Sunday, November 16, 2014

The American Psychological Association Executive/CIA Torture Program

      In recent news:

      The CIA, as Eric Lichtblau has reported, settled many Nazi war criminals in the United States and long protected them against prosecution - see here.

       The CIA illegally stonewalls the release of the Senate report on torture, bugging and thieving from the Senate Committee which, under our Constitution's separation and balance of powers,  supposedly oversees it - see here -...

     The CIA presided over the Bush administration's torture and murder of prisoners (100 homicides in American custody by Pentagon statistics...).  They corrupted and suborned the leadership of the American Psychological Association to oversee and participate in torture.


      The description in James Risen's New York Times article yesterday - below - of the desperate meeting of the psychologist/torturers in the US 'intelligence" apparatus with the leadership of the APA following the released photographs about Abu Ghraib and trying to hide the obvious is hilarious - these are the keystone cops of "intelligence" -  though the light this meeting casts on a kind of pseudo-neutral, "value-free" "professionalism" in the social sciences (political science as well) which serves the Pentagon and the CIA is anything but.


     With regard to a decent life for human beings, social science is never "value free" (see my  Democratic Individuality, ch. 1).   Minimally, writers on society, including would-be "scientists," need to seek the truth.  Being value neutral between truth and error or ideology or knowing falsehood is self-refuting and despite any serious accomplishments in research, laughable.  The grain of insight misstated in this methodological doctrine is that researchers should challenge their own biases, a derivate or subordinate neutrality given the primary goal of seeking the truth.


     Behavioral psychology is not physics; in fact, a psychology which spurns Freud's discovery of the unconscious has little hope of being a serious - in a particular and different domain  of thinking (Dudley Shapere) - equivalent of physics...


      Worse, these activities not only are neither "neutral" nor professional; they are evil.


      Other professional associations, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association have  rightly barred their members from carrying out such war crimes (even the FBI and some CIA professionals withdrew - see here).


      For torture is, of course, also ineffective, useful only for widely scaring people and producing hatred for the United States' government - Richard Cheney's "going to the dark side"  - but not for getting useful information Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator  gained the confidence of prisoners like Abu Zubaydah - see here; it was destroyed by Mitchell and Jesson, the two "psychologists," trotted out under the zealous and foolish leadership of CIA director George Tenet.  In the SERE program, Mitchell and Jesson had only simulated "Chinese Communist' torture on American prisoners, i.e. they had no experience in actually eliciting information from prisoners (one really can't make this stuff up....).


    People who knew something at the center of the "Bells and Whistles" Bush administration were in short supply...

    Followers of Leo Strauss like Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol as well as itinerant, one might say foolish  neocons made overt aggression in the Middle East - the unprovoked attack on Iraq (see Article 2, Section 4 of the United Nations Charter, for the relevant international and American law against aggression (treaties signed by the US are by the Supremacy Clause, Article 6 section 2 of the Constitution) - and torture hallmarks of American policy.

    (Unfortunately, the Democratic neo-neo cons, advisors for "humanitarian intervention" who bellow for war - the criterion for "face time" on tv, as Leslie Gelb later confessed, in the corrupt commercial media - are little better).


    A revolt from below in the American Psychological Association challenged the leadership and forced much of the information about this nexus of criminality into the light of day.


     It is often hard in a democracy, even in normal, hierarchical organizations, to maintain anti-democratic evil in secret...


     James Risen, a New York Times reporter (see below) has written a powerful book on the crimes committed by the US government during this period, its creation of widespread enmity in the Middle East (in a recent poll by the Arab Center for Research and Public Policy, 90% of those interviewed in several countries,  oppose ISIS, 77% American policy in the Middle East...), and its mind boggling stupidity and ineffectualness (let's see - after the truce of IS and Al Qaeda, what horse is Obama betting American troops and respectability on in Syria...?)


      Why does a democracy need large secret police organizations, doing frequent horrific - enough to make bursts of big news even in the corporate press - and stupid crimes? (What did the CIA get from recruiting Talcott Parsons, the famous Harvard sociologist, to debrief Nazi war criminals before resettling them in the US?  What positive accomplishments came from von Braun and others (the University of Denver track coach when I arrived was Edgars Laipeneks, formerly "the Butcher of Riga"...- h/t Doug Vaughan)?


