Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chican@ Libearation and Indigenous Self-Determination

Chican@ Libearation and Indigenous Self-Determination

by Joaquin Cienfuegos


This was written for the people in the movement Chicano identified and beyond. It is also a reflection. We need to continue to build, but in order to do that lets continue to examine our strategies and our collective vision for liberated communities, the struggle for land, and a better world as a whole. In my opinion, this discussion is long over due, hopefully others can contribute to the dialogue.

Liberation and Self-Determination

At the risk of upsetting some, we have to begin with the fact that we are in a war. It is a war that has been waging against all indigenous people, and oppressed people for over 500 years. It is a genocidal war, and has lead to the state that we find ourselves in today as oppressed people and as humanity as a whole. To begin to discussing strategies for liberation, we have to first realize that point, and go forward from there. For some, it might be easier to be blinded by first world privilege, but for most, it is hard not to feel the boot of fascism on our necks, the whips of capitalism-imperialism on our backs, and subjugation of white-supremacy and patriarchy on our mind, body, and spirit.

For Chican@s and other Indigenous people it is no different. The atmosphere that exists for many Chican@s in the u.s. is one of terrorism. Anyone of Mexican descent is seen as a criminal by the state. The white supremacists hate anything Mexican, and it seems like we are their number one enemy. So many of the laws being passed are ones that target migrant families, but Mexican families in particular. Many of the hysteria and scapegoating by the White Supremacists is that people from Mexico will take over the South West and reconquer Aztlan. At least they use this inflict fear on all other Europeans and other people. They use this fear to pass racist laws that split up families, lock up more Brown people, deport migrants, and force many into the shadows with a climate of fear and Anti-Mexican xenophobia.

People in Mexico and Central America, find themselves affected by neo-liberal policies, or better yet by imperialist domination of the u.s. government. Trade agreements imposed by them by the Empire like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement), force many farmers, workers, women-identified people, students, and other indigenous people off of their lands not being able to survive in the "free" market. They are forced into migration many times directly by imperialism. Many don't even make it, they die in their migration due to militarization of the borders, and because they are forced into deadly treacherous routes. If some make it to the other side of la linea, they face racism, slave wages for back breaking labor (if they can find any), ICE Raids and Police Checkpoints, prisons and detention centers. Many are finding that they cannot make a better life for their families so they are going back to their regional home.

Many Natives within the u.s., have faced a horrific history of genocide that continues to this day. The reservations are like modern day concentration camps, and Natives there live in third-world conditions (as in no electricity, hot water, or any real resources). Natives have the largest percentage of suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction. Some indigenous nations aren't even federally recognized, as in the Tongva, who's territory is in Los Angeles, Califas. Many of their sacred sites continue to be desecrated and destroyed by capitalist developers. They continue to be disrespected and colonized as a whole.

I don't want to paint these people as just victims of the Empire, because indigenous people have been on the front lines of the struggle for liberation against neo-liberalism, capitalism, imperialism, white supremacy and hetero-sexism through out this hemisphere. The primary struggle is one of land, and indigenous people fighting for their land and liberty, from the Zapatistas in Chiapas, the Mapuche in Chile, Indigenous people in Michoacan and Oaxaca, to the Lakota in South Dakota, the O'odham in Arizona and Mexican border, the Mohawks in the North East and all other native warriors fighting for land and liberty.

Chicanas and Chicanos have a specific condition living on this side of the man made border, we have a specific form of oppression, history, and culture that is influenced by natives from the north of the border and to the south. Therefore our liberation as a community is connected to the liberation and self-determination of indigenous people from Mexico and indigenous people in the u.s. Our liberation is linked to the struggle for land and liberty by indigenous people all over Turtle Island in general and the region specific to where we live and where our families migrated from. We share similar and different experiences, but our struggle is deeply connected to the lands where we are at (which in most cases we are not Indigenous to) and where we come from. We have to align ourselves, and be in solidarity with these struggles, to fight for the liberation of all indigenous and colonized people, including Chicanas y Chicanos otherwise we are perpetuating the very colonialism we struggle against.

Land and Aztlan as a Nation State

In the 60's and 70's there was an unprecedented international movement against colonialism, where former colonies, semi-colonies, and neo-colonies fought for their independence. This was the same inside the empire. People of color and their allies formed coalitions, and revolutionary organizations to fight for their national liberation. Chican@s fought and are still fighting for their national liberation. For many oppressed nations they saw the building of an independent nation state as part of the process of liberation, since as a nation, people have been held back by the white supremacist imperialist nations.

