Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Chelsea Manning’s gender identity

article by Anne Russell, reprinted from Scoop.co.nz.

The Queer Avengers (Wellington) are holding a solidarity action with Chelsea Manning on 2pm Saturday the 7th of September, at the US Embassy [Facebook event]

For the most part, gender minorities operating in the public sphere are recognised by their gender first and the content of their work second. This is why Rolling Stone articles on“Women Who Rock” kettle together artists as musically and lyrically diverse as Taylor Swift, Missy Elliott and Sleater-Kinney, as though ‘woman’ is a subgenre of music. Even at comparatively progressive activist events, cisgender women and transgender people—particularly trans* women—rarely dominate the overall speaker line-up. Rather, they are given separate sessions to discuss sexism and/or transphobia, implying that these issues are only problems for the oppressed parties in question.

In contrast, issues like mass surveillance and military crimes are framed as issues that everyone should be concerned about, evidenced recently by the scale of controversy around the NSA leaks and the recently-passed GCSB Bill. This is not to say that they are not important or damaging problems, merely that they receive much more cultural attention than the routine struggles of oppressed gender minorities. While the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning was hitherto widely considered a hero in radical movements, figures like radical activist and trans* woman Sylvia Rivera are not widely known outside the trans* rights movement itself. It is arguable that the activist world, like everywhere else, is still somewhat divided into gendered categories, at least on a surface level: the cis men examine military documents while the cis women and trans* folk talk about unequal access to healthcare, cultural invisibility and sexual harassment.

Private Manning’s recent announcement that she is a transgender woman—to be known as Chelsea Manning from here on—thus represents a stunning collision of different activist factions. Manning released a statement last week announcing that she identifies as female, and wishes to undergo hormone therapy as soon as possible. This is not entirely new or unexpected information, as Manning’s chatlogs with informant Adrian Lamo in May 2010 read: “I wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me… plastered all over the world press… as a boy.” Moreover, her lawyers attempted to use gender identity disorder as a defence in her trial. However, many of Manning’s supporters felt uncomfortable referring to her as female without the explicit go-ahead from her.

That time has come, and yet many commentators remain confused orhostile(trigger warning: transphobia) to the announcement. Manning’s requests have been fairly straightforward—“I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun”—but many media outlets, particularly Fox News and CNN, continue to use her historical name and masculine pronouns. Since swathes of information about transgenderism are merely a Google search away, this misgendering demonstrates how heavily entrenched transphobia and the gender binary remain in public discourse. [Read more...]

Cornel West: “President Obama is a global George Zimmerman”

Transcript of an interview on Democracy Now [video here]

AMY GOODMAN: In the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict and the mass protests around the country, we turn right now to Dr. Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary, author of numerous books, co-host of the radio show Smiley & West with Tavis Smiley. Together, they wrote the book The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, among Cornel West’s other books.

Professor Cornel West—

CORNEL WEST: Yes, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama surprised not only the press room at the White House, but the nation, I think, on Friday, in his first public remarks following the George Zimmerman acquittal. What are your thoughts?

CORNEL WEST: Well, the first thing, I think we have to acknowledge that President Obama has very little moral authority at this point, because we know anybody who tries to rationalize the killing of innocent peoples, a criminal—George Zimmerman is a criminal—but President Obama is a global George Zimmerman, because he tries to rationalize the killing of innocent children, 221 so far, in the name of self-defense, so that there’s actually parallels here. [Read more...]

France’s occupation in Mali: Past and present

mali france

Joel Cosgrove

Most mainstream reporting on events in Mali included various tropes, such as that Europe is under threat from Islamic fundamentalism, that the invasion of French troops was about freeing the local people, and the involvement of French troops was defended as being an undesirable but necessary outcome resulting from a bad situation. The defence for the invasion has been remarkably similar to that made for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq at the time.

As with Iraq and Afghanistan the reality is that the occupation of Mali has come about as part of an imperialist contest for political power and resources. Although the French government may be assuaged by the ease of its military’s entry into Mali, in operations such as these the invasionary period is one of the less difficult phases of an occupation.

During the first phase airpower was used effectively against fixed and clear rebel positions. Now the situation has developed. Already recent kidnap victims have reported of hideouts hacked into the side of caves, as well as petrol and ammunition dumps hidden in various parts of the north. There is now a transition to the type of irregular guerilla warfare that has proven so hard for the occupiers to deal with in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a recent article on the French adventure, long-term Middle East/North African correspondent Patrick Cockburn made a similar point:

This was one of the many lessons of the US takeover of Iraq and Afghanistan. Most Iraqis and Afghans were glad to see the departure of the previous regimes. Iraqis wanted an end to Saddam Hussein’s rule, but this did not mean that they welcomed foreign occupation. Similarly, in Afghanistan, foreign forces were initially popular and the Taliban discredited. But in both cases foreign forces soon behaved like colonial occupiers, and were resented as such. [Read more...]