    Why is our "Executive" supposedly helped by such activities?


     Why has Obama made himself an accomplice to torturers - refusing to prosecute a single one - while threatening to put James Risen in jail for revealing government spying on Americans.  Listen to a striking interview with Risen here.


       Does militarism/the CIA run the President or the President the CIA?.


       Why did the editors of the New York Times, engaging in embarrassingly anti-journalistic activity, suppress the story on Bush administration crimes - spying on Americans - a month before the 2004 election and, thus, throw the election to Bush (see here)?


      Drone murders of innocents have made people hate the US widely and justifiably, since Obama assumed office. Obama has protected  the torturers in the CIA as well  the officials of the Bush administration - only Colin Powell appears actually to have opposed torture, since any military leader can understand that if "we" torture "enemy" prisoners, it is an invitation to or provides legitimacy for "them" to torture Americans.   Obama has so far also protected the criminal - lying to Congress for a start, overseeing torture under Bush, moderating "terror Tuesdays" at the White House to pick some of those to be offed with drones, and the like - and loathsome CIA director John Brennan...


     Piece by piece, the war complex - the military-industrial-congressional-political-intelligence-foreign generals purchasing/using US military equipment with American "aid"-media complex - needs to be looked at. That our society or the world can survive this kind of militarism in combination with global warming (read Martin Luther King's speech on Vietnam here) in this century is doubtful.


    In any case, the thought that we, as a people, would be better off if we abolished the action arm of the CIA(/intelligence agencies), restricting it to gathering knowledge, though not by spying on Americans, that we  would be better off blocking its infamous crimes of which suborning social science is but one  (overthrowing some 15 nonwhite democracies during and after the Cold War, too, leaps to mind), is important and deserves to be meditated on.


New York Times:
"Psychologists to Review Role in Detainee Interrogations
By JAMES RISEN NOV. 13, 2014

WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest organization of psychologists will conduct an independent review into whether it colluded with or supported the government’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners during the Bush administration.
The American Psychological Association said in a statement released late Wednesday that its board had named David H. Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, to conduct the review.  
For years, questions about the role of American psychologists and behavioral scientists in the development and implementation of the Bush-era interrogation program have been raised by human rights advocates as well as by critics within the psychological profession itself. Psychologists were involved in developing the enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency. Later, a number of psychologists, in the military and in the intelligence community, were involved in carrying out and monitoring interrogations.

