I sense no soul in this rabble
just fearful alchemy
a hum of devilish trouble
’tis no people’s celebration
this fascist akelarre
just a rueful abnegation
of what we’re fighting for
a ghastly chill is in the air—
We can not jeopardize our only charge
We resolve to fly the peasants banner
Damned for our belief and strident manner
We partisans prevail beyond the marge
The land inspires the onyx and litarge
Which will forever be the People’s streamer
Aragon shall be its own redeemer
With fate as its commitment to discharge
We warriors whose hearts beat in harmony
Unfurl the flag and watch the colors soar
Caballeros of truth and anarchy
Avenge the lamentations of the poor
Strive onward contra fascist tyranny
And banish their deceit forevermore
Workers, artists, the land is yours
Fascists have no claim on it
Farmers, mothers, the land is yours
Stalinists have no stake in it
The land feeds you, it shelters you
Capitalists will pillage it
The land conceived you, it birthed you
Priests will diseffect you from it
Swains, partisans, the land is yours
Fatalists have no love for it
Songstresses, bards, the land is yours
Puritans will sanitize it
The land inspires you, delights you
The abject will denigrate it
The land endows you, renews you
The callous will despoil it
The land is yours
Will you fight for it?
Her farmers hands deep in the earth
gravid with hale prosperity
coaxing forth a flourishing worth
to furnish her community
her humble sweat a palliative
to dulcify her burning brow
her labor is the love she lives
and to her comrades she’ll endow
the sun will set before she’s done
but with evening comes release
a night of humor, dance, and fun
with the cream of the Argonese
I see where the red bird flew
into the vast verboten blue
over the snares and telephone wires
free towards tomorrows dawn
adobe homes massed below
comrades huddle in the glow
of a warm insurgent fire
foretime near, tomorrow gone
from the dust a dream took wing
buoyant misbegotten thing
kept aloft by the ire
of heroic Aragon
Riddle me this: how can a man rejected by the Senate for a Federal Judgeship in the 80’s for being a racist anti-voting rights Southern Good Ol’ boy suddenly be not TOO racist to be the Attorney General of the US? The answer of course is that when the GOP control the Senate, racism on the job is a plus, but that is besides the point.
What has Sen. Jeff Sessions said that would lead so many people to vigorously denounce him and his candidacy? Well, let’s check the record, shall we?
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing 1986:
Jeff Session was asked about a white attorney he knew in Alabama, and what was allegedly said about his working for Civil Rights cases representing black clients:
“Trying to recollect on it the best I can recall was, and I say, well, he’s not that popular around town. I’ve heard him referred to as a disgrace to his race.”
This answer so rattled the Committee that he was called back for a second time a month later to “clarify” his remarks. Mr. Sessions, aware of how bad this moment of truth made him look, suddenly started whistling a different version of Dixie entirely:
“I am absolutely convinced that I did not call Mr. Blackshear [the attorney in question] a disgrace to his race, and I did not acknowledge it in any form.”
During the same process, Mr. Sessions did a similar 180 on his admission he had once called the NAACP and the ACLU, both organizations renowned for their work fighting for the rights of African Americans, “un-American” and “communist-inspired” organization, first stating that it he hadn’t “mean[t] any harm”, but once more when given a second bite at the apple, denied he’d ever said such terrible, no good, dirty rotten things, mah word. (1)
Mr. Sessions interesting views on race and civil rights do not end there, however. Here a sample of Mr. Sessions, the man who is expected to represent ALL Americans as the number one law enforcement officer in the US, more “unconventional” views and thoughts and actions:
He voted to for the blanket BAN women in the military from receiving abortion services on their military base (2)
He “did not disclose his ownership of oil interests on land in Alabama as required by federal ethics rules”(3)
In response to Donald Trump’s admission he’d molested, assaulted, and grabbed the genitalia of women he said “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know what he meant.” (4)
Sessions, while prosecuting a case of the lynching of a black man in Alabama, made the following “joke” (which at the time he apologized for but now denies ever having said, contradicting the testimony he made to the Judiciary Committee in ’86):
“I thought those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot.” (5)
As a State’s Attorney in Alabama, Mr. Session said “I intend to do everything I can to stop” a conference on LGBT issues and civil rights by the Southeastern Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual College Conference from taking place at the University of Alabama, a stance that was in conflict with a Federal Court ruling. (6)
Sessions called the Federal Voting Rights Act “intrusive […] because you’re only focused on a certain number of states”, namely states with a long history of violating the civil and voting rights of African Americans. (7)
Sessions claimed that efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from statehouses and public monuments across the South was an attempt to “delegitimize the fabulous accomplishments of our country.” (8)
I could go on (and on and on and on…) but I think you get the picture. Sen. Jeff Sessions has shown through his words, opinions, and actions that he does NOT respect the rights of all Americans equally and CANNOT be trusted to represent ALL Americans as the Attorney General of the US
the following is an edited & expanded version of a response I gave to a friend during a very enlightening & intelligent discussion of the historical & ethical “meaning” of the French Revolution
as to Robespierre, I agree with you on him being a complex individual, but I don’t think he was a contradiction so much as someone who falsely believed human beings could control the development of history through compromise & constant action. He was too much theory without the introspection & introspection needed to put it into achievable action.
as to him behaving like a king or a god…. He never had as much power personally as the King did or even some of his ministers. He had to work with a powerful Comittee Of Public Safety & had to carefully juggle the needs/demands of the burgeoning proletariat & the newly empowered bourgeoises. Most of the actions that he took that contradicted his own moral & ethical beliefs he took because the People wanted them done, or at least the representatives of the People claimed it was what the people wanted or what the Republic needed.
