Will Censorship Prevail Over The First Amendment?

By Paul Craig Roberts

February 18, 2020 “Information Clearing House” –  I remember when censorship in America was a limited phemonenon.  It applied during war time—“loose lips sink ships.”  It applied to pornography.  It applied to curse words on the public airwaves and in movies.  It applied to violence in movies.  There could be violence, but not the level that has become common.

Today censorship is ubiquitous.  It is everywhere.  In the United States censorship is both imposed from above and flows from the bottom up.  Censorship is imposed from above by, for example, TV and print media, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and by laws in 28 states prohibiting criticism and participation in boycotts of Israel and by President Trump’s executive order preventing federal funding of educational institutions that permit criticisms of Israel. Censorship flows from the bottom up by, for example, people of protected races, genders, and sexual preference claiming to be offended.

The ubiquitous censorship that today is characteristic of the United States has shut down comedians. It has shut down criticism of non-whites, homosexuals, transgendered, feminists, and Israel. Official explanations are shielded by labeling skeptics “conspiracy theorists.”  The ubiquitous censorship in the United States is an extraordinary development as the US Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and a free press.

We owe journalist Abby Martin appreciation for reminding us of our right to free speech.  Aby is suing the state of Georgia, one of 28 states that have violated the Constitutional protection of free speech.

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Abby was scheduleded to give the keynote speech at a conference at Georgia Southern Univeristy.  She discovered that in order to speak publicly at a Georgia college she had to sign a pledge of allegience not to criticize Israel.  Her refusal to sign resulted in the conference being cancelled.

Here we have the state of Georgia blocking free speech because it will not support the Israeli position on Palestine. See: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/02/no_author/journalist-abby-martin-sues-state-of-georgia-over-law-requiring-pledge-of-allegiance-to-israel/ .  Also:  https://www.timesofisrael.com/filmmaker-who-wouldnt-sign-georgias-oath-not-to-boycott-israel-sues-us-state/

Think about this for a moment. More than half of the 50 states that comprise the United States have passed laws that are clear violations of the US Constitution.  Moreover, these 28 states have imposed censorship in behalf of a foreign country.  Americans have gags stuck in their mouths because 28 state governments put the interest of Israel higher than the First Amendment of the US Constitution. When government itself is opposed to free speech, what becomes of democracy and accountable government?

Why would 28 states legislate against the US Constitution?  One explanation is that the state governments were bought by the Israel Lobby with money under the table, by promises of political campaign donations, or by threats of financing rival candidates.  How else do we explain 28 state governments imposing censorship in behalf of a foreign country?

Abby Martin is one person who will not stand for it.  She has brought a lawsuit that—if the US Supreme Court is still a protector of the First Amendment—will result in the 28 state laws and Trump’s executive order being overturned.  The protection of Israel against boycotts parallels state laws passed in the 1950s that prevented Martin Luther King’s movement from boycotting businesses that practiced racial segregation. These laws were overturned by the Supreme Court.

The outcome of Abby Martin’s suit will tell us whether the US Constitution is still a living document.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World OrderDonate and support Dr, Roberts Work.

The New Rules of the Game

By Chris Hedges

February 18, 2020 “Information Clearing House” – The quadrennial political game of least worst, or how to scare the public to vote for presidential candidates who serve corporate power, comes this season with a new twist. Donald Trump, if he faces Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar or Michael Bloomberg, will continue to be an amalgamation of Adolf Hitler, Al Capone and the Antichrist. But should Bernie Sanders manage to evade the snares, traps and minefields laid for him by the Democratic Party elites, should he miraculously become the party’s nominee, the game of least worst will radically change. All the terrifying demons that inhabit Trump will be instantly exorcised. But unlike in the biblical story of Jesus driving the demons into a herd of swine, they will be driven into the senator from Vermont. Trump will become the establishment’s reluctant least worse option. Sanders will become a leper. The Democratic and Republican party elites, joining forces as they did in the 1972 presidential election, will do to Sanders what they did to George McGovern, who lost in 49 of the 50 states.

“If Dems go on to nominate Sanders, the Russians will have to reconsider who to work for to best screw up the US. Sanders is just as polarizing as Trump AND he’ll ruin our economy and doesn’t care about our military,” former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (net worth $1.1 billion) tweeted. “If I’m Russian, I go with Sanders this time around.”

Blankfein, who calls for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and who headed Goldman Sachs when it paid Hillary Clinton $675,000 for three speaking engagements in 2013, laid out the stance of the billionaire class that controls the Democratic Party. The New York Times reported that Mike Novogratz, “a Goldman Sachs alumnus who runs the merchant bank Galaxy Digital, said Mr. Sanders’s oppositional nature had prompted ‘too many friends’ to say they would vote against him in November. ‘And they hate Trump,’ he said.”

“Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it,” Hillary Clinton says of Sanders in a forthcoming television documentary.