In an interview, Mr. Hoffman, a former federal prosecutor and onetime inspector general of the city of Chicago, emphasized the independence of his investigation. “We will go wherever the evidence leads,” he said.
Some longtime critics praised the move by the group. “The A.P.A.’s action is a long-needed step toward an independent review of their post-9/11 activities,” said Stephen Soldz, a professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. “It is vital that this review be fully independent and comprehensive in nature.”
Critics like Mr. Soldz have said that the participation of psychologists allowed the Bush administration to argue that the interrogations did not constitute torture because they and other behavioral scientists were monitoring the interrogations to make sure they remained “safe, legal and effective.” Psychiatrists were not as willing to cooperate with the interrogation programs.
In particular, the critics have cited the association’s 2002 decision to modify its ethics rules that in effect gave greater professional cover to psychologists who had been helping to monitor and oversee interrogations.
The most important change was a new guideline that made it clear that if a psychologist faced a conflict between the A.P.A.’s ethics code and a lawful order, the psychologist could follow the law. Critics say this introduced the Nuremberg defense into American psychology — following orders was an acceptable reason to violate professional ethics.
“It’s sad that the A.P.A., rather than protecting its members from engaging in interrogation activities, bent its rules to allow their participation in those interrogations,” Mr. Soldz said.
The association has long defended the profession’s activities as well as itself against critics who have questioned whether the organization helped make it easier for psychologists to remain involved with the government’s interrogation program, even after the Abu Ghraib scandal set off a public debate about the program.
In its statement, the association said that its decision to appoint an independent reviewer was prompted by questions raised about the relationship between the psychological profession and the government agencies involved in the torture program in the new book, “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War,” by this reporter.
The book uses the email archive of Scott Gerwehr, a behavioral researcher with ties to the C.I.A. and other agencies who died in 2008, to provide a glimpse at the network of psychologists, academic researchers, contractors and intelligence and Pentagon officials who formed the behavioral science infrastructure that grew up after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to support the Bush administration’s war on terror.
Most notable, the emails reveal that after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in 2004, the association was eager to get out in front of the controversy by developing new professional guidelines for psychologists involved in interrogations. The group created a committee to study the matter, and in 2005 issued a report that, in effect, enabled psychologists involved in the Bush interrogation program to continue. A number of psychologists and human rights advocates have been critical of the work of that committee, known as the PENS Task Force, ever since.
Mr. Gerwehr’s emails show for the first time the degree to which behavioral science experts from within the government’s national security apparatus played roles in shaping the outcome of the A.P.A. task force. The emails show that in July 2004, just months after the graphic photos of abuse at Abu Ghraib were publicly disclosed, association officials convened a private meeting of psychologists who worked at the C.I.A., the Pentagon and other national security agencies to provide input on how the association should deal with the “unique ethical issues” raised for psychologists in the wake of the Abu Ghraib disclosures.
After the A.P.A. task force effectively endorsed the continued involvement of psychologists in the interrogation program, one association official wrote, in an email on which Mr. Gerwehr was copied, that he wanted to thank an intelligence official for helping to influence the outcome of the task force. “Your views were well represented by very carefully selected task force members,” the A.P.A. official wrote.
The association’s statement suggested, however, that Mr. Hoffman’s investigation would range far more widely than the relatively narrow questions raised by Mr. Gerwehr’s emails detailed in the book."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Left Hand Canyon by Linda Hogan

Niwot - Left Hand - came up in my  conversation with Duncan Campbell in Boulder where Left Hand Canyon is last weekend.  For this morning's "Connections", listen here.  For last Sunday's Living Dialogues, listen here.  For a KGNU report on Niwot, see here.


Left hand was one of many peace leaders massacred by the US army at Sand Creek in which Chivington and Governor John Evans made a general Indian war. "To rid us of the roaming Plains Indians," Evans, the leading advocate of war since late 1863, provoked the very 25 year conflict he supposedly sought to avoid.


Yet his words in the wind, on the wind, are spoken below in a fierce poem - about those who take another man's land but cannot long steal his words, about those who swarmed to mine, who killed and drove out animals in the natural world in which the indigenous people lived and yet in the deepest sense, the animals remain - by Linda Hogan (see her Dark.Sweet: New and Selected Poems here).


By Linda Hogan

“Remember what Chief Left Hand said?
Never mind. Everything else
was taken from him
let’s leave his grief alone.”
William Matthews

In the air
which moves the grass
moves the fur of a black horse
his words come back,
the old griefs
carried on the wind.

Left Hand returns to speak,
wind in the blood of those
who will listen.
If his words were taken from him,
I’m giving them back.
These words,
if you listen
they are real.
These words,
a hand has written them.

Everything speaks.
Put your ear to the earth
and hear it, the trees speaking,
mining for minerals.

You can’t take a man’s words.
They are his even as the land
is taken away
where another man
builds his house.

And the night animals,
their yellow eyes
give back the words
while you are sleeping
when all the old animals
come back
from their secret houses
of air.

Linda Hogan, Left Hand Canyon in Red Clay, Poems & Stories (The Greenfield Review Press 1991)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Discussion of Evans and history teaching, Connections, 8:30 Friday morning on KGNU with Duncan Campbell

On "Connections," Friday, November 14 at 8:30 AM on KGNU - FM 88.5, AM 1390 - Duncan Campbell and I will continue a discussion of Sand Creek and the recognition of deep and painful historical connections - for instance, about how we think about John Evans and how to make a way forward, with our indigenous descendants/brothers and sisters in a multiracial democracy. We will also respond to questions/arguments from listeners.


For part one this past Sunday, November 9th, listen here.


