Conservatives Target Greenlining
Pedophiles & Popes
Hungry By The Numbers
Living in District 9
keith harmon snow
2006 BP Probe
NAFTA & Immigration
The Past & Democracy
Herbert P. Bix
Media, Culture, Reviews
UGC & Media
Klare's Rising Powers
Zaps - 07-08/10
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Militarism Run Amok
Afghanistan, Gaza, Arizona, & Beyond
First the execution, then the trial"; "Stop them if they look illegal, round 'em up and deport 'em"; "Lock 'em up and throw away the key." Excerpts from an unused script for the TV show "24"? Lines from a B-grade Western where cowboys in white hats triumph over Indians and Mexicans? Sentiments fanned daily by a powerful right-wing media machine and embraced by a substantial chunk of the U.S. public? Crude descriptions of policies embedded in the structure and practice of government in this country?
Unfortunately, for people here and around the world, this is no Hollywood fantasy. Recent events from Arizona to Afghanistan to Gaza and beyond should be a big wake-up call about the dangers at hand. Especially ominous is the connection between the resurgent impulse to rely on repression, military force, and violence to address social and political problems and the demonization of groups of people.
There's plenty of resistance to some of the most blatant features of the anti-popular onslaught. The terrain of battle is complicated because—according to the formal terms of the 2008 election—a majority of voters rejected the kind of fear-mongering and expansion of state repressive power that is again so prominent. Some sources of hope indicate a potential for beating back the latest threats, but the overall picture also shows how deeply imperial militarism and a "use force" mentality—interwoven with racism and national chauvinism—has become implanted in the U.S.
Executions Without Trial, Torture, Indefinite Detention
According to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, U.S. forces in Afghanistan are carrying out "battlefield executions" of prisoners. Hersh, who broke the Abu Ghraib prison abuse story in 2004 (and the My Lai massacre story in 1968), says that commanders in Afghanistan "tell the troops, you have to make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners are Taliban…. And if you cannot conclude they're Taliban, you must turn them free. What it means is, and I've been told this anecdotally by five or six different people, battlefield executions are taking place. If they can't prove they're Taliban, bam."
It's not just Afghans being executed without even the semblance of a trial. The New York Times reported May 13 that the Obama administration authorized the CIA to kill a terrorism suspect who is a U.S. citizen living far from any current battlefield. Slated for execution is radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, now in hiding in Yemen. The Times reported the matter with total understatement: "The notion that the government can, in effect, execute one of its own citizens far from a combat zone, with no judicial process and based on secret intelligence, makes some legal authorities deeply uneasy…. To eavesdrop on the suspect, intelligence agencies would have to get a court warrant. But designating him for death, as CIA officials did early this year with the National Security Council's approval, required no judicial review."
Then there's torture and indefinite detention. According to the White House, the U.S. no longer tortures prisoners as it did during the Bush years. But there is strong evidence that the same techniques are still employed at the U.S. airbase in Bagram, Afghanistan. Despite Pentagon denials, the BBC reports that the Red Cross confirms the existence at Bagram of a facility for detainees—a so-called "black jail"—separate from the main prison. At least nine former prisoners told the BBC that they had been subject to torture techniques in that facility.
Meanwhile, a federal appeals court ruled May 21 that three men who had been detained by the U.S. military for years without trial in Afghanistan had no recourse to U.S. courts. The Obama administration claimed the same powers as its predecessor to hold detainees indefinitely without any kind of trial and praised the decision. The detainees, two Yemenis and a Tunisian, say they were captured outside Afghanistan and are innocent of any wrongful activities. If it stands, the ruling will allow the military and government to imprison any non-U.S. citizen for as long as they want, the only proviso being they are held in a prison outside the U.S.