The courtiers in the press, pathetically attempting to spin Sanders’ New Hampshire win into a victory for the corporate-endorsed alternatives, are part of the firing squad. “Running Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity” read the headline in a piece by Jonathan Chait in New York magazine. “No party nomination, with the possible exception of Barry Goldwater in 1964, has put forth a presidential nominee with the level of downside risk exposure as a Sanders-led ticket would bring. To nominate Sanders would be insane,” he wrote. David Frum — now a darling of the Democratic elites, like many other Republicans who morphed from George W. Bush supporters into critics of Trump — announced in The Atlantic that Bernie can’t win. “Sanders is a Marxist of the old school of dialectical materialism, from the land that time forgot,” Frum wrote. “Class relations are foundational; everything else is epiphenomenal.”

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Jennifer Rubin declared in The Washington Post that a Sanders nomination would be a “disaster for the Democrats.” “Sanders’s campaign, like all primary campaigns, is a preview of the general-election race and, if elected, the administration he would lead,” Rubin wrote. “A nominee who insists on personally attacking all doubters and the media might be a model for the Republican Party, but Democrats are not going to win with their own Donald Trump, especially one who has burned bridges and stirred resentment in his own party.”

Thomas Friedman, in a column supporting Bloomberg, the newest savior in the protean Democratic firmament, wrote of Sanders: “On which planet in the Milky Way galaxy is an avowed ‘socialist’ — who wants to take away the private health care coverage of some 150 million Americans and replace it with a gigantic, untested Medicare-for-All program, which he’d also extend to illegal immigrants — going to defeat the Trump machine this year? It will cast Sanders as Che Guevara — and it won’t even be that hard.”

MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews, descending to the Red baiting employed by Blankfein, said that “if Castro and the Reds had won the Cold War there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed. And certain other people would be there cheering, okay?”

Despite the hyperventilating by corporate shills such as Matthews and Friedman, Sanders’ democratic socialism is essentially that of a New Deal Democrat. His political views would be part of the mainstream in France or Germany, where democratic socialism is an accepted part of the political landscape and is routinely challenged as too accommodationist by communists and radical socialists. Sanders calls for an end to our foreign wars, a reduction of the military budget, for “Medicare for All,” abolishing the death penalty, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and private prisons, a return of Glass-Steagall, raising taxes on the wealthy, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, canceling student debt, eliminating the Electoral College, banning fracking and breaking up agribusinesses. This does not qualify as a revolutionary agenda.

Sanders, unlike many more radical socialists, does not propose nationalizing the banks and the fossil fuel and arms industries. He does not call for the criminal prosecution of the financial elites who trashed the global economy or the politicians and generals who lied to launch preemptive wars, defined under international law as criminal wars of aggression, which have devastated much of the Middle East, resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees and displaced people, and cost the nation between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. He does not call for worker ownership of factories and businesses. He does not promise to halt the government’s wholesale surveillance of the public. He does not intend to punish corporations that have moved manufacturing overseas. Most importantly, he believes, as I do not, that the political system, including the Democratic Party, can be reformed from within. He does not support sustained mass civil disobedience to bring the system down, the only hope we have of halting the climate emergency that threatens to doom the human race. On the political spectrum, he is, at best, an enlightened moderate. The vicious attacks against him by the elites are an indication of how anemic and withered our politics have become.

The Democrats have, once again, offered us their preselected corporate candidates. We can vote for a candidate who serves oligarchic power, albeit with more decorum than Trump, or we can see Trump shoved down our throats. That is the choice. It exposes the least worst option as a con, a mechanism used repeatedly to buttress corporate power. The elites know they would be safe in the hands of a Hillary Clinton, a Barack Obama or a John Kerry, but not a Bernie Sanders — which is a credit to Sanders.

The surrender to the “least worst” mantra in presidential election after presidential election has neutered the demands of labor, along with those organizations and groups fighting poverty, mass incarceration and police violence. The civil rights, women’s rights, environment justice and consumer rights movements, forced to back Democrats whose rhetoric is palatable but whose actions are inimical to their causes, get tossed overboard. Political leverage, in election after election, is surrendered without a fight. We are all made to kneel before the altar of the least worst. We get nothing in return. The least worst option has proved to be a recipe for steady decay.

The Democrats, especially after Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential run, have erected numerous obstacles to block progressives inside and outside the party. They make ballot access difficult or impossible for people of color. They lock third-party candidates and often progressives in the Democratic Party, such as Dennis Kucinich, out of the presidential campaign debates. They turn campaigns into two-year-long spectacles that cost billions of dollars. They use superdelegates to fix the nominating process. They employ scare tactics to co-op those who should be the natural allies of third parties and progressive political movements.