A vision of history which aims for and honors the truth is often an occasion of regret and shame. and therefore painful (though there are people one can recall with admiration like Silas Soule, murdered for telling the truth and Black Kettle, the peace seeker against the murderous United States army - he and his wife were attacked at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864 and barely escaped; they were murdered 4 years later at the Washita River in a massacre led by George Armstrong Custer, November 28, 1868 - as well as many, among the survivors, who fought back and even told the story like George Bent. And there is, as Duncan mentions, Niwot - Left Hand - anoter peace seeker, killed at Sand Creek.


This is true in Germany (and elsewhere in Europe) about the Holocaust toward Jews, Roma and Slavs (the leading aspect was racism toward Jews but this was used as a cover to take out many other "defectives," even killing 25,000 "defective Aryan children" with barbiturate poisoning and murdering every mental patient - some 297,000 - in Germany). It is also true about this American Holocaust (the killing of indigenous people across the country, the cutting off of heads and sending skulls, including from Sand Creek, some 20,000 of them, to the Smithsonian. The need for retrieval of the body parts of Native Americans by descendants - there is a Congressional Act with this name - is another part of this story).


Nonetheless, excavating and honoring the truth makes for a better future, a possible democracy. And "American exceptionalism" is only valuable - a la the JeffCO School Board - to cultivate ignorance, enable future oppressions, and motivate wars (the naming of "Apache" helicopters, "tomahawk" missiles, Operation "Geronimo" and the like are anything but accidental; they reveal a military/industrial pride in and ignorance about genocide and enable crimes, for instance in the Occupied Territories in Palestine where every helicopter is an "Apache," to this moment...


I heard Henrietta Mann, a Southern Cheyenne and a great educator who founded the indigenous studies program at Berkeley, taught on Montana State for many years and has recently founded a college for indigenous education - Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College - in Oklahoma (at Southwestern Oklahoma State), speak about Sand Creek at the University of Denver Wednesday. In the course of a powerful talk, she praised our Report and recommendations (though she called brilliantly for a Marshall Plan for indigenous communities...). You can read the Report here.


The Northwestern indigenous students whose protest launched the investigations and reports of both universities, too, found the Report a "relief" and "humanizing" (though the Northwestern Report gives a lot of valuable information and finds Evans conduct occasionally "nothing short of appalling," our Report, drawing on wider evidence and probing, for instance, Evans' Proclamations which Northwestern leaves in shadow, makes clear his culpability (his abject failure as ex officio Supervisor of Indian Agents to seek peace even at Camp Weld on September 28, 1864, where 8 Cheyenne and Arapaho leaders tried, in spite of all, to make peace with him, and his curious role, though he had no military authority, as Governor both as the loudest advocate for war on the Plains from late 1863 on and even the declarer of war in his Proclamations of June 27th and August 11th, 1864).


I also include Patty Calhoun's vigorous column from Westword which gets the problem about right. It is very important, as the Cheyenne and Arapaho descendants say, not to add to or resurrect a Founding Amnesia by simply erasing names; it is also important to consider how to make the story explicit, how to produce a new kind of genuinely democratic education in which the voices of the long silenced become again audible and honored participants...


"Calhoun: Wake-Up Call
Sand Creek Massaacre: John Evans Founded DU, But He Left a Legacy of Shame
By Patricia Calhoun Tue., Nov. 11 2014 at 11:50 AM

For photographs, see here.


A DU committee found both John Chivington and John Evans culpable for the Sand Creek Massacre.

When you're trying to right a 150-year-old wrong, you do not want to make another mistake. You do not want to add insult to grievous injury. That's why the members of the University of Denver's John Evans Study Committee took such care with their investigation of the connection between John Evans, the territorial governor (and thus Supervisor of Indian Affairs in Colorado) who founded the forerunner to DU, and the Sand Creek Massacre.

And last week, fourteen months after the members of the committee -- comprising academics, students and alumni, outside historians and descendants of those killed at Sand Creek -- first convened, they released a report that concluded "John Evans's pattern of neglect of his treaty-negotiating duties, his leadership failures, and his reckless decision-making in 1864 combine to clearly demonstrate a significant level of culpability for the Sand Creek Massacre."