Major Expansion Of Clandestine Military Operations
These are not isolated items. The New York Times reported May 24 that the new orders from the top U.S. commander in the Middle East mandate a big expansion of clandestine military activity. A secret directive signed last September by General David Petraeus authorizes sending Special Operations troops to both "friendly" and "hostile" nations in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Horn of Africa. The order includes Iran. Officials said the order permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for a possible military strike against that country.
This new directive gives the military more latitude than it had even under the Bush administration. Bush had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, but government officials, speaking anonymously, stated that the new order "is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term."
Exposed by the Times just a few days before the Obama administration issued its first formal National Security Strategy, this expansion of military power appears to be counter to the spirit, if not the letter, of the president's policy. In contrast to official doctrine under Bush, the new strategy stresses multilateralism over unilateralism and declares that the U.S. cannot sustain extended military operations abroad indefinitely. It even says that key to national security is addressing problems of the U.S. economy, education, energy, and of climate change.
These are good concepts. To the degree they actually become the driver of Washington's concrete actions, it would mark a step in the right direction. But these declarations remain paired with insistence that the U.S. maintain "military superiority" and that Washington will, if it deems necessary, act alone with whatever military force the Administration feels is needed. Unfortunately, it is these parts of the document that are driving the latest round of U.S. actions. This constitutes an extremely dangerous expansion of militarism and state repressive power, even if it is not conducted under the Bush-era rhetoric of "might makes right" and a "permanent war on terror."
Protecting Israel, Even After Piracy And Murder
Other important aspects of government policy this year show a disconnect between rhetoric and action. For months the Administration has been publicly critical of Israeli settlement building. Top U.S. military leaders have declared that indefinite blocking of an Israel-Palestine peace agreement undermines U.S. strategic interests. This public posture has made Obama the object of vitriolic attacks from the far right. But what is the Administration doing in practice? Earlier this month it requested an additional $205 million in military aid to Israel on top of the record-breaking $3 billion already present in the 2011 budget. As most of the world reacted with outrage to the May 31 Israeli attack on a Gaza aid flotilla—an attack of international piracy and murder—Washington is once again giving Israel diplomatic cover.
In an especially bitter irony, this is taking place at a time when a new level of criticism of Israeli policies has broken out within an important sector of U.S. zionism. Former New Republic editor Peter Beinart sparked a firestorm with a New York Review of Books piece that pilloried Israeli government policies and some U.S. zionist organizations' defense of them. In defending his article, Beinart burnished his "no-one-can-accuse-me-of-not-loving-Israel" credentials by saying that he "does not demand that Israel give its Arab citizens equal rights." But he stood his ground, as far as condemning the Israeli right wing, by writing: "The prime minister of Israel has repeatedly compared the establishment of a Palestinian state to the Holocaust. His foreign minister, and protégé, has flirted with advocating the physical expulsion of Israeli Arabs. The spiritual leader of his government's fourth-largest party has called for politicians who advocate ceding territory to the Palestinians to be struck dead. West Bank settlements are growing at triple the rate of the Israeli population and, according to a recent Tel Aviv University poll, 80 percent of religious Jewish Israeli high schoolers would refuse orders to dismantle them. One-third of Jewish Israelis favor pardoning Yigal Amir, the man who murdered Yitzhak Rabin.… [T]here is only one decent response to these truths: fury. If you're not angry, you're either not paying attention or you don't care."
With such indictments coming even from prominent pro-Israel supporters; with generals like Petraeus implying that Israeli stonewalling is a threat to U.S. interests; with almost the entire political class screaming about the budget deficit; and with Israeli soldiers now boarding ships and killing unarmed humanitarian activists in international waters, one would think the time was favorable for talking about cuts rather than expansion of military and diplomatic assistance to Tel Aviv. But the House vote on Obama's aid to Israel request was a staggering 410-4.