The repeated cowardice of the liberal class, which backs a Democratic Party that in Europe would be considered a far-right party, saw it squander its credibility. Its rhetoric proved empty. Its moral posturing was a farce. It fought for nothing. In assault after assault on the working class it was complicit. If liberals — supposedly backers of parties and institutions that defend the interests of the working class — had abandoned the Democratic Party after President Bill Clinton pushed through the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump would not be in the White House. Why didn’t liberals walk out of the Democratic Party when Clinton and the Democratic Party leadership, including Biden, passed NAFTA? Why didn’t they walk out when the Clinton administration gutted welfare? Why didn’t they walk out when Clinton pushed through the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, which abolished the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, designed to prevent the kind of banking crisis that trashed the global economy in 2008? Why didn’t they walk out when year after year the Democratic Party funded and expanded our endless wars? Why didn’t they walk out when the Democrats agreed to undercut due process and habeas corpus? Why didn’t they walk out when the Democrats helped approve the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American citizens? Why didn’t the liberals walk out when the party leadership refused to impose sanctions on Israel for its war crimes, enact serious environmental and health care reform or regulate Wall Street? At what point will liberals say “Enough”? At what point will they fight back?

By surrendering every election cycle to the least worst, liberals proved they have no breaking point. There never has been a line in the sand. They have stood for nothing.

Bernie Sanders arose in 2016 as a political force because he, like Trump, acknowledged the bleak reality imposed on working men and women by the billionaire class. This reality, a reality ignored by the ruling elites, was spoken out loud. The elites were held accountable. The Democratic elites scrambled, successfully, to deny Sanders the 2016 nomination. The Republican elites squabbled among themselves and failed to prevent Trump from becoming the party nominee.

The 2016 chessboard has reappeared, but this time in the Democratic Party primary. The Democratic hierarchy, as horrified by Sanders as the established Republican elites were by Trump, is flailing about trying to find a political savior to defeat the Red menace. Their ineptitude, Sanders’ primary asset, was displayed when they mangled the Iowa primary. They, like the Republican elites in 2016, are woefully disconnected from their constituency, attempting to persuade a public they betrayed and no longer understand.

Joe Biden, long a stooge of corporate America, for example, is frantically attempting to paint himself as a champion of poor people of color after his defeats in the largely white states of Iowa and New Hampshire. The onetime vice president, however, was one of the driving forces behind the strategy to take back the “law and order” issue from the Republicans. He and Bill Clinton orchestrated the doubling of the prison population, the militarization of the police, and mandatory minimum sentences along with juvenile boot camps, drug courts, policing in schools and the acceleration of the deportation of “criminal aliens.” During Biden’s leadership in the Senate — where he served from 1973 until 2009, when he became Obama’s vice president — the Congress approved 92 death-eligible crimes in an almost identical period. These Democratic “law and order” policies landed like hammer blows on poor communities of color, inflicting untold misery and egregious acts of injustice. And now Biden, who pounded the nails into those he crucified, is desperately trying to present himself to his victims as their savior. It is a sad metaphor for the bankruptcy of the Democratic Party.

Biden, however, is no longer the Democratic ruling elite’s flavor of the month. This mantle has been passed to Bloomberg, once the Republican mayor of New York and a Rudy Giuliani ally whose indiscriminate stop-and-frisk harassment of, mainly, African Americans and Latinos was ruled unconstitutional. Bloomberg, whose net worth is estimated at $61.8 billion, said he is ready to spend $1 billion of his own money on his campaign, what The New York Times has called “a waterfall of cash.” He has bought the loyalty of much of the ruling Democratic establishment. He spent, for example, $110 million in 2018 alone to support 24 candidates now in Congress. He is saturating the airwaves with commercials. He is lavishing high salaries and perks on his huge campaign staff. Sanders, or anyone else defying the billionaire class, cannot compete financially. The last desperate gasp of the Democratic Party establishment is to buy the election. Bloomberg is ready to oblige. After all, Bloomberg’s money worked miracles in amassing allies to overturn New York City term limits so he could serve a third term as mayor.

But will it work? Will the Democratic elites and Bloomberg be able to smother the Democratic primaries with so much money that Sanders is shut out?

“As with Republicans in 2016, the defining characteristic of the 2020 Democratic race has been the unwieldy size of the field,” Matt Taibbi writes. “The same identity crisis lurking under the Republican clown car afflicted this year’s Democratic contest: Because neither donors nor party leaders nor pundits could figure out what they should be pretending to stand for, they couldn’t coalesce around any one candidate. These constant mercurial shifts in ‘momentum’ — it’s Pete! It’s Amy! Paging Mike Bloomberg! — have eroded the kingmaking power of the Democratic leadership. They are eating the party from within, and seem poised to continue doing so.”

If Sanders gets the nomination it will be due to the Keystone Cops ineptitude of the Democratic leadership, one that as Taibbi points out replicates the ineptitude of the Republican elites in 2016. But this time there will be a crucial difference. The ruling elites, once divided between Trump and Hillary Clinton, with most of the elites preferring Clinton, will be united against Sanders. They will back Trump as the least worst. The corporate media will turn its venom, now directed at Trump, toward Sanders. The Democratic Party’s mask will come off. It will be open warfare between them and us.