John Evans, DU's founder.

That was the horrific event on November 29, 1864, when Colonel John Chivington -- co-founder of the Colorado Seminary and not just an ardent Methodist like Evans, but an actual minister -- led more than 600 troops, including regular Army officer and volunteers with the Third Colorado Calvary, previously known as the "Bloodless Third," in a very bloody raid on a peaceful camp of Arapaho and Cheyenne camped along Sand Creek -- where the tribes had been told to go by U.S. Army officers stationed at Fort Lyons. Where they were told they'd be safe. Instead, at least 150 members of the tribes, most of them women, children and the elderly, were brutally murdered. "While not of the same character, Evans's culpability is comparable in degree to that of Colonel John Chivington, the military commander who personally planned and carried out the massacre," the committee determined. "Evans's actions and influence, more than those of any other political official in Colorado Territory, created the conditions in which the massacre was highly likely."

And over the next hundred pages, the committee members stated their case, showing how Evans whipped up hysteria over non-existent raids, begged the Army for another [regiment of] 100 [days] men to combat "these infernal Indians," issued a June 27, 1864, proclamation to "the friendly Indians of the Plains" that "comes close to being an official declaration of war," the committee notes -- and then issued a second proclamation on August 11, 1864, that came even closer, at the same time that the "friendly Indians" were being stymied in their attempts to comply with the first proclamation. They compare Evans's actions to those of his colleagues in Utah and Nevada, who were able to negotiate peacefully with the Indians in their territories. And they compare their findings to a report issued in May by Northwestern University, which had been founded by Evans in 1850, and took its own, not-as-hard look at Evans's legacy.

The entrance to Mount Evans.

The DU committee is not the first to find fault with Evans; three federal investigations conducted in the wake of Sand Creek determined that the action was indeed a massacre and President Andrew Johnson called for Evans's resignation. But this is the first critical report issued by people working in the shadow of a mountain commemorating John Evans, along a street named for him, at an institution where the highest honor is to be a John Evans Professor...even if current John Evans Professor Alan Gilbert, who served on the committee, is one of his harshest critics.

And the committee did not stop its work after finding Evans culpable. The members went on to offer 22 recommendations for how DU can "be a change leader illuminating a new path forward: a path of unity, collaboration, and healing for all communities." Among the possible steps on that path would be creating forums to discuss possible renaming of campus buildings, positions and awards, "without historical erasure."

The explanatory plaque added at the Capitol.

Forgetting history is not fixing it. In the late '90s, there was a proposal to remove a line on the Civil War Monument at the State Capitol -- which lists Sand Creek as a battle in that war. Rather than allow history to be erased, tribal representatives and historians worked together to persuade legislators to instead add a second plaque to the monument in 2002, one that suggests "the controversy surrounding this Civil War monument has become a symbol of Coloradans' struggle to understand and take responsibility for our past."

A dozen years later, as a petition was pushing to rename the town of Chivington, once a bustling burg outside of Eads that today is a ghost town, members of the Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration Commission were meeting just a few miles away at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. The Chivington name change concept came up, and the tribal representatives were unanimous in the belief that the name should stay. "It was helpful to hear the tribes talk about that," says Nancy Wadsworth, an associate professor in DU's Department of Political Science who pushed the university's report through.

The Evans name and legacy are a burden that DU will have to bear. "We could have sidestepped the issue of culpability, but it felt like that would have been dishonest," says Wadsworth. "We tried to be courageous here."

And they were: They got a tough job done at the same time that the university's attempts to settle a sticky mascot issue have stalled; they issued their report criticizing DU's founder the same year the school is celebrating its sesquicentennial; they shouldered a heavy historic burden that is impossible to deny."


"Northwestern community responds to new John Evans report
Jeanne Kuang, Campus Editor
November 5, 2014 •

Following the University of Denver’s release of its John Evans Study Committee findings, some Northwestern students praised the new report, while a member of NU’s committee defended its own conclusions on the University founder’s role in the Sand Creek Massacre.