Washington stands alone in its failure to resolutely condemn Israel's latest brutality. These constitute endorsements of militarism and occupation and signs of just how hostage to that "big muddy" combination Washington's Middle East policy remains. The banner headline across Israel's Maariv newspaper's front page on May 27—"Netanyahu: 'I Won'"—referred to U.S.-Israeli settlement talks and indicated the glee of those who plan not only to permanently occupy Palestinian land, but drag the U.S. into war against Iran.
Troops To Arizona
Then there is the decision to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Obama has joined the chorus of criticism against Arizona's draconian anti-immigrant law, SB 1070—a welcome addition to the campaign to expose and counter the anti-Latino bias that lies at its core. The president also continues to call for comprehensive immigration reform that would include a humane and workable path to legalization. But when it comes to positive steps, all we have so far is a Justice Department "studying and investigating" whether it will act to block SB1070. There are no orders to end—or even reduce—the family-busting, inhumane raids that ICE has been conducting all over the country. Instead, the president deploys the National Guard.
The only thing it could possibly accomplish is making more peoples' lives harder and whetting the appetite of the "deport-'em-all" lobby for even more repressive force. The roots of large-scale south-to-north migration lie in economic and social conditions, unequal relations between the U.S. and Latin America, displacement of people from their homes as multinational corporations distort local economies, the drive of U.S.-based employers for a pool of vulnerable and cheap labor, and so on. Walls, troops, and raids will not stop any of this. They will only inflict misery and perpetuate bigotry as corporate interests laugh all the way to the bank.
The specifics of Arizona are obviously different from the Middle East. But the conflict between U.S. corporate interests, local elites, and vulnerable populations has many parallels. Life in the U.S.-Mexico border region especially is becoming similar to life under occupation, with the Border Patrol and now the National Guard functioning as the occupying force.
The outcry against Arizona's law from prominent figures in the worlds of sports and entertainment, as well as politics, is heartening. It was a boost to see Mexico's President Felipe Calderon issue an anti-racial profiling message while speaking to the U.S. Congress, something few U.S. politicians seem to have the guts to do. A great deal will depend on how much momentum and broad reach the grassroots movement springing to life against SB 1070 can acquire in the next several months. Preparations are underway for a host of activities in Arizona and nationwide (www.altoarizona.com).
Regarding Afghanistan and the general use of direct U.S. military force in the Middle East, the landscape is somewhat different. Public opinion has soured on these adventures over the last several years. Majority sentiment is skeptical that the U.S. will accomplish anything positive in Afghanistan (or Iraq). And each week news reports and admissions from Washington's own commanders indicate that these are lost causes. But antiwar activism at the base level is muted and decisions to authorize more covert activities or hold prisoners indefinitely without trial—which would have led to significant protests had they been made by Bush—do not spark the same level of resistance with Obama in office. Changing this will require an antiwar movement that finds new ways to combine educational activities, mass public protests, and integration of antiwar and cut-the-military-budget efforts into the growing fights over jobs, services, immigrant rights, and environmental protection.
Fighting to end blank-check U.S. support for Israel occupation, meanwhile, involves a whole set of special challenges. But the glaring disconnect between even the most minimal respect for human life or (per the U.S. Declaration of Independence) "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" [sic] vs. Israel's recent actions opens up new possibilities for broad educational and protest activities.
All these will be most effective if a consistent anti-militarist theme is struck as often as possible. "Shoot 'em and lock 'em up" demagogy can grip popular sentiment for some time. But it has no real solutions to the actual problems that afflict an increasingly interconnected and fragile world—which is why its diehard adherents retreat steadily into a world where fantasy and crazy replaces reality.
This creates opportunities for advocates of peace and justice to offer a solve-real-problems message on a variety of levels. In a time of extended economic hardship, catastrophic oil spills, and wars that threaten to engulf entire regions, our arsenal ranges from the full critique of empire and imperial-era racism through the call for fair-play and common sense to an appeal for everyone to think about the very survival of this generation and the next.
Max Elbaum is editor of War Times/Tiempo de Guerras and author of Revolution in the Air (Verso, 2002).
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.