I think his actions need to be put in context: France had just emerged, violently, from a nearly millinuim long tyrannical/feudal regime that effectively enslaved, maimed, starved & abritrarily imprisoned & killed millions over its existence. The Republic, whiche Robespierre & his compatriots, & many (but by no means all of course) of the people truly believed in, was born into immediate danger from the monarchies surrounding it & hoping to reenslave the people. Robespierre did some truly stupid & awful things, but he also set the example for a system that could aspire to rule in the name of the People instead of a the whim of one man’s, and his favorites, desires.
It of course did not work out the way it was intended, but that of course ascribes to the actors of the time a hindsight that no one possesses. Robespierre, in the end, went from being a theorhetician to a political actor, trying to preserve his ethics along the way. In doing so I think he found it was better to sacrifice his ethics for what he saw as the good of the people, & the survival of the Republican experiment.
Robespierre though, I believe sincerly, he was doing what was in the best interest of the public good & the good of the Republican system. Furthermore, he believed the Republicans system was essential to preserving the public good, to preserving any hope for a society not founded upon the divine right of kings or of the needs & rights of human beings be subordinated to the financial & social concerns of a miniscule, undeserving elite. We too often look at history as though it is a map leading us down a road to the inevitability of the present day. This is myopia common to Liberal, Conservative & Marxist historians, a failing we radical thinkers & actors should not shy away from admitting. It is one of the failings of Robespierre himself, a failure of imaginationm, of understand how there is not always one correct path. One thing Robespierre never lacked, however, was courage. One who was afraid to put his very life & morals on the line would never have written
It is time to designate clearly the purposes of the revolution and the point which we wish to attain: It is time we should examine ourselves the obstacles which yet are between us and our wishes, and the means most proper to realize them: A consideration simple and important which appears not yet to have been contemplated. Indeed, how could a base and corrupt government have dared to view themselves in the mirror of political rectitude? A king, a proud senate, a Caesar, a Cromwell; of these the first care was to cover their dark designs under the cloak of religion, to covenant with every vice, caress every party, destroy men of probity, oppress and deceive the people in order to attain the end of their perfidious ambition. If we had not had a task of the first magnitude to accomplish; if all our concern had been to raise a party or create a new aristocracy, we might have believed, as certain writers more ignorant than wicked asserted, that the plan of the French revolution was to be found written in the works of Tacitus and of Machiavel; we might have sought the duties of the representatives of the people in the history of Augustus, of Tiberius, or of Vespasian, or even in that of certain French legislators; for tyrants are substantially alike and only differ by trifling shades of perfidy and cruelty.
Is this the sentiment of a tyrant? Was Robespierre, he who desired no office or title more grand than Commitee Member & Citizen, he who died with little more than a meager pension & a pensioners flat to his name, was he this man out to “oppress and deceive the people in order to attain the end of [his] perfidious ambition”? I think not & I see no evidence in the historical record or in this man’s life or writings to justify condemning him to that political Tartarus inhabited by the likes of Stalin, the Borgia, Hitler, Ivan Grosny & so many more like them.
The Terror, that great, much maligined and mythologized means that has not yet reached a satisfactory end, was not a paranoid purge, or genocidal rage or even a spasm of revenge against a particular class. No, it was a fever in the body politik, the stupid, desperate, sublime, but most of all sincere striving of a people trying to understand & build an entirely new system. The Terror was no less than a cannibalistic attempt to purge itself of its own self-loathing & self doubt, the neurosis of people who had only ever known slavery & degredation. From this struggle was born the idea of The People as a dynamic, worthy force of history & nature. Nationalism, industrial militarism, and a new form of fascism were the deformed sibilings of this great moment of self-realization, but we must, as with anything else, take the good with the bad.
There is no dialectic without dialogue between our worst & best impulses as human animals. Today, we forgive violence that frees the slave, frees “markets”, and frees “hearts and minds”; why then can’t we seem to forgive the violence that midwifed our modern world, our contemporary praxis? It is with shame that one looks back on the violent, messy origins of oneself, ones’ being. It is no different for we post-modern People, we who live in the age which copes with the dirty secret of our own conception by mythologizing it, shrouding it in fantasy and telling ourselves, “that was then, that was they; now is better, we are who we need to be…” The lie of progress, the myth of outcome, excelsior, ever better, ever brighter…all the while more and more violence & terror is needed every year just to preserve the self-concious chaos we call the Modern World; more bloodshed & brutality than a hundred Terrors. I go back to the words of Robespierre, that man call, without irony, incorruptable
From all this let us deduce a great truth: the characteristic of popular government is confidence in the people and severity towards itself.
The whole development of our theory would end here if you had only to pilot the vessel of the Republic through calm waters; but the tempest roars, and the revolution imposes on you another task.
This great purity of the French revolution’s basis, the very sublimity of its objective, is precisely what causes both our strength and our weakness. Our strength, because it gives to us truth’s ascendancy over imposture, and the rights of the public interest over private interests; our weakness, because it rallies all vicious men against us, all those who in their hearts contemplated despoiling the people and all those who intend to let it be despoiled with impunity
If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs
Is this not the ethos, the creed, the moral gospel of the Modern age? The pivot upon which the contemporary world turns? Why do we continue to deny our birth, our origin, our founding creed? Is it not because we can no longer stomach the face we see reflected back at us by history’s mirror?