DU’s committee, established shortly after NU’s own John Evans Study Committee in early 2013, released its report Monday, finding Evans was “central” to creating conditions in the Colorado Territory — of which he was governor at the time — that made the massacre “possible and even likely.”

“It seems like DU had a better, deeper understanding of the importance of this whole process of trying to go forward and recognizing our past,” said Bienen junior Wilson Smith, co-president of the NU Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance.

Former co-president Heather Menefee, a Weinberg senior, called DU’s report “a relief.”

“DU centered Cheyenne people in their research process, and the result is a strong report and recommendations in contrast to NU’s colonial and dehumanizing report,” she said in an email to The Daily.

DU’s report concluded that Evans, the founder of both universities, was “deeply culpable” in the Sand Creek Massacre, an 1864 attack by American soldiers that killed about 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho people. NU’s report, released in May, found Evans did not directly plan the massacre but retained some responsibility for being “one of several individuals who … helped create a situation that made the Sand Creek Massacre possible.”

NU’s committee chair, English Prof. Carl Smith, defended his report, citing the “remarkable extent to which the findings of both of these reports are very, very similar.”

“The Northwestern report says quite clearly in its conclusion that despite the fact that he may not have had a direct role in the massacre, he was certainly before the fact, one of the people who played a major role in making it possible,” Carl Smith said. “What would be a terrible result of some of this is if the emphasis was on whatever the differences are between the reports, when I think they’re essentially saying something very similar.”

Carl Smith said he was “puzzled” by DU’s choice to devote a section of its report to the two conclusions’ differences.

In an interview with The Daily on Monday, DU’s committee chair, Nancy Wadsworth, said her report broadened the definition of Evans’ culpability in the attack, “whereas Northwestern defined culpability in a narrow instrumental sense.”

Wadsworth added that NU’s report was nevertheless “very critical” of Evans. The NU report characterized Evans’ actions before and after the massacre as “significant moral failures” that the University has ignored."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

KGNU Sunday 12:30 pm with Duncan Campbell on Evans, Sand Creek and the latest civil disobedience in JeffCo

I will be talking with Duncan Campbell on KGNU (FM 88.5, AM 1390) tomorrow (Sunday, Nov. 9th) at 12:30 Mountain Time on John Evans, Sand Creek and police hustling students reading a text book out of the latest Jeffco School Board meeting. The show will be simulcast on, and then archive accessible after at or direct at


For the DU report on Evans and Sand Creek, a major (100 page) account, and for committee recommendations, see here.


"Living Dialogues" will, among other things, offer new insights into the last 15 minutes of Peter Boyles' show Friday, where Peter denounced students at Jeffco schools - all "idlers cutting classes on a warm day" or "dupes" - rather than people serious about learning history and having each one, her own view. These students want serious advanced placement history education (whatever its limitations, for instance, use of a textbook more than reading diverse documents and authors) rather than a Board-imposed "political correctness" on "American exceptionalism," dismissing "disorder" and civil disobedience, that Peter Boyles chooses not to notice.

Such exceptionalism, inaccurately, chooses to forget genocide toward blacks - slavery - and extermination (the 19th century word for genocide, the characterization by Major Wynkoop of Chivington and Evans with whom he had previously agreed). These and other living aspects of American history - say, the Revolution, the Civil War and the civil rights movement - are hardly something to be repainted in feckless, authoritarian colors by a school board operating beyond its authority or competence (perhaps this school board will next deny global warming, evolution, and the like as well...).


Because the School Board's action is so corrupt and so threatening of decent education, the students, unusually in the whole country, have staged large and persisting protests. Many of us in Jefferson County are embarrassed by the School Board and it is worth underlining what this reactionary and stupid group of 3 (democracies sometimes decide the wrong thing...) have provoked.


The students stand for a fresh birth of democracy and decency.


In contrast, Peter's denunciation of them is a sad, elitist and snobby (his words applied more aptly to his statement, which curiously echoes the School Board 3 - see below) performance.


At the latest School Board meeting Thursday evening, the students took turns reading from the advanced placement textbook and having the books removed from their hands and being shown out by security officers (see the link to a news film below).