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. https://www.truthdig.com/author/chris_hedges/

==See Also==

Compliance 101: Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn the Schools into Prisons

By John W. Whitehead

“Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning.”—Investigative journalist Annette Fuentes

February 18, 2020 “Information Clearing House” –  Just when you thought the government couldn’t get any more tone-deaf about civil liberties and the growing need to protect “we the people” against an overreaching, overbearing police state, the Trump Administration ushers in even more strident zero tolerance policies that treat children like suspects and criminals, greater numbers of school cops, and all the trappings of a prison complex (unsurmountable fences, entrapment areas, no windows or trees, etc.).

The fallout has been what you’d expect, with the nation’s young people treated like hardened criminals: handcuffed, arrested, tasered, tackled and taught the painful lesson that the Constitution (especially the Fourth Amendment) doesn’t mean much in the American police state.

For example, in Florida, a cop assigned to River Ridge High School as a school resource officer, threatened to shoot a student attempting to leave school for a morning orthodontist appointment.

In Pennsylvania, school officials called in the cops after a 6-year-old with Down syndrome pointed a finger gun at her teacher.

In Kentucky, a school resource officer with the sheriff’s office handcuffed two elementary school children with disabilities, ages 8 and 9. A federal judge made the sheriff’s office pay more than $300,000 (of taxpayer money) to the families, ruling that the handcuffing of  the students “was an unconstitutional seizure and excessive force.”

Welcome to Compliance 101: the police state’s primer in how to churn out compliant citizens and transform the nation’s school’s into quasi-prisons through the use of surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs, strip searches and active shooter drills.

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If you were wondering, these police state tactics have not made the schools any safer.

Rather, they’ve turned the schools into authoritarian microcosms of the police state, containing almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.”

Two years after President Trump announced his intention to “harden” the schools, our nation’s children are reaping the ill effects of gun-toting, taser-wielding cops in government-run schools that bear an uncomfortable resemblance to prisons.

America’s schools are about as authoritarian as they come.

From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment he or she graduates, they will be exposed to a steady diet of:

  • draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior,
  • overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech,
  • school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students,
  • standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking,
  • politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them,
  • and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.

Young people in America are now first in line to be searched, surveilled, spied on, threatened, tied up, locked down, treated like criminals for non-criminal behavior, tasered and in some cases shot.

In my day, if you talked back to a teacher, or played a prank on a classmate, or just failed to do your homework, you might find yourself in detention or doing an extra writing assignment after school.

That is no longer the case.

Nowadays, students are not only punished for minor transgressions such as playing cops and robbers on the playground, bringing LEGOs to school, or having a food fight, but the punishments have become far more severe, shifting from detention and visits to the principal’s office into misdemeanor tickets, juvenile court, handcuffs, tasers and even prison terms.

Students have been suspended under school zero tolerance policies for bringing to school “look alike substances” such as oreganobreath mints, birth control pills and powdered sugar.

Look-alike weapons (toy guns—even Lego-sized ones, hand-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a “threatening” manner, imaginary bows and arrows, even fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in hot water.

Even good deeds do not go unpunished.

One 13-year-old was given detention for exposing the school to “liability” by sharing his lunch with a hungry friend. A third grader was suspended for shaving her head in sympathy for a friend who had lost her hair to chemotherapy. And then there was the high school senior who was suspended for saying “bless you” after a fellow classmate sneezed.

In South Carolina, where it’s against the law to disturb a school, more than a thousand students a year—some as young as 7 years old—“face criminal charges for not following directions, loitering, cursing, or the vague allegation of acting ‘obnoxiously.’ If charged as adults, they can be held in jail for up to 90 days.”

These outrageous incidents are exactly what you’ll see more of if the Trump Administration gets its way.

Increasing the number of cops in the schools only adds to the problem.

Thanks to a combination of media hype, political pandering and financial incentives, the use of armed police officers (a.k.a. school resource officers) to patrol school hallways has risen dramatically in the years since the Columbine school shooting.

Indeed, the growing presence of police in the nation’s schools is resulting in greater police “involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers.”

Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers (SRO) have become de facto wardens in elementary, middle and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called “criminals” in their midst with the help of tasers, pepper spray, batons and brute force.

In the absence of school-appropriate guidelines, police are more and more “stepping in to deal with minor rulebreaking: sagging pants, disrespectful comments, brief physical skirmishes. What previously might have resulted in a detention or a visit to the principal’s office was replaced with excruciating pain and temporary blindness, often followed by a trip to the courthouse.”

The horror stories are legion.

One SRO was accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting the cafeteria line.

That same cop put another student in a chokehold a week later, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury.

In Pennsylvania, a student was tasered after ignoring an order to put his cell phone away.

When 13-year-old Kevens Jean Baptiste failed to follow a school bus driver’s direction to keep the bus windows closed (Kevens, who suffers from asthma, opened the window after a fellow student sprayed perfume, causing him to cough and wheeze), he was handcuffed by police, removed from the bus, and while still handcuffed, had his legs swept out from under him by an officer, causing him to crash to the ground.

