Crimes Against Humanity: The Left’s Role in Neo-Liberal Imperialism – Syria, Ukraine & Libya (Joseph Calhoun, Chair – Film Maker, Webster Tarpley – Host of World Crises Radio)
Prof. Tarpely presented a powerful slide presentation documenting less considered aspects of current events, for example:
- the non-existence throughout history of a Ukrainian nation until the dissolution of the USSR, and the resulting patchwork of nationalities within an unmanageable Ukrainian state;
- Democracy Now, Code Pink, Medea Benjamin, and Michael Moore being Leftists with credentials used for CIA purposes in regard to Libya and Syria and other Anglo-America led crimes against humanity;
- a host of autocrats in history like Bismarck, made to be viewed in a harsh light, who pioneered great social improvements with Tarpley looking to possibly expecting the same from current figures painted in a harsh light, like Putin.
Tarpley found enormous significance for Europe’s future in Alexis Tsipras have positioned Syriza to win control of the Greek government at next election as a bell weather for other European nations breaking out of rule by central bankers.
Human Rights and Freedom of Speech in 15 Years of the Socialist Government of Venezuela (Gregory Wilpert, Chair, teleSUR English, Rod Stoneman, Daniel Kovalik)
Stateside union organizer Kovalik presented documentation of human rights that the lower classes in Venezuela never had previously, and vast new economic rights that are conveniently not mentioned by capitalist human rights organizations.
Irish Film Maker Rod Stoneman ran us through fascinatingly slide show of subtle examples of the manipulative effect of a single photo when chosen to totally unbalance an otherwise balanced news article and in effect incline one’s perception away from the truth, a technique used continually in the Western corporate and war investor owned media.
Greg Wilpert, of the about to be launched TeleSUR English channel, spoke convincingly of the importance of under-reported but well appreciated social, educational, economic and organizational rights in the barrios, human rights achievements which make it difficult for US-EU backed violence and overseas intervention to overthrow the Chavista revolutionary government.
I would have liked to have attended Hugo Chavez: His Legacy in Food Sovereignty and the Construction of Eco-Socialism in Venezuela (Magdeline Ureña, Chair, Bolivarian Circle Alberto Lovera, Fred Magdoff, Monthly Review, Cesar Aponte, and William Camacaro). However, it took place at the same time as the other panel on Venezuela that I attended.
I would have liked to have listened to the following panels which were held at the same time as my own panel/workshop:
Venezuela and the Corporate Mass Media: Its National and International Impact (Gregory Wilpert, Chair, teleSUR English, Eva Golinger, Keane Bhatt, Claudia Salerno, Venezuelan Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs for North America, Carol Delgado, Consul General of Venezuela in New York)
The Venezuelan Revolution and Climate Change (Isolina del la Cruz, Chair Fred Magdoff, Monthly Review, Cesar Aponte, Brian Tokar)
Why the Left Can’t Learn (Bej DeMott, Chair, Fredrich Smolder, Prof. at Sarah Lawrence College)
Your author’s own panel/workshop was titled: Will Calling for Compensation and Reparations End Further US-NATO Genocide? It was originally submitted under the clearer title: Not Calling for Prosecution Facilitates Further US-NATO Genocide!
Jay Janson, Chair; Dissident Voice; Minority Perspective, UK; Counter Current, Kerala, India
Ramsey Clark, Sara Flounders – International Action, Monica Moorehead – Workers World Newspaper.
Ramsey Clark was scheduled to open the discussion by explaining the killing will stop when the assets of investors in war and war promotion are seized to pay compensation for wrongful death in the millions, injuries in the tens of millions, mega destruction of property and theft of natural resources, for this will make future investment in war unprofitable.
When enough people throughout the world want justice, way will be found to prosecute the citizens of any country guilty of sponsoring, funding, investing in, promoting, justifying, hailing, participating in crimes against humanity. And remember there is no statute of limitation on genocide or manslaughter.
Ramsey Clark encourages journalists NOT to write interesting exposes, erudite explanations, entertaining insights into covertly arranged violence and and US invasions as Realpolitik of powerful nations to be protested but written about as it they were as unchallengeable unalterable and unpreventable as are our weather conditions.
Reporting US-NATO genocide as other than prosecutable crimes is helpful to those committing the crimes, and why is there disregard for America’s victims? Why have even King’s family and friends betrayed King’s condemnation of “atrocity wars and covert genocide on three continents since 1945 for unjust predatory investments.
Unfortunately former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark had to attend to urgent business in Washington on the day of the panel/workshop, perhaps fortuitously, for it was embarrassing how few attended, which however corroborates the lack of interest on the part of Left Forum participants in their fellow Americans slaughtering overseas.
However, Prof. Joe Calhoun, Film Maker and Assistant Director of Stavros Center for Economic Education of the University of Florida made the workshop memorable for expressing keen insights into why the Left is uninterested in halting US-NATO genocide and uninterested in calling for justice for its millions of victims. He cited as an example TV diseducation, even disabling the capability of Americans to put themselves in the shoes of America’s victims.
Harry Belafonte is so beloved for his “no punches pulled” labeling of genocidaire General Colin Powell a “house nigger.” Likewise, “tell it the way it is” Cornel West is so appreciated for having called Obama the “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats,” and saying, “now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.” But, this writer working with Ramsey Clark to stop the genocide, now realizes the difference between blaming crimes against humanity on one’s own government officials or even the wealthy they are beholden to, and — like Martin Luther King — accepting that all America and Americans are responsible for the crimes against humanity perpetrated, supported, or acquiesced to by Americans. Knowledgeable Americans who only protest and point their finger away from themselves and at their re-elected government cannot be absolved of their nation’s crimes.
Those of us with the most awareness of what is transpiring have the most responsibility for it continuing. If the strong shall protect the weak, the informed must protect the disinformed and work to stop the genocide and bring about justice.