This is quite an original and noble form of civil disobedience - see the CBS story here - and again much to the students' credit. They even said the Pledge of Allegiance at the end, mocking the School Board's pseudo-patriotism.

As for the School Board 3, it is doubtful that any have taken a college history course or know anything about the subject. They could have learned something by sitting still and listening...


But just as a few weeks ago, the 3 had police controlling the crowd (letting in, over a couple of hours, only two hundred of over a thousand people), Thursday night they had guards taking textbooks from students, moving students out...


What is the objection again, on behalf of freedom, to tyranny?


“'We wanted to prove that they don’t listen,'” Tim Palese, a senior at Green Mountain High School, told The AP."


But even the most prescient students might not have predicted this...


"Fox News 31 [a rare quasi-accurate story except for the omission of the crucial words "civil disobedience" found in the CBS and common dreams stories below, perhaps an attempt to censor the report and Thoreau and Martin Luther some editor in line with the Jeffco School Board]

For a film of the protest, see here.

GOLDEN, Colo. — Students in Jefferson County not pleased about a potential plan to review curriculum, including Advanced Placement U.S. history, disrupted a school board meeting Thursday night.

About a dozen students were escorted out of the meeting by security guards after some some students stood up and read aloud from history textbooks during the meeting, The Associated Press reports.

Some students who spoke at the podium instead of other students whose names were called during the public comment period were ejected, and so was a woman who yelled from the audience.

Another student read a passage about Malcolm X but when his time was up, the microphone was turned off and he was removed.

Someone blew a whistle and some students stood and said the Pledge of Allegiance. Outside of the meeting room, there were chants of “We are the future, let us know our past” before leaving.

“We wanted to prove that they don’t listen,” Tim Palese, a senior at Green Mountain High School, told The AP.

Protests this fall have centered on the curriculum review committee being approved by the board. The board has been under fire after board member Julie Williams said she wanted the curriculum to encourage patriotism and downplay civil disorder.

That sparked several protests, including students walking out of classes."


Bob Kinsey sent me a note on the podcast of Peter Boyles' show on the DU report on Evans and Sand Creek here:

"Geez Alan Boyles is a whiz at denying that he is framing things while he frames them according to his pet theories. Obviously he wanted to have kids learning all the minutia of WW2 great sacrificial moments in military history and that if teachers weren't busy on that curricula then they had no business complaining about the school board in Jeffco restricting their teaching with regard to the uncomfortable truths which have been bowdlerized over time. Boyles never heard the point you were making or didn't want it to be heard that AT THE TIME the US Congress condemned Sand Creek, Evans and Chivington and essentially saw Soule as a hero. The question recidivists of history ask is how then did all the monuments disagree with the Congress, and that there is a lot to be learned in examining that naming and remembering process about a whole lot of things such as self justification of the manifest destiny, private property grabs, military lawlessness, and treaty duplicity, as well as the obvious racism that continues to infect our society regardless of whether the names are changed. Boyles wants to chalk it all off to holding 19th Century well meaning "mistakes" to 21st Century faux-values that are espoused only by left leaning history teachers. "


The basic point here is that these are just students who want to learn, teachers who want to teach and impartial or objective facts about Sand Creek: that it was a massacre of determinedly peaceful people led by Chivington - not a "battle" - and made possible - the Third Regiment handed to Chivington as a loaded gun (Gary Roberts) - by Governor Evans. This is not about politics in the ordinary sense. Against a Founding Amnesia, it is about seeing clearly how Denver, the state of Colorado and the University of Denver are built out of "ridding us of the roaming Plains indians" (Evans, 1884), as well as of understanding what what the continuing presence of the descendants of the Cheyennes and Arapahos and their recognition in a modern multiracial democracy entails.


As Ashlyn Meyer, a student leader naturally prevented from speaking out at the School Board put it on Facebook:

"Our problem is that you, the board majority, passed a redundant, and highly opposed curriculum review committee because you have other motives," Maher said. "You want to limit what we learn so you can push your own political opinion. Our problem is that the nation you want to build consists of people who cannot think critically. We as students want to develop our minds. Critical thinking is our ticket to the future. Do not limit what we learn...Do not try to fool us...Do not pretend that patriotism is turning a blind eye and a passive mind to the changing world around us."