Young Alex Stone didn’t even make it past the first week of school before he became a victim of the police state. Directed by his teacher to do a creative writing assignment involving a series of fictional Facebook statuses, Stone wrote, “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business.” Despite the fact that dinosaurs are extinct, the status fabricated, and the South Carolina student was merely following orders, his teacher reported him to school administrators, who in turn called the police.

What followed is par for the course in schools today: students were locked down in their classrooms while armed police searched the 16-year-old’s locker and bookbag, handcuffed him, charged him with disorderly conduct disturbing the school, arrested him, detained him, and then he was suspended from school.

Not even the younger, elementary school-aged kids are being spared these “hardening” tactics.

On any given day when school is in session, kids who “act up” in class are pinned facedown on the floor, locked in dark closets, tied up with straps, bungee cords and duct tape, handcuffed, leg shackled, tasered or otherwise restrained, immobilized or placed in solitary confinement in order to bring them under “control.”

In almost every case, these undeniably harsh methods are used to punish kids—some as young as 4 and 5 years old—for simply failing to follow directions or throwing tantrums.

Very rarely do the kids pose any credible danger to themselves or others.

Unbelievably, these tactics are all legal, at least when employed by school officials or school resource officers in the nation’s public schools.

This is what happens when you introduce police and police tactics into the schools.

Paradoxically, by the time you add in the lockdowns and active shooter drills, instead of making the schools safer, school officials have succeeded in creating an environment in which children are so traumatized that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, anxiety, mistrust of adults in authority, as well as feelings of anger, depression, humiliation, despair and delusion.

For example, a middle school in Washington State went on lockdown after a student brought a toy gun to class. A Boston high school went into lockdown for four hours after a bullet was discovered in a classroom. A North Carolina elementary school locked down and called in police after a fifth grader reported seeing an unfamiliar man in the school (it turned out to be a parent).

Police officers at a Florida middle school carried out an active shooter drill in an effort to educate students about how to respond in the event of an actual shooting crisis. Two armed officers, guns loaded and drawn, burst into classrooms, terrorizing the students and placing the school into lockdown mode.

If these exercises are intended to instill fear and compliance into young people, they’re working.

As journalist Dahlia Lithwick points out: “I don’t recall any serious national public dialogue about lockdown protocols or how they became the norm. It seems simply to have begun, modeling itself on the lockdowns that occur during prison riots, and then spread until school lockdowns and lockdown drills are as common for our children as fire drills, and as routine as duck-and-cover drills were in the 1950s.”

The toll such incidents take on adults can be life-altering, but when such police brutality is perpetrated on young people, the end result is nothing less than complete indoctrination into becoming compliant citizens of a totalitarian state.

Schools acting like prisons.

School officials acting like wardens.

Students treated like inmates and punished like hardened criminals.

This is the end product of all those so-called school “safety” policies, which run the gamut from zero tolerance policies that punish all infractions harshly to surveillance cameras, metal detectors, random searches, drug-sniffing dogs, school-wide lockdowns, active-shooter drills and militarized police officers.

Unfortunately, advocates for such harsh police tactics and weaponry like to trot out the line that school safety should be our first priority lest we find ourselves with another Sandy Hook.

What they will not tell you is that such shootings are rare.

As one congressional report found, the schools are, generally speaking, safe places for children.

In their zeal to crack down on guns and lock down the schools, these cheerleaders for police state tactics in the schools might also fail to mention the lucrative, multi-million dollar deals being cut with military contractors such as Taser International to equip these school cops with tasers, tanks, rifles and $100,000 shooting detection systems.

Indeed, the transformation of hometown police departments into extensions of the military has been mirrored in the public schools, where school police have been gifted with high-powered M16 rifles, MRAP armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and other military gear. One Texas school district even boasts its own 12-member SWAT team.

According to one law review article on the school-to-prison pipeline, “Many school districts have formed their own police departments, some so large they rival the forces of major United States cities in size. For example, the safety division in New York City’s public schools is so large that if it were a local police department, it would be the fifth-largest police force in the country.”

The ramifications are far-reaching.

There can be no avoiding the hands-on lessons being taught in the schools about the role of police in our lives, ranging from active shooter drills and school-wide lockdowns to incidents in which children engaging in typically childlike behavior are suspended (for shooting an imaginary “arrow” at a fellow classmate), handcuffed (for being disruptive at school), arrested (for throwing water balloons as part of a school prank), and even tasered (for not obeying instructions).

Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters—which one would hope would be the objective of the schools—government officials seem determined to churn out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

So what’s the answer, not only for the here-and-now—the children growing up in these quasi-prisons—but for the future of this country?

How do you convince a child who has been routinely handcuffed, shackled, tied down, locked up, and immobilized by government officials—all before he reaches the age of adulthood—that he has any rights at all, let alone the right to challenge wrongdoing, resist oppression and defend himself against injustice?

Most of all, how do you persuade a fellow American that the government works for him when, for most of his young life, he has been incarcerated in an institution that teaches young people to be obedient and compliant citizens who don’t talk back, don’t question and don’t challenge authority?

Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College, believes that school is a prison that is damaging our kids, and it’s hard to disagree, especially with the numbers of police officers being assigned to schools on the rise.

Students, in turn, are not only finding themselves subjected to police tactics such as handcuffs, leg shackles, tasers and excessive force for “acting up” but are also being ticketed, fined and sent to court for behavior perceived as defiant, disruptive or disorderly such as spraying perfume and writing on a desk.

Clearly, the pathology that characterizes the American police state has passed down to the schools.

Now in addition to the government and its agents viewing the citizenry as suspects to be probed, poked, pinched, tasered, searched, seized, stripped and generally manhandled, all with the general blessing of the courts, our children in the public schools are also fair game for school resource officers who taser teenagers and handcuff kindergartners, school officials who have criminalized childhood behavior, school lockdowns and terror drills that teach your children to fear and comply, and a police state mindset that has transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.

Don’t even get me started on the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the phenomenon in which children who are suspended or expelled from school have a greater likelihood of ending up in jail. One study found that “being suspended or expelled made a student nearly three times more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system within the next year.”

By the time the average young person in America finishes their public school education, nearly one out of every three of them will have been arrested. Nearly 40 percent of those young people who are arrested will serve time in a private prison, where the emphasis is on making profits for large megacorporations above all else.

Indeed, this profit-driven system of incarceration has also given rise to a growth in juvenile prisons and financial incentives for jailing young people. In this way, young people have become easy targets for the private prison industry, which profits from criminalizing childish behavior and jailing young people.

None of these tactics are making our communities or schools any safer, and they’re certainly not contributing to environments in which learning flourishes. Incredibly, despite the fact that the U.S. invests more money in public education (roughly $13,000 per child per year) than many other developed countries, we rank around the middle of the pack in science, math and reading, and behind many other advanced industrial nations.

Without a doubt, change is needed, but that will mean taking on the teachers’ unions, the school unions, the educators’ associations, and the police unions, not to mention the politicians dependent on their votes and all of the corporations that profit mightily from an industrial school complex.

As we’ve seen with other issues, any significant reforms will have to start locally and trickle upwards.

For starters, parents need to be vocal, visible and organized and demand that school officials 1) adopt a policy of positive reinforcement in dealing with behavior issues; 2) minimize the presence in the schools of police officers and cease involving them in student discipline; and 3) insist that all behavioral issues be addressed first and foremost with a child’s parents, before any other disciplinary tactics are attempted.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, if you want a nation of criminals, treat the citizenry like criminals.

If you want young people who grow up seeing themselves as prisoners, run the schools like prisons.

If, on the other hand, you want to raise up a generation of freedom fighters, who will actually operate with justice, fairness, accountability and equality towards each other and their government, then run the schools like freedom forums.

Remove the metal detectors and surveillance cameras, re-assign the cops elsewhere, and start treating our nation’s young people like citizens of a republic and not inmates in a police state penitentiary.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

Julian Assange Must be Freed, Not Betrayed

By John Pilger

February 18, 2020 “Information Clearing House” –   On Saturday, there will be a march from Australia House in London to Parliament Square, the centre of British democracy. People will carry pictures of the Australian publisher and journalist Julian Assange who, on 24 February, faces a court that will decide whether or not he is to be extradited to the United States and a living death.

I know Australia House well. As an Australian myself, I used to go there in my early days in London to read the newspapers from home. Opened by King George V over a century ago, its vastness of marble and stone, chandeliers and solemn portraits, imported from Australia when Australian soldiers were dying in the slaughter of the First World War, have ensured its landmark as an imperial pile of monumental servility.

As one of the oldest “diplomatic missions” in the United Kingdom, this relic of empire provides a pleasurable sinecure for Antipodean politicians:  a “mate” rewarded or a troublemaker exiled.

Known as  High Commissioner, the equivalent of an ambassador, the current beneficiary is George Brandis, who as Attorney General tried to water down Australia’s Race Discrimination Act and approved raids on whistleblowers who had revealed the truth about Australia’s  illegal spying on East Timor during negotiations for the carve-up of that impoverished country’s oil and gas.

This led to the prosecution of whistleblowers Bernard Collaery and “Witness K”,  on bogus charges. Like Julian Assange, they are to be silenced in a Kafkaesque trial and put away.

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Australia House is the ideal starting point for Saturday’s march.

“I confess,” wrote Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1898, “that countries are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.””

We Australians have been in the service of the Great Game for a very long time. Having devastated our Indigenous people in an invasion and a war of attrition that continues to this day, we have spilt blood for our imperial masters in China, Africa, Russia, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. No imperial adventure against those with whom we have no quarrel has escaped our dedication.

Deception has been a feature. When Prime Minister Robert Menzies sent Australian soldiers to Vietnam in the 1960s, he described them as a training team, requested by a beleaguered government in Saigon. It was a lie. A senior official of the Department of External Affairs wrote secretly that “although we have stressed the fact publicly that our assistance was given in response to an invitation by the government of South Vietnam”, the order came from Washington.”