ANZAC Day: What are we celebrating?

This article by Alastair Reith was originally published here in 2008.

Every year we are told that the young men whose lives were snuffed out at Gallipoli died gloriously for our freedom. We are told that the “liberties” we supposedly enjoy in New Zealand today exist only because of the sacrifice of these soldiers. The message is that the soldiers’ deaths were worth it, and that the cause they died for was just.

There is no nice way to say this: it’s all lies.

War about territory, not freedom

In 1914, war broke out between the major imperialist powers of the world. They divided up into two blocs. On one side, the Allies, primarily made up of France, Russia and the British Empire, as well as the smaller countries allied to them and their countless colonies throughout the world. The ruling classes of New Zealand and Australia took this side. On the other side, the Central Powers, primarily made up of Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, along with a number of smaller countries and the various colonies they controlled. [Read more...]

43rd anniversary of the PFLP’s founding

 

Tens of thousands of members and  supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine gathered on December 11, 2010, in Gaza City’s Palestine Stadium, marking the forty-third anniversary of the PFLP’s founding in a mass rally.

Palestinians from all sectors – men and women, elderly and children, workers and farmers, attended the rally from all sectors of Gaza City, and traveling in groups from throughout the Gaza Strip, waving red flags that filled the stadium.

[Read more...]

Deaths in the class war

Don Franks
The Spark September 2010

Last month saw two New Zealand soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and the
first New Zealand soldier killed.

Led by Prime minister John Key, who ordered an unprecedented lowering
of national flags across the country, politicians and news media
launched a lengthy storm of militaristic propaganda. [Read more...]

New WP pamphlet on Afghanistan

New Zealand’s involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan has been commonly perceived as a humanitarian role. John Edmundson demolishes that myth and looks at what the occupation is really about.

The Situation so far

On 10 August 2009, Prime Minister John Key announced that the SAS (Special Air Service) would return to Afghanistan. This announcement had been predicted for some time so came as no surprise. The troops are being deployed in three rotations over 18 months and the full deployment involves 70 soldiers over that time period. At the same time, over that 18 months the NZ Army’s Provincial Reconstruction Team – NZ’s major commitment to the war – are being gradually reduced and eventually withdrawn, their work to be replaced by civilian work on agriculture, health and education. But the SAS deployment may in fact last much longer. The war in Afghanistan is going badly for the US -led coalition and few military people or civilian analysts are prepared to go public with an estimate of how much longer it could go on. A time frame as short as 18 months seems unlikely and if the war continues for years, there will be further requests for extensions to the troop commitment. With the Obama administration massively expanding the war effort, not just through increased troop numbers in Afghanistan, but an increasing involvement in Pakistan also, the war could well drag on for years.  read more

WAIHOPAI AND THE GHOST OF DAVID LANGE

Don  Franks

Well done the three antiwar activists from the Ploughshares group, and the jury who found them not guilty of burglary and intentional damage in the Wellington District Court. The not guilty verdict relates to charges laid when the men deflated one of the domes at the Waihopai spy base near Blenheim two years ago. [Read more...]

Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan

 

Activists gathered in Auckland today outside the US consulate to protest the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraqi women condemnig the occupation

Marking the anniversary of the Iraq invasion 7 years ago the protesters demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign troops, including and especially the NZ SAS and other military in Afghanistan.

The Workers Party had a PFLP banner, as part of a solidarity campaign with the Palestinian liberation movement

Workers Party with the PFLP banner

The protested ended on a fitting note, with old shoes being hurled at the Consulate.

Haiti’s Tragedy was Man-Made

John Edmundson The Spark February 2010

The recent devastating earthquake in Haiti has put a rarely noticed country back in the headlines. Suddenly, it is the focus of everyone’s attention, from world leaders to celebrities. And that is hardly surprising – with a body count of over 150,000 in Port au Prince, the nation’s capital alone, the death toll in this one tiny and desperately poor country may come close to exceeding that of the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. The capital was almost completely destroyed and the poor infrastructure meant that it was difficult to get aid to the survivors, or to organise the relief operation. The Haitian government was almost completely unable to act and threw itself on the mercy of the United States and other First World countries. Images of the disaster have been touching and, in the main, sensitive, but underlying the coverage of the quake has been the same lack of curiosity about the cause of the tragedy that typifies media stories about the Third World. [Read more...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 862 other followers