No Picture
Global News and Analysis

An Iraq Vet’s Journey From Wall Street to OWS

Source: The Nation

In late September 2001, I was living in a tent in Lower Manhattan with the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, a reserve unit just outside the city. We were occupying Battery Park, which at the time served as the National Guard’s headquarters. “Guarding the guard,” we called it.

The two weeks I spent there were profoundly affecting. There I was, at the center of the world, watching America at its finest, showing at once nearly impossible perseverance and limitless compassion. Generosity sprouted everywhere throughout New York City; people gave out food, shoe inserts, massages, coffee, flowers, hugs, kind words and anything you needed. I told someone I liked Red Bull, and hours later he came to my tent, dragging a handcart with eight cases of the stuff. I would slip one under each of the other marines’ pillows while they slept, and when we woke up for guard duty I would say the Red Bull fairy had come. read more

No Picture
Global News and Analysis

Chomsky: Remembering Howard Zinn

Source: Al Jazeera
The historian and activist dedicated his life to “the countless small actions of unknown people”.
It is not easy for me to write a few words about Howard Zinn, the great American activist and historian. He was a very close friend for 45 years. The families were very close too. His wife Roz, who died of cancer not long before, was also a marvellous person and close friend. Also sombre is the realisation that a whole generation seems to be disappearing, including several other old friends: Edward Said, Eqbal Ahmed and others, who were not only astute and productive scholars, but also dedicated and courageous militants, always on call when needed – which was constant. A combination that is essential if there is to be hope of decent survival.

Howard’s remarkable life and work are summarised best in his own words. His primary concern, he explained, was “the countless small actions of unknown people” that lie at the roots of “those great moments” that enter the historical record – a record that will be profoundly misleading, and seriously disempowering, if it is torn from these roots as it passes through the filters of doctrine and dogma. His life was always closely intertwined with his writings and innumerable talks and interviews. It was devoted, selflessly, to empowerment of the unknown people who brought about great moments. That was true when he was an industrial worker and labour activist, and from the days, 50 years ago, when he was teaching at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, a black college that was open mostly to the small black elite.

While teaching at Spelman, Howard supported the students who were at the cutting edge of the civil rights movement in its early and most dangerous days, many of whom became quite well-known in later years – Alice Walker, Julian Bond and others – and who loved and revered him, as did everyone who knew him well. And as always, he did not just support them, which was rare enough, but also participated directly with them in their most hazardous efforts – no easy undertaking at that time, before there was any organised popular movement and in the face of government hostility that lasted for some years. Finally, popular support was ignited, in large part by the courageous actions of the young people who were sitting in at lunch counters, riding freedom buses, organising demonstrations, facing bitter racism and brutality, sometimes death. read more