Two versions. The lie for us, the truth for them. As many as four million people died in the Vietnam war.

When Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, the Australian Ambassador, Richard Woolcott, secretly urged the government in Canberra to “act in a way which would be designed to minimise the public impact in Australia and show private understanding to Indonesia.”  In other words, to lie. He alluded to the beckoning spoils of oil and gas in the Timor Sea which, boasted Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, were worth “zillions”.

In the genocide that followed, at least 200,000 East Timorese died. Australia recognised, almost alone, the legitimacy of the occupation.

When Prime Minister John Howard sent Australian special forces to invade Iraq with America and Britain in 2003, he — like George W. Bush and Tony Blair — lied that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. More than a million people died in Iraq.

WikiLeaks was not the first to call out the pattern of criminal lying in democracies that remain every bit as rapacious as in Lord Curzon’s day. The achievement of the remarkable publishing organisation founded by Julian Assange has been to provide the proof.

WikiLeaks has informed us how illegal wars are fabricated, how governments are overthrown and violence is used in our name, how we are spied upon through our phones and screens. The true lies of presidents, ambassadors, political candidates, generals, proxies, political fraudsters have been exposed. One by one, these would-be emperors have realised they have no clothes.

It has been an unprecedented public service; above all, it is authentic journalism, whose value can be judged by the degree of apoplexy of the corrupt and their apologists.

For example, in 2016, WikiLeaks published the leaked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, which revealed a direct connection between Clinton, the foundation she shares with her husband and the funding of organised jihadism in the Middle East — terrorism.

One email disclosed that Islamic State (ISIS) was bankrolled by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, from which Clinton accepted huge “donations”. Moreover, as US Secretary of State, she approved the world’s biggest ever arms sale to her Saudi benefactors, worth more than $80 billion. Thanks to her, US arms sales to the world — for use in stricken countries like Yemen — doubled.

Revealed by WikiLeaks and published in The New York Times, the Podesta emails triggered a vituperative campaign against editor-in-chief Julian Assange, bereft of evidence. He was an “agent of Russia working to elect Trump”; the nonsensical “Russiagate” followed. That WikiLeaks had also published more than 800,000 frequently damning documents from Russia was ignored.

On an Australian Broadcasting Corporation programme, Four Corners, in 2017, Clinton was interviewed by Sarah Ferguson, who began: “No one could fail to be moved by the pain on your face at [the moment of Donald Trump’s inauguration] … Do you remember how visceral it was for you?”

Having established Clinton’s visceral suffering, the fawning Ferguson described “Russia’s role” and the “damage done personally to you” by Julian Assange.

Clinton replied, “He [Assange] is very clearly a tool of Russian intelligence. And he has done their bidding.”

Ferguson said to Clinton, “Lots of people, including in Australia, think that Assange is a martyr of free speech and freedom of information. How would you describe him?”

Again, Clinton was allowed to defame Assange — a “nihilist” in the service of “dictators” — while Ferguson assured her interviewee she was “the icon of your generation”.

There was no mention of a leaked document, revealed by WikiLeaks, called Libya Tick Tock, prepared for Hillary Clinton, which described her as the central figure driving the destruction of the Libyan state in 2011. This resulted in 40,000 deaths, the arrival of ISIS in North Africa and the European refugee and migrant crisis.

For me, this episode of Clinton’s interview — and there are many others – vividly illustrates the division between false and true journalism. On 24 February, when Julian Assange steps into Woolwich Crown Court, true journalism will be the only crime on trial.

I am sometimes asked why I have championed Assange. For one thing, I like and I admire him. He is a friend with astonishing courage; and he has a finely honed, wicked sense of humour. He is the diametric opposite of the character invented then assassinated by his enemies.

As a reporter in places of upheaval all over the world, I have learned to compare the evidence I have witnessed with the words and actions of those with power. In this way, it is possible to get a sense of how our world is controlled and divided and manipulated, how language and debate are distorted to produce the propaganda of false consciousness.

When we speak about dictatorships, we call this brainwashing: the conquest of minds. It is a truth we rarely apply to our own societies, regardless of the trail of blood that leads back to us and which never dries.

WikiLeaks has exposed this. That is why Assange is in a maximum security prison in London facing concocted political charges in America, and why he has shamed so many of those paid to keep the record straight. Watch these journalists now look for cover as it dawns on them that the American fascists who have come for Assange may come for them, not least those on the Guardian who collaborated with WikiLeaks and won prizes and secured lucrative book and Hollywood deals based on his work, before turning on him.

In 2011, David Leigh, the Guardian’s  “investigations editor”, told journalism students at City University in London that Assange was “quite deranged”. When a puzzled student asked why, Leigh replied, “Because he doesn’t understand the parameters of conventional journalism”.

But it’s precisely because he did understand that the “parameters” of the media often shielded vested and political interests and had nothing to do with transparency that the idea of WikiLeaks was so appealing to many people, especially the young, rightly cynical about the so-called “mainstream”.