Many national liberationists based their analysis of an oppressed nation based on J.V. Stalin's "Marxism and the National Question," "A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture." Aztlan, was identified by Chicanos in the 1960's as the south west of the u.s. which was the land stolen from the Mexican government by the u.s. government. To Chicano Nationalists the South West of the u.s. constitutes the Chicano Nation. Aztlan is seen as the place where the Mexica migrated from to Tenochtitlan or Mexico City.

I want to give the proper respect to the people who fought and died in the Chicano Movement, and those who continue to fight, but we have to acknowledge that the South West is stolen land, but not of the Mexican government but indigenous people who have always been here. The self-determination of natives have to be supported. There have been indigenous nations here before the spanish borders and the american borders. We have to go beyond the idea of building a nation state as a strategy for liberation. The nation state, in it of itself, is a product of Europe. Indigenous people have a different way of organizing our community.

Most indigenous nations practice participatory democracy and make decisions through consensus process, with women councils, youth councils, and elder councils all participating. They form confederacies, or federations, made up of united communities and indigenous nations, sharing resources, vision, goals, and fighting side by side for common interests. The Iroquois was known of having 6 nations in its federation, in fact it makes up over 28 nations today. The Incas in the south had also a confederacy. Many indigenous communities in the south and in the north, still have community councils and popular assemblies where delegates from communities and warrior societies/organizations represent. These are the roots of direct democracy, and the indigenous way of organization, which is still practiced today. The idea should be to build a federation of all indigenous nations from Alaska to Argentina.

Beyond Chicanismo

"This is a time of crisis for our people, our nations, our communities, our families, and our next seven generations...It will require our people to embrace their cultural and national destiny to reclaim their birthright to become warriors.

An indigenous warrior is one who is socially and spiritually obligated to dedicate [their] life to mastering the ways of war for the sake of serving honor and justice...

Warriors seek to change the harsh reality of colonialism by any means necessary."

-Native Youth Movement

When people identify with Chicanismo, they are making a positive political statement. We have been denied our culture, our history, our language, and our entire way of life. To fight to get what was stolen from us, is an attack on colonialism, especially the psychological effects it has had on indigenous people, where many of us hate who we are. The superstructure of colonialism makes it so our families glorify the European culture and skin color above everything else. From the educational system, media, and entertainment. Anything Brown is seen as inferior. Indigenous world outlook is part of the Chicano identity. We have to go beyond that and begin to see ourselves as Natives of Turtle Island.

The fact of the matter is that many of the people from Mexico and Central America, are mixed or Mestizos, but this came from the rape of Native women, and the process of colonization. Many people in Mexico and Central America, see themselves as Mestizo's and uphold this, not knowing that we have more Native blood in us than European. Indigenous people (self-identified) in what we call the South, are some of the most oppressed people in the world, who continue to fight for their land, and their dignity. The effects of white-supremacy and colonialism has many of our people hating anything Brown or Indigenous/Indio.

Many Chicanos searching for their roots look to the Mexica, for cultural affirmation. This on one hand is seen as unifying the Chicanos when learning about their history and roots. On the other hand it's because it is information that is more available, being that Europeans wrote greatly about them, even though most of the writings are twisted and full of lies. Most of the original codices remain confiscated by the Vatican. We have to begin to dig deeper into our roots and culture, being that there were many different civilizations throughout Mesoamerica. There are many different Nahuatl speaking people even throughout this hemisphere, that exist 'til this day. Our history and culture isn't something that is dead, and in books, but indigenous people continue to fight and are the forefront of the struggle for liberation. Chican@s come from different regions of Mexico, we should start digging more into our specific nations, we shouldn't try to lump our people into categories, as the Europeans do to us.

We have to begin to realize that Mexican government itself is a colonial power, and Mexico is a product of colonialism. For many indigenous people, including myself because of the region that my family comes from, it is an insult to even be called Mexican, because we are not Mexica. Mexican borders were also man made by the Spanish invaders, so our fight for land and liberty should go beyond the borders of what is now Mexico. Our allegiance shouldn't be to any nation, but to the elements, and our Mother, and to liberate the Universe in general and this hemisphere in particular of capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, patriarchy, and white-supremacy. "We are Earth's Army!"