The truth about America - that it both defended democracy and a Bill of Rights for some and that it was an extraordinarily oppressive, murderous regime for many others - is also a political opinion, one that happens, if well argued, to be accurate and to challenge students to think.


In contrast, the opinion in the mouths of the school board (and even in the older Advanced Placement text, whatever its other merits) is shaded falsely to glorification and emptiness - and herding students out of School Board meetings...


The latter is a definition of ideology as opposed to seeking the truth (getting at least some things right about American history). And of course, it needs the police, imposed silence, tone deafness (the School Board 3 and perhaps Peter...) to conduct its "work."


"Chalkbeat Colorado reports that 'as part of their demonstration, the students said they had four demands: a public apology from the school board’s conservative majority for referring to students as 'union pawns' [Note: Peter chose to echo the foolishness of the School Board...]; a reversal of an earlier decision to amend content review policies; proof from the board that they listen and act on community input instead of what students called an 'ideological' agenda; and more resources for classroom instruction.'"


Recognition of the past is the only basis to achieve some healing, to forge a decent society in the present and future.


Friday, November 07, 2014
Common Dreams

Colorado Students Employ Civil Disobedience School Board Sought to Censor

'Do not pretend that patriotism is turning a blind eye and a passive mind to the changing world around us,' student organizer says

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

For photo, see here.

An image from one of the student protests in September. (Photo: John Lebya/Denver Post)

Protesting the conservative school board's efforts to censor their history curriculum, more than a dozen students were escorted out of a Jefferson County Board of Education meeting in Colorado on Thursday night after disrupting proceedings by reading from their history textbooks and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The students employed one of the very tactics that school board member Julie Williams was seeking to downplay through a proposed curriculum review committee: civil disobedience. In late September, Williams' proposal—to establish a committee to ensure that the district's history texts promoted positive aspects of the United States and avoided encouragement of "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law"—prompted mass student walk-outs and teacher 'sick-outs.'

"You want to limit what we learn so you can push your own political opinion. Our problem is that the nation you want to build consists of people who cannot think critically."
—Ashlyn Maher, JeffCo Student Network for Change

Many of the students involved in Thursday evening's action were organizers of the September protests.

According to Chicago Public Radio, "the disruptions started when board members refused to let students speak, after they didn’t speak in the order they were called. A few minutes later, one student after another stood up in the public meeting, reciting historic acts of civil disobedience from history textbooks."

The report continues:

When asked to leave the room, students at the podium left or were escorted out peacefully. After another group of students read aloud from history books and were escorted out, about a dozen students stood up in the packed meeting to read the Pledge of Allegiance. They then filed out.

Along with the students were “legal consultants,” law students taking descriptive notes of the scene. That didn’t please one security guard who lobbed several insults at the law students.

Standing in a circle outside the education building, a set of sprinklers suddenly came on. When the students moved out of the way, those sprinklers came on. The pattern repeated until all the sprinklers were on but the students didn’t leave. A security officer came out and informed the group that they were trespassing.

Student organizer Ashlyn Maher, a member of the recently formed JeffCo Student Network for Change, didn't get a chance to speak at Thursday's meeting. She posted her speech on Facebook.

"Our problem is that you, the board majority, passed a redundant, and highly opposed curriculum review committee because you have other motives," Maher said. "You want to limit what we learn so you can push your own political opinion. Our problem is that the nation you want to build consists of people who cannot think critically. We as students want to develop our minds. Critical thinking is our ticket to the future. Do not limit what we learn...Do not try to fool us...Do not pretend that patriotism is turning a blind eye and a passive mind to the changing world around us."

Chalkbeat Colorado reports that "as part of their demonstration, the students said they had four demands: a public apology from the school board’s conservative majority for referring to students as 'union pawns;' a reversal of an earlier decision to amend content review policies; proof from the board that they listen and act on community input instead of what students called an 'ideological' agenda; and more resources for classroom instruction."

Watch security guards take books away from the students in the video of the action below:

For video, see here.