We Remember

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By Democratic Left Blog Editors

Thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, we mourn and we remember those who died that day. Of the attackers, 15 of the 19 were from Saudi Arabia; none were from Iraq. Their terrorism headquarters was in Afghanistan.

Yet, neoconservative hawks in the United States led George W. Bush to order the invasion of Iraq. More than 4,480 U.S. soldiers died and more than 32,000 were seriously wounded. More than one million Iraqis were killed, and the current crisis with ISIS in Iraq and Syria is a direct consequence of the invasion. 

This was the war on terror. It began a process that has seriously damaged our democracy and our individual liberties.

In 2011, at the time of the tenth anniversary of the attacks, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote a report on the effects this war on terror has had on our democracy and civil liberties. It has been re-issued, and we believe it is important to highlight it here. In this report, “A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years Later,” they say:

Ten years later, as we remember and mourn those who died on September 11th, our nation still faces the challenge of remaining both safe and free. Our choice is not, as some would have it, between safety and freedom. Just the opposite is true. As President Obama recog­nized in a 2009 speech, “our values have been our best national security asset—in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval.” Yet, our government’s policies and practices during the past decade have too often betrayed our values and undermined our security.

Ten years ago, we could not have imagined our country would engage in systematic policies of torture and targeted killing, extraordinary rendition and warrantless wiretaps, military com­missions and indefinite detention, political surveillance and religious discrimination. Not only were these policies completely at odds with our values, but by engaging in them, we strained relations with our allies, handed a propaganda tool to our enemies, undermined the trust of communities whose cooperation is essential in the fight against terrorism, and diverted scarce law enforcement resources. Some of these policies have been stopped. Torture and extraordinary rendition are no longer officially condoned. But most other policies—indefinite detention, targeted killing, trial by military commissions, warrantless surveillance, and racial profiling—remain core elements of our national security strategy today.

The ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks provides an auspicious moment to pause and reflect on where we have come and where we are headed. This report is our attempt to in­vigorate that critical national conversation. We have titled it “A Call to Courage,” because we believe that a defining element of our national identity—embodied in our national anthem’s pairing of “the land of the free” with “the home of the brave”—has been imperiled by our leaders’ promotion of (or capitulation to) a politics of fear. We have seen Congress and the courts—which are intended to act as checks on executive overreach—fail to perform their constitutional oversight, standing down rather than standing up to the exaggerated demands of an unchecked executive. Indeed, Congress has too often actively stoked the politics of fear, passing statutes that claim to be tough on terror but in fact make us less safe. Our nation can and must do better.

Rather than working to allay public fear, our political leaders (with few exceptions) have ma­nipulated it, to the point where it can be difficult to determine whether their expressions of alarm are genuine or merely opportunistic. These are arguments based on cynicism, not strength or resolve.

The full report has chapters on: “An Everywhere and Forever War,” “A Cancer on our Legal System,”  “Fracturing a More Perfect Union,”  and “A Massive and Unchecked Surveillance Society.”  As we reflect on 9/11, we recommend the report to all. Click here to read the report

For further reflection on this sad anniversary, in light of the recent shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., we recommend: “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” (2014), also by the ACLU. 

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

 

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 45 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 14 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 9 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 8 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.