Red and Brown Native Unity

"NYM is a part of the Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor, when all of our Nations will once again unite and Take Back our Land, and the Youth will once again be the majority of our populations, that time is now. This Unity and true power scares our enemy so much they will not stop until they feel we are no longer a threat to their evil and devilish crackah ways."

The Incas and other natives have a prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor. The prophecy states, "When the eagle of the North and the condor of the South fly together, the Earth will awaken." Natives from the North and the South are fighting for the same interests, we are sisters and brothers, and we will not have liberation without us fighting side by side.

We need real solidarity. The Crusade for Justice, one of the most revolutionary wings of the Chicano Movement which Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales was an organizer of, showed in their support of the American Indian Movement, when they got them the necessary weapons and tools for the takeover of Wounded Knee in 1973. We also see how Chican@s and AIM members worked together to liberate land to create D-Q University. We have to begin to see that we are the same people, our struggles are the same and are connected. We have the same enemies, and they are waging war on us. Unite and work with all natives to take back the land!

Mumia Abu-Jamal on Thanksgiving

To this day, I can hardly bear to think of that quintessentially American holiday -- Thanksgiving.

When I do, however, I do not dwell on pilgrims with wide black hats sitting to sup with red men, their long hair adorned with eagle feathers. I think not of turkeys, nor of cranberry, foods now traditional for the day of feast.

Unlike millions, I don't even think of the day's football game; and not thinking of it, I don't watch it.

I think of the people we have habitually called 'Indians'' the indigenous people of the Americas. Those millions who are no more.

I think of those precious few who remain, and wonder, what do they think of this day; this national myth of sweet brotherhood, that masks what can only be called genocide?

Several years ago, I read a thin text that was pregnant with poignancy. It was a collection of Native remarks from the first tribes who encountered whites in New England, and down through several hundred years. Throughout it all, the same vibration could be felt, no matter what the clan or tribe. A profound sense of betrayal and wrong; from people who were treated like brethren when they first arrived.

In New England, the name Powhatan (ca. 1547-1618) is still recalled (even if that wasn't his name, but what the English called him). Known as Wahunsonacock by his people, he headed a confederacy of 32 tribes, and governed an area of hundreds of miles. He was the father of Pocahontas, the young Indian maiden who saved the life of Capt. James Smith. A year after sparing Smith's life, the white captain threatened the great chief. This is some of his response given in 1609:

"...Why should you take by force that from us which you can have by love? Why should you destroy us, who have provided you with food? We can hide our provisions, and fly into the woods; and then you must consequently famish by wronging your friends. What is the cause of your jealousy? You see us unarmed, and willing to supply your wants, if you come in a friendly manner, and not with swords and guns, as to invade an enemy. I am not so simple, as not to know it is better to eat good meat, lie well, and sleep quietly with my women and children; to laugh and be merry with the English; and, being their friend, to have copper, hatchets, and whatever else I want, than to fly from all, to lie cold in the woods, feed upon acorns, roots, and such trash, and to be so hunted, that I cannot rest, eat, or sleep. In such circumstances, my men must watch, and if a twig should but break, all would cry out, "Here comes Capt. Smith"; and in this miserable manner, to end my miserable life; and, Capt. Smith, this might be soon your fate too, through your rashness and unadvisedness. I therefore, exhort you to peaceable councils; and, above all, I insist that the guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy and uneasiness, be removed and sent away." [Blaisdell, Bob, ed., Great Speeches by Native Americans (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Press, 2000), p.4.]

That great chief's sentiments would be echoed for over hundreds of years, but injustice would just be piled on injustice. Genocide would be the white answer to red life.

Centuries later, what can Thanksgiving Day mean to Native peoples?

Thank you for stealing our land? Thank you for wiping out our people?

Thank you for placing a remnant of our once great numbers on rural ghettoes called 'reservations?'

Thank you for abolishing most of the ancient traditions?

Thank you for poisoning what little Indian lands remain with uranium?

Thank you for poisoning the lands now inhabited by the whites?

Thank you for letting Indians fight in American wars against other people?


The real tragedy is that millions of Americans don't know, and don't want to know about Indian history and traditions.

Today, the names of rivers, lakes, and landmarks bear indigenous markers of another age.

The people, except for an occasional movie, are mostly forgotten; out of mind. The easier to replace with false images of happy meals, and turkey dinners.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

War and Peace

"Peace to the Villages. War to the Palaces!"

