This past week Detroit was host to something that put me in mind of the giant “Idiots Welcome!” banner hung out to welcome the “Russian National Village Idiots Convention” to Minsk in Woody Allen’s “Love and Death.”
Ten thousand attendees of the 2010 U.S. Social Forum just spent five days in and around Cobo Hall, Wayne State University, and other parts of Detroit, all talking at once about “social change.” The event was variously described by lazy (or more likely, bored) reporters as a “peace” group, a “humaniatarian” organization, or “people connected to social, political and labor groups.”
Here’s some of what they say about themselves, (that is, if you believe this gobbledygook qualifies as having saying something):
The US Social Forum (USSF) is a movement building process. It is not a conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is the next most important step in our struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history.Having to read language like this is the mental equivalent for me of accidentally dialing someone’s fax line. Suffice it to say that one doesn’t have to dig too deep into the USSF, or into its papoose-lugging parent, the World Social Forum, to get the idea.
It’s significant to me whenever peaceful humanitarians like those at Cobo Hall on Wednesday cheer so enthusiastically (you see, this is a reason we call them “useful idiots,”) when professional activists like Elena Herrada equate being a border patrol officer with being a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
It’s also significant, much more so, when we see the enthusiasm with which Osama Siblani at the Arab American News, and Dawud Walid of the Muslim Brotherhood/CAIR trumpet the USSF, which they can exploit for their own purposes.
From The Arab American News on Friday:
Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, a professor of ethnic studies relating to Arab and Muslim issues at the San Francisco State University in California and former University of Michigan-Dearborn director of Arab American Studies, marched while wearing a keffiyeh in support of Palestine along with friends carrying Palestinian flags.And so, out of abject ignorance, is an Hispanic union activist from Texas transformed into a cheerleader for the Muslim Brotherhood’s cause: so what if the cause turns out to be the destruction of Israel and the death of the Jews? It’s all a fight against corporate power, says Julio, right?
Abdulhadi talked about the importance of solidarity between activists fighting against injustice along several different lines.
"We're all under the same umbrella of justice and our struggles should not be separate," she said.
"Being a part of others' movements is a much better choice than trying to do it all on our own."
Julio Lopez, a member of the Southwest Workers Union who traveled to the forum from San Antonio, provided an example of activists working together.
Lopez grabbed a bullhorn during the march and began chanting "Viva, Viva, Palestina!" as members of his group and other nearby marchers joined in.
"All of us here are connected to the same struggle, it's the fight against corporate power that's been going on for a long time," he said. (“A new world, a better America”).
Absolutely, will say Abdulhadi, and Walid, and Siblani, and the other puppeteers.
If that’s what you want to think we’re saying.
Also telling is the way a pro-Israel group, Stand With Us, (I believe the only one present) were signed up to hold a conference on the rights of homosexuals in the Middle East, but the USSF canceled it at the last minute. I think it’s safe to assume, that cancellation was made under pressure from Islamic organizers. A USSF spokesman said SWU were canceled “for violating the submission procedure and transparency requirements for all workshops, and for being in violation of the anti-racist principles central to the US Social Forum.”
Stand With Us provides their own statement as to what happened.
My own take is that if Stand With Us really violated the registration process, there would be no need for USSF to get into all that crap about anti-racist principles. In fact, lately that sort of code has been quite popular with Israel’s Islamic enemies, who justify their murderous lust to destroy Israel and annihilate every Jew by calling it opposition to Israel’s racism.