Leigh mocked the very idea that, once extradited, Assange would end up “wearing an orange jumpsuit”. These were things, he said, “that he and his lawyer are saying in order to feed his paranoia”.

The current US charges against Assange centre on the Afghan Logs and Iraq Logs, which the Guardian published and Leigh worked on, and on the Collateral Murder video showing an American helicopter crew gunning down civilians and celebrating the crime. For this journalism, Assange faces 17 charges of “espionage” which carry prison sentences totalling 175 years.

Whether or not his prison uniform will be an “orange jumpsuit”, US court files seen by Assange’s lawyers reveal that, once extradited, Assange will be subject to Special Administrative Measures, known as SAMS.  A 2017 report by Yale University Law School and the Center for Constitutional Rights described SAMS as “the darkest corner of the US federal prison system” combining “the brutality and isolation of maximum security units with additional restrictions that deny individuals almost any connection to the human world … The net effect is to shield this form of torture from any real public scrutiny.”

That Assange has been right all along, and getting him to Sweden was a fraud to cover an American plan to “render” him, is finally becoming clear to many who swallowed the incessant scuttlebutt of character assassination. “I speak fluent Swedish and was able to read all the original documents,” Nils Melzer, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, said recently, “I could hardly believe my eyes. According to the testimony of the woman in question, a rape had never taken place at all. And not only that: the woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm Police without her involvement in order to somehow make it sound like a possible rape. I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.”

Keir Starmer is currently running for election as leader of the Labour Party in Britain. Between 2008 and 2013, he was Director of Public Prosecutions and responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service. According to Freedom of Information searches by the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, Sweden tried to drop the Assange case in 2011, but a CPS official in London told the Swedish prosecutor not to treat it as “just another extradition”.

In 2012, she received an email from the CPS: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”  Other CPS emails were either deleted or redacted. Why? Keir Starmer needs to say why.

At the forefront of Saturday’s march will be John Shipton, Julian’s father, whose indefatigable support for his son is the antithesis of the collusion and cruelty of the governments of Australia, our homeland.

The roll call of shame begins with  Julia Gillard, the Australian Labor prime minister who, in 2010, wanted to criminalise WikiLeaks, arrest Assange and cancel his passport– until the Australian Federal Police pointed out that no law allowed this and that Assange had committed no crime.

While falsely claiming to give him consular assistance in London, it was the Gillard government’s shocking abandonment of its citizen that led to Ecuador granting political asylum to Assange in its London embassy.

In a subsequent speech before the US Congress, Gillard, a favourite of the US embassy in Canberra, broke records for sycophancy (according to the website Honest History) as she declared, over and again, the fidelity of America’s “mates Down Under”.

Today, while Assange waits in his cell, Gillard travels the world, promoting herself as a feminist concerned about “human rights”, often in tandem with that other right-on feminist Hillary Clinton.

The truth is that Australia could have rescued Julian Assange and can still rescue him.

In 2010, I arranged to meet a prominent Liberal (Conservative) Member of Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull. As a young barrister in the 1980s, Turnbull had successfully fought the British Government’s attempts to prevent the publication of the book, Spycatcher, whose author Peter Wright, a spy, had exposed Britain’s “deep state”.

We talked about his famous victory for free speech and publishing and I described the miscarriage of justice awaiting Assange — the fraud of his arrest in Sweden and its connection with an American indictment that tore up the US Constitution and the rule of international law.

Turnbull appeared to show genuine interest and an aide took extensive notes. I asked him to deliver a letter to the Australian government from Gareth Peirce, the renowned British human rights lawyer who represents Assange.

In the letter, Peirce wrote, “Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for [Julian Assange] any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”

Turnbull promised to deliver the letter, follow it through and let me know. I subsequently wrote to him several times, waited and heard nothing.

In 2018, John Shipton wrote a deeply moving letter to the then prime minister of Australia asking him to exercise the diplomatic power at his government’s disposal and bring Julian home. He wrote that he feared that if Julian was not rescued, there would be a tragedy and his son would die in prison. He received no reply. The prime minister was Malcolm Turnbull.

Last year, when the current prime minister, Scott Morrison, a former public relations man, was asked about Assange, he replied in his customary way, “He should face the music!”

When Saturday’s march reaches the Houses of Parliament, said to be “the Mother of Parliaments”, Morrison and Gillard and Turnbull and all those who have betrayed Julian Assange should be called out; history and decency will not forget them or those who remain silent now.

And if there is any sense of justice left in the land of Magna Carta, the travesty that is the case against this heroic Australian must be thrown out. Or beware, all of us.

The march on Saturday, 22 February begins at Australia House in Aldwych, London WC2B 4LA, at 12.30pm: assemble at 11.30pm

Visit http://johnpilger.com/

© John Pilger 2010 – 2020

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==See Also==

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‘Doctors for Assange’ worry he may die in UK prison having ‘effectively been tortured to death’

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