THANX 4 NOTHING - WE LIVE THANKFUL Panel Discussion & Show

NOVEMBER 25th, 26th 2010

Thursday night @ 1702 E. 41st & Longbeach Blvd, South Central L.A.

Friday @ East Side Cafe 5469 Huntington Dr. & Maycrest, El Sereno

:Invited panelists & Honored Guests:
Thurs Nov 25th, SCF Centro: 6pm Pt. 1 of Panel Discussion (7-10pm)

People will be coming together to listen, speak, question & search for practical solutions or at minimum, an idea filled with diversity, hope, action, knowledge & faith that we can secure a safe future
for our children and childrens' children.

Where are we at? what can we do? how do we move forward to live while something all around us is dying?

Rebel Alliance Presents:
a Gathering of Circles

Featuring Panelists:
Brown Berets ( Watsonville & L.A.)
South Asian Network
Black Riders LIberation Party
American Indian Movement (S.B.)
Soul Rebel Radio
Union Del Barrio
Miktlan Murals
South Central Farm
Food Not Bombs
Copwatch LA
Mothers Of Anahuac
Brown Riders Liberation Party
Ticicalli Yahualli
October 22nd Coalition

10:30pm Press Confrence @ the South Central Farm

Friday Nov 26th, East Side Cafe Echo Space: 2pm Pt. 2 of Panel Discussion (3pm-6pm)

8pm-11pm "Re-Storing the Balance"
(A Hip Hop Show with a Message of Resistance, Culture & Determination)

:Performances by:


The Spook Who Sat by the Door

One of the best films of all time!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Policia Comunitaria de Guerrero: An Indigenous way of policing our communities

I am including information on the Policia Comunitaria de Guerrero, an indigenous way of policing the community. In a dream world, this model would be duplicated to various parts of the world. Here is a link to their website for those who want further information... I had the honor of meeting one of the founders of the policia comunitaria during the 1er Encuentro de los Pueblos de America en Vicam, Sonora back in 2007.

Here is a documentary of the story of the police communities of Guerrero: Cuando la Justicia Se Hace Pueblo.

pt. 1

pt. 2

pt. 3

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NSC Study Shows You are More Likely to Killed By a Cop Than a Terrorist

After 9/11, the fear of another attack on U.S. soil cleanly supplanted the fear of having one`s penis chopped off by a vengeful lover in the pantheon of irrational American fears.

While we`re constantly being told that another attack is imminent and that radical Islamic fundamentalists are two steps away from establishing a caliphate in Branson, Missouri, just how close are they? How do the odds of dying in a terrorist attack stack up against the odds of dying in other unfortunate situations?

The following ratios were compiled using data from 2004 National Safety Council Estimates, a report based on data from The National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, 2003 mortality data from the Center for Disease Control was used.

-- You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

-- You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

-- You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane

-- You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack

--You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack

-- You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack

-- You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack

--You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack

--You are 9 times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack

--You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist

--You are 8 times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack

-- You are 6 times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist attack

SOURCE: The Progressive Review

Nov. 5 protest in Oakland ends in mass arrests for 152 people

Ex-BART officer Mehserle sentenced to two years in prison for fatal shooting of unarmed man

Nov. 5 protest in Oakland ends in mass arrests for 152 people

As night fell arrests became free flowing. Information, not so much.

When the rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza was over people began to walk down 14th Street. Several turns were made and folks ended up trying to walk from Oak Street down 10th Street. At this point protesters were roughly 15 blocks from where they began, largely without incident. Just past Laney College protesters first met with a line of riot police. An alternative route was discovered and folks were then able to get closer to International Blvd. From there every few blocks protesters were met with riot police.

People were trying to walk to Fruitvale BART station, they were walking peacefully. There were elders, youth, people in wheelchairs, reporters, no one was trying to be violent or cause any problems. In total there were approximately 200 people in route to the BART station where Oscar Grant was killed. Previous estimates said that there were 300 or so people at Frank Ogawa Plaza earlier in the day.

After the group met police riot lines several times, a few water bottles were thrown and a few windows were broken on parked cars and in one AC transit bus.

Every few blocks police in riot gear would either run up or were already there--- until they got everyone penned into one block on 6th Ave. between 17th and 18th.

Police penned everyone in before anyone realized it. Various reports claimed that an officer was run over by a car. Another officer claimed that something was taken off of his belt. However, there was no way to get information in or out of the area in which everyone was penned. Several people began shouting for everyone to use their cellphones to call the police, to ask if there was a police commander or information officer available.

Police did not clearly issue a dispersal order. There was a bit of chaos as people obviously did not want to be penned in, did not understand why they were being penned and did not know how/if they could leave. When the
loud speaker arrived, they said that the area had been declared a crime
scene. There was no indication if, where or how people who had been
peacefully marching could get out. They only said the same thing over and over-- "This area has been declared a crime scene. Please comply with officers. You will be arrested." (See video below.)

People asked the officers how to get out, the officers either did not speak, said someone else was coming to let people know or simply that they did not know.

Officers began taking people down to the ground and then pulling them behind police lines. After several people were assaulted in that manner, the police began
telling everyone else to be calm ... they began grabbing each person and
plastic cuffing them without slamming them to the ground or jumping on them.

Some members of the press were allowed to leave if they identified themselves at that point.

From the press staging area you could see the officers wrangling people who were cuffed into a line one by one. OPD's Public Information Officer Thomason then briefly described the eveing from OPD's perspective.

Rachel Jackson speaks to the few official press people left just before
police began making arrests. At this moment no one knew where they could
go, how to get out nor what was going to happen.

Loud speaker
announcements were made that the area was declared a crime scene. There
was never any indication to disperse, no dispersal order given, no
declaration of martial law or anything like that at all. No one was
allowed to leave once the police penned people in. Prior to that people
were marching toward Fruitvale BART peacefully on city streets, they
were met with riot gear police every few blocks until they were trapped
in a culdesac type neighborhood.

Officer on the loud speaker began announcing "This is a crime scene."

people came from the other end of the block stating that the officers
down there had told them to come up front to be let out. They were not
let out. A few press people had been let out just before that, but
people were not read a dispersal statement and were force to stay where
they were and wait to be arrested.

OPD Public Information Officer answers reporter's questions from OPD's perspective:

At this moment there were 16 people booked and near 100 more in
plastic cuffs standing in a line with an officer next to each one. There
were several people that were taken down to the ground and dragged
behind police lines before everyone else was told they were being

Oriana Bolden is a community organizer-turned-filmmaker-turned-non-profit management professional-turned-television news reporter-turned medical school student-turned-video production instructor-turned-filmmaker. She is currently posing as a multi-media journalist.

Over 100 arrested following Mehserle Sentencing

By mtd

OAKLAND, California – As of 9pm November 5th, around 153 people have been arrested around East 18th St and 6th Ave in Oakland following the sentencing of Johannes Mehserle. The former BART cop was given 2 years for involuntary manslaughter – minus time served – for the murder of Oscar Grant. Mehserle may be released in as little as 7 months. The judge presiding over the trial decided not to apply a firearms enhancement charge, which would have increased the sentence to as high as 14 years. The police immediately declared the organized march unlawful and began trapping the crowd for mass arrest. At least one National Lawyers Guild legal observer has been arrested. During the march, protesters smashed shop and car windows, and one man was arrested for allegedly unholstering an officer’s gun and pointing it at him.

According to several observers, police did not issue a dispersal warning (and allow protesters to leave), but in fact corralled protesters and even some observers and then serially arrested them. One witness that had followed the crowd through out the course of the evening explained that as the marchers left downtown Oakland, they began to head towards the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant was murdered. Repeatedly, police blocked the marchers off, riling the crowd. At one point, as the crowd passed Laney Community College, the police cut them off in an attempt to summarily arrest the entirety of the crowd. In response the bulk of the crowd tore down a temporary fence and scrambled through a construction site to circumvent an assured arrest. It was only later, after a string of antagonizing by police, did some marchers get arrested.

Update: Some, if not most, of those arrested last night are being released today. According to what the police at the jail were saying, the number of people arrested may be closer to 250 or even 300.

We have also gotten word that many of our comrades from Advance the Struggle have been arrested tonight, and we would like to express our solidarity with them, and with all who have been arrested.

Photos from JoshWolf/Indybay.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

COPWATCH:understandng police accountability

Thursday, November 11 · 6:00pm - 7:30pm

LocationLoma Pelona Center, UCSB

More InfoCopwatch aims at helping our community become aware and learn how to organize and defend themselves against unjust practices. It is important for us as a community to learn how to take care of each other without provoking or effecting the police.

Copwatch IS NOT about antagonizing the police, but about connecting people and building strong community relationships.


FREE food

The Taqwacores

Monday, November 1, 2010

Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide Conference

Check out this Conference:

Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide

Settler Colonialism/Heterosexism/White Supremacy
March 10-12, 2011 UC Riverside
Eric Larson, Brown University
Marisol Catellanos López, Section 22, SNTE/CNTE
Joaquin Cienfuegos, Cop Watch
Orland Serrano, USC: Respondent


Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide:
Settler Colonialism/Heteropatriarchy/White Supremacy

A Major Conference
March 10-12, 2011
University of California, Riverside

Plenary Speakers:

Jacqui Alexander·Keith Camacho·Cathy Cohen·Glen Coulthard·Angela Davis·Gina Dent·Vicente Diaz
Roderick Ferguson·Ruth Wilson Gilmore·Gayatri Gopinath·Avery Gordon·Herman Gray·Judith Halberstam
Sora Han·Cheryl Harris·David Lloyd·Lisa Lowe·Wahneema Lubiano·Manning Marable·Fred Moten
José Muñoz·Nadine Naber·Hiram Pérez·Michelle Raheja·Dylan Rodríguez·David Roediger·Luana Ross
Josie Saldaña-Portillo·Sarita See·Ella Shohat·Denise da Silva·Audra Simpson·Nikhil Singh·Andrea Smith
Neferti Tadiar·João Costa Vargas·Waziyatawin

Ethnic studies scholarship has laid the crucial foundation for analyzing the intersections of racism, colonialism, immigration, and slavery within the United States context. Yet it has become clear that ethnic studies paradigms have become entrapped within, and sometimes indistinguishable from, the discourse and mandate of liberal multiculturalism, which relies on a politics of identity representation diluted and domesticated by nation-building and capitalist imperatives. Interrogating the strictures in which ethnic studies finds itself today, this conference calls for the development of critical ethnic studies. Far from advocating the peremptory dismissal of identity, this conference seeks to structure inquiry around the logics of white supremacy, settler colonialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy in order to expand the scope of ethnic studies. An interdisciplinary or even un-disciplinary formation, critical ethnic studies engages with the logics that structure society in its entirety.

As ethnic studies has become more legitimized within the academy, it has frequently done so by distancing itself from the very social movements that helped to launch ethnic studies in the first place. Irrefutable as the evidence is of the university's enmeshment with governmental and corporate structures, the trend in ethnic studies has been to neutralize the university rather than to interrogate it as a site that transforms ideas into ideology. While this conference does not propose to romanticize these movements or to prescribe a specific relationship that academics should have with them, we seek to call into question the emphasis on professionalization within ethnic studies and the concomitant refusal to interrogate the politics of the academic industrial complex or to engage with larger movements for social transformation.

Public statement from Arundhati Roy after the attack on her house

A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning (Sunday, October 31, 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on Kashmir, and threatened to teach me a lesson. The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live. TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (Women’s wing). After they left, the police advised us to let them know if in future we saw any OB vans hanging around the neighborhood because they said that was an indication that a mob was on its way. In June this year, after a false report in the papers by Press Trust of India (PTI) two men on motorcycles tried to stone the windows of my home. They too were accompanied by TV cameramen.

What is the nature of the agreement between these sections of the media and mobs and criminals in search of spectacle? Does the media which positions itself at the “scene” in advance have a guarantee that the attacks and demonstrations will be non-violent? What happens if there is criminal trespass (as there was today) or even something worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime? This question is important, given that some TV channels and newspapers are in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me. In the race for sensationalism the line between reporting news and manufacturing news is becoming blurred. So what if a few people have to be sacrificed at the altar of TRP ratings? The Government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me and the other speakers at a recent seminar on Azadi for Kashmir. So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right wing storm troopers. The Bajrang Dal and the RSS have openly announced that they are going to “fix” me with all the means at their disposal including filing cases against me all over the country. The whole country has seen what they are capable of doing, the extent to which they are capable of going. So, while the Government is showing a degree of maturity, are sections of the media and the infrastructure of democracy being rented out to those who believe in mob justice? I can understand that the BJP’s Mahila Morcha is using me to distract attention the from the senior RSS activist Indresh Kumar who has recently been named in the CBI charge-sheet for the bomb blast in Ajmer Sharif in which several people were killed and many injured. But why are sections of the mainstream media doing the same? Is a writer with unpopular views more dangerous than a suspect in a bomb blast? Or is it a question of ideological alignment?

Arundhati Roy
